Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Robot in Perspective - Fun with Tooling Foil!

 A couple of weeks ago, I posted a pic of this robot, on a white background (below), as part of a post HERE, along with a tutorial on using tooling foil to achieve relief.  The tutorial consists of a couple of videos.  I'm new to videos, so they are not fancy, but hopefully they are worth your time if you are new to this material, 36 gauge aluminum tooling foil.  (You can also get copper or brass tooling foil, but it is MUCH more expensive, so not so financially practical for classroom use.)
By the way, the small amount of added color was done with acrylic paint mixed with Mod Podge, after the black 'antiquing' was done with India ink and steel wool.

I knew I didn't want to simply glue him on the white board as shown above, but I was struggling to figure out what environment would be a good fit for him.  So I stuffed all his parts (head, antennas, neck, arms, shoulders, legs, and body - all together 11 pieces) in a baggie that evidently wasn't closed too well.  I brought the bag into my studio, where I promptly dropped it, spilling the pieces onto a canvas laying on the floor.  The canvas was painted with black gesso, and I had drawn lines on it with white chalk.  I saw the  robot pieces on the canvas, and an idea was born!!

I found a scrap piece of foam core, and I painted it with black gesso.  Then I used a ruler and a white colored pencil to draw a perspective room room.  I added a couple of accents of color, also with colored pencil.  And then I glued my robot into the room, using low temperature hot glue. 
I posted a pic of him on Facebook, and he's received a lot of love, and a lot of questions, so in case you are thinking about this as a possible project for your students, here's a few thoughts on how to make it work -
  • Your students should each have a baggie or envelope (with their name on it) to store their pieces. It's up to you how many pieces to make.  Arms and legs could be separated to be jointed at the knee or elbows.  Elbows, knees, hips, etc, could all be separate pieces like my shoulders are.  Make sure all pieces are cut with rounded corners to prevent cuts.
  • Because the pieces are small, keep the design of each piece simple.  
  • If you are using white colored pencil, like me, to do a perspective drawing on a black surface, make sure it is erasable in case of errors.  I liked the texture of the gessoed surface, but that might not be practical for young students.  
  • Of course the drawing doesn't need to be perspective.  That might be too challenging for some students.  How about a city?  A garden?  A mountain landscape? 
  • I glued with low temp hot glue.  Keep in mind that it low temp hot glue dries immediately, so if you are using this, the pieces have to be instantly placed once glue is applied.  With the small pieces, I suggest holding them with tweezers, quickly applying the glue, and placing them as desired.
  • I do NOT recommend high temp hot glue.  While it will also hold well, and you have place your pieces, you are gluing METAL, and it will get HOT!  Probably not a great idea for your students.
  • Other ideas for adhering, if you don't want to use hot glue: E6000 glue should work well, and some tacky glues might also hold.  Look for one that specifically says it will hold metal or other non-porous surfaces.  While I love Elmer's Glue-All, it is best for porous surfaces, like paper, wood, glue, or fabric.  It won't hold the metal foil permanently.  You can also use double stick tapes or other double-sided sticky products.

One last thought - the idea of using multiple small  pieces of tooling foil to create this robot sparked many other ideas.  For example, what about making windows and doors, and adhering them to a drawing of a house.  Or perhaps making tooling foil bugs, and adhering them to a drawing of flowers.  Or parts of a machine, or wheels of a vehicle, or leaves of a tree, or little boats to put on a drawing of a lake.  The material offers so many possibilities, so many ideas!  In the photo above, the the face features were made with a much lighter weight foil, not as effective, I think.  The students who made them were 3rd graders.  Please let me know if you have any questions!!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Wonderful Weaving with Warm and Cool Colors!

My DragonWing Arts students recently finished some colorful paper weavings.  I posted some pics on Instagram and received some questions and comments, so I thought I'd share the (simple) details here.  It was an easy and successful project!
The students each were given three sheets of 12x18" white paper. They divided two of the papers into stripes lengthwise, and painted one with warm colors, and the other with cool colors.  The paints were fluorescent tempera, and they used one brush for warm and another brush for cool, but did not wash the brush between colors, so that they got some subtle color blends in their stripes.  The third sheet of paper was filled with shapes - the kids chose to use hearts, stars, and 'amorphous blobs' (random organic shapes).  The shapes were painted with warm and/or cool as desired.  Then everything was outlined thickly with black paint. Finally, we used Sax Tempera Gloss Varnish to paint a coat of shiny sealer on the paintings.  It really enhanced the colors!
The students each were given a 19" square of black poster board.  They cut the stripes from one painted paper, cutting right down the middle of the black lines, and glued down the ends of the stripes, side-by-side on the poster board, to create their warp.
 Then they cut the stripes on the second paper, and used them as weft, to weave through the warp.

When the weaving was complete, all the ends were glued down, and the shapes were carefully cut from their third papers.
I had been given a bunch of 3D-O's, and we decided to use them to make the shapes 'float' above the weaving.  Note the 'happy face' arrangement of the stars in the piece below! 
 I know it's hard to see the 3-D element in these photos; it definitely looks more effective firsthand.  But honestly? I'd never used 3D-O's before and the kids and I found it annoyingly difficult to peel the end papers off to reveal the sticky parts.  Next time, I'd prefer to cut little squares of heavy cardboard and have the kids glue and stack them under their shapes to create desired depth, in place of using the 3D-O's. 
The original motivation for this project was a pic I saw on Pinterest, using warm and cool colors to weave in contrasting directions, in layers of weaving.  There were no instructions, and I used the image simply as a starting point to develop my own project for my students.  I thought the floating shapes would be a fun enhancement for the basic weaving, since we weren't working with multiple layers.  I also thought the contrast of using fluorescent paints and black lines made the final images more lively. 
I can imagine lots of ways to further enhance the project - patterns in white on the black backing, perhaps?  Or black and white patterned strips woven through diagonally?   It's fun to imagine all the possibilities!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Artists that Inspire Us

Welcome to the first of my monthly posts as a member of the new Art Ed Blogger Network!  A group of bloggers have all gotten together to post on the same day each month all on the same topic.  You can find links to all the other blogs in the network at the bottom of this post.  Have fun checking them all out!   

 For our first month, we've selected the topic "Artists That Inspire Us"  I've chosen three artists to talk about today: Henri Matisse, Laurel Burch, and Dan Reeder.  I hope you'll join us all each month!

On Facebook, I recently shared a pic of a new painting I was working on, and a friend told me it reminded him of a Matisse.  To me, that was the ultimate comment; it's no secret I'm a huge fan.  I am always smitten by artwork with vibrant,cheerful, and rich color, and the playful use of patterns and shapes.  Matisse just has it all for me, along with a joyousness of spirit that makes me happy.  Which is why, I suppose, I've used his work as inspiration for so many art lessons over my years of teaching, a number of which I've posted about on the blog and will link for you in this post.
First up is one of my favorites Matisse lessons: 3rd grade "Fauve Fauves" - wild beasts (we used African animals as our inspiration) painted in wild 'fauve' colors!  Ive blogged about versions of the project HERE and HERE.  And my 2nd graders made inventive collages of 'fauve fauves' using various scrap materials.  I posted about them HERE.
And Matisse was the inspiration for my 4th graders' wonderful still life paintings (example above) that I shared HERE, and my second graders' still life work (below) posted HERE
And first graders used Matisse's 'painting with scissors' process as inspiration for the colorful and textural pieces that I shared HERE
You can find a link to another 'painting with scissors' project that I developed, for Pacon, HERE. You'll have to go there to see what it is!

It is many of the same characteristics found in Matisse's work, the rich joyous colors and use of decorative pattern, that excite me in Laurel Burch's work.  I love that her work is so commercially accessible, too. And just as Matisse faced physical adversity (we know his physical limitations, due to his health, are what inspired the 'painting with scissors' body of work), so did Laurel Burch.  She lived a life of pain, with a disease that caused her to have fragile bones that broke easily.  Yet the pain is never visible in her vibrant and joyous artwork.  We looked at her Fantastic Felines as inspiration for these gorgeous papier-mache cats, made by my 5th graders. I blogged about them a few times, including HERE and HERE
Her Celestial Dreams were the inspiration for these works by grade 2.  I posted about them HERE

When I first began teaching elementary school, after 8 years teaching high school, I was terrified.  What do elementary art students do?  I thought "they make stuff out of papier-mache, of course!"  Unfortunately, I'd never used papier-mache in my life.  While at a state art ed convention, I came across a book named The Simple Screamer, that outlined the process for making a goofy-looking papier-mache monster.  The book was by Dan Reeder ("Dan the Monster Man"), and I was hooked.  A couple of students and I worked together to build a silly 'screamer' using his instructions.  Dan's hints on the process really got me going and helped me be successful.  When I discovered that Dan was actually a teacher (he's now retired; he taught 5th grade), and had a passion for making papier-mache dragons, it excited me even more.  You can find out more about his and his work on his website, Gourmet Paper Mache.  Here's another one of Dan's books. Many of you have probably seen his work, in particular his time lapse videos of the construction of his dragons.   
Since that time, papier-mache has definitely become one of my passions, both to do myself, and to teach.  Over the years, from time to time I've touched base with Dan via his blog. I contacted him a couple of days ago.  Knowing he lives in Seattle, I thought maybe there'd be a way to tour his studio while I'm in the city for the NAEA convention. But his studio is in his basement, and since he retired from teaching, he no longer lets people tour his studio.  I'm disappointed but I'm retired too, so I understand.  I'm hoping there's some places in the city where I can actually get to see one of his dragons or other creations.  By the way, while my process wasn't identical to his, he inspired me to build Lucy, the dragon in my art room!  Yes, there was really a dragon!  Here she is, relaxing on an art room table while her wings were undergoing repair. 
 I used Dan's 'cloth-mache' process to build her.  Because she's about 5' long, I had to work on her in my backyard over the summer, and it took me about 3 years to finish her (it was weather-dependent, and I'm easily distracted)!  Then she went to live in my art room, where my students loved her.  She is named Lucy (in the Sky) after the Beatles song, of course. For the complete story on Lucy and her construction and life, check out this old post, HERE.  In the pic below, she's under construction.
Nowadays, Lucy is, like me, retired.  She resides at our 'camp' in the Adirondacks.  Most of her time is spent snoozing on the bunk bed, but sometimes she gets out and suns herself on the rocks.  
I hope you'll come back on the first Tuesday of each month to see what the Art Ed Blogger Network has in store to read! (also in between, because I have lots of other posts planned, too!)

Art Teacher Blogs
This post is a part of The Art Ed Blogger's Network: Monthly Tips and Inspiration from Art Teacher Blogs. On the first Tuesday each month, each of these art teacher blogs will post their best ideas on the same topic.

Participating Art Teacher Blogs:

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Tooling Foil Tutorial!

 I've been making samples for a workshop I'll be teaching at the upcoming NAEA convention in Seattle, in March.  The workshop is titled "Oh What a Relief - Fabulous Tooling Foil".  So I've been posting pics of my samples in Facebook art teacher groups, and have gotten a lot of questions about technique.  As a result, I'm diving into the world of videos, and have two (very low-tech but hopefully informative) videos to share with you!  But first, here are some of the samples I've been sharing:
I'm still trying to decide on an appropriate background for my silly robot above.  The piece below is a sample idea, designed to be perhaps a mat cover, or a book cover with a place to insert a photo or drawing, or even a frame for a mirror.  Funny how it matches my legs! 
Anyhow, to see how to take a piece of tooling foil (36 gauge aluminum) and create some nice relief in it, it's all in the video below!
The piece below is tooled foil that hasn't yet been treated with ink for 'antiquing'.  The black ink really brings out the details in the design.  I am  waiting to antique as demo in the workshop. 
To find out how to add all the detailed patterns and texture, and how to add the ink for antiquing, it's all in video #2!
So... the tooling is done, and the whole project has been inked.  Next step, as I explained in the video, is to remove some ink with steel wool.  Once that was done, I decided the whole piece would be enhanced with some added color.  Like I said in the video, I'm not a fan of of the look of Sharpies (or other permanent markers) on tooling foil.  So what I've done is mixed a small amount of acrylic paint and Mod Podge together, to make a semi-transparent paint.  I started with some blue.
Here's a closeup of texture that was made by tapping (from the back) with the point of my pointy wooden stick.  The ink surrounds it and looks really cool when you steel wool off the surface.  If I had done the same technique on the flat areas, from the front, the ink would have filled the little indentations making little black dots surrounded by silver color. In other words, the exact opposite!
Then I added some other colors the same way - pink on the eye and frame, a pale orange on the fins, and a mix of pink and orange on the lips. Here's the finished product!
The dragonfly below has been painted, inked, washed, re-inked, and I'm still not happy with it.  I'll be fiddling with it some more, and hopefully creating a background garden for it to be resting in, with possible some bright colored sheet foam or other collage materials.  I'll let you know how it turns out!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

I am not a portrait artist: Throwback Thursday

I was cleaning up my studio today (it doubles as a guest bedroom and my adult son will be home visiting this weekend, and I've been painting a bunch so the studio was a MESS).  Anyhow, I started digging through some old portfolios, and I came across a batch of self-portraits from various stages of life...  The one above is from sometime in the late 1970's or early 1980's.  I was teaching high school, including a class in darkroom photography.  The drawing was done from a self-portrait photo that I took and processed/printed myself in the school darkroom, using a graph to draw.  Yes, when I was young my hair was dark!  Very dark!  And that's a granny square afghan my mom made for me, that I still have. I used to wear contact lenses, which is why I'm not wearing glasses in the photo and drawing.  I have never been confident about drawing myself, though I've done it many dozens of times.  I find my own face very difficult, with no clearly defined cheekbones.

My first self-portrait attempt (at least the first one that I still actually have) is this oil painting below that I did in high school, probably when I was  about 14 or 15, looking in a mirror to paint.  Such a happy child.....  Not..  (The photo on the right is from November, so kinda what I look like now.) 
Anyhow, it's very hard for me to imagine there was ever a time where I wore a pink blouse with ruffles down the front, but evidently I did.  I got contact lenses when I was 16 and then pierced my ears, so I'm wearing glasses in this painting but no earrings.  Ironically, the frames look a lot like the frames I'm wearing nowadays.  I guess I've come full circle...  (Though now I'm wearing earrings.  Back then, I thought you shouldn't wear earrings and glasses at the same time.  Too much stuff on your face.  That now seems totally ridiculous; I never leave the house without earrings these days!)

The drawing above, never finished, is from sometime during the same time period as the first drawing, also from a black and white photo self-portrait, using a grid to draw.  Not only was my hair dark, I had cut it short for the first time in my life.

 A couple years later, perms were the 'thing', and I jumped on the bandwagon.  This drawing below is from that time period, mid-80's, using a mirror.  I have no idea why I'm wearing my glasses and not contacts.  I look very young in this drawing, I think!

The photo collage piece below I think was made in the late 70's or early 80's, using a photo of me from my college days, when my hair was very long. 
The photo was solarized and altered in the darkroom repeatedly (by me), and mounted on mat board. The images on board were cut out with an Exact-o knife and fit together, so the piece is somewhat layered.  Below is a closeup.

I did these two drawings below much more recently, maybe 4 years ago, as part of a drawing--a-day challenge with specific 'assignments'.  I don't think the one of the right looks anything like me, but it appears to be my first self-portrait where I actually cracked a smile!

The last photo below is of few random paintings made while working along with students on various self-portrait assignments.  I stopped wearing my contact lenses around 1990, so these were all made after that.   I still have the question mark earring; the other earring is an exclamation point!  The painting on the left was done along with some high school freshman using mirrors for their self-portraits.  In the middle, a grid assignment done with 6th graders, and on the right, a 3rd grade assignment that I've previously blogged about here.  If you hop over to that post, which is about observational drawing, plan to scroll down a bit to see this particular project! 

I hope you've enjoyed my nostalgic stroll through some less-than-successful personal art!