Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sam's Monotypes ask and answer an important question

Yesterday I posted about young Lizzy's fruitful deviation from the assigned printmaking project I taught this week to campers in the Summer Spree camp. Today I'm featuring another such child's work.

I took campers outside to draw from the landscaping around the Community Arts Center. Later I taught them to make monotypes using watercolors on plexiglass. The kids had a lot of fun and made many subtle and expressive monotypes from their drawings, but after a while Sam decided to get a little weird and wonderful with it. He began painting the entire plexiglass with black ink and then scribbled into it with the back of the paintbrush. Next he wanted to write words. I reminded him that he needed to write them into the plate backwards in order for them to be forwards in the final print. He went on to whimsically ask one of the big questions: 

Indeed, something we all ask in moments of deep contemplation.

Must you shout? And does that really answer...

Yes, I know, this is art. But is that enough to...

*long pause*

OK. You're right. I get it.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Lizzy's Stamping

I'm teaching 8-11 year olds at the Community Arts Center's Summer Spree camp again this year. (Best summer job ever. I highly recommend this camp to anyone with kids living near Wallingford, PA.)

Every once in a while a child makes a work of art that I fall in love with for reasons that more often than not go beyond the kids' awareness. This week is was Lizzy's take on the 1-inch stamp project. (I taught a version of this with 3" stamps back in April.)

The idea is to design a stamp and then use it to produce several different patterns. See the example below, done by my volunteer helper Jon.) Lizzy started out ignoring my instructions to make an asymmetrical design with all different corners, opting instead to carve a little circle with marks inside. She then proceeded to press the stamp into purple ink once and then continued stamping in a row until the ink faded away. She did this for a second column of stamps right beside the first, this time continuing the succession into a third, almost imperceptible column. I enjoyed the curiosity in this exercise and told her so.

Next I encouraged her to carve her stamp a bit more and to attempt the instructed assignment. She did carve marks into her stamp's corners, but then instead of creating a pattern with radial symmetry, she completed another experiment similar to her first, only this time she stamped once with really saturated color and then stamped all around until the ink again ran out. She then smeared the ink so that it faded out at the edges. To finish up, she stamped one more time in a different color ink, then wrote "first" and "last" on the paper in the appropriate positions, presumably because the order in which these exercises were conducted was essential to the piece.

If Lizzy decides not to take this work home with her at the end of the session, I'll frame it and hang it in my house, because it's just awesome.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sketchbook Sunday: Papermaking Workshop

As regular readers already know, I don't always post about work in my sketchbook on Sketchbook Sunday. For instance, I have posted about a sequencing workshop and drawing on ceramics before. The idea of these Sundays was to get me to keep my hand moving and work through new impressions and ideas I have about what I see. Even though this is papermaking, it still serves the purpose of Sketchbook Sundays because I'm exploring familiar materials in ways I haven't before.

This is the first time I have ever made paper. I took a workshop on making paper with seeds, leaves, and flower pedals at Historic Rittenhouse Town with artist and educator Cozy Bendesky. It was a nice, small group (4 students) and Cozy was a well-prepared, friendly, and knowledgeable instructor.
I made 18 sheets of paper this morning, but here is a sampling from today's workshop that well represents the collection of materials we were working with. The vats started out with abaca cotton pulp, to which we added our various garden sundries.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Summer fireworks above Ryogoku bridge in Tokyo by Takahashi Hiroaki

Silence has been broken; a rapid concatenation of great bangs marked the start.

Stillness is shattered. The sky torn asunder. Light gleans through slits that rain down from two laden blooms. Jagged snakes of fire and smoke rise from a distant point on the horizon. All this is giddily reflected in the water below; flames dance beside dark boats that merely drift.

The bridge piers - haunting black silhouettes - hold firm their burden amid the chaos.

Sunday, July 2, 2017