Monday, September 8, 2014

Tiny Desert Treasures

a tiny creature, hidden in plain sight!

"Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small.
We haven't time, and to see takes time -- like to have a friend takes time."
- Georgia O'Keefe

We all notice the big, bold, showy displays of nature, like the Grand Canyon or the Milky Way galaxy or Niagara Falls.

But the smallest things are just as miraculous and awe-inspiring. 

Most of the time we don't notice the daisy growing out of the sidewalk crack, the ladybug underneath the leaf, or the little spider spinning her web in a dark and forgotten corner of the house.

But if we took the time to see, we'd realize our world is teeming with treasures, just waiting for us to notice them.

Do you see the tiny frog in the photo above? (I apologize for the poor photos, they were taken with my camera phone.) Maybe you'll see it in the photo below.

He is perfectly camouflaged among the dirt and rocks, and he was sitting perfectly still! Look just above my thumb.

This is a little desert frog! One of the frogs who lives in the desert pond, who was jumping about after the monsoon rainstorm.

Here's a tiny clump of blue wildflowers on the hiking trail.

I have always loved tiny things! When you see them, it's like you found a hidden treasure!

And here's a really tiny little flower (sorry it's blurry! I need to remember to bring my real camera next time!)

After I saw these wildflowers at North Mountain Park this spring, I went to the Visitor's Center. The volunteer there was complaining loudly that "nothing is blooming this year!" 

But when I showed her my photos of tiny wildflowers she didn't say anything else. 

The most lovely and exquisite treasures are sometimes hidden in plain sight. 

The observant person will find them.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Teach and Learn, Pass It On

succulent rose
pen and ink sketch 
by Rosa Phoenix

Students are back in school now, with fresh school supplies and sharpened pencils. It's officially time to learn.

The truth is, the time for learning is . . . always. Not just during the school day or the school year.

Learning is a state of mind. 

It's being receptive, open, interested, curious, willing to explore, ask questions, make mistakes, experiment.

Learning means growing and developing as a person. 

Learning means keeping your mind alive.

Learning isn't over when you pass the test, graduate or earn a degree or certificate.

It continues on the job, in your daily life and interactions with others, and in your observations at all times.

A teacher once told me: "the best way to learn something is to teach it."

Since I began teaching art 2 years ago, I have found this to be true. 

Teaching motivates me to learn as much as I can, so that I have more knowledge and skills to pass on to my students.

My students teach me, too. 

I've learned art techniques from my students, and a lot of other things too. 

In a group art class, we all teach each other and learn from each other.

As a teacher, I stay humble. 

I'm not a fan of the authoritarian style of teaching that some of my early school teachers adopted to keep students controlled. 

I don't pretend to know all the answers, or use my knowledge to gain power over others.

I stay humble because I don't consider myself to be an expert or a master who knows it all. 

Rather, I'm just like my students: an artist on the journey to improve my skills and learn more.

I teach because I enjoy sharing the benefits of art and the creative process with others. 

Creating art helps me to be a happier, healthier, better person, and I want others to experience this too.

I also teach because so many people want to learn. 

Since I moved to Phoenix, I've found many people who want to learn art skills . . . and very few artists are teaching them. 

If you have a skill, even if you don't feel you have mastered it, I'd encourage you to teach what you know. 

Don't wait until your skills are perfect. That day will never come. There are people who want to learn now, and through teaching, your skills will improve, too.

If you enjoy something, teach others, so that they can enjoy it too. 

Share it, give it, pass it on!