I'll tell you what, I am one proud mama bear. Look at what my little art cubs can do!!!!!
My Drawing I students are in the midst of the apparent torture that is value studies. I put a lot of emphasis on value studies, because frankly, aside from line, it is the most fundamental element of drawing well.
The photo above shows a simple still-life, where students had to study a single kernel of popcorn, and render it on both white paper and black paper. The challenges were to blow it up to touch all four sides of the paper, and also to invert their thinking when they had to switch to black paper. They HATED that exercise.
But they LOVED my Mystery Portrait Project, where they created grids to blow up a photo of a "mystery celebrity" from 8x10 to 16x20. The photos were cut up into 1x1 squares, numbered and coded, so the students didn't know who they were drawing until almost the end. And sometimes they still didn't know who they got after they finished (but I'll forgive them). The point of the exercise was to pay attention to the values in each individual square, without getting caught up in trying to make the drawing "look right." When they were able to trust the values they saw, the drawings turned out, well, amazing. See for yourself:
As we continue our adventures in drawing, I hope to post more work. I love my job. It's hella fun.
Til next time,
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!
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.