Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Women in Art - Video

Check out this video (link in the post headline) that shows 500 years of women portrayed in art. Incredible.

Op Art

Victor Vasarely (1908-1997)Vega-Nor, 1969
Check out the display in the hall at school to see more of his work.)

6 days until the election - boy, the tension is super high - fundamental shifts in reality - seemingly polar energies in the country - 'you're either fer 'em 'r against 'em - crazy, wild energy.

I was thinking about the blog, trying to go to sleep, but I was just too wound up from a heated political conversation with a relative. There were also media loops and sound bytes circling in my head. Then it came to me: op art. That was totally it - two opposing forces in perfect harmony with each other. Typically, it's the high contrast and energy vortex of the lines that overtakes the frontal cortex. Rods and cones in a frenzy. The site linked in this post headline takes you to a FABULOUS, small website about Op Art.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Artist of the Week - Justine Smith

Money, money, money! That is one of the major topics in the news right now - AND, we get minute by minute updates - what's up, down, gone, promised, lost, hoarded, slashed or stashed. It got me thinking about artists that might work with money, so I googled and found Justine Smith, a British artist whose medium is primarily paper and can be more specifically money. Here's what her website has to say about this piece I'm featuring, "Money Map of the World" 2004/05.

"Her work is an exploration of our relationship with money and our response to it, in a political, moral and social sense, whilst also exploiting the physical beauty of the note. A Banknote is not only an abstract representation of our labour, but the imagery depicted on it also symbolises the ideas and ideals of a given country's culture and the society that its people live in.

The 'Money Map of the World' compounds many of Smith's ideas relating to money. This piece of work took seven months to produce and is made up of banknotes from every country in the world. The images and cultural symbols on the banknotes are significant and can give an indication not only of the economy of a given country, but also important aspects of its culture. Aside from more obvious images of the local flora and fauna, one can also see elements of a country's history, religion, its aspirations and defining achievements. In some areas such as the Middle East, spiritual and cultural alliances can be seen as groups of countries appear to merge due to the similarity of Islamic design on the banknotes. One can also see economic alliances such as the Eurozone, or West and Central African states, which share common currencies between a group of nations. Similarly, one can also see traces of old empires - some countries borders are naturally formed by rivers or mountains, but other countries borders are man-made and to an extent divided by money."

Have you ever thought about the artistic design that goes into money? The images that are promoted, the ideas, the POWER symbols. When do we stop "seeing" money - what does it represent to you? What do you think about the cutting up of money to create an art piece? We "buy" materials to make art; is it the same when we "buy" money as an art material? Look at the areas certain bills covers - does that indicate the power of the country? What makes some countries money stronger than others? Interesting stuff...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Student Work - AP 2D Studio Art

There is a wonderful little book I bought years ago entitled "Inspirations for Embroidery Mail - Book of Days" by Jytte Harboesgaard and Debra Virgens. The two women began embroidering equilateral triangles and sent them to each other as a form of communication. After many years, they had 48 embroideries that were collected into an exhibit at The Danish Museum of Decorative Art in Copenhagen. A small sampling of their efforts is displayed as a triangle montage.

I gave my AP Studio art students an assignment based on this idea...take a geometric shape and explore pattern, design and color in your own piece. I feature K.C.'s terrific solution, sans color, but with such strong design and precision of line the color is not needed. Her exploration is innovative and exciting! Bravo K.C.!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Art Block

What happens when you have an idea in your head but are having trouble getting it down on paper?

Thanks for asking this question, Alex J! Blocks can be annoying and frustrating! My advice is really pretty simple....draw, draw, draw. Transferring an idea you have in your mind's eye to paper can sometimes be difficult. I suggest you just sketch small parts of your idea and keep after it. Try to grab on to some part of your vision. Are there some special colors (do a quick color study), are there some dominant shapes (block out the shapes to see how you can organize the composition), what art material do you want to use (PLAY with that material by exploring what kinds of lines and value you can get)...these smaller steps can get the juices going and can help get into your idea.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Art class and Assigned Projects

Hello Ms. K's Chester Academy Grade 8 art class! Glad to see you are continuing to visit my blog! LS commented on the Art & Stress post, and I feel like I HAVE to respond directly to them, Ms. K's class and my own art students! LS's comment was about the lack of stress when he/she worked in the privacy of their own place versus working on assignments in the art classroom they might not choose for themselves and how those were stressful.

Well, this comment is just tooooo juicy and I feel I MUST respond to this issue! It is a common remark made by art students everywhere! LS - I do know how you feel! Remember, your teachers have been to some formal art training too, and we remember working on projects that we didn't pick AND possibly were resistant to! I suppose life would be so much nicer if we could just do what we wanted all of the time. BUT, I am asking ALL art students everywhere to open your minds to what I have to say about this!

One way to think of our brain is to liken it to a muscle. And just like muscles, they adjust to certain jobs that they do day in and day out without exerting any additional effort. What's really interesting about the brain is how it is organized into two hemispheres with very different jobs - sequential, rational activities (the left brain) vs. creative, intuitive activities (the right brain). This site about "Art and the brain in the learning process"says that, "By using more the left hemisphere, considered as rational, we do leave out the possibility of taking advantage of the benefits brought by the right hemisphere, such as creative imagination, serenity, global view, capacity of synthesis and ease of memorization, among others." It is very important that we stretch and challenge the right side of the brain in order to have an all over better functioning brain. Listen to what else they say: "When we lead all our life exercising almost exclusively the functions of the left hemisphere, or the right side, then degenerative brain diseases, so feared such as Alzheimer Disease, for instance, appear. We need therefore, to stimulate the diverse areas of our brain, helping the neurons to establish new connection, diversifying our fields of interest, searching to know ourselves better to act with more accuracy and precision."

Exercising is the key word here! We need to engage the brain in new and different activities in order to keep it healthy and ready for new challenges that might pop up. And that ALSO means using our left brain for those logical, sequential endeavors like math and computer science. A fully exercised brain is a strong, healthy, happy brain!

Back to the art classroom....your teacher (no matter who it is) is giving you a variety of assignments to explore different techniques, materials and ideas. Left to your own natural preferences, you might not discover something new and wonderful! See what a professional artist has to say about "Building the Creative Muscle". I especially like what he has to say about this process: "Studio tricks, attitudes and physical exercises jiggle the liquid brain into building the creative muscle." It gets down to venturing into new territories that might be out of your comfort zone (thereby creating "stress"). But you know what that old saying is - "Nothing ventured, nothing gained". Perhaps art students around the world can think of those assignments as adventures and possibilities. Only YOU know what you are going to find by exploring!

Keep up the great work art students! (P.S. - this is my drawing of the muscles of the head I "had" to do in figure drawing class. Thank goodness I got the opportunity to try this! The abilities I "didn't know" I had helped to increase my excitement about art!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Art and Stress

I love teaching art, but there can be a conflict in that there is no time for ME to make art! Ay carumba!! Now, if you love making art, you know that NOT making art can be super stressful. There's a need to release those creative ideas, but more importantly, during the art making process, your brain switches into a neutral zone and stress seems to vanish.

I teach in the Dallas Independent School District, and the last month has been very stressful. Our district was over budget last year and this millions and millions of dollars. The solution reached was to lay off hundreds of people in the school district - administration, teachers, counselors - the fickle finger of fate reaches into unexpected corners. We lost our new counselor this week, Mr. Villa, and though he was with us a short time, we are sorry he fell victim to the RIF.

With everything going on in the national financial scene, my own general anxiety level has been high AND I have felt like I've been living in parallel universes between national and local school district emergencies. Time to make some art. I decided to make the project that my AP Studio classes are doing - a design project using geometric shape to explore pattern and design. Oh, joy! It was fun and healing. I highly recommend it! Check out the link in the title of this post to find out more about do-it-yourself art therapy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Student Work - AP 2D Studio Art

The last project of the six weeks was a still life drawing. I love setting this up. I've invested in several different masks that are worked in with other objects (the usual pillows, bottles, baskets, etc.) for exciting focal points. Navi Dhaliwal's drawing is featured because of what he wrote on his critique sheet. He was concerned that in drawing the objects, he gave them his own twist instead of portraying them totally realistically. But, he said, he liked his drawing that way and so did I. It's tricky business drawing from life. Sometimes the most faithful portrayal can be made, but it loses the spark of the individual artist. I think it is more exciting for the viewer to see the objects through the artist's lens...dynamic and personal.