Art education, inspiration and encouragement for children and parents in Arlington, VA
Teaching a fiber lesson to five, six and seven year old boys and girls in art camp is a miracle happening in motion. Children at this young age, especially five generally don't want to be given a sharp needle. I'm thankful for plastic. If teaching a class of 25 students, do not attempt threading even a plastic needle. That is, unless you enjoy wondering where your hair has gone after the lesson is over.
In Nature Art Camp, Julia created over a dozen miniature forts in the forest floor through out the Blue Mountain School grounds. Julia's forts included small details like tiny camp fires: a circle made of tiny stones with small sticks stacked teepee style in the center. Little sleeping areas were detailed with cots made of sticks and leaves and leaf blankets. Some of the forts had canopies with leaf roofs and posts to hold them up.
Since writing this article I learned that Julia's grandfather, who she was staying with for the week, is a very prolific artist himself. Charlie Brouwer lives in Floyd, Va. and is most likely a huge influence on his grandchild. Julia told me that before camp she and her grandmother and father sat down and looked at the work of Andy Goldsworthy.
The art week at Floyd, Virginia's Blue Mountain School was a great experience for me as a teacher. Students from preschool to the upper elementary grades all participated in making creative drawings that transformed into a sculpture by weeks end. We reflected on our work by giving critiques to each other based on the goals of the lesson.
For me it was a time to learn about a new school where children have small classes and go outside for fresh air to learn, run and play often. Once inside students are ready to be engaged with learning inside the classroom. Because the classrooms are small, it's easy to get to know one another.
I wanted to avoid using glue and so the solution was to use slits and tabs to hold pieces onto the base. Students have to problem solve how to build this piece of sculpture. This is after they have made the drawings and covered the paper with color to become the sculpture.
I wanted students to understand a few things that would help them look at art differently. Firstly that art in the art world is successful based on a set of agreed criteria. Secondly, when we use the criteria our art looks better. Elements and principles are tools.
We repeated and reflected each day on what our goal was so that a direction was consistent and clear. We were working with shapes and making them interesting by simply repeating, overlapping, emphasizing and filling the page.
During our critiques after each class we reinforced the goals and gave advice for how to continue.
This lesson is helpful to teach students what the elements and principles of art are, how to apply them and how to critique a work of art based on using them.
On my way home from Floyd I thought about the week and reflected on my teaching. Rules, there are rules that make good art what it is. These rules are good to know when one is stuck, or looking for a place to start. Making art like we did at Blue Mountain helped us know a few ways the rules of art can help us be better artists. Rules are meant to be broken too, but first it's good to know what the rules are; and why and how they work.
I'm so excited to be the Artist in Residence at Blue Mountain School in Floyd VA. With smaller classes and sun filled rooms, a dedicated, hard working, friendly staff I feel connected to the teaching/learning possibilities.
I begin each class with warming up by scribbling. This elementary exercise has a deeper elevation of learning that benefits brain function. As we concentrate on covering the paper from edge to edge, we also use our non-dominant hand, close our eyes, cross over our hands with a crayon in each hand, and more.
This helps our brain to wake up especially with crossing over and using the non-dominant hand. Our creative abilities are enhanced as we engage both sides of the brain. Our bodies warm up with vigorous movement and energy as we cover our papers with the elements of line and color.
After warming up, each lesson begins with a look at and review of the elements and principles of art. Our focus on element is line and shape with younger students and form with older students.
We pay attention to making our art go off the edges, overlapping and filling the space with a variety in size of the shape we have chosen to work with. How do we know we are achieving our goals? We take time out to do a critique of each others work. We identify the areas the student is successful: overlapping, going off the edge, using a variety of size, etc. We give compliments, make meaningful suggestions for improvement and end with another compliment.
Through our week as we practice each day reviewing and deepening our understanding of the elements and principles of art, we become more informed and able to speak knowledgeably about art.
Creativity flourishes in the fresh summer air during an art camp I held at my house. I really enjoyed experimenting with "what if" I had camp from my home. For two weeks, I did just that. It was great to meet neighbors and I simply advertised it on the NextDoor app.
In Southern France after the Second World War, Picasso worked with artisans at a ceramics factory. Picasso instructed workers how to shape, form and paint creative pieces. The pieces were considered "factory art" and sold as souvenirs. Today these ceramic pieces are valued as 'Picasso art' because of the direct influence and involvement of the artist with the factory workers. These ceramics are now called "Edition Ceramics" instead of souvenirs. Some pieces of the Edition Ceramics are valued from two thousand, to over a hundred thousand dollars.
In art we all were like factory workers creating pinch pots with direct instruction. We made a pinch pot or bowl with designs.
We discussed and illustrated the process and journey the clay would travel in the next three weeks.
The clay will go from being formed, drying, fired in the kiln, glazed and fired in the kiln again.
Because our studies this quarter will focus on Picasso and his friends, we started making a book to contain the facts we believe are the most interesting facts about Picasso we'd like to remember and share once class is over.
Article about Picasso's factory ceramics.
Did you know the newly renovated National Gallery of Art has a room dedicated to Calder? It's on the third floor and right next to the blue rooster. You have seen the blue rooster right? It's a must for 2017 if you haven't yet made the journey.
Link to the awesome Calder mobile at the National Gallery of Art
you will not be able to miss this 920 pound sculpture as you enter the East Wing.
Learning from an artist is as easy as learning to see the colors and shapes of their art. However, learning to copy a work of art requires lots of skills like determining size, shape and placement.
It may also require to really notice details and it might mean making decisions about what to edit or leave out.
These are very important skills in thinking to develop as young artists.
Jean Frank Stark
I make art and have taught to children for over 20 years.