Wednesday, July 24, 2013

In the Art Room: Tennessee Arts Academy

Can you believe this gorgeous ceramic pieces? It was created during a class taught by Denise Ertler who is the professional development coordinator for Mayco, my fave glaze company. You can find tons of amazing ceramic lessons here.
 Every summer I'm super lucky in that I get to help out at Tennessee Arts Academy (they call me a "facilitator" because pain-in-the-a## was taken). If you've been hanging with me on this here blog since last summer (for which I thank you and I gotta ask, WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?!), you might recall this post in which I gushed over the Academy. Well, this post will involve a whole lot more rambling and a peek inside the creation of these marvelous pieces. None of which were created by me except for that just-started piece at the bottom of this post. I have this weird thing where I can't seem to get anything done when I attend the Academy. And by "weird thing" I mean an inability to shut up when I'm around other art teachers. I just love chatting with like-minded weirdos! Part of the reason I spend so much time talking to myself. But whateves, let's talk about the amazing Denise Ertler and her ceramic lessons.
So Mayco makes these things called ceramic canvases which is a bisque fired canvas-esque surface for you to go crazy on. During Denise's lesson, she taught the participants how to glaze a scene onto the surface with Stroke and Coat (not the best name but, seriously, The Best Glaze Ever). Once the painting was complete, the participants sculpted lil whatevers out of low-fire clay. These were then placed onto the ceramic surface and left to dry. Once fired (a low fire of cone 06), the hand built pieces adhere to the canvas and look like the image at the top of the post. Nutz, right? I love it. Even if you couldn't afford the canvas, I'm thinking this same concept could be done on a slab of clay, don't you think?
Mayco also makes these bisque dinner plates. Which makes me totally wanna make my own dinner plates partly because that'd be awesome and the other partly because my paper plates do not wash easily. They make the biggest mess in the dishwasher eve-rrr.
 I really love this project. The above piece is unfired but I thought I'd share it with you so I could better explain the process. The surface was glazed with two coats of brown underglaze. A stencil was then created with fuzzy string, twine, whatever you got on hand. Once the underglaze dried, Stroke and Coat was added in any variety of colors, painting right over the string. Once dry, the string was removed, the piece was covered in clear glaze and fired. I love the layers of color you can see in the finished glazed piece.
Here's another one of those clay canvas thingies. I like the square format of this one, don't you? This was created with a pen called Designer Liner and all I gotta say about this pen is WHERE WERE YOU WHEN I WAS ATTEMPTING THIS, huh?! ANYway, this was done directly on the canvas, color was added and then a coupla coats of clear glaze finished it off.
Do all ya'll art teachers know Peggy Flores? I know I just heard a resounding "YES!" because if you said, "no...?" then you have either been living under a rock (which sounds mighty cramped but I hear the temperatures are nice) or you just didn't know you know Peggy Flores. What in the world am I talking about? (geez, how many times in a day do I get asked that question!) Well, she's the lady behind the art instruction videos created by Crystal Productions. I have this metal tooling video in my collection and love it!
Another one of her lessons is the folded paper project. I wasn't in Peggy's class so I don't know the details of the project but I love the three-dimensional aspect of the piece. It adds a whole new layer to a collage project.
I know Peggy offers a paper mola video. Again, I didn't take this class, so I don't know the details but you better bet my kids will be making one of these when we "travel" to South America.
David Christiana was our awesome instructor for a two-day illustration type class. If you aren't familiar with David's work, go here and be prepared to be amazed. His work is stunning and he was just the nicest guy to have as an instructor. Now the above may look like your typical grid project but what made it different was the fact that it was a lesson on value and mark making. Each pieces was made on clayboard (have you ever worked on this stuff? It's got a smooth as silk surface on masonite) and created with a combination of pen and ink, pencil and charcoal.
The other project created in his class (which my camera ran outta juice before I could snap photos of) was one he titled Castle-ness. I loved this project (even though I failed to produce anything because of my aforementioned blabber-mouth-itus). He had us all brainstorm words that we felt described castles. So we said things like your typical stuff like stone, massive, drawbridge, etc. Then we dug deeper and came up with fortress, safety, power, greed, your mama (not really, just seeing if you were paying attention). After that brainstormin session, we were to come up with a brief description of either ourselves or someone close to us. With those two groups of words in mind, we came up with a drawing called Castle-ness: A castle idea but much more. I think I can use the brainstorming ideas with my wee ones.
I learned so much from Nicole Briscoe about inspiring creativity in young artists. Nicole teaches high school artists but many of the ideas that she shared I could easily see bringing to my elementary art room. The above is a display of projects from both Peggy's class and Nicole's. Oh! And you can also see some of the pen and ink Castle-ness drawings from David's class.
 Here's what I loved about Nicole's class: the drawing prompts. She have us giant sheets of lovely thick paper (I dunno, thick ole drawing paper, maybe? You know, the stuff that's not in my wee elementary budget) and, seriously, 25 prompts. Things like: a contour drawing; write a letter to yourself in 50 years; write your 5 core beliefs; draw a self-portrait; draw a tool (I drew my lipstick because I am a tool); do a value study; draw patterns; movement, etc. You can find a ton of her prompts and other great ideas for inspiring creativity in your art room here.

 So, now dontcha wish youda gone to Tennessee Arts Academy? Anyone can go, not just Tennesseans. All you gotta do is apply (like, in October, it fills up fast). Get your school to chip in on some of the cost and rack up the professional development hours -- 36 hours to be exact. AND, if you go, I'll show you my totally rad food processing blade scar. I KNOW, RIGHT?! Now you GOTTA go. Okay, I'll stop shouting. 

Hope your week's a great one! I hope to be back soon with a freshly finished DIY. Later!


  1. Love the idea of using vintage pattern art as inspiration for making art (I often want to do this but I get busy and don't do it)

    1. It was fun to just sit and draw...which I never do anymore! It's now on my dining room table so that I have to look at it daily...I'm hoping it will inspire me to get to work on it. We'll see ;)

  2. The clay canvas looks like a great material to use. Do you know the exact name? The designer pen looks neato. Also stencils with glaze! Wow! Haven't thought to use them together. Lol at your comment about the glaze name!

    1. Oops sorry! I noticed you linked to the clay canvas thing.

    2. Oh, good, glad you found it. Yeah, "Stroke and Coat"...really? I'm guessing there were no dudes on the panel that okay'ed that name ;)

  3. Yes, it was totally amazing! You forgot to brag on yourself though. I really enjoyed your lesson on weaving with the plates. I also enjoyed listening to your banter and passing out treats of chocolate was pretty cool. Hope to find some of your dressing bottle material so that I can teach my 5th graders that Hades is hot. I agree; it might make them behave in a more pleasing fashion. Haha! Sure do enjoy your blog and often make my hubby listen as I read it aloud to him. Thanks for helping at TAA. It was the best learning experience I've been to in 24 years! I just feel so sorry for all the poor "regular" teachers out there. They don't know what they are missing!

    1. Jan!! I wish you woulda introduced yourself (did we chat or am I just crazy?!) because I thought of you often and I kept thinking, "I gotta find Jan!" Thank you for attending the weaving lesson...I was nervous beyond belief. Teaching teachers is no easy gig ;) It was a blast, you'll have to come again next year! Every year is amazing. Have a WONDERFUL school year and thanks for reading ;)

  4. No, I never got brave enough to introduce myself. I'm a chicken. You were so busy and I was going to talk to you a couple of times, but there was always lots of people-makes me sound like a crazy! Haha! I hope you have a great year too. Can't wait to see what you do with your cherry tree.

  5. Oh, this sounds like SO much fun!

    I'm with you; I LOVE those dinner plates.


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