Musings about the importance and impact of art and art education in the 21st century.

O'Keefe's a winner everytime

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in

Ah, the incomparable, Georgia O'Keefe. Always a favorite of the mild mannered art hobbiest and practical mainstay in art education. I've seen this lesson done many times before, its various permutations including watercolor and oil pastel renderings, , on square paper, round paper, as self portrait, as decoative motif, and even as collage. And no matter how many times I've seen the lesson it always seems to come out great.
I think part of the success of it is its vivid use of color and its archetypical subject matter. (Most of my students were able to draw pretty good flowers just from their imagination, but they lacked the formality and sophistication that drawing from observation gives) I wasn't really planning on this lesson, it jsut kind of happened. My supervisor asked me to do some Spring themed activities with the kids and use the artwork to help decorate the junior room. (The junior room is a giant rec room where pretty much all the 1-5 graders hang out). That request coupled with the fact that I had made tentative plans with a local bank to showcase some of the students work in their front window wayyy longer ago than I would have liked it to be. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. We spent all week making our flowers and these are some of the results. I had some pretty stiff requirements for the kids to follow, but they stuck through it, some of them even working for over an hour straight, which is pretty impressive for early childhood aged children.
The requirements were that the composition had to touch 3 sides of the page, the flower/s had to be as large as their hands and if more than one was draw, it had to overlap. The composition had to have an off-center focal point (no 'bulls-eye' flowers, I'd say), and they had to use a light, medium, and dark color scheme on each petal of the entire flower. I know this is a 'been there, done that' kind of lesson, but I have to admit, I loved it!

It's pronounced k-l-a-y

♠ Posted by ArtMuse

Yet again perusing through google images, I came across a pre-school art lesson based on Paul Klee's Head of a Man. The round disk-like faces were filled in with goop's and gobs of paints brushed on in only single hue and its various tints and shades. Glancing at the image I had an 'aha!' moment. Now I don't teach preschool, but I immediately liked the idea and decided right there and then to use it in a lesson for some of my elementary aged students. It was very simple, they were able to do it in about an hour. In a normal classroom I would have introduced the concepts form formally, and had them do some practice exercises with mixing paint. However, because of the laid back atmosphere of the club, and the fact that the members don't have to stay in the art room if they don't want to, I did the abridged version.

Letting them use paper plates as circle templates, they traced the circle head onto their sheet of 12x 16" sheet of manilla paper. They then drew the spae of the neck and body (a rectangle lengthwise and widthwise) and then added the eyes, nose and sometimes, a mouth. They followed that by drawing shapes on the head and then used whatever color they picked mixing white or black to create new tints/shades of the color. The only problem I ran into with this lesson was that 1. they rushed and many times didn't do such a good job of painting in the lines, and 2. they would mix white to a color then mix black to the first mixture muting the color and giving it a grey tone (not good). So just as an aside, make sure you reinforce and demo how to paint and handle the brush to stay within the shape parameters, and to always wipe the brush off between mixes so as not to get a dull grey. The images was finished off by chosing the faces color compliment and painting it in. Viola! Head of a man, 2nd grade style!~

The site that I got the image, which gave me the idea for the lesson is
The site also has a bunch of other good lessons for the youngsters, so if you teach the little ones you might want to give it a look.

The art of...Glamour?

♠ Posted by ArtMuse
I love love love Marilyn Minter. Not necessarily her older works, but her recent ones. Something about the sequined sheen of a model distorted face seems oddly appealing to me (and may I add many others, point in case the Whitney Biennial 2006). Anytime I can catch a glimpse of her work it puts a smile across my face and to my delight, the other day I came across the April issue of Glamour magazine, where, to celebrate 70 years in print they ran a 'Glamour' series, where 10 of the top female contemporary artists comment on what they think glamour means to them. Accompanying the article, or perhaps the other way around, there is an exhibit entitle 'The Glamour' ( I suppose the 'the' makes it sound more official) at Lehmann Maupin Gallery NYC showing the actual works that were photographed in the article. Some of the artists featured are
1. Marilyn Minter
2. Tracey Emin (whose work I just recently saw at the Brooklyn Museum)
3. Nina Chanel Abney
4. Sarah Charlesworth
5. Mickalene Thomas (whose work.....see above)
6. Laurie Simmons
7. Rachel Feinstein
8. Laura Simpson
9. Rita Ackermann
10. Kara Walker (whose work...see above above)

Coincidentally, I go to the Brooklyn museum and see the feminist art, then read a Judy Chicago book where there is signifigant commentary on the topc of feminist art. Then I get this magazine where they have women discuss art, 3 of which are featured in the museum, and then they are also at a gallery not far from me. It's like 6 degrees of seperation only with feminist art.

By the by, the best explanation/interpretation of 'glamour' in my opinion, was by Minter, who responded to the question by saying "My definition of the word glamour? Anything that inspires fascination."

Good answer

When in Brooklyn

♠ Posted by ArtMuse

Last weekend I ventured into relatively uncharted territory (for me anyways) and FINALLY got my behind to the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Well, let me tell you, it's my new favorite museum. Seeing Judy Chicago's 'The Dinner Party' is a life changing experience. EVERYONE should go see it! Not only is it educational, but it is exquisitely executed, thought provoking, and even euphoric. Along with the exhibit, the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art packs a powerful and captivating punch. Artists such as Kara Walker, Tracey Emin, and Barbara Kruger fill the clear and open exhibit space with a viable presence. Walking through the musuem you really had a palpable feeling of a museum that is very much with the times. Every exhibt, from ancient islamic art to the contemporary galleries were meticulously laid out and the artworks eloquently shown. I can't say good enough things about it. So, go check it out!!! (and let me know what you thought!)