Sunday, January 22, 2017

Appalachian Gothic

At the end of the school year last year a group of teachers from my school decided to hike a small portion of the Appalachian Trail (I blogged about it here). We were to hike for 3-4 days, depending on how we felt and how much food we had left, since none of us had ever done anything quite like it before. The Goods are a married couple that teach in my school that were part of this small hiking group, and they're always up for an adventure!

While hiking I planned a lesson on making parodies of American Gothic and the Goods happily posed for a quick sketch to help me with my idea. They've done so many kind things for my family that I wanted to something for them in return. This caricature is my thank you to them for their kindness! I referenced a quick picture snapped with my phone on the Trail, a smudgy sketch from my sketchbook, and drew a larger caricature of them as "Appalachian Gothic". A little watercolor finished it off. Thank you Erin and Dave Good for being gooder than good- The McKee family thinks you're pretty GREAT! 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Making stuff...

I love looking at the art of others. Illustrators, painters, sculptors, you name it, and I wanna see what it is, know how it's made, what materials were used, what inspired it, who made it, what their story is, tell me all about it. It's sometimes so inspiring that I can't wait to get started on a new project of my own. Sometimes something you see jolts you into an "Ah-HA!" moment that changes your perspective of things and you finally know how to finish something you started. My husband and I have collected some interesting pieces of art for our home over the years, and each piece tells a different story. I've always loved handmade things and genuinely appreciate the work of others, the time invested, the thoughtful care taken to perfect a craft or idea, the little imperfections that add loads of character and charm to each unique piece. However, it's taken me a loooooooong looooong time to begin to value what I have to offer artistically. I'm an elementary art teacher. I teach art skills and concepts to kids, I love it, I think I'm pretty good at it, but I'm asked to do a lot of other things, such as caricatures for gifts, paintings, drawings, sewing projects and beaded work...It only recently occurred to me that people wouldn't be asking me to do these things if they didn't believe I could deliver. If other folks have that much faith in my skills, why haven't I

So this year I made stuff, good stuff (nothing museum quality, but cool to me). Stuff to gift, stuff to sell, stuff that made me feel like a problem solver, stuff that made me smile, and stuff that frustrated me quite a bit. I drank coffee and tea while making things, listened to music, tried things I'd never tried before. Last year someone I work with gifted my family a tiny homemade Christmas ornament that we love. This year my daughter and I decided to make one for her that would include her cat, Mel, in some way. My daughter helped this coworker choose her cat pal from a local shelter, and Clare is an animal lover, so incorporating Mel was a must! I had scrap leather pieces laying around, so I painted a background on one. My daughter chose her favorite Mel pics by stalking Instagram, and I painted some more. 

I'm not a big cat person, but I have a soft spot for orange cats. My grandmother always had orange cats named George. When one passed, the next orange cat was named George too! Anywho....We talked about each step in the creative process. What about beads around the edge? Can we do that? What color beads should be used (we had loads to choose from)? How could we add glitter?!?!?! Mel is pretty fancy and wears a tiny bell on her collar, so we decided to add a bell to the ornament. We were really pleased with this tiny thoughtful gift, and so was the recipient of it. My daughter has great ideas, is incredibly thoughtful, and I love listening to her thoughts. She's great company, and I love working on projects with her. This little project inspired other projects, so I'm on a roll! Go look at art and make something!