Is Teaching Art Becoming One Big Paint and Wine Party?

Ok. Well, someone has to talk about it, right?  The internet is blasted with this…and these.  And, because I have not attended one of these ‘girls’ nights out’, I have no idea just how much a person learns at these events.  I am thinking that this option might remove a lot of fear and mystery around paint and provide something really different to do for fun.  That part, I get.

Paint Parties

On the internet…22 more pages of links just like this one.

Paint Parties 2 However, what I am wondering…is this an option when we are teaching art, whether from our studios OR in the classroom?  I just want to get the wheels spinning…and maybe a conversation opening up.

I grabbed my 1943 Art in the Classroom textbook off of my bookshelf and snapped some quick pics.  Take a look.  I picked out a seasonal activity that someone might wish to ‘pin’.  I also liked the ‘Empire Day’ activity because it is very innovative and contains four options. (very cutting edge and YES!  I’m being horribly sarcastic.)

DSC_0694 DSC_0693 DSC_0692 DSC_0691 DSC_0690Does any of this leave possibility for ‘Happy’ mistakes?  I would really like to hear your thoughts about what you see as important elements of a positive art education.  I know from my end, I have very strong opinions about what is required.

 

A reading list:

Some things by Elliot W. Eisner

1. The Arts and the Creation of Mind by Elliot W. Eisner (Sep 10, 2004)
2. The Educational Imagination: On the Design and Evaluation of School Programs (3rd Edition) by Elliot W. Eisner (Aug 5, 2001)
3. Cognition and Curriculum Reconsidered by Elliot W. Eisner (Mar 1, 1994)
4. The Enlightened Eye: Qualitative Inquiry and the Enhancement of Educational Practice by Elliot W. Eisner (Jul 24, 1997)
5. The Kind of Schools We Need: Personal Essays by Elliot W Eisner (Aug 24, 1998)
6. Reimagining Schools: The Selected Works of Elliot W. Eisner (World Library of Educationalists) by Elliot W. Eisner (Nov 9, 2005)
7. The Role of Discipline-based Art Education in America’s Schools by Elliot W. Eisner (Aug 17, 1989)

Look at the Getty Foundation

Read this by Eric Oddleifson, Chairman of John Hopkins University School of Education

 

 

Thinking About the Planes of the Face

As a follow up to drawing cross contour scribble-dee-boo lines to capture the essence of a frontal face, the students began to look at how light falls on the facial planes.  Again, this being a frontal view, these were over simplified in order to create a mask-like sensibility.  I asked the students to grab three related colours from the oil pastel boxes and away they went.

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Cross Contour Still LIfe

cross-contour-line-drawing-face-2Cross Contour Face

??????????Planes of the face…construction paper/oil pastel…talking about light source and projecting planes…I drew a concavity and convex forms (lenses/bowls) on the white board using hatching.

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Wood Carving Amazement

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One of the cherished afternoons I shared with my father, this past summer, was a visit to Al Gerritsen’s studio and wood shop.  Something I really admire about this artist is his humility about his craft.  He is selfless.  Just recently I had a conversation with a couple of my artist-friends and more and more we notice the self-absorbed ego that gets a tad too large in the role of ‘artist’.  It’s almost as if a particular type of narcissism has taken hold.  Is this the only way that a person can be ‘known’? Or if this is the only way, is it best to be unknown? Something to think about.  Al is one of the most inspired and prolific artists I know.

With his particular connections with and history in Saskatchewan, it ended up being a bit of an exchange of memories between the two men.  That was lovely to see. I know there are many wondrous art spaces and experiences that can be had in this city, but sometimes it comes down to sharing time with artists in their modest, but inspiring spaces…their studios.  I like that nothing is staged in Al’s studio.  A person is able to get the true sense of the production happening…how the tools are stored and used…and the evolution of amazing works.  There is no room here for candles and fairy lights.  It is a working space that is filled with energy and love.

Again, I want to express my gratitude for the work of Al Gerritsen.  His work surrounds us and his skill is exceptional.  Thanks for your willingness to share some time with Dad, Al, and to give us your stories.

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A Cat Story

This week was a tough one, for a whole lot of reasons…but this is one that I can write about.  We adopted Peanut from the Calgary Humane Society when he had been there for weeks and was scheduled to be put down, along with his sister who was sleeping in a corner of their shared cage.  Ironically, I was drawn to an old tabby (looked much as Peanut looks now) who was curled up in his small kennel space, quite peaceful…a tabby that had found his way into this situation when his forever-mother had passed away.

My daughter had other ideas. That day we met Peanut, a seven week old tabby who was literally climbing the walls of his cage and crying out to my daughter, Cayley…”PICK ME! PICK ME!”  I walked Cayley over to the older boy and said, “Look!  We need to save this beautiful boy!”  Her head was cranked over her shoulder and obviously making eye contact with this crying baby, literally dangling from the cage by his claws.  He had chosen her.

There was no way that I was leaving the building, without him.  That’s what happens when you visit a place that harbours lost and forgotten pets; your heart strings require a decision of you.  And so, you leave with your arms filled with love, a forever-love.

We picked him.

Peanut Blog 1That was in July of 1999.  As I look at his adoption contract, I notice that we listed as his date of birth, May 8, 1999, my birthday.  He was scheduled to be euthanized, along with his sister, 7 days from his adoption date.  Our Peanut is now 15 years old and at times, experiencing survivor’s guilt, as are we.  Often we have been challenged about leaving his sister back at the Calgary Humane Society on that day, so long ago.

Peanut has been with us through so many of our personal struggles, heart aches and joys.  He is family.  Our dear border collie, Laurie-dog, took him under his wing and Peanut learned to groom his dog-friend regularly and rarely did they sleep alone.

Peanut Blog 2As a kitten and young cat, he spent much of his recreational time finding and then hiding in plastic bags and pop boxes.  Even when his body had outgrown his mind, he nested in the funniest places.  Peanut has given us much to laugh about when we take ourselves too seriously and he is the go-to guy to pick up and curl into hurting arms when sobbing begins over illness, loss or hopelessness.

Peanut ChristmasA part of every celebration, Peanut has never been any sort of problem or demanded anything from us.  He is flopped on his basket chair where he can watch the action at the bird feeder or curled on his red couch while family is hanging about.  When his dearest friend Laurie-dog passed, he lost his greatest companion, but at the arrival of Max Man, he quickly re-assigned his loyalty to this crazy boy, that, in no way, demonstrated the same calm as Laurie did.

I wrapped Peanut in a bath towel and deposited him in a Soby’s re-usable bag a couple of weeks ago and took him over to Doctor Marty on High Street in McKenzie Towne.  Dr. Marty has been taking care of our boys for years.  I had asked for a geriatric exam for Peanut because I felt, in my bones, that things just weren’t right.  For a short few days, I agonized that we were losing our Peanut Butter (immediately, right now, this moment) and could hardly breath for the remembrance of losing Piper, Edgar and Laurie-dog.

DSC_0440 DSC_0438 DSC_0436These pets become a part of us, our families and in some way, our identities.  Doctor Marty, in his compassionate and knowledgeable way, gave me confidence in his diagnosis process and in his treatment.  He also assured me that he would give me the knowledge to recognize whether or not Peanut is feeling unwell, discomfort or pain.  In the end, Peanut has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism (on the day of his initial exam his heart beat was sitting at 210).  With follow up care, I will have to diligently monitor for the onset of kidney failure.  Presently, my sweet man is being treated with medication every twelve hours and I am hopeful that this will give us more quality time.  Thank you, Marty, Jennifer and Amanda.

So, why am I writing?  Morning coffee always tastes better with writing.  Also, I wanted to write my love and gratitude…for what it means to be a pet owner.  Owning an animal that requires our care and concern, takes us out of our selfish place, at a very personal level.  There are lessons to be learned in caring for a pet that we can apply to our larger lives.  We must be vigilant in our concern for how animals are treated because it is a reflection of how we treat one another.

I suggest, where it is in your means, that you support agencies that do good for abandoned and mistreated animals.

Peanut has given our family a life time of shared experience.  I am grateful that we chose him and I hope to enjoy the rest of his time with us.

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Orange!

I met Loretta down at the East Village, once asked to do some painting at the Golden Age Club in a madly creative environment called create!  Loretta Young has some kind of story!  What’s most amazing is how she lights up a room!  Last Sunday saw the launch of a collection of her paintings, collage and mosaics at the Hear’s My Soul Cafe.  It was a brilliant blue day and Loretta was wearing orange.

DSC_0618The surroundings were exquisite.  I was able to connect with beautiful and dear friends, sharing in the music of Trio Velocity while munching on Janice Beaton Fine Cheeses and sipping complimentary wine.  It doesn’t get any better than that!  Wandering slowly from one space to another, I really engaged Loretta’s work, seeing a vibrant statement about life and freedom.  Having also been a very active participant in Calgary’s MOMO Dance Theatre, Loretta’s visual work also appears to dance, no matter the medium.  A spattering of orange seems to be a consistent underpinning and a delightful complement to the cerulean and ultramarine dominance.

I enjoyed embracing new friends and Loretta’s family, all present and excited about sharing this really important moment in time, a celebration of Loretta, her spirit and her art. Thanks again to visionary, Wendy Lees, who works tirelessly to create experiences around art and life in the East Village!  Thanks also to Mike who contributed his time to some beautiful framing and display.  A magic touch!

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Thinking About Mr. Nick

I’ve been out in the studio painting this afternoon.  A short nesting session preceded the work; or did that happen in the midst of the painting?  I organized my music alphabetically  and found all of those cases with no CDs and all of those CDs without cases.

Some where in the stacks of music was a Memorex CD-R labeled Mr. Nick Mix Vol-1, so I’m supposing that there is also a 2 somewhere in the pile of music that has not been sorted yet.  This got me thinking about Wayne.

WayneI remember the day that Wayne came into my art room and passed me this collection of songs.  He was wearing shorts and sandals.  I had showed up at his classroom earlier that same week and we planned some music for the youth choir to sing at our next liturgy.  After all of that, we sat around and jammed and I played some of the folkie tunes that I had always loved so much; Seeger, the Mamas and the Papas…that sort of thing.

While I painted this afternoon, I played the Mix Vol-1 and really listened to the selections, thinking about Mr. Nick’s motivation for including them and what they might have meant to him.  I really treasured the time thinking about Wayne.

I remembered all of the joy that Wayne had brought to our students through his love of music, writing, language and coaching.  Here’s Wayne’s  play list.

1. Our God Is An Awesome God : Kirk Franklin
2. This is My Song: Petulia Clark
3. A Summer’s Song: Chad and Jeremy
4. I Need to Know: Marc Anthony
5. musical piece, no lyrics
6. I’m a Stranger Here: Five Man Electrical Band
7. The Black Velvet Band: The Irish Rovers 1967
8: Elusive Butterfly: Bob Lind 1966
9. If You’re Going to San Francisco: Scott McKenzie
10. Where Have All the Flowers Gone: Pete Seeger
11. Only the Only: Roy Orbison
12. California Dreamin’: The Mama’s & The Papas
13. Abraham, Martin, & John by Marvin Gay
14. Classical Gas: Mason Williams 1969
15. musical piece, no lyrics
16. Across the Universe: The Beatles

Sometimes the angels just love to connect…it is a forever circle, this circle we find ourselves on!

Max Falls In!

By now, my readers are getting to know Max pretty well.  Yesterday, it was such an awesome autumn day…so golden-blue, that I took Max back on the loop where I once did daily walks with my Laurie-dog at the river.  The image below is a photo that I took on one of our final river walks.

Laurie and Kath 2My children and I sprinkled Laurie’s ashes along the path of his favourite walks…places he had shared with me over his 14 years.  I painted, as a result of his passing, a series called my Heaven Series, paintings that were rejected by the commercial galleries that represented me at the time, for the fact that they had ‘too much sky’.  Sigh…

September 7 2008 Max and Heaven 033I try to get Max back to these places before the snow flies and my favourite time is in the autumn.  Yesterday the yellow leaves were dancing on the ground.  There was just enough breeze and in the past couple of days the leaves have been on the change.

?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? DSC_0571Initially, Max was charged with excitement simply because we had such a steep drop into the valley and then there were gaggles of juvenile pheasants feeding in the open clearing left behind after utility and infrastructure revisions.

Interest Peeked

Interest Peeked

Poor photograph...but, yes, these are what caught his eye.

Poor photograph…but, yes, these are what caught his eye.

Where, once, I would throw sticks for Max from the broad perch of river rocks on the shore, most of the banks have dropped vertically into the water.  Max found one of the few locations on the east side of the river where dry rock could be found and there was no way I was clamouring down there, although he barked enthusiastically to prompt me.

??????????It was obvious to me that some huge shifts have happened with the river since the big Calgary flood.  For Max, these changes were not so evident.

As we continued south along the river, I think Max supposed that there were going to be some excellent locations for his activity of choice.  At one point, he took a mad dash from the path and I heard him briefly charging through the thick autumn brush and then….nothing.  Silence.  And yes…this is where he went in.  A tentative and anxious herder, Max has always loved the water, but up to his hips.  He has never had a swim.  He has always barked at sticks when they have flowed out of his easy reach.  Hmmm…this was to be a different sort of experience for him!  This is where he went in.

??????????I climbed my way through thick brush and heard his feeble cries. His situation came clear.  The current was kicking him down river, all the while his wee head was popping up and his strong legs were reaching up onto the wet, worn shoulder of the river.  Eyes, wide open, he caught sight of me and at my prompting, remained at one spot.  I urged his hard work and with a few strong efforts, he pulled himself up and into my waiting arms.

Sheesh.  Be warned!  I was a bad mama!  While on the west side of the river, I could see other families, children and dogs playing on a broad shore, there isn’t nothing of that kind on the east side.

This was excitement that we didn’t need…but, let it be known, my border collie has finally had a good swim!

My Mandy-Girl

Call it ‘by any other name’, but I have to say that the time spent with my niece, Mandy, was pure heaven.  Up until recently, this is all I ever really knew of my girl…here, in the arms of my younger brother.  A sweet little red head…quiet…introspective…artistic…vulnerable.

Cliff and MandyAs she grew, she sent her Gramma and Grampa a drawing that Grampa still has hanging in his hallway.  Mom and Dad were/are so proud of her.

I received a special card in the mail, an image that I framed and have displayed in my sanctuary…another treasure.  I noticed at that time that my niece was becoming a little artist.

??????????In 2008, on my daughter’s wedding day, along with the rest of the family, Mandy left her words on my studio wall.  It was such a blessing to be together on that day.  I will never forget it.

??????????“Life is special, and yours will always be unique, as will everyone’s.  Don’t waste a moment of it, but always take a second within those times to step back and absorb what is happening.  Reflect on it, turn it into something you’ll remember always and will still be just as alive when you think of it. – Mandi”

And then…a collision with her energy and our own time shared recently at my place!  What a gift!

DSC_0488 Mandy Arrives Mandy Market Collective 2 Mandy Picking Garbage With Me Mandy in Snow Storm September 2014 Mandy With Cousins Mandy Market CollectiveWe shared special talks and shared peaceful silence…we were creative together…purchased B.C. fruit together…shared meals and wandered the city together.  I will always appreciate that this time was for us alone.  I’m so very happy for that.  I drove Mandy to the airport and then cried, (as I always do when I drop special people to the airport), driving south on the Deerfoot.  When I arrived home, I found Mandy’s words…pages of them…stacked on my red table, along with a parting gift.  This little penguin purchased at the Market Collective, will remain an object of affection for always.  Thank you, Mandy, for taking a break to come and be with your Auntie.  I can hardly wait until my niece, Eliane, does the very same thing.  And, mayhaps, when her hectic life slows down, I might even have a couple of weeks to go exploring with and get to know my niece, Ainslie in this same way.  Love you, my precious girls!  Love you, Mandy.

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45 Minute Discoveries About Faces

It’s great to put the eraser down and be playful.  It’s great to get your hand off of the table and let fingers fly.  Unbelievable!  Such discovery as one abandons the “I want to learn how to draw, technically speaking.” for that place that is…”I have something inside me that can pour out of my fingers, if I am allowed to be free.”

These Junior High drawings…more, the process of getting there…was like watching magic spill out of these beautiful children.

In the traditional sense…this is what you get.

(I located several awesome HOW TO DRAW worksheets on line.  My readers may want to google around and I find one of those.  For the purpose of this blog, I’ve drawn a quick step by step, on my own…five minute drawing, but it should help.)

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In a less conventional approach…these.

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Evening Contemplation

My beautiful niece placed the body of a wee sparrow into a pink tissue lined box for me today.  Winter has hit all things hard.  It causes me to feel self-absorbed.  The idea of writing poetry comes to mind as I listen to Joe Nolan music, again tonight.

On my bedroom floor, sorted little piles of bric-a-brac that I think I might ‘deal with’ in one way or another, but each object causes me reflection and instead of pitching or placing, the story becomes too precious for parting and so I move onto the next object.  I love my mother and I miss her.

I wondered today how I could save all of the animals.  I am in awe of the challenges that nature sets upon the little beasts and the big ones, also.  I feel like one of the big beasts today.  It will pass and tomorrow the alarm will ring and another day will spin.  God be with you in your lives.

DSC_0431Birds in Snow September 9 2014Max the Flea Bag September 9, 2014Max has fleas.  I’m tired of doing laundry. I sawed, with a hand saw, two branches off May, weighted down and broken from the snow.  I picked all my tomatoes in the dark. Peanut is sixteen years old and struggling.

Flip side…

Chili is cooking on the stove, making the house smell good. Max is bathed and soft as can be. Peanut is curled up and sleeping on the red couch.  The tomatoes are in a popcorn bowl in the kitchen.

Life is just like this.