My friend Joyce introduced me to Ithaca brand hummus. I also take various vitamins and eat cottage cheese on occasion. The recycling began to accumulate and I thought, if we add styrofoam balls, we could make humanoid sculptures.
It is so fun to create something new. A derivative of a contemporary artist based on found object materials that reflects cohesive themes. My sample was an angel (not pictured). I added the Ithaca hummus container lids for wings. It, sort of, resembled a Golden Globe award, so I added that concept. It would be the Angel on Earth award.
Students assembled their armature, used paper towels and Mod Podge for papier mache then used at least three different materials for texture and design. They considered themes based on personal interests and/or were inspired by classroom materials.
I had patterned papers with animal motifs and packages of fabric papers, Origami paper, African designs and Navajo-inspired designs. I also had actual fabric donated by the Home Ec. teacher last year and wallpaper sample books that someone recently shared with me.
In addition, I have a backroom stocked with old Barbie dolls that we harvested for parts. I brought a few things in from my personal art supplies (antique flag toothpicks, an extra lion head cat costume, assorted buttons, twine, peacock feathers).
Students were graded on construction, use of materials, theme and quality of papier mache application. Can you guess what award each sculpture represents?
First I shared information about Franz Kline. He created large scale black and white paintings. These paintings resembled Chinese Calligraphy.
My students looked at Chinese Calligraphy resource pictures. They used black oil pastels to draw lines on a 12′ x 12″ canvas that were influenced by the Chinese characters.
Next, they added white acrylic paint using sweeping brushstrokes with a 1″ flat brush. They were encouraged to occasionally crash into the oil pastel to create some gray areas.
In the following class, they placed black acrylic paint over the black lines allowing some of the texture of the oil pastel to remain on the surface.
Jim Dine was next. We looked at his heart paintings. I gave them another canvas – a 4″ x 4″ one. They created heart stencils, traced them onto this smaller canvas then painted the canvas – either white heart with black background or black heart on white background.
Students then used colorful oil pastels on the heart and its background.
I had them choose a wood block, glue it to the back of the smaller canvas then adhere it to the center of the larger one.
I call it a Tash Mash because it is a mash-up of Kline and Dine but I use the heart motif in many of my own paintings as well, and I utilize the wood riser technique when mounting my encaustic paintings onto chalkboard painted masonite boards. And I invented the lesson.
I’m thinking about doing a series of encaustics in this style. Thank you, Franz Kline and Jim Dine for your contributions to Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, respectively, and for having names that rhyme.
I’ve been reminiscing about Dawn Dolls. They were manufactured for only three years in the early ’70s by Topper. Dawn, Angie, Gary, and company. they were only six-and-a-half inches tall, so they were incompatible with Barbies because they were so small. But they were so pretty with silky long hair and “real” eyelashes, and of course, with very awesome 1970s fashions. I loved them and I love them still.
I’ve been stalking them on the Internet – Ebay, Etsy and Mercari mainly. I don’t really want to buy them, do I? I want to be the Dawn doll. Haven’t I always? So funny that my hair resembles hers now. All I need is an Alice & Olivia dress and I am good to go.
What struck me as I viewed Sharif Bey’s art exhibit at the Everson Museum of Art is that he too seems to be enamored with doll collections albeit his are quite large scale especially the necklaces!
This show is housed in two of the four upstairs galleries and spans the artist’s thirty-year career. I mean, he’s only forty-eight, which indicates that some of the pieces in this collection of works were created when he was only eighteen. It is a lot of work – from functional ceramics to these large figurative pieces and finally the accessory wall. It is incredibly impressive for sure.
These necklaces in particular are really something. In the accompanying pamphlet prepared for a Junteenth visitation, it is revealed that he used toilet paper over glaze in the kiln to manifest the charred pattern on the “beadwork”. It is genius.
The scale speaks volumes about who this man is as an artist and as a human. It is a combo of continued visual exploration and ethnic pride coupled with a desire to both learn and teach.
Bey is a professor at Syracuse University in the Art Education department. The brochure professes to take children on a journey to discover themselves as he serves to explore ideas to carry him on his own path.
The exhibition is titled “Facets”. It works so well here because the Everson has always been first and foremost a ceramics museum. Knowing that these massive pieces are also fragile lends itself well to that idea that we are all fragile beings in a way, always seeking that strength of character in our true identities while harboring thoughts of doubt, worry and stupid fears that can easily break our spirits.
I wonder if that thought crossed his mind? No matter what doll one identifies with – big or small, black or white, etc., etc., we are all that creative spirit looking for a way to connect and feel that blessed feeling of validation as we develop our crafts/psyches in order to continue the ascent through life.
The Everson Museum of Art is located at 401 Harrison Street, Syracuse, NY, 13202. Call (315) 474-6064 for more information or find them at www.everson.org.
Sharif Bey: Facets continues through August 14, 2022.
Our last Studio in Art project – watercolors. I gave each student a sheet of 300# watercolor paper. They created drawings of barn landscapes from resource photos. I graded this portion on rendering/detail and composition.
Next, I gave them smaller sheets of watercolor paper and taught four techniques –
*saving the white of the paper
I graded the rest of the project based on how well they utilized these four techniques in the final product.
They spent several days practicing and when they were ready, they began painting the barn. Students sat in groups of two sharing a set of Koi watercolors and a large mixing tray.
The results are these incredible paintings. Remember, they are 8th graders and for the most part, had never used such quality materials. The hardest part, I think, was getting them to stray from conventional ideas – like, just putting brown in the brown spot, you know. I shared some Wolf Kahn paintings and explained how his brown trees had flecks of violet and orange in them because he used a secondary color palette. This style embraces rhythm.
I am really pleased with what my students accomplished.
Our last class together was a bit of silly mayhem. I played a game with these buzzers I have that are fun to use. They had to buzz in answers to questions about what we learned this year during class – about art and about me as a teacher as well as about specific things that happened during class that made it memorable.
The funny thing is that students who were the silliest in terms of behavior remembered the most stuff. When my 8th period kids started singing my India Ink song (memorized, lol – I don’t even have it memorized), that was just over-the-top.
What happens when I am living in the present moment is that I forget that I won’t be teaching them any longer. They are headed to the high school. So, here it is two days later and I am feeling incredibly sentimental.
At the end of every school year I do always tell my students that I will always be there for them. I am an email away or a bus ride from the high school to the middle school to visit me during 10th period. But in a couple of years, I may retire from teaching so that I can devote myself to my own dreams. I will still be here in the social media realm though and I will never stop wanting to know how they are doing with regard to the arts.
Relationships are a strange thing. You never know who you have affected in a way that will catapult people to the place they truly want to be in their lives. And they really don’t know how much their presence has made a difference in my life.
I am working on a watercolor poem/song. I will try to finish it this weekend and maybe I will put myself back up on TikTok. Last week, a 7th grader was listening to something with his secret ear bud. It turned out that he was listening to me recite my Gamer rap song – like really? Of all things, you want to hear my voice in your ear? Sometimes it is hard to wrap my head around stuff like that.
Yes, there will always be some students who express dissatisfaction and negativity. The trick there is to be the ear bud that voices positivity back, to not get caught in the debris field of that negative energy but instead push forward and allow the universe to embrace the magic of dreams. And a lot of the time, that magic is harnessed via the arts.
Studio in Art students, it has been a privilege working with you this year. Best to you always. Have a great experience at the high school and beyond. And keep making art. <3
I went all mini last week. It is finally getting warmer in Syracuse! Yesssssss!
On Friday afternoon , I put the glazes away for the year. All the clay projects are now on deck for the kiln.. I am gearing up for the final lessons. I think there are thirty school days left, so only fifteen classes for A day students and fifteen classes for B day students.
They will be creating art books and the Studio in Art students will begin a watercolor landscape. So fun!!!! <3
Last year, a local arts contributor connected with me to ask if I would share how I was going to teach art during the pandemic. I declined to participate because I did not want to allow anyone (read-people who would ultimately read said article) to criticize my choices when they really had no idea what the circumstances truly were.
School during 2020-2021 was about uplifting spirits, if that makes any sense. It was not plowing through curriculum while people were dealing with a global crisis, which brought with it low-level emotional feelings such as depression, sadness, fear, anger as well as physical illness.
My colleague and I spent our budget on individual supplies – markers, colored pencils, sketchbooks, etc. We did “dry media” projects and supplemented with vocabulary work. Many students worked 100% remotely with varying results due to their own perception of self-motivation.
We received some really fun results with this lesson – Design an Animal. Here is the video I made for the assignment. September 2020 marked the first time I’d done anything like this. Alone in my classroom on Wednesdays, which was the day students were all remote, I videotaped myself. No editing – just a straight shot, teaching the way I normally would with the exception of the fact that I could see myself on the screen and I had to give up the fact that I’m a real person and not an actress or model; that I was going to like myself sometimes and cringe at other times. I had to imagine that students were there and speak as though someone was on the other side actually listening to my stories. One take – no do overs because I didn’t have the time for that.
So here it is – the Design an Animal lesson posted on http://www.youtube.com. It is a lesson we shared with 6th, 7th and 8th graders. Needless to say, all of these multi-level shared lessons cannot be taught again for another two years, lol.
Please like and subscribe to my video channel.
P.S. Here is a link to Galina Bugaevskaya’s work – she is the one who photoshops cat faces on animals.
Here are two companion videos I created in September 2020 when I was teaching art remotely – one on the Medusa lesson I created years ago and the other is a pattern lesson. The pattern lesson – I created it for 2nd graders originally, so this should have been a review for my 8th graders. Katy and I used both lessons for 6th-8th graders last year.
My 8th grade accelerated Studio in Art students created these clay face masks (with Miller #10 clay purchased from Clayscapes). We used the slab technique over a plastic face form then added clay to shape the features. I poked holes at the sides to secure a Twisteezwire to the back. They can hang on a wall – I love that!
I wore turtlenecks this week. I have four and there were four days of school, but I didn’t feel like wearing one on Friday. Sticking to a theme is the plan but plans don’t always seem to go as planned.
I’m in the process of planning an event and I spent half the day crying because it doesn’t feel like things will work out. Things are always working out, lol, but not necessarily the way you want them to work out. I’m waiting for the universe to surprise and delight me. I mean, I am allowing the universe to do that because I know how it works – no buts about it. I’ll stop crying now. Thanks, Bobbi. <3 🙂
My 8th grade accelerated Studio in Art students completed an intense nine weeks of creating these peace posters for the Chittenango Lions Club. The Lions sponsor an international peace poster competition for middle school aged children with a grand prize of $5,000.
It is an illustration lesson/editorial design project with some limitations – no words or characters of any kind, no trademarked items or advertisements. We used 16″ x 20″ white tagboard and Prismacolor colored pencils. The Lions Club generously donated enough sets so that my students could each have their own 48 color set. Thirty-eight students competed this year.
Students spent additional hours on these posters at home on the weekends to complete them in time for the contest deadline. The winning poster will go on to the regional competition and possibly the state one as well. The theme for this year is “We Are All Connected”. Now that we are all back in school full-time, this sentiment is truly apropos. <3