homeschooling

What makes an ordinary week

(for further context, see last week's post Ordinary Time in My Studio

Lesson plan for history: To experience a “taste” of what life was like as a monk, prepare a typical “monk’s meal” for supper one night. You might like to pretend that it is Christmas, so you can have some butter on your bread!
Pretty Pavlova || What makes an ordinary week || blog post || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

Me: "Since we are learning about Monks, we are going to make a bread like the kind they would have eaten. "
AJ: "Can't I make Mary Berry's Pavlova instead?"
Me: "I'm not sure we have enough eggs... "
AJ: " We only need six!" (proceeds to recite rest of recipe and directions)

Yeah, she won. 


This month, we are still figuring out what an ordinary week for us will look like this year. I was given some very wise counsel that co-teachers (homeschool moms) usually doesn't get their routine down until October so I know we have a few more weeks to get our stride. I'm still participating in the #PCJ30in30 Challenge on Instagram and am loving the process of observing one memory or moment of each day in a painting. 

Chilly Sunday || #PCJ30in30 || Rachel Loewens Fine Art
Pretty Pavlova || #PCJ30in30 || 8x8" acrylic on watercolor paper || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

Sometimes I know what I want to capture within the first few hours of the day, other times it takes until dinnertime. Either way, this practice is helping me focus on what little thing sets each day apart from the next (a tall order for someone who is big-picture minded).

Raining sunshine || #PCJ30in30 || 6x8" || acrylics + paint pen on watercolor paper || Rachel Loewens
Turning season sunset || #PCJ30in30 || 8x8" || acrylic paint on watercolor paper || Rachel Loewens

To stay up to date on this challenge follow me on Instagram



Back to school and back to normal life

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Back to school, back to normal || blog post || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

This was a stand out summer in the Loewens Family in both good and hard things. My arthritis wasn’t much of a factor for any of our activities, and my kids had tons of fun at swim lessons. I took on a major freelance project that ate up most of my creative time and proved to be very taxing emotionally and spiritually. The scope of the project meant that I knew it would be very hard going into it but knowing something will probably true and living it can be very different things. I’ve got at least 5 more months of work still left to do, but it will not be as high up on my priority list now that we are starting lessons up again. 

I am so looking forward to getting back to our normal rhythms of life!! These past two weeks have been filled with teacher training (we homeschool part time), reading some great books that have helped me focus again on what I want our lives to look like, and hours in the studio making collages and prints. I’m also stocking up on essential oils to help combat all the germs we will again be exposed at school. Ah, life of a mom!

Back to school, back to normal || blog post || Rachel Loewens Fine Art
Back to school, back to normal || blog post || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

Monday we are heading out to Broken Bow for one last adventure before the first day of school. Nebraska is fortunate to be right along the path of the solar eclipse so we are making a day trip for the event. Fingers crossed that the clouds stay away!

 
 

Creating and Co-teaching

With the school year being almost over, it is a toss up between me and my daughter over who is the most excited for summer break. She is ready to paint, play outside, and go on adventures any day of the week and well, so am I! 

 

Being so close to the finish means that there are more opportunities for her to study independently, which frees me up to work a bit on the business stuff (like create new listings for my next sale on May 12th) or even make a few prints!

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Collaborating between home schooling and traditional brick and mortar schooling has worked well for our lifestyle and the family culture we want to create. It has also decreased the hours I have in my studio to create, but I think the benefits outweigh the costs. 

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The impending free time seems so close that I can almost taste it. I am daily fighting my tendency to set impossible goals for myself and my time, but doesn't every momma/maker do that?

My dream to do list includes:

+swim lessons for the older two kiddos +begin nature journaling like Greta Eskridge +join the Sumer Reading Program +teach my kids Shakespeare + and spend 25+ hours/week in my studio

I know, too much! But if I don't set stretch goals for myself at the beginning of the season then I will get nothing done! Here is another goal I've set for myself. I am going to try to launch my next collection on Friday, May 12th. Watch for more posts here and on Instagram about what's going to be "in store". Get it? I know! Lame attempt to be punny, but you can't fault a girl for trying!


Schole: a night of learning copperplate calligraphy + a peek in my sketchbook

Several times throughout the year, my daughter's school hosts a Scholé Night (for more on scholé read this), and this quarter we got a chance to learn pointed pen calligraphy, specifically copperplate, from Cheryl Dyer and Laura Capp of the Letter Arts Alliance of Nebraska

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It was a great evening spent learning a bit of the history of writing by hand, and of trying out the copperplate script for ourselves. I think my drawing background helped give me confidence in holding an oblique pen, and not to feel shy in trying out a new skill in front of others.  

Of course I had to try out this new pen in my sketchbook, and loved how much easier it was to create a variety of line weights in a short amount of time. 

Abstract mountainscape || in my sketchbook || Rachel Loewens

For those of you who have never used this sort of pen, the nib actually splits as you apply pressure which creates a thicker line. When I draw with my trusted Lamy Safari pen, I have to go back and thicken lines to create depth afterwards. 

abstract landscape || in my sketchbook || Rachel Loewens

The only downside to this type of pen is that you have to dip it in an ink well to refill which makes it slightly less portable and significantly more likely to make a mess!!

Do any of you use calligraphy pens in your sketchbook? I would love pen and nib suggestions!

 

 

taking my studio outside: Cyanotype prints

We are enjoying a bought of unseasonable nice weather for Nebraska in February. It is supposed to last almost a week so I am seizing every chance to enjoy the warmth and sunshine! 

Cyanotype Prints || Rachel Loewens

My daughter is keeping a nature journal for school, and I thought it would be fun to do some sun-printing or cyanotype printing with some of the treasures we've collected over the years on family hikes. Knowing that things rarely go smoothly the first time, I decided to give it a go myself while the kiddos are with Grammy for their weekly sleepover. 

 
Cyanotype Prints || Rachel Loewens

The process is fairly straightforward. You lay your objects on top of the chemically-treated paper and place glass or cling wrap on top to hold them in place.

Here comes the kinda tricky part. The directions say to expose the paper to sunlight until the color lightens which should take about 2 minutes and be careful not to over-expose. I noticed that my paper seemed to be ready after only 1 minute, I but was a little nervous to cut the time in half. 

After letting a few prints go for the full two minutes, I decided to make several based off of the time it took the paper to change color instead of the time, and the results were sooo much better!! Some of the first prints were so light that I couldn't even get a good photograph of them!

Here are closeups of two prints I took from my feather collection. I love the contrast between the upper vane part of the feather and the downy barbs towards the bottom (yes, I had to Google the parts of a feather!). 

Cyanotype Prints || Rachel Loewens
Cyanotype Prints || Rachel Loewens

I hope my kiddos enjoy this activity next week and don't get too frustrated with all the waiting it takes for the prints to fully develop! I'm envisioning how amazing it will be to incorporate these images into some of my collages so check back to see what I come up with!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Update: My shop is now open!! Head on over to find some amazing original pieces at great prices!!

A quiet week

Quiet is a blessed gift. In this frantic world how we must cherish every moment of it, and carve it out for ourselves every chance we get.  Anne Ortland

After a few weeks of illness, snow storms and the general feeling of needing to catch up that occurs when your routine is all out of whack, it is so nice to just have a quiet week.

Jens in the kitchen || Rachel Loewens Fine Art
Art and science class collide || Rachel Loewens Fine Art
Brigs "teaching" AJ || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

We also hit the major milestone of completing our first semester of co-teaching our oldest. This has been such a great experience for our family, and we are so glad to know that her school is so successful that it looks like it will continue of for many more years to come!

In my sketchbook || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

I've also been continuing on with my gold ink drawings! Hope you enjoy them as much as I do while making them!