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Monday, October 24, 2022

DKG Art Gallery Spotlight: Viewing Teaching as her “Calling”

Cammille K. Taylor

DC State Organization, Delta Chapter

 “Art should be something that liberates your soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further”.    Artist, Keith Haring

With a clear passion for the visual arts, our spotlight artist, Cammille Taylor, brings life and vigor to her approach to teaching the visual arts.  Hailing from a large family, she draws from her experiences and purpose- driven life to every aspect of her calling… to teach and share her passion for the arts with others.  Following one of Cammille’s favorite inspirational quotes, the Arts and Humanities Jury invites you to “liberate your artistic soul” as we journey to highlight this dedicated sister and D.C. artist. 

Tell us about yourself as an educator and artist.

I am a spiritual person who strives to live a purpose-driven life. I’ve never viewed teaching as my job, I believe education is my “calling” and I’ve always approached it as such. God blessed me with artistic gifts, talents, and creativity so that I could help multiple generations of children develop theirs.  I’ve been placed in a position to touch students’ lives in ways others cannot, because of my divine motivation.

You might say the “C” in Cammille is for “creativity”.  Even as a young girl in elementary school, making paper dolls, designing Barbie doll clothes, and using rocks to draw on the sidewalk, I sought opportunities to be creative. After completing a special Visual Arts Program in High School and earning a BFA in Design with a minor in education from Howard University in 1975, I immediately started my career as an art educator in DC Public Schools, following in the footsteps of my father, a sister, and a brother. I taught elementary and middle school art for thirty-seven years, with thirty-five of them being in the same school, and classroom. I ABSOLUTELY LOVED creating opportunities to explore the world through visual arts. Although teaching students a variety of art skills was certainly important, my goal was to guide them in developing their own individual, and personal sense of self-expression. I wanted my students to learn to appreciate the beauty and artistic value that exits everywhere, and in everything.  

Tell us what inspired you and how you developed the artistic mixed media art you entered in the gallery.

Being the youngest of eight children, I was blessed to have four big brothers, three of whom were old enough to be my parent! (I actually have nieces older than me) During one of their retirement celebrations, they took a group photo where each of them had a big smile that captured their individual personalities.  I was always intrigued by the way artists such as Jacob Lawrence, Varnette P. Honeywood, and William H. Johnson would simplify the features of the figures in their paintings. Using this approach, I successfully represented each of their distinguishable stances and physiques. The red and gold striped background started as an homage to DKG, then add the green for contrast. I chose to use watercolor and marker because the two mediums complement each other, and dry quickly. My parents, sisters, and all my brothers, except one, have passed away, so creating the painting was a bit emotional. But I’m comforted in knowing they are smiling from Heaven.

What is the best artist advice you’ve been given by an artist or anyone?

“Art should be something that liberates your soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further”. This quote by the artist, Keith Haring resonates with me because it speaks to what art does for both the artist as well as the viewer. The other is “Creativity takes courage”. This quote by the artist Henri Matisse speaks to my apprehension and trepidation about creating work to be entered into the DKG Fine Arts Gallery. Yes, it did take courage.

What does the value of creative arts in education mean to you?

I’ve always considered myself an educator who teaches Visual Arts, as opposed to being simply an Art Teacher. I’ve always used an interdisciplinary approach, realizing the importance of the core subjects in and all disciplines. Although the words are used synonymously, I see “value” carrying more weight than “importance”. Any form of creative arts in education is valuable because of its perpetual benefits to the student. The inclusion of creative arts into any curriculum provides a wholesome outlet and means of self- expression not found in the rudimentary mechanics of most core subjects. Creative arts have been the saving grace of many students.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know? 

After retiring nine years ago, I immediately began serving as a substitute teacher, and continue to do so up to this day. I became a member of DKG only five years ago as a retiree.  I immediately became involved with the Humanities and Arts Committee in my chapter and serve as a chapter representative on the state level. I’d like to credit Margret “Peggy” Chambers, the DCSO HAC Chairperson, and Dr. Helen Flagg, who recommended me for membership for encouraging me to “stir up my gift” and begin creating artwork again. I never considered, nor presented myself as a practicing “artist”. As Matisse said, “creativity takes courage,” and they helped me find it.

We hope that you are motivated to reach your inner courage and share your various artistic interest with our sisterhood. The Arts & Humanities Jury agrees with renowned artist, Matisse, as it does take courage to share one’s artistic talents with others, but we encourage our readers to put themselves out there and try.  We look forward to you returning often to view exciting new content and to putting the C in Creativity in your pathway.

We invite you to view the Art Gallery, click here.

Keep the conversation going, please use the comment section below to suggest new topics, ask questions, or give us your input. We love hearing from our readers and gaining new ones.  Spread the word!

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Engaging and Retaining Members Through Mentoring

Retaining members is a goal DKG, state organizations, and chapters all have.  One way to retain members is to have meaningful opportunities and activities in which they are actively engaged or involved.  An easy way to engage members is through mentoring.

Mentoring - the act or process of helping and guiding another person to support their personal and professional development – provides an opportunity for every member of the Society to participate. It is a great relationship-building tool.  Mentors are the “wise counselors” to others sharing wisdom gained through their experience with DKG, with the chapter, and with the profession.

In chapters, those who sponsor new members are often that person’s first mentor.  This connection can include activities such as sitting with the mentee at meetings, responding to questions, asking questions, asking them to help with something, and communicating regularly in between meetings.  It is not uncommon for this relationship to continue throughout all the years of membership.

Committee chairs should also be viewed as mentors.  They can encourage members to take on more active roles through their committee work.  Instead of the chair always giving a report at meetings or in the newsletter, giving a committee member that opportunity further engages them.  Having members serve as co-chairs not only keeps them active but helps develop leadership skills.

Chapter officers also serve as mentors to the person following in the line of succession.  Touching base on how they are doing in their role and asking what information or help they need is a great starting point.  Inviting members to think about becoming a future officer and highlighting what they can offer to the chapter as an officer is a great way to keep them engaged.

Members can mentor each other.  For example, younger educators still active in the field have a lot to share, especially related to technology.  Everyone has something to offer; mentoring is a way to share the multitude of skills we each bring to the Society.

We know the more one is engaged in the activities of the chapter and DKG, the more likely we are to retain them as members, so we should all make it a goal to engage and retain members through mentorship opportunities.  The 2022-2024 International Membership and Expansion Committee is committed to helping with your mentoring efforts.  Check out past blogs on the topic (Mentoring Makes a Difference, April 11, 2022; Creating a Good Mentoring Relationship, March 5, 2022; Mentoring:  Whose Responsibility Is It?, January 2, 2022) and ones to come on the International website and/or connect with a member of the committee.  Let’s all make a positive difference for our chapters, our state organizations, and DKG.


Wednesday, October 19, 2022

VOTE! Simple action which carries so much power and potential.

A brief review of voting rights shows that women have had to work long and hard to secure the right to vote in most countries.  Men were granted this right long before women.  The same is true with certain racial, religious and ethnic groups.  In fact, some voting rights for women were based on educational background and/or marital status.  Due to tireless efforts, and often battles, women have overcome these restrictions and can participate as voters.

During the current year, many DKG members have taken advantage of this right to vote in their member countries.  In the US, this freedom can be exercised coming up on November 8.  Whether the vote be for local, state, provincial, or national elections, these choices affect democracy. 

  • Your first responsibility is to register to vote in the US.  Check out for information on voter registration and elections in your state.
  • In some countries, registration is automatic, based on government records such as census counts.  What does voter registration look like in your country if you are outside the US? 
  • Once you have determined that you are registered, research the issues.  International Standing Rule 8.102 d. states, “Legislative activity shall be concerned with educational issues, not with candidates or political parties.” 
  • As DKG members, your work within the Society should reflect these issues.  As a citizen of your country, research on candidates will inform you on these important issues.
  • Vote with an eye toward the improvement of education and especially the interests of women educators.

 Fun Facts

  • Finland was the first country in Europe to grant women the right to vote (1907).
  • Although women could vote in municipal elections in Mexico beginning in 1947, the right for women to vote in national elections didn’t occur until 1953.
  • Japanese women cast their first votes in 1945. 
  • Not only are more women in the US registered to vote than men, the percentage of women voting in the presidential elections (since 1984) is slightly higher than that of men. 

Women have the potential to influence the outcome at all levels of elections.  Carry out your privilege by voting whenever you have the opportunity.

Monday, October 17, 2022

DKG Arts Gallery Blog: Artist’s Spotlight: An Open Artists’ Discussion on Creation, Technique & Opportunity

Linda Tracy– Connecticut State Organization – Theta Chapter

Briefly, tell me a little bit about yourself as an educator and as an artist?

I am a retired choral music educator, having taught at the middle school and high school levels, and have also conducted community choral groups.  Currently, I am the artistic director for the a cappella ensemble, Take Note! based in Mansfield, CT.  My love of painting resurfaced about 10 years ago, when I decided to try my hand at an acrylic painting class being offered at my community center, and this whole new hobby took off.

Your images, ‘Brandon and Lucy on the Journey’ and ‘Rodney the Rooster’ are both done in pastel.  Are pastels your favorite medium or do you work in other mediums?  

Although I started in acrylics when I took that art class at the community center, during one of the classes, the teacher, who was by trade a pastel artist, introduced us to pastels, and I was hooked.  Maybe it was because it’s so tactile (apparently, I love getting messy!)  You are holding the pigment in your hand, and your hand is the paint brush.  It just took a hold of me.  At times, I do think about trying acrylics again, and I have dabbled in watercolor, but pastels are my jam!

 Where do you find inspiration for your work? 

I’m basically a landscape artist.  I wish I could say I take these great photographs as I walk through nature, but my photos aren’t as inspiring as photos my friends have taken!  If they post something on Facebook that I’m drawn to, I’ll reach out to them and ask if I can use it for a painting, and they’re so excited and flattered when I do that. I’m really drawn to water and sky (I have trouble keeping my eyes on the road when I drive if there are some spectacular clouds in the sky!)  I’m a sucker for sunrise and sunset shots. I love autumn!  I could paint autumn scenes forever. There are online websites where you can search for free photos of specific subject matter, and I’ll often visit those sites for some inspiration. I stress the word inspiration, because free isn’t always free.  The painting “Brandon and Lucy” has a story behind it.  I found the autumn scene and went to work on it.  It was sitting on my easel for a few weeks because I got stuck and didn’t know how to finish it.  Then I got a call from my son Brandon and his fiancĂ© Lucy, saying they got married!  The Covid pandemic had put their wedding plans on hold, and then one day they just decided not to wait any longer and they got hitched!  So now I knew how to finish my painting.  I put them in the painting, crossing the bridge and starting their new life together.  They got married in October, so it was a perfect scene for them. I gave it to them as a wedding present.

Many people are leery of using pastels as they tend to “over smudge” or continually touch their work resulting in a flat piece.  Your work illustrates a layered and colorful technique?  Please explain to our members your process of working in pastel. Any tips?

Funny you should mention that, as I am one of those over blenders (but I’m working on it)! It’s dangerous to do that because you can create “mud” in your painting.  But when I do that, I consider it creating a neutral color, and then going back over that area and layering other bright colors over neutral colors will make those ‘brights’ pop.  For my underpaintings, very often I’ll use a blending technique where I put in all the values of the painting, then take a piece of pipe insulation foam and rub in the color and blend some of the colors together to create my roadmap for my painting. It creates an out-of-focus look but is effective in covering the whole canvas so there are no plain spots poking through.  Then I can concentrate on choosing the colors that I want and the areas that I want to stand out.

Pastels like paints come in many varieties, varying from chalky to oily.  Do you have a favorite type?  Same with paper, textured or smooth, what do you use? 

I use soft pastels only.  There are gradations of hardness to the pastels.  The harder pastels are good for preliminary work, like the underpainting, to set the roadmap to your painting.  Then the nice, buttery soft pastels bring out the richness of your work.  I work on sanded paper because you need something that will grip the pastel.  Sanded paper also lets you do a wet underpainting, which is a lot of fun to do.  It’s kind of like you get to paint your painting twice!  I’ve tried oil pastels, but I just don’t get them.

‘Rodney the Rooster’ is a dapper and colorful fellow! Do you work from a photograph or capture the image from memory?

I work from a photo 95% of the time.  On occasion, I’ve painted something from my head if I just want to take some time to paint and not plan.  Being a landscape artist, I must admit that painting “Rodney” was totally out of my comfort zone.  It was a challenge activity from an artist I follow and learn from.  Her lesson one week was about painting animals, and she told us to find a picture of an animal and paint it.  I found “Rodney” and loved his fun colors.  I pushed the color even more than what I was looking at and just had fun with it.  He was my very first animal painting, and I finished him in about 90 minutes because I just let myself go and didn’t pressure myself to create a “good,” frameable painting.  And then a friend of mine saw the painting, loved it, and bought it!  Now, “Rodney” is framed and living in someone’s kitchen!

What is the best piece of artistic advice you’ve been given?

“Even in front of nature, one must compose” is a quote from Edgar Degas which I strive to follow, and it’s an ongoing struggle for me.  It’s important for your painting to have good composition before you put all the time and effort delving into the painting process.  If you are painting from nature, you shouldn’t feel like you need to paint exactly what you see if it isn’t compositionally sound.  You should feel free to take out a tree or move a rock if it makes your painting flow better.  That’s why it is hard for me to paint from photos I take myself.  I’m a very black-and-white thinker, which probably isn’t a great quality to have if you want to be an artist!  I can see something is getting in the way of motivating me to paint the scene, yet I get paralyzed when tasked with making it a better composition.  I’m still a student and always will be.  There’s always something new to learn!

Do you have any tips for others looking to attempt pastels?

Make sure you look in the mirror before you leave the house after painting.  Chances are, you have pastel dust on your face!  But seriously, get the best pastels and paper you can afford in order to avoid frustration.  You won’t know what you can produce if you’re using cheap materials.  Make sure you get sanded pastel paper.  There are un-sanded pastel papers that have no grip at all, but it is hard to work with and you’ll get frustrated (I certainly did!)  Even using fine sandpaper from the hardware store to practice on will work.  It’s just not archival, so it won’t last for years.  But it’s great to practice on and will save you money.

We invite you to view the DKG Art Gallery.

Keep the conversation going, please use the comment section below to suggest new topics, ask questions, or give us your input. We love hearing from our readers and gaining new ones.  Spread the word!

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