Sunday, September 14, 2014

From the archives.... Yianna and Helios in Russia


Back in the winter (?) of last year,  our traveling friends, Yianna and Helios sent us a message from the snowy streets, Russia.  The message was sent at the most perfect time, because the Olympics had just started.  Russia has an incredibly rich history of art, dance, theatre and music, coupled with cultural traditions.  From historical monuments and buildings, to the artists that influenced Russian history, my students, inquisitively, followed Yianna and Helios through art, history and just a little mystery.

Thinking back, as a warm up we looked at the amazing artistry of the hand painted eggs through the experience of children's author Patricia Polacco and her story of Rechenka's Eggs.  Amazingly enough, I found the story on Vimeo through Reading Rainbow!  

Love it.

Although in art class, this portion of the art unit as delivered and executed a bit differently, I created a quick resource for my classroom teachers: Russian Eggs.  This allowed not only my students to learn and connect but all students (hopefully).  

Our exploration of art, artist and art-making lead to Wassily Kandinsky and his abstract expressionist paintings, created from lines, shapes and colors.  Considering, Kandinsky is a very popular artists among elementary art teachers (and in general), there are a lot of resources out there (see below).  For my students' purposes, I wanted my students to independently choose the Kandinsky style that worked best for them.  
We started by comparing two of his paintings, observing, describing and discussing the differences and similarities. 

Before starting our art works, we watched a truly vintage recording from 1926, in which Kandinsky is seen using a brush and ink to sketch an idea or start a drawing.

Well, that sparked our beginning process as we created our own, very unique drawings.

By looking at the photographs, you can probably tell that we used all sorts of materials that suited our needs.  Students made choices, they initiated their explorations and they took ownership of their work.
In the end, from just little "Kandinsky" drawings, they really made self-portraits.  Each students personality and character just came screaming out!


See you back in the 

xoxo, SMocK you.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

From the time

Mini Artist Residency
University of Illinois
an art teacher's journey into art making

This summer, I found a wonderful opportunity to go back to my roots, as an artist and art teacher....back to making art.  For a week, I immersed into materials, processes, techniques and reflection, all the while letting my self "play".  
I experienced a sense of fear at first.  The last time I had my own studio, my own time and my own space was, nearly, 11 years ago in the precious city of Venice, Italy.  For graduate school I worked, lived and breathed the encompassing notion of art. 
I made it.
I read it.
I explored it. 
I discussed it.
I ate it.
I drank it.
I fell in love with it  (and the people who became part of my life--love you.)

In the past 10 years, although my ideas were/are endless, they never transpired into something tangible....something real....something.  Art education became my life.  Not in the sense of living and breathing and becoming a hermit crab to the world, thinking only about my students, BUT teaching opened the door to other amazing opportunities, steering my focus away from making art.  Until this opportunity came around.
And thank goodness...I was beginning to develop a twitch.         

So, what happened?

Well, for one week I sat for 10 hours in a studio and started painting, started drawing, started writing,  and started making incredible connections with some incredible people.  There were about 24 of us (?) who wanted nothing more than have uninterrupted time studio time. As a group, it seemed like we woke up together, we ate together, we created together and grew together.  Something magical happens when time and space are not a factor..

My week started off...small.  I have always seemed to float back to circles, ovals, orbs, spheres, playing with their shapes, and given them a sense of identity- Playful but somehow permanent.

I was, in reflection, focused on change and my ability to alter shapes, ideas, thoughts, motion and impression.

Throughout the week, I changed, altered and transformed my studio into different spaces, constantly moving from one idea to another...
But somehow they connected.

Floating shapes, colors and impressions connected one painting to another and one idea to another, linking my process throughout the week.

From small oval eye-ish shapes, I veered towards larger than life figure drawings of women, inspired by works of master artists.  If you look closely you may notice the pose of a Rembrandt, Matisse and Picasso.

By mid week, color and large surrounds changed to something more intimate and clean.  Sometimes, I feel to find inspiration and stay in the sweet spot of making art, you need to strip away everything and just work with simple, raw and organic processes.  
I felt good.

I, also, felt good to fall back into my comfort zone.  About ten years ago, as I was playing around with copper wire and gloss medium , I discovered something magical (well, at least to me).
A change.
 A transformation.

In an exciting farewell, our weeks work was displayed in a pop up art exhibit in a gallery.

My my new friends and colleagues....see you next year!

xoxo, SMocK you.
PS.  For more information: