January & February: Learned that I could take on all of my art classes that I loved to do with the part-time teaching of middle school art at the Franklin Academy, and continued my small business - Rachel's Whimsical Art, that included the after school arts enrichment at local elementary schools. I was teaching ceramics, mixed-media art, hand-sewing stuffies, and starting another school mural. My brother was visiting in Bham (Bellingham), for part of that time, so I was enjoying time with him & the family. The art studio was slow for me, in the winter, but I still took part in the Bham Downtown Art Walks at my shared space in the Bay street building.
April: The online art classes continued, along with my recording of art lessons 2x a week. Zoom became a big deal for all schools, students, parents, and so many other jobs that had to become virtual during quarantine. I missed seeing the after school art enrichment students, so did a small online class via Zoom with one school of K-2 grades. I did a lot of gardening & I started my porch garden 2 months early. I also did plenty of cooking and baking at home. I was thankful that my schedule to be in the shared art studio 3 days a week, became something I could count on for a new work mode. I kept recording videos and sharing on YouTube, which was also shared within the community via Allied Arts. This was the 2nd month of solitude & not seeing my family or loved ones. All social activities/events were still at a halt, and that included the art walk. Like many of us out there, I received a stimulus check, but after paying bills, there wasn’t much left by the end of the next month.
June: The end of the school year was upon us, and I had a mixed-bag-o-emotions about it, & for multiple reasons. I knew I wouldn’t see any students again for the end of school year, and I missed them greatly. I missed my art classroom & my dream job that had just begun this year. Of which, it had altered and become something out of a Twilight Zone. The grading for middle school students was very different, (this was my 1st year grading any students for art), and I was surprised to find that I would be able to see the 8th grade students in a distanced mini-version of an outdoor graduation. It was a bittersweet end to such a bazaar school year. Toward the end of the month, I did get the news that I was offered a full-time teaching position at the same school that would begin in the following fall. This gave me hope that the next one would be better. As many of us had encountered by the end of spring, that ALL of the big social events, such as any big travel plans, music concerts, art shows, festivals, dances, etc were all cancelled due to COVID-19. The summer didn’t look as bright as it usually does for so many reasons.
August: The first week of the month, I finished my recovery from post-op, and decided to end the summer in a different sort of way… I went on a solo road trip to Oregon to visit family, and go to the Oregon Coast as a week-long-vacation. It was the best thing I have done for myself, with the help from my partner to go on the trip, and after such a long stressful school year topped with the surgery. I came back home well rested and energized for the return to school (which happened the last week of the month).
October: At this point, there was a pattern of schedules that started to play out with my art classes and students. While I enjoyed being back into my love of art and teaching, I missed contact with others. Each of my days was filled with kids of all ages, making art with them, and sadly very little contact with any other adults, friends, or family (aside from my partner). I talked with a couple of other teachers briefly, and found that I wasn’t the only one feeling isolated in the classroom. This is a seriously hard task for all teachers to be in school during a pandemic! At the start of the month, I had 2 big challenges: 1.) Plans to move out of my old shared studio space, and into a new art studio for just myself, 2.) My old 2003 Kia Spectra car died. So, I had to have the added stress of figuring out what to do with the dead car, begin a search for a new car, and move! I rented a car and a truck for the first week to move things, and I was blessed to have 4 friends help me move studios just about 3 hours of a day. So thankful that this all came out alright.
November & December 2020
December: Thank goodness this was a short month of work! Both my mental/emotional health had been on the ‘E’ of my odometer for fuel or energy. At school, there was a heart-felt teacher appreciation day, a good day of books donated to the art classroom, and a week of fun holiday spirit week, before we all left for winter break. I even incorporated some fun winter themed art projects, to help boost the cheer. There’s good news in a vaccine is now available for the virus, & has begun distribution. The Holiday Festival went pretty well, all things considered. We estimated (really, what we hoped for), that the sales would be about 20% of what we’ve done before, and it was about 17% of the overall art sales. I did a ton of baking during the first week on vacation, and decided it would be a holiday treats kind of gifts, for friends and family. I had fun baking cookies of all kinds, and on Xmas eve, did our traditional Beef Wellington dinner, just for the 2 of us. The Christmas day itself was a hard one. I was the only family (one of 3 siblings), who made it over to the parents house for a visit, and I didn’t stay for dinner, having to explain to my mom and step-father for the umpteenth time, why I can’t eat in the same home with them during this pandemic. Their space isn’t well ventilated (without an air filtration system), and they both have health compromises, so they are vulnerable to the virus. I visited at a distance and with my mask on. Days later, my youngest brother and his new wife, new baby & family arrived for a day visit at the folks place. I was invited, so just stopped by for a quick visit for gifts and then left before they had dinner. Each time I visit, my heart breaks a little. I know they want to see their kids and the holidays are special, but I can’t share germs with them. I’ve spent 2 days delivering gifts to friends in town, as a way to spread the love from afar… so it’s some kind of treat for us all. During the last week of the month, I’m enjoying the last of my days off at my new art studio, at home making & cooking things, resting, reading, watering the plants, watching movies, & playing games with my partner. School will be back in session on January 4th, and I’m going to get myself ready the day before, with prepping some fun Paper Mach'e sculpture projects for the kids to start our sculptures.
Note: I do have plans to have a Summer Art Camp - be that whatever the safest way possible to host a kids art class in July, so stay tuned. Thank you!
~Laughter & Light!
~Miss Rachel Simpson