Keeping the Faith: Inspired by the Storied Quilts of Faith Ringgold

Keeping the Faith: Inspired by the Storied Quilts of Faith Ringgold

WEB2I recently led elementary school-aged students through a project inspired by the storied artist Faith Ringgold, progenitor of the art of the “Story Quilt

WEB9Students used pieces of “eco-fi” (made of recycled plastic bottles) felt, upon which they built their “story”, using pieces of cloth/fabric/textiles, ribbon, more felt, “pom poms“, feathers, fabric tape and so forth. All materials soft fabric or adornment materials.

WEB7Some young artists glued two to three pieces of felt together, some used a single sheet.

WEB1Students learned about gluing different sorts of materials together. How does one glue down feathers to a surface, while retaining their “feather-like” quality?

WEB3Students worked in close proximity at the cafeteria tables where our class is held, interacting and sharing about their pieces as they went along.

WEB4The color and texture of the materials seemed to affect the makers. The young girl above in the flowered dress put her piece to her cheek a number of times, enjoying its softness.

WEB6This young artist displayed incredible patience, cutting and gluing multitudes of repeating shapes onto the felt, bordering them with fabric tape, and even backing the piece with black felt.

WEB8All of the makers displayed relish and joy in the materials, and unbounded creativity. Whether working abstractly or figuratively, the students shared their stories with shapes, color, texture and imagery!

What a JOY!

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Inspired by Faith and her Storied Quilts

Inspired by Faith and her Storied Quilts

Teaching a class for the C.R.E.S.T. Enrichment program of Santa Monica entitled, “Making Art Inspired By Great Artists” allows for many exciting possibilities.

The artist Faith Ringgold is a natural for children, as she has written and illustrated for them herself. She created a unique “hybrid” art form she calls the “Story Quilt”, which combines quilting and painting, with a focus on cloth.

WEBjStudents aged 5-9 worked with pre-cut pieces of Eco-fi “felt (made from recycled plastic bottles), and developed their scenes or stories by adding cloth,pom poms, ribbon, leather, textiles, feathers and fabric tape.

WEBiMany of the students chose to glue pieces of the felt together, to create larger works.

WEBdAlthough some look abstract, each holds a story that expresses aspects of the maker’s experience. The piece above holds an ice cream cone, and later pizza was added!

WEBbWhen I asked the talented young artist why she put a dollar sign on the piece above, she shrugged and said simply, “I don’t know.” Somewhere in there, is a story!

WEBaThis young artist kept putting her piece up to her cheek, enjoying its tactile softness.  She said it depicted a “state”.  Did she mean flag?

WEBfWEBgWEBe1It was fascinating to see how several students used pieces of the same textile or cloth.

WEBhThe piece above is actually backed in black felt, and the six-year-old artist framed it with a border , hallmarks of Ringgold’s “Story Quilts”. This first grader’s old’s patience in piecing together all of the felt rectangles, (which she also cut out), is stunning, as is the finished piece!

As all of the “Story Quilts” are.  Inspired, and inspiring!

LACMA Treasures…California Dreaming

LACMA Treasures…California Dreaming

A Sunday visit to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art yields up varied treats for the heart, mind and soul.

WEBa“ANGER” (My husband said he loved this piece and that it reminded him of me. Hmmm…)

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A Klee beauty….WEBcUntitled“,  (1929), Paul Klee

Living for the Moment: Japanese Prints from the Barbara S. Bowman Collection

“Included are examples of rare early prints of the genre known as ukiyo-e (oo-key-o-eh, pictures of the floating world); superior works from the golden age of that art form at the end of the 18th century by Suzuki Harunobu, Kitagawa Utamaro, and Katsukawa Shunshō; and 19th-century prints by such great masters as Utagawa Hiroshige, Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, and others.” –http://www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/living-moment-japanese-prints-barbara-s-bowman-collection

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Here comes  the monk….

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A “Floating World” indeed.

Like LACMA…

The Big Draw LA: Drawing for All

The Big Draw LA: Drawing for All!

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of leading a drawing event for The Big Draw LA at the Fairview Branch of the Santa Monica Public Library.

The Library staff set up four large rectangular pieces of white paper on tables, for participants to work on together and create “Big Drawings” that would be hung on panels around the community room, and serve as decor, color, inspiration and fun!

Children from the ages of two to twelve showed up with parents, and jumped into the activity with gusto! Moms and Dads followed suite….

WEB3They used a myriad of colored pencils…

WEB7and markers..large and small.

WEB6Artist moms got the opportunity to play with color, shape, line and pattern…

WEB9and some young artist chose to work on their own drawings, separate from the group projects,

WEB93c0mplete with lots of detail.

WEB91Toy horses were outlined,

WEB92and rainbows were born.

WEB95The result was magnificent…the result of many artistic voices.. An enterprising eleven-year-old started this piece off by drawing in the horizon line, and adding a few mountains rising up above it, to show distance. The composition grew from there, as each participating artist added their “thing”. Slowly the land and sky developed into a wonder world.

WEB99 Rowan volunteered to be outlined on  another sheet,

WEB94and so did Ellie on yet another.

WEB96It took the devoted efforts of several drawers coloring to make this piece complete. Are his hands purple, or is he wearing purple gloves?

WEB97Two young artists with a  love of green created the border around the edge of this drawing, then Ellie was outlined inside. parents and children worked together to make the dress as green as the one she was wearing. What a happy face!

WEB98As patrons came into the community room, they were invited to outline their hand along the edges of the fourth piece of paper, then design, develop and decorate it, adding their name if they wanted to.

WEB990The community room is now alive with the work of the community.

WEB991Line, shape, color, space, composition, perspective, proportion, scale…who knew learning about these could be so fun! Learning by doing, making art in community, and having a blast at The Big Draw LA, at The Fairview Branch Library

Many thanks to The Fairview Branch Library Manager, Erica Cuyugan, for the vision and commitment to make this event possible.  Thank  you Erica!!!

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The Big Draw: Exploring Elements of Drawing

The Big Draw: Exploring Elements of Drawing

This coming Saturday I will be leading a drawing program at The Fairview Library in Santa Monica, as part of The Big Draw LA.  I am hoping to get some photos of participants creating big murals on white butcher paper with drawing tools and techniques that The Library and I provide!  Here I share the information, concepts, terms and techniques I plan to share with them tomorrow in a handout, and through our drawing projects, which will then grace the library’s walls.

I invite you to learn, study, play, enjoy…and DRAW!

Composition is the placement, arrangement, combination or organization of visual or pictorial elements such as line and shape in a work of art. Composition is not the subject or theme of a work. It is the arrangement of everything we see within the borders of a drawing or other work.

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The foreground, middle ground, and background are three parts of a composition that can help to create the illusion, or sense of depth in a flat or two-dimensional artwork such as a drawing or painting. The foreground is what appears closest to the viewer, while the background looks furthest from the viewer. The middle ground is located between both the foreground and background.space2

Line is the most basic element of the drawing. Lines span a distance between two points. Lines are what separate one area of the drawing from the other. A single line will divide your drawing into two areas. The more lines that are added, the more complex and detailed your drawing becomes. A line has a width, direction, and length. A line’s width is sometimes called its “thickness”. Lines can be all the same width or a single line can vary in width. A line can start out thin, get thicker, and then get thin again, depending on your drawing tool, and how you use it. Lines of varying widths can add interest to your drawing!

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Shape is another important element of visual art. Shapes are flat spaces enclosed by lines. The boundaries of shapes are, or create, lines. Shapes are limited to two dimensions: length and width.

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Shapes can be geometric, such as squares, circles, or triangles, or organic, such as the natural shape of a puddle, cloud or leaf.

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Geometric shapes have clear edge, are precise, and related to mathematical principles. They can require a guiding tool to draw such as a ruler. Geometric shapes usually look organized, and have names such as circle, square or rectangle. Most geometric shapes are made by humans, and don’t often appear in nature though crystals, which appear in nature, are considered to be geometric.

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Organic shapes have less well-defined edges, a natural look, and are usually outlined in curvy lines. They are typically irregular and asymmetrical (not exactly the same on both sides). Organic shapes usually do not have a name. They aren’t circles or squares. People, trees, flowers and other things that have been alive or are alive are usually made up of organic shapes.

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Space is the distance or area around, between, above, below or within what is put into the composition. Space includes the background, foreground and middle ground of a composition. There are two kinds of space: Positive and Negative Space.

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Positive space is best described as the areas in a work of art that are the subjects or actual things being shown. The area around the positive space is called the negative space. Negative space is area around and between the subjects or things being shown in a work of art. Which is the negative space, and which is the positive space in the image below?

space1Is the negative space the black shapes around the white goblet, or is it the white space between the two faces? Is the positive space the white goblet, or the black faces?

Texture, another element of art, is the way a three-dimensional surface feels to the touch, or how the surface of a two-dimensional or flat work looks like it might feel if touched, I.E., its “visual feel”.

texture1Visual Textures created through Drawing

Objects appear smaller and closer together as they recede in the distance. This is how we see. Things aren’t actually smaller and closer together when they are farther away, they just look that way, and how our eyes perceive distance. This is called perspective.

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Perspective is the illusion the further away things are, the smaller they appear. Perspective drawing is a system of representing the way that objects appear to get smaller and closer together, the further away they are.  To make something appear to be farther away from the viewer than the picture plane, draw it smaller than the object that is closer to the picture plane.

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Perspective is the technique used to represent a three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional/flat surface, such as a piece of paper, in a way that looks realistic and accurate, as we would see it in real life. Perspective is used to make a flat image look as though it has space and depth.

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The horizon (or skyline) is the line that we perceive as separating earth (which includes bodies of water on earth) from sky. The horizon line is also known as eye level. In real life, the horizon is where the land (or sea) and sky meet. In creating a flat/two-dimensional work of visual art, it is the level your eyes are at, an imaginary line to which things recede.

perspective1Horizon line…at the horizon

As things get further away, from us, they seem smaller and closer together. When they get far enough away, distances become ever tinier and so form a single point, called the vanishing point.

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In perspective drawing, the vanishing point is the spot on the horizon line where receding parallel lines appear to come together, or converge. It is the point where buildings, rails, roads and anything in the background of a drawing or other flat work of art seem to converge into one single point on the horizon, where objects seem to disappear.

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Foreshortening is a technique used in perspective to create the illusion of an object receding strongly into the distance or background. .Foreshortening is used in drawing to create a sense of depth and make objects look like they are going back in space. Of course they aren’t…they are drawn on a flat piece of paper or other two-dimensional surface.

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An example of actual foreshortening is when you look down a long straight road lined with trees and the two edges of the road appear to move towards each other, while the trees look smaller the further away from you they are…until they seem to disappear altogether, at the vanishing point.

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Proportion is a principle of visual art that refers the size of one picture element in relation to the size of another, such as the size of the head in relation to the rest of the body.

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Proportion can give a sense of balance and harmony to a drawing, or other piece of visual art. It is similar to scale, which is how one object relates or compares to another one in size, such as how a dog relates to a cat, or a cat to a rabbit, as regards to size.

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If you happen to be around the Los Angeles Area tomorrow, October 25th, and want to drop into the Fairview library between 12 and 3PM and join in the creative fun, please do! Until then, maybe this post can illuminate and inform your approach to drawing, and broaden your knowledge and even your skill!

  Practice makes, well, there is no perfection, but practice certainly does help, so, draw on! 

Studio Poem: Seeing the Light (if only briefly…)

Studio Poem: Seeing the Light (if only briefly…)

We develop studios…work spaces…work places…wherever we are.

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Palatial mansion (or loft), or a place within our heads.

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The sunlight hit a series of samples which themselves became works.

StudioWEB2Another “sun” was created.

For a moment… I saw things in a whole new light.

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Gotta hold on to that…

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Still Raving About Rivera

Still Raving About Rivera

Diego Rivera: Mexican Artist/Muralist

Born in Guanajuato, Mexico, December 8, 1886, died November 24, 1957, Mexico City

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Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez, known as Diego Rivera was a famous Mexican painter and the husband of artist Frida Kahlo.  He is known for his murals painted in “Fresco” style executed in Mexico, as well as the United States. A mural is artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface, and as you can see, Rivera’s murals are huge, and very detailed, and designed to work with the architecture of the building they are part of.

 tohyf_RIVERA2Frozen Assets. 1931-32
Fresco on reinforced cement in a galvanized-steel framework, 93 ¾ x 74”
Museo Dolores Olmedo, Xochimilco, Mexico

When he very young (he begins to draw at the age of three), Diego Rivera loved to paint, so much that his father covered a room of their house in Guanajuato with paper so that the child could paint all over the walls. Diego says that it was in that room where he created his first murals.

Rivera received his formal art training in Mexico City, and in 1907, then studied in Spain, France, and Italy on scholarship.  He returned to Mexico some fourteen years later, and along with the artists José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros,  became a leader of the Mexican Mural Movement that became popular after the Mexican Revolution. His murals showed native Mexican culture and heritage, working people, and dreams for the future. Diego Rivera connected making art with history, technology, and progressive politics.

During the 1920s Diego Rivera helped to create nationalist painting style in Mexico called Social Realism”, an international art movement made up of artists who show the poor and working classes, and whose artworks often criticize their living conditions.

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“Part Of Diego Rivera’s Mural Depicting Mexico’s History”, 1929 – 1945
Also Called: “México en la historia, perspectiva: El campesino oprimido”, 1935.
Near Left Staircase. Palacio Nacional. Mexico City D.F. México. (Fresco)

His murals were painted in a Fresco (“FRESH”) style, using water and pigment, which creates color, on fresh wet plaster, so the painting becomes part of the wall.

“In his best mural paintings, he (Diego Rivera) merged past, present, and future into dense, crowded visions of an essential Mexico. He drew on Mexican history, folk art, the discoveries of archaeology and other sciences. He … made something that was not there before: a unifying, celebratory image of Mexico. In his art, he unified a people …. He said in his art: you are all Mexico.”-George & Eve DeLange

Rivera’s murals were well-known in the United States by the late 1920s and he became one of the most popular artists in the US by the early 1930s.  He was asked to create three murals in San Francisco,  was invited by General Motors to create murals at the Chicago World’s Fair; and he painted murals at Rockefeller Center and the New Workers School in New York.

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“The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City”, 1931, fresco, San Francisco Art Institute.   It is a mural about murals and because it represents Rivera and his assistants creating the mural itself.

Diego Rivera with Wife Frida KahloRivera was married three times — most famously to the painter Frida Kahlo.

tohyf_RIVERA7     “Retrato de Diego Rivera” / “Portrait of Diego Rivera , by Frida Kahlo, 1937, Oil painting on wood

“An artist is above all a human being, profoundly human to the core…” –Diego Rivera

Delving into Dali

Delving into Dali

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Salvador Dali

Spanish Surrealist Artist

(Born May 11, 1904 – Died January 23, 1989)

Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, 1st Marqués de Dalí de Pubol known as Salvador Dalí was a prominent Spanish Surrealist artist born in Figueres in the Catalonia region of Spain, close to the border of France.

In addition to being a painter, Dalí worked in film, sculpture, photography and even fashion, often with other artists. He was a highly skilled draftsman, meaning that he drew really, really well! (This helps if you want to be a painter.)

Dali_1The Mae West Lips Sofa, 1937

Dalí was a pretty wild character. He grew a huge mustache, which became a trademark.

He drew attention for his wild and unusual clothes and style.  (Sounds like our friend, the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, with her long skirts, and wild hairdos). He had long hair and sideburns, coat, stockings, and old-fashioned style pants that buttoned at the knees called “knee-breeches”. He sometimes wore a cape, and carried a walking stick.

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Dali used a very realistic technique to create his paintings, and put strange, unreal, dream-like images in them.  This was his style of “Surrealism”, an art style that began in the 1920s. In his paintings, he would create a reality from his dreams, thus changing reality from what it was, to what he imagined, or maybe, wanted to see.  This became his way of life and making art.

Dali_5La Main (Les Remords de conscience), 1930

Surrealist artists painted sometimes shocking and nonsensical scenes very realistically, which make them even stranger. They painted bizarre creatures made of everyday objects. Things that we never see together in the “real” world show up together in their painting, surprising, amusing or even scaring us, the viewer.

Dali_3The Persistence of Memory, 1931

Dalí painted some things that he wanted to represent certain ideas. For example, the “melting watches” in the painting The Persistence of Memory tell us that time can feel different at different times: same five minutes can go very quickly, or seem to go on forever. This idea came to him when he was staring at a runny piece of cheese on a hot summer day. That cheese must have really been melting.

Dali_4Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion, 1954

Meeting LA MOCA

Meeting  LA MOCA

A first-time visit to LAMOCA Grand Avenue yields treasure, magic, and happy surprises.  Who knew downtown could be so fun?

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Nancy Rubins, American sculptor and installation artist, is handily represented outside.

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A meditative room offering communion with Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.

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One of my faves, a Louise Nevelson sculpture silhouetted before a Jackson Pollack painting.

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My fave man in black, silhouetted in front of meditative  Mark Rothkos.

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Currently shown: Urs Fischer…welcome to his/our (?) world.

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A show spread across the two downtown MOCA locations, and several galleries of MOCA Grand Avenue.

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Culture disintegrates in a fascinating and visceral way…and its skeletons are revealed.

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Beyond patina.

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He has caught something…we have all felt like that,

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and this.

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Let’s hope this isn’t the sum total of the current  zeitgeist.

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Here’s looking at you, kid.  Outside…playing with our perception of perception, perhaps.

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Time for some lemonade, at Lemonade MOCA.

Check it out!!!

You just…never know.

Something might speak to You…and you… might speak back.