The year began with a new venture: teaching a j-term class at Covenant Christian High School. The class, called Paint Your Cake and Eat It Too, combined everything I love: food and nature sketching with watercolors, history, literature, great movies, and plenty of tea and cake. We had nine days and nine artists/authors that we covered.
I couldn't believe how much I loved teaching! Fortunately, every single student in my class wanted to be there and actively participated. I couldn't get enough of the discussion as we wrestled with the crazy childhoods of some of our subjects, the outlandish parents of others, the historic events happening during their lives, and the plot lines of their stories.
We began with Queen Victoria the quintessential Victorian whose life overlapped with all but one of the authors we studied.
We jumped back in time to explore the life and work of Jane Austen and enjoy the breakfast Jane partook of when she visited Stoneleigh Abbey. (Think hot chocolate, coffee, tea, Bath buns, plum cake, and pound cake.)
After our main teaching time we started into the movie of the day (for Jane Austen we watched Pride and Prejudice). The kids painted while we watched which doesn't sound like the best idea for painting but it really worked.
Jane Austen's final home at Chawton:
After Jane Austen we covered the Bronte sisters. That happened to be my favorite day because the discussion was so invigorating as we all tried to make sense of the Brontes' difficult life and their slightly strange stories.
We moved then to Beatrix Potter, who was my favorite author to share about. I found it so eye-opening to discover that many of the kids were unfamiliar with Beatrix Potter and quite a few of the other authors we studied. I started to think of myself as an evangelist for classic literature.
We had an Appley Dapply tea party while we watched Miss Potter and the kids painted the beautiful scenery of the English Lake District.
Of course this made us all want to jump up and fly to England for a literary and painting tour.
Everyone had their own style and I loved seeing their creativity. I was especially pleased that some newbie artists joined our class and were not put off by having to draw for 2.5 hours a day.
The second week began with Louisa May Alcott and Little Women.
There is just so much of interest to discover in learning about these famous authors. And there are so many more works they have written that we don't normally read!
Few students had read Laura Ingalls Wilder or were familiar with the Little House on the Prairie tv series. They sure enjoyed the homemade bread though!
This t-shirt was the best! Especially because this student loves art and wasn't really here just for the food.
We talked about Laura Ingalls Wilder's life in a sod house on the banks of Plum Creek.
We finally got around to our male authors when we studied C. S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia.
And we ended our time with J. R. R. Tolkien and a Hobbit feast.
All in all it was a wonderful two weeks. I just love this kind of learning -- where the information is experienced and assimilated through all of the senses. The more ways one can take in information the better the chance of it sticking in the brain! And with the tea party element it's almost as if we time travelled. We can't go back to the past but we can TASTE the past!! I'm still reveling in the memories of this time.
But February is nearly upon us and I'll be starting up a new session of nature journaling classes (contact me if you are nearby and are interested!). Our focus will be on winter skies and palettes, winter birds, winter trees, snow, and winter animals.