So much art, so little time.
Here's a project my Drawing 1 students finished over two weeks ago, entitled "The Hand Book." For this artistic endeavor, my students had to approach the same subject (their own hand) from 8 different stylistic standpoints: breaking down their hand into the four basic forms (cone, cylinder, sphere and cube); drawing the contour lines with two pencils taped together; Cubist-inspired; Surrealist-inspired; less-dominant blind-contour drawing; stippled; regular old drawing; and of course, a cover for their books. A grand total of 8 drawings on four pieces of paper, bound in a corner with a brad.
This is a good exercise in finding freedom in restrictions, but some students weren't comfortable with that. Lots of them said that they got really tired of drawing their hands, and funnily enough, these were the students that obviously needed the most practice. Lots of them also just traced their hands, thinking I wouldn't notice. Oh, hand turkeys...
Most students churned out some good stuff. Check it out:
I think I'll do this project again next trimester, maybe throwing some more or different prompts. It turned out pretty well, overall.
I can't wait to show you what they're up to now!
Yes, I know it has been a while. But I come to my keyboard bearing gifts of the visual variety, in the form of student artwork from my Painting I class. Admittedly, we haven't created a huge quantity of masterpieces, given that I've been drilling color theory into their heads.
Below are some photos of my Fabric Translation Squares Project, where students had to select a piece of patterned fabric, and then match the colors, desaturate the colors, and paint the color complements. I loved the effect when I hung them all together - it looked like a quilt!
Here are some exemplary pieces from my Fraktur Hex Sign Project. Students focused on symmetry & balance for their designs, and then had to select a specific color scheme to execute their paintings. If you're interested, you can view the presentation I made to introduce the project here.
I find myself continually surprised by my students' skill and thoughtfulness. Sometimes it takes lighting a huge fire under their butts, but when they can let go and just give themselves over to the process, I think they surprise even themselves.
Enough bragging. Now it's time to get to work on another round of concept sketches for my upcoming hospital project (I'll tell you all about it in another post, soon... promise).
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!
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!
We've got the first week of work under our belts, and it has been BUSY! As the Taft Museum is our partner for this mural, the design is based on some of the more iconic paintings in the permanent collection. So the crew spent some time in the breathtaking museum, sketching from the landscape, the architecture, the draperies, and of course, the art. Not only did they flex their creative muscles in their sketchpads, but also in a polished and professional presentation to all the donors, sponsors and partners in the project. They really knocked 'em dead - I felt like such a proud mama bear!
Come Friday, it was finally time to face the wall and tackle the first step in prep: wire-brushing the bejeezus out of the surface. This takes off any crumbly bits that might encourage the paint to peel later on, as well as a few layers of skin off of our knuckles (see above) in the first of what I suspect will be several small sacrifices to the art gods. Though as long as we stay hydrated, alert, and sun-screened (no one gets melanoma on my watch!), I think we'll manage just fine.
Six more weeks to go! It's hard to imagine that this massive expanse of ordinary wall is going to turn into a one-of-a-kind work of art, especially in such a seemingly short time frame. Today we got through just a mere fraction of the gesso process, and we're hoping to have the thing gridded and drawn by the end of the week. Phew!
And as a side note - today I signed my contract with Kenton County Schools and am officially the newest art teacher at Scott High School! Hooray for art!
So once again, Legally Blonde is on TV, and once again, I am powerless to turn it off. It doesn't even crack my top 25 favorite movies, but it has the ability to make me completely ignore my looming presentation (tomorrow morning, 8am) and draft of a minimum 50-source thesis paper. I was just watching the utterly ridiculous bend & snap scene when I randomly thought mere months from now, I might be lucky enough to find a couple of open teaching positions. And then I thought,
I wonder if the bend & snap would work in an interview?