Friday, March 14, 2014

Glass Art by Cara Michele DiMassimo

Cara DiMassimo is the co-owner of The Glass Palette out of Charlottesville, VA.
Here is a collage I put together from the opening reception for her exhibit Dell'Oceano: From The Sea

Cara made a glass art dress for a "glass art fashion show" at the Glass Art Society's 50th celebration. Here are some other pieces from the show:

 I also had the chance to do a mini-interview with Cara.  The video snippets from the interview will be coming in April.  

See you next month.  

This is the pendant I bought, which Cara also signed. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Blind men and Elephant (100 drawings- Unit 1)

100 art drawings: Unit ONE (lessons 1-4)

blind men and elephant coloring sheet #1

After taking a much-needed break from art this fall, the boys and I just started the “100 Art Drawings” challenge, which I found in some copies of lessons from an old art project book.

The first unit was all about perspective – and I just had to share!  Because not only was it about seeing for drawing, but there were a few life lessons in there as well.

Classic example to use for
 positive and negative space.
Lesson #1 opened with NAME art and a quick review of space, where the name is artistically drawn to stretch across the page, taking up the positive space, and then designs are added into the outer area, which is the negative space.

Lesson #2 introduced the painting, Prince Dara Sikuh and His Son on a Parade Elephant, by Indian artist Govardhan (from the 1700’s). The newness of this piece was just what we ALL needed and the drawing involved making our own copy (or multiple versions) of this old painting, using observation only – paying careful attention to line placement and noting he space between the figures and the paper’s edge. 
Prince Dara Sikuh and His Son by Govardhan 

Lesson #3 went over basic sketching tips, with the nice reminder to start with light pencil marks, make general outlines/shapes, and then later, much later, finer details are added in.

In the art room, I have used 
Seven Blind Mice
to share this story, 

but I do NOT think this book
is the best for a class read a loud!
Lastly, lesson #4 involved drawing an illustration to go with the story, “The Blind Men and the Elephant,” which is classic story often noted as also originating in India.

This eye-opening story led to a nice discussion about communication, marketing, and problem solving.   At first, my boys viewed the story mostly as a children’s story - and so did I until we started discussing it. 

The story is so much more than a child's story! It is great for all ages because it connects to many things that relate to "seeing" from other views –issues like conflict management, marketing, and even could help with problem solving.

First, with conflict management, well it helps to remember that we all see the world differently – as we were raised with different teachers, different life exposure, and different coping styles. And to have limits in perspective is not a flaw, it is a human condition that we can improve.  
Second,  in the business world, promotions and marketing ads are more succinct when they are designed by considering the differing views of customers.  
And third - did you know that while doing some life problem solving we can have more success when we glean wisdom from others. When we are working through things, whether large or small, sometimes a different view can highlight helpful things that help us grow. I blogged about it more here.

Now getting back to art, remember that realistic art (representational drawing) is improved when we learn how to SEE!!   Students need to really SEE how the EOA are arranged within the space of a given page - and one lesson at a time can lead to some nice seeing!

Stay tuned for more from our "100 drawing lessons" with a follow-up from unit #2 coming later!

art sheet for unit #1

Coloring Sheet #2:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Van Gogh's bedroom

some favorite art from 2013….

As December has arrived, I am beginning to reflect on the year - and here are a few of my favorite art pieces from this year….

This unfinished painting was donated to the art room
to see if we wanted to recycle the canvas -
but I had to preserve this piece -
and so I gave it to my brother Paul….
artist unknown, 
Fight 1 (Beasty Art)
This seems to show the horrible hazards and
damage that can come with fighting

Fight 2 (Beasty Art)
This seems to show the "artful" side of a fight

Thursday, November 21, 2013

George W. Bush as Painter

I just wanted to share an inspirational current event - former President Bush was on Jay Leno this week and shared about the power of art!  Bush said that painting changed his life and then showed paintings of his dog, rescue cat Bob, and gave Leno a hand-painted portrait. 

The two things I wanted to share relates to first, how Bush referred to Churchill's (commissioned) essay (shared partially below), where Churchill really just offers a simple and straightforward REASON for painting.

 Also, the Churchill essay and Bush interview, these two politicians turned painters,  provides a potent reminder about how "doing art" - in this case painting, can be good for you!

So for the art educators that follow this blog - well this may not really apply to you - and to the professional out there, well your life's work is a creative process you may take for granted - and so do not forget to remind others to at least dabble in painting at some point because it could be the enriching, life changing activity they need.

And for the reader out there who has not put your hand to painting yet - or have not done it since you were in school, well "get to getting" - and give it a try.  Painting can sometimes also help you develop art appreciation, seasoned art criticism, and may just be a way to refresh your soul!

Bush's rescue cat, Bob

Bush's dog

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Van Gogh

Some of you may know that Van Gogh is one of my top five favorite artists- and when Schelley C. recently posted this quote: 

"The way to know life is to love many things." Vincent Van Gogh

Well it inspired me to share the top five things I have enjoyed from studying Van Gogh.

**** update on 12/3/2013 - had to share Mr. Gregory's blog post called Vinnie's balls

Five Things From Studying Van Gogh:

1. He tried many jobs.    I know this is not an option for a lot of people - but to experience different jobs and to try different careers - well it has MANY perks.  However, while it sculpts and seasons -  it also comes with hard times and many ups and downs.  I think in Van Gogh's case, his early job hopping is yet another reflection of his displacement with the mainstream at the time, and as miserable as many of his changes likely were for Him, it was the exact path (and circumstances) that would lead him to creating art that would contribute something very special to the world. 

As an art teacher, Van Gogh's life as a working artist and the many jobs he had leading up to his life's work - well they are useful for teaching students about careers in art and work in general.  

In Virginia, 7th grade is the main grade when the art career is explored (art historian, art critic, museum educator, curator, art educator) but all elementary grades target the VA SOL"Develop understanding and appreciation of the roles, opportunities, and careers in the visual arts and related areas."    VA SOL 1.11, 2.12, 3.12, 4.11, 5.17, 6.11, 7.15

2. He was a rebel.   This means different things to different people - "to be a rebel" - but in Van Gogh's case, being a rebel means he stood up for principles and for what he felt was right or wrong - the opposite of being passive to conform -and that is inspiring!   For example, Van Gogh, who was fluent in not only Dutch, but also in French,  English and German - well he refused to take a certain theology exam because it was in Latin, claiming Latin was a dead language.  

However, my theory on this "rebellion" against this test that was in Latin, well I think it was more likely that he was rejecting the religiosity associated with the test - and Van Gogh disliked the questionable religious hoops he was being forced to jump through.  His rebellion was more about detesting religion (because religion is man-made and it is not always Godly!! - sounds like a contradiction, but hear me, religion is NOT the same thing as faith - and the Bible warns against getting caught up in the religion that will rob you of real faith). 

Maybe Van Gogh's refusal to take the test in Latin - was similar to when Martin Luther posted the 95 theses (smaller of course)- but I really believe that when  that he refused to not take the test - it was NOT because of the Latin language - because any language lover (like Van Gogh) could find a way to take a test using an ancient language - especially with the richness found in this language, and his refusal had to be more related to the theme and subject and people he was dealing with.  And later in his life, when Van Gogh was working as a Pastor, the religious folks made him leave the coal mines because they did not like the way he was living - he gave his meager home to needy folks -and they refused to renew his contract because he was not representing the parish properly.  Come on Man!  

3. He liked Japanese Art.  When Japan opened up trade with the world in 1853, this led to an influx of Japanese art that would ripple through the art community.  The opening of Japan gave many artists new inspiration and creative ideas for color, composition and form.  And so while studying certain artists, like Van Gogh, the Japanese feel to some pieces is so rich! In fact, when Van Gogh moved to Arles it was because he was told (by Monet and Lautrec) that he could see sunrises and sunsets there that would be similar to Japan! And Van Gogh could not afford to travel to Japan - so he went to Southern France - and some say the other artists wanted to get rid of cranky Van Gogh, but even if so, the south of France was perceived as beautiful to Van Gogh…. even though more drama unfolded….

The children's book about Van Gogh (by Mike Venezia) is a great resources for noting the jobs and Japanese influence in Van Gogh's life 

4. I Love the VARIETY in Van Goghs's art work from the different media used, to the subject matter, to the overall tone and mood in each piece!  It is fun to peruse Van Gogh's drawings, sketches, underdrawings, chalks, and of course - paintings!  

5. Van Gogh's life - makes me appreciate the nutrition and healthy food we have access to nowadays. 
     Van Gogh is noted for being "off balance" - and hey, he did try to cut off his ear - but did you know there is much debate about some of the things recorded about Van Gogh's life??

Scholars claim that the bedroom picture Van Gogh made (sketches, drawings, and paintings) – well they say the crooked pictures and the misaligned feel is representative of Van Gogh’s imbalance.  HOWEVER- there is debate among scholars as to “how” imbalanced he was – and even though he was physically sick – from exposure to toxins from the supplies he worked with, maybe from STD’s, parasites, and also a nutrient deficient diet. 

Also, recent research has uncovered that  Van Gogh was probably a lot more stable than he gets credit for.  

                     This NY times article offers a fresh view:

“You discover more clearly that van Gogh was a very methodical artist, which runs counter to the general myth that he was a manic, possibly slightly deranged man who just spontaneously threw paint at the canvas,” Mr. RĂ¼ger said. “He was actually someone who knew very well about the properties of the materials he used, how to use them, and also he created very deliberate compositions. In that sense it’s a major insight in that it gives us a better notion of van Gogh the artist. He was very goal-oriented.”

And regarding committing suicide - this is up for debate too!  Yes, he was depressed, and yes, he may have felt despair from being potentially cut of from the funds his brother Theo provided - but the gun shot wound that need up taking his life may not have been from his own hand….
                  Authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith argue that Van Gogh did NOT commit suicide; instead, the shot that killed him (two days later) was actually a gun shot that was accidentally made by two boys that had "a malfunctioning gun" (Gompertz, 2011). 

Well you can decide for yourself - but studying the life of Van Gogh is truly an adventure - and thanks for sharing my top five list with me.  :) 

Coloring sheets can be found here:

coloring sheet of Madam Ginoux, 1888

oh, and check out this nice take on "5 Van Gogh paintings that look like Bon Apetit' recipes" - lol 
Van Gogh and Zucchini?