Friday, July 29, 2011

Photo Collage Friday {Number thirteen}

A few weeks ago, we put together a show of sculptures and Lomography work for the 3rd Thursday art walk in Joplin. Here area few of my favorite photos from the night. It was so great getting to hang out with all of my artist friends.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Faux Aluminum Sculptures DIY +{the inspiration}

 I don't normally share art lesson plans on this site, but I am pretty proud of this one. While brainstorming about my Art Lounge class for high schoolers at a local art center, I put several things together to come up with this highly successful project.

First, my mom had just given me a huge bag of hotel soap that had been donated to her during the tornado relief. I knew I would think of something to do with it.

Second, I had intended to do a carving project with the Art Lounge students either incorporating potato carving or soap as a stamp for a 2-D project. I was getting a little sick of 2-D and so were the kids.

Third, my friend, Brandon Nepote was at my house a couple of weeks ago working on some sculptures for an exhibit. He had an old wooden ball bat that used to belong to his sister, as his parents were cleaning up after the tornado, they recovered it and passed it on to a kid in the neighborhood.

Brandon, being the sentimental artist that he was, convinced the kid to give it back to him so that he could use it in a sculpture.

While at my house, he sawed off the top and bottom and used a wood rasp to add texture to the surface of the bat. Then he covered it with foil tape. Then he spray painted the entire thing....and used sand paper to wipe off some of the paint. I watched, perched on my back steps, sweating as he completely transformed the old bat.

He looked up and smiled, "Faux cast aluminum!" he exclaimed.
You can see the bat in the photo has a question mark sticking out of one end...and an arrow pointing at my dorky friend on the other end. By transforming wood to look like metal, he can take an all-wood sculpture keep it light-weight, but make it appear to be mixed-media.

Did I mention that Brandon has an MFA in sculpture? He is pretty awesome. And he is a goofball.

I took an idea right from his master's studio and tweaked it to fit the materials I had on hand for high school students. In the DIY below, we are using soap, but any wood would be acceptable instead if you have some in your studio.

 This is a great carving project which has stunning results, using mostly house-hold items!

 You will need:
  • Soap (either full bars or travel size, we like the free ones from hotels)
  • Carving tools (potato peeler, paring knife, exacto, utility knife, speedball linoleum cutter, and if the soap is soft you could use an ink pen)
  • Foil tape, can be found at hardware stores like Lowe's or Home Depot
  • Large pink eraser or cork
  • Black paint and brushes
  • Paper towels
  • Wire

Step 1:
Gather your materials and sketch out a design for your soap.
Some soaps are difficult to carve while others can practically be molded with your fingers. We had a huge stash of soaps from hotels.

When selecting your tools, think about ordinary objects that might be used to create cool textures in the soap. The potato peeler is great for carving off edges while the cheese grader works like a wood rasp to create a shaved texture on the surface of the soap.
 The wire can be used to fix anything that might break off....It is also good for assembling pieces to a base.

Step 2:
 Carve your design into the soap using your carving tools. A speedball lino cutter works really well for images like this face. Remember to create a relief on the surface, leaving some areas raised.

If your sculpture is in-the-round, like the one below, you will need to carve every side.


Step 3:

 Cover your soap carving in foil tape. We like to cut small squares and strips to make covering easier. When the entire surface is covered, use a pink eraser or cork to burnish the surface, flattening some of the creases, by rubbing it with a piece of rubber or cork, you help the foil to adhere to the smaller details, showing off the relief and adding texture.

(Here are my examples)
They sort of look like chocolate foil bunnies!

Step 4:
If you created a base for your sculpture, or if a piece of it breaks before you cover it in foil tape, you can use wire to attach the pieces together. Be sure to give your soap the 'poke' test before you use it in your sculpture, if it is too hard to poke wire into, you won't be able to use it as a base or attach it to a base.

Step 5:
Once your sculpture is covered in foil tape, and the pieces are assembled, use a paint brush to cover the surface in black paint. The black paint will fill in the cracks. Wipe off the paint before it dries. This will give your sculpture the look of cast aluminum!


Make a series of sculptures and show them off!


Here are the sculptures made by my students:

This DIY was featured on the Art Juggler blog!!

If you try this sculpture yourself, please leave a comment with a link to your project, I would love to see it!!

A Vision for Joplin

A muralist is in Joplin, meeting with the community, planning a mural for our city and he asked a group of my students to draw what they wanted to see in the mural, to draw their vision of Joplin.

The teenagers had trouble coming up with ideas because before the tornado, Joplin was pretty boring...and since the tornado, everything that we used to take for granted is so much more precious.

We drew a sketch for our mural and put a big drive-in screen, with cars from every decade parked in front...and a playground with children who could see 'butterfly men' fluttering around them.

Our sketch had lots of trees, and somewhere in the design, we wanted people wading in a creek, catching crawdads. We thought it was important for the mural to show downtown and discussed how much of the mural should be devoted to the tornado. The students agreed that they wanted it to show happy people in Joplin.

Here is the mural team at Spiva, presenting their history, how they are working with the Midwest Art Alliance to bring art to small comunties....sharing a bit about what they do and also showing us example of other murals they have done. The more I learn about Dave, and what he has done in other communities, I am so impressed and excited about the mural.

This project is going to be amazing, I cannot wait to see what Dave and his team come up with for Joplin. To follow their progress and read about what the are doing around town, you can follow the blog here:
While the team was there, we showed them the mural we made.

Art Lounge students made a list of words to describe how people in Joplin felt after the tornado. The students, aged 10-16 selected some of the positive words and some of the  negative words from the list to include in the mural around a central figure. The figure in the center was left faceless so that viewers can picture the faces of those who helped them after the storm. The figure represents neighbor helping neighbor to cleanup and rebuild.

The mural was created on a blue tarp, which represents the new, yet temporary landscape of the city. The acrylic paint will eventually peel and chip off the surface, just as the blue tarps will be replaced with shingles and new roofs.
The Art Lounge mural is currently on display at Spiva if you want to see it in person.

I plan to photograph the Joplin mural project while it is in progress so watch my blog for future updates.

What would your vision for the mural be? What would you include in a mural about Joplin?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer Reading

 This summer, I've been totally addicted to trashy romance novels!! 

It seems that when I get in the mood to read, I am not motivated to accomplish anything else. 

I will proudly boast that I have spent more than one morning, in bed, reading until almost 11:00 a.m. after staying up until after midnight reading. 

I have spent hours and hours with my nose in the books this summer, and it has been wonderful. 

What have I been reading, you ask? 

I am so glad you asked, I will tell you....I've been completely addicted to the Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning. 

I finished 4 of the books while I was in Arizona in June....and had to download the last book on my phone because it isn't out in paperback yet and I had to know what happened! 

As soon as I got home from my trip I went out and bought every single one of the Highlander Series books...and I just finished that series as well. 

The thing I've gotten from both book series, is an escape....they allow me to travel to Ireland and Scotland, and visit castles and fall in love with sexy time-traveling, magical, mysterious men. It is an escape I have desperately needed. 
Sorry for the pathetic picture. I am writing this at 1:24 a.m. and I don't have any other photos on my computer, or the motivation to go take another picture, besides...its too dark now anyway.

I can't decide if I should start a new series or devote a bit of that energy to blogging/crafting/cleaning....hmmmm.....

What are you reading this summer? I'm thinking about the Hunger Games, do you know anything about those books?

Monday, July 25, 2011

A high definition kind of life.

Sunday someone asked me, 'What have you been up to this summer?' and I actually fumbled around because I have been busy, but I couldn't pinpoint or summarize what I've been doing in one concise description like 'teaching' or 'working'...

I have worked a little bit, teaching one day a week at the art center. 

I have gone to the gym a bit. 

I helped move my mom. 

I went on a couple of trips. 

I had a little photo exhibit....but....what have I been doing with my time? 

Have I been frittering it away? 


I will brag a bit that I have had one of best summers ever. 

I've frittered a bit here and there...but I've stayed busy with froyo and waterpark dates, creek excursions, darkroom parties, weddings (3 this summer!), Harry Potter cake pops extravaganza-day, craft nights, and family cookouts. 

Things that normally seem mundane and boring have felt special and fun, like going shoe shopping at the mall and getting my haircut. 

Perhaps life was in black and white before the tornado and now it is in high definition color. 

Now my free time feels tastes tastier...and life just feels easier. 

These days, I savor everything.

Of course it is still painful to drive across town and see dirt lots where homes used to be.

It is scary driving down Main St. from 20th to 32nd at night because there are no street lights or illuminated signs or the dim glow from a porch light in either direction, for miles.....I cannot go anywhere without a visual reminder of what happened and is happening around town as lots are cleaned, debris is removed and preparations are made for new construction.

I think those things are a constant reminder that life is short, and bad stuff happens...(it is hard to relate to other atrocities in the world right now because I am, we are still grieving and recovering in Joplin).

While people still tell stories about where their coworkers rode out the storm or how someone lost a beloved pet, 'tornado' is not the only thing we talk when I get together with my friends. We are starting to move forward and talk about books, t.v. shows, and gossip....just like we used to do 'before' the storm.

And I think nearly everyone who was affected will look at their life as it was 'before' the tornado and 'after' the tornado. 

Maybe I am just on a 'vacation high'....a little too happy....a little too cheerful...or perhaps this is just part of the recovery process, but all I can say, is that right now, life is good. I find myself appreciating every beautiful flower, every pretty rainbow, and every delicious meal with genuine gratitude.

I wrote this post Sunday night and set it to auto-post Monday evening around 6:30....well, around 6:35 I was leaving the gym and I saw this magnificent post never went live and I think it was missing this image....I took this photo on Main Street in Joplin, (yes, I did drive out of my way to get this shot) The rainbow was starting to fade as I was racing to a spot where I had a clear view of the sky....which just happened to be on a very badly damaged section of the street. I posted it to facebook with the caption Hope for Joplin.

This photo was taken with the hipstamatic app on my iphone.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer blogging fail.

That's right, I've been the worst blogger ever this summer. And I'm okay with that.

My friend Whitney Scott mentioned that it has been too hot to blog, and she's right!! It has been miserably hot in Missouri this summer. In Joplin, we had a record blizzard, a record tornado, a record heat wave...I'm afraid of what might come next.

I had super high hopes of writing 'A Year in Kindergarten Art' blog series this summer over on my teacher blog page This Little Class of Mine. (Embarrassingly, I haven't posted anything new since January, even though I had a student teacher this spring and had plenty of time to write up new content. I blame it on my old, super slow laptop!)

I have photos from nearly everything that I did last year, but the one project I don't have a picture of is the mural project I do the second week of school...and without a photo of the project I have done 80 times (I'm not exaggerating, 11 classes of kindergarten, 2 classes of first grade, over 6 years of teaching, I've done it literally 78 times) I just don't have the motivation to write the blog series without a photo of that project.
 I also had high hopes of sharing a series of blog posts dedicated to Roylco, the art supply company who sent me some great supplies for my modified art class for students with special needs. The photo above shows some life-size characters the class made using the pre-cut shapes from Roylco. It was a wonderful project for that class and I am excited to share how they did it.

I guess I will be writing the kindergarten art series once school starts, with each lesson plan going up right after we finish it sprinkled with lessons about art for kids with special needs.

Anyway, I haven't had much motivation to write anything this summer, especially not lesson plans.

My guilt about avoiding a project about lesson plans has kept me from writing anything at all.

I'm hoping to change that tonight. What started out as one really super long post is now getting broken up into several smaller posts for this week. I have to take advantage of my writing mood while I am feeling it!

Tomorrow I am going to school for the first time since June check on my school supplies and gather some project samples for my friend Danielle, she just got her first elementary art job and I am going to visit her in St. Louis next weekend.

So anyway, thanks for being patient with me and watch for more posts later this week!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bride and Groom Plank the Altar

I just went to my cousin's wedding, we got the bride and groom to plank on the altar!!

More pictures from the wedding coming soon.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Photo Collage Friday. {Number Twelve}

I know I shared a photo collage of my nephew just a couple of weeks ago...but I really wanted to share another one, I took SO many cute photos!! I miss this little guy so much!

This collage reminds me of all my favorite things about summer: sprinklers, bubbles, splashing and laughing!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Photo Collage Friday {Number Eleven}

Summer favorites!! My summer is OVER half OVER!!

I am loving every ounce of my freedom. I am trying to do responsible things like drink lots of water, cook healthy meals, work out at the gym...but I am saving plenty of time for fun stuff too!! Here are some of my favorite photos of the summer so far. ENJOY!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Photo Collage Friday {Number Ten}

Hey hey hey!! I'm away on vacation this week!! I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite photos of my nephew. These were taken while I was in Arizona last month. UGH! I can hardly believe it is July!!

To see how much he's grown, look here, here and here.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!!

I spent Sunday in Oklahoma City with my aunt and uncle.

We took photos at the bombing memorial.

All three of us have a Nikon D5000.

It was a magnificent exhibit.

Made me think a lot about terrorism.
Made me wonder if we are ever truly safe anywhere?
Made me think a lot about freedom and hope and tragedy.


And a cute convertible that drove by when we were leaving. I like this photo because of the red*white*blue scheme. 

Hope you are having a good vacation. Mine is pretty great.....It is SO HOT here.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Photo Collage Friday. {Number Nine}

In June, I spent a week in Lake Havasu Arizona visiting my brother and nephew. It was amazing. I loved waking up beside the lake every morning, watching the colors on the surrounding mountains change as the sky changed. As the sun rose and fell the mountains would go from green-yellow, to brown, to red-tan, to black, to purple, to pink, to blue....all in one day! It was a gorgeous landscape. 
To see a few more photos of Lake Havasu from last year, look here. Holga pics here.