Sunday, August 26, 2012

Elements of Art, Principles of Design - all found in nature

If I were still teaching this fall, I would begin with a variety of lessons, at different grade levels, all using images from nature, in particular those that show rhythm, movement, pattern, and repetition. (Though it would be also hard to ignore some texture, color, shape, form, balance, contrast, harmony, value, etc.) The fact is, when I started editing photos I shot this summer, those particular elements I picked out above repeated themselves over and over again in the images from my camera. (Note: all photos in this post were either shot near Kennebunkport Maine, or in my little marsh in Loon Lake - one of many Loon Lakes - in the Adirondacks.)

I like to instill in students the understanding that the Elements of Art and Principles of Design are not just WORDS. We see them in nature in our daily lives. They are not something we have search hard to find, and we do not need to invent them on our own. It is all right out there waiting for us to notice.

We just need to tune up our observation skills, stay still, or move quietly. If we are always in a hurry, there's so much we will miss. The little frog below, the first I have ever actually seen sitting on a lily pad (how cool is that?!), was no more than 2" long. Look at the intricate patterns on his little body! Or on the shell or belly or neck of the turtle! I feel privileged that they welcome me to visit their home in the marsh. The photo on the right below is coastal Maine.

I found myself fascinated, on a beach in Maine, watching the tide come in gently and the patterns in the sand change over time. As a matter of fact, I wanted to take more photos of the ripples and foam seen in the photo on the left below, but 10 minutes later when I returned they were gone, all covered in water. The lily pads on the right are from my marsh visit.

I've received some questions about what kind of camera I use, and I want to tell you, I do not have anything fancy or pricey. It is just a little Canon PowerShot SX120, and while I would LOVE to have a nice digital SLR, in the meantime I think what I have performs quite well. So I'll close with a cute photo - 'just hanging out'.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Peace, Baby!

Looking for a great way to kick off your school year with spirit and meaning? For three years I started my school year with a celebration of the International Day of Peace, which takes place annually on September 21st, with a Pinwheels for Peace installation.

You can click here to see my prior post about this wonderful event, which was developed by two art teachers!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Art Teachers in Kayaks

My former colleague, the high school art teacher, joined me for a morning kayak through my favorite marsh. She took these really cool photos of my reflection:

And I took these less unique photos of her:

Also in the marsh:

I know, I know, you are all posting about getting your school year started, and here I am in the marsh yet again. But honestly, we were just a few miles from the school, and I wouldn't be surprised if she was in there working in the classroom after she left me, and I was actually in the school that afternoon too, meeting with my replacement who wanted to touch base.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

New blogs & bloggers = new ideas!

(These 2 photos have nothing to do with this post. I just like starting a new post with a cool photo, and I'm sure you've never seen these from me. They were both taken by me, from a helicopter, during a family vacation in Alaska, in, I think, July 2005. It was a wonderful trip.)

Now onto the purpose of this post: I've been reading some new/different art teacher blogs recently, and have made some additions to my blogroll. Some are newish bloggers and don't have many followers yet, and I think they deserve your attention. So here's a few for you to check out, in time to gather new ideas for the start of the school year:

From Australia: Art With Mr. Hall - Joe has only been blogging since June, but there's some awesome student work posted and I think you'll be impressed! Plus it's nice to add another male blogger for a change. Welcome, Joe.

Mrs. Impey at Art Room 104 is another new blogger, just started in July, that is really worth checking out. Like me, she is from northern NY state, and in her posts she has presented a lot (really a LOT!) of information about what she is doing to deal with new regs - SLO's, assessment rubrics, APPR/Common Core Pre and Post-Assessments... you get the idea. Problem is, there isn't anyone commenting, and she only has 2 followers so far (one of them is me) so I'm thinking perhaps you don't know she's there yet. Which is a shame, because the info she has posted is SO valuable and timely. Definitely worth your time to stop and read.

Anther new blogger, from Ohio, is Paintbrush Rocket. She's gotten a little head start on followers due to a recent post by another blogger. The artwork posted is lovely and I can't wait to see what she'll be posting once school is back in session. Definitely check her out!!

Another blog you may have missed, though she's been around since I think January: Rainbow Skies and Dragonflies (a woman after my own heart, it seems). There's good stuff there; stop and visit!

Not a new blog, but like me, maybe you'll get a kick out of Cassie Stephens' blog. She is an art teacher, but you're not as likely to find lesson plans here. Instead, you'll find out how to dress like an art teacher! Cassie shops vintage and must be the "Miss Frizzle" of her school. Her "what I wore this week" blog posts really make me smile, even though I could never get it together to dress like she does.

I guess that's enough to keep you busy for a while! I'll close with another Alaska helicopter photo:

Friday, August 10, 2012

Creative Challenge completion

A while back, I chose to participate in a pay-it-forward 'Creative Challenge'. The idea was to make something creative for 3 people, who in turn each make something for 3 more people, and so on. There were very few rules or guidelines. I originally had all sorts of crazy ideas of what to do, but with my looming retirement and the end of the school year, I got something started and then put it off, and then put it off some more. Then my gift from the person that the challenge had come from arrived in the mail, and finally, I said to myself "this must get done NOW."

As you can see, I mostly went with a dragonfly theme, and my creations were totally NOT done in my usual style/medium. I used the challenge to experiment, so I hope the recipients weren't disappointed. They are collages that begin with fabric, mesh, beads, and texture mediums, and were completed with acrylic paint, including some metallic samples, and a few little jewels for the eyes.

You are probably thinking "wait, she said THREE but there are four images in this post" and you would be right. Four people responded to my challenge when I posted it, and I said "why not?" and went ahead with them all. The fourth one, the turtle, is for my blogger-friend (and probably yours, too) Mr. E, who I was pretty sure had a thing for turtles, so it seemed appropriate (though he did also get a dragonfly). I knew a bit less about my other recipients, so I went with something personal to me instead for their gifts. They were all going to have dragon/dragonfly quotes on them but it finally just got too time-consuming so that didn't happen. Since it took me so long to get them done, I also included a piece of jewelry (earrings or necklace) with each one. The 2 male recipients got jewelry for their wives, not for themselves.

By the way, I don't know whether you can really see what they look like from these pics, since the metallics and the textural effects didn't photograph well at all.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The annual beach-sand vacation sculptures!

To all my fellow kitty-lovers - that's my son on top of the cat we made today at beautiful Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport Maine. The kitty is ready to pounce across a little ravine and capture her prize - a sizable mouse. Below are some photos of the mouse/cat standoff.

Here's how it all begins, with my son (and also my husband, though not in the picture) digging and tossing shovelfuls of wet beach sand into a nice big pile for me to shape into something ridiculous. I am the primary sculptor, and luckily my family humors me by doing what I cannot and providing me with material to sculpt with in this beautiful place. But today, my son proudly made the mouse himself, with just a few hints and suggestions from me.

Yesterday, we struggled trying to decide what to make - ideas that were nixed included a dead alien and his flying saucer; a mermaid; a frog. In the end, we picked a dragonfly.

That's the Dragonfly Rider of Goose Rocks (my apologies to Anne McCaffrey).

To see last year's giant octopus, click here! We've also, in previous years, built a crocodile in 2010, which I posted about here, a dragon (of course), and a turtle, and another cat that I referred to as a 'Buddha cat' - it was sitting up, fat, and definitely enlightened looking.

Below is the pretty little yard in front of our motel room.
Has Louise Bourgeois been in the garden?

And since I'm here posting, I'll leave you with a couple of images from my morning walk in the neighborhood. We love you, Kennebunkport! I just wish these morning walks burned enough calories to counteract the effects on my body of lobster dipped in butter, fried whole-belly clams, yummy oysters, New England clam chowder, steamed mussels, and all the assorted side dishes, as well as the purchases made at the homemade candy store.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Color color everywhere...

In the car today, driving to Maine, we found ourselves listening to an episode of RadioLab on NPR. The show was about one of my most favorite things -COLOR!!! We missed the beginning but I will listen to the rest by podcast. But meanwhile, I was so excited about the show I want you all to take a listen! It will absolutely get you thinking differently about color.

Since I'm posting via iPad, I'm hoping this link will work for you all. Check it out!