Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Perspectives Directive (or: funky colors and waterspouts)

 In a previous post I showed you some fun pictures I took with my iphone camera of a random plant.  Well, the plant is actually the plant in the art room at work.  How that came about was I was waiting for a client who didn't come, so in the meantime I took pictures (something I often do when I don't know what to do with myself).  I chose to take some close-ups of the plant in the art room.  Then I realized if I took pictures with my iphone then I could email them to myself and edit them at work instead of waiting to get home!  I did just that, then turned them into the black and white images you see in the other post, and brought them to groups.

The first time I brought them to a group I just had them out in case someone needed some inspiration.  Two clients began coloring them in with funky colors.  Meanwhile, I traced one of the images and then colored it in with some interesting colors of my own.

I was really interested in how this came out!  Also what came of making this during the group was that people wanted to learn how to mix colors on the paper like I did - either with colored pencils (what I used) or oil pastels.  The result is that now I will be running a workshop on techniques for using oil pastels next week, since I think it is probably one of the most accessible drawing materials and a lot of "heavy handed" people may enjoy learning how to create illusions of depth, etc etc.

The second time I brought the images to group I pre-cut them into lots of random shapes, purposefully obscuring the image so it didn't look so planty anymore.  I then asked participants to glue one or two of these pieces onto a larger sheet of construction paper and then include those images in a larger art piece.  I said, think of these as the "seeds" for a larger art project.

My project ended up looking like a lot of waterspouts on a turbulent ocean.  I wonder what that's about.  It's probably the most violent image I've made in a long time, even though it's in all blues, greens, and browns.

Anyway, the group really got the idea of the project and ran with it.  It was great to see where people went.  I think pre-cutting the image really helped people move past its origins and try to make something new instead of relying on the original form of the plant.

In general I love using the xerox machine to warp images, so I may continue to stretch the plant pictures beyond their origins and bring them into the groups to have at it!

Fun with iphone pictures

This picture is from my iphone camera, except I cropped it in iphoto so it's a little pixelly.  But still!  What a good camera for a phone!

I also cropped this one from a larger one.  I love it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tall Narrow Cup Goal: Accomplished!

Well, mostly.

A bit ago I mentioned one of my goals was to make a tall, narrow cup.  Here we have one vase and two tall narrow cups!  The vase is the one that's finished and the cups still need to be trimmed on the bottom.  They are pretty much the shape I wanted them to be and so far have survived in my care - that is, I transferred them to my shelf without dropping them.  Pretty good!

Today I went to the studio for a while because there was a silly miscommunication and I ended up not at work today but not at the other site I was supposed to visit, either.  So, finding myself with nothing to do, I decided to spend at least two hours on my pots.  When I got there I found a lot of things had made it through the last bisque fire, so I was able to glaze five pieces!  Then I trimmed the vase I made last Friday and made the two new cups.  Pretty productive day!

I wouldn't say my goal is completely accomplished, however.  I did manage to make a cup, but I want to make this cup shape consistently.  Then I will try another shape.  But I think I've really started to understand how to make the shape I want, which is largely about feeling the difference between pushing on the outside and pushing on the inside of the clay.  (Push on the inside to go wider, on the outside to go taller)  I don't think I have special talent for working with clay, but I'm proud of the hours I've put into this to get where I am and I'm seeing real progress.  So... yay :)


I will update with some artwork in a bit but first I want to share my new obsession: apps.

Oh, yes, I know, I'm not the first person to become obsessed with apps after getting a new iphone (birthday present from my parents - thank you!).  But my app obsession is pretty single-minded.  I just want strategy and puzzle games.  That's all.  Basically, my iphone is a fancy gameboy.

But I'm struggling a little because I am kind of OCD when it comes to desktop spaces - not in real life, just virtual desktops.  I don't like messy desktops with lots of things you have to search through.  This is something people probably wouldn't guess about me considering what most spaces around me look like (have you seen the piles of paper and art supplies next to my computer?).  But on my iphone I want everything on one screen and neatly organized.  The problem with this is that folders can only hold 12 things in them.  I had to separate my folders into full version games and games I've got "LITE" versions of, aka "trial versions."

These aren't even all of the games I've downloaded.  I have culled a few already, and I've got Plants vs Zombies, Angry Birds, and World of Goo on the ipad (graduation present) so I didn't re-purchase them.  I'm on the look-out for more games, not that I even have time to play all of these games in depth.  I'm enjoying "Zombie Cafe" right now and I've got 3 games going in Words with Friends (aka Scrabble).   Today I downloaded everything you see in the "trial games" folder except StupidZombieLite, which I downloaded yesterday.  I'm excited to try bad air day, where you fart in an elevator and you have to get rid of the smell before people around you die. ...nobody said these were high brow games.

It's bad because instead of reading on the subway I'm playing games.  But I am also playing strategy games instead of mindlessly refreshing facebook and email over and over, so I guess that is an improvement somewhat.

Also my background on my phone is a picture of a butterfly I took in 2002 when I went with some friends to the butterfly garden (I think it was in Philadelphia).

The butterflies were so tame they let you get really really close!

Anyway, that's my iphone games post for now.  Back to regularly scheduled art making...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Superheroes Directive

Superheroes (Strengths-based telling of personal narratives OR developing a positive self image)
Date(s) completed: 2/8/11 - 2/22/11

Single or Multi Session?
Age of Group Members?
Any age (In this group it was adults)

Gender of group:Men and women

Number of members?
10-12 (any size would work though)

Type of site?Outpatient

Other relevant information about population or site?
Clients diagnosed with severe mental illness. The topic of the group is "Storytelling Through Art"

Materials Used?

Describe materials needed for directiveOptional prepped materials included blank comic book strips (boxes on the page to fill with comics), speech and thought bubbles, pictures of classic superheroes for reference

Directive Description:
As many know, superheroes often have a traumatic or troubling past.  Many superheroes have witnessed or suffered severe trauma (Batman saw his parents murdered).  Some superheroes have something about them that makes them different from their family and friends and may have been rejected due to these differences (X-Men).  Superheroes use their experiences and transform them into something good - Batman protects the vulnerable citizens of Gotham, the X-Men protect other "mutants" from persecution and advocate for their rights.  It is important to note that super-villains also experience similar histories to superheroes, so it is up to the person whether they use their experiences for good (Batman) or evil (Joker).

In this project you will create your own superhero based on yourself.  If you were a superhero, what would your superhero name be and what would your powers be?  Who would you protect and why?  You can draw yourself as a superhero, make a comic book, or be inspired to do something else with the project idea.

The goal of this project is to encourage the group participants to recognize their strengths (in spite of or because of their experiences).  For example, the creation of a fictional superhero may allow group members to see themselves as "survivors" rather than "victims."

Prior directives or prep work with group?n/a

Comments/questions/suggestions for improvement:
I thought this would be a one-day project but the group members really got into it, even the people who have a hard time focusing usually.  Some people weren't able to come up with their own superheroes but chose their favorites and made homages to them, explaining why they were their favorite superheroes.  It was pretty surprising (maybe shouldn't have been) how many fans of Wonder Woman were in the group - men and women.  There were a lot of metaphors that could be used for other groups - The Hulk was a great superhero for discussing anger management, for example.

Also, using this directive helped me win over a few of the male group members because I have a pretty decent working knowledge of superheroes.  I did some research on different superheroes' pasts, too.  The guys were impressed.  However, I felt it was also important to have pictures of female superheroes, which is kind of hard considering there aren't that many famous female superheroes (Wonder Woman, Bat Girl, Super Girl, etc), but the women in the group seemed to appreciate it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I got a fancy phone

I got a fancy phone with a fancy camera so now I can take fake low-res pictures. :)

love songs playlist

love songs playlist
(for the art room the week of valentine's day... and beyond!)

"somebody to love" - queen

"romeo and juliet" - indigo girls
"i feel the earth move" - carole king
"crazy for you" - adele
"goodnight and go" - imogen heap
"bizarre love triangle" - frente!
"head over feet" - alanis morissette
"i only have eyes for you" - billie holiday
"what i'm trying to say" - stars
"feelin' the same way" - norah jones
"we've got a groovy thing goin' " - simon & garfunkel
"you make loving fun" - fleetwood mac
"crazy for you" - madonna
"love is a good thing" - sheryl crow
"true colors" - ane brun
"i get lost (acoustic)" - eric clapton
"love song" - the cure
"your song" - moulin rouge soundtrack
"by my side" - ben harper 

OK ... there is a CHANCE I overthought this playlist, but here's the story I imagined when I put it together.  

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Free Valentines!

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day?  I know a lot of people don't for a variety of reasons.  But I like Valentine's Day, even though it's not in any way a Jewish holiday (you can't even pretend it's not the feast of St. Valentine).  I just like love notes and hearts.  What can I say.

Amy Rice, an artist I found through poppytalk, is providing cute free valentines to download, print, and distribute!  They are so cute and sweet.  And also, Amy Rice is a really interesting artist, so make sure to take a look at the rest of her work.



(Of course, for Valentine's day there's always the classic "I Choo Choo Choose You" and "Let's BEE Friends" valentines from the Simpsons.  Can't go wrong with those.)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Blooming Garbage

Spring is coming and the garbage is blooming.

Everyone thought I was joking when I said that the reason the piles of snow were so high was because underneath was frozen mounds of garbage leftover from December.  Well, it's been above freezing and the snow is melting, revealing the garbage (and piles of neglected dog poo) beneath.  It's like a time capsule - you can even see frozen Christmas trees that were left out on the curb.

Ah, New York...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

2011 Chinese New Year

Today was the big parade in Chinatown so we went to see what we could see.  There were a lot of people and it was pretty insane, but we were able to find a spot near the end with good visibility.  Unfortunately it was pretty late so we really only caught the tail-end of the parade... tail end, get it?

I got some fun pictures and I think I also got some good ones on my Holga but I won't know until I get them developed (hopefully tomorrow or Tuesday).  Instead, I present to you this collage of my quick digital shots, cut down to look like fake polaroids or something.  Ha!  I am excited to finally develop this roll of film... I have been afraid to use it because I didn't want to waste exposures, but instead it's been sitting in my camera and I have no idea what's on there.  So I finished the roll today and I can't wait to see what comes out.  Hopefully... SOMETHING.  As opposed to the NOTHING that I got from our trip to London in 2005 when I loaded the camera incorrectly - repeatedly.  Sad.

Two scary things happened today.  ONE: fresh fish flippity floppiting around.  If you know me, you know I have an irrational fear of fish out of water.  I don't mind dead fish.  And live fish underwater can just stay away from me.  But once they're out of the water and flippity floppiting, struggling and drowning in the air, I get uncontrollable shivers.  BLEH!  I'm even okay with fresh fish in marketplaces still moving, but it's the flipping and flopping.

TWO: We tried to take the Q or R from Canal street.  We got into the subway station and the train just wasn't coming.  The station continued to fill up with people until it basically became dangerous to walk on the platform because it was so packed.  I had visions of falling onto the tracks.  So we left.  And then we realized the station was full all the way up the stairs.  I'm glad we got out of there.  We walked a few more blocks and took a different train.  We wasted $5 and 20 minutes but I am glad we left.  I hope everyone still down there was okay.  I could just imagine something spooking the crowd and then it would be a chaotic death trap.  And it was nice out anyway so it wasn't a big deal.

So that was the day.  We're making an effort to do New Yorky things, so this was one of those things.  :)


Our weather has really been up and down lately.  One morning the trees were all encased in ice, but it had all melted by the afternoon when the temperatures got up almost to 40.

Long story short, I can't wait until Spring.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Distressing Distressed Clay

I am really loving how my latest stuff is turning out.  The dark brown clay looks beautiful under the white glaze.  I just can't get enough of it.

modified coffee mug
The top image is a mug design inspired by my friend who is something of a coffee fanatic.  He asked me if I could design a mug that wouldn't have a handle but that could be used while the coffee is hot.  So instead of making a handle I used two slabs and made a built-in coffee sleeve.   Plus I think it looks kind of cool and modern.

There's only one problem.

The insides of all of these vessels is pitted and pocked, which means none of them are food safe.  I now have four great bowls or cups, including the modified coffee mug, and I can't use any of them because they're just not sanitary.
tea cup


One of my bowls is in line to be re-fired with a transparent glaze inside to hopefully seal all of the pits, so we'll see.

I have about five more things ready to trim either today or next week sometime.  I will have to come up with a different way to glaze the insides.  My theory is that the glaze is too thick inside, because it's not pocked on the outside and it's all the same glaze.  I'd like to have a nice solid white inside of the mug, but I might have to change my technique.  Right now I'm dipping the bowl quickly in the glaze but I might need to brush it on watered down and then coat it with transparent gloss.

Another problem is that I am really struggling to find time and energy to go into the studio lately.  I'm up to four days a week where I volunteer (I got my LCAT limited permit, yay! now I need 1000 client contact hours...) and I am trying to work out in the evenings, so I am missing the open studio hours and the evening classes are too full for me to try to sit in the back and work on my own.  It's been two weeks since I've been able to work and I'm not sure I'll make it today as I had planned.  Well, we'll see, I am mustering up some energy as we speak...
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