Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Thursday, September 10, 2020
This week, strips of paper helped my students, who are blind, understand how lively and tactile the element of line can be. Fine motor skills are a major bonus with this project. Learning techniques like folding, cutting, or rolling paper on a pencil to curl it, turned my classroom into a temporary occupational therapy room.
Curled paper strips could be glued curl side, up, down, or on it's side. There could be curls at either end going opposite directions (like an "s" shape) or the same direction (like a "c" shape). The ends could be pulled a part and glued down like a ringlet or twisted line. And all of those options are just from the curling technique!
A zig-zag line is made by learning how to turn the paper over and under repeatedly, like making a paper fan. A short piece can be glued down to pop out from the base, or a long piece make crooked bridge. Arches could be made by gluing ends of paper to the base with or without folds for the glued down tabs. Another dab of glue could attach the center for a roller coaster like set of arches.
I found a zipper technique online in which a long strip of paper is folded lengthwise and little notches are cut on one edge up to the fold. Each tab is pulled alternating from one side to the other, and glued to a base so that the uncut side of the strip stands up and can curve around a composition. I had wanted to make a chart of ideas, but I found that kids were inventing new techniques faster than I could keep up, tying knots, flattened twists, the possibilities are practically limitless.
Stick to one contrasting color or use a variety of widths and colors, to add whimsy and bring the piece to life. Ultimately, this assignment opened up possibilities of how we can use the element of line in tactile art.
For students with little to no vision, there's an option to use Wiki Sticks to create a few simple shapes. You may use a circle in the middle of the page, or squares poking in from edges or a combination of those ideas.
There are many ways to use lines to create optical illusions. Make spheres or cubes; fill the space. Play around and have some fun with it.
Friday, August 28, 2020
"Elements of Art" or "Elements of Design" are the basic building blocks of images; they are: line, shape, color value, texture, form and space. Without them there can be no drawing, painting or sculpture. Form is basically the 3D version of a shape. The illusion of space requires one of the other elements to create it; linear perspective and cross contour uses lines, atmospheric perspective uses value. Shapes can overlap or be used to show relative size (small shapes look like they are further away). An orange shape on a blue background shows how color creates a sense of space because cool colors recede.
For a stronger finished product try to think of how one page or part of the chart can seamlessly align with the next part. Make the color extra colorful. Make the lines extra linear, whether they be straight, zig zag, or loopy. You want good clean examples of each element. Shapes can be geometric or organic, curvilinear or rectilinear. Think in terms of composition, maybe breaking up the space into large, medium and small shapes. Feel free to use negative shapes within your positive shapes. Value can be built through stippling (dots) or cross hatching. Charcoal or graphite can also be used to show a range of lights and darks. Textures can be flat illusions of texture or actual pieces of lace, sand paper, etc glued to the page. Don't forget to label each element.
Wednesday, August 26, 2020
As the assistant director for Wesleyan College's Center for the Arts Academy, I help to oversee summer camp for high school aged women who are interested in music, theatre, and art. When COVID19 turned education on its head late March, all of the camps were canceled. Our program's director, Dr. Gan, was unwilling to accept "no" for an answer, so we used all of the creative problem solving skills we learned in with our fine arts backgrounds and figured out how to host a successful camp with an online platform. Enrollment was down this year, so rather than break into specialized groups, everyone participated in everything: drama games, virtual choir, and drawing for example. I structured my Art History class to include the history of music and theatre happening during the same time and places as art history movements. We talked about the blurring of lines between medium for performance art pieces.
Students each made a promotional website for themselves with a headshot, bio, vita, artist statement, and examples of their work. Our evenings were filled with workshops: Jewelry Making, Costume Design, Polynesian Dance, African Dance, and Chinese Culture. The culminating event was a dance party. I had sent candy and microwave popcorn in their camp packets with art supplies and sheet music. Some students dressed up (one wore a prom gown) and some dressed down (pajama party). Dr. Gan wore a cocktail dress and her brother-in-law, who is a D.J., put all of the student requested together. We laughed and dance until midnight!
The amazing thing about doing things virtually, is that we could have teachers log on from far flung places such as Utah, Germany and Italy to teach. The money saved on the cost of food and dorm could be spent on personal attention: there was almost a one-to-one teacher-student ratio, which is unheard of at camps like these.
While I missed the photogenic nature of face-to-face experiences on site, I managed to get enough material from our virtual classes to make this video about our week. I hope you enjoy and share the name of the camp with any budding young artist in your life.
Saturday, July 11, 2020
The first day, I had to recite mnemonic devices like "All Cars Eat Gas" and "Great Big Dogs Fight Animals" dozens and dozens of times just to get the notes in the first few measures, the easiest measures in the piece. Maybe 10 years wasn't going to be long enough to learn the five pages. I worked line by line every morning and at the two month mark, I was able to play the entire song! There were some rough patches and I had no sense of dynamics or musicality about any of it. That took another couple of months.
I came to see learning this piece of music as some important life analogies: