Art education, inspiration and encouragement for children and parents in Arlington, VA
My grandfather raised chickens in his backyard barn. He loved these birds and at first I thought that was a funny thing, until I got to know chickens myself. I wish I'd known my grandfather better.
My mother tells the story of Mary, the chicken that ran away from home. We're not sure how she got away but she was gone for days. When she returned the head rooster was so thrilled to see her that he strutted around her and cock-a-doodled and flapped his wings for a good part of the day. My mom is 94 years old and she still remembers that event very clearly.
On an artists retreat in Pa. I was befriended by one particular chicken who liked to nap near me while I painted under the shade of a tree. She and her friends would nap while the rooster kept and eye out. This one chicken took me under her wing and stayed close. It was endearing and I painted a few chicken pictures of her while on that retreat. I swear she looked me in the eyes and winked as if to say "I'm beautiful". Did you know chickens are social and have distinct habits like napping for 30 minutes every day at 3:00? No wonder my grandpa loved them.
Below is a video of chickens that visited me when I went out to paint them as I stayed on a farm bed and breakfast. They were curious, friendly and thirsty! I learned that this breed is especially social, and very funny when they run because of the slippers.
Drawing and painting animals is rewarding for the quiet time, the kinship and to get to know an animals general habits as well as their personalities. It's refreshing to know that these creatures are really like people in so many ways.
This a technique I enjoyed discovering. It is done with glue and watercolor. As I experimented with the glue I found there are many ways glue can be used to create special effects with watercolor paints. In these papers I simply applied glue to the paper in a number of ways, let it dry then painted over on top.
I use the papers to make collages and just to look at when I want to feel calm and at peace.
I didn't know what this would turn out to be, I just starting making flowing shapes and this is how it turned out. I love it very much. It makes me feel as if it's water: flowing and peaceful. I'm sure it started as the sun, a cool, blue sun. Only in art can you paint a blue sun that radiates calming water waves.
Perhaps it's another planet far away with blue energy for calming and healing the soul. For quieting the mind and focusing on the heart. Perhaps the waves seep into and through connecting all we are to all that is because the blue can do it so very well.
Nothing can make me want to be anything but what and who I am when I paint. I wonder how others get that in what they do, the work they do. I'm sure we are all made to plug in to the same outlet only on a different wall, maybe it's engineering, or speaking, cooking, or planning cities wall with a special outlet. Whatever radiates your bue waves to the rest of the universe in peace and everlasting knowing and being, I say, go for it, do it and keep on keeping on.
If you want a piece of this blue mind flow, I get mine with watercolors, they don't have to be expensive. Watercolor paper, paint and a desire to be with the moment as the paint hits the paper. That's all there is to it.
Come along and dip your toes into the cool waters of the pallet that flows from your fingers. Let it get out of you and onto the paper so you can see how beautiful you are inside.
“The object isn't to make art, it's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.”
To "spring" is an upward and forward movement that can't be shaken or stopped. It wills to grow anew...and to take everyone along.
I finally reached a point where I just didn't care anymore about what anyone else thinks about my art. I just decided that I LOVED the crayon resist art lessons I was doing with the 5-8 year old children in my art classes.
One work of art in particular jumped out at me, it was a red house in a blue forest. I liked the bright, neon like glow of the red house and the mystery of the blue forest. I got that drawing out from the drawer, taped it up on my wall and declared I would work with it.
I made crayon resist houses. I cut up other similar works of resist art and turned them into collages. I worked for a few weeks and had fun. I didn't let any other thoughts come into my head except to go with what I was drawn to and to not judge or criticize myself for my art.
After a few weeks I felt I was done. I asked myself "why am I making houses that are all like drawings of a very young child?" The answers have been a revelation. It was obvious. I felt like a child myself because I lost my father recently and my mother is still here and very old and dear. My little houses were me. Yes, they are all of us, we are all children.
Then I noticed that the houses each had their own lawns detached from anything else. I feel like a house myself, floating around and trying to get my grounding. Then there is my father who has left his body and my mother who is sort of here and sort of there. And then another understanding came to me.
I have more than one home right now and I'm traveling to those homes often taking care of the people who live in those houses. When I went to Seattle for the first time to visit my husband who is on a temporary job there, I looked at the houses there. They are small, cute, simple and easy. They are creative and bright and fun, not overbearing or pretentious like the ones here in Arlington. It was as if my art was a vision. I was given a vision in order to see. I can be light and flowing, I can raise above my circumstances and situations.
What this does for me is that it shows me clearly that the Holy Spirit, the connecting Spirit that holds us all as one, in His Vision is giving me permission to embrace my truth right now as it is revealed to me in layers of meaning.
I feel guided and loved for who I am without judgement. I know I am safe and when I am open to be with the spirit I can flow into it and it into me. The art I make is a vision shared, born of desire to experience joy and be with my Father, yes my earthly father who represented my heavenly Father as I see him. My desire to be with my Father in Heaven, to feel his loving touch and to be held in his loving arms again.
"In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to me, so that where I am you may also be. You know where I am going and you know the way". John 14 2-4
I'm so thankful that I have learned to use art in this way, to be open and allow for the child in me to express without judgement or fear. It is the only way to work in art. It is the only way to be creative and to flow out the things that are here for all of us to share. It is my hope that everyone can tap into this way of visioning their lives and feel God's love ever present. Just ask and be open, be willing to take a step and follow what tugs at your heart.
I love it when I'm asked to sub for an art class. I know Miss Day from the Art League School and how much it means to her have a reliable sub who understands both working with children and with art. It was great to be back in the classroom again.
In this class we got to explore making a printing plate with lines and shapes that overlap to create a non-representational work of art. Printmaking is one of the most satisfying. Students love to be surprised at how wonderful their art looks.
We had criteria to follow including coming up with a variety of thick lines: small, medium and large. They could be angular, curved, or a mix. We had to be sure our glue covered the edges and corners and then pressed the lines onto the plate so that they were strong enough to withstand the ink and brayer.
Next we had more work to do: make enough layers so the print would be interesting. Layering is important because that is what makes art have depth and richness.
When our printing plates dried enough (after a snack break) we began to work even more. We learned about how much ink to use, how to cover the brayer, how to listen for the sound that tells us the ink is ready. Then we paid attention to how we inked the plate evenly. We had to register the plate on the paper, flip it over and press it evenly and for a long time before we could "pull it". Pulling a plate is the most fun part. It's like watching a photograph develop. Such a surprize to see the image appear on the paper.
After our work was complete we did an art critique and helped each other understand what worked and what didn't. We were very supportive of each other as we learned the strategies for a good critique.
So I was lost, like in a sink hole of "gunk" as my spiritual advisor likes to put it. In clay class my mantra was "why am I here, what am I doing, and who cares"? I talked with a very wise woman teacher person: Kathlyn Avila-Reyes about my funk.
"Oh yes, I have been through that too". She went on to explain that the way she approached art was different now. It used to be that it just flowed out of her and it was all exciting all the time. but now, like me she would make something, and she'd look at it and think "so what"? She shrugged her shoulders.
"it's coming back slowly now" Kat said, "but it's not the same. My advice is just keep working every day, it will return slowly". I know this is something that happens to just more than me and Kat because another artist woman I met and also said the very same thing.
Now this sculpture piece below is one result of sticking with it. When I finish with making a piece in handbuilding, there are usually scraps left over. I started to see animals in the scraps. My mother would notice animals and various things in bushes, or just in anything at all. We'd be sitting there at the dinner table out in a restaurant and she'd say "That's an interesting looking dog" and everyone would say "What are you looking at?" "See...it's right there, the eye is that brown thing and the ears are to the left". "Oh yeah", we'd all begin to get the picture .
So if you are like me, and Kat and other people of a certain age trying to make your art and wondering about where the juice went, just hang on. Keep working, even through the dry spell and you too will realize your art will find you making it and wondering about it and eventually someone will come along and say "Did you make this? It's really cool!"