Gallery of Work

I did it! I successfully created a print per month for the entire year. You can view the collection here. It was so much fun I’m ready to do it again. What’s Your Jam? is my first print of the new season. (Look for a color version coming soon!)  I’m collecting empty jars, getting ready for the summer’s bounty of dilly beans, tomatillo salsa, and hot pickled peppers. It’s definitely an inspiring time of year . . .

Today’s Favorite Creative Inspiration

Gravitational Waves, block print and watercolor, Tracy Gillespie March 2016

We all need a creative boost now and then. The cold, gray skies, unwashed dishes and mass shootings get me down. I know (for me) the only sane response is to make some art. But sometimes it’s hard –I feel like I’m too busy, I’m not good enough, it’s too late, there’s too much *real* work to be done in the world. Whenever I need to short circuit my self-saboteur, I look to my toolkit of creative inspiration.

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Mathematics and Sustainability

Student work from Mathematics and Sustainability class
Student work from Mathematics and Sustainability class

I just finished teaching a three week class on mathematics and sustainability. It was this amazing experience where I felt fully integrated: math, art, environmentalism—all these different parts of me were all there. Here are some samples of my students’ work.

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Art, Activism, and Mathematics

Spirit Guardians, block print with watercolor
Spirit Guardians, block print with watercolor

I’m preparing to teach a class on sustainability and mathematics this January–it’s one of my favorite topics because it’s so personally meaningful and the math is really interesting.

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Summer Solstice: Creativity, Integrity, and Gratitude


Apple Blossoms, hand colored block print
Apple Blossoms, hand colored block print

Happy Summer! I’m so pleased with how my apple blossom block print turned out–and excited to report that my next print is well on its way.

Since the Solstice marks the midway point through the year, it’s a great time to re-visit the goals I set for myself last winter. In this I get inspiration from Sara Avant Stover at The Way of the Happy Woman–she shares her process here in 5 Steps Toward Your Vision at the Summer Solstice. Rather than concrete goals, I focused on feelings I wanted to manifest over the year. For 2015 these are: Creativity, Integrity, and Gratitude. Here’s what that has looked like so far:

For Creativity, I found I had to define what that means for me. I discovered that to feel like I’m creative, I have to be regularly producing artwork (seems obvious, but harder than it sounds.) Setting myself on a schedule has helped immensely, because the act of creation is no longer tied to how I am feeling–it happens regardless.

Integrity means that my actions are in line with my values. When I chose this feeling, I was thinking of my work life, and how working often conflicts with other values I have (specifically family, self-care, and creativity.) My goal is to find meaningful work I can do while also honoring other parts of my life. In writing this blog and deliberately not choosing between art and math as a topic, I feel a huge shift in integrity, because I am no longer ignoring one piece of myself to promote another.

Gratitude is probably the most important of the three. For me it is a feeling I need to cultivate, not something I wait around for to show up. The best advice I have gotten about how to manifest more gratitude in my life has been to write a daily gratitude list. This simple action has yielded surprising results. Not only does it improve my attitude, it has shown me what I value in a day. Once I become aware of the little things that have a big impact on my happiness, I seek them out more readily, which boosts my well-being even more.

What are you manifesting this summer?

Gathering STEAM for Geometry

The Circumcenter and Incenter of a Scalene Triangle, a watercolor study

I get to teach my kids Geometry this summer, and yesterday we did circumcenter, incenter, centroid, and orthocenter constructions. I’ve never done those before, and I was captivated by the beauty of the constructions. I decided to turn a few into watercolors. It was a lot of fun. Here’s another:

Acute Triangle Centers watercolor study

In this one I also constructed the orthocenter and the centroid, athought it’s hard to see (they’re pretty close to each other.) Highlighting the construction marks makes it clear that the circumcenter is constructed from the perpendicular bisectors of the lines. It’s not as easy to see that the incenter is constructed from the angle bisectors–I’d love to find a way to show that. This is my favorite way to integrate art and math–using art and design to illustrate mathematical concepts. In many cases a picture is worth a thousand words.

A friend of mine sent me an article about STEAM–the education movement to integrate the arts into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) classrooms. I think this is hugely important, although I think it has to go beyond just setting up more discovery learning opportunities. I also think teachers need to realize that engaging in art can be really scary for some kids (just as scary as math is for others!) I advise going slowly. And primary to the whole equation is the relationship between the teacher and her students. When that’s in a good place, you can accomplish just about anything!