Tag: atlanta local art

Visual Journal Pages 26 and 27: At Least Pretend You Care…

During this period in my life, my visual journal pages often focused on my discontent with the school I was teaching at. After three years, I felt like I was becoming a bit jaded. I didn’t feel like the art program was recognized as an important part of a well rounded education. I rarely saw my administrators. I would show up for work, do my job, and felt like no one really cared if I was there or what I was doing.

Although my administrators let me down over the years, my students rarely did. I did not like my enormous class sizes (35 students per Introduction to Art class), but I loved all of my students. I especially loved my Intro to Art course, because many of the students signed up to check the “fine arts credit” box in order to graduate from high school, but many of them ended up loving, or at least having an appreciation for, art. There is something incredibly special about seeing the moment that it clicks for a student. They find the subject matter or material they like best, they feel encouraged by the way their artwork is developing, and they suddenly put in the time and effort to their project because they truly care about it.

With 35 students per class, it was nearly impossible for me to display every project for every student in the school. Instead, I would select the top examples from the class. Although this may have singled out some, I felt it gave recognition to the students who worked for it and deserved it.

Every year, one of the major  projects my students create is a portrait drawing of their personal hero. It can be a celebrity, family member, politician, the choice is theirs. Every year, many of the students are overwhelmed by the prospect of having to draw a person realistically, but every year I am blown away by the results. This year was proving to be no different, and I selected 8 drawings to display outside of the school library.

The following day, one of the students whose work was displayed came into class with a concerned look on his face. His drawing was no longer hanging in the hall. I assumed it had fallen off the wall, had been picked up by a teacher, and taken to a safe place. But after trying to track it down, I began to realize someone had taken it. This student had worked incredibly hard on this piece. He was so proud of the end result, his work was selected to be displayed, and instead of creating a sense of pride, he was let down. His artwork was gone.

I immediately went to my administrators. Items were stolen regularly, the school had cameras, they could often track things down. But instead of finding help and encouragement I was told there wasn’t anything they could do. There was no point in screening the cameras, it seemed like they didn’t even care.

I felt completely helpless. I had a devastated student, an unsupportive administration, and an unfair theft. I was fed up but I could do nothing about it. My sweet student accepted the fact that his drawing was not coming back, and he moved on. But I know how much he cared.

Even if you can’t do anything… at least pretend you care…

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • Printed pages with text
  • Watercolor paint
  • Brushes
  • Salt
  • Printed images
  • Black paper
  • Magazines
  • Rubber cement
  • Xacto knife

HOW TO

When I began working on this visual journal page, I decided fairly early on to create two spreads that tied together through a cut out. That would show two sides of the story. the missing artwork and my ever growing discontent with my administrators.

I started with the artwork display. I printed out a few sheets of paper with the text “even if you can’t do anything… at least pretend you care…” I then added a hint of color using watercolor. While the watercolor was still wet on the paper, I sprinkled some salt on top. The salt absorbs the water, which pulls the watercolor pigment around the salt grains. After the paper dries, you wipe the salt off, and it leaves a speckled pattern. This was done in an effort to create a cinderblock look. I then cut up the paper into rectangles and glued them into my book, leaving a small space between each “cinderblock.”

Next, I printed the actual artwork that was on display. I cut them out, glued them to a black sheet of paper, then cut them out again leaving a thin black edge around the artwork. This mimicked the look of mounted drawings. I placed the artwork in the same formation as the display, leaving a blank black rectangle for the one that went missing. I then used an Xacto knife to cut out the rectangle to tie to the next page.

On the next page, I decided to create a very dark look. I found magazine pages with black and grays and ripped them up into smaller pieces. I then glued the pieces down, going from dark on the left page to light on the right page, using rubber cement.

I then printed a larger version of the text, “even though you can’t do anything… at least pretend you care…” I did the same watercolor and salt treatment to the paper, then cut it into a strip once it dried. I glued the text to the page so the “at least pretend you care” text overlapped the lightest section of the background.

Interested in teaching visual journals to your students? Check out my visual journal lesson plan here and bundle pack here.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page that utilized two spreads in your book (a spread is two facing pages).

Need more inspiration? Check out cut out pages about book oddities, furniture, and fortune cookies.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the work about visual journals, art, and crafts by sharing on your social media website of choice. Thanks for stopping by!

Craft Fairs: Setting Up My Outdoor Booth

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After a year of collecting the necessary parts, I finally set up my outdoor booth.

On a very hot day in March, I spent a day in pursuit of a booth picture. My hubby and I spent the afternoon pulling out my tent, grid panels, “S” hooks, tables, decor, and of course, artwork. I loved watching all the pieces finally come together.

After three years of dabbling in indoor art shows I decided I wanted to expand to outdoor shows. They are more frequent and have a lot more foot traffic than the indoor exhibits. After finally deciding it was time to make the transition, I began looking for shows to apply for. Every single one required a picture of the booth set up in order to apply. This wasn’t something I was going to be able to submit, and see what happens. I was going to have to invest a lot of up front money in the hopes of being accepted to a show.

Over the next year I spent hours on Craigslist, garage sale and discount websites. Slowly, but surely, the components came together. The tent came first, I finally gave in and bought one new. A few months after the tent was purchased a coworker contacted me about selling his booth parts. He tried selling his artwork for a year before deciding it just wasn’t for him. I was able to get six grid panels and weights from him. I then pulled tables from my indoor set up, two of the three panels I use to display work at indoor shows, and hanging supplies.

After getting all the pieces it still took months for me to work up the motivation to set it up. For hours I was running in and out of my house hauling artwork. I quickly realized I would never be able to do this solo. The tent is too cumbersome and the panels are too heavy. My first lesson in outdoor festival participation is making sure Nick is always available for set up and break down.

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I decided I wanted my largest pieces along the back wall. They helped fill the space, and would hopefully catch the eye of passerbys. The trickiest part I have to figure out is where to set myself up. I enjoy having a table to hide behind. I am a passive seller. Perhaps I would earn more money if I pushed my products on people, but I want them to purchase one of my pieces because they feel connected to it. My tiny little table is my comfort zone. My safety net, preventing me from getting my hopes up as people come in and peruse my work.

DSC_3750 I decided to hang my letter pieces on the right side panel, and my 6″x6″ silhouette paintings on the left side panel. My hope is these pieces will be more approachable as people walk by. They may assume the large pieces are out of their price range, but with $35 and $25 price tags, these are easy to pick up and take home.

I also wanted to set up a table with my letter prints, at $10 each these are an even better impulse buy item. I decided these would be best set up next to my letter encaustics and extending slightly out of my booth to break up the space.

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One issue that always lurked in the back of my mind was how my encaustics would stand up to summer Georgia heat. I got a little taste of it during the practice set up, the pieces that were directly in the sun began to melt. It was worse case scenario. After all the time and work I put into my set up, I was now questioning whether or not I was even going to be able to do this at all.

As soon as I discovered the melting pieces, I snapped my pictures, and began disassembling. As I carefully took each piece down, I examined it for signs of tackiness and liquid wax. Luckily, only the pieces in direct sunlight showed signs of the wax turning to liquid. The pieces with the sun hitting the backside of them felt slightly tacky and the rest of the pieces were fine. Although I felt a little better, I was still concerned. These were only up for 30 minutes, an hour at the most, what would happen at an all day festival?

After cleaning up I began doing some research. There are brave artists out there who display their encaustic in the dead of summer at outdoor festivals. You do have to play a game of rearranging as the sun enters your tent, but it gave me hope. A lot of the sunlight was coming in through the sides of the tent, but at a festival, in theory, there will be tents on either side. I decided I just needed to give it a shot, and I applied for my first show. The Chastain Park Arts Festival, opening the first weekend of May.

6%22x6%22 Oil Painting Studies

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To ease my mind even more, I have begun mini oil paintings. These will hang in the sunlight when my encaustics have to be moved. I am ready to expand my art career, and this is the next logical step. I will not let a melting work of art get in my way.

Today I find out whether or not I have been accepted to the Chastain festival. Whether or not I make it, I have a long list of other festivals to apply to. Hopefully I will soon have an opportunity to take my booth set up out for the real deal. Stay tuned!

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about my artwork by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!
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Visual Journal Page 16: Empty Bowls

Visual Journal Page 16-Empty Bowls

Empty bowls was an annual project hosted by the art department at my school. Every year the art students made clay bowls and donated them to a chili dinner hosted at school. Attendees paid to attend the event, and in return they get a hot meal and handmade bowl. The purpose of the bowl is to act as a daily reminder of the millions of people who are hungry each day. All proceeds from the events were donated to a local food bank to help the fight against hunger. Empty bowls began as a grassroots movement in Rhode Island, and has since spread to have an international following.

When I began working at my school this was an event that was already in place. I loved the project, it was an assignment in sculpture as well as selflessness. Students had to put time and effort into a work of art they couldn’t keep. Many of them struggled with the fact that they couldn’t take their bowl home, which made the lesson that much more important. It was a big event and took a lot of time, planning, and effort. Months in advance we had to start making bowls to allow enough time to create, bisque fire, glaze, and glaze fire them. The kiln would run daily for weeks on end. The event had many moving parts that had to be coordinated and students had to commit to time outside of school to help out. It was a huge project in and of itself, but despite the effort it was all worth it for the good of my students and their community.

My last year at that school I was a solo art teacher, our department was literally cut in half when budget cuts had to be implemented. As I began planning out the year I realized if I wanted to continue the project I would have to go it alone. Many times I considered skipping it, and I honestly tried. However the dinner had become a regular event, something people looked forward to, and those were the ones that wouldn’t allow me to let it go. After giving a number of “maybe” responses to “when is empty bowls happening?” questions, I finally gave in. I was going to go it alone this year, this massive event was going to happen one way or another.

As expected my planning periods and afternoons quickly filled as my to do list grew. It was harder than ever to pull it off, but the night came and went, and was another success. We had a wonderful turn out, delicious food, and hundreds of handmade bowls in the hands of our attendees. My students had another year of learning another valuable life lesson. They are luckier than most. At the very least they get to come to school each day and fill their bellies at lunch. There are so many in the world who don’t always have the chance to eat even one good meal a day. Watching my students work together for the greater good of their community reminded me of the importance of this event. I required them to selflessly give away their artwork and I needed to step back and remind myself that I also needed to learn a lesson, that my time was worth the sacrifice to help out someone in need.

This visual journal page reflects my most hectic and final empty bowls dinner.

Check out my visual journal page about Empty Bowls 2009 here.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • To do list
  • Newspaper
  • Yellow notebook paper
  • Colored pencils
  • White paper
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I started by ripping up and collaging my very long to do list. It felt good to rip up that list at the end of the event, and it felt even better reflecting on the event by creating this page. I used rubber cement to glue down the paper.

After placing the background, I brainstormed the best way to reflect this final empty bowls experience. It was a ton of time and work, I had tons of great help, there were so many hands involved, but one of the things that stood out most was the number of times I had to run the kiln. Everyday like clockwork I would rush to my classroom, unload the kiln, load it back up, and spend the rest of the day bumping the temperature, checking on the progress, and waiting until it shut off to leave for the day. This was an older kiln that used cones to determine the turn off time. Every day before I started the kiln I placed a cone, a cone shaped piece of clay, to support the latch and shut off for the kiln. As the kiln reaches temperature the cone slowly melts until it releases the latch which shuts of the kiln and allows the cooling process to start. I had piles and piles of used up cones by the end of the empty bowls process, and I thought it was the perfect imagery to use to represent the long process.

Using white paper and pencil I sketched out the variety of shapes the melted cones took. After I completed the outline I added color using colored pencils. I used a variety of red tones to give it a three dimensional look. Once I finished filling them in I cut them out using scissors. I glued them down using rubber cement in rows across the page.

Next, I ripped up a picture and story that ran on the front page of the local paper about the event. I was photographed for the picture that ran with the story holding some of my ceramic pieces that were auctioned off at the dinner. I was very touched when the newspaper reached out about covering our event, and floored when I realized they were running my picture on the front page.

I glued down one layer of ripped up newspaper, then layered a circle cut from the yellow notebook paper I used for the to do list on top. I cut out a circle shaped section from the newspaper story, then ripped it into three pieces, and glued it down. I drew the empty bowls logo on top of that with sharpie. Last, but not least, I added a small ripped up piece of newspaper to the bottom right corner, layered the yellow notebook paper on top, and wrote “2011” in sharpie.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page using newspaper. Find an interesting article you connect to and use it as a base for your next page or create a page about the story you discovered.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! I hope you are inspired to start your own visual journal.Interested in teaching visual journals to your students? Check out my visual journal lesson plan here and bundle pack here. Help me spread the word by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!

Encaustic Art: Exploring Mixed Media and Carving Wax

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For the past three years I have dabbled in the world of encaustic art. I began incorporating it into sections of my mixed media paintings, and slowly it became my primary medium. I have learned so much in the last three years, how to achieve smooth surfaces, how to manipulate the layers, and most recently, how to incorporate carving into my designs.

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As I began working with encaustic, I primarily focused on black and white paintings of singular objects on top of collaged layers and encaustic medium. A water tower from my years living in Athens, ginkgo leaves from the tree at my Atlanta home, and images of chickens, among many other things, began finding their way into my works of art. I realized each of these objects represented a different piece of my past and present. They were self-portraits through objects, small snippets of the memories that make me up.

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As I began exploring the concept of self-portraits and representing memories further, I realized specific objects would immediately come to mind as I reminisced on certain events and moments in my past. Likewise, when I saw certain objects, memories would begin flooding back. These fleeting images in my mind became the basis for my newest works of art, objects carved out of colored wax, revealing the collaged layers in the background.

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The lines and shapes of the objects are mimicked in the background, making them feel like one. The carving out of the objects, creating a negative space, represents the fleeting images that come to mind as memories are processed. I want the objects to almost feel temporary as the viewer looks at them.

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Perhaps my favorite part of my recent artistic journey, is hearing how my images have also brought memories back to the viewers who see them. As they take in the lines, shapes, and colors, they tell me how their grandfather used to have a camera like that, or how they used to live on a farm. Their stories intertwine with my own, and continue to inspire these encaustic works of art.

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Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about my art by sharing with others. Link over to your social networking site of choice! Thanks for stopping by.

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