Thursday, January 27

A Flurry

We've had way more than a flurry of snow here- enough to cancel school today and tomorrow! So I have some free time for more stitching pursuits. This is a long-awaited commission piece I'm finally getting some work done on. It'll eventually be a portrait. The section stitched above is a collar. The dark green will be a tie, and the orange a lapel. The image is very pixellated with the pieced squares. But I know it still works as a face, because when I awake to see it hanging on my inspiration board in the morning, before I put on my glasses, I can totally see the gentleman looking down at me.

Monday, January 24

Pattern blocks

After the inspiration from Henry Bermudez I decided to have my lesson be to create a pattern and mark cube. Within Bermudez's work one can see moments of mark-making where the design elements are related to repetitive hand motions as well as moments of patterning with more specific repeated motifs. Bermudez finds patterns within his environment, and students can do so as well to create their own marks and patterns.
I have a cube template with 6 squares printed on card stock or traced onto watercolor paper, and each square should be filled in with a mark or pattern inspired by one's surroundings or from the imagination using a fine felt-tip marker. Once filled, the template is cut out, folded, and tabs are glued in the order shown. I tried this out with my daughter- hers is on the left and mine is on the right.
I scanned my template and attempted to upload it as a pdf. I'm not really sure this will work, but let's see:

The cubes have multiple possibilities. This should be a one day lesson to make them, but they'll be useful for another project. You can do cube and geometric solids drawing. You can use them as dice to play a zen-tangles game, or roll two together and try to create a new pattern combining elements from both showing.

Friday, January 21

Henry Bermudez pattern work

I have to design a one-day lesson plan for next week. I've been thinking about mark-making and pattern. Henry Bermudez is an amazing artist I've been thinking about using for talking about pattern with my new high school students. He's from Venezuela originally, but he now lives in Philadelphia. I'd like to introduce many contemporary artists to my students and use their work for inspiration with them. Here are some videos that talk about him and his work:

"Art Educators Reflect and Practice" exhibit

Yesterday I helped hang an exhibit of my fellow student teachers' artwork. At the end of our internship course last semester we had a final project which involved visiting the Narcissus in the Studio exhibit at PAFA, filtering out some themes within the show, creating our own work of art in response to one of the themes, and designing a lesson plan based off of our own artwork. Our professor was quite pleased with the resulting range of work and decided we should show it off. The art history and art ed classes are held down in a bright-white and fluorescent-lit basement at Tyler. The hall leading to the classrooms is covered in homosote, but it's very rarely used to display anything.
 Here  are some of my favorites:
Ben Dasher's hitchhiker drawing- lots of mark-making

Lisa Noce's Self-portrait Pieta in acrylics on unstretched canvas

repetitive Lithograph- very Ida Applebroog
Sorry, need to find the names on these two again.
recurring dream landscape watercolors sewn together

Kristen Eberly's burnt book spines and shell encrustations

Gay-Hong Hua's teacup animal caddy

Alyssa Lombardi's beach nostalgia with digital transfer, drawing, and tissue

My daughter's jeans patchwork
 The patchwork jeans were my contribution. They are a pair that my daughter had outgrown. I found lots of fabrics that she had worn throughout her childhood and stitched them in a progression representing growth and change.
detail of my daughter's reproduced cat drawing
 I reproduced one of her drawings in thread and included her zodiac sign. The jeans are completely stitched through, rendering them an unwearable object and an artifact to preserve my own nostalgia.
detail of my daughter's zodiac
The title of the show was chosen to let everyone know that these fine works were made by art educators (often looked down upon in the art school setting). "Reflect" refers to both the Narcissus reference and the inspiration of the project. "Practice" signifies that these art educators ARE practicing artists. There's also the term "reflective practice" which refers to the teacher's role in educating also being one of critical thought, revision, and learning for ongoing improvement.

Sunday, January 16

Blind Contour Snow

I'm still working through my "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" book. Contour drawing is a big thing in it. Above is a blind contour drawing (I promise I wasn't looking at the paper!!!) of an SUV and a snowbank. I was very early for picking my daughter up from school the other day, so I whipped out my sketchbook, sat, and drew the scene in front of me while I waited. I really love doing blind contour. You're supposed to only look at the object being drawn, not at the page, and imagine your hand recording everything you see as you trace your eyes over the outline and edges of the object.  The resulting lines feel very fresh and active, and the longer you spend building up the drawing the more 3-dimensional it looks. I feel like I have a very strong eyes/hands connection, but it doesn't hurt to keep it well-trained.

Saturday, January 15

Name challenge

It's been quite a busy week! All my Fleisher classes started (Monday nights color theory, Thursday nights Stitch and Surface, and Saturday afternoon kids silkscreen). My 30-day residency with my 3rd graders came to a close (although the final project still needs to be completed and mounted, and we might get a few more classes later in the Spring). Add a snowstorm and some deadlines and now you know why I haven't posted much lately.

But anyway, my last post shared some ideas for the scrap challenge I expected my embroidery students to work on. Here's the piece I created in response to it:
I'm recreating my Fleisher ID badge. I plan on sewing it up with a piece of card inside for sturdiness, embroidering an eyelet for the chain, and actually wearing it! The red square is reverse appliqued. There's chain stitch for the flower logo, satin stitch for Fleisher, and various straight stitches for the rest of the text. I hope to get some pictures of what some of my students made next week.
Next week classes at Tyler begin, and the week after that I start student teaching. Poor colored-thread might get neglected pretty often....

Tuesday, January 11

Stitch and Surface Nametag challenge

My Stitch and Surface class begins Thursday night at Fleisher Art Memorial. I can't wait to get started!
Our first project will be a one-night scraps challenge based on the idea of a "nametag". The finished piece should include a name and take the form or reference something that typically shows one's name or ID.The mosaic above has some ideas, but what else do you put your name on? What else is used for identification?

sports Jerseys
name jewelry
drivers license
School ID
work ID
library card
work uniforms
vanity license plates
luggage tags
facebook profiles
business cards.................................

Sunday, January 9

Right Side of the Brain

A couple of weeks ago I picked up "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards at the Free-Library's second-hand book store. I've been thinking about the importance of drawing skills a lot lately. "If you can learn to write you can learn to draw" was the rational for having drawing lessons in public schools back in the 1870's. Unfortunately, most people stop learning to draw in elementary school and never surpass a 10-year-old stage of drawing development. It's a great book for helping anyone get past the "I can't draw a straight line" freeze. One of the exercises is to copy a drawing of Igor Stravinsky by Picasso UPSIDEDOWN. The flipped orientation helps your brain get past the naming tendency of "eyes, hands, glasses" which forces us into symbolic representations so that you can focus on lines, forms, comparisons, proportions, etc required for truly realistic drawing.
 Funnily, this is an exercise my 7th grade art teacher had us try. I think he had us do every exercise in that book, actually. It must have worked, because here I am 20 years later and I know how to draw. Among the pictures in the portfolio of childhood artwork my mother recently returned to me was my 7th grade drawing of Igor Stravinsky:
 Can you tell I was in middle school? (Note the peace sign next to my signature!). Haha! I just noticed you can see my handprints from trying to press the paper down on the scanner since the page was too big for the lid to cover it. My recent drawing only took me about 15 minutes, but I'm sure my middle school drawing took at least an hour or more. I can remember being very careful with it. I had my 11-year old try the exercise too:
 Not bad considering she's not a big fan of drawing lately, and she also spent only about 10 minutes on it. I like the other image Edwards offers for upsidedown copying, a drawing of a Persian court jester:
I love drawing. It's been a long time since I actively drew just for pleasure or practice. For the past few years I felt that idle sketching time was time better spent working on more complex studio projects. I would still sketch to plan out compositions or jot down ideas, but I wouldn't sit and draw from observation for extended periods of time. 

Tuesday, January 4

the gift of play

Anybody remember seeing these?
 I posted them a month or two ago in one of my "on the walls and in the halls of Tyler" posts, intrigued by the idea of shape components for creating sculptural variations. Well, one of the gifts I got this Christmas was from my creative mother who stops by and reads the blog every once in a while. She collects/saves all the Christmas cards she receives in the mail every year and finds ways to transform them. My sisters got Christmas card bowls with crocheted seams, but I got a box full of Christmas card COMPONENTS! =)))))
 This shape is just like the one front and center in the picture up top, and the shape below is just like the sculpture in the back corner of the photo. Doing these on the scanbed made me realize how little "focus" there is on my scanner, but you can see a sort of ghost of the sculptural forms I've been playing with.
The size of the components makes it a perfect thing for sculptural "doodling". Instead of a pad and pencil to absentmindedly play with drawn forms, these fit together quickly, easily, and portably for random creative play. We need a new word. Something that means a sculptural doodle. Any ideas out there?

There's something special about random creative play. It turns off the busy analytical commentator in the brain and allows for flow and serendipity to occur.

Saturday, January 1


Happy New Year's again! Here in Philadelphia the year starts off with a bang and a Mummer's parade. I spent the day watching the parade on TV with some friends, but stepped out around 4 to see them up close and personal. It amazes me that all these regular Joe-schmo types get all dressed up and learn dance routines for the parade. There were a lot of masks and feathers and sequins lighting up Broad Street.

I'm wondering if there's much money in Mummer design.... The costumes are out of this world.