Friday, October 23, 2009

Gettin' Ones Groove Back

Back in college, it seemed thee fine arts involved working strictly with such media as oil paints, odorous printing inks and an assortment of charcoal pencils and sticks. Any other media was looked down upon by our professors and this snobbish attitude spread amongst us art students like an STD. It was everywhere and we couldn't rid ourselves of it. I remember feeling so guilty about making a batiked Christmas present for my mom that I locked my studio door for fear someone would walk in on me.

It took a long time for me to get that baloney out of my head. In fact, it took a long time for me get back to the making of art at all. I found that I was no longer interested in painting these giant stories on canvas so I assumed I no longer had any business making art. I stopped. And taught art instead. But how can you teach something that you no longer do?
Well, you can. I did it for a long time. Then I started noticing people all around me making things. Things that didn't involve great big canvases and blood, sweat and tears. Like Diana, Mitch's mom, who recently discovered rug hooking. That's her, holding up her latest creation, a hooked version of a drawing Mitch made in junior high. She began her craft less than 2 years ago and has already made countless rugs and pillows for herself and the fam.

Or my music teacher friend Leah who just started quilting this past spring. She's holding her umpteenth quilt. Her work is amazing and I'm so excited that I'm on her to-be-quilted-for list.

And my burlap bag making friend, Jaime. Look at her latest creation: stenciling onto the burlap. I'm really hoping that my commissioned bag ends up with this adorable design on it (hint-hint).

So now I make stuff. Whatever suits my fancy (with a concentration on belts, of course). I no longer hear my professor's voices ringing in my ears. What a relief, like a weight lifted. And I've found making stuff leads to more ideas and thus the making of more stuff. Shoot, I'm so stuffy some days I can hardly stand it.

What is also exciting is how I think this has made me a better teacher. Excitement is also contagious...but in a good way. Much unlike an STD.

These self-portraits were just finished my my 3rd and 4th graders. I think they are pretty dog-gone amazing.

For those interested, here's a brief description of the lengthy process:

We started with the background paper that looks tie-dyed. Students wrote words with water-based markers that they felt described them. Then they chose several words to go over with a permanent marker. This paper was painted with water. Only the permanent words remained visible.

We then drew a self-portrait in pencil on paper. This was traced onto transparency film with sharpie. Kiddos added color with oil pastel.

Lastly we used metal tooling to create the frame. I was lucky enough to get a box of cardboard frames donated to me. The kids tooled 2 long and 2 short strips of metal which were glued to the frame. My thumb in the picture will put the size of these in perspective.


  1. The Bag Lady did a bang up job!! LOVE IT!

  2. Anonymous11/06/2009

    Do you think it would be too long a commute to send Iain down to you for art lessons? He hates art - and in large part because he doesn't like his teacher and doesn't feel very creative. They're pretty prescriptive on their projects.



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