Monday, March 24, 2014

Green Snow Green Glue Green YOU

Art at Home for a Very White St. Patrick's Day 

Fill a spray bottle with water and food coloring and use the white snow as your canvas for spray art.
Add a few drops of watercolor or food coloring to your glue for a fun variation on collage.  The glue sticks just as well and any visible glue will dry to a light green.
Experiment with different household objects to create  a green filter for photographs.  The photo below was taken through a glass of green water.

Most of all, have fun and THINK GREEN.
Let's hope Spring is on it's way soon. 

The Washington Post Magazine Peeps Show Contest 
Deadline is Tonight

Celebrate Youth Art Month with Your Family

This year for Youth Art Month I have been thinking about ways to support parents.  It seems to me that so much about young people making art depends on the adults who accompany them on their creative adventures.
It is a true delight to see parents and children making things together in the studio.  Joy is found in the stuff they make - the collages, paintings, drawings and sculptures as well as the more intangible things we build - relationships, confidence, creativity, persistence and the many ways we make meaning through art. 
In February Krista Tippett interviewed artist, Ann Hamilton for her NPR radio program On Being.  Ann Hamilton is a self-described "maker" - the photo below is of an installation she made at the New York Armory a little over a year ago.  It was a truly magical space. 

Hamilton's life is full as a mother, college professor and professional artist.  It is the identity as a maker that she feels ties all these roles together.  She said that if she sees them as separate - motherhood, teaching, and art - they constantly complete.  If she sees them as connected by the shared aspect of making - one naturally flows into another.  She doesn't only find ideas and inspiration in the studio and sometimes the next thing to make isn't art but soup for a sick child.  Whether you struggle to balance work, parenthood and volunteer roles or just the recent snow days, stomach bug and general everyday stress - this idea of finding a common thread through the things you do is valuable.  The idea of practice is also valuable.  Making in general and art making in particular is really about a practice.  It is why we offer classes where kids and families can come to the studio weekly over a period of time and make each week.  Having a space and community for creativity be part of your routine sets the stage for making to become a habit and for finding inspiration in many different aspects of daily life. 

Creative practice can be developed in homes and classrooms as well.  For our March Focus Group we hope to reach a wider group by opening up the focus to parents and making at home as well as in the classroom or studio.  Collage lends itself well to getting started in art because the materials are familiar.  Simple materials often offer the richest results.
Another idea from Ann Hamilton was that of setting up experiences for things to happen - not directing the outcome but creating a space for exploration and experience. So much about making with children is about setting the stage for wonderful things to happen.  My best days are when the creations of the young artists in the studio are things that surprise and delight me.  This sharing also energizes my own creative practice.  So for the month of March, I invite you to notice kids art and other things kids make - forts, messes, stories.  What can you learn from observing the process of making?  Also think about the people in your own life who, as Fred Rogers describes "loved you into being."  What part did making or working with your hands have to do with that? Happy Youth Art Month! 

Where Do Ideas Come From?

Where Do Ideas Come From?

An Evening with Jimmy Gownley

I attended the book launch for The Dumbest Idea Ever last night at Hooray for Books
Cartoonist, Jimmy Gownley drew throughout his presentation, creating characters to illustrate five sources of creative ideas. 
He encouraged audience participation and had us all laughing with his stories and spontaneous comic characters.
So where does Jimmy Gownley get his ideas?

1. Inspiration - Sometimes they just come to him, maybe from a doodle or listening to music, something spontaneous. 
He also noted that inspiration becomes more likely with practice - drawing, writing, playing music A LOT gets you ready for those moments of inspiration. 
2. Yourself - Jimmy encourages telling stories about your own life.  He even said that the more embarrassing the story is for you - the more likely it will make a GREAT story for other people to read! 

3. Other People - After yourself, other people's experiences, those of family or friends also make great inspiration for stories. 
With other people or yourself, it is not about telling exactly what happened but using what happened as inspiration in a story.  His example last night was a friend who "sneeze barfed" at dinner.

4. Your Medium
Medium is artist-speak for what you use to make stuff.  For Jimmy this is comics so he used an example of how different types of speech bubbles around the word "WOW" can make you say the word in different ways.  This is something comics can do that other kinds of writing can't.  It is interesting to think about other artistic media and what they can do.  For me I love collage because it can create something new while also reminding people of familiar stuff.  (See COLLETTE for examples of this).  What is unique about your favorite medium?

5. Influences
Influences can be stories, artwork and artists you like.   Jimmy described his own influence from a comic where the character who didn't speak just had thoughts written all over his shirt.  Jimmy took this influence and created a speechless character who wears pajamas and his emotions are shown on him with emoticons.
Finally, the kids in attendance got to call out a character (boy, girl, animal), a job and a favorite movie or book.  The group then worked together to build characters around these ideas. 
This also seems like a great way to get started creating your own characters and stories at home.