Each summer, I usually teach a week or two of art camp. This is the first year that I am not teaching camp or taking a second job of some sort! I will have a true summer vacation.
It’s been a week, and I have already been productive. We have rearranged the apartment, and I have finally finished my exploratory painting that I started over two years ago! See the first post here.
I had to stop “messing” with it, and just be done. I’m happy with the finished piece though!
This is what it looked like at it’s last “finished” stage. Excuse the cat bottom seen on the right…
Here is the finished piece. It’s a lot fuller, and I feel now balanced. The leaves don’t look as “stuck on” to me anymore. Took me long enough!
I find myself feeling behind, when it comes to creating…again. This school year I chose not to set a goal for creating (e.g. a specific amount of time to create). I knew it was just not going to happen, therefore, why set myself up for failure?
Instead, I am finding time to create in small places. Small projects that still allow me to create, but are not intimidating.
Each Christmas I am overwhelmed by the generosity and thoughtfulness from my students and their families. Their gifts make me feel appreciated, loved, and remembered as a Specials (art, music, PE, Spanish) teacher. I always write a thank you in hopes of conveying my appreciation, but this year I decided to make my thank yous! Here was a “small place” for me to create!
I also made monogram mugs for my teammates. Another small place. Sharpie marker on a plain, store-bought mug, baked in the oven – and ta-da! I really enjoyed designing and planning each monogram.
And this past summer, I made crayons for my classroom! This turned out to be a not-so-small place to create. It took me weeks, but I was able to work on them in short spurts. Last year, I had my students peel and sort every last crayon that was in the classroom. (This activity was surprisingly exciting for them. I had students asking for more crayons!) In muffin tins I melted down the old crayons in the oven at 250 degrees, let the pan cool, and then popped the entire pan in the freezer for a few minutes. Ta-da! Rainbow crayons that my students LOVE to use! We have been using them for texture rubbings. I found the crayons themselves to be rather beautiful. Looking at them again, they are similar to my watercolors…
So instead of being disappointed with myself for not “creating” a big project or building a body of work, I am looking for the small places.
Well, I have done a very poor job of reaching my goal this year. Originally, I had planned to use any time that I would have spent driving to/from grad class and/or IN class to create. I have stayed after at school plenty of times, well into the evening, this year…but never to create.
I find it difficult to create in my classroom – not because of the conditions; conditions are perfect after school (quiet, large tables, tile floor) – because if I’m at school, I’m working on school stuff! Lesson planning, bulletin boards, grades, preparing materials for the next day, meetings…etc. etc! I don’t know how I got everything done while I was in grad school; maybe I didn’t!
All that to say, my time to create comes in sporadic spurts. Sometimes I sketch; sometimes I watercolor; sometimes I paint.
Here are a few shots of my latest work in progress. I started back in the fall; it’s definitely been a slow process! I wanted to do something special with the song we first danced to at our wedding, and I was experimenting with combining different processes. Brayer w/paint on canvas, collage-ing on paper, adding text, layering.
I apologize for the crooked photos. These were taken while it was hanging on the wall to dry (to keep it out of the reach of the cat), and I am short & was too lazy to go get the stool in order to take better photos…
Notice the cat trying to help
Text and Tree added
Finished for now…needs a dark outline or texture on the tree…
I have been drawn to imagery of trees and nature lately. In fact, I have made my 2nd graders create “tree” project after “tree” project. (ask them – they think I’m obsessed!) Aside from the initial silliness of being “obsessed”, we have talked about change — trees change and grow throughout the year, and so do we. The trees represent us and how we grow and change. We’ve studied abstract artists as well as artists like Andy Goldsworthy (a favorite of mine!), and we’ve done real tree drawings, abstract tree drawings, and even tree clay containers…
After attending the GAEA fall conference, I was energized to create. I began altering an old book I found in the mailroom at school. So naturally, I am turning my book into a tree. Here is an work-in-progress photo:
Because I finished my master’s program this past summer, my goal for the year was to spend the equivalent time I would have spent driving to/from and IN class making art. My plan was to stay late at school and my classroom would double as an artist studio.
That hasn’t happened yet…and we’re almost half way through the school year. If I stay late, it’s to work on school work, lesson plans, art displays, etc.
While I haven’t met my goal of making art every Monday and Wednesday afternoon (maybe I was boxing myself in too much?), I have been creating!
I have started an altered book, and I worked on a small commission. Here is the commission: Lakehouse, 2012.
I just attended the Georgia Art Educators Association Fall Professional Learning Conference, and I have a renewed energy to create my own artwork. I love learning and fellowship-ing with other art teachers from across the state!! Check us out: GAEA
I’m still on the fence about drawing on my ipad. There are some amazing aps out there (like Paper by 53, which I recently discovered), but does drawing on my ipad take away from the experience? My master’s thesis was all about creating a dialogue with your materials – getting your hands dirty and learning through that experience – so I am conflicted. Drawing on the ipad is quick, easy, can be done anywhere! I am very tempted to pay the $6.99 and get all of the tools in the ap. The free version only comes with a pen and eraser, but if I paid I could get watercolors, pencils, and a thick sharpie!
I did the drawing below with my finger! Because I was too lazy to go get my stylus…I like the stylized look that Paper automatically gives you. But once again, is that helping or harming my creativity? If I were drawing with a pencil in my actual sketchbook, I’d have to create the line variety myself.
I am quite taken with using thread on top of watercolors — the process I used to make the bookmarks. I continue to build a dialogue with my materials! (Love me some Judith!) Originally, I set out to do a piece for each season. This is the summer piece – “Summer Awareness”
The last few weeks I have spent my time finishing my applied project. (It has been approved and turned in! I’m officially done!) While I haven’t been working on big art pieces, I have been doing small projects that keep me creating. I have found myself absorbed in using watercolors and addicted to stitching on paper! As a small thank you, I decided to make a bookmark for each of my professors. Here is a photo of two of the four bookmarks I made.
I used narrative in my applied project to better understand the changes that I went through this year. Instead of taking “field notes” I often just snapped a quick photo. Looking through the thousands of photos from this year brought memories, conversations, and details to mind. As part of my applied project, I am building a visual narrative by making a handmade book with these photos. I am using the photos, my unfinished demonstration pieces, and sewing to create each unique page. Here is an in-progress sneak peak of one of the 60+ pages: