Wednesday, September 15, 2010

International Dot Day 2010

Click the title above for more information and inspiration from Peter Reynolds and International Dot Day - celebrated September 15, the anniversary of the publication of The Dot.
Explore your own creative ways to make your mark - circular or otherwise. A favorite beginning activity at Art at the Center is to create a mandala, a circle drawing. We begin with a simple outline of a circle on paper large or small and fill it with colors, shapes lines, etc inside and out.
Having the simple circle outline is a good way to begin and start with a never know where it will lead you. We take this idea to a grander scale too with collaborative mandalas created on our wonderful circle tables. See some individual mandala examples below and read on to learn about a couple of my favorite collaborative mandalas - stories posted today in honor of International Dot Day!

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Color Mixing Camp Mandala

One of my favorite ways to end a group session is with a large mandala - our round tables lend themselves well to this format. The color mixing workshop ended with kids breaking into small groups to take turns working on the mandala, each group choosing their favorite color media for their turn. The first group began with chalk pastels.
The second group added to the design with tempera paint - custom colors they mixed over the course of the 3 day workshop.

As the design grew, more decisions had to be made about where to fit new colors and how to relate one person's painting to another, some painters chose to focus on the in between spaces while others added new shapes.

Using chalk pastel again to add finishing touches - a deep blue green to tie together any last uncovered spaces.
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Papermaking Collaboration

For our final day of a 3 day papermaking workshop we created a large group piece of paper, formed from many small sheets of paper layered and assembled on a round table. It began with just a couple unrelated dots of colored pulp, created with circle molds.

More circular pieces are cast, beginning to touch and cover the table with spots of color.
As the design grew, artists experimented with shaping the pulp on the molds and adding new designs by layering colors of papers.
A design on a mold, created with two colors of pulp.
Adding triangles to make a pattern.
Here the pulp is scraped away to form an "X" shape on the color underneath.
The group of artists and the completed mandala.
The colors are a bit softer when the piece is dry.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Developing Craft in the Studio and at Home

In our studio, we use the Studio Thinking 8 Habits of mind as a framework to talk about the learning we see happening in the artistic process. These habits of mind were developed at Project Zero and have been applied in various arts and educational settings from visual art classes to dance studios and arts integration lessons in general education classes. As we write, think and talk about these ideas more and more, I have been struck by the idea that these habits of mind are equally applicable at home as in the studio.

So, let's start with the habits of mind, "Develop Craft" Developing Craft is similary to establishing routine and setting up a time and place to practice, work or play. It includes skill development, the basics of using tools, developing technique. In the studio this means learning about materials: the uses for tools, techniques for materials, as well as care and cleaning routines. With clay, even the youngest artists learn that we put the clay back in the bag with some water to preserve it's plasticity for the next use. As kids begin to sculpt with clay they learn the process of connecting clay pieces by scoring and slipping. Each of these things is part of the craft of working with clay. When painting, young artists are introduced to ways to care for brushes - for them color mixing is very experiential happening before their eyes on the paper. As kids grow as painters, they learn to be more deliberate in their color mixing, using a color wheel as a tool for mixing and planning recipes of colors to achieve just the right shade or tint. Again, this is all part of developing craft in painting.

At home, I think about developing craft when working with my kids in the kitchen, learning where things are kept, what tools are used to measure and to combine ingredients. This can be as complex as getting the feel for separating an egg or as simple as knowing how to use the sponge correctly to clean up spills. Clean-up is a big part of developing craft, especially in a shared space; materials need to be cared for so they will be ready for use. I came home the other day and noticed our rakes lying in the front yard. I had been so pleased with my children's enthusiasm for helping rake (motivated by being able to jump in a REALLY big pile) that I forgot about taking care of our tools. So as you go about chores at home or practice hobbies, work in the garden, even washing your car, notice the routines and craft you use and share this with your children. The sharing is likely to encourage their help and a great way to begin is by knowing where things are kept, how to set up and how to clean up.

Back to school is a good time to think about Developing Craft - as we settle into routines and work to establish good habits we are crafting our lives.
Click here to read more about the studio habits of mind...Studio Thinking for Young Minds.