Wednesday, December 6, 2017

What Art has to teach Elementary students

I have been working as a Teaching Artist in different situations for about five years now. It started small, with an invitation to present at a high school tech theater conference that my sister in law was organizing, then some classes working with special needs and at risk kids at Paradise Ranch, my local equine assisted therapy facility. During this time I was also offering art and equestrian classes at my horse farm and working with our local foster program to reach out to kids in need.

When I moved to Rapid City three years ago I had the extraordinary opportunity to get involved with the Teaching Artist Program created as part of the Sculpture Project in Downtown Rapid City.  This program pairs Teaching Artists like me with Public Elementary School teachers to develop 6 week art programs that align art lessons with classroom learning.  As a Teaching Artist I have had the chance to work with classrooms from kindergarten to 3rd grade and to learn from my students and their teachers.

I have designed each lesson plan to have a theme and a sort of story arc, ending in a final project that will be available for the classroom to use through the rest of the year. Someday I hope to have the chance to work with other teaching artists and see what they are doing and why.  The classroom teachers are amazing and supportive, but someone more critical could certainly help me develop my teaching.

research for a presentation on how foster parents can use art to smooth the way for foster kids led me to the research showing that participation in art programs is consistently shown to increase resilience combined with the discovery that there is a creative transition that happens somewhere around third grade as the brain matures
Art can help kids whose learning styles dont conform to standard classroom lessons to stay involved in learning at the same time as integrating art in classroom learning promotes deeper understanding and retention

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

from 2016 to 2017

"Desert Shade" Oil on canvas Week 18

2016 was a great year for art. The year began with the simple goal of completing one artwork each week. As the year began I was training dogs at a local kennel, and dogs are a favorite subject for me, so by focusing on dogs as my subject I had access to a large variety of models. By setting weekly deadlines I committed to regular practice, which is really the best way to increase skill levels.  By settling on a single subject- the dog- I bypassed the need to constantly come up with new ideas. This allowed for exploration of techniques, mediums, and focus on developing technical skill.

The Project gave me exactly what had I hoped for.  Oil paint has always been my favorite medium, but takes time to do it justice. To complete the project without getting bored or running out of time I had to explore other mediums.  Watercolor proved to be fun, and a great way to capture images with lots of life and movement.
"Beach Corgi" watercolor on paper. Week  31
I also worked in colored pencil, mosaic, paper mache, and micron pens.  One week I even painted on the window of the kennel.  These experiments added variety to the project and gave me a reason to try new things.
"Zen Doodle ACD" Week 10

"Flying Jack" colored pencil on paper Week 17
"ALL the dogs" pen on paper Week 44

The final Painting for the year is one of the combination landscape and animal paintings that I attempt once or twice a year.  These paintings are always a lot of fun, but are never quite what I want them to be.  After a year of focusing so closely on the great variety of dogs that inspire me, putting a realistic dog into this leaping wave was easier and more successful! While the concept still has room to improve, I am pretty happy with this painting.

"Leaping Wave" Oil on canvas 
So now it is 2017.  I have big plans for this year! I want to continue the focus and discipline of the 2016 Dog Project while adding more collaboration and community involvement.

 This year is the 2017 Movement Project
I will collaborate with dancers, athletes, and photographers to explore the beauty of learned movement patterns and the cultures they come from. I have been playing with this idea for a few years now by painting small images of dancers and martial artists.  This year I look forward to taking it to the next level by working with performers and photographers to develop a range of source material that will add depth and originality to the idea.

As the project gets underway I am searching out performers who do ballet, traditional dance, martial arts, and other movement disciplines that incorporate both beauty and tradition. I am excited to be collaborating with several talented photographers and artists. I am currently looking for galleries and exhibition spaces that are interested in mounting a 2018 show including the finished artwork from this project as well as the source photographs and other art inspired by the project.  This is going to be another great year for skills development and plain fun art!