Professional Practice

Plans for a Creative Summer (Ep. 197)

One of the most valuable times for us as educators is the time we have during the summer. And the break that has come this summer is so necessary for so many of us after the year of teaching we all experienced. In today’s episode, Nic talks about how she is healing this summer as well as taking advantage of the opportunities that have been presented to her. Full Episode Transcript Below.

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Nic: Summertime as an educator is extremely valuable. Many of us continue to work. We maybe present art classes to smaller group sizes, maybe really focusing in on the things that we love. Sometimes we take time for ourselves and we create on our own. Sometimes we just spend time with our family and do nothing about art. That might be the perfect way to regroup and refocus for the following year. No matter what you choose to do, make sure that you’re really focusing in on feeding yourself, feeding your soul. That’s what I’m going to talk about in today’s episode is just what I plan to do this summer to regroup, refocus, and be ready and fueled for the next school year. This is Nic Hahn, and this is Everyday Art Room.

The last several weeks of school I was fantasizing. And I was fantasizing about summer, just entering this summer because it was so, so needed. We just needed a break. I know a lot of you in New York are just entering summer, the summer break right now. I think it was June 25th I heard from some of my friends in New York. I know those of you down South have been off for quite some time, maybe a month, month and a half, and you might even be gearing up for your next year, school year because I know that you start a little earlier.

I’m somewhere in between there. I have had two weeks, almost three weeks off from school. And what we did maybe a week before the end of school was I looked at my husband and I said, “I want to go on a trip.” And we did this last year during the pandemic. We actually went to South Dakota and we did the Badlands and a lot of hiking and a lot of exploring. It was easy to stay away from people in 2020 as you were at the national parks. There were not many people traveling and you could go on long hikes far away from other people. So it was a really safe activity for our family to go do. And it was close enough to Minnesota where we could drive.

So in respect of the cherished time that we had the year before, we decided to do a similar event. So one night at midnight, maybe four or five days before the end of the school year, we booked our flights. We booked an Airbnb and we booked a car and we went down to Utah. So we just got back from Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. It was amazing. We had very few plans when we went down, but when I put it out there to several friends I got great responses of what to do, where to do it, how to do it. And we also went off the cuff a little bit and just went around exploring Utah, which was new to our entire family. We had never been there. And man, the terrain was so different as you drove along. It would change within an hour. It was amazing.

We loved our time in Utah. And what that trip did, and the South Dakota one, was it united our family again, our family of four. We were able to look at each other and say, “Yep, remember us. We’re done with school. Those priorities are off from our plate right now. You are our priority right now.” This is a great way to start our summer off. We’ve found this at least for three, four years that it’s really important to group together, have a small mini vacation. It doesn’t have to be a big one, but just a little time together where we are away from our friends and our responsibilities.

Perhaps you like to run away too. Maybe you like to take a quick vacation with your family to regroup. Another thing that you might really enjoy doing in the summer, and I’ve done this in the past, is teaching. But this time you get to teach summer school. Maybe you get to call the shots. You’re working outside with your students, or you’re exploring fibers because that’s really your favorite. You’re inviting students to come who are truly passionate. Your class sizes are what you want them to be. So maybe they’re super small or maybe they’re big. Maybe you can just choose the age groups that you truly, truly love to teach. Maybe you’re teaching summer school this year. I’ve done this in the past and I’ve absolutely loved it because I’ve become very, very close with the families that I work with over the summer. I find that having those relationships with just even a few students really brings me back into the classroom in a more positive way. Plus, I get to explore what I want.

As I mentioned, I’ve done, well brought the kids outside quite a bit in my past art classes that I’ve presented in the summer, my summer camps or whatever you want to call it. I think I called it Art on the Farm last year, where we went to a local 1800s farm. It’s called the Kelley Farm in Minnesota. And we housed ourselves out of there and then went and actually looked at the animals on the farm to draw them and just get to know what a chicken truly looks like or what a pig really looks like and smells like. I loved it. It was so much fun. But this year, for me, it just wasn’t going to happen. I needed a break from teaching. And I’m pouring myself into, well myself. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

After I’ve taken my trip and regrouped with my family and made the decision that I’m not going to be teaching over the summer, I decided that this summer was going to be about me and my creativity. Let’s get into some of the inspiration and some of the thoughts that I have as I begin my summer of creativity.

I’m using art as a therapy this year, this summer. I’ve done this in the past before. And I’ve shared it on Instagram about two years, two and a half years ago my back went out completely and I had to have surgery on my back. I wasn’t able to walk for a month and a half prior to having surgery. And then once surgery happened, oh my back was better, and I could actually breathe, walk, sleep again. It was amazing. It gave me the second chance of really appreciating my body and what it can do.

But during that time, I did need to take some time away from the school and do some healing. And during that time, I not only healed my body, but I also healed my soul. It needed some healing. And I feel like this summer my soul needs some healing again. At that time, I bought myself, I think it was just a three-month trial of, which has all sorts of amazing classes that you can take as artists, or even if you like to cook I think they have some baking and they have some craft and they have some fine arts and they have a little bit of everything. It is actually through, Creativebug is through Jo-Ann Fabrics, and they’ve done a really good job of gathering some amazing artists.

During that healing before, I was inspired by punch needle. And I learned from an artist named Arounna Khounnoraj. She is from Canada, Toronto, Canada. And she actually has an Instagram that I now follow. I didn’t know her prior, but, man, it’s pretty great. Her Instagram is Bookhou, so it’s B-O-O-K-H-O-U, Bookhou. And she does a lot of fibers. So I learned punch needle from her in the past on Creativebug, and now I’m just watching so much of her fibers work. It’s really exciting.

One of the things that I love about her is that she’s very much into recycling, so you see her often using scraps of fabrics and putting them together in very creative, unique ways. She makes very usable products, I guess. So there’s a lot of bags. There’s a lot of patchwork. In fact, it’s one of my favorite things. And I think the thing that I’m going to be discovering the most this summer from her, inspired by her is visible mending. So it’s when you take a patch and put it underneath your clothing and then do some really beautiful stitchery on top. And the whole purpose is to celebrate and make this tear or this rip in your clothing a beautiful accident and just really highlight it, actually.

So Bookhou I’m following the Instagram account and Arounna, and she is just phenomenal and gives so much content out there. I’ve bought some things from her in the past. I’ll probably end up buying a little bit again just to learn from her. I know she has a book. I know that she has some punch needle materials that I have purchased and really enjoy. I would highly recommend checking her out. She is going to be at least one or two weeks of my inspirational summer creating.

While we’re on the subject of fibers, there is another fiber artist that I have started following since December, maybe even a little bit before. Her name is Corinne Sovey, I think is how you say your last name, S-O-V-E-Y. She is a quilter designer, color enthusiast is what she explains herself to be. She has an amazing website. She sells different patterns for quilts. But she is doing a quilt with me, a block a month. It’s called the Playground Bomb. And my son and I, well my husband and daughter are doing this with me as well, we’re each doing our own quilts, but we’re doing one block at a time. So we picked out our fabric in December, and we started creating. And then there were several tragedies in Texas where this woman is from. There was I want to say flooding due to freezing and maybe even tornadoes as well. There was a bunch of, a combination of things that happened that left many of our friends in Texas not able to do anything but survive.

So we have gotten started on two blocks, and then Corinne has recently put out several more blocks that I’m planning on catching up on because then I went into survival mode with the rest of the school year. So I haven’t been able to keep up, but this summer I will be continuing with that. And you can follow along with her blog. Of course, I’ll have all of these on the podcast notes, so you can just buzz right over there and find all the links that I’m talking about.

But this block a month is really good for just the beginner skills. And it’s a really cool design. I’m very excited to continue on it and then finish up hopefully in December of this year so that we end up having a full completed quilt. I know my son is really looking forward to it. He’s a 15-year-old football player and baseball player, and he loves to quilt. So that’s what we’re doing together. And my daughter, less of a quilt enthusiast, and my husband as well, but they’re playing along and they’re making one as well. So we’re going to be working on that as a family. But that definitely feeds me.

Not only am I going to be doing some fiber work, but I’m also going to be learning a new medium to me that I haven’t really explored. So I asked for it for Christmas and my good old mom she bought me some gouache. I’m very excited to learn from some experts using gouache as well.

There’s an artist out of Salt Lake City, Utah, which I’m not shocked that Kate Jarvik Birch is from Utah because every female artist especially that I have seen come out of Utah has very strong, strong work, or I don’t know, it seems to capture my attention that’s for sure. What I like about Kate’s work is that she is very simplistic in the subject matter. She works with just simple still lifes. So a lot of fruit, silverware, coffee cups. She does a match. I love these, actually. She does a match. She blows out a match and takes some pictures and that’s her inspiration for many of her images. And it’s just bold, beautiful, simple subject. I absolutely love her work.

I’m not sure, it says she’s a writer, painter, and dream maker, which I just love. I’m not sure if she uses gouache, but I plan to do similar subjects with the strong idea of shadow in kind of her style or inspired by her. One of the things that she always says on her Instagram reels is she always starts out with, “Hey guys, come paint with me.” And I love that. She invites us into paint with her. She doesn’t necessarily give a lot of how-to tutorials and that’s fine. That’s not what I want. I am going to be painting her subjects. The things that she finds around the house I think is really inspiring for me. Something simple, something around the house, something small, I will be working. And I’m going to be exploring my gouache set that I got from my mom.

Another source that I’ll be learning more about gouache is from an illustrator from the Netherlands. Her name is Sarah Van Dongen, and she is doing a course on Domestika. Domestika is a great resource to learn many different subjects and mediums and materials from very expert artists. And they’re from all over the world. I’ve taken several courses, but this is my first one in English, actually. Many of the courses are in Spanish. And I do this intentionally to try to understand how my students learn best when they are English as a second language. So watching the videos helps me understand when I don’t understand how to understand, if that makes sense.

We’ll get back to maybe some of the other artists that I’m learning from on Domestika, but let’s get back to Sarah and her gouache. She is an illustrator that I’ve been following on Instagram for so long. Every single thing that pops up on my feed, I give a like to because I just love her style so very much. So far, I’ve already been dipping into her course just a little bit. And I’ve learned her palette preferences. She absolutely gives permission to find your own palette and find your own color scheme. But just this idea of limited palette using mixed mediums and really exploring everyday subjects of a character who is often herself in her illustrations. So it’s very inspirational. I can’t wait to start creating in my sketchbook, learning from Miss Sarah.

When thinking about this summer, I also thought about other courses that have been really successful for me in the past. One of those locations is in Wisconsin. It’s about five hours away from me. It’s in a little island called Madeline Island. It’s off from Bayfield, Wisconsin, and it is a little red barn in the middle of nowhere on this island that they provide amazing courses at. So I looked into the Madeline Island Art School again and was not disappointed. I reached out to a couple of friends, my friend, Erica Tillges, who I had my senior show with a hundred years ago at UW Stout, and another newer friend of mine, Jessica Jones, who is another art teacher in Minnesota. And both of the ladies replied with, “Yes, I’d love to take this class with you as well.”

So we’re going to stay up on Madeline Island for a week, and we’re going to learn from Ian Fennelly. He is an urban sketch artist, and he’s going to show us his technique. I didn’t know him prior to signing up for the course, but I do follow him on Instagram right now. And every post he puts on there it gets me more excited for this class. He is phenomenal at using negative space, using the whites of the paper, as well as adding brilliant, bright colors into his urban sketches. I know I’m going to learn a ton from him, and I’m just going to feed my soul again and start being excited about creating my own art.

Do you know what this is going to do for me? For my mental wellbeing? For my classroom? For my family? When I am full and maybe even overfilled with creative juices, I’m a happier person. I’m a better mom. I’m a better teacher. So these are the reasons that I’m seeking out these different courses definitely to feed myself. I need this for me. After this year, I need to heal. And this is how I’m going to do it. I’m seeking out inspiration from many different artists. I’m seeking out inspiration from different mediums. I plan on doing some printmaking as well, just diving into the materials that I love to use in my own personal studio downstairs in my home.

If you are the type of person who loves to create, I’d love to hear what you’re creating this summer. What are you making this summer? Who are you being inspired by? Send me a personal message on Instagram @MiniMatissArt. I’d love to hear more from you about what you’re doing to feed your soul, to become a creative being again, maybe reconnect, or maybe you’ve been doing this all along and you’re just really diving in in a different way.

All right, now you know what my plans are for the summer. I’m going to create and then create and then create again. My plan is just really to feed my soul with art, do some healing from 2000, 2021. But maybe you’re looking for something different. Maybe you are looking for some credits to take. Well, you know The Art of Education University has you covered. If you’re looking for credits that will move you towards a master’s degree or maybe your plus master’s, the credits that you need on top of your master’s degree, well come check out the courses that we have available through The Art of Education University. Another thing that you might want or need is just our pro packs. Now the pro packs are great mini lessons from amazing educators, and you can get hourly clock hours. You can print out the clock hours after you’ve taken the courses. And maybe the summer is a perfect time to jump in and check out the pro packs.

And then, of course, we have Art Ed Now Conference coming up at the end of July. Look into that because that is an amazing way to feed your soul and get excited from some of the best educators out there who are happy to share their passion and their energy, their energy with you during the conference. If you happen to miss it, the last couple of weeks was kind of focused on our Ed Now. Go back and listen because we have a couple of presenters that will be presenting and they’re just giving kind of a preview of what they’ll present on. And then the week prior, we talked about the conference guide, which I cannot be more excited about. So go check those out if you haven’t heard about Art Ed Now or just jump onto the webpage and find out so much more information because there’s more and more every day.

Thanks for listening and hope you’re feeding your soul, making sure that you’re taking care of you over your summer break.

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.