Author Archives: Andrea R Huelsenbeck

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.

Creative Juice #296

Creative Juice #296

So many of these articles touch my heart.

Video of the Week #359: Advanced Dance Moves


Wordless Wednesday: Frank


The Lost Art of Handwriting

Photo by Aaron Burden.

When I was a little girl, we all looked forward to second grade, because starting in January, we would begin the rite of passage known as “writing in cursive,” those elegant, flowing, sophisticated letters that we couldn’t yet even interpret. I attended a Catholic elementary school in the 1960s, and penmanship was a very important subject. We learned the Palmer method. From third grade on, we would be allowed to write with pens instead of pencils, but not ball-point pens; only fountain pens could be used.

Sadly, our earliest handwriting lessons were warmup exercises, such as practicing slanty lines and loops. It took so long to get to writing actual letters, and longer still to connecting them together into words. When we finally learned enough to write our own names, though, we were so proud. Especially me, though my achievement came later than others’, hindered by the length of my name: Andrea Rannertshauser.

Until high school, all of our assignments were handwritten in the required Palmer script. Heaven forbid we should get sloppy when tired; that would necessitate a rewrite. Our teachers had very high standards for us. Our handwriting had to be legible.

In high school we would learn how to type; from then on our assignments would be done on typewriter. I was never a good typist and had to employ correction tape to disguise my mistakes. Often I needed to retype papers that had too many corrections. This was 20 odd years before personal computers would become commonplace. I wrote my Master’s project on a manual typewriter.

And when we did research in the library, there were no photocopiers. If you wanted to copy information from a reference book, you had to do it by hand, preferably on index cards.

No computers or cell phones meant no email or texts; long distance phone calls were very expensive, so people wrote letters by hand (or typed them) and mailed them. The recipient would get it in a week’s time, and maybe in another week, you’d receive a reply. We oldsters had to be very patient when we were young.

Today, cursive is not taught in most elementary schools. The world is a different place at a different pace, with technology advancing so rapidly the educational system struggles to keep up. Something as archaic as handwriting had to make way for time in the computer lab starting in kindergarten. While children learn to print, by first grade they’re already starting to do assignments on computer. They don’t have as much practice with handwriting. When I was still teaching general elementary music, I sometimes could not decipher my 5th and 6th graders’ handwriting. They didn’t make their letters and numbers with care.

Back in the day, writing was taught at the same time as reading. You learned to recognize letters as you learned to write them. We couldn’t read cursive until we understood how the letters connected. That happened as we learned to write.

Students who don’t write cursive have difficulty reading it. That means soon there will be few people who know how to read historical documents made before printing was widespread—documents like the Declaration of Independence in its original, handwritten form. We’re losing two skills, handwriting and the reading of handwritten works.

Whenever I have to sign a document, people always comment that I have beautiful handwriting. Ironically, in school I got Cs in penmanship. But I always say, “Thank you. The nuns made sure I had good penmanship.” Their lessons stuck.

Monday Morning Wisdom #363

Monday Morning Wisdom #363

Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.
~Samuel Smiles

From the Creator’s Heart #359

Ephesians 5:18

Organizing Your Art Supplies

Organizing Your Art Supplies

I know it’s around here someplace. . .

Hi there! Reader Tiffany Arp-Daleo is a multi-media artist, and in reply to my post of last week, “Ask Me Anything,” she wrote, “I’m always looking for organizing ideas, especially in my studio. I have so many supplies for so many projects and it’s always chaotic!” I had to laugh, because it’s something I struggle with also, but I promised I’d research any arts/creativity topic my readers have interest in.

Don’t you just hate it when you’re working on a project (or have a great idea you want to start on) and you can’t find an essential tool? Often it’s a case of having so much stuff that you can’t locate what you need. Have you ever made an emergency trip to the art store to buy a certain paint or pen, and then, weeks later, find you have multiples of that item? Organization is an important element in making best use of your creative time, energy, and resources.

I have art supplies in cups, drawers, and cubbies, in and on my desk and bookshelves and dresser and in my closet. They just go wherever I can shove them.

It’s frustrating. My husband and I live in the same house where we raised our five children, and now that it’s just the two of us, we no longer have enough space. I know what the problem is—Greg needs to get rid of his accumulated stuff. (My stuff couldn’t possibly be the problem. Could it?)

So how do I get a handle on this?

I spent a couple of days online reading articles about general organization and organizing art supplies in particular. Here’s what I learned:

 “A collection should be curated.” In other words, everything you keep in your home should have purpose and/or value. Either you love it, or you use it. If it doesn’t fit either of those categories, it’s just clutter. Step one in organizing is:

Declutter. Get out all your art supplies and lay them out. Ruthlessly throw away anything that is unusable, such as pencil stubs, dried up paints and glue and erasers, pens and markers that no longer write, scissors that won’t cut, pencil sharpeners that don’t work anymore. Recycle old, wrinkly paper and plastic containers with a recycle symbol on them. Those supplies that are in great condition but you don’t really use (when was the last time you stenciled or bedazzled?) can be donated to a local school or an organization that teaches art or provides art therapy to children, the homeless, or veterans. (I once asked my daughter who teaches high school calculus if she had any use for stickers. The answer: a resounding yes. Her students still love getting them on their papers.)

Sort your supplies into categories. Large categories. Brushes here. Paints there. Pencils. Markers. Pens. Paper. You can subdivide the watercolors from the acrylics and the colored pencils from the mechanical pencils later.

Decide where all this stuff in going to go. Ideally, it should be in one general area. Your closet? Your desk? Your bookshelves? Your dresser? A file cabinet? Visualize what you want your space to look like. Do you want things hidden from sight, or out where you can see them? Maybe the larger things will go on a shelving unit in the closet and the small items in containers on your work table. “Organize for the available space, not for the stuff.” If you only have a drawer, organize for that drawer. (You may have to divest yourself of some more stuff. Consider it an investment in your sanity.)

Gather containers. You could spend a fortune getting matching bins, but really, using what you already have is easier on the environment as well as your pocketbook. You can use large, medium, and small boxes, baskets, jars, mugs, magazine files (great for upright storing of those pads of different papers), and/or cutlery trays. If you truly don’t have what you need, you can find a great selection to choose from at your local dollar store. (Extra points for skipping the designer container store.)

Put your supplies into containers, one category per container. Then put the container where it will live. Rule of thumb: start by putting your largest category into the largest (or most reasonably sized) container that will fit into your available space. Once that’s out of the way, you’ll be able to figure out your next steps.

Enjoy your newly organized workspace. Now that you know where everything is, you can concentrate on creating. Ahhhh!

Click this link to see some storage systems for art supplies.

If you’re a visual learner, you may enjoy these excellent organizational videos:

Now that I have a good idea how to proceed to organize my art supplies, I’m looking forward to this task getting done.

Creative Juice #295

Creative Juice #295

Beautiful. Creative. Uplifting.

  • The Lucas Brothers are standup comedians with philosophy and law degrees. And they wrote the script for Judas and the Black Messiah.
  • It’s hard to get started sometimes. But, butt in chair. Daydream. Doodle. Do something to engage your subconscious. And then, suddenly, the magic happens.
  • Writing routines.
  • Six words to say to your child. I wish I’d done this more.
  • You’d like to make a quilt, but don’t have the energy for a full-sized project. How about a pillow instead? 63 free patterns.
  • For the novelists: your character must experience failure.
  • I am amazed this artist finds on-site such a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes of rocks to make his art.
  • Sculptures springing out of books.
  • Artist Robin Seiz shares her work, her journey, and her studio.
  • A children’s book illustrator shares her process.
  • What being in a coma is like.
  • Ancient art of Iran.

Video of the Week #358: Watching Zentangle is So Soothing


Wordless Wednesday: Nest in the Palm Tree

Nest in the palm tree