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!


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.