Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Typical Artist

I have been severely delinquent in keeping up with my blog since I started teaching.
School has really kept me busy, I mean 875 children will keep anyone busy. I teach art to all the grades, k-6th, and that is everyday 5 days a week. OY!
I have been working on a BIG art project for my school and it has been quite an experience. I think I have used every medium that I hate in this piece. It is a mixed medium work using collage, watercolors, chalk pastels, colored pencils, markers, polyurethane, oil pastels and found objects.

At the beginning of the school year I was asked to collect some of the children's art work to be framed and hung around the school. Well, I said I would "work on that" and tried to go about that task. It suddenly occurred to me, how was I going to be able to choose art work from my 875 children that I teach weekly? How can I choose just one or two, or a few? I wanted to be able to include all of them. Also, I wanted the children who were easily discouraged and would throw their art away to see that art wasn't about being perfect. Art was about emotion, seeing the world around them in a different way and being creative. Art is a profoundly personal thing. I decided to put it on hold and get back to it.

One day, it finally came to me as I was putting artwork away in the cabinet. There were several paintings that had been crumpled up and tossed in the garbage (I thought they were good) and several "no name" pieces. As I began to close the cabinet doors my artistic genius (that's sarcasm y'all) kicked in. Instead of just one or two children being picked out from the school, why not a little bit of everyone? What if I began collecting work from here and there as it comes thru, and make a huge collage for the school. I could make it about 4' x 5' and really showcase their art. I was pleased with myself and quickly made notes in my sketchbook. Aha! It was brilliant and I couldn't wait.

As I started sketching out my plans it seemed something was missing, it needed something to give it focus, anchor the piece and make it really unique. The school's mascot is an alligator and I really liked the idea of using a gator in the piece. I decided, "You know what? Why play it safe, let's go all out on this!" and began playing with the idea of making it 3 dimensional. Before I went too far ahead, I asked my husband if it would be possible and he gave me great advice on how to accomplish it. Here is a peek from my sketchbook.

I wanted to present the idea to my school and maybe even ask for a bit of finacial help. It was then that I remembered something my husband said once when he was about to give a presentation, "Not everyone will catch your vision. Sometimes, you have to help them see it." I knew that if I was going to get approval for this project, I would have to make a small scale model. I also knew that I had to use all the elements for the model that I would be using for the large piece. I needed the school to see the vision. Now granted, the real work would be on masonite and not cut paper and foam core, but the scale model was a thing of beauty. I had it almost ready to present and I couldn't wait, yet I was terribly nervous about how it would be recieved.
Inspiration hit me at 2:30 a.m., I KNEW what would seal the deal... (this really was genius!) Our school has character traits that we share with the students every week and month. Traits like, trustworthiness, respect, citizenship, tolerance, courage, etc. So, at 2:30 a.m. I am sitting in our bathroom on the edge of the tub, sketchbook in hand and writing the character traits in the background. The next morning, using a silver colored pencil, I wrote them down on the "prototype" and mounted everything for final presentation.

I presented it to my principal and he approved it immediately. That got the ball rolling for me and I got some help with funding too! It has been a labor of love but after tomorrow, I will have seen this thing thru to completion. We are going to put it all together and have it ready tomorrow. When I get back to school, I have to get some things in order, but I would like to be able to invite the School Superintendant and our PTO to an "unveiling" of sorts. I am hoping we can have a small reception, with the newspaper and everything. My ultimate goal is to draw attention to how art in the county schools are a positive thing for the children. If I can get some attention for our school, that would be awesome. So, yes, there is a bit of something in it for me too. Anytime an artist get a little attention, it's a good thing.

After I get everything put together tomorrow, I will get a pic up. I can't wait to see it in the school, where it will be hung has lots of light and I think it will really POP!

It's getting late...see ya tomorrow!


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