Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Fall Workshops at the Belin Blank (WINGS)

I was asked to teach two WINGS workshops at the Belin Blank this fall. One was a class on watercolors--easy peasy!

The other was a class on creative circuits. Which was more than a bit outside of my comfort zone. I could figure out the creative part, but figuring out the circuit part proved a little more challenging.

What I came up with was a three hour workshop where students could create a simple circuit with cell batteries, wire, and LEDs. They would then use their circuit to create a light up plush that they cut, embroidered, felted, and sewed themselves.

I had to source some help from my engineering friends when it came to creating this custom circuit. I failed A LOT. But in the end, all the hard work paid off and I could really tell that the students enjoyed the heck out of this class. :)



My younger watercolor kiddos:

Workshops at the Cedar Rapids Art Museum

In August of this year, I had the privilege of teaching two workshops at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.
The first was for young students between the ages of 5 and 12: The Science of Watercolor!

I taught very young kiddos some cool tricks for using watercolor, including crayon, salt, and rubbing alcohol. But the really fun part was painting with cabbage juice--and making it acidic or alkaline to get different colors!

I also was able to teach not one, but TWO adult workshops on watercolor basics! These Brave Beginners not only learned a lot about watercolor tools and techniques, but we also discussed creative mindsets and explored watercolor via mind stretching art exercises. This was so fun. And a couple weeks later I was rewarded by spying one of my students from the second adult class buying watercolor supplies at Michaels!

Summer Blast at the Belin Blank 2017

This summer at the Belin Blank I taught a two week workshop on Mixed Media art and Creative Thinking.
The students were exposed to a wide variety of media from printmaking to encaustic to stop motion animation. We also practiced creative thinking exercises daily using surrealist parlor room games and drawing exercises that stretched the students' imaginations.
If you're looking for a book with many creative drawing exercises this is a great resource: Playing with Sketches by Whitney Sherman.
Below you can see some examples from our two weeks of learning how artists think, developing studio habits, and tackling new and exciting media. :)

Marbling and Paint Pouring:
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Exquisite Corpse and Paste Paper:
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Black out poetry:
Stopmotion Animation:
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Encaustic Painting:
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Monoprinting, Watercolor still-life, and Collaborative Stopmotion Animation:
Resin and Acetate Collage and Squash Books:
Our finished Resin Collages and Accordion Books:
Needle Felting and Embroidery:
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And our final show. Whew. It was an awesome two weeks!

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Monday, April 3, 2017

WINGS Session-Bookbinding, Art Jouraling, & Marbling

This last weekend I taught a workshop for middle schoolers on sketchbooks: the keeping of, the making of, and what to include in. We also talked about creativity and the ways artists practice creativity.

We talked about reasons artists keep sketchbooks and they came up with a pretty good list. (Don't want to be bored anywhere, practice makes perfect, experimentation, list of ideas, note taking, safe place to express feelings, keeping our eyes open and being present, having a record of progress, inspiration...and I'm sure you can think of many more.)

Then we practiced some drawing exercises for the purpose of encouraging idea generation and flexible thinking, including tea blot drawing, exquisite corpse, finish the line, and a non-dominant hand self-portrait. This was a little nerve wracking for this age group--no one wanted to look like a "bad" artist, but they participated admirably and we got some really cool drawings.



Next we started the process of making our own sketchbooks. The students made ten signatures of four pages and used coptic stitch to bind them. We didn't get our books all the way done. The process was complex and new and also time consuming (due to some supply issues), but everyone got to the point, I think, that they could finish their book at home.
(Sketchbook I made for the demo)
So we moved on to paper marbling. Here the kids got really into it. It was great to see them experiment with how the paint spread and formed. They got some awesome pieces for including in their sketchbook later and had so much fun doing this part of the workshop.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bullet Journaling Sucks

It takes too much time. 
I'm not a "journaling" kind of person. I'm a list and random crap kind of person.
I've reverted back to this:
And I'm okay with that.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Bullet Journaling

In general, I like this method of keeping track of things. Instead of writing a new to-do list each day in another random notebook or a scrap of paper I found, I just add it to the list I already have going--which I can be sure to find easily.

I chose to organize the journal in four day increments. A double page spread seemed like too much space for one or two days, but way too little space for an entire week. Four days is a sweet spot for me. There's plenty to keep track of, but not so much it's overwhelming.

Here's a photo of how I organize the layout.

In the upper left corner is a typed out list of things I want to accomplish every four days, every week, and every month with boxes to check off. I really wanted something concrete to help me keep my larger goals in mind, rather than just the day to day and week to week minutiae (which also needs to be kept track of).

It's also nice to have a space (log) to just jot a few notes about what happened during the day. I've never been a journal or diary kind of person. But I noticed how nice it was when Facebook would pull up an old post I had forgotten where the kids had said something funny or done something cool. With just a few lines, I don't feel overwhelmed by writing about the day, but there's still space to write something notable.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Hello 2017!

Hello 2017!
You're already 1/24th of the way gone.

The beginning of the new year does seem like a fresh start. At time to make new goals or renew commitments to old ones.

I don't usually have time to make my resolutions on January first. What I have done for the past several years is spend the first week thinking and reflecting on what I'm hoping for in the new year. Then I put it all together into a word document, broken down by category so I can clearly see what my goals are for every area of my life. I try not to worry if I'm making my goals overly grand or unrealistic. I just write down my ideal for what I want to do with a year's time.

This year I wrote goals for 8 categories:

-Writing/Illustrating
-Making Art
-School & work
-Kids
-Finances
-Around the house
-Outdoors (yard/garden)
-Taking care of my body

Then I immediately began tackling some of the things I'm able to now. I wrote a comprehensive household budget that finally does what none of my other past budgets has: accounts for every dollar.

There are a lot of things that need to be done in support of larger goals, however. I may say "write a budget" is my goal, but what I really want is to stay within my budget. Accounting for every dollar is a start, but to support this goal I also had to do other things, like move my grocery spending into a separate account, have savings automatically withheld, and figure out that only discretionary spending and gas should go on my credit card (with a dollar amount cap).

I can say that making more art is one of my goals, but unless I have something specific in mind, what does it mean? I need to designate what kind of art and how much. One painting a month? Two? Do I need to research first and generate sketches first? You bet! So that needs to be written down, too.

I make to-do lists every week, if not everyday. I usually have one or two notebooks going at a time, full of appointment dates, phone numbers, grocery lists, chores around the house, homework assignments, not to mention lots of doodles.

This year, I want to keep my goals always before me by breaking them up into manageable monthly and weekly chunks. I'm going to see if bullet journaling can add some organization to my to-do lists and my 2017 goals.

One goal under "around the house" was to finish the basement. It's a project that's been dragging. (I know it will eventually get done no matter what, but hey, I can cross it off if it's on my list.) The renovation has put my studio out of commission for the last couple months as it's now a storage room to all the stuff that needs to be out of this room:

This is what my studio has looked like:

That's right. Dark. Scary. Full of crap.

In support of art and writing goals I had to do what I could to make it a usable space again. It's still full of junk, but at least half of the room is accessible to me now.  A sequestered creative space of my own once again.
So 2017, I may be a bit late to the game. This may be the time lots of people give up on resolutions. But I'm going to organize the crap out of you 2017, and together we're going to do some cool stuff. Onward and upward!