Poor Man’s (College Kid’s) Stained Glass


“What’s something easy?” My partner Simone looks at me during class as my professor announces the lesson we need to teach in a few weeks. I slump a little in my chair, feeling uninspired. “Um, I don’t know…maybe some kind of collage?”

Truth is, when it came to teaching an art lesson to 3-5 year old’s I had no idea what was in their range of understanding. We suggested tracing their hands and making leaves- “Too Cliche”. We suggested making a fall tree- “Too prescribed”.

Finally, we decided on a collage with tissue paper. Layering the paper makes “Color Magic”, as my professor calls it, when two colors combine to create a new color. Basically it’s an easy way to make something look really colorful and great even if the kids are terrible at it.

It was then that the internet saved us, because we found a site that talked about creating tissue paper collages on windows. It’s so easy. All you need to do is get some liquid starch (made with corn starch and hot water), paint the starch on the window and apply the tissue paper.

I’m hoping it goes well with the kids this Wednesday, but even if it doesn’t, my apartment windows are looking pretty good.



Liquid Starch Recipe Here




Refining Talent

I stop in the bathroom to wash my hands, catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror. The smudge of charcoal on my forehead has probably been there for at least two hours, since I’ve been in the studio for the last three. I smile at how typical it is and rub it off with a paper towel.

Out in the hallway, on the way to my locker, I look at the critique going on. They’re putting up work for the first time this semester, and I silently judge the quality and composition of the paintings just hung. Then I happily drop off my portfolio in my locker, glad to lighten the load before the walk back to my apartment. I stop in the back of the art building to visit some friends in the wood shop, all of them covered in sawdust that they throw on me while they show off the progress of their work.

I can’t believe this has become normal. It’s never where I expected to be, but now I can’t imagine anything different. Or anything I could love more.

Amidst all the overwhelming stress, challenge, and competition I’ve experienced in becoming an art student, there are moments of total joy like nothing else. Even the moments during critiques when I want to cry, when I cut my finger for the fourth time of the day on an X-Acto knife, when I just can’t get the perspective right on a drawing- It is completely worth it. Through it, I’m being refined.

Out of my three studio classes this semester, Life Drawing has been my favorite so far. Here’s a few, more to come. They’re not perfect, but neither am I. What matters is I’m growing daily, and surrounded by more inspiration than I know what to do with. And because of that I couldn’t be happier.

Where’s the Finish Line?

It’s Saturday.  Usually, I keep my mind focused on Saturday because it means freedom and a chance to relax away from my plus forty hour a week job in an urban school district.  But, today is a lock-down day.  My friends know “lock-down day” well; it means I’m not communicating with anyone all day and focusing solely on writing my Master’s thesis.  I find that these days are hard to come by as the weekends fill up so quickly.  I try desperately during the week to have the motivation to write, but I’m so exhausted after work I only want to be with my fiancee, Rick and cuddle my dog, Bella.  So, I dedicate mandated weekends to this endeavor.

I’ve been working on a Master’s degree from Penn State part time for the last three years.  I have finished all of my course work, and my thesis is the only thing between me and graduation.  “Only thing” sounds so much less intimidating than I am finding it to be.  My topic focuses on how the subversive collegiate generation of the 1920s was a catalyst for social change in America.  You’re enthralled right now, huh?  I know; so, imagine having to write 60+ pages on it.  In all honesty, it is a good topic.  It truly is interesting how college students of the 20’s broke barriers that no other generation had broken before.  The 20’s do fascinate me.  It was an era of new style, originality, rebellious activity and progress.  It was an infamous age.  I do love my topic, so it isn’t that.  It is all about my time.  Because, there is no time…

We strive through life to not just do the things that we choose to pursue, but to do them well.  I sent in the first three chapters of my thesis to my first reader, a professor I respect and am fond of.  He returned  the first chapter with countless comments and corrections.  My heart sank; I broke down to Rick in tears, doubting my ability to finish.  I spent five hours of my day fixing those errors.  I then took a break and walked Bella.  It was a beautiful fall day today, and as I was walking, the sky filled with that heavenly glow it gets right before the sun falls.  I was filled with frustration at that point; but, when looking up at that gorgeous sky, I couldn’t help but feel peace.

I may not finish my thesis this fall, and I may not be able to accept my diploma in December, but even if it takes me months longer than I planned, I’ll prevail.  After all, nothing worth having in this world comes easily, right?  Below is a picture of my work station, as you can see I have sacrificed the kitchen table my grandparents passed down to me for scholarly research.  I like to think they would be proud!

I do enjoy writing, and I hope to write again soon.  If not, feel free to blame Penn State; these days they won’t even notice. 😉