Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
I met my middle school monkeys yesterday; 38 of 40 showed up, eager to hang from the ceilings as only this age group can. I have to note that because the school is so small, "middle school" (traditionally 6th, 7th & 8th) in this case, also includes some 4th and 5th graders, who are particularly adept at monkey shenanigans. My son tagged along to act as assistant monkey wrangler and together we wrestled the babes into their seats so we could get some fantastic art-making done. As part of this year's "Art Around the World" theme, we have started with African-American artist Romare Bearden, using his nearly 18-foot collage "On the Block" as inspiration for our own neighborhood collages. Colored paper bits were everywhere, scissors were carving out all sorts of wonderously imaginative shapes, and glue sticks were used to stick fingers together as well as paper. This collage process is a multi-layered affair; yesterday, the kids got started on their backgrounds, gluing down their big shapes. In the next couple of weeks, we will add more and more details and I plan on bringing in a bunch of cool, textured and printed papers for them to choose from as well as magazines so they can add people and objects to their cut paper worlds. When all is said and done, I plan on displaying the finished works all in a row to create one gigantic paper neighborhood stretching across the school walls.
Monday, September 14, 2009
I am slowly getting better, recovering from a fast-acting cold/flu bug that hopped on board the first day back to teaching. I felt well enough yesterday to manage a load of laundry, three days worth of dishes and some lovely time in the studio working in Kelly's circle journal. I can't tell you how good it felt to get the brushes swirling around again. I've been all about teaching prep the last couple of weeks and my paints have become dusty, my water cup dry as a bone, and my brushes stiff with neglect. However, all my supplies welcomed me back in an instant. My big challenge, now that I'm back in the classroom, is to find a balance between being an art teacher and being an artist. The two are in no way mutually exclusive but one can certainly overtake the other and to be truly happy, I must find a way to make these two paths run parallel.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Then I proceeded to sleep...and sleep...and sleep. 16 hours or so. Woke up at four this morning with all the congestion settled into my chest, no fever, very weak but I think (knock on wood) I am on the mend. I think I am the victim of some sort of viral blitz attack as I can't remember ever catching something that moved so fast. I've got the weekend so I will continue to rest easy and watch for any sort of upper respiratory complication. Thank you for all your kind thoughts and support! I'm sure they played a part in paving the road to recovery and back into the classroom...xo - Michelle
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
...an expression of one's inner self in images and color.
...whatever you think is beautiful and want the world to see.
...a safe way to explode in any way.
...beauty and life.
...something someone thinks is cool or beautiful.
...an inspired drawing of an image from one's mind.
...a way to free your emotions.
...you in another form.
Today, I started class by asking my 12 high school students to write a succinct definition of art and the above words are some of their responses. Then we discussed the "official" definition of art as per the American Heritage Dictionary. We talked about how to make objective judgments about whether or not an image or object is art. I filled their tables with famous images, from da Vinci's Mona Lisa to Pollock's Lavender Mist. I gave them all sorts of objects to ponder: a decorative birdcage, carved wooden hands, a wind-up robot, a scary sculpted clown my son made in the fourth grade and more. Next week, we begin to build our artistic vocabulary by exploring the elements of design: line, shape, form, space, color and texture. Now at home, still dazed from all the pressure of recent weeks, I feel an ominous scratchiness in my throat, my feet hurt and my busy, busy head is racing ahead to Friday when I meet my middle school kids for the first time. But as I reread the wisdom of my young flock of artists, I am quiet, content. It was a good first day.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
My first teaching day for the 2009-2010 school year is tomorrow! I am excited to see what students are returning to my classes and who's new to the program. Time to learn names again! I'm told I have approximately 15 high school students and at least 33 middle school students. I was cleaning up the art supply room today at the school and one of my students from last year happened upon me knee deep in crumbs of sidewalk chalk and crayon nubs. "Are we doing art?" he asked. "Tomorrow," was my reply to which he brightened, "So cool. See you then!" High praise coming from a young teenage boy. Just that small exchange kept me wading through the ruined bits of paper mache models, sticky glue bottles, dusty pottery supplies, stringy fabric scraps, and wayward glitter. Oh, the glitter! It was everywhere! I keep my supplies in my office so maintaining the school supply closet is simply something I offer to do as part of my artist-in-residence duties. It is a thankless job, no matter how organized I get it, as it seems to be the "kitchen sink" room (as in "everything but.") With some of the remodeling that has been going on, I wouldn't be surprised to see a sink magically appear in there when I'm not looking. Anyhow, after three hours this morning, I was able to unearth the floor and recreate access to the washer and dryer. (Oh, yeah...it is also the laundry room.) I also tidied up my office, got my supply cart stocked and ready to roll into tomorrow's class. Go! Go! Go!
Monday, September 7, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
So reads the found word poem adorning the little houses in this collage piece for my upcoming show "Facades." This is an unusually small piece in the series - measuring just 6 by 12 inches. Most of the canvases are at least 2 feet long and a few are a foot by three feet in length. That's a whole lot of construction going on! Each little house begins with hand dyed and stenciled paper and then various scrapbook papers are cut, edged with ink and layered to create rooftops, windows, and doors. Each canvas then gets its own found word poem that tells a tiny tale about the scene presented. The assembly work involved reminds me a lot of quilting: tedious but meditative. I often pause midway through the process and wonder: "What was I thinking??" especially if it is a much longer piece. But somehow I manage to push past the doubts and fulfill the construction contract. So much of art is just that...pushing past doubts to completition. And when the doubt still lingers, it becomes all about letting go for a bit until you can return with refreshed eyes.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Thus, Charlie Chaplin described his most famous character (and himself), seen here in silhouette for this week's challenge at Three Muses. Charlie is drawn by hand and collaged onto scrapbook paper along with a ransom note quote. Quick, simple, yet meaningful...hope you laugh today!