Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas Ghosts

One of my proudest moments as a teacher was working with my Design Team students to create and build the Christmas Ghosts for Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."  They did an amazing job.  The Ghost of Christmas Past (in white) was about 6' tall.  The Ghost of Christmas Present (in Green) was about 7' tall.  And the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come was just over 10' tall and had about a 12' arm span and cable-operated fingers.  Here is a photo of the final costumes following the opening performance.  The ghosts became instant celebrities and audience members gathered around following the shows for photos.  It was a wonderful way to cap weeks of hard work.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Life Drawing

As an art teacher, most of my curriculum is founded on life drawing.  I believe it is the best way to teach perception for visual artists, and I have found that students from 7th to 12th grade respond well to the drawing sessions.  Below are some student drawings from 2010-11.  All these were drawn from observation of a live model.  Drawing time ranges from about 15 minutes to 1.25 hours.

B.B., 11th Grade
C.N., 11th Grade
A.F., 11th Grade
B.F., 7th Grade

M.D., 11th Grade

Thursday, December 08, 2011

DaVinci Academy's "A Christmas Carol"

As I mentioned in my last post, we've been getting ready for DaVinci Academy's production of "A Christmas Carol."  All of our hard work culminates this weekend, and I'm pretty sure the glue burns, late nights, and brain strains will be completely worth it.  The Design Team and Theatre students had the opportunity to design and build costumes/puppets for the four ghosts (Marley, Past, Present, and Future), and they did a wonderful job.  Here are some behind-the-scenes photos.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Christmas Carol - Update

Only two weeks until DaVinci Academy's production of "A Christmas Carol." My students and I have been working hard creating "the Ghosts" and I'm looking forward to seeing them perform.

Mr. Slee (drama teacher) and I wanted Marley and the Christmas ghosts to be different than the rest of the performers, so we decided to explore puppetry and audio effects. I think we have come up with some very creative results. Here's some photos of a couple of the ghosts in progress.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

A Christmas Carol

So, while at the Shakespeare Competition in Cedar City, Utah, Adam Slee (DaVinci Academy's drama teacher) and I decided to try an interesting take on "A Christmas Carol." I will be working with my Design Team at DaVinci Academy to create four larger-than-life puppets/costumes for the ghosts in the production.  Mr. Slee is taking a fun, non-traditional approach to the sound effects and staging.  It should be a very enjoyable production.  I'll post more information soon.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


Today a student of mine was really struggling with school and life.  He came to the art studio looking to get away from things and I asked him to draw a picture of the current still-life at the front of the room.  He decided to give it a shot.  About fifteen minutes later, he was frustrated, hated the drawing, and stood holding it over the garbage can.  I told him he was giving up too soon and that he needed to keep on working.  I could tell he didn't want to bother with it any more, but he consented and returned to his drawing board.  At the end of class, he came up to me with a big smile, holding the drawing proudly.  With a little more time and effort, he was able to create a wonderful drawing.  I pointed out that it was a good thing he didn't quit earlier.  He nodded agreement.

Too often, we get frustrated and want to quit when things don't go our way, but if there is one lesson I hope my students can get from the visual arts, it will be to not give up.  In so many ways, drawing is the process of working through mistakes.  It takes persistence to succeed at drawing, painting, and life.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

And now . . .

It's been a very busy summer.  I decided I was going to bite the bullet and complete my coursework for Utah's Alternative Routes to Licensure program.  This is a great program that let's people like me, with a bachelors degree but not a teaching certificate, become qualified to teach.  I entered the program in 2009.  They gave me three years to complete the program, but I decided I wanted it done now.  I took four classes through Salt Lake Community College and University of Phoenix this summer, and I completed the last class this past Monday.  I keep telling myself it's nice to be done, that maybe next summer, I'll actually get to enjoy it . . . but the truth is, I kind of feel lost.  At the time the classes seemed over-whelming, but now that they are over, I miss them.  I like learning.  I like sitting in a classroom filled with teachers because I'm guaranteed to learn something interesting about pretty much everything.  And A.R.L. teachers are amazing.  Almost all of us have worked professionally in our fields and so we bring with us some really in-depth knowledge about the subjects we teach.  It makes for really fascinating discussions.  Anyway, I've started looking at Masters programs, but I've promised my wife I will wait for a year or two.  In the mean time, it will be nice to be able to draw and paint more, read more (something besides textbooks), and actually blog a bit more I suppose.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

What is your opinion on Creativity?

I'm taking a course this week on teaching literacy.  As part of the class, we were asked to create an "Anticipation Guide",  which is a series of statements about a text that students are about to read.  I didn't have a particular text in mind at the time, but derived the following statements from several books and discussions on the topic.  They are designed to foster thought and discussion.   And I wouldn't mind sparking a little discussion right now, so here is my anticipation guide.  I hope you'll take a few minutes to respond and leave a comment.  Thanks.

Anticipation Guide

·         -Read the following statements about Creativity
·         -Consider whether you agree or disagree with these statements.
·         -Please share your response to some or all of these in the comments section.

1.  Some people are not born with creative ability.
2.  Creativity is a skill that can be learned through knowledge and practice.
3.  Creativity is predominantly an attribute of the arts.
4.  Creativity is the culmination of choice.  Freedom and skill permit greater opportunities for choice and therefore foster greater creativity.
5.  Creativity is the same thing as self-expression.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pioneer Trek 2011

This past week, I traveled to Martin's Cove in Wyoming with a group of about 60 youth for a Pioneer Trek.  My job was to photograph the event and later create a DVD of highlights.  My wife suggested that this was the perfect job for me, and I think she was right.  It allowed me to stand back in the wings, so to speak, and to observe people, animals, and the environment.  Here are a few photos from the event.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Almost Angel - Final(ly done).

So, I just realized that I never posted the final image of this painting, even though I had shown it in various stages. That is now remedied.


Thursday, June 09, 2011

Latest work for IGMS

It's really nice to hear from an author that I did well on an illustration for his story.  Today I received just such a message from Lon Prater, whose story "This Is My Corporation, Eat", was just published in Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show.  It's a well written and creative story that explores the over-commercialization of religion.  Here is the illustration.  And, of course, I recommend you check out Intergalactic Medicine Show for this story and others.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I had a few minutes after class today, so I painted a quick sketch of Laney from Hazzardous Universe.  I suppose this is what she would have looked like a few years before the events in the books, which is a year or two before she became the outlaw she is today. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ramblings from a Train

I'm sitting on the upper level of a Frontrunner Train this morning, heading to the Utah Museum of Fine art with 26 tenth graders.  And as a testament of their good behavior, I'm actually able to take out my laptop and write.

I enjoy the Frontrunner.  It's a relaxing ride, but more than anything, it lets me see my community from a different perspective.  On the freeway, you can't see much of anything anymore.  Much of it is bordered by 20 foot sound walls that block the view.  Not to mention, when you're driving you really can't take time to gaze at people's back yards.  On the Frontrunner, I feel a little voyeuristic.  I get to peek directly into back yards and indirectly into lives.  I suppose you can tell a lot about a family from their back yard.  For instance, we just passed a home with a large patio covered with at least 20 eclectic chairs.  I imagine the occupants of that home have a large extended family and enjoy visiting with friends.   Some yards are filled with play sets and trampolines, obviously the homes of small children. Some still have their Christmas lights up.  Some fences are well kept, while others are weathered and in disarray.  Some back yards border small, inexpensive homes, but provide space for large "toys" such as boats and snow mobiles.  Some lawns are mowed.  Some are not.  Some are just weeds.  Some yards look more like parking lots, with five or six weathered vehicles missing wheels.

There are also plenty of fields near the tracks.  Horses, cows, and sheep graze idly.  And not far from the fields is a new booming shopping district, built within walking distance of the Farmington train station, fueled by the fact that many people now come and go where the fields used to be.  I value progress, but I enjoy the fields more.

I have to admit, the view from Frontrunner is a bit skewed.  The homes are predominantly low- to middle-class.  The upper class doesn't live around here.  They wouldn't build in these areas.  There's a large number of trailer homes next to the tracks.  Although, we just passed a fairly nice subdivision.  One home even had a swimming pool, and I mean a fancy in-ground pool, not one of those plastic above-ground types.  I'm sure this subdivision was built before the train. I bet they weren't happy when the tracks were laid for Frontrunner.

Some communities have built parks near the tracks, to act as a sort of buffer between homes and the train.  Some homes have planted a line of trees to obscure the view, both into the yard and out.  Some don't care that their back yards are exposed to public criticism.  Others , I'm sure, are horrified.   

For most of us, the idea of a stranger seeing into our yards and into our life might be a bit disturbing.  I think we all need buffer zones at times.  We need space and privacy.  And here I am looking in, probably where I'm unwanted.  I feel a bit guilty . . . but fascinated.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Little Rant

Dear People in Charge,

Might I make a suggestion?  Or a few?

Can you please invest more in education?  And in particular, will you direct that money toward teacher salaries?  Feel free to hold us to higher standards.  And don't let us get complacent.  Better salaries will lead to better teaching, as long as that salary is tied to performance.

Oh, and while I'm on the topic of money, could you please hire more teachers?  More teachers means smaller class sizes.  As teachers, we need smaller class sizes.  Students need more one-on-one time.  It validates them.  It improves learning.  I'm tired of having little more than one minute to to spend with each of my students during class time.  I think I'm a good teacher, but with just a little of your help I could be so much better.

Yes, I know you're saying you don't have enough money . . . but, we all know the money is there.  It's just poorly managed by politicians who can't see the future beyond the next election.  Seriously, was it necessary to pay $3.4 million to build a tunnel for turtles in Florida or $5 million to create a geothermal energy system for a dying shopping mall in Oak Ridge, Tennessee?  How many billions were spent to create new jobs building roads when the best investment would have been education?  Wouldn't a wave of highly educated, enthusiastic young minds stimulate greater growth in America than a "stimulus" plan?  Please, make education a priority and then let the educated take care of our problems.


Kevin Wasden

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A few random thoughts on creativity before sleep

While teaching the History of Art and Science at DaVinci Academy, I defined Creativity as "the ability to organize raw materials and undeveloped ideas into new and meaningful products."  It was an adequate description that worked for both the arts and sciences.  But lately I've been giving my students a different definition, one that I like better:  "Creativity is choice."   For example, a finished drawing is simply the result of the choices an artist makes, such as what to draw and how to draw it.  An artist may begin with a blank white paper, then decides where to place the first pencil stroke.  Then follows with another, and another.  The process of decision making continues until the artwork is completed.   The culmination of these choices results in something unique and creative, because no two artists will make the same decisions throughout the course of a drawing.  

An artist's creativity, or in other words, his ability to make choices,  is limited by his perceptive ability, knowledge, and mastery of techniques.  Therefore, the more an artist learns and the wider his range of mastery, the greater his potential creativity. 

The concept of creativity applies to life as well as art.  Every day, we make choices about pretty much everything.  And it is the consequences of these choices that make our lives unique and meaningful.  In essence, our lives truly are a form of art and each choice plays an important part of the "artwork" we are creating.  So, the question is, "what are the consequences of the choices you are making right now?"

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hazzardous Universe Book Launch

So, you probably already know, but, the Hazzardous Universe book launch party was held Wednesday, March 9th, at Barnes & Noble in Murray, Utah.  It was a fabulous and successful evening.  There was an abundance of laughter, hugs, and book selling.  I was amazed/humbled by the number of people came out to support Julie and me.  And if you are one of them and you are reading this, thank you.  I mean it.  You're amazing.  Don't argue. 

I'm also grateful to Jeremy and his crew at Barnes & Noble for accommodating us and for putting up with my five kids running through his store all evening.

After the launch party, Julie and I headed out for sushi with Howard Tayler, Jessica Day George, and Dan Willis.  It was a great way to cap off an already great day.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

A Rapidly Expanding Universe

Friday, March 4th was an amazing day for a couple of reasons.

First, Hazzardous Universe was released and the early buzz has been extremely positive (i.e.Jessica Day George, author of Dragon Slippers, gave it 5 out of 5 stars).  And I have to admit, at risk of sounding a bit egotistical, the book is amazing.  I can say that because Julie Wright is brilliant and did a wonderful job crafting the story of Hap Hazzard.  It's a fun, imaginative book that kids and parents can definitely enjoy together.  I'm very grateful to be working with Julie on this project. 

Second, my art show opened at Gallery at the Station in Ogden, Utah.  I've been looking forward to this for several months, but never dreamed it would receive such a great response.  I don't think I've ever talked to so many people in such a short span of time.  Thank you to all of you who stopped by.  You made my day . . . heck, you made my week, month, and a good chunk of my year.

I'm hoping March 9th will be an equally good day.  Julie and I will be at the Barnes and Noble in Murray (53rd South State), Utah, to celebrate the launch of Hazzardous Universe.  If you are in the area, please come by and say hello between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm.  Hope to see you there.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Book Release and Art Show on March 4th

It's official, Hazzardous Universe is scheduled for release on March 4th.  On March 9th, Julie and I will be hosting a Launch Party at the Barnes & Noble in Murray and we hope you'll come join us.  We will be signing books and giving away goodies.  I'll post more details as soon as possible.

Hazzardous Universe pre-orders (book or Audio CD) are available through Deseret Book.

Also through the month of March, my artwork will be on display at the Gallery at the Station (at Union Station) in Ogden.  A reception will be held on March 4th, 6 - 8 PM, in conjunction with First Friday Art Stroll.  I'm looking forward to this show.  My illustration work, as well as much of my fine art, will be on display.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Hazzardous Universe book series - Set for release in March

It's hard to believe the earliest sketches I drew for Hazzardous Universe are dated "1993".  That seems so long ago.  Two of the main characters, a pair of bumbling extra terrestrials, were conceived that year for a comic strip competition for my college's newspaper.  While other responsibilities kept me from completing the strip in time for the competition, the ideas stayed with me and grew over the years.  Now they will get their chance to shine.  This March, Hazzardous Universe, will be released.  It will be a four book series written by Julie Wright and inspired by the character art and short stories I created from 1993 to 1997.  Julie has crafted a wonderful story filled with imagination, adventure, and humor.  I have created 29 new illustrations for the book, as well as the cover art. Together, I think we have created something to be proud of and that we're sure you will enjoy.

We will be announcing the official release date and details for our launch party shortly.