Friday, December 21, 2012

How To Teach Figure Drawing Without a Model!

I always have a few kids who really want to know how to draw people. Makes sense, yes? It's my favorite thing to draw too. But try as you might, you really really really need them to look at a model. Both in school and out I've spent countless hours at Life Drawing classes. Problem is the models are unclothed. NOT what you'd want for a class for kids.

I've tried everything over the years: having them look in the mirror (not too successful except for self- portraits), making my own kids pose for the class (only a good idea if you have kids that are NOT mine--one refused and the other one wriggled so much I might as well have had the artists draw weasels), cutouts from Fashion magazines (here the clothes so overpowered the form of the body that the kids went right to stylizing the figures.)

And then---DUH---it hit me. The wonderful internet. I did a few searches and finally came up with some fabulous clothed non-fashion models with interesting poses.

I explained gesture drawings to the students. They each had 1 minute with each photo, then we switched. Then they had 5 minutes with a picture. Switch. It was the best way to replicate an actual Life Drawing class where the models usually start out with short poses.

These are all from one fabulous artist because my other shots didn't come out (sorry girls!) but I'll post more the next time we do these. 

Good job, Excellent Middle School artist!

New Picasso's Basement Website! Woo-hoo!

I am pleased as punch to introduce you to my new Picasso's Basement website!!!  (That's right. Click the link. You know you want to!)
Come learn more about Picasso's Basement and, by all means, hire me to run a program for you!

     Pass this on to your friends who want to throw their kids a party! I can run a fabulous art party. 
     Tell a buddy who owns a preschool! I am happy to teach a class for them.

     Let your local parks department know about it. I am running afternoon classes in the Fanwood park buildings but will travel locally!  

    Recommend me to retirement or assisted living communities!  I can come in to help make a memory box with the seniors that they can share with family or use to honor a special person or moment in their lives.

A big hearty hug and thank you to my friend Lyuda Luvrentyeva who designed the site. She is an amazing illustrator to boot. (Right, you know the drill. Click her link too! She likes to work!)
She worked hard into the night while I bombarded her with pictures of artwork and artists. She pored over fonts and tolerated my lack of technical know-how. Plus she fed me very very good bread.  THANKS, LYUDA!  

Monday, December 3, 2012

Master of Disaster Projects (AND A GIVEAWAY!)

It is rare that I swipe a project directly from another blog or website but this one bore the markings of everything that is good in a project:
Not THIS gelatin

  • Creativity
  • Surprise
  • A folky home method of creating a professional item
  • Nature
  • Jello

Even when I do get a project from another site I usually try to put my own spin on it but this looked so gorgeous. PRINTMAKING ON GELATIN SHEETS. Sounds like fun! Sounds challenging but exciting!  Check it out here at Cassie Stephens' blog.

Gorgeous, right? I imagined my students looking at me with new-found admiration and a greater understanding of the printmaking process.

What? What was that you're asking? GO BACK? Go back to the list of features? 

Yes, I did say Jello.

Well, not the yummy kind of jello you had as kid. Of course I was thinking that. Delicious pretty friendly jello. I'd eaten it for years. My mom made it. My kids loved it. Good ol' fashioned jello.


This kind:

I know. I know what you're thinking. 
Regular Jello IS this kind of jello. Yeah, but it's bright and cheerful and smells good. And I'm not a vegetarian and I'm not kosher so what's the big deal?

Well here's a tip:  If you start working on an art project and it makes your kitchen smell like a bone yard then you should STOP RIGHT THERE. 
Making 3 trays of gelatin took 36 pouches. That's right. 36. And my kitchen smelled like ground pig. 

Do you really want to keep reading? Well, I'll do you a favor cause it's a painful tale of woe. (I almost wrote tail. That wouldn't have really been funny, would it?) I'm gonna sum it all up in a list of chain of events. To make it more dramatic I'll talk about myself in the third person, like Bob Dole:
  • Paula makes up list of items needed to do project
  • Paula calls local art supply store in advance which promises her they HAVE printmaking ink.
  • Paula gets all supplies. 
  • Paula cooks 36 packets of smelly nasty gelatin and fills 3 cookie sheets.
  • Paula spills some on floor. Dog races over and laps it up. Dog vomits.
  • Paula cleans vomit. 
  • Paula goes to parent-teacher conference for 9 year old, runs a little late.
  • Paula races to art supply store, just hours before her Mixed Age Group class is to arrive.
  • Art supply clerk takes her to printmaking ink aisle. No printmaking ink. Only ink for stamp pads.
  • Paula DOES NOT hurt the clerk or the apologetic customer service aide who tells her no one there knew what printmaking ink WAS. 
  • Paula panics and substitutes tempera paint.
  • Students arrive. Paula shows them leaves and pictures of the glorious pieces we will all make.
  • Paula inks up nasty gelatin tray with tempera paint, students apply leaves, make first print.
  • Gloopy paint slithers under leaves, making ALL prints black.
  • Paula and students try many methods to make it better. They try printing other things. 
  • Students discover that printing shells do nothing but leave you with a tray of shells embedded in gelatin.
  • Paula tells students to wash trays, we are going to try something different, neglecting to say USE COLD WATER.
  • Hot water causes slimy gelatin to pour off trays and into now-vile slop sink.
I'm going to do you another favor. I'm not going to show you our "prints". Use your imagination.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Never create art projects that require cooking. Always have wonderful students with a good sense of humor. And be ready with a nice glass of wine to down when all the students go home. 

Do you have a MASTER OF DISASTER PROJECT you care to share?  If I get at least 5 submissions I will pick the most vile and send them one package of Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Cleaning Sponge.
May the most heinous project win!