Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Visual, Verbal and Vivid - Interpreting Our Environment

Each year the tall pine next to the Art Studio is home to a family of magpies. I have watched as they rear their young, take their first flying lessons and scavenge through the remains of recess and lunch discarded by the boys. The quiet of the schoolyard and abundance of crumbs provide a perfect environment for which the magpies to live and raise their young.

On Tuesday afternoons I collect the prep class and walk through the outdoor chess area, under the shade of the pine to the Art Studio. The boys had noticed the magpies on many occasions and we often chatted about them on the way to class. This prompted me to create a unit of work based around the family of magpies in our school. I wanted to integrate the visual and kinesthetic processes of art with the boy’s verbal observations, by giving children a chance to create not only with words, but also with painting and sculpture. I aim to celebrate the value of visual and kinesthetic learning alongside the verbal and written.

This year’s prep boys are very fond of Pamela Allen storybooks and our Teacher Librarian had found for me her book Waddle Giggle Gargle! Which is a delightful story on boisterous magpies. This gave me a great starting point to introduce the magpies in our art. We spent a productive lesson sitting outside in the late November sunshine and drew the family of magpies as they rummaged through the garden near the art studio. The class had to work very quietly and stay still. This Plein Air experience gave us much to discuss back in the studio as the boys added to their sketches of the birds.

The following week we used clay to make simple bird shapes with spread wings. These basic slab and sausage constructed birds gave the preps their first experience of using slip to join and toothbrushes to score. Each bird was individual, some with wing tips and others with long beaks. As they were flat the sculptures dried quickly and were fired within the week. The next week we looked closely at some photos I had taken of the magpies and discussed the patterns and features in their plumage. Black underglaze made the distinctive markings with a simple dot of red underglaze painted in the eye to give the magpie its distinctive stare.

Throughout these weeks the boys took great interest in the magpies, reporting to me their activities and whereabouts. This project had connected the boys to the school environment and made them aware that others also share the playground and world with them each day. We painted the sky on simple MDF boards using sponges and blue and white paint to mimic the soft clouds in the sky. Glazed magpies were attached to the soft-clouded skies. We finished the project by writing a couplet rhyme, which encapsulated the boy’s ideas about the life of the school magpies. The boys describe their observations of the magpies so vividly that creating a couplet came easy.

The magpies fly in the sky
Fly in circles, way up high

Words were written in permanent maker along the rim of the clouds finishing an artwork that brings together literature, art and the realm of personal experience.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mini Minimalist Monuments

Year five has been working with cardboard boxes to create Mini Minimalist Monuments. Inspired by Tony Smith and Robert Swan

Students started by making a paper template which had to incorporate a square, triangle and a circle. To make it a bit harder the sculptures had to have a cut away inside the shape.
This created a window space and was very hard to incorporate into the three-dimensional design.


This was a hard and slow process. After the template was made two walls were cut out of the flat cardboard. These two sides were then joined by a 5cm width all the way around and in the centre window. The forms were secured with masking tape and then covered in torn newspaper and wall paper glue. Students could test their success against their original template and whether it stood and was balanced. I am happy to say they have all turned out smashing and would fit into any park or open space. Great Work Grade Five!!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Oh Yeah.... I got hitched!

Mirka Mora - Not a Formal Woman....

Today I attended a lecture and workshop at the beautiful Heide Museum of Modern Art.
10 very lucky art teachers and me had a private audience with the very vivacious Mirka Mora. She is a true free spirit and I think we all left a feeling a bit more in love with the grand Madame.

We spent the afternoon drawing and Mirka hung out with us. It was a true delight! We made a little art and learnt a few secrets. Mirka helped me draw a serpent and then in her thick french accent declared my angles needed some breasts.

After the day had ended I spent some time back in Heide 1...... the light was shining through the windows and casting shadows across the floorboards. Magnificent!
Thank you Mirka for being so generous and open. xx

Friday, April 24, 2009

Rainbow Parrot Fish

I teach two classes of Grade 4. Together we have been creating a giant Rainbow Parrot Fish with willow, tissue paper and paper plates. Each group of students have had a chance to work on the willow frame using masking tape as a binding tool to create the skeleton of the fish. We had great fun painting watered down PVA on sheets of tissue paper and draping them over the frame (very messy). The scales are painted paper plates with designs inspired by the beautiful tropical fish.

The Fish is coming along well, we are nearly finished but have run out of paper plate scales. Back to work.

Making My Mark on the Market Scene

I love markets and have been enjoying being a seller instead of a buyer. I love swapping my wares with fellow stall holders and meeting all the people throughout the day.

Camberwell Market Easter Sunday

Xmas Northcote Town Hall 2008

Nifty Market Northcote Town Hall April 2009

Look out for my upcoming markets in June and July.... I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Resin Workshop March 2009 - Back in the Saddle!

It has only taken me 2 years to get my act into gear and run a workshop, but as far as workshops go I could not have had a better start. Great students and a fantastic facility. Phoenix Park Neighborhood House near Chadstone in Melbourne's inner east is an exceptional facility and has always supported art classes. I ran two classes in Resin Jewellery Making, Casting and Molding.

Students left with at least 5-6 pieces consisting of earrings, pendants and bangles. Small vessels and little spoons were a popular choice made in bright colours and swirls. I loved the pieces and wanted to steal some of the work away for myself.

I will be running more of these workshops in the future so keep an eye out for up coming workshops.

Thanks to Karin, Carmel and Noralisa for all their help and to the students who made it a great workshop.