Atticus Arrives

967896_10104965202870509_452403013_n My son arrived about 36 hours ago. He is healthy, beautiful, and strong. I’m thankful and awed. A few hours after he came, I posted the following image and words: 10454386_10104960823950899_6612423471633883460_n “I nominate Atticus Garrett Ballou to eventually take awesome color pictures, or paint wonders, or write down glories, or sing high praises, or dream strange dreams, or tread with golden feet on far flung vistas, or wheel through the galaxy on spatiotemporal-controlling power… Or at the very least to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. 11/29/14, 3:01am”

My friend Frank (a great educator and thoughtful dad himself) commented, “With a name like Atticus, how can he help it?”

Well, here’s hoping that when my son reads about his namesake he will feel empowered. That we, as his parents, will believe that we’ve done something to impart the thread of grace and understanding that makes Atticus a worthy name to hold.

With a name like Atticus, how can we help it?

~

In the hours that have passed, I’ve had the chance to reflect on the epic person my wife is. I’ve now watched her through two pregnancies and one adoption (processes that are surprisingly equivalent and strenuous, believe me). She is someone who exudes a quality of character and force of will I’ve never had the chance to really know in anyone else. When Miranda was born, I got to see Alison’s movement through labor and delivery with eyes of terror and amazement. This weekend, however, I got to be a calmer, more aware viewer. I was much more keyed into what she needed and what she was doing. Seeing her come into full alignment with her body and her second-by-second progression through the final hours of pregnancy was inspirational. Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 10.52.29 PMAbove Left: Alison just toward the end of heavy labor, around 2am, less than an hour before Atticus was born. I was putting counter-pressure on her lower back and calling out the peaks and troughs of each contraction. Above Right: Alison, exhausted but calm, less than 5 minutes after giving birth. Often during labor she looked like this; totally within herself and focused on the event.

momandboy1

 …and just a minute or so later, Atticus got that precious skin-to-skin contact with his momma.

~

I was pleased to get some wonderful down time with the two of them after the delivery. We were, I think, able to enjoy that first day in a way we were too blown away to when we had Miranda or came home with CaiQun. Something tells me that ease will be a hallmark of our experience of Atticus. He’s such a relaxed yet alert baby. I think those qualities are something we are all hoping to manifest.

~

I got to draw a portrait of him in the early hours today. I love this first little document of looking at my boy. I hope you do, too.

~

Last, but not least, here are those new big sisters. They’re enjoying (and being generally confused by) their new baby brother. Glory. Thanksgiving.

IMG_1285

Advertisements

“Making something is one way to say ‘I love you'” – Daniel Tiger

My kids love Daniel Tiger. One of his ditties has a line they love to sing to themselves (and anyone else who’ll listen) that says “Making something is one way to say ‘I love you’.”

It’s obvious, but also something that we all need to be reminded of. It’s been on my mind as little Mr. Atticus is set to arrive soon… and as Alison is so, SO, SO ready to have that kiddo out. My wife tends to feel loved much more by actions than by words. Living out love is way more believable and significant to her than merely saying some words or going through some trite motions. For her, making something really is one good say to say ‘I love you’ to her.

We have been planning to have some fairly significant home projects/repairs and upgrading done before Atticus arrives. At first it was as simple as taking off some 30 year old wallpaper and painting the dining room, making a bunch of freezer meals to have during the first couple months post-Atticus-birth, and a few other general upkeep items. Once we got into those projects I started getting a head of steam going… I felt like hitting one of our dream projects: Built-In Bookshelves.

Alison and I have wanted to DIY some built-in bookshelves for over a decade. I decided we should go for it. I wanted it to be my pre-Atticus ‘thanks for all the hard work’ gift to Alison.

So I made some plans and even a balsa wood model…

Photo Nov 06, 11 30 11 PM

Thus prepared, the work began…

IMG_5475 IMG_5477 copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_5490 copy

Alison contributed painting and oversight skills.

Photo Nov 11, 9 10 39 PM

Almost complete…

Photo Nov 19, 10 07 54 AM

BOOOM! Finished. Made of Birch Plywood (a bit of mounting substructure), Oak (main, weight bearing horizontals), Poplar (vertical attachments), and Aspen wood (main shelves) with pre-fab crown and  base molding. Eight feet high, thirteen feet wide, and one foot deep. Took us about 2.5 weeks from start to finish, but combined with our other projects we’ve put in about 6 weeks of effort. In some ways this was hard stuff to do, work that required serious thought and follow-through.

It’s good to do hard things for the ones you love.

But I don’t want to over-romanticize this. It’s just a bookshelf. We have access to so much more than most of the world. We have a place to live and love in. We live in a safe area. We have jobs that help us have an historically unprecedented quality of life. So much of the world can’t say this. But given what we’ve got we need to live honorably. Whether that’s through adoption or committing to the vocation of a teacher – or through taking 6 weeks out of my own work to do work for my wife (who has put in 39 weeks on building a son for us!) – then I want to do that with passion and thanksgiving.

Photo Nov 19, 10 10 17 AM

Doing this project reminded me of how concentrated effort can translate into love. When I took a week to paint the interior of my mother in law’s home, that work catalyzed my love for her. When I create a painting for a family who is starting out on the adventure of adoption, that’s a way to know my own love for them. When I look at my built-in bookshelves, I’ll always think about the work my wife does and how hugely important she is, how lovely she is, how worthy she is.

And I’ll be thankful.

Museum Show!

10727750_760661254004316_310602584_n

I’ll be giving a talk today at an event for the Mizzou Interdisciplinary Center on Aging at the Museum of Art and Archeology. This talk is on the subject of mediated attention and the ways I try to teach (and learn) through the various technologies that surround us (Click HERE if you’re interested in attending the event – it’s November 4, 2014 at 4PM).

The wonderful thing about this event today is that it’s the first public viewing of an exhibition I have guest-curated at the Museum. This show, called Touching the Past: Student Drawings From the Gallery of Greek and Roman Casts, will be up throughout the month of November and into December. It features 22 artworks by my former students. Student drawings from the likes of Jacob Maurice Crook, Kate Miers, and Allison Jacqueline Reinhart feature prominently. The Museum is open 10am until 4pm Monday through Friday, so come visit the show any time!

S2012_DRW1_CastGalleryStudents working in the Cast Gallery a few semesters ago.

Working in the Gallery of Greek and Roman Casts is one of the most important experiences I can give to my students. I hope you’ll stop by and see works like the ones shown below.

drw1-2013-02Hannah Wallace, Wide Angle Study of Figures in the Cast Collection. 18 by 24 inches, graphite on paper.

DSC07052Kate Miers, Study of Artemis. 24 by 18 inches, graphite on paper.

One special guest I invited to have work in this exhibition is fellow teacher and artist Chris Fletcher. His sensitive, searching drawings from the Mizzou Casts seem deceptively simple. But having spent the last 25+ years studying drawing and painting, I can tell you that they are masterworks of human subjectivity and focused engagement. I love the little marginalia notes he leaves for himself on the edges of the works, and the inquisitive-yet-firm nature of his working. Don’t pass by this small pieces when you visit the show. Really, really great stuff.

List of artists in the Touching the Past exhibition:

Olaia Chivite Amigo

Matthew Ballou

Maggie Berg

Amanda Bradley

Jacob Maurice Crook

Chris Fletcher

Emily Gogel

Terisia Hicks

Rachael Liberty

Kate Miers

Aubrey Miller

Delia Rainey

Allison Reinhart

Tianyuan Ren

David Spear

Andi Tockstein

Duy Tran

Hannah Wallace

 ~

DSC07075Detail of Andi Tockstein’s Study of Apollo… you need to see this drawing in person!

Every Brushstroke An Opportunity to Help Change a Life

il_570xN.276209062Situation and Circumstance Overcome, Oil on Panel, 16 by 20 inches. 2003.

Eleven years ago I created this painting. Over the years many people have asked me to create copies of it for them. There are more than 15 versions of this piece scattered across the US. Now you have an opportunity to get one of your own AND help support the adoption process for two of my good friends, Aarik and Brooke Danielsen.

il_570xN.276129237Detail of Situation and Circumstance Overcome.

The original piece is one of the most important artworks I’ve created. Its quality of construction, unique place in the story of my art making, and the personal significance it holds cause me to value it highly. For $400 you can have your very own version of this painting. I will donate every cent of the sale price to the Danielsens’ adoption fund.

I am taking up to 10 orders and I will deliver the finished works by July 2015. If you want to have a beautiful, evocative work of art for your home and help give a child a home they deserve, please consider ordering one here. I love the Danielsens and am excited to give anything I can to their adoption journey. If you follow my blog, you know how close adoption is to my heart. I hope you’ll give me a lot of work to do; every brushstroke will be done with love and joy, and in the knowledge that each one is making a real difference to a real person.

To find out more about the Danielsens’ adoption and learn more about how you can help, check out their blog here.

If you have questions let me know.

il_570xN.276209106Detail of Situation and Circumstance Overcome.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE SAMPLE IMAGES ABOVE ARE EXAMPLES OF THE ORIGINAL PAINTING. Copies that I create will have variation, but will maintain the overall composition, color, and general surface structure of the original, and will be created exactly to the scale of the original.