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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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.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Day 10: Final Class & Show

I didn’t plan a lesson for our last day. We only had a full hour and a half of class time before we would need to prepare for the final show, so I designated the time as catch up and wrap up time.

First I had students break out their resin bugs and remove the clay from their plaster casts. It was so gratifying to see everyone so excited about their plaster imprints!

I had planned to do a short (faux) batik activity the day before but had run out of time. I figured that even if we couldn’t get to the painting, we could at least start the activity that morning.

So students were given a piece of white cotton fabric and they made glue lines on their fabric to create a design. I had them write the next steps for the project in their sketchbook so they would be able to do it at home. The next steps involved painting the fabric with acrylic or fabric paint and then washing and drying the fabric until the glue dissolves leaving behind white resist lines everywhere.

We set aside our batiked fabric to dry and went outside to spray paint our dinosaur busts from lesson three. One student hadn’t made a bust at all (he instead had completed more of other projects that day) so I directed that student to make more cyanotypes. Other students had had time to cut out acetate stencils after batiking so we also had students spray painting stencils onto paper during this time.
Wrapping up the spray painting we brought all our materials back inside and got ready to head back outside again to erupt our volcano from lesson seven. This was a great fun!

After the volcano we still had about ten minutes before we needed to begin preparing for our show so I had the students watch the TED talk (longer) version of the “chickenosaurus” video from lesson two.

At this point I had the students gather all their own work and put it in bags and on a trolley for taking over to the show.

The show was great! Everyone got to see what our class had been working on and they got to see what all the other classes had been doing. I got to meet and talk to parents and just enjoy admiring all the accomplishments of all the students. It was a wonderful way to wrap up the class.

Day 9: Plaster Fossils & Field Trip

This was an awesome day. We had planned a field trip and making plaster cast plate of plants—a lesson everyone was looking forward to.

Before our field trip, we briefly discussed the different kinds of fossils that scientists find including amber and frozen mammoth. We discussed how fossils form and also Rachel Dein, the artist we were emulating for our plaster plates.

I probably needn’t have done the talk about fossils since most of that information was covered in our field trip. But I wasn’t sure, at the time, what the field trip would all entail.
We walked over to Trowbridge Hall and Tiffany Aidan did a wonderful job showing us around and teaching us about fossils and how scientists use art for preservation and research. The students dug for fossils in bins and every student was able to find a highly coveted shark tooth.

We also toured the many fossils and specimens in glass cases there and the students sketched their favorite items.

We collected plants and flowers on our way back to the Belin-Blank and once back in the classroom, we were in a rush to get our plaster plates made. The field trip had taken longer than I expected and I hadn’t wanted to cut it short because it was really engaging and educational.

With just enough time, we managed to squeak out our plaster plates and even our “amber” (resin) bugs.

Day 8: Trilobite & Ammonite Printmaking & Relief

This was planned to be a messy day of printmaking. We discussed and looked at images of trilobites and ammonites and the techniques for the day were monotype printmaking, etching printmaking, and making a relief piece. The artist we learned about was Michael Mazur.

The students tried their hand at etching designs into Styrofoam plates and I also explained the difference between an etching and a monotype. For monotypes, they tried just additive and subtractive techniques with the paint on the plates rather than etching.

When they had made a couple prints of each kind, I had larger 8x10 glass plates for a bigger monotype.

We ran into some frustration here as the school-grade acrylic paint was really not at all suited for printmaking. I had used low quality acrylic paint at home for my examples and even *it* worked better than what was in the classroom.
I had requested oil based ink for this lesson, but I couldn’t find any in the supply. I would have switched to oil-based ink for the larger monotype at least, but since there wasn’t any we tried to make a go of it with the acrylic. It wasn’t very successful. This marks the third or fourth time that low quality art supplies in the classroom have caused me trouble and my students disappointment.

In any event, the students did pull some successful prints and while they were drying we began working on our relief pieces.
For this, the students drew a trilobite or ammonite (or dinosaur or eye or whatever) on a piece of cardboard. I then helped them make hot glue lines over their drawing (this for the relief). Then they covered the whole thing in aluminum foil and rubbed to bring their design forward. They added engraving designs to the surface and then a layer of shoe polish to create an antique looking foil plate.