drawn into nature

at this National Gallery of Art family workshop Drawn into Nature, we explored the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe and learned about her interest in nature, color, and abstraction. we then used soft pastels and conté crayon to make our own artwork.


artreach portraits 

this fall mercyGirl and signGirl delved into portraiture at ArtReach.

mercyGirl’s statement: I like to design things and draw. I would like to be an architect when I grow up. In the future I would like to design my own house and have an architectural design business.

signGirl’s statement: I love cooking, mixing things together, reading chapter books, and doing gymnastics. In the future I am hoping to own my own underwater restaurant. The door to the restaurant can be found on the beach.

thanks to the teaching artists, their personal pieces and collective work always seem come together so well.

art of the Quran 

The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts is one of the Smithsonian Freer-Sackler Galleries‘ most recent exhibitions and it features many, many magnificent Qurans. Qurans with gold, jewels & precious metals; ancient Qurans; colorful Qurans; and even one with pages about the size of a twin bed.

We attended an opening event with calligrapher talks (including one of the US’ most esteemed masters, Mohamed Zakariya) and other demonstrations.

We also attended a family workshop with local artist, Lubna Zahid. She gave us an introduction to the art of illumination then led us through the exhibition highlighting different motifs found in various Qurans. We then used our sketches and her techiques to illuminate a custom bookmark.

Catch a tour, family workshop or open studio before it The Art of the Qur’an ends February 20, 2017.

lotus and water lily cultural festival

right on time for spectacular views
of the lotuses and water lilies in full bloom
was the 2015 lotus and water lily cultural festival
at kenilworth aquatic gardens.


there were free hands-on activities, demonstrations, educational workshops, Civil war reenactors, and Asian and African dance performances —
something to tickle everyone’s fancy.
the free face painting was a particular hit with the kids (line be damned!).

this event will be on my calendar next summer inshaAllah,
but the aquatic gardens has other interesting wildlife and art park programs that we may check out before then.

diving into the tempest

it all started with my desire to read Shakespeare with my big girls.
i scoured the local theaters to see which of the Bard’s plays would be out soon.
i found that Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) would be putting on The Tempest in December.
that was our play.
i checked out a dozen books from the library
about the play itself and about Sir William.
then — by Allah’s mercy — I found out about a 15-week homeschool Shakespeare class at STC focusing on The Tempest.
less work for me. a lot less.

here radianceGirl performs portions of The Tempest with her homeschool peers on the final day of the class:



then STC announced Family Week at the Tempest. glorious!
we did just about everything and it was all FREE!
can you feel my glee?

we saw The Tiny Tempest, based on the play but re-envisioned for younger audiences.

we went to The Tempest Costumes: Designing a World and got up close and personal with costumes from The Tempest and learned how costumes get from the designer’s mind to an actor’s body from Costume Director Wendy Stark Prey.





we went to Playing the Play and did all sorts of theatre games to learn more about the plot of The Tempest.

the big girls did the Drawing from The Tempest workshop with Gareth Hinds, illustrator and author of critically-acclaimed graphic novels, who led these young artists in crafting a short comic inspired by the classic text of The Tempest.



for the finale we saw STC’s professional production of The Tempest…wait for it…for FREE!
how? let me tell you.
STC has had one of its most brilliant ideas. it’s called Free Will.
in order to open doors to new audience members
they are giving away 1000 tickets per production free of charge.
tickets can be reserved starting mondays at noon for performances during that week.

and let me tell you.
we had good seats.
like second row, center, orchestra seats.
signGirl (age 7) turned to me during the play and said, “Mom, I LOVE this!”
i don’t know if our spectacular seats were a fluke,
but my girls and i definitely enjoyed every magical moment.
even if we got a parking ticket afterward.

you are what you crEATe

when homeschooling smart you have to know when to outsource. i like art, understand its importance across subject areas, but i find that scouring for art projects online and in books and then gathering the appropriate supplies is pretty low on my homeschool to-do list. programs like ArtReach check that box in a spectacular budget-friendly way. this is how the program description read for the fall session:

You are what you crEATe

From art’s earliest stages, food has been used as artistic language to express cultural, political and social values. Artists share depicted food as symbols to express ideas relating to identity through paintings, sculpture, and design. In this class students will look at how artists from the past and today use food as a visual tool for expression.

Working in collaboration with THEARC’s community garden, ArtReach students will explore the aesthetics of plants, urban ecosystems, and the landscape of their natural environment. Closely investigating the architectural design, colors and textures found in plants, root systems, invasive species, and garden design, this class will experiment with botanical drawing from observation, painting with plant based dyes, printmaking with vegetables, and book making utilizing natural objects.

Classes will work on collaborative and independent projects exploring their relationship to food found in their own backyard and halfway around the world.

The topic of food allows artists to express ideas relating to identity. Through observation and visual investigation, students will gain a better understanding of their own urban garden and the civic and environmental impact of the food industry at a local and global level.

there is a homeschooling parent who would put that much thought into her art program for the year, but i don’t know her. my big girls experimented in various mediums, looked at food from new angles, and made friends & original art.