For well over a year I spent my studio time experimenting with a vast array of art mediums/styles. I have played around with watercolour, paper cutting/sculpture, cardboard sculpture, paper mache, and embroidery. I have experimented with watercolour on wood, and watercolour on canvas. Now, after all that varied creative output, I find myself in a very strange place as an artist. I have never felt this before! I suppose it's a form of creative block. It has left me feeling rather frustrated, as I have a well of creative energy, thoughts and concepts, but feel I currently lack the ability or 'know-how' to get it out in a visual way.
Having discussed this with a couple of fellow artists, and having read some on-line material addressing this common situation that other artists find themselves in, I finally have a plan. First of all, I'm going to lay-low online for a while. I'm also going to spend more time in my studio. Even if its just for 30 minutes a day. I'm realizing that until now, I haven't worked hard at the 'process' of art. I want to spend much more time sketching out ideas, and researching methods. I need to be more mindful of the process, rather than being focused on the end-result. I plan on using a lot of paper, and going through many canvases as I work through this creative block. I recently discussed this with one of my art students. She said that when she faces this dilemma, she just keeps making "crappy art" until eventually something turns out right. This made me laugh! Its so true. I have a specific concept of what I want to create visually, but it may take lots of trying, and trying again, to get to where I want to go.
Well I'm off to spend my last hour of the day (before I have to pick up the kids at school) in my studio now with a cup of tea and some chocolate.
Last week I spent some time with the students in the Grade One class in the local public school. The art lesson was based on the art of the Russian 19th century abstract artist Wassily Kadinsky. From past experience with the grade one class, children of that age love experimenting with paint mixing. Some children at that age haven't had too much experience yet with mixing paint. The teacher had also been recently teaching the students about 'lines', and primary and secondary colours. So considering all of these things, I was lead to have the children 'copy' one of Kadinsky's familiar abstract paintings.
The children began by dividing their paper into 8 squares (which was a true feat for many of them!). Then they each had the primary colours to start with. As I saw the children progressing with their paintings, I added white, and then eventually black, to their palette. I didn't want to add white and black too soon for fear that their paintings would be dominated by those colours.
The instructions were for them to simply have fun mixing colours - but to do so 'strategically'. They weren't to just mix all 3 colours together right away to make a 'sludge' colour, but to consider how the different colours mix individually with each other. They were to paint the rings of the circles each separately.
I had fun last month building a cardboard house. My girls had fun building their own houses also. This made me realize the sometimes unintentional influence I have on my daughters. The art projects I work on often have this sort of impact on them.
Today was week one of the art camp I am holding at my studio for children. I have 11 children involved, between the ages of 7-9. Today we talked about colour - and painted a group colour wheel to go along with that. We began a mixed media project, one that we will be further working on over the next couple weeks (today they glued ripped up pages from an old book onto a masonite board). We also did a little drawing study. And I also taught them about 'non-representational art', or 'non-objective art'. I played four very different sounding songs, and had the children paint whatever colour in whatever non-objective form they felt led to paint based on the way the music made them feel. Lastly, the afternoon class had a few spare minutes, so they created a shadow image of a city-line. One of the boys had fun making a ufo shadow overtop :)
This weekend I experimented with making my own 'watercolour' paint using nothing but flower petals/leaves which I found around my yard... and water. My daughter and I collected various flowers/leaves - such as dandelions, pansies, geraniums. We ripped them up with our fingers, and then them them steep in some hot tap water all morning under the sun. After a few hours, the water had mostly evaporated leaving behind a lovely natural tinted sort of paint. I had fun later painting with this all organic natural paint. It certainly behaves differently than the typical store-bought paint.
Yesterday I joined the Grade 3/4 class so they could finish their artwork from the week before. Their drawings were based on a bug's perspective. They had to employ their imagination!
Yesterday I joined the Grade One class again for a simple art lesson utilizing drawing skills, and watercolour painting skills. I drew a simple bunny based on the idea from http://www.thebeeskneescousin.com/blog/watercolor-value-study-for-spring. I had the children draw a bunny based on this idea; then I had them draw with white crayon wherever they wanted white to show on their picture.
Next the kids all used watercolour paint to paint their bunny. I gave them the choice of what colours to use. They had fun experimenting with mixing colours.
I love how different each painting turned out! I love them all so much, I wanted to share images of all of them with you:
I spent the morning at the public school in town and had two fun art classes with the Grade 3 class and the Kindergarten Class. I taught them about what 'Collaborative' Artwork means. I explained how when more than one artist work together to create art, that is collaborative art. I gave the example of a photographer taking a photo; then another artist using that photo to create a painting.
I also talked to the kids about 'community', what that looks like what buildings might be a part of a community. With these two concepts in mind, I invited the kids to be a part of a collaborative artwork between the two different classes. Their project was to design their own houses/buildings, including trees etc., in order to piece them all together in a collaborative way, creating their own community.
I asked two girls in the grade three class to paint the background for their community onto a canvas. Before long their was a small crowd of 8 kids or so trying to get in there to help out! I love the effect that the water colour paint had on the canvas; I encouraged them to let it drip and get messy.
The Kindergarten class also had fun designing their own houses - many of which ended up with a fun, whimsical look.
Stay tuned for part two of this project, where I will show you the final product! Its going to be both fun and challenging to piece all of the images together to make one large artwork.
A few weeks ago I joined the local grade one class again to do another art lesson. I began the art lesson by teaching them the basic colour wheel (introducing the primary and secondary colours). I then guided them into drawing themselves as though they were catching snowflakes on their tongue. The kids had fun using their own individual ideas as to how that looked:
It was fun finding the completed pictures out in the hallway a few weeks later, with poems that the kids had written about their artwork:
I had much fun last week working on this large mural for my Church's annual Sunday School Christmas Play. I used a mix of decent acrylic paint and cheap tempera paint and gesso (because I needed a heavy solid white!).
I live in Southern Ontario on a farm with my husband, Dennis, and our two daughters. Painting out of my studio on our farm allows me to stay close to my family and to be surrounded by the natural landscape that continues to influence my work.