Thursday, August 19, 2010
When food, friends and fine art combine, the results are sure to be memorable. Indeed, on August 9, my close artist friend, Karen Eide gifted four of us with the most amazing day in recent memory: a "Studio Day" to learn her medium of encaustic painting which dates from at least the 5th century B.C.
Judy Cowling, Iona Drozda and I gathered at 9:30 a.m. at her and her husband, David's, lovely home in rural Carrollton, VA. (Sheila Giolitti joined us later in the afternoon.) The day was simply glorious and the slightly less than an hour's drive completely pleasant (no, it was grand, as my dear friend Iona rode with me and we reveled in conversation going and coming).
In Karen's charming detached cottage studio (with her cat Miles lolling in the loft above), she provided us with background and safety information, lots of mouth-watering samples, and a demo. Then she set us loose at stations she had created for each of us. Inspired by her work and encouragement, her samples, and each other, we went to it; and I think it's safe to say that we are all completely hooked. Though encaustic literally means "to burn in," it is, in fact, painting with melted and pigmented wax into which and on top of which one can collage, draw, stamp, stencil and more. I find it the most luscious and flexible medium ever.
My piece, entitled "Fifty," is at the top. I found that old funnel in a potting shed and had to draw it because I was attracted to its rusted form. The crossword puzzle was in a piece of newspaper I had brought and I had tucked the seagull stencils from a previous painting into my sketchbook. I decided to just work with those three elements and what resulted was an ode to my 50th birthday next year--egads!--and is about "funneling" energy in new directions, as well as trying to solve the "puzzle" of how one balances structure (all of the many references to the grid along with the seagulls standing in a tidy row) and freedom (as represented by, among other things, the flying seagulls).
I love many things about the work we all did that day, including how individual it is. With the guidance of our teacher-friend, Karen Eide, we were all able to transfer the work we do in other media into her medium of encaustic. Karen would not accept any remuneration for sharing her knowledge, expertise, home, studio and supplies. Not a penny. So we insisted that she let us bring lunch. But I know we are all trying to figure out how best to "pay it forward." The least I can do is share a little taste of the medium with all of you.
Though formal workshops and institutes have their place, if you have mastered a specific technique, process or approach to the formal or conceptual aspects of artmaking, I would encourage you to share it informally with a small group of artists/teachers as Karen did. It is truly a gift that will keep on giving.
Here's to old and new friends, ancient and contemporary art forms and paying it forward!
Top Photo: "Fifty," Betsy DiJulio, encaustic and mixed media, 2010
Bottom Photo standing, l to r: Judy Cowling, Sheila Giolitti, me and Karen Eide; seated: Iona Drozda. Stay tuned for posts with our artwork.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
For all but the first year in 1990, I have been chosen as the volunteer "Official Artist" for the Virginia Beach Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon put on by San Diego-based Competitor's Group. The race is held every Labor Day Weekend and here we are already at the 10th Anniversary. My original painting is raffled off annually and, in the last few years, has earned between $8,000 and $9,000 for the organization's charities, such as the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society. In addition, proceeds from the sale of posters made from the painting also benefit their charities.
My concept for this special commemorative edition was to paint beach-related objects with the number "10" on top of a collage of news clippings from past races, trying to use physical layers as a metaphor for the many layers of the race, from athletic achievement to personal triumph and much more. Early in the summer, my good friend Sharon Tanner accompanied me to the beach on a photo treasure hunt where we found the the 10th Street sign, the "$10 Beach Parking" sign, and the hotel clock tower. When we looked up and saw it, believe it or not, it was 10 a.m. The weather vane was inspired by one at Rudee Inlet for which I simply replaced the swordfish with a guitar.
Last summer, I became enamored with the crab/lobster buoys on a cruise up the coast of the Northeastern U.S. and, since we are known for our blue crabs and since the buoys are always identified by numbers, I had to include them based on an Internet source. I also used an Internet source for the "Runners Next 10 Miles" sign since I couldn't find exactly what I wanted. Even still, I had to combine two signs. And, while we have channel markers with osprey nests just like the one in the bottom right corner, we don't have them in the area where we were photographing, so I also used an Internet source for it. Finally, I used an Internet source for the nautical flags which have been a favorite symbol system of mine for many years; the ones in the painting spell out "RNR;" and the stenciled seagulls--10 of them, of course--provide movement and rhythm.
Each year, a highlight of the whole experience for me is signing posters for the runners and their families in the "Artist's Booth" at the Fitness Expo where all runners receive their registration packets. They come from all over the U.S. , some year after year. While I always love to meet the new participants, it is especially gratifying to laugh and joke with old acquaintances who return again and again, some with the addition of spouses, children and more children. Every year finds me laughing and crying--even blushing (I'll never forget the "Rock 'n' Roll Virgins")--in the booth as people request very personal inscriptions for their posters, some to honor loved ones whom they have lost and others to celebrate milestones.
It really is a "human race" and it is an incredible honor to be a small part.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
The Art Problem:
This Creative Challenge invites students to interpret the idiom of their choice through the creation of clay sculptural busts (about 2/3 lifesize). In the example provided, my student Rachel A. chose the idiom "A Little Birdie Told Me" because of its relationship to high school gossip. Once fired, students enhance both the form and content of their pieces with a cold finish by, first, underpainting them in black, then dry brushing white or off-white over the black and, finally, adding highlights, shadows, mood and surface texture through mark-making in colored pencils.
Clay compatible with your kiln and cones
Basic clay tools for cutting, incising, smoothing, scoring, piercing, embossing
Plastic for covering pieces while dryingKiln, kiln furniture and cones
Black acrylic paint for under painting (we used spray paint) outdoors
White or off-white acrylic paint (dry brushed on)
Medium to medium-large brushes (foam works fine)
Clear acrylic spray (we sprayed them outdoors)
Note: My students selected their idioms just prior to their midterm exam and drew thumbnails as part of their exam, though they were free to change their minds afterward.
1. Show sample portrait bust and define idiom.
2. Hold an idiom-generating competition: challenge small teams of students to generate as many idioms they can in a specified amount of time. Have winning team read their list; other teams can add any additional ones from their lists. Give prizes to the team with the most.3. Play Idiom Pictionary on the board. Give prizes to the team who gets the most correct answers.
4. Introduce students to basic clay vocabulary and processes: wedge, score, slip, model, pinch, coil, slab, emboss, pierce, additive, subtractive, surface design. Per table or team of about 4 students, have two sets of different colored cards ready: vocabulary words on one set and definitions on another. Ask students to correctly match. Repeat on the next day of class as a hook/review.
Days 2 and 3--Facial Feature Practice:
5. Demonstrate modeling of facial features and let students practice with a small ball of clay. This is an excellent time to also instruct them in the way they should set-up and clean-up their work space.
Days 4-9 or 10--Construction:
6. Show YouTube demonstration video by Phillipe Faraut. In our case, Faraut makes the nose and lips a little differently than I learned from Hildreth and taught my students, so this gives the kids an option. Describe and diagram the building of shoulders and neck (a demo isn't really necessary once they see a sample and diagrams on the board).
7. Add head and begin making facial features. Have sample diagrams of facial anatomy from both front and profile views on view. Emphasize that the "egg-shaped" head must be placed on the neck at an angle AND that the front of the "egg" must be flattened slightly, making it perpendicular to the table, so that the face will be looking forward, rather than up (unless students want their heads looking up.) Also advise them that a slight tilt or turn of the head when they attach it to the neck can create a more lifelike quality.
8. Hollow out head and then torso and neck using a loop tool, preferably, though a spoon will work. To hollow out heads, use a clay cutter to remove the top of the cranium, and hollow down through the head to the neck, leaving a 3/4-1" wall. Replace the top of the head using scoring and some water or slip, if necessary. (It helps to make register marks so that the part of the head that is cut off can be positioned properly when it is reattached.) This will lighten the head so that the neck and torso can support it. Hollow them out next. Reshape any facial features if necessary.
9. Add any other elements, including hair and clothing, necessary to effectively interpret the idiom. Note: I tend to prefer these portrait busts without hair, though Faraut demonstrates an effective way to create hair that doesn't look like a rag mop.
4 Weeks (approximately)--Drying, Preheat and Firing:
10. Dry sculptures with plastic very loosely covering them. Have students check any thin elements. Spritz with water and cover those areas more tightly if necessary. It took ours about three weeks, not counting the preheat, to dry. To speed drying, tape three popsicle sticks together and carefully place two sets under the torso, one at each end. This will allow air to circulate underneath.
11. Preheat--as an extra precaution, I load the kilns and preheat them on low for about 45 minutes every day for about 4 days. After each preheat, I turn them off and just let them sit over night until the next day when I repeat the procedure.
12. Firing--on the 5th day, I fire them slowly and let them cool over the weekend.
1 Week--Cold Finish:
13. Students work outside in teams of 4 students, to spray paint their busts matte black; place newspaper under sculpture. Once dry--and the paint dries quickly--students bring them inside and dry brush the surfaces with white or off-white acrylic paint, leaving some black showing, especially in the crevices.
14. For the next couple of classes, students use colored pencils to build up a patinaed surface, with generally cool colors in the shadows and warm colors in the highlighted areas, that is, where light naturally strikes the sculpture. Encourage students to limit their dominant color palette and to build up their surfaces slowly while layering tones and letting some of their marks show.
15. Finish the sculptures outside with a couple of coats of a sprayed on clear acrylic finish.
Artworks are objects for interpretation.
Art is a reflection of time, place and culture.
Meaningful artmaking is about exploration, asking questions, problem-solving and developing a knowledge-base.
Idioms are figurative language related to time, place and culture.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Or, observing that the paintings were a little "plain," my mentor, Nicole Brisco, suggested flipping them and having students make another drawing on top. She liked my idea in response to her suggestion: have students flip their pieces and repeat their compositions as simple contour drawings overlaid on their paintings. If we do the new, improved version of this Challenge, I'll be sure to post samples.
1. The composition must be based on 1-point perspective.
2. The artwork must possess a sense of mystery created by shadows or other dark areas, silhouettes, etc. (Mystery can also be created by your combinations of objects (e.g. objects that might not normally go together.)
3. The composition must include:
- Mostly hard-edged geometric shapes combined with one or two organic shapes/forms (like a plant, tree, bird, etc.). Note: some students didn't include the organic object, so it could be optional.
- An object somewhere in the composition that is drawn from 2-point perspective (a suitcase, a television, a box, etc.).
- A patterned floor, floor covering or walkway that follows the rules of 1 point perspective.
a platform or stairs.
- A door, window, half-wall or opening of some kind between the foreground/middle ground space and the background space.
- An ambiguous spatial relationship somewhere in the piece.
Note: you may include other objects of your choice AS LONG AS YOU AVOID CLUTTERING THE COMPOSITION.
Reproductions of Craig Blair's work (choose carefully as the quality varies)
Reproductions of other surreal images that emphasize ambiguous spaces, one- and two-point perspective and a sense of mystery (e.g. Giorgio de Chirico)
- Set the stage with an art criticism activity related to the inspiration artist being sure to define "surrealism."
- Incorporate an art historical surrealist antecedent such as Giorgio de Chirico by comparing his work with Craig Blair's.
- Explain parameters of this Creative Challenge.
- Teach a simple one-point and two-point perspective mini-lesson.
- Direct students in the creation of thumbnail sketches that fit within the project parameters; help them choose the most successful idea and composition, combining aspects into another thumbnail if necessary.
- Transfer thumbnails to larger paper.
- If creating straight paintings, instruct them in the painting of their compositions with tempera. Require students to use a limited color palette of mixed "ish" colors (see glossary); if desired, instruct them in the defining of edges through graphite or ink marks.
- If creating tempera batiks, students do the following: paint each area of their paintings using about three thick coats. They should NOT paint over the lines, but should leave the paper exposed where the lines are. (Tracing over the lines in light colored chalk helps remind them not to paint over the lines.) Once tempera is completely dry, they completely cover the ENTIRE surface of their paintings with black India ink. Foam brushes work well for this. Once the ink is barely dry--it should not sit on the paintings for an extended period--they should place their paintings on cafeteria-type trays or pieces of acrylic or Plexiglas and gently rinse the ink off using a slow stream of water or water poured from a container over the sink. They should control how much ink is removed by rubbing gently with their fingers. The ink will soak into the exposed paper where the lines were drawn but not painted over AND it will adhere in a random way to the surface of the tempera paint creating a batik-like effect.
Assessment: Score and comment on each piece using the "Sailing the Seven Seas" rubric. (Sometimes I have the students score their own work first using the rubric, explaining that my scores will "trump" theirs, but that it is important for them to evaluate their own work.)
This mini-lesson was published as a "Clip Card" in the February issue of SchoolArts Magazine:
The Art Problem
Students will work with the concept of nature vs. culture as they create a unified painted and drawn composition based on a combination of man-made and natural objects found on a walk.
(Note: this challenge could be approached with any number of media, so use whatever you have.)
3 to 5 man-made or natural objects found on a walk(s)
Watercolor (limit palette to 3 related and neutralized colors)
1. Take students, each one armed with a resealable plastic bag, on short walks or "treasure hunts" over the course of several days. Or, assign the walks as "homework." On the walk, ask students to pick up both man-made and natural objects avoiding anything dangerous or excessively dirty.
2. Ask students to choose a combination of 3-5 of the objects, most of which are unified by shape, but 1 or 2 that contrast. (For the artwork accompanying this post, Grace used a cup with a lid and straw, a tape dispenser, a ziplock bag and acorns.)
3. Once students have chosen their objects, ask them to create one or more thumbnail sketches of their objects, emphasizing unity and movement through shape and weighted line, as well as emphasis through a contrasting shape. Encourage them to "zoom in" and crop.
4. Help each student select the best composition to enlarge. Once they have transferred the drawing, ask them to further emphasize the elements and principles mentioned above in three related and neutralized color washes and Sharpie marker.
Photograph and print out in black and white each students drawing and ask them to emphasize a different set of elements and principles, e.g. positive and negative space.
Student Artwork Credit: Grace G. (Watercolor and black Sharpie marker)
- Repeated Shapes, Colors, etc.
- Geometric Shape to Isolate a Focal Point
- Subliminally Repeated Patterns (e.g. hatch marks and stripes)
- Continuous Line to Unify Sides of a Composition or Foreground and Background
- Extended Lines (from the edges of objects)
- Repeated Motif to Create Movement
- A Motif Extrapolated from a Pattern (e.g. a square "pulled out" of a plaid pattern)
- Insets (pictures within pictures--sometimes 1, but often in a series of 3)
- Echo Lines (like concentric ripples when a pebble is dropped in water)
- Halos (to separate two areas that would otherwise merge, e.g. an object against a ground of the same color)
- Text in the Ground (handwriting, print, stenciled letters)
- Stylized View of an Object from an Unexpected Perspective to Create a Repeating Motif
- Object Repeated as a Modeled Drawing, Contour Drawing and Silhouette
The competition was simple: with the poster image concealed, I told the class that after we reviewed the Compositional Strategies, I was going to reveal an image that makes obvious use of one of the strategies in particular. I explained that the first person to yell out the correct one and wave his or her hand would win the sketchbook.
The competition was intense, but Troy J. won by identifying "Geometric Shape to Isolate a Focal Point" because of the window around the woman's eye.
Extension: Analyze and interpret the image. Perhaps the meaning of the image is related to the notion that the eyes are the "windows of the soul."
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
This Creative Challenge invites students to explore mark-making, texture, shape, space, color, abstraction and mood through pastel landscapes inspired by the work of American master, Wolf Kahn. Creating the images on a black ground causes the colors to really "sing" on the paper.
Reproductions of Wolf Kahn pastel landscapes
Black construction paper, black drawing paper or black pastel paper
White charcoal pencils if needed for sketches to show up on black paper
Basic drawing and composition experience
An understanding of and sketchbook practice with mark-making techniques (hatching, cross-hatching, stippling, etc., including students' own inventive marks)
Basic familiarity with color "mixing" and layering with chalk or soft pastels (or just build in a mini-lesson)
Basic understanding of composition and Elements and Principles of Design
Basic familiarity with color "mixing" and layering using chalk or soft pastels
1. Introduce the work of Wolf Kahn. You might do this by giving small groups of students a Wolf Kahn reproduction plus a reproduction of a more realistic landscape and asking them to compare/contrast and then share answers with whole class. The point is to help students recognize basic characteristics of Kahn's pastel landscapes: simplified and often geometric shapes, vivid and sometimes non-local color, color registers or bands of color, a general flattening out of form, etc.
IB-MYP Area of Interaction: Environment
Friday, January 15, 2010
- The artmaking process?
- Role of music?
- Role of choreography?
- Anything else?
Again, the students were very insightful in their analysis via comparisons. And, while they felt that this performance did not achieve the same level of power as the first, they were very respectful in how they phrased what they had to say, and they supported their arguments with astute examples.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
- What did you find to be the most powerful aspects of this performance?
- What roles did music play?
- What role did choreography play?
- What was the significance of the candle
I hope you'll consider incorporating this short video into your instruction. You won't be sorry.
Friday, January 8, 2010
"Power Animal" handout (do an Internet search of "power animals" or "spirit animals" to find your favorite site that provides a brief definition and provides a list of animals and the characteristics they embody; there are even "tests" to help students identify their animal)
Printouts of animal skeletons from the Internet
Masking tape (to tape margins of support)
Palettes, brushes, water, containers
Matte medium or ever-so-slightly watered down glue
Box cutters and cutting boards
Black permanent markers
Familiarity with "weighted line" (widened and tapered line) and varied line quality
Knowledge of a value scale
Basic understanding of composition and Elements and Principles of Design
Basic painting introduction or experience, including paint mixing (especially monochromatic tints and shades)
2. Working from skeletal models, students draw modeled thumbnails of zoomed-in and cropped bones; students should incorporate all they know about strong composition in each thumbnail.
3. Discuss power animals; spend most of a class in the computer lab allowing students to identify their individual power animals and search/printout skeletons of their animals. (There is a lot of information online.) Glue pertinent references into sketchbooks.
4. Generate thumbnail sketches that incorporate human bones with the skeletons of their power animals.
5. Introduce Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings of animal bones. (See "Hooks and Mini-Lessons" below.)
6. Introduce the "Creative Problem Solving" (CPS) strategy "SCAMPER" (see "Hooks and Mini-Lessons" below) and discuss application to this Creative Challenge.
7. Students revisit their thumbnail sketches in light of "SCAMPER" and make revisions as desired/needed. Discuss various students’ solutions as a class to spark more innovative solutions.
8. In conjunction with teacher, students choose their strongest thumbnail sketches.
9. Students transfer thumbnails to supports (we used watercolor paper, tag board and corrugated cardboard), drawing and painting according to any parameters your choose, e.g. for intermediate students, I limited their palette to neutral warm and cool whites and grays, while advanced students were allowed to use additional color, but with limited palettes. I also encouraged all but the least experienced students to paint some significant aspect of their compositions.
[Use at the beginning of classes as desired.]
Then, project "Red Hills and Bones," 1941, Georgia O’Keefe.
Divide students into small groups and give each group a set of about 6 small squares of paper of one color and 6 of another (I used orange and green construction paper).
Ask them to write points of Analysis, one point per card, on each of the orange cards.
Then ask them to correlate each point of Analysis with an interpretive statement written on the green cards, one statement per card. They should all match.
Then, groups shuffle their cards, trade with another group, match the cards up correctly and share responses with the whole class.
What I found was that my students are strong when it comes to analyzing, but not as much when it comes to interpretation. In other words, on an orange card, they might write: "Forms of bones are repeated in the hills," and then on the green card, they would write, "Creates Unity." That would be correct except that both statements relate to Analysis.
So, after making some gentle corrections and praising them on their analysis, I asked each team to correct the statements on the green cards making them statements of Interpretation rather than Analysis.
I admit that the process was a struggle and a challenge for them—a bit like pulling teeth in some cases-—but they ultimately got it as evidenced by their response to the next day’s hook.
I created two worksheets, one for half the class and one for the other, which featured one of Georgia O’Keefe’s bone paintings and, underneath, two columns: one for Analysis and one for Interpretation.
In the Analysis column, I filled in a few key points.
In the Interpretation column, I left blank lines that corresponded with each point of Analysis. Underneath each blank line, I wrote a hint.
The students’ task was to study the image, read the points of Analysis and write a corresponding statement of interpretation for each one.
Next, I projected each image and we discussed them as a whole class with input from each of the groups.
Across the board, they did an excellent, thoughtful job, not content to reside at the "surface" of meaning.
Score and comment on pieces according to the "Sailing the 7 Cs" visual arts rubric
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Students will create a new work of art by drawing on top of a copy of a previous piece of their own work. With the possibility for "messing up" their artwork removed, students will be encouraged to boldly explore mark-making strategies and create expressive works that enhance formal and emotional impact.
Previous made student artwork
8 ½ x 11" (21 x 28 cm) full-color copies of student artwork on white printer paper or cardstock (two or more copies per student)
Black ball-point pens
Black Permanent Markers
1. Prior to class, photograph student artwork and print full-color copies for each student on white printer paper or cardstock.
2. Challenge students to use black ballpoint pen and permanent marker to work on top of the copied image with weighted lines (continuous lines of varying thicknesses), lines of varying qualities, and other types of marks (hatching, cross-hatching, stippling, etc.)
3. Encourage students to explore how they can more effectively use mark-making to manipulate elements and principles of design, such as emphasis, value, and repetition/pattern while refining edges and creating a greater sense of volume to produce more visually interesting and engaging works of art.
Invite students to create more drawings by using different approaches to mark-making on top of additional copies of the same piece of their art. If time allows, ask students to choose the most and least successful drawings and explain why in a journal entry using careful analysis and appropriate art vocabulary.
S = Substitute (replace one thing with another, e.g. an object, a media, etc.)
C = Combine (combine objects or parts of objects, media, ideas, etc)
A = Adapt (borrow something from another context)
M = Magnify, Minify, Multiply (make some part larger, smaller or repeat it; zoom in or zoom out)
P = Put to Other Uses (change the intended function of an object, a tool, etc.)
E = Eliminate (remove some aspect or parts; cut something out; cut part of something away)
R = Rearrange/Reverse (move objects around; rotate or flip objects or the whole piece)