Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Art of the Rubik's Cube

There is a quiet craze in our school over the Rubik's Cube - students shuffle through the permutations looking for the "solution". Brian Chorr is the driving force behind the popularity. He recently sent me this link "Ms Miller, here's some of that stuff I was telling you about." with this link in the post title. Okay, Brian - it is blog worthy! I had no idea you could create patterns using this puzzle machine! I thought it had one desired solution (matching one color on each plane) - au contrair! Now I see the pure potentiality of artistic creation in rubik's dimensionality. Oh, and dear reader, as my students already know - multi is my favorite color! Viva Rubik!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Artist of the Week - Kim Nguyen

Oh, the holidays! What a sweet time -for teachers and students a much needed break. But what also comes along are gifts - food, sweets, gift cards, all greatly appreciated. But when a student gives a gift from the heart, a tear comes to the teacher's eye! Kim is a student in my AP Art History class. One day while lecturing, I noticed she was folding paper during class. Having had busy hands during my life, I was not angry, but curious about what she was doing. She told me about a bird she was making from her folded paper, and I asked that she let me see her creation before she gave it away. This is the photo of the bird she gave away - beautiful. And, to my surprise, before leaving for our holiday break, she gave me my own bird in white with pink and yellow accents! Kim, I will treasure your gift always. Here is what she wrote about the process.
"Origami is a type of art that began in Japan many centuries ago. This creative art of paper folding requires lot of patience and time. I was 9 years old when I was inspired by this model of a bird that my dad brought home from work one day. For 2 consecutive years I've wasted a lot of time and papers in order to try and copy that model, but for some reason the body of the bird never quiet came out right. It bothered me to the point where I just decided to give up. However, one day a thought just came to my mind that reversed my decision...I simply changed up the way that I was putting the pieces together and BAM the body came out as I wanted it be, and from there I continued to build up the neck, wings, and tails. It was a confusing process at first, but the final product paid off. Since then I've been cutting and folding alot of papers during my spare time so that I can have it ready for assembling whenever it is called for. :D
The process for making this bird is quiet confusing and complicated for the beginner, but once you get the hang of it then it's not so bad. The part that I hate doing most is cutting and folding of those tiny pieces of paper. It can take me days up to weeks, depending on how many pieces I need and how much spare time I have, which is not much lately. Once ALL the pieces have been folded then I could begin to glue all the pieces together. The first part is the body, the part where I had the most trouble with. Then I built up the 2 wings. After that I would assemble the tails (there are 3 in my model). The neck and "feet" would be last because they are the easiest parts to make. This might sound easy but it's not!"
Thank you Kim! You are an artist after my own heart - creative, diligent and generous!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Driftwood Horses

I'm thinking about 3 dimensional art today and remembered this email I got from a friend a while back with pictures of horses made of driftwood. Really beautiful! One of the biggest problems for these works is balancing the sculpture since horse's legs are really thin compared to their body mass. I've linked the artist's website to the title for more viewing of the process as well as her work.

Monday, November 19, 2007

DMA Visit & AP Art History Extra Credit!


LOVE the Dallas Museum of Art Late Night events! In AP Art History last Thursday, we took a glance at Indian miniature paintings, I donned a sari and we had an Indian Feast! Just the thing we all needed at the end of the six weeks. Domains of Wonder: Selected Masterworks of Indian Painting is opening at the DMA Nov. 18 runs until Jan. 27. Any of my students who visited the DMA Late Night Fri., Nov. 16 or who visit the exhibit can respond to this post (make it juicy!) and you will get extra credit!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Phil Hansen - Multi Media Artist



Thank you Sofia! I love it when my students turn me on to art out in the world!

This title links to Phil Hansen's website which shows an incredible array of work!! There are many kinds of artists working in today's world, but he is really unusual in that he works in MANY kinds of media. His art skills are so strong, he moves from one material and technique to another, playing with new ways to make art. Work on his site is made from matches, Starbucks coffee cups, chalk, text that is cut and pasted, and bibles that are cut up, resized and pasted. The self portrait shown here is made of wood, using a router and skill saw to remove material, then stained to create the image. He also gives himself a monthly challenge, or theme and creates art for the month using that idea. Check out his work - it is interesting and powerful!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

TAG Art Club goes crazy!


Fun! Fun! Fun! The TAG Art Club is making Artist Trading Cards this year! This is a hot new art craze that is spreading around the country and I can see why. The cards are the same size as sports trading cards we've collected as kids - 2 1/2 X 3 1/2" each. On the back, you can put your name, email, school, date, or whatever to "tag" it as your own work. Then, you create away! The sky is the limit - you can use any material or technique to make your card. They are tiny works of art, and though the space is small, the impact is large! Even if you think you "can't do art" - (and you know what I think about that!!!) - you can absolutely do this! Cut, paste, doodle, dribble, color, invent, PLAY, embellish, compose, express, paint, draw, stamp, sew, emboss, stick, did I say PLAY?!

07/08 Academic Decathlon Art Selection #18


Hey, if you want to be remembered, have yourself carved into a mountain! This "Memorial to the Confederacy" was carved into Stone Mountain in George by Gutzon Borglum in 1916. Now, that does not sound like an American name to me! Who was the artist and how did he come about getting this commission to carve this Memorial?

07/08 Academic Decathlon Art Selection #17


Portraiture is a wonderful genre in that it not only captures the people, but also their times. "The Westwood Children" is painted by Joshua Johnson in 1807. His style is primitive - it is obvious looking at the painting that he is self taught and working out the issues as he can. Though primitive, it still captures the children, though they seem stiff and doll like in the portrait. Perhaps during a long sitting, he can only capture a "non-emotional" expression OR perhaps they were bored out of their minds!

07/08 Academic Decathlon Art Selection #16


Soooo, continuing our discussion about European art tradition! The Seine is an oft painted river, but Henry Ossawa Tanner was not your regular artist! As an African American artist, he found more opportunities to paint (and be accepted) in Europe than back home. He was an important artist that flourished during the Harlem Renaissance (this piece was painted in 1902). The American art critics did not appreciate African American artist's painting in the style of Europeans, though. They felt they should paint in the style of their "native country" - Africa. Thank goodness the African American artists of the early 20th century had the pluck to blaze their own trail. If you study the Harlem Renaissance, you will find a plethora of artistic growth - jazz for one!

07/08 Academic Decathlon Art Selection #15


Early American art was not as valued or sophisticated as the art tradition from Europe. This did not stop aspiring artists to blaze a new trail in this new country! "The Lackawanna Valley" by George Inness in 1856 is an example of working in the respected genre of landscapes. Notice how nicely he captures the quality of light be it dawn or dusk. We may not have had a great art tradition when this country was founded, but we had vistas that compared with the greatest in the world!

07/08 Academic Decathlon Art Selection #14


This is an illustration by Alexander Davis from 1865. It documents the architectural home called Lyndhurst built for George Merritt in Tarrytown, NY. What a grand residence! Any architecture buffs out there? What kinds of architectural styles are used in this work?

07/08 Academic Decathlon Art Selection #13


George Caleb Bingham painted "Mississippi Boatman" in 1850. The Mississippi River was a major waterway (and still is!) for the country to move goods to different states. My husband tells a story about being a deck hand on a Mississippi tow boat during a summer while he attended college. It sounds like it might be an easy job, floating up and down the river, but many hazards lay in waiting. What sorts of stories does it look like this boatman has?

07/08 Academic Decathlon Art Selection #12


Ah, "out west"! It still has a romantic quality about it today. This is a photograph of Canon de Chelle by Timothy H. Sullivan done in 1873. Photography was still an early medium. As cumbersome as it was, people dragged their equipment and developing chemicals along with them to document this still unfolding nation. It was a great way for photographers to promote new American locations to people looking for adventure!

07/08 Academic Decathlon Art Selection #11


This is an Alkaline Glazed Stoneware Jar made by David Drake in 1862. Have you ever made anything out of ceramics? Do you know how they are fired in a kiln? See what you can find out about this piece. It may not be beautiful to our aesthetics today, but I guarantee that Mr. Drake felt great personal satisfaction after the successful completion of his project!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

07/08 Academic Decathlon Art Selection #10

This is "The Seine", by Henry Ossawa Tanner, painted in 1902. A beautiful scene - Tanner handles the paint in a fresh manner. Doesn't it remind you of the Impressionists' technique? Tanner's work is beautifully emotional and expressive. Check him out and see some of his other work. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

07/08 Academic Decathlon Art Selection #9

Mary Cassatt is a favorite artist. Officially a member of the Impressionists, she painted this piece "The Boating Party" in 1893. She loved painting women and children in the theme of mother and child. Now, to tell you the truth, I'm not sure WHY this piece is considered to be a piece of art for the Civil War?!? Can any of you come up with an idea? Seriously!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

07/08 Academic Decathlon Art Selection #8

Ahhh - the shotgun house - so named because if you opened the front & back doors and fired a gun, the bullet would shoot straight through. This is a 19th c. house, kind of raggedy, huh? Well, I spent a year living in New Orleans and working in the French Quarter when I was a young twenty something ( I sold women's shoes in a shoe boutique!). I certainly got an education working in the Quarter, but I also experienced living in an old shotgun house (not quite THIS old!) There was a big fan (like an attic fan) that was in one of the windows in the back room, and when it ran it drew the air through the house and exited out the fan. Even though we had no air conditioning (can you get your brain around that?), I remember feeling pretty comfortable even in the heat of the summer (New Orleans can be hot and extremely humid!). Search around - find out about what kind of housing was lost during Katrina - are they rebuilding this style of architecture again? Interesting...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

07/08 Academic Decathlon Art Selection #7



Abraham Lincoln Memorial - of all the presidents, he seems to be one of the most interesting. I love looking at his face - craggy with deep set eyes, prominent cheek bones and a strong jaw. His physical presence is reflected so beautifully in Daniel Chester French's sculpture of him. A couple of summers ago I was in Massachusetts and got to visit the studio of the sculptor. This photo shows part of the artist's work space. One interesting feature of his studio was a short railroad track that ran up to the big double doors he had installed. By having his sculpture on a rail cart, he could roll it out onto the tract to see it in natural light. Sculpture is a dynamic art form - viewed from all angles as well as being greatly influenced by its light source. What else can you find out about this monument?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

07/08 Academic Decathlon Art Selection #6

This painting is titled "A Visit From the Old Mistress" by Winslow Homer, painted in 1876. My art question for this post is to find out about Winslow Homer...he is one of the great American painters. I visited the Women's Museum in Dallas last week, wandered into the gift shop (one of my FAVORITE parts of museums!) and found several books on women's involvement during the Civil War. We tend to think of it as involving primarily the men, but aux contrair! This little gem of a book (yes, "little") is from a series entitled Women Who Dare and is about the Women of the Civil War. With brief accounts and photographs of some of the women who supported their husbands, sons and brothers during the conflict, I think you will find it really interesting! Google women + civil war and see who you find!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

07/08 Academic Decathlon Art Selection #5

This is the Shaw Memorial by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, 1900, a patinated plaster work of art, through the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. This really goes along with the book I've been Reading "Rebel Private: Front and Rear" by William A. Fletcher. It is one of the few authentic memoirs of a Confederate Soldier. The book has been quite interesting - his language is stiff and formal and seems to be missing a lot of the English conventions such as prepositions and punctuation at appropriate places! I still have not quite gotten used to it, though there is enough language to understand the gist of what he went through. Oh my gosh - what hardships the soldiers, both Rebel and Union, went through. Plundering whatever surrounding area they found themselves in for rations, usable horses and miscellaneous supplies. Anyone else's needs were not important in their eyes, and I just have a hard time imagining people of our own land busting in and taking all of my valuables and resources for basic survival. He was wounded several times, recouperated and then hustled back to the front line of the conflict. Not a long book, though NOT an easy read, you may borrow it if you like. It's an interesting bird's eye view of the civil war.
Back to the Shaw Monument - let me know what you can find out about it! The gold patina over the plaster is a cost efficient way to make a fancy looking monument. What do you think?

Saturday, June 30, 2007

07/08 Academic Decathlon Art Selection #4

This lovely plantation is called Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana. Aren't the trees really beautiful! Oaks can live to be many hundreds of years old. See what you can find out about Oak Alley which was begun in 1837. How were plantations pivotal in the Civil War?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

07/08 Academic Decathlon Art Selection #3

This photo is called "The Sick Soldier" and is the work from the Mathew Brady Studio, 1863. Photography is a huge contributor to war journalism. Now images from the scene of the battle could be captured for people to see. How did this new technology contribute to people's views on the war? Check out Mathew Brady and find out how new this technology was at the time. How has technology changed our perception of wartime?

Friday, June 15, 2007

07/08 Academic Decathlon Art Selection #2

Quilting has such a rich tradition in our country! This Bible Quilt was made by Harriet Powers in 1886. Can you figure out some of the bible stories that she is illustrating? Where did she come from and I wonder how this quilt was preserved. One thing about textiles, they are more sensitive to the elements (the sun can DESTROY a piece of cloth!) and are more difficult to preserve. PLUS, critters love to munch on fibers. One of the main stresses on fabric is too much love! When we use, launder and revel in textiles, they begin to deteriorate. I have a quilt of my grandmother's and I remember seeing her tucked in her bed under her quilt. I have it now, and when I wrap up in it, I rejoice in the pattern, colors and the fact that my grandma & I are sharing the experience even though she is long gone. Do you have a favorite quilt or quilt story from your family? Maybe you have another kind of textile story. I'd love to hear about it!

Friday, June 08, 2007

07/08 Academic Decathlon Art Selection #10

Watson and the Shark
John Singleton Copely
1778, Oil on canvas
72 X 90 1/4"
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Woah - this is a dramatic scene captured on the canvas! What is the
story behind this painting? Not an AcDec image, but the Raft of the Medusa by Gericault has a lot of
similarities. What is the story behind THAT painting? How are they alike? How are they different? Why were these paintings made?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Pencil Tip Art - Jennifer Maestre


LOVE this sculpture! Such a simple material - pencils along with the use of repeating a unit over and over. This work has a real psychological presence as well as being VERY textural! I think of Venus Flytraps, porcupines, sea creatures. I am drawn to this work and creeped out by it as well. I have the link attached to the Blog Title so you can see more. Unfortunately, this site has no information about the artist! I did a quick Google search to find out who they are, but was unsuccessful. Let me know if someone out there figures out who the artist is - inquiring minds want to know! Thanks, Mr. Martin!
**Update comment 10/24/08** Thanks to the high school art teacher in Lawrence, MA that found a link to Jennifer's work. I've put a hyperlink to her website in the post title - check out her work!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Janez Jevnikar - Sprayman

"Aerosolgraphia" (spray painting) is a fascinating technique for producing art and it not limited to surreptitious grafitti excursions. This artist uses spray paint to create complicated compositions. You can click on the the title above and visit his website. There you will see videos demonstrating his method of painting. Because of the nature of the acrylic spray paints, he has to work extremely quickly to get the effects he wants before the paint dries. In the video, he creates a scene in ten minutes AND his studio is on the street, so he is being watched the whole time by an audience. Notice how he works from back to the front in his compositions. He obviously has a great deal of experience with his materials and techniques to be able to work so quickly!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Contemporary Tapestries

Textile Arts are one of my biggest passions! As an art form, they continue to grow conceptually but also technologically as well. The descriptions below each tapestry at the Klaudia Marr Gallery exhibit in Santa Fe indicate an edition size of each design. The tapestries can be sold this way because of the electronic jacquard weaving equipment they are produced on. This allows the artist unlimited design freedom (the designs are read by pixels) as well as a limited production run of their design. VERY COOL!
The Jacquard Loom was the first piece of equipment to use punch cards to control a sequence of operations. Although it did no computation based on them, it is considered an important step in the history of computing hardware. This exhibit shows the best of artistic expression and technology - how exciting and how beautiful!