Fall is in the Air
I love to give September and October studio projects a fall twist. This week, my elementary students completed their collaged loon-scapes, their Flapdoodles landscape rocks, and they learned how to artistically use chalk pastels to build layers as they created pumpkins on black paper. Striking!
I like to give students the opportunity to come up to the overhead camera and talk about what they liked about their work. Here, Mataya is sharing her pastel with the class on the TV screen.
The loon collages turned out so well that I decided to turn them into a "Cry of Loons" poster to sell, with proceeds going to scholarships for Riverwood Studio classes. Let me know if you'd like to place an order. They are 20x24 inches (standard frame size) and cost $18 plus tax.
My online elementary students did an elephant collage on their sketchbook covers instead of loons. Here are a few of their wonderful projects.
My intermediate students worked hard on drawing exercises, including individual still lifes. We are also discussing the major movements in art history, which explains the Egyptian photo on the computer screen. If you could hear this picture, you would hear ancient Egyptian music playing in the background. My online intermediate class began this week. I'll share pictures of their work in the future.
I'll be placing these adorable rocks in the landscape at Flapdoodles North today. My 17 year old daughter painted the large bench and boulders around the building this summer, and the owners of Flaps thought these little rocks would add even more fun! Thanks to the Tierneys for their ongoing partnership with my studio and generosity for always rewarding us with free ice cream!
Friday evening was a time for teaching watercolor over Zoom to my teen and adult class. We used a fall palette of colors to create ink & wash florals.
Completed work by my student, Amber (who is an elementary teacher).
Finally, here are a few fall photos I took on my walk around my neighborhood Friday morning. Everything was bathed in gold and fluttering. I had my curated "Fall Vibes" Spotify playlist, with everything from James Taylor to Maroon 5 filling my ears, and was definitely in my happy place...
As I sit on the couch next to my curled up cat this morning, I reflect on all that has transpired since last March when the globe seemed to tilt a little too far on its axis, throwing the world off-kilter. It's mind boggling to think a microscopic virus that is not even a living thing could steal lives, livelihoods, unity, and the sense of peace and security that normal routines bring.
I try to remember that we are not promised anything. If we're wise, we hold gifts and sorrows with open palms and gratitude, being careful what we cling tightly to. For me, that has meant holding loosely to my art studio plans, being flexible and creative in approach to problems, and most of all just being grateful for those who choose art alongside me as an antidote to the chaos.
This week I welcomed around 50 kids back to my studio, albeit masked and distanced. Depending on the class, we dabbled in printmaking, collage, rock painting, drawing exercises, and burning energy in my backyard. Everyone received a new sketchbook to fill this year with drawings, ideas, color swatches, value scales, and who knows what else! All my classes played a funny ice-breaker game of "Would You Rather" using famous pieces of art. I love when students point to a piece of art and say excitedly, "I've seen that one before!" I don't know why the act of recognizing masterpieces of art is so magical, but alas, it is.
Here are a few of slides from our game...
And here are some pictures from classes this week...
I enjoyed sharing this short video about collage artist "MarcPaperScissor" with my elementary students.
This coming week I will add three online classes consisting of over 60 students, from elementary to adult, and the following week I will be taking my supplies to Rosa Parks charter school to teach an art class to the high schoolers on Fridays as a volunteer. COVID could disrupt the whole shebang, of course! However...this:
Skill Building in Intermediate Art
I LOVE working with my teen students in homeschool intermediate art! They run the gamut of lively to shy to serious to lighthearted, and their personalities come out in their art. We have started the year with skill building exercises, focusing on drawing from observation with the "right side of the brain," and improving our shading techniques using ink, graphite, charcoal, and pastel. Our first project was to decorate their sketchbook covers with "expressive hands" and then we moved into still life contour drawings and still life value (shading) pieces. Next up are graphite dragon eyes!
In addition to our creative endeavors, we spend 10 minutes of most classes discussing an artist or painting. So far we have discussed the work of Imanuel Leutz, Thomas Cole, and Otto Dix. All of the art we study this year will be on exhibit at the Marine Art Museum of MN in Winona, where we will visit in May.
I will soon let them loose to play with color, but for now, we're in the black and white phase, and next up are "Dragon Eyes!" Here is a slideshow of their work so far:
Here are their sketchbook covers, based on the lesson "Expressive Hands." The students were asked to create hands that somehow illustrated their interests and personalities. I found the final pieces fascinating, especially when they explained the symbolism to me. It helped me get to know them a bit more.
We did play around with some colors when we had our Halloween Week Glow Parties under black lights. We used black and fluorescent acrylics, and taped the edges down so we would have a nice, crisp frame when the tape was removed. So fun!
The students did a great job on their "finish the picture" homework assignment. I was delighted with their work! Some of them put hours of work in at home each week to create incredible work.
Afterschool Art Club Agamagraphs
Afterschool Art Club is something new I've added to the schedule this year, and it's been a blast! Twelve lively students gather on Thursday afternoons to create wonderful art, and for our first project, we created optical illusion "agamagraphs." Pioneered by the artist Yaacov Agam, this kinetic style art changes as the viewer moves. Two of Agam's pieces can be found in the Mayo Clinic art collection. I'm a big fan!
This project took 3 weeks of 75 minute classes to complete. Each student created a starburst name picture on and an optical illusion "wormie" picture, which they colored with sharpie and watercolor on 140 lb. watercolor paper. Then we cut both into 1 inch slices and mounted them alternately to an accordion folded page. The final effect is so cool! If you stand to the left, you see one image and when you move to the right it morphs to the other image. Check out the slideshow below!
Intermediate Acrylic Landscapes
Our final project of the year in my intermediate classes was painting 16x20 canvases with beautiful landscapes. The students chose their own reference photograph and synthesized much of what they had learned through the year to create the paintings, and they were lovely! They spent 5-6 hours on these.
Here are the winners of our 2nd Annual Flapdoodles Ice Cream Art Contest! Nearly all my students created 3-D clay relief sculptures mounted on painted canvas panels with an ice cream theme. The owners of Flapdoodles selected the winners from 3 categories: 7-9 yo, 10-12 yo, and Intermediate. The art is currently displayed at Flapdoodles South through July.
Jill Pearson, owner & instructor at Riverwood Studio, Oronoco, Minnesota