A Writer's Playground

Monthly Activities for Kids by Linda Martin Andersen

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Posts Tagged ‘imagination’

Quilting–It’s an Art

Posted by lindamartinandersen on March 14, 2013

“Quilting–It’s an Art” by Linda Martin Andersen

“A Writer’s Playground”–A place to find wordplay, writing, and monthly calendar activities for kids and those young at heart.

National Quilting Day is March 16, 2013.

To celebrate, Maureen Wartski has agreed to be our guest blogger.  Maureen is a talented children’s author, storyteller, watercolor artist, and quilt artist.  

Join me in providing a warm welcome for Maureen Wartski.

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Hi, Linda, I’m delighted to be with you on your Quilt Day blog. Quilts have been special to my life, and I have always admired the expertise and precision with which my fellow quilters construct their beautiful work.

Did you know that the word ‘quilt’ comes from the Latin culcita which means—literally—a stuffed sack? Hardly a romantic start—but then, quilts have been around for a while. An ivory figure of an Egyptian First Dynasty pharaoh sported a quilted garment around 3400 BCE, quilted garments have been unearthed in Mongolia, and medieval knights wore them under their armor. The earliest surviving quilt comes from 14th century Sicily and is in the Victoria and AlbertMuseum in London.

Quilts as we know them today, were popular in the 19th century, and the art followed settlers to the new world. Quilting bees became popular when women in the vast and isolating Great Plains found a way to get together with their neighbors, and that practice continues, happily, to this day. The “Jewel Box Bee” of which I am a member, meets each Thursday to schmooze and to work on our projects. Some of us are traditional quilters; some combine abstract design with traditional elements, some design their own quilt ‘blocks,’ and others are accomplished in appliqué. For myself, I enjoy art quilting.

Art quilts come in so many forms that they defy definition. You have only to research ‘art quilts’ on the web and a thousand wonderful designs will appear. Personally, I like my wall-hangings and quilts to tell a story. This comes naturally, I think, because I have been a writer for more than 50 years and story-telling is in my DNA. Oddly enough, I have only written once about quilting in “String Piecing With Ben” an article written for Quilt Life, in their February 2013 issue.

"Come and Play" by Maureen Wartski
“Come and Play” by Maureen Wartski

My methods for constructing art quilts vary. Sometimes—not often, but sometimes—I have a clear idea of what I am going to do, and I follow the idea carefully. More often, I toss an interesting piece of fabric on the floor, stare at it for a while, mutter to myself, and then fling more fabrics onto the first. Then from some dark recesses of my brain a thought appears… and I am off and running! When this happens I will sometimes glue or fuse bits of fabric onto a background, cover all with a piece of tulle, then machine quilt. You can see the result in “Come And Play.” Perhaps you can even imagine a story!

The Natural world is an important component both in my quilts and in my writing.

"Going Up" by Maureen Wartski
“Going Up” by Maureen Wartski


Yuri’s Brush With Magic has the sea as its background. In this book sea turtles are key, while  “Going Up” is all about a frog trying to climb a plant! Then there are the all important elements of light and color. In two quilts, “Solitude” and“It’s Spring!” there is light—but such a different light! One quilt is exuberant with renewal and joy… the other speaks of silence and contemplation. Such stories these quilts told me as I worked on them!

I hope that you, too, will be tempted to pick up fabric, needle and thread. Fabric is a wonderful medium, flexible, alive, and so marvelously suited to express an idea or tell a story.

"Solitude" by Maureen Wartski
“Solitude” by Maureen Wartski
"It's Spring!" by Maureen Wartski
“It’s Spring!” by Maureen Wartski


Awaits a new found story

In this bolt of cloth.

                   by Maureen Wartski

Maureen, thanks so much for being our guest blogger!  If you would like to ask Maureen questions or make comments, please do.

Maureen’s art quilts can be seen on her website at:


on Fine Art America at:  http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/maureen-wartski.html?page=3

and on Etsy at http://www.etsy.com/shop/fabricartbymaureen

Visit her blog at:  http://maureenwartski.wordpress.com/

Thanks for visiting “A Writer’s Playground.”  Come again soon.  Bring a friend.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Martin Andersen

Posted in Careers, Character Traits, Interviews, Monthly Activities, Reading, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

A Teacher Who Encourages Creativity

Posted by lindamartinandersen on September 10, 2012



“A Writer’s Playground”–A place to find wordplay, writing, and monthly calendar activities for kids and those young at heart.

Today’s Theme:

Encourage Creativity–

Think outside the Box 

As a new school year kicks off, questions are in the air:  Who’s your teacher?  What’s your schedule? Which is your favorite class?

Many students would answer that art is their favorite class because it’s fun.  Art provides a chance to create and outstanding teachers encourage that creativity. 

Here to share more about art and creativity is Laura Reeves, an art teacher at an elementary school.  She is also the illustrator of a picture book series written by her former high school English teacher, Martha Goetz.  Talk about thinking outside the box!

Laura paints kitchen mural

Welcome Laura Reeves.


Tell us about yourself, your art, and teaching art.

Laura’s Artist StatementArt is so much a part of me that I can’t imagine my life without it; I love the creative process.  The longer I am alive, the more I appreciate the gift of art.  I am inspired by simple things I see every day, as well as my own experiences, people I know, animals, and books and stories.  My Japanese heritage subtly but distinctly influences my art.  The children I teach influence my art as well: their artwork, humor, and fresh perspective on the world.
        Flowers and trees are favorite subject matter for me to paint and draw; God’s designs in nature are amazing and breathtaking and a lot of fun to paint.   A few of my favorite artists are Marc Chagall, Frida Kahlo, and Vincent Van Gogh, among countless others.  I feel very blessed to live a creative life, surrounded by family and friends.  I have been making art since I can remember, but it really feels as if I’ve only just begun…
I specialize in individually commissioned paintings, murals, and illustration, but my experience includes several forms of art and design, including logo design, set painting for children’s theater, website design, and product design.  My paintings can be found in homes, businesses, and schools throughout North Carolina and in a few other states and countries, including Japan and France.

And now for the interview…

1.  Laura, today’s theme is “Encourage Creativity: Think outside the Box.” What does this mean to you?

Thinking outside the box is what art is all about.  However it is important to teach students the basic skills and elements of art so they have the tools with which to express their creativity.

2.  Describe yourself as an artist, remembering to keep today’s theme in mind.

I would describe my style as whimsical.  I don’t take my art too seriously; it would take the fun out of it.  I think art is a fascinating challenge.

3.  Name at least three ways students can “think outside the box” with art projects?

 First, don’t always stick with your first idea when brainstorming.  Sometimes the best ideas come later on in a brainstorming session.  Second, look past the obvious solutions/ideas.  Third, have fun.  Art is supposed to be fun.

4.  Name at least three ways students can “think outside the box” with other classroom assignments?

I would say the same as number 3.

5.  Describe a student art project that demonstrated “thinking outside the box.”

 Making up a monster is a very creative project in which students have to think outside the box.  The monster does not have to be realistic; it can be funny, silly, scary, whatever.  It can have as many arms, legs, eyeballs, etc. as you want. 

6.  Many students carry an art supply box.  What supplies would you suggest for an elementary child’s box?

Crayons, pencils, a pencil sharpener, color pencils, markers, and paper. 

7.  What art supplies would you suggest for middle school and high school students?

 the same as #6, except a wider variety of color pencils and higher quality art supplies

8.  Laura, please tell of a time that art made a positive difference for a student.

Any time a child is having kind of a bad day, and they leave art class feeling a little more cheerful, I am happy.  I think that happens all the time.

9.  September 10, 2012 is Swap Ideas Day.  Tell of a time students swapped ideas in art class.  Do you encourage students to swap ideas or to work independently?  Why?

My third and fourth graders like to make collaborative, elaborate drawings of towns, castles, etc.  They get ideas from books from the book shelf, their imagination, etc. It is interesting to see what they come up with.

10.  This is Apple Month.  Often students bring an apple for a favorite teacher.  How have you used apples as part of an art assignment? 

Not really, but I would like to do cut fruit and vegetable printing this year! 

11.  What words spoken by a student would mean far more to you than receiving a polished red apple?

“I love art class!”

12.  If you were leading students on a walk outdoors, what art activity might you suggest?

Doing crayon or pencil rubbings of leaves or sitting in a quiet spot and drawing from nature in a sketchbook. 

Thank you, Laura Reeves, for all you do for children and for art education.  And thank you for taking time to join us at “A Writer’s Playground.”

Have a great school year everyone!

To learn more about Laura Reeves and the Tristan Trapp book series, visit Laura’s websites:



Copyright © 2012 Linda Martin Andersen

Posted in Careers, Character Traits, Interviews, Monthly Activities, Reading, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

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