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Friday, October 24, 2014

Real life still life and lessons learned

Today's art education video was on doing a still life. I've done tons of still-life's over the years, but I am not fond of them. They are always so fake and contrived.  For example, where in life are you going to find an apple, next to a vase, next to a wooden model?  Only in an art classroom. That kind of unnatural situation often bothered me when I was studying art in school.  I think the situation that bothered me the most is when a nude model stood on a ladder. Who is going to climb a ladder naked in real life? No one. That's who.

So, my still life includes items that really were on my desk and arranging them, meant only moving them a few inches so I could get them all into an arrangement that would fit on the paper. A real-life-still life.
sketch a day- day 3

Still life reminds me of that old Sesame street song "one of these things do not belong here". Remember that? I have learned in life, that sometimes it is good to be out of place in the world... to stand out like a sore thumb. After all, that was a huge part of our homeschool experience, often being the only one of our type.  Still, when we force things that don't necessarily go together into a setting, it can be unsettling and confusing... much like a still life set up in an art classroom.

But if you are willing to, you can examine these items and make sense of the relationship they will have with each other. Let's look at the items in a typical classroom still life:  a clear vase gives the artist the challenge of portraying transparency on paper. An apples give the challenge of portraying a round object on flat paper, and the artists model helps you to process a more complicated item in the background, which by the way you can draw in a more impressionistic style because it is typically further away. These items are put together to create a challenge... as a learning tool.

Perhaps that is why God places unlike things together. At some point he decided to take people from Africa and throw them in with people from Europe and other countries around the world. That didn't start out to well did it? But over time, people began to look at the relationships between us and found a lot in common.  Red blood, organs that are undecipherable from each other, and emotions that act thusly to injustice. We still have so much to learn from each other, but I have learned that this real-life still-life is not as awkward as I thought, and that all of the discomfort and feeling out of place, has been quite educational to me, and to others as well.

We still have a long way to go, but we are richer for the experience.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Rote memorization- just practice

sketch a day- day 2
In the art video I watched today, the artist instructor demonstrated how to draw the human figure and understanding how the body works and what shapes it is generally made up from.  So, today's sketch is of a model dummy I have that interestingly enough is not comprised of the same shapes that he demonstrated in the video.

Something he said in the video caught me as very interesting. He said that an artist has two talents... the first is being able to remember what things look like and to draw them from memory. I am and have always been weak in that. The second is in being able to see in a way that most people cannot, to break down an item, a figure, etc, and draw it on paper in a realistic way. That is my strength.  I have always happily leaned on it.

I always thought that my talent was what it was and that I could not fix the missing part of my artistry and learn to draw from memory. But according to this instructor, I was wrong. It seems that the way to strengthen this missing part of my skills is through wrote memory.  To practice. To draw items (in this case he was talking about anatomy and the human figure) over and over again. Use anatomy books.  Draw bones, tendons, muscles, etc until I can draw them without looking at the item.

Sounds familiar doesn't it. Isn't this how we taught our kids the alphabet, to count, to multiply, and history and grammar facts when we homeschooled them?  And the homeschooler becomes the homeschooled!

Why wouldn't I treat practicing my art like my kids practiced piano, or like I have always insisted they practice math through doing a few problems a day?  Why should it be any easier..  And considering that my hand feels crampy after just a 15 minute sketch, I can tell you it won't... but I will be better for it. Likewise, kids will be better for daily practice of math, language, and whatever they are endeavoring to learn.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sketching and the Devil in the White House

Sketch a day, day 1
I am trying to force my creativity by doing a sketch a day.  I am using some free video lessons by to inspire me.  I used a lesson today on using shapes to draw buildings... this is the house across the street from me.  You could say I am homeschooling myself in art... kind of as a refresher. This sketch took all of 10 minutes.  I am sure I will revisit it later and add ink.

As I was drawing, the news was on. I got distracted from my task when I heard the phrase "the devil in the White House". They were interviewing an elderly early voter who was saying he was voting a straight Republican  ticket because he dislikes the devil in the white house. I had a personal heart response to his comment. It hurt my feelings. I've heard presidents called a lot of things by fellow Americans but never the devil. I couldn't help but wonder what in him made him view Obama as the devil, and what about Obama made him do so.  Do I have some of the same qualities?  Am I a devil too?  I should hope not.... I am sure he though what he was saying was cute. It wasn't cute to me.

And then well-meaning people try to defend it.  I. Just. Can't.

But it did feel good to do a sketch...

One of the lessons I viewed suggested I hold the pencil differently, so I am drawing with my arm and not my hand.  I'm not sure if it was effective or not. It worked well for scaling out the house, but when it was time for detail, I could not help but flip the pencil back around.

Speaking of art, have I ever mentioned that my daughter is minoring in art in college? She wants to up it to a double major, but that is crazy. Her art major (for which she is scholarshipped) already takes up 99% of her time.  That kind of time commitment would be educational suicide. She's real good though. Everything she has created in her 3D class so far this semester has blown me away. You can still see the theatrical influence in her art, so it is a nice compliment.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

False starts and misdirections after homeschooling

It has been 1 year and 5 months since I finished homeschooling my kids.  My youngest is well into her Sophomore year at college, and my son is well past the halfway point.  They are doing great!

And then there's me. I have a lot of ideas about what I was going to do after homeschooling.  Homeschooling gave me so much focus... so much direction, and was so passion-filled... now I'm feel like I am grasping at straws.

I thought I was going to work with homeschooling families after homeschooling, but found out real quick, that the people who need me the most can't pay me, and I am not in a place to volunteer that kind of time.

I thought that I was going to get a Real Estate License and sell houses, but after going through the course, I found out there were a lot of things about that industry that I - just - don't - like.  So that's not going to happen.

I thought I was going to go on a bit of an adventure with my husband, but we are not sure that is still going to happen...  (the marriage is fine by the way... it's more job related.)

So here I am asking myself what I do want?  What do I want to do?  How do I want to fill my time? With or without my husband... with or without our kids... with or without any sort of leadership.

And the answer keeps coming back... follow your gifts.

But my gifts are so varied, I reply.. and so many people are pulling me in so many directions towards different aspects of what I am capable.

And the answer keeps coming back... follow YOUR gifts.


Stay tuned.