Category Archives: Karen Tashkovski

Studio & the Barn Watercolor

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

*wet-in-wet

*glazing

*dry brush

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

Eeny-Meeny-Miny-Mini

#saksfifthavenue cashmere sweater #frenchconnection leather skirt #marcjacobs boots
#theory cashmere cardigan #rebeccataylor top #ragandbone patent leather skirt #calvinklein boots

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

#honora necklace #rebeccataylor leather top #trinaturk skirt #ragandbone boots
#bcbgmaxazria sweater #aliceandolivia skirt #marcjacobs boots
#saksfifthavenue cashmere sweater #freepeople dress #bcbgmaxazria sandals
#allsaints scarf #tashkovski bracelet #aquacashmere sweater #bcbgmaxazria skirt #ragandbone boots

The Language of Black

Tashkovski bracelet, Theory cardigan, Faithfull the Brand dress, BCBGMaxAzria leggings, Rag & Bone boots
AllSaints dress, BCBGeneration sandals

The weather has been fluctuating towards warmer. It felt incredible to wear sandals in Syracuse yesterday. We’re getting there!

Tashkovski bracelet, AllSaints scarf, Aqua Cashmere turtleneck, BCBGMaxAzria skirt, Rag & Bone boots

We are using india ink in the Studio in Art classes, hence all the black outfits. I love a good theme. For some students, this is their very first time using the medium. We are practicing first then creating hand drawings adding Persian pottery pattern designs to the compositions.

Tashkovski bracelet, AllSaints top, C by Bloomingdales cardigan, Kobi Halperin skirt, Rag & Bone boots

I wrote a song called India Ink in honor of the lesson. I have been posting songs and poetry on YouTube and TikTok. So fun! <3

Faithfull the Brand top, Trina Turk skirt, Nine West boots
Rebecca Taylor top, Zadig & Voltaire skirt, Rag & Bone boots

INDIA INK

LA LA LA LA LA

LA LA LA LA LA

LA LA LA LA LA

LA LA LA

I BREATHED INTO THE ETHER

THE GIFT OF SANCTITIY

A SCRIBBLE LEFT ON PARCHMENT

TO DELIVER IN ANTIQUITY

PERSIAN POTTERY PATTERNS

REFLECT THE WAY I’M FEELING

ENGROSSED IN THE ACT

OF COMPLETING A TASK WITH

INDIA INK

INK INK INK INK

I’M ON THE BRINK

BRINK BRINK BRINK BRINK

A DESIRE TO

DRINK DRINK DRINK DRINK

A TOAST TO FALL IN LOVE

A ROOM FULL OF LAUGHTER

AND YET IT MUST BEHAVE

SCRIPTING SILENT ENDEAVOR

IN ORDER TO CREATE A WAVE

DITTO TO THE MASSES

I CAN’T CONTROL THE GUESSES

WHAT THEY SAY

IT ALWAYS BAFFLES ME

INDIA INK

INK INK INK INK

I’M GOING TO SINK

SINK SINK SINK SINK

WHAT DO YOU THINK

THINK THINK THINK THINK

ARE YOU READY TO BELIEVE

YOU’LL FALL IN LOVE?

A LETTER FASTENED TOGETHER

IN PERFECT HARMONY

A VARIATION ON THE NIB AND

WHAT’S LEFT IS A SUNNY

RINK RINK RINK RINK

FULL OF PINK

PINK PINK PINK PINK

DOLLAR BILLS

INDIA INK

INK INK INK INK

WHAT DO YOU THINK

THINK THINK THINK THINK

LA LA LA LA

THE TOPIC IS COHERENT

UNLESS WE SPEND A

MINUTE TO DIGEST

IT ALL AND FOLLOW LOVE

THE WORLD IS IN DANGER

OF FAILING TO DELIVER

THE EXPECTATIONS

THAT WE STOP TO

BLINK BLINK BLINK

AWAY THE ZINC ZINC ZINC

WHAT DO YOU THINK

THINK THINK THINK THINK

ABOUT INDIA INK

INDIA INK

INK INK INK INK

LALALALALA

INDIA INK

The Send Off

Joey passed away. His funeral was on Wednesday. He was my ISO Fish Fry date (The Retreat was his top choice), a great dancing partner (the last time we danced was in February), the karaoke guy at Jimmy’s parties, a wonderful conversationalist and great listener. He is/was the best friend one could ever ask for.

We always talked philosophy – life and afterlife stuff. I am eternally searching for a balance between who I am and who I think I am, like, authentically, and he was always authentically Joey.

We both loved learning new things and agreed that this was definitely a path to authenticity, loving that journey to self-discovery. With me, it was piano. He loved playing the drums. He has a Youtube channel devoted to that relatively new passion.

My Youtube channel has a hodgepodge of things, more recently, original poems and songs I write. Surrender the Silence is dedicated to Joey. It is a bit somber though – I guess it, sort of, represents the way we feel when someone we care about transitions. There’s a triumph in a life well spent, a joy in the realization that so many people cared and loved, as well as that sadness of losing the ability to have more time with them.

Every time we took a picture together, Joey would say that we had the same nose. I don’t know why that is. My dad was a kid in the old country when he was born (I have Dad’s nose) and neither of Joey’s daughters, siblings or his father have it, lol. We definitely look like we are related.

The last time I was with him he pulled a $20 bill out as part of the money to contribute to the bill at Shaughnessy’s. I collect bills with 777 in the serial number so I immediately swapped it out for a random non-special twenty. He said, “You and your magical thinking.”

Knowing you is/was pretty magical, Joey. Thank you for that. <3

Barnacles

The Barn at Collamer Road is the site of a pop-up art exhibition starring three Cicero-North Syracuse art teachers. Kara Daviau, Amy Haven and James Vanhoven share their art in the upstairs gallery space of this amazing venue located at 6456 Collamer Road, East Syracuse, NY 13057. You can view the work from 11:00 am-1:00 pm on Saturday, April 2, 2022, and Sunday., April 3, 2022. And that’s it! The opening reception was today. The show is titled “Resonance”.

Their prices are very reasonable. Haven’s ceramics may have all sold! They are beautiful pieces – wall hangings, jewelry trays, pottery – with arts and crafts details such as quatrefoil and ginko leaves.

Vanhoven’s work is exquisite – he is technically proficient. He is the quintessential art teacher with a variety of interests all focusing on landscapes. There are etchings, watercolors and oil paintings, as well as pastel drawings.

Daviau paints in acrylic with collage. She incorporates musical themes giving each illustration of abandoned buildings a unique personality. She also sells merchandise depicting those paintings. These include apparel, prints and accessories.

I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more from these dynamic artist/colleagues!

Summer Vacation Project

I call this activity the Summer Vacation Graffiti project. It is a great starter lesson – a quickie to get art on the school walls. It is technically not graffiti, which is a type of spray painted calligraphy using text, but it can be – words can be incorporated.

Students are asked to draw images that relate to what they did on their summer vacation. We reference the principles of art to compose the space of their final copies.

This was the very first video I made in September 2020 for that year of teaching remotely. I do cringe at some parts – specifically my drawing. (and of course, the way my eyes look like I don’t know where the camera is or the way I can’t remember the easiest word or some dumb thing) OMG, it was so hard to draw with the paper taped to the wall. I guess I should have rehearsed it first, but who has the time for that? Also, no lighting props, lol.

I was in a tiny music practice room adjacent to the faculty bathroom.

Usually when I do this lesson, I have samples of previous work to share. And when we do it in class, we don’t jump ahead to the next and the next step. It is not a race to finish.

One thing I cannot teach is that amazing feeling I get when I am drawing. You will either have it or not. Kids will say, “That’s so satisfying,” when it happens to them, which I love! <3

Design an Animal

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.

Logo Me

When I showed this to my principal, he said, “Who did this?” implying he’d have the student expelled. I said, “Oh, no – I asked him to make this!”

I have always wanted to be the Planter’s peanuts character. I’m just a monocle, some spats and a top hat away. I found an awesome cane at the flea market last summer.

The student who created this image has probably graduated by now – I just can’t remember how long ago it was since the last three years have been a blur due to the Covid stuff.

So, now I need someone to turn me into the Starbucks logo. Anyone? You can use my most recent school picture (below).

***UPDATE

Thank you, Nora R. for turning me into the Starbucks logo!!!!! So awesome <3

Drawing a Horse

Here is a video I made in September 2020 during the teaching remotely phase of school. This is a middle school lesson – it was originally meant for 8th grade but I also did the lesson with 7th graders last year. It goes along with the horse lesson using Jaune “Quick-to-see” Smith as a reference, although it can be used for many different lessons or as a stand alone. I am currently using butterflies for the images in my Smith painting lesson. I may post about them in the future.

If you want to see more videos – I am planning to revise my channel and maybe even start vlogging! They will probably be just as raw and unedited as this one is – I’m not tech savvy.

Please subscribe. Right now I think I have three subscribers (and one may or may not be me). It’s a new path – let’s see where it takes me. P.S. I love www.youtube.com! 🙂

Pablo Tashkovski

Yesterday was this beautiful, sunny day. I hiked seven miles then ran errands. Today, so far at least, is an indoor day. We had a snowstorm.

Here are some pictures of my cat. The weather is not a factor in his life. He’s not conditional – unless I don’t get up at 5:00 am to feed him. Pablo eats a gastrointestinal prescription diet of dry and wet cat food provided by Royal Canin. I would love to see his face on the packaging. I mean, who wouldn’t want their pet to have his own modeling contract?

Cats are a recurring theme in my artwork. Did Pablo’s namesake paint cats? Yes!