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Category Archives: BLOG
I love teaching this workshop called Off the Wall!
The goal of the workshop isn’t a suitable piece of art for one’s wall. Instead, it’s about discovering the color, texture, shapes and images that flip your creative switch.
The workshop is for adults, with a touch of kindergarten art class.Structured, but open and freewheeling.
You’ll find unusual art materials along with the standards.And stimulating exercises to open up your imagination, and help you to feel comfortable exploring creatively. Previous art experience isn’t necessary at all!
I’m teaching “Drawing for the Absolute and Utter Beginner” this fall, from Sept 25 to Dec. 11,Tuesdays 9:30 to 12:30 - a class designed for people with absolutely no previous art experience.
Consider this an invitation to come and learn to draw, to see what’s uniquely yours and enjoy the journey of discovery that drawing, an accessible skill, our common language, allows you to enjoy!.
Enough years of teaching this class have happily confirmed for me that anyone can develop their drawing potential within a few hours if they use the step- by -step method we follow in this class.
I was talking to a former drawing student and fellow artist the other day at an art opening about drawing, and what made the practice of drawing so powerful and amazing. We came up with a pretty good conclusion: drawing carries new ideas from inside us to the conscious surface of our lives in a way no other technique allows. Drawing enables you to access parts of yourself that would otherwise never come to light or be revealed, and the results are always so surprising. For my friend and I this was the essence of what made it such a powerful tool.
To develop your innate drawing capacity contact Silvermine School of Art and look for my class. http://silvermineart.org/education/courses.php?id=1298
I’m teaching a shortie summer drawing class designed for aspiring artists. Absolutely no previous art experience is needed to participate.This 6 week class starts next week on Tues. July 10, 9:30 to 12:30, at Silvermine School of Art in New Canaan, CT, and ends on August 8th. Content is based on proven teaching techniques and principles you’ll find in my books.
In this class we’ll follow a logical sequence of accessible exercizes in order to slowly build drawing skills, starting at the very beginning, where it’s impossible to make mistakes. As skills are built, students learn to represent what they see in front of them, and give spatial depth to what they draw.
This is fun! And it’s always mind blowing (not an art term, I know!) to see what eloquent artwork emerges from people within hours of instruction. Drawing is a basic language, one we can all enjoy and use to our great benefit!
For further information:http://silvermineart.org/education/courses.php?id=1080
Big Cardboard Box…or Eiffel Tower?
I just saw Olympia Stone’s “The Cardboard Bernini” at the Ridgefield Playhouse last night. Provocative and inciteful film about James Grashow, an extraordinary artist, and compelling personality. So I’m reposting this earler piece related to his process, and those of some other artists.
I’d scored a very tall, large, rectangular cardboard box. Tall, beige, and handsome. It had contained a tall, crazy- looking modern Italian light. Rather than throw the box out- such a nice,towering sturdy box-I dragged it over to my neighbor’s house where three very creative kids-Allie, Leila and Coco- would know just what to do with it.
And here’s how it went (my general translation from a firsthand account from Leila): “First we put pillows in it to make a clubhouse. Then when we got tired of that-well not tired exactly… we had a new idea. We decided to make an Eiffel tower, which Allie had heard about, that it was tall and in France. So, we went to the computer to find a picture of it. We printed out the pictures and used crayons to draw the Eiffel Tower on the box.
After a while we jumped on it, which smashed it up. So then we made it into a hotel because the flaps were like doors and windows. We painted Ariel on it, (the Little Mermaid).Then finally, we threw it out.”
Is this “childish thinking’”? Certainly. It’s also creative thinking. The girls know it’s not the real Eiffel Tower. So what! When things remind you of other things, and you follow the trail of creative crumbs, you can find your version of the Eiffel tower, among other possibilities…
Out of this free associating creative logic comes impressive dramas, narratives, artwork and events, creations. And lots of fun.
Enjoy this marvelous video to see what can happens when an inventive child, Caine Monroy, meets cardboard, with help from smart and caring adults:
We’re encouraged to do this when we’re kids, and are usually gently encouraged out of it as we grow up. Because in order to become solid citizens we need to develop the sequential planning and critical thinking associated with left hemisphere brain functioning. That largely becomes the goal.
And if we were using only an in- the- moment- Eiffel- tower- making thought process we might truly wind up living in a box we think is the Eiffel tower!
What if we can use both capacities effectively? What if we need to come up with creative solutions as an adult? At work, or in our life in general. If we neglect our capacity for creative logic as an adult we’re stuck recycling every old pattern we were ever imprinted with.
We need both capacities, and fortunately our brains come with a nice two part set of cooperative hemispheres. Empirical logic, planning, evaluation, sequences on the left, the synthesis of new ideas, lyrical logic, in the moment creation on the right.
Think of the bat in one side, the ball in the other. They will play together and they need each other to play a good game.
Adult artists have a reason to maintain the out of bonds thinking they first experienced as children. It’s their source of inspiration; they need it to keep their artwork enjoyable, novel, diverting.
Let’s see how James Grashow, whose “Cardboard Fountain”, recently exhibited at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield, CT, approached his cardboard box. Here’s his thinking:
“Cardboard Fountain” seemed to be the perfect vehicle to express my growing awareness of our temporality. Water and cardboard cannot coexist together. The idea of a paper fountain is impossible, an oxymoron that speaks to the human dilemma. I wanted to make something heroic in concept and execution while fully aware of its poetic absurdity. I wanted to try to make something eternal out of cardboard…the Fountain was an irresistible project for me.”
It makes perfect poetic sense, to make a cardboard box into a replica of the Trevi Fountain, and then, leave it outside to rot, and ultimately, return back to the earth in a state of decomposition.
Do we hear the echo of children’s voices in back of this Grashow quote?
There’s a parallel here between James Grashows’ cardboard fountain, bound for destruction, ephemeral, serving to express an irresistible urge, and my neighbor’s kids whose Eiffel tower and other architectural iterations gave them pleasure, poetic shelter and is now part of recycled detritus. Creative logic.
Art is a wish fulfillment, a prayer, for something to be that can’t actually exist unless you do it. Just as it is for the scientist, engineer, the architect.The engineer, the architect is bound by empirical fact, while the artist is not. For the artist it’s not a monument in France or a working fountain, it’s the desire, your wish, your fascination that you manifest. Caine Monroy wanted his own arcade, and so, he made one!
What if your creative storehouse feels like it’s full of dust. Is it truly empty? (Of course not!) If you simply begin by welcoming your own adult brand of “childish thinking”, and treat it as an ongoing tool for invention, a universal game for the entire human family, you’ll have a different ball game entirely. New ideas will begin to appear, because you asked.
And what would you would do with your cardboard box? You can just fantasize, do the dreaming and thinking part, or make what you imagine. And you’re allowed to dream/do something silly. In fact, do that! Just daydreaming allows you to turn back time to retrieve childhood capacities. Just let your mind do that, and see what happens.
I really enjoy teaching this workshop I designed specifically for people who want to learn some painting fundamentals but have little or no art experience. Within three hours of instruction they can become comfortable with painting tools and techniques, learn alot about how to mix color effectively, and create some unique and lovely paintings as a result. It’s quite moving and amazing to see this unfold. Since no drawing skills are necessary people can get right down to the shapes and colors they enjoy without concerns about representation. It’s alot of fun, and participants come away with core information about paintings and how they’re made, as well as confidence that they can pursue the art of painting. (below for info/ registration)
Painting for the Absolute & Utter Beginner Workshop: Color Mixing
Instructor · Claire Watson Garcia
Course ID: CGSA930AM06092012 Saturday · 9:30 am – 12:30 pm · $90 1 Session · June 9
This workshop teaches the absolute beginner how to mix the colors they see in paintings and in the world around them. No drawing or other art experience is needed to acquire this skill, other than the ability to draw a doodle! Students start at the beginning of the learning to paint process with a sequence of fun to do, accessible exercises that gradually teach them how to handle painting materials with confidence, mix colors effectively, and apply paint to create a variety of impressions. They learn how to apply their new skills to create their own color-full painting by the end of the workshop. Please bring scissors, and an 8 oz. water container. The school will provide all other supplies.
We have homework and assigned projects every week in “Off the Wall,” the class I’m currently offering at Silvermine School of Art. Not your ordinary homework though, since this is a course on “creative process”. One recent assignment: make a piece of art to Accessorize Yourself. The result: zany knitted hats decorated with ear buds, paper lace collars, intricate necklaces, puppet wands, and a used paint tube tool belt. I wish everyone would dress like this all the time!
I’ll be featuring some of the students and their “homework accessories” in subsequent blogs. Here’s Nina Birnbaum, wearing her pieces, and talking about her process:
“At the Westchester Craft show, I always walk around and talk to the artists. One woman makes/sells fabulous felted items. The artists are almost always glad to talk about process. In this case, she had “saved” un-felted areas where you could see loose stiches popping up, giving an interesting texture. When she told me she tied hazelnuts into her knitted items to prevent certain areas from being felted, I was delighted and ran home to try it. Continue reading
We had alot of fun on Sat. May 19th! Students did a great job learning how to create the sketching line, and how to apply it to add accuracy to their drawings of simple still life subjects. A few images here from class…
Sketching is…eloquent, expressive, rapid, generalized, and yes, practical! A great tool for adding accuracy to your work, as well as to express spontaneous impressions. I’m teaching a workshop at Silvermine Art Center from 9:30 to 12:30 designed for the “absolute and utter beginner“ to introduce you to the sketching line and all it can do for you! We’ll start at the very beginning of the learn to draw process, where mistakes aren’t possible, and no previous art experience is required. Art supplies are provided by the school. For more information and to register contact Silvermine Art Center.
I was thrilled to be a presenter at the Aldrich Museum/Ridgefield Library’s Creativity Conference, Advancing Creative Thinking : Imagination to Innovation, April 27 and 28th at the museum in Ridgefield, CT. The idea behind this groundbreaking cross- disciplinary conference is that “imagination and innovation lie at the heart of the creative process in every discipline-from education to business to government.” Presenters were given the opportunity to offer their techniques for utilizing imagination from their own particular area of expertise.
What happened when I gave a workshop called: “Drawing: Gray Matters” ?
Will they come? Well, yes they did!
Large numbers of energized, enthusiastic people showed up on Sat. April 28 at 9am. Teachers, gardeners, artists, administrators, tech folks, plenty of people “looking for more” to bring back to the workplace, or simply to gain some information about the creative process in general.
Some came with trepidation: I have no talent! We have to draw! What was I thinking!
We began right away to draw out the intensity, nervous anticipation, excitement and early morning caffeination that came into the studio classroom.
They were game for that! Game on! They scribbled; received more instruction, and built on the results using myriad options from the groaning art supply buffet table.
What resulted was a large vibrating entity of creative people buzzing with activity that reminded me of “1st Class “ Xu Bing’s “carpet” of 400,000 cigarettes upstairs at the museum (see “It’s Alive. Xu Bing’s Tobacco Project”, a previous blog, for a picture of it), only with more color! Each participant was working in a personal and unique way, some with high contrast charcoal, others with collage elements which sometimes burst out three dimensions, and so on.
It took the help of a volunteer who could wolf whistle to help me alert the crowd to incoming information. Even then I’m not sure I was able to get across exactly why the workshop was called Gray Matters!
We were here to dispel some common misapprehensions about creativity (as well as have art fun), among them:
1. That “talent” is required for creativity to be present.
2. And that only one person out of a bazillion has talent.
3. If you’re creative, all this talent-generated art comes streaming out of the right hemisphere of your brain. And there’s a perfect landing! No corrections necessary!
Blah. And nooo. So not true!
What is true, and you can physically experience this making art, is that simply by nature of being human, and capable of making scribbles, your creativity can emerge instantly. You are creative, though the structures provided for you to get that out and express it are not always available.
What is true, and workshoppers embodied this, is that capacities associated with right and left hemispheres of our brain complement each other. Like good partners, they take turns holding sway in their area of expertise.
Though the brain functions with constant interchange between these centers, you can attribute general strengths to each hemisphere, and utilize them in a conscious pattern.
This sequence of alternating dominance is comparable whether one is making an invention or a piece of art. (Yes, fine, but where are those red feathers? And the googly eyes…?)
As the 10:30 end of workshop approached I was prying the art tools out of people’s hands. Right hemisphere focus was not over, but the time was. Too short a time period, such a lot of vibrant creative art work coming out! A pleasure that could have gone on much longer. The next class was arriving, we had to make room. Here come those sequences, time awareness, action plans. Yes, left hemisphere talking…sigh! Looking forward to doing this again (whole brain talking here!)
Thanks to all!
I shop for this kind of hat. But I can’t find it, so I need to make it. And it “arrives” BECAUSE I want it. I’m open to it.
My paintings are wish fulfillments. (All art is wish fulfillment.)
The work in this recent series started this way: in the studio taking a painting break, I began looking through “visual resources”- my compost heap of art history books, nature photography, vintage postcards, National Enquirer mags (oh yes!), fashion books from the Victorian age/40’s/ 50’s. Noticed how the photograph of a wintry Niagara Falls on a postcard and an image from a Victorian dress echoed each other. (Sources are pictured to the left below.) Did a sketch to see how I could put them together, liked the results, and got hooked. See if you can find the resulting Niagara Falls dresscape amongst my other dresscapes on the site.