Thursday, November 29, 2012

Middle School Beauty Review

Yes. You read the title of this post correctly. I'm going to write about the Beauty Review that is happening at our public school this weekend for Middle School girls. Just curious . . . do you think that there could be a worse age to put young girls through a contest where they are judged based on their appearance (and proficiency with the use of body glitter)?

Okay, maybe those toddler beauty pageants are worse. But still.

I haven't heard much about it from my oldest daughter who is in eighth grade and is a member of the club which is sponsoring the event--an academic club which requires a 94% grade average and service hours every semester (don't even get me started)--except that she is staying far away from anything having to do with it.

My seventh grade daughter is very different from her older sister, however. She is very girly--she loves ballet, flowers and pretty clothes. I was relieved that she never mentioned the pageant to me or asked to be a part of it. But earlier this week, she was in a bit of a mood, and I asked her what was going on. She said "nothing" but then later mentioned that she was "so sick of hearing about the stupid Beauty Review". I told her that I was proud of her for not signing up to be a part of it, that those were not our values, and we talked a little more about it.

Apparently, those middle school cafeteria conversations that used to be about soccer, school projects, and play rehearsals had shifted. Now everyone was discussing whom they thought would win (i.e. who was the prettiest girl in seventh grade), and the girls partaking in the pageant were dishing  nonstop about their dresses, shoes, makeup  . . . and what time to get to the hair salon for the perfect messy updo.

Before you ask, I've made my feelings known to the sponsors of the event, and I doubt (hope) that we will have a repeat next year. This year, though, it's a done deal. And I've been surprised by how many of my friends are letting their seventh grade daughters' participate. It's like it's become one of those "everybody's doing it" things, and it's really weighing on me. I honestly thought in 2012 smart women had progressed beyond this kind of stuff and we could stand in solidarity, but my friends have shrugged saying that it's all in fun, harmless, and something their daughters wanted to do.

So, you can imagine how happy I was to find this sheet of paper on my daughter's desk this morning.

I think we'll be okay in the Hardy house.

And . . . whoa!! I think I may have the seeds for a middle grade novel here. Hmmmm.


Stay tuned for a Christmas giveaway next week . . . .

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Favorite Things (with Apologies to Ina Garten)

I absolutely love Ina Garten's cookbooks . . . with one exception.

It has always bothered me how she feels it necessary to state in each and every recipe that you must use good olive oil or good quality strawberry preserves. I can almost hear her in a nasally, Hampton-y voice stressing those adjectives which serve as an admonishment to anyone who would dare to use, say . . . Kroger brand butter (not that I ever would--kidding, of course I do).

But recently, I was talking with an illustrator friend of mine about my favorite materials to use when painting, and I found my self pulling a full-on Ina Garten. It went something like this . . .

"You know, you always have to use the best quality gouache. Those cheap student brands just don't have the pigment density. And don't even get me started on synthetic brushes. I would die without my Winsor Newton sable paintbrushes."

Yeah. Snobby much?

Sorry, Ina. I get it now.

So here are a few of my favorite things to use when illustrating (feel free to use your best Hampton's accent went reading through my list):

Prismacolor Pencils--blend perfectly with an almost clay-like consistently and great colors.

My Winsor Newton sable brushes. These are the only two brushes that I ever use and they are perfection. Mwah!

Strathmore series illustration board. This is hands down the best, most durable, non-pilling illustration board around. Love it. Seriously. Nothing else will do, dahlings.

Winsor Newton and Holbein Gouache are my favorite brands. I use gouache a bit like watercolors, but I like the density and opaqueness of the pigments in gouache. The cheaper brands are crap. Take my word for it--I had to buy some locally when I was in a pinch.

The bottom line is this (and now you can read in a Southern accent): If you use cheap art materials or materials that you're not comfortable with, you will wind up fighting against them when trying to create. Don't make the creative process any harder on yourself than it has to be.

Go forth and paint! And be sure to use the good stuff . . .