OH MA GAH!
It's hot out, and the weather is determined not to break until after the Bellevue crew is finished with the mural, I'm sure. The remarkable thing is, we've been powering through with nary a complaint (well, actually, I probably complain enough for everyone, truth be told). This week is our last week working on a "full" crew, and next week has been dubbed "detail week," where a smaller crew will go in and fix mistakes, finish sections that have been put off, etc. In short, we're in the HOME STRETCH! Realizing this made the rough day a little better.
Well, that and this. It was too good to keep it to myself. You're welcome.
I have lots of goals and aspirations for my new life as a high school art teacher: changing lives by making art relevant; helping students find a voice in a world determined to drown them out; developing students who are creative, compassionate and socially aware; and of course, that involves creating a great space for this sort of magic to take root and grow.
Above are two original paintings I finished last week that I intend to use as "learning tools" every bit as much as "decorations." The Enlightened Mind of the Artist is inspired by old phrenology illustrations, and included within are some of the basic and postmodern elements and principles of art, as well as a few "extras" I consider to be essential to art-making: see, intuition, feeling, story, etc. These are the types of things that enlightened (or aware or awake, as I like to say) artists consider when making art.
Cultivate a Thinking Eye was inspired by reading Drawing Projects: An Exploration of the Language of Drawing by Mick Maslen and John Southern (I really recommend it, for artists, students of art, and teachers alike, so get your copy here). The text celebrates drawing as "the process of seeing," and reinforces ideas I've had about drawing, and art in general, for a long time - that making art is essentially a way of seeing and engaging with the world. Seeing through the thinking eye allows us to be truly aware and experience the world on a deeper level.
I can't wait to share my passion with students, and give them the most challenging and rigorous art training & experiences that they've ever had.
BEHOLD the optimistic and slightly annoying power of the first year teacher!
This afternoon, I got my second Master's degree in the mail, and what's better, I actually get to use it! I just wanted to toot my own horn for a minute. Thanks for indulging me :)
This week at the wall was AMAZEBALLS. With the weather approaching tolerable levels, the crew was able to work slightly extended hours, so we got a lot accomplished. Faces are beginning to appear and a story is starting to unfold. So. Excited.
One day last week, as we took our lunch break in a square of shade in the parking lot, we got a visitor with a few things to say. An older gentleman with a smart straw hat wandered by, taking photographs of our work. I looked around at the smiling crew, who were clearly proud that a member of the public was interested in what we're doing. The guy turned to us and asked, "Are you the artists?" We nodded, yes sir. "Did you do the one in Newport?" We shook our heads, no sir. "Well, the one in Newport is better. This one has too much junky-junk up there, " he said as he gestured to the upper right of the wall, and then walked away without another word.
When you're doing public art, you are necessarily subjected to public judgement - that's just the way it goes. The crew took it well, they were quite tickled, in fact. And now "junky-junk" has become kind of a catch phrase for us. We are thinking about making a flag to attach to the scaffolding, and that might just end up being our motto.
Anyway, some photos from the week:
Also, a reporter came by earlier in the week and gave us a lovely little write-up in the local paper. You can read it here.
I'm hoping I can remember to bring my drill on Monday so we can take some of the plywood panels down and see more of the wall. Stay tuned for more junky-junk :)
Why do we draw?
When we think about drawing, we tend to think of the act in terms of rendering through lines and values, and most basically, via pencil and paper. To draw also has other meanings: "to cause to move;" and this one (which I think is a rather sexy way to phrase it), "to bring toward oneself or itself, as by inherent force or influence."
It could be argued that drawing is the most basic and yet ultimate form of communication, quite literally drawing people together to common understandings. Keith Haring said, "My contribution to the world is my ability to draw. I will draw as much as I can for as many people as I can for as long as I can. Drawing is still basically the same as it has been since prehistoric times. It brings together man and the world. It lives through magic."
We draw because it is magic, and we create worlds through that magic. We draw because, as a communal race of creatures, we need to connect through imagery. We draw to speak what we cannot say, like Van Gogh, who said, "The emotions are sometimes so strong that I work without knowing it. The strokes come like speech." We draw because drawing is limitless in its expression and graphic capacities. We draw because we cannot stop it.
I draw because I see things like these and am, like that sexy definition above suggested, moved:
I draw because I simply cannot bear to do anything else. My hands want to work. My soul longs to make images, to create worlds, to speak.
Why do you draw?
I am oh-so excited to dive into my new classroom, and I'm committed to being intentional about the space I'm creating, trying to be conscious about the things I bring in. As a firm believer in the idea that the environment influences the work we make, I've spent the past two years daydreaming about my ideal classroom: a safe place to share ideas and visions; a place that nurtures the individual voice; full of images and objects that inspire and are themselves inspired. And now, I actually get to put my dreams into action!
I know what I don't want: cheap poster reproductions of old-dead-white-guy paintings, or run-of-the-mill teacher posters that say things like "Hang in There!" or "You can do it!" Who finds these things inspiring or motivating? Anyone, ever?
So keeping what I don't want in mind, this afternoon I indulged and bought these two babies to hang in my classroom:
I picked these up on etsy from California-based illustrator Emily McDowell - check out her goods and get your own at her shop. I can't wait to get them in the mail and frame them up in color!
Other ideas: succulents and my Kachina collection for interesting still life, "Ms. Howard's Library of Wonders" full of all my best and favorite art books, a big wall devoted to critique and display, one of my own large paintings-in-progress (I think it's important for my students to see me keeping up a professional studio practice), and a few other inspirational goodies I'm cooking up that I'll share as soon as they're finished.
It's only Monday and I'm already wiped - I spent this past weekend (my birthday weekend - yay!) at my family's house on Lake Barkley. While there, I caught a few too many rays and got effectively beaten up by the deadly combination of my dad, a jet ski, and a tube. So I am writing this update from the warm embrace of my new best friend - my heating pad. Gettin' old here, folks.
In spite of many muscular complaints, I was somehow able to get myself out of bed at dawn, arriving at our mural worksite ready to go. Here is some evidence of our recent work:
If only we could have more days like today! Overcast, mid to low-80s, and a steady breeze to boot! The crew was in heaven as everyone dove into the real work of laying the paint down. Today I worked intensively with two apprentices on the Japanese peonies that lay across the foreground (they're conveniently behind the plywood walls - you'll just have to wait to see them in their full glory), and let me tell you, I felt like I had fallen down the rabbit hole into a Georgia O'Keefe painting.
Some of our brains haven't worked quite so hard all summer as they have today, but it is nevertheless so energizing to see our sketches coming to life through color:
Check back soon for more updates!