Saturday, November 28, 2009

Clay and Sticks and Standing Objects

In our studio practice, when interest in working clay with hands begins to wane, we bring out our popsicle sticks. There are many uses for this simple tool and it quickly becomes a favorite activity to stick the sticks in the clay. Children dicover that they can make birthday candles, forests, porcupines and all kinds of things with the sticks stuck in a lump of clay.
In our Friday Art Explorers class last week, things took a bit of a different turn as the children explored turning the lump of clay over so the sticks served as legs holding up the clay.

What began with the delight in holding a lump of clay on a stick (above) turned much more complex when more sticks were added and arranged as legs for the clay (below).

Interest in this process caught on with a nearby artist at another table.

Here she explores balance rocking the clay on its legs and getting the feel for how to make the clay stand up on the legs.
The stability of the legs of this creation allowed the artist to press spikes into the lump of clay without threatening the balance.

And here's a creation from our Tuesday class; it's a spider and it's scary!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wheels and the Wonder of Motion

Working on a large group piece of paper, we decided to explore painting with wheels and see what kinds of lines and designs we could add to the group piece.
The group exploration at the table was extended by working individually on large paper on the wall. The marks made by the wheels stood out more on the fresh white paper.

This young artists found a favorite tool, a caster with a ball for a wheel and a 360 degree rotation from its base.
She was delighted with the arcs and loops recording the motion of her hand and the rotation of the wheel as she moved it across the paper.
The design left in the paint palette.
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Exploring Tape and Making Connections

In our second week of using tape to explore color and line, we began by working on black paper.

Working beside his mother, this young artist was inspired to add "connections" between their pieces.

He noticed how the connections could bend and change shape.

He eventually separated the papers again by cutting the tape but not before inspiring a fellow artist...

This young artist added connections to her mother's paper, then took the idea a step further by painting the pieces side by side with her mom, creating visual connections in the broad brush strokes.
This reminds me of George Szekely's idea that an art class is a place to work alongside the other artists of one's generation to share process and ideas. For the very young here, the sharing is about their connections to their parents as well as to each other as they work in the studio.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Blocks, Drawing and Building

A regular feature of the studio is an area for construction. We keep blocks out, varrying the materials with the addition of recycled objects and find that this area is a favorite with our students as well as with visitors and siblings coming in to the studio before and after class.
In our afternoon class, the four and five year olds often move to building toward the end of the session, here the group gradually moved from their paintings to block building. They created a variety of individual and collaborative structures, working through sharing materials and listening to each others' ideas.
The class was almost so we sugggested drawing their sculptures as a way to remember them. This idea caught on quickly and students settled in with black pens, diagramming shapes and positions of the pieces in their structure.
The act of "drawing what you see" is a complex one and the geometric shapes and familiarity from handling and stacking the pieces seem to lend themselves well to beginning this kind of drawing.
This young artist added a texture to her lines and cut out the drawing so it would look more like the shape of the sculpture.
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Drawing, Collaboration and Storytelling

Drawing with young children very often leads to storytelling. Here both the drawing and the storytelling took on a collaborative nature as two artists drew a family of houses. There was a mom and a dad and a baby and a grandpa house.
They drew together, even adding details to each other's drawings to expand their story and further develop the characters.
Painting brought color to the story and the family, sparking more ideas for developing the personalities and color choices. On the right is the head of a large caterpillar created collaboratively in a previous class by the same group.
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Exploring Clay Slabs

Presenting clay as a slab invites a unique response. It can be a way to renew and extend interest in clay work for young children.

Here the young artist begins by poking the slab, using his finger to get the feel of its thickness, noticing the marks he makes and sensing the resistance from the table beneath the clay.

He pokes his finger all the way through the slab and is intrigued to discover he can see it from the other side.
With the help of his mother, he experiments with passing a clay coil through a hole in the upright slab. The slab will respon differently to pressure when it is upright, he explores making marks with a stick on the upright slab. The flat surface has now become like a wall or divider and he can explore the differences and connections between the two sides.
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Taking Inspiration From the Daily Monster Project

Click the title to link to the Daily Monster Website.
We began with a dot of black liquid watercolor and blew air to create new designs.
Looking at our designs, we added shapes, colors and backgrounds to create fantastical creatures.

This one has many arms.

One thing we think about in the studio is ways to get started, the Daily Monster Project inspired us with ways to start with an unintentional blot of ink and find pictures in it playfully, much like finding images in the clouds. Give this a try and send us your images.
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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Family Painting: Mandala, Cirlces and Curves

We began our family mandalas with large paper covering round tables. Families began with pens and traced circular shapes, created curves with a length of string or created round shapes drawing free-hand.

The arcs and circles became the beginning for a family mandala painting.

Color created emphasis on different aspects of the relationships among the rounded shapes. Here we see overlapping and concentric circles.

The circular shapes of the jars inspired another pattern of circles.
Working together to add the finishing touches.

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Family Studio Painting

In our family studio class, parents and children get the benefit of exploring art materials and creating side by side, each working at their own ability level.
This particular morning, one young artist chose to continue a painting of a tree begun in an earlier class.

He developed a new technique of using a popsicle stick to draw lines to represent bark.

His younger brother took a more exploratory approach, mixing his colors on the paper and trying out layering areas of color with broad brush strokes.

Mom began with creating geometric lines and shapes on the page and used these as the basis for building a painting exploring color combinations, different brush strokes and ranges and gradations of color.

The fun part to observe is the conversations and interactions that allow family members to share their process while creating distinctly different products. All are exploring different ways to use color, to make marks and to create a painted composition on a page.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Family Painting: Lines, Shapes and Colors

In our family studio class, parents and children created murals to explore lines, shapes and color relationships.
We began with using a chalk line, a carpenter's tool, to create lines across the page.

The web of lines created shapes that became the beginning of our painting.
Family members had different painting styles, adults tended to stay within the lines, carefully choosing colors to fill in the shapes. Younger children created their own shapes with their brushstrokes, often creating gradations and blending of colors as they mixed on the paper.

The final result reflected a variety of styles in the family group.
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