Saturday, June 22

Learning instead of teaching

It's been very fulfilling to sit on the other side of a classroom recently. As a teacher I'm always helping others be creative and giving them ideas, which leaves little in the well for my own artistic creativity. But when you get to be a student you only have to worry about your own project and ideas. I love how even in a room full of people my attention can shrink down to the space between my eyes and my hands and I'm on a little island of my own invention.
The animal sculpture class at Fleisher finished up about a week ago. On the final night we worked on painting and patinas to give the fired clay some life. My horse skull didn't need much- the raw fired white clay is bone-like, but I gave him a gold tooth just because.
Through the class we worked from live animals, from taxidermy, from real skulls, and from pictures. I used my own sketches from the Wagner Free Institute for inspiration. The crow I sketched here:

 Became 3 dimensional:
For structure I had to attach him to a stronger branch base, which I hollowed out. You can't see in this shot, but there's also a little beetle inside the log. The eggs and raven were painted with black gesso for a matte coating, and the log was painted with a bronze patina. Then I brushed gold acrylic over the eggs, and used black nailpolish on the eyes and feet to make them shiny and create more contrast.This turned out to be my favorite piece from the class.
Today I went to Square Peg Artery & Salvage for a modular origami workshop with Rich Cotton. He showed us how to tear down an A4 sheet into 32 small pieces for the proper proportions- surprisingly this form of origami does not start with a square piece, but a rectangle. Then we folded the units (hotdog, hamburger, 45 degree angles to center fold, 45 degree angles in on leftover flaps, fold flaps over, and fold in half to show triangle form with rear pockets.) Hahah! Those directions are really just for me to remember, and if anyone could figure out how to do it based on that sequence I commend you! The open ends of the triangles fit into the rear pockets of another triangle, and linking them into a chain can create a circular base for a vessel form. He showed how to make swan forms, but I just made an asymmetrical bowl. I'm not sure if I could do this with  any of my kids at school, but it's a thought.
The other reason for taking classes is to get new ideas or strengthen skills for my teaching. I've been a specialist in fibers for so long, but a really good art teacher needs to have a breadth of expertise. My sculptural skills are not as strong as my 2D, so these 2 workshops have been beneficial.

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