From the Sketchbook…

We recently unearthed an Epson scanner from beneath a mountain of “stuff” in our closet. Needless to say I have been having a little too much fun – scanning happily away. Here are a few scans from my sketchbook…I’m having a lot of fun going through my books and am happy to be able to share some of my musings on paper.

My drawings tend to be very different stylistically from my paintings. In my drawings I tend to use repetitive and detailed line work and truly enjoy playing with intricate patterns. Enjoy:)

Little Artists, Part II

I wanted to share a few more pictures of art projects from the past few weeks that my students have been creating. I mentioned the Van Gogh inspired finger paintings that we had done recently. The children loved manipulating the thick acrylic paint and I showed them how to “draw” with their fingers, by scraping away some of the layers of paint in different shapes and patterns. A couple of their pieces are on the right.

In some classes we created monoprints (like the one on the left), just by rubbing a second piece of paper over their original painting. The children were able to see their unique paintings recreated in a second form, which delighted many of them.

Recently we have been paying extra attention to texture and experimenting with combining varied materials. In our most recent project I handed out large squares of cardboard and then presented the children with a colorful pile of odds & ends…beautiful pieces of decorative paper, aluminum foil, string, plastic gel sheets, bubble wrap, glitter, and paint. The final ingredient was “mod podge” which is an acrylic medium that dries clear and can be used to glue & varnish projects. With giant brushes dipped in mod podge paste the children spent most of the class time collaging these different elements together. I was fascinated to see which materials different children were drawn to and whether or not they layered the materials or preferred to keep elements separate. I encouraged the children to explore the texture with their fingers as they placed the pieces on the cardboard. It was a very fun class – both for me and the kids…I love the process of gathering the materials, setting them out, and then watching the children engaging in some “serious” creating:)

Little Artists

I have been teaching art to children part time for the past few months and am greatly enjoying it! My kids are very young – from 1.5 years old up to around 4 years old. Since the children are so young, in many ways, it’s less about teaching art, and more about guiding the children through the exploration of art materials…textures, colors, shapes, and feelings. The theme for this semester’s classes is “famous artists” and so we have been exploring the work of artists like Matisse, Monet, Pollock, & Van Gogh each week. Each class explores a different artist and the techniques & themes that are unique to his/her work.

Here are a few pictures of projects that we did for different artists:

Monet (right) ~ After looking at pictures of some of Monet’s water lily paintings, we applied colorful torn tissue paper and a glue paste on construction paper. When the tissue paper was wet, the children noticed that the different colors bled together to create new colors in addition to the colors created by the overlapping paper. I explained that Monet had created his pieces by layering many different colors of paint in a similar way, to create pictures rich in depth & light.

Pollock (below) ~ A few weeks ago we talked about Jackson Pollock and his famous drip paintings. I handed out colorful construction paper and bowls of liquid glue. I showed the children how to dip a spoon in the glue and then dribble it all over the paper – creating different abstract lines, shapes, and both thick and thin lines. After applying the glue I presented them with containers of different brightly colored sand which they sprinkled over the glue. After shaking off the excess sand, they were left with beautiful sand splatter art!

Van Gogh (not pictured) ~ This week we are learning about Van Gogh and specifically looking at his painting “Starry Night.” In class we have been using finger paint and applying it thickly onto paper. Then, the children are using their fingers or other tools to carve into the texture and create patterns and images in the paint, as Van Gogh applied thick oil paint to canvas and then shaped it with his palette knife & brush.

Each class begins with some free painting time at the easel. The children have many jars of paint to choose from and are encouraged to experiment with color mixing & mark making. I am always amazed at this process and how at ease the children seem to be at the easel – even the first time painters!

I have noticed how much working with these “little artists” has inspired my own studio practice. The children approach art making wholeheartedly and with such trust in the process. In fact, especially at this age, it is the process and not the product that truly matters. Similarly, with my own art making, the best studio sessions are when I am completely immersed in the process, and not overly preoccupied with the finished product.

Earth Window Series

I’ve been working on a group of paintings that I’ve been calling the Earth Window Series. The paintings in this series have been taking on many different sizes, palettes, and textures, but they all share a common motif – which is the “window” or the usually squarish geometrical shapes that seem to be finding their way into them. The painting to the right is a newly finished piece from the series. The picture below shows this same piece at an earlier stage. The very first layer of this piece (not shown here) was created by applying washes of bronze colored paint & earthy colors like burnt sienna & yellow oxide.

Over that color layer I used blue painter’s tape to mask off different shapes. A slightly darker color was then painted over the tape, so that when the tape was removed the image beneath stood out. To create the white splatter lines I drizzled gesso (a surface primer) across the surface in both thick and thin line patterns. I truly enjoy the spontaneity of this process and have been exploring it in my newest paintings. This technique borrows directly from action painters like Jackson Pollock (more on this in a later post). Briefly though, in action painting, the materials are applied to the surface in a very spontaneous manner, such as dripping, splashing, or smearing.

In the final layer, I applied more blue painter’s tape to the surface (and this is where the “windows” emerged yet again!) After creating a composition with the stencils I did a final wash, adding some deep reds and sections of deeper blue to add depth and help the window images “pop.”

Here are a couple details from the painting…

5pointz, Long Island City

5 pointz in Long Island City is right across the street from the wonderful contemporary art museum, PS1 (which I’ll be posting about in the near future:) I like the description that I found, below:

“Just blocks from P.S. 1 is 5 Pointz, the Institute of Higher Burnin’. Not a museum or gallery, 5 Pointz is a living collage of graffiti art covering a converted warehouse full of artist studios. The art of famous and novice graffiti artists covers the building’s facade, all done with the encouragement of the building’s owner. It’s a well-known sight from the elevated 7 subway, which runs behind 5 Pointz. Admire the art all around the outside, or head upstairs to the roof for more graffiti and great views of LIC and Manhattan.” – John Roleke

Like any art gallery, participation in this graffiti art collage is by invite only, and artists must present a portfolio (usually called a blackbook) which contains among other things, sketches of potential graffiti.

It’s definitely worth a vist if you’re in the area and lends itself to return visits, since the art is constantly changing. It’s a beautiful, constantly changing, collaborative piece of work.

Adam took these shots during various visits of ours to 5 Pointz. The one above of guys painting the wall was taken in May 2006 during ‘Old Timers Day’ when some of the best known taggers from the 80s and early 90s got together to work on this wall.

Click HERE to see more of his shots of 5 Pointz.

Studio Visits

Yesterday I was visited by Louie (our grey tabby cat) in my studio as I was painting. He has been given many nicknames by us as well as friends. A few favorites: Megaman, Louie Meatballs, & Eggplant
(which I have to admit, he does resemble at times, seeing as how he’s got a little extra meat on his bones…okay….about 16 extra pounds).

When Louie or iko (our orange marble tabby) visit in the studio I always watch to see where they will settle. Since I often stretch out and paint on the floor, the paint palette is a possible landing spot for them. I have had to chase them and their paint printed feet to the edge of my studio – to prevent paint paw prints from reaching the living room carpet). My water jar seems to be another point of interest, and I have observed both of them sticking their entire paw into it and then licking the water off. On occasion the water ends up in a puddle on my studio floor…which is slightly amusing.

During yesterday’s visit Louie began walking towards my paint palette and so I scooped him up mid-walk, and plopped him down on my lap. Twenty minutes later he was still sitting there, purring and gazing up at me with his big adoring eyes as I reached for a new color. I enjoyed our little “paint session” together, and it was cold in my studio yesterday (always seems 10degrees colder than the rest of the apartment) and so his 16lb body warmth was an added comfort.

Whatever the nature of the visit, our little furballs are always there to amuse. And, it should not be overlooked that they are a constant nonjudgmental presence in my studio practice….can’t really beat that! 😉