My dream home/studio in Lake Tahoe became a snow problem. It seems that the builder did a wonderful job with windows. He put a window in any spot that he could see the lake. So I had great window views and a sprawling deck. But his problem was with the roof. He built it at a steep angle not taking into consideration the snow load, and what would happen when the snow melted. Snow: Lake Tahoe gets an average of 215.4 inches of snowfall, or a little under 18 feet.
The snow would avalanche off the roof and take off the deck and stairs to the front door. Actually it did that twice and I had to have the stairs and deck rebuilt, two years in a row. The third spring melt convinced me it was time to leave. So I sold the house to a local police officer who loved it, lived in the neighborhood and didn’t mind having to replace the stairs and deck. He actually bought it with no stairs or deck. The only entrance to the two story house was thru the garage. That is if I could get the driveway plowed, then I could get to the garage. Not always possible!
My next adventure was a little way down the mountain. Down to 4800 feet above sea level from an elevation of 6286 feet. Not as much snow. But definitely higher than our LA home at 305 feet. Yes we left Thousand Oaks and moved to LA. (more on that later)
It was definitely time to explore artist Jackie in an entirely new place. You don’t form as many bad habits if you just keep moving and growing. Onward!
CARSON CITY NEVADA & SNOW
New home/studio was in Carson City Nevada. Carson City is just down the hill from the Fourth Center and my classes at the lake.
With an average of over 265 days of sunshine per year, the pleasant, semi-desert climate is hard to beat! During the summer months, high temperatures average around 90 F; during the winter, around 45 F. Average annual rainfall is approximately 11 inches, and average annual snow is 22 inches.
Less snow, lots of sun. Downtown had the governor’s mansion, and a few small stores, one grocery store, a casino and a brothel nearby. I didn’t work at the brothel (not my talent?, but I did work at the small art supply store, one block from the governor’s mansion.
It seems that the elementary school had no art or music program (budget cut.) So the art supply store was thrilled when I asked if they’d like me to teach children’s art classes. This would definitely be a new experience. I wondered how I would teach these adorable kids. So I decided to do a class similar to the classes I was teaching adults.
I hired models, who dressed up in costumes and I limited the classes to 9 years and older. Every Tuesday or Friday. after school, for two hours. The class size was limited to 6. It was a very small store.
Then there was little Joey, the six year old brother of one of the students. Joey kept pleading with his Mom to take the class. After about three weeks of his crying and begging, I broke my rule and said yes Joey can take the class, starting next Tuesday.
He arrived with the biggest joy-filled smile, and said “Mrs Jackie, thank you so much.” So I walked Joey over to an easel, showed him his materials. Charcoal. Pastels, and charcoal pencils. And his big drawing board with 18×24” paper, just like all the big boys.
My instruction to Joey was to stand back and look at the model (who for this class was dressed as a ballet dancer.) And when he felt ready, to start with the charcoal and to draw her, as he sees her. Then to use the pastel wherever he felt his drawing needed color. Every fifteen minutes I would have the kids stop, stand back, look at the model, look at their drawing and look back at the model. They did their looking for about 5 minutes, drawing for another 15 minutes.Then I’d announce “ You’re done please sign your drawings with the charcoal pencil and also date it.”
Break time meant snacks, and I’d go around the room and ask each one to tell me about their drawing experience. What they liked and what they didn’t know how to do? The project for the next drawing was to work on what they didn’t know how to do. Of course we discussed what they needed to do. Interesting that it took very little instruction.
Then I got to Joey. So I asked, what do you think of your first drawing Joey. And his answer, in a very low but proud voice, “I think it’s damn good.” Priceless answer that I’ll never forget. And truth is I thought it was too. What a cutie Joey was.
THE MUSTANG RANCH
Who was the model. One of my adult student’s aunt was the Madam at the local brothel. The famous Mustang Ranch in Carson City Nevada. She supplied me with models for both my children and adult classes.
And what did I learn there in Carson City. Not much about the oldest profession. But definitely… when someone has a desire to make art, don’t limit them based on age, but respect their passion. When a kid was really not into the class, I told their parent to find another creative outlet. Try music, dance, sports or even cooking/baking. Not everyone is interested in making art, but we’re all creative in some way.
Bottom line…I really loved teaching the kids. My demonstration was how I would draw the model. Nevertheless Iwas determined not to influence their unique ability. They just needed to learn how to use the materials. And a reminder to look at their model and then at their drawing. The object was to compare what they see to what they drew. The project was always the same…learning to see. I’d help them with ideas of how to approach their problems. My demo was on a different piece of paper or on the side of their paper. I’d make sure to erase it so that they wouldn’t copy me. When they left class, they each left with their own unique creative pieces of art.