Working with Teenagers

 

I just finished my “residency” in Dr. Susan West’s classroom at Viera High School. 7 days, 150 students, 5 classes, lots and lots of paint, paper and glue. The plan was for me to teach my mixed-media technique of painting paper and creating a collage incorporating the paper and acrylic paint.

Day one: First of all… school starts early! I’m not really a “morning person” but managed to organize myself and wake up early to get to school on time each day. Time is limited! By the time I explained a little about myself, showed some examples of my work and talked about the project… the bell would ring. Wow… how in the world can we make this project happen within the 2 week plan.

Day two: I went home day one after 5 classes seriously considering a nap. Today was our project start day. I explained the process of painting layers of pattern on paper to provide for materials for collaging. Dr West had pre-cut their work surfaces (watercolor paper) to size. They decided on their subject choosing from a variety of Florida wildlife, sea-life or flora. They sketched 2 thumbnails of their chosen subject in their notebooks.

Day three: Today they prepared their background papers by deciding on their palette to contrast their background and foreground. They applied washes of acrylic to their backgrounds.

Day four: Finally… today we paint paper! Some of them really didn’t understand the necessity of these papers. My instructions were to just layer pattern in paint, fill up the paper eliminating the majority of white. Paint 3 to 5 pieces. We switched from paint brushes to small roller to speed up this part of the process. 30+ students in each class, with rollers and trays and lots of paint… I loved it!

Day five: Some of the students thanked me for coming to their class and teaching them. I really was enjoying this. Most of the students were on board with the project, making changes, thinking forward and being very creative. A few were avoiding eye contact with me… lol. I loved talking with them about their artwork. “Tell me about this”, “and why are you painting a green piece of paper with green paint and your animal is going to be green”?

Day six: We are painting paper and gluing and changing backgrounds. They are realizing now why they needed 5 pieces of painted paper in their different palette colors. It’s quiet. They are really engrossed in their projects.

Day seven: My last day. The goal was to continue with collaging the subject, adding collage elements to the background, correcting, refining etc. They had been required as part of their lesson plan to submit questions pertaining to being an artist, art education, art marketing etc. So today I answered some of the questions while they were cleaning up their spaces. Dr. West also emailed me a list of questions which I answered. They will be using those answers to write an article about the experience of having me work with them as an artist in residence.

They are still working on their projects… for a few more day. A lot of the artwork I saw them producing was excellent! I cannot wait to see all the completed projects. It was so interesting, getting to know them. They had very distinct personalities but were all pleasant and welcoming to me.  I enjoyed working with them and talking with them each day.

I applaud you teachers! So many requirements, restraints… I can also see the appeal of teaching. You have such an impact on young lives.

 

The process took me several years to develop with lots of trial and error. It’s not a one-step thing.

ps.

1. Thanks to the bubbly, positive, kind girl in period one that ask everyone how they were, complimented their outfit and just cheered everyone on, every morning.

2. Thank you to the quiet young woman at the first table on the left who thanked me several times for coming to teach and share my art and helping her with her project.

3. Thank you to the young man doing the turtle who I didn’t think was at all interested in the project because he was working so slow. Thank you for coming up and asking me if I was returning this week to work with the class.

4. Thanks to Dr. West for inviting to come.

 

Artist In Residence

I’ve been in my studio this week doing a little sorting and exploring and remembering. I used to be so good with names and memory recall… Not so good anymore. I’m leaning on the theory that highly intelligent, creative thinkers brains prioritize memories to best utilize brain function… something like that :) lol, I can’t quite remember.

I’m going to be the Artist in Residence at Viera High School, here in Brevard County next week and have been thinking about my current creative processes. With 24 years as a practicing artist there are a lot of experiences, workshops, materials and creative exploration that have brought me to where I am now. This will be an important message to share with young artists. Experience and exploration is just as important as profiency in specific techniques. I love teaching… sharing information and my personal experiences. My number one goal is to express the excitement of living a life that values the beauty and wonder of everyday.

Good Stuff to Share

  • The “Golden Mean” and why it is so “golden” thanks Greg Grant for the best introduction into art!
  • thin darks, thick light, thin darks, thick lights… thanks to Greg Grant for repeating that over and over. I say it at least twice in my painting class every week.
  • limited palette… mix your own colors
  • create obstacles to explore and conquer!
  • we are not re-creating a photograph, we are creating an illusion of the image with paint, paper, charcoal etc.
  • layer, layer and layer some more… then start your composition
  • paint 100 paintings of something… then you will start to understand that thing… paraphrased but one of my favorites from teacher Frits van Eeden.
  • Don’t be afraid to show people… artists, art snobs, your mod podge! Or your foam plates. Mod Podge is archival. Use new stuff and old stuff and never before stuff…but less talk, more play please. If you are talking about paint colors or if an isolation coat is necessary… you are not in your “right brain”.
  • Don’t get attached before the 5th layer! As soon as you LOVE something you’re working on, fear of “messing up” can kick in. Try to discourage that for as long as possible!

Wish me luck… my husband says to “be on guard, don’t show any weaknesses or they will devour me”. I say, “these are budding artists, we are all sensitive, emotional, expressive people… we speak the same language”.

Updates to follow!

Remembering

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Selfie

It’s been a busy summer! I like a good thing when I find it… and 16 years ago I heard about a wonderful place to go to in July (when it soooo hot in Florida), up in the mountains of North Carolina and make art.

For the last 16 years, minus the summer I broke my leg, and last summer leaving early, I have spent a week at Wildacres, NC with the continuing education program of Ringling School of Art, located in Sarasota, Fl. I love it there… the location, the tranquility, the comradery, open studios and some years there have been very “memorable” events.

I was so happy to get back there this summer! I spent the week in a mixed-media with beeswax class, taught by Elena De La Ville with 12 other artists, working with paper and wax. I have always loved work with a wax element… it’s such a wonderful tactile medium that is difficult to control but has so many options as to how it is utilized. We had several assignments involving composition and one was to photograph our surrounding looking for examples of good composition, then re-create the image with our materials.

I took lots of photos on my morning walk, but the last one was an elongated shadow of myself standing on the pathway. I liked the design and the emotion of the picture…and used it to create a piece. One of my classmates pushed me to work on a series of “selfies” and I ended up creating 5 pieces.

It’s good to step out of your artistic comfort zone… although my work is definitely “out there” at times. It’s also good… even though I don’t love it, to listen to other artists about my work. I love challenges in all aspects of my life. I never want to be too comfortable in my art, but to push forward and hope to discover and relate more about who I am and what message I want to share.

It’s Not Cheating

photo_1

Yes, I shoot 99% of my photography with my iphone, it works well for me. As a painter and mixed-media artist,  I rely on visual inspirations every day. Most artists will tell you they “see their world differently”, and I feel that way too. I can find inspiration looking out my window, taking a walk, books, galleries, museums and of course online. Shooting with my phone works well for me. I can scan through images when starting a new project or when I’m too tired to actually pick up a paintbrush… Sometimes I end up with a image I love so much, it becomes the art.

I love to share my newly crafted images with my family… so excited about the possiblities, like turning things PINK. It never fails, I show one of my sons what I’ve done and his exact words… everytime, because he loves to tease me,  are: “It’s Cheating”.

I like to play with images the way I push color and design in my artwork, and have three great ways to do that on my iphone.  The Apps are: Hipstamatic, Photo Toaster and my newest find… Pic Lab.

Hipstamatic
My all-time favorite, with Hipstamatic you choose you lens, film and flash options before you shoot. If you invest, as I have, in all the paks that are available… you will have a truly endless variety of combinations to work and play with. I have been using Hipstamatic since I got my first iphone. Love it!

examples of my hipstamtic shots

Photo Toaster

My friend and fellow artist Bridgette Guerzon Mills shared  Photo Toaster with me last year. I love having the post-shoot options to add filters, effects and frames. It saves time when shooting… if I see a subject I like, and get a sharp image to work with, I can alter it many ways.

images using photo toaster:

Pic Lab

THANK YOU Daily Post for sharing! I just read about Pic Lab last night and sat playing till my battery died :) So much fun! I love text… and adding text, borders, effects, shadows, did I say effects? I love everything you can do with Pic Lab. Yes… after about 2 minutes I opted for the paid version to increase the available options. It’s sort of like buying art supplies… you can never have enough.

images using Pic Lab:

These are my favorites. Hope you enjoy and give them a try. It’s not cheating.

Expanding

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These girls keep showing up in recent work and this week they are beginning to take new shape… 3-d form. I was looking through my “inspiration file” and ran across some dolls that I saw somewhere on the internet. I knew when I saw them that they would translate to the girls I have been painting. I had all the supplies necessary; purchased after the initial inspiration, and now I can include all the lovely ephemera I have been “stockpiling”. These girls are strong and confident, they are caring and nuturing too. They are inspired and inspirational…at least that is the message I want to send. 

I am having a great time sketching all the possibilities, then cutting, sanding and crafting their faces and attaching their bodies together. Another list is also taking shape; names and personalities. This week I hope to get a few close to finished.

  • balance
  • blessed
  • fragile
  • fearless
  • seeker

Okay,You Asked For It

OKAY… not everyone asked, but at least 3 people I know asked why I’m not blogging about food… and gardening and some of the other activities that I get involved in, besides art. So here I am. This new blog will be replacing my art blog and including so many other things.

  • cooking
  • the beauty of ingredients; peppercorns, mushroom, shallots (one of my favorites), did I say peppercorns?
  • cleaning  no, no
  • birds and bird activity
  • weiner-dogs
  • baking
  • canning
  • ART OF COURSE