Monday, December 31, 2012

"Building Space" a Generation at a Time and Theme Song

I love to teach.  My students range in age from single digits, to teens, to octogenarians.  I teach middle school math and painting, and sometimes they coincide as in the one art class I hold each week.  This term, the 7th/8th graders are making books from one large piece of paper.  They are designing 12 frames, including a title and ending page, and telling the story without words, only pictures.  We will eventually cut and fold the large paper to make the books. 

When I was a child, I sat riveted in front of the television humming the Star Trek theme song, and "whooshing" with the Enterprise as it "whooshed" past us in space.  Space... my students and I consider space:

During our last class before the winter break, my art students saw the first quick sketch above left on my whiteboard with a dog, ball, house, car and tree. I asked which of the objects was closest, and the students eventually realized that they didn't know (you can see we began by voting).  We talked about how to make depth, space, distance in their drawings by: 

- putting things behind other things   
- placing closer objects closest to the bottom of the surface
- adding less detail to the farthest objects
- making objects smaller as they recede  

The second drawing above aligns the 5 objects showing my students how to put some objects behind, the ball now being closest.  Everyone got the idea right away. In the third drawing, I showed how to pull and push to create a tangible space in the middle of their pictures.
Next is a painting by one of my adult painting students.  With color, we added the ideas of softer edges farther away, and atmospheric perspective along with the ideas listed above.
The last image is an Aldro Hibbard painting I saw in his retrospective at the Rockport Art Association in the fall... beautiful design, leading the eye around and into the space in front of the shaded men in the foreground.  The arrangement of light and shadow and the placement of the white figure looking slightly downward build a sense of curiosity and then hubbub about the street market.

Building distance, designing the picture space, pushing, pulling, shapes, shapes, shapes - across the generations.  So much thinking, so much fun. 

Here's to lots more in 2013.  Happy New Year, all.  Thank you for sharing some time here with me.

Promised theme song, click here: Space, the Final Frontier                                                                                                                        

Sunday, December 09, 2012

"Blue on Blue" 6 x 6 Class Demo

My painting class arrived today to a table filled with three collections of objects and matching cloths - red group, blue group, yellow group.  I asked the students to choose only objects from one collection so that they could explore warm and cool mixtures in the same color family.  (Interestingly, there were red and blue still life arrangements, but no one chose the yellow.)  

Then we reviewed the hierarchies I recommend they establish when beginning each painting. Look for, and establish the following notes:



    Hardest/softest edge 

    Saturated/neutralized color. 

By establishing the range for each of the hierarchies, you are setting the boundaries for the painting.  If considered thoughtfully, no other passage in the painting should be outside the established boundaries.  

"Blue on Blue" is my demo of today's lesson.  I began by putting notes of color for each of the eight hiercarchical boundaries.  

Every artist establishes their own repertoire of methods to draw on when beginning a painting.  This is a good way to start a painting, and good discipline for painting in an intentional, thoughtful way.  Each and every stroke is measured against the initial notes.  Intentionality doesn't suppress energy, rhythm, spontenaity, exuberance.  In fact, intentionality frees you.. it produces results, and avoids a lot of fixing, adjusting, reworking, and overworking. We had great results today.  As always, my students are such good thinkers, and hard workers.  Good day!