Grade Four’s Homage to Ted Harrison

A beautiful person and artist, Ted Harrison passed away on January 16, 2015, at the age of 88.  The world is losing so many heroes…and Ted is one.  Having a beautiful heart and eye for simplicity, he loved the northern skies of the Yukon and never failed to share his delight with anyone he met.

One of my big encounters with his illustrations was in the beautiful version of The Cremation of Sam McGee…a poem I used to challenge my grade sevens to memorize from beginning to end.  And every year, at least three students did!

I recommend that you introduce Ted Harrison to your classes.  For years, Ted’s work has inspired works by school children of every age.  When scented coloured markers came into vogue, so did another lesson based on Harrison.  It’s wild what variety of lessons we invented as art teachers.  The students loved it all!

Ted Harrison in Grade One Ted Harrison in Oil Pastel Ted Harrison in ChalkSomething I appreciate Ted saying in the video below is that if one is ever tired of life or inspiration, try looking up at the sky.

So, today…I looked up at the sky.

This morning, driving to school, I noticed a dappled sky above the rising sun…brilliant yellow, pink and orange, with a soft cerulean blue below an arch of cloud and an electric blue, above.  That was it…in the afternoon, I would paint the SETTING sun with the grade fours…thinking about chinook arches and dappled clouds over the mountains.  And so it went.

I line the back of construction paper with masking tape, when I can find the time.  This allows some durability.  Tempera paint tends to make paper, especially cheap paper, a bit crunchy after a while.  This way the work can be preserved for those folks who like to save things forever. (pointing at myself)

??????????Always use coloured paper for these paints as it creates a bit of an ‘under painting’ and activates the surface, taking away the intimidation of white or that ucky beige.  Below…see my favourite yogurt buckets.  Every art storage room needs at least twenty of these to be shared around.

DSC_1942Recess and the painting pods are readied…that, and a piece of chalk for drawing, placed at each desk.

??????????A paint station (Palette) is readied…two brushes in each bucket.  Students travel back and forth with colours agreed upon by every pair…back and forth they go.  The place is like a HAPPENING!

DSC_1945 DSC_1946I always work through a sample…don’t expect to have the students do something that you haven’t…how else will you know their struggles or the pitfalls of the lesson?

First…the short ‘review’ of dip, wipe and stroke.  Surprise!  You always discover that a lot of students haven’t handled a brush very much.  (Painting IS MESSY!!) Show them where to hold the brush…not at the white tip.  :0)  Explain how to share the paint center and remind them to keep two hands on the bucket on each journey to and from.

Regarding the composition, first I spoke about portrait as compared to landscape format and explained that just for today, the composition would be landscape.  I explained how clouds that are closest to the horizon line appear smaller…and as they are found higher in the picture plane, they can be depicted as larger and then they almost seem to come over our heads.  “Often, Ted Harrison outlined some basic shapes in his paintings and serigraphs…instead of painting up to the chalk lines, how about leaving some of the paper unpainted and the coloured paper will become the lines?” (some of the students got this)

“No…I don’t want you to do a giant sun.  No…no sunglasses…no rays…not today.”  I went back to describing how the morning sun had not yet shown itself, but that there was a really bright light next to the land.  I knew the sun was coming up.  So…for the sunset paintings, I hoped that the sun would be almost gone from the sky.  The teacher can always drive the vision…as long as he/she has one.  I’m sharing mine with my readers.  The teacher also benefits by allowing freedom within the vision.

“OH!  Why are those small clouds near the mountains the brightest?  YES!  The light from the sun is hitting them first because they are the closest to the light!

I explained that because the students were focused on the sky, the mountains needed to be located below the one third line. (Yes!  You’ll have to talk about dividing the landscape into thirds.)

The chalk is picked up and the students begin drawing, planning, and problem solving.

“Yes!  As soon as you’re ready, you can get your first colour. PLEASE, don’t everybody begin with the mountains!  Choose any colour and away you go!”

Magic happened.

DSC_1948 DSC_1949 DSC_1950 DSC_1951 DSC_1952 DSC_1953 DSC_1954 “Pick up a paper towel with your first bucket of paint.  This will be your place mat…slip it along the edges as you go and then you won’t have to wash your desk!  If this gets super sloppy, you might need a second place mat.” DSC_1956I asked the kind caretaker if I might have a bucket half filled with water in my classroom.  This would provide a portable sink.DSC_1957 DSC_1958 DSC_1959 DSC_1960 DSC_1961 ??????????Tonight, as I walked Max at the pond…I captured some of the clouds.  We had an energetic hike about the area.  It was so darned beautiful!

DSC_1968 DSC_1967 DSC_1966 DSC_1964A wonderful class!

Art Speaks, so RUMBLE!

I cherished painting last night at the Rumble House.  Stories from Paris were my first stories of the day because, rising early, I had a coffee in my hand and some free time.  I clicked on the news.  Sigh.  Twelve human beings killed.

In the past, I’ve been appalled with satire that was posted on social media regarding MY GOD…MY JESUS…MY LORD.  There’s no way on earth I could understand the inhuman approach to such disturbing images that got a ‘big laugh’ from the throngs of the Faceless Facebook personae.  At the time, I was struggling.  At the time, my Mom was struggling…she was struggling for breath in hospital, having been afflicted with pneumonia.  No one loves/loved Jesus more than my Mom.  So…how did I feel about the public hatred for Christianity…the insensitive portrayal of MY Saviour?  I felt hurt…attacked…defiant.  But, how did my actions play out?  I expressed my point of view on the subject.  I shared my feelings.  I confronted and even celebrated my faith.  I understood that not everyone sees things my way and that doesn’t make me a lesser being and it certainly is no deficiency in the other.

Given who I am, I doubt that I would truly appreciate the perspective or satire shared by the Charles Hebdo weekly newspaper.  It’s just not in me to poke fun at any person’s faith or ideas.  However, what was accomplished by mowing down the lives of human beings who were simply expressing their opinions in a democratic society, can only be described as shocking and deeply disturbing.  I was left speechless as I thought all day about how much I treasure my freedom to express.

So…what did I paint?

I thought about a few different contexts and melded them.  I knew exactly what I wanted to paint.

For one reference, Grampa Moors used to spend hours watching Loonie Tunes, his favourite being The Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.  Grampa, after a day in the woolen mill, would pull down his suspenders and turn on the cartoons, laughing in his way (I can hear it right now, as I type),  while a whole row of youngsters curled up under his arm on the sofa while he did.  I don’t think that there was anything more violent in my childhood than watching this miserable, but somehow hopeful, coyote, blown up again and again or clobbered at the base of a huge ravine by a giant boulder.  He always got up.  Something about the aesthetic and characters of this wee cartoon, reached into me yesterday…and I remember the cartoon with a great deal of affection.

Who might possibly paint a portrait of this violence…and make it seemingly banal and even humourous?  OH!  I KNOW!  Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675)  This would be somehow satirical…right?  How could I build upon this?  The artist paints an artist painting Wile E. Coyote…hmmm….what if the unsuspecting artist has as his possible undoing,  his own subject matter!  A bit of tension.  I KNOW!  Dynamite!  And so the connections developed…I sought out a reference where the subject is Johannes Vermeer, painting…here it is, Vermeer At Easel circa 1662-1668.

vermeer-at-easelI hoped that I might adjust the composition…and modify, knowing full well that I wasn’t going to be able to pull a Vermeer out of my bum in 2 hours.

So, in the end…I positioned the figure on the panel so that I had that space in the upper third…I KNOW…I will include the word SATIRE, for those people who need it spelled out for them.  It DOES SEEM that a lot of people don’t understand OR appreciate good satire.

In the end, I am grateful for the generous bidding that took place on the piece.  I thank Rich and Jess for hosting on a relatively quiet night…grateful for Jennifer and Andy because I always enjoy a good conversation…for Mike who had some interesting things to tell me about Paris…for Gavin who drove me to the station…for Claire, former student, who showed up for her first paint night and for Robb who purchased this piece at auction, but best of all, the offer of rides/support/coffee and just general generosity. I’m richly blessed by this community. (although the set cost for an adult fare on the C-Train IS ridiculous)

Photo taken by Aaron Feser who is addicted to distraction.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd this one by Robb or his buddy…not certain…but, I love it!

Vermeer Paints SatireAnd..this piece of You Tube video…just because I love this song almost as much as Jack White does.

Snow, Wind and Cold Colours

I really get excited about mixing up amazing colours of paint!   It doesn’t matter where I teach, there is a limited number of pure hues (hmmm…don’t know about my use of singular/plural there) sitting in bottles on the storage room shelves.  But with NO FEAR and a little bit of time (10 minutes), I can change those six colours into an endless selection and SO CAN YOU!

Today, I used 17 yogurt containers (the large size). I moved my desks, to create five pods of four students (class of 20).  So, to begin, I wanted five pots of white tempera and 12 pots of various tints of blue/turquoise/purple and such.  When I say tints and shades…do you know what I’m saying?  This is where art teachers sometimes diminish the possibilities for awesomeness in painting experiences.  Tints are created when we add a hue (pure colour off of the shelf in your art storage room) to white.   Mix new colours (in this case, tints) by throwing in a little-of-this and a little-of-that into about a half cup of white, poured into the bottom of all 17 containers. If you add white to the hue, you might get way more than you bargained for. Today, I used Violet, Blue, Turquoise and combinations of those to create my 12 colour choices.

tints cool tints of blue Tints of violetThe notes above are just some swatches that I collected off the internet to illustrate some possible mixed colours…not what I did today!  Goodness!

The palette (the 17 buckets) was placed on a side table with easy access and good traffic paths.

I always place two brushes in each bucket, later reminding students not to take those brushes out of that particular bucket, but rather, return the bucket to the paint center and choose the next colour.  This is like working off a palette.  Students make choices with one other person and have to commit to using the colour until both people agree that they are finished.  I dunno…call me hyper organized…but this way, you can have a whole class of students sharing a beautiful colour palette in a manageable way, leaving clean-up realistic as well.  If I had my very own class, I would place all of the buckets, at the end of the day, into a large plastic storage container, with lid on, just taking the time to clean brushes.  The paint keeps for up to two weeks this way and students can work on painting when their other work is done.

First…reflection and depiction.  A conversation took place about snow flakes.  You can show on-line video, images; there are even books written about the topic.  It can be as simple as asking the students if they know how many points are on a snowflake?  Six!  Hmmm…this is where things get tricky!  It’s easy to draw an eight pointed snow flake!  Try it!  Not so easy to do six, is it?  I’m laughing here.  The tendency is to draw four lines directly across a central point…this way they end up even steven.  But…try to draw the central point first and then draw six equally spaced lines (radii) around that dot.  Time to pull out the scrap paper and to do some drawing.  “Do as many different snow flake patterns as you can…then see if you have three that you will want to add to your painting.”

OOPS!  How many points does THAT snowflake have?

??????????OH!  I GET IT NOW!

??????????“Five more minutes!  Okay…everyone!  YOO HOOO!  Pick out three studies that you like?”

On with paint…so, I always and forever demonstrate the use of the brush and describe it’s parts and how to best use it.  Flat…round…turn it sideways.  Dip. Wipe. Stroke. Difference between stroke and scrub.   I’ll save you that schpeel yet again on my blog.  The five buckets of white paint each have four brushes standing in them.

My little demo…

??????????“Yes…your large snowflake can go right off of the picture plane and be outside of your composition.  Do three…do five…oh yeah, sure…do six…it’s okay…yes, I know you did an eight pointed snowflake…it will still make a cool painting.  Is that your large snowflake?  REALLY?”  And the blah blah goes on and on…and yes, I was so busy teaching, I forgot to take photos at this stage.

Then…for the fun stuff.  “Go wild on your colours…no, we’re not just colouring the background one colour…we’re capturing wind…blustery wind…pattern…sky…all of it.  Have fun with the colour.”

This is what happened…amazing.  I like them!  Typically, I would prep construction paper by using masking tape along the edges of the back.  Just prevents curling, makes the surface a bit more yummy for the students and prevents rips and tears…but, in a crunch, just go for it!

These grade fours tolerated a lot of side-coaching today and they are angels because they kept the dance in their step throughout and managed to pull this off in one hour and thirty minutes…they had their desks/hands clean and had their library books tucked under their arms in time to head for library.  I am really proud of them.  I hope you teachers will mix yourselves up some colour and try.  You can accomplish this in three shorter class periods.  Thank you, Grade Four!  The fact that I’m not featuring all of them is a fact of my out of focus photography, not due to deficiencies in their amazing work.

DSC_1900 DSC_1901 DSC_1902 DSC_1903 DSC_1904 ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ??????????

 

 

Festive Art

As much as the elementary art curriculum focuses on giving the students a wide variety of art making experiences…reflection, depiction, composition and expression, it is natural to be drawn toward the reasons for the seasons and to create images based on selected thematic happenings.  Of course, Advent, Christmas and winter provide for some of these opportunities.

I’ve seen variations of this Division II lesson, taught throughout the school district.  Its success lies in the contrast between cool and warm colours.

warm-cool-shades

The subject matter (trees/hands/cars/ornaments) can also vary.  The activity below demonstrates the most expressive qualities.  There is evidence that, although the teacher provided some limits regarding subject matter, the students were really in the drivers’ seats.

P1090419 P1090415 P1090413 These are a few examples of the warm/cool thing I found displayed in different schools.  In the example below, the selected media was coloured marker…one could also use oil pastel or paint pucks paint pucks.  These require skill where painting/drawing up against clean edges is involved.  Required materials; white bond paper for pencil crayon/marker, ruler and pencil.  Draw a triangular tree shape first, with emphasis on it filling a large space.  Do not cave to the temptation to template the trees for the students because the variety of height, width and size will create some excitement in your overall display.  Where possible, encourage the students’ unique interpretation.  Draw intersecting lines from one edge of the paper to another.  Don’t create shapes that are unrealistically small, depending on the media you’ve chosen.  I’m always into big and bold.

DSC_1496 DSC_1497Recently, while guest teaching, a class at St. Isabella School was in the midst of creating these pieces for an Advent celebration and will later bring them home to parents as Christmas gifts.

I enjoyed this approach because it offered experimentation with a variety of media.  Before I arrived on the scene, the students had coloured regular photocopy paper with Mr. Sketch markers in patterns and designs, either cool or warm colours. Whether this media is applied to coffee filters or regular paper, the colours will melt into one another with the addition of water.  They are also easy to clean off of desks with a regular wipe if you haven’t already created laminated place mats for this purpose.

Mr. SketchHoles were punched into the top of a water bottle, and when the pieces were completely coloured, they were sprinkled with water. Once dried, these were transformed into three coniferous trees

DSC_1633DSC_1638A teacher can release a bit of control, as she or he feels comfortable.  For example, for predictable tree size and shape results, you can draw this cut template on the back of standard white print paper before. An option would be to have the students flip the paper over and draw out their own tree designs before cutting.  Guaranteed, more funky and less pretty!

I had the students tape their heavy weight paper to their desk tops with masking tape.  For this activity, a paper with no tooth is preferred.  When paper accepts water, it bubbles or expands.  As it dries, if attached to a surface with tape, it will shrink again and flatten.

DSC_1636I showed the grade four students a Youtube video that demonstrates how artists use wet-on-wet technique in their watercolour paintings.

In a room without a sink, this is all you need to have. Before the water was used, I quickly walked around the desk pods and pulled a sponge filled with water across each of the compositions.  The students had already placed their palettes of paint pucks on a paper towel in the center of one of the desks.  If the student used warm colours for their trees, then they chose cool colours for their background palette.  If the student used cool colours for their trees, then they chose warm colours for their backgrounds.  As well, each desk pod had a single container with a small amount of water to dip into as they pulled the pigment into their composition.  It was suggested that using the lightest colour first would be a good plan so that the dark colour would not impact all of the other areas too quickly.

DSC_1645I talked to the students about how, at the horizon…where the sky meets the mountains/land, you typically see the lightest colours of blue.  As you look up into the deep sky, that is where you see the darkest blues.

Have the students choose their colours for their palettes (paper towel sheet) and ask them to put a wee drip of water on each puck to soften the pigment.  Included in their clean up, have the students dump their containers of water into the bucket and place their brushes bristle down in the water at the same time.

DSC_1637 After the activity, ask students to use a dry paper towel to wipe off their puck and place them side by side in order to dry separately. Art students need to participate in studio clean up from the very beginning of their education.

DSC_1643Recess!  And the backgrounds dry.  Don’t remove the tape from the desks until they are completely dry.  Have something planned for after recess that takes the students away from their desks and in their gathering space.

DSC_1642 DSC_1641Once the backgrounds are completely dry, the students cut out their trees, draw embellishments with silver and gold metallic sharpies, and arrange on their backgrounds, with glue sticks.

DSC_1649DSC_1654 DSC_1657DSC_1653One or two early finishers can prepare some papers in brown green and black, to be used for the trunks of the trees.

DSC_1650DSC_1646This is where I left the scene of the art extravaganza.  Next day…some printmaking as students used the butt end of their pencils, dipped into white acrylic paint, to create a peaceful snow flake thing.  This is a very step by step explanation, but I thought some of you might wish to try these out, if not this year, then next.  Thank you to the grade four teachers of St. Isabella, for letting me participate in this festive adventure.

DSC_1647

 

DIY Home Made Chalk-like Paint

I started, a year ago, sanding a head and base for an antique bed, and a matching dresser.  These pieces have sort of taken over my studio and this has created a big problem for my artistic output.

Heading out to the studio to grab a photograph, I enjoy my garden in the rain.

Heading out to the studio to grab a photograph, I enjoy my garden in the rain.

P1170277 P1170278 P1170279Do you see what I mean?

Since then, I also picked up a couple of antique dressers at the Women In Need shop to accommodate the rest of my clothing.  I announced months ago that the pieces in the studio were ready to be primed.  I lied.  I ended up getting very picky about the paint removal and have only recently come to the point where, in fact, I am ready to prime.  I will be painting a Chagall image on those afterwards and will treat the primary colour as I would any other latex painting project.  Once the paint is applied and dry, I will use a varnish to seal the work.

My friend, Carol, asked at the beginning of this project, “Why don’t you use chalk paint?”  So, my curiosity got the best of me and I looked this process up on the internet and decided that this would be perfect for the two dressers that were already sitting in my bedroom, as well as an old hand made side table that I had also picked up for $2.00.

I thought I’d share the process with you, a process that is less than half the cost of the completely prepared system marketed by Annie Sloan, a specialty supplier of Chalk Paint.  There are several DIY videos on this subject, but I find the presenters a little verbose in their delivery and at times, downright irritating.  I also think that they are unrealistic in terms of how ‘simple’ and ‘fast’ they articulate the process.  For example, I began working on the painting of the primed pieces at 8:00 this morning.  It is 12:20 at the time of this writing and the first coat is drying.  I will apply a second coat before I head out the door at 4.  So, allow a bit of time.

These two dressers were varnished with a high sheen, so I decided to prime.  With chalk paints, it is possible to paint over any surface, however, I didn’t wish to encounter any problems with coverage.  I went into Ben Moore’s paint shop to chat with a very helpful gent yesterday who recommended this product.  In fact, this would be helpful if painting over any smooth surface.  Using this product, with overnight drying would prevent the possibility of scratching off the surface of a polymer based paint.  It’s called STIX.

P1170275I primed right over the hardware on the drawers.  If you have some interesting pulls, then I would take them off first, but given that these are fairly simple, I decided to create the distressed look on them as well.  Because I’ve been involved with paint removal, I decided to be very clean in terms of the areas that I painted and to leave the dove tail joints as is, as well as any screws or fittings used to construct the furniture.

P1170262 Today, I mixed up my home made chalk-like paints.  I used three table spoons of Plaster of Paris, mixed with a half cup warm water, with every cup of latex paint I used.  I mixed it up in an old peanut butter jar, so that I could continue to use it after taking breaks.  I mixed up two and half cups of latex and after painting two dressers and all of the drawers, I still have a half of the mixture left.  I’m letting this dry, as mentioned and will put the second coat on shortly.

P1170273P1170253P1170267To follow that, instead of using the Annie Sloan clear wax and dark wax, I’ve chosen two products as replacements.  In her method, you would wax clear, then dark, then clear again.  I’ve decided on a warm stain gel that I will apply after the second coat of paint is dry and then I will end with a clear wax finish.  These are the products I am using.  I might add embellishments of copper acrylic as a rub before the clear wax because I’ve used copper on my walls.

P1170272 P1170270 By the way, I’ve chosen a blue-green colour to complement the warm red-orange that I applied to my wall.  Contrary to the folk who like a serene environment for sleep, I focus more on warmth…I like to be surrounded by ‘happiness’.  While all chaos has recently broken out in my bedroom, stay tuned for the eventual resolution to all of this DIY!

I’ll keep you posted about progress…going down to see if my first coat is dry!

P1080135 P1080136

Thirteen!

In the company of create! creatives yesterday, we celebrated the experience of the Helping Hands mural and then, once back at the Golden Age Club, stepped into our paintings through a discussion about the illusion of space and creating depth.  I wanted to reveal to the participants some of the most basic mysteries behind trompe l’oeil and creating depth through one and two point perspective. I wanted to fiddle around a bit with block lettering and show some tricks to bring flat shapes into the three dimensional realm.

I had been thinking, as I drove down to the East Village, about a famous piece that was based on the number seven and wished that I had an image to show the class.  I had decided that since it was Friday the 13th yesterday and a full moon as well, I wanted the subject of the paintings to be the number 13.  Unfortunately, on my drive home, I remembered that the painting that had come to mind had really been based on the number 5, The Figure 5 in Gold by Charles Demuth. It causes me a big laugh at the keyboard as I type this admission. Regardless, I will bring a stack of my art books down to class next month and share the image, based on the poem by William Carlos Williams, The Great Figure.

The Great Figure

Among the rain
and lights
I saw the figure 5
in gold
on a red
fire truck
moving
tense
unheeded
to gong clangs
siren howls
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
Sour Grapes: A Book of Poems
Four Seasons Company: Boston 1921

I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Thirteen!

P1170179 P1170180P1170182 P1170183 P1170187 P1170188 P1170189 P1170190 P1170191 P1170192 P1170194 P1170195 P1170196 P1170205 P1170206 P1170207 P1170208 P1170209 P1170210 P1170211Thirteen

 

Grade Ones Never Fail to Impress

These little gaffers made a real impression!  The white stuff was falling outdoors, but nothing could keep us from thinking about colour, light and flowers in grade one last week.  I spoke to the children for a bit about sitting in Monet’s gardens, perched on one bridge and looking across the water to another.  We talked about flowers.  Aren’t Smart boards wonderful?  Isn’t it a tremendous thing to be able to pull up images of waterlilies to look at on a wintry spring day?  Or to visit Paris in a moment? Or to be able to walk the halls of the Louvre?  Technology is wonderful.

I also enjoy the fact that children as young as this will take on depiction…looking at references and transferring what they see onto a surface.  It’s a brilliant thing watching the mind, eye, arm, hand co-ordinate to do such an amazing thing!

In the end, they decided that the Impressionists liked making ‘smudges’.  So, they proceeded to ‘smudge’, like little worker-ants.  It was a morning of beauty and light.

Thank you to Jon, who cleaned up all the white paint trays.  I am so grateful!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Grade 1 2014 Monet 8 Grade 1 2014 Monet 7 Grade 1 2014 Monet 6 Grade 1 2014 Monet 5

It Takes ‘A Village’

The East Village here in Calgary, is serving me up opportunities that I never imagined possible.  This past week, I’ve had another two sessions with creatives at the Golden Age Club, people who come from all directions, to this location in order to paint.  My inspiration this week was taken from a request on one of the pre-painting forms that I handed out last month…painting a simple landscape.

P1150402When we encounter art, beginning with representational art, there is a mystery.  The mystery is usually related to the illusion of depth that the artist creates, the casting of light and shadow, the techniques involved with creating textures and detail.  It causes within us, a sense of wonder.  There is a very long tradition of landscape painting worldwide, but of course, with the work of our Group of Seven and the vastness of our Canadian landscape, what’s not to wonder about?

Thanks to Wendy Lees of create! who set out fresh baking, hot coffee and tea and brought in an assortment of books that supported our ongoing exploration of colour mixing.  The space is gradually evolving into a wonderful studio space.

Several new painters arrived yesterday at one o’clock…Mr. Green and Professor Plum (lol) and four lovely and effervescent artists, bearing colourful scarves.  Not only was this an encounter of magical people and more-magical conversation, but I saw huge leaps of understanding as we moved from last month’s spheres in space, to foreground, middle ground and background trees.

After our introductory landscape lesson, Tuesday, yesterday’s focus was on contrast…light against dark.  It is easy to see the progression in the works based on this new concept.

Leslie’s work transformed with pops of white and detail.  I brought, to her attention, works by German Abstract Expressionist, Oskar Kokoschka.

P1150321

P1150323

Oskar KokoschkaAn earlier piece by Leslie…

January's Painting

January’s Painting

create 20d-rae added contrast and has begun with his deepest value to create a layering for shrubbery….light comes foreward…dark sets back.

P1150314

A light blue background creates contrast and allows the evergreens on the ridge to visually pop.

A light blue background creates contrast and allows the evergreens on the ridge to visually pop.

Fran is very tactile…incorporates collage, texture and colour experimentation.  She is the first one in the group to move beyond the boundaries or expectations of the classes and explore the concepts in her own way!  Bravo!  She has been thinking about sunflowers…drawn to them.  In the end, she flips her canvas board over and creates all of the sensibility of sunflowers in a non-objective piece.  Beautiful!

P1150313P1150346 - Copy

Fran wears jewelery fashioned out of Milkweed pods...when I look at her, I am thinking of monarch butterflies.

Fran wears jewelery fashioned out of Milkweed pods…when I look at her, I am thinking of monarch butterflies.

P1150334 P1150356 - CopyIrving puts down his wee brush…picks up something larger…begins to add water to his palette…lets the colour move…and voila!  He moves away, gradually, from tubal colour to mixing.  Awesome!

P1150315 P1150342 - CopyTexture abounds, and Margaret considers selling me her beautiful mosaic, created while taking Michelena Bamford’s class.

P1150316 P1150338 - Copy Loretta’s work is full of wondrous mixing and has an impressionistic feel…all about the textures of landscape…the sky.

P1150318We missed Shirley yesterday…but she has strong design qualities in her style and approach.

P1150319Your first painting, Professor Plum?  Are you kidding?

P1150327

Absolutely open to engagement...hunger to learn...wonderful conversation!

Absolutely open to engagement…hunger to learn…wonderful conversation!

Mr. Green adds the figure…not an easy thing for any of us.  I decided not to comment, but to let things happen.  We have a discussion about the central tree and I try to hit on issues around composition and center of interest.

P1150326

A wondrous blast of conversation and painting shared by all!  Karen and I talk with one another about marketing work…her fascination with large paintings…her willingness to let go in the process and her avoidance of precious attachment in the creative process.

Karen's freedom with washes.

Karen’s freedom with washes.

Needs something in the bottom right?  OK!

Needs something in the bottom right? OK!

P1150332

A water colourist takes up the challenge of acrylic paint.

P1150329

Gary, a confident artist who practices abstract painting on large format, produces a landscape.

P1150335 P1150336 - Copy P1150322Georgie needs contrast?  Add red!

P1150343 - CopyFour new friends…

P1150352 - CopyMark sculpting on the side lines…

P1150349 - Copy P1150350 - Copy

Bruce becomes engaged with the science of colour and Jenn, GH buddy joins us on her afternoon off.

Edward becomes engaged with the science of colour and Jenn, GH buddy joins us on her afternoon off.

Wonder.  Gratitude.  Fun!

Sepia

I love sepia…I mean, I love the colour and I like that it brings up, for me, a sense of nostalgia and memory.

I have used a sepia-like palette in paintings where I wished to provoke that very sensibility…my library club paintings would be an example of this.

Patricia KirtonRecently, I enjoyed photographs at studio 122 by artist and photographer, Bryce Meyer.  The work was yummy because of the warmth and the layering involved in his process.  He describes his process this way. “The photos were encaustic using bees wax. They’re inkjet prints which I then treated with the wax. This is the first time I’ve used the process to show work, normally my work is more static and minimal in nature. I chose to use encaustic this time to help communicate the feeling of Varanasi.”

As a result of my encounter with those two photographs, I have read a bit about the toning of photographs.  From our favourite dictionary of wonderful things, and in no way, complete…this snapshot from  wikipedia

Sepia toning

Sepia toning is a specialized treatment to give a black-and-white photographic print a warmer tone and to enhance its archival qualities. Chemicals are used to convert the metallic silver in the print to a sulfide compound, which is much more resistant to the effects of environmental pollutants such as atmospheric sulfur compounds. Silver sulfide is at least 50% more stable than silver.[5]

There are three types of sepia toner in modern use;

  1. Sodium sulfide toners – the traditional ‘rotten egg‘ toner;
  2. Thiourea (or ‘thiocarbamide’) toners – these are odorless and the tone can be varied according to the chemical mixture;
  3. Polysulfide or ‘direct’ toners – these do not require a bleaching stage.

Except for polysulfide toners, sepia toning is done in three stages. First the print is soaked in a potassium ferricyanide bleach to re-convert the metallic silver to silver halide. The print is washed to remove excess potassium ferricyanide then immersed into a bath of toner, which converts the silver halides to silver sulfide.

Incomplete bleaching creates a multi-toned image with sepia highlights and gray mid-tones and shadows. This is called split toning. The untoned silver in the print can be treated with a different toner, such as gold or selenium.[6]

And…I’m assuming that contemporary photographers might also use digital techniques…so this…

Digital toning

Toning can be simulated digitally, either in-camera or in post-processing. The in-camera effect, as well as beginner tutorials given for software like Photoshop or GIMP, use a simple tint. More sophisticated software tends to implement sepia tones using the duotone feature. Simpler photo-editing software usually has an option to sepia-tone an image in one step.

On a personal level, one of my favourite family photographs captures my paternal grandmother and grandfather on their wedding day.  Gramma wore fresh apple blossoms in her hair.

John and FlorenceJust as special is this photograph of my own parents on their wedding day.

Wedding DayLast night, I went out to En Corp Dance Collective’s performance of SEPIA with  a group of my dear Ya Yas.  Mount Royal’s Wright Theater was host to the performance and I treasured the evening on several levels.

SepiaInitially, I felt a blow to my gut at the introductory segments.  Beautiful actress, Kelly Medieros, played the role of an aging female widow, suffering and celebrating the memories of times shared with and the loss of her spouse.

Kelly Medeiros: Photo Credit, Red Dot Photography

Kelly Medeiros: Photo Credit, Red Dot Photography

Her narrative became the thread that connected the choreography that we were to enjoy. I appreciated the objects of her affection…the photographs…the map.  I appreciated her subtle gestures and her meetings and greetings of the selves of her self.  So beautifully performed.

Childhood Memories: Jordan Wallan and Vanessa Wright.

Childhood Memories: Jordan Wallan and Vanessa Wright.

Having just recently lost my mother, much of the first half was rough on me, emotionally…but, with some self-talk, I managed to enter into the piece and really engage it.  I appreciated the interesting technological work, the background and the set as well as the photographs that sprinkled through the program.  For me, this performance became everyone’s story. The dancers did an exceptional job of capturing the various phases of a woman’s life…a canvas of strokes that touched each of the audience in a different way, I’m certain. Congratulations, En Corps, especially Kelly, Melanie and Alfi…beautiful creatives!

The opening number…