Picture This!

Activities and Adventures in Impressionism

Last week I wrote about teaching an easy Monet art class, and I held another one of these classes this week. It was so much fun, and the kids really got a kick out of the watercolor paint. One day I’ll have to get the watercolor tubes and some actual watercolor paper to let them experiment some more, if they choose to do so.

While I searched for Monet books at the library, I ran across this wonderful book called Art Explorers: Picture This! Activities and Adventures in Impressionism. Isn’t that the most inviting title of a book you’ve ever heard? The book cover explains that within it, you will find ways to discover the art of Monet, Renoir, Degas, Pissarro and Cassatt. The first few pages are about impressionism and explain how you can discuss the styles and meanings with your children.

Next, there are fun projects to do as a family—from mixing color wheels, learning about warm and cool colors and more. This part of the book is more focused on assessing what you see than making a lot of art, but you can obviously do as much or as little as you like on your own.

The book goes straight into art by Monet, depicting some of his famous paintings and asking several good questions about the art to help children—and adults!—learn how to evaluate it. If your child is not interested, I would move on to more hands-on activities; but if he or she would like to discuss art, you could spend a lot of time with these discussions. After the questions, there are several pages of cool art projects to do in the style of Monet, including examples of other children’s art pieces. My daughter especially liked these, which she thought were much like her own in some ways, some ways not.

Throughout the book, you get to experience pointillism, abstract art, seasonal collages, and much more. Different mediums, such as tissue paper, are also introduced, though I think painting is probably the best medium for exploring, well, painters. Get as creative as you like, of course; if your child wants to make 3-D windmills, go for it! But if your child is seriously into painting abstract art or impressionism in general, you can encourage it by supplying plenty of materials (the good ones, not the kiddie ones!) and texts like this one for them to browse through and learn more about their interests.


The Paranormalcy saga sadly ends with this final installment.

If you’ve read Paranormalcy and its sequel Supernaturally, you are already familiar with fun-loving Evie, a teenager with a special gift for seeing paranormal creatures. She works for an investigation agency who tags and regulates paranormal creatures, and she is the only human in the world with the gift to see through their glamours. (Spoilers to come.)

By book three, Evie is doing her best to lead a normal life outside the agency, going to high school and working at a paranormal diner while she makes time to see her boyfriend Lend, a water paranormal, in between. But Evie’s own powers remain even after she let the souls free in book two, and the paranormals are trying to get her to open a gateway to let them all leave our world and go home to their own. Book three details this adventure, as well as Evie’s spirited fight against the agency that would have the paranormals remain in order to simply keep their jobs.

Like Supernaturally, Endlessly wasn’t as much fun or as surprising as Paranormalcy—but I think that was because it had a darker, graver subject material being addressed. We no longer have a fun, pink-loving heroine who just wants to go to the dance and be normal—okay, we do, but she also has to save the world again.

We also don’t get as much Lend and Evie interaction in this book, which I missed; I think her connection with Reth the faerie was even stronger in this third book, which was ironic but well written. Evie’s friend Arianna—as well as her human friend—make stronger appearances in this book, which I enjoyed; I don’t like having every lead be male save for one and these two made the book that much more enjoyable, especially the vampire. White’s descriptions of the faerie realm as well as the descriptions of the world the creatures came from are vivid and gorgeous, as well.

Sadly, Kirsten White says that this is the final installment in Evie’s story, which is just too bad; I love reading about her and her adventures. That said, it makes sense that it will end here, as there just won’t be as much paranormal interaction in the future for Evie. I hope that she and Lend have a happily ever after, and though I also wish we could find out if Lend does end up living forever or not—with or without Evie—I am also satisfied with this conclusion.

Feng Shui: The Art of Living

Don’t you just love those tiny little books you can get while you’re checking out at a bookstore? I once bought a Tarot Card book set from such a stand that featured the tiniest, most adorable Tarot Cards you’ve ever seen. I so could have made a Wiccan Barbie, if I had been into Barbies at all. I wonder what happened to that set…

For Christmas this year, I was gifted with a tiny feng shui book titled Feng Shui: The Art of Living. Written by Rosalind Simmons, the book is filled with small suggestions that can make a big impact in improving your living space—and perhaps making your life better as well. After all, feng shui isn’t only supposed to increase the aesthetic appeal of your abode and work space—it’s also supposed to help increase your health, wealth, love, and general happiness if used correctly.

Most of the tips in this book can be found in other books (such as the wonderful books by Lillian Too), but it does serve as a great starting point for people new to the art of arrangement. Using fresh flowers and fresh living plants to add life to your living space, for example, is included. Other tips include placing a pair of mandarin ducks in your living space to help improve your love life, skipping the dried flowers since they are known to represent dead energy, and not allowing mirrors to face one another so the energy they reflect will not bounce around in sheer craziness. (Wouldn’t it be cool if we could see the energy? I think that would help us so much with our placement designs!)

In all honesty, though, some of the best feng shui tips you can use or share with friends are so simple and easy to use. Keeping your home clean, for example—in terms of both actual dirt as well as lack of clutter—is perhaps the best feng shui cure you can use. Keeping everything in your home in good repair, from the faucets to lights and furniture, is also important. One of my favorite tips is making sure all of the furniture faces the door in order to avoid unwelcome surprises; I can’t even sit in a restaurant unless I am facing the rest of the room!

What are your favorite feng shui tips? Feel free to share them here, or to use your favorite feng shui book for your next Wichita book club meeting.