Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I love Valentine's day. It's an excuse to kick back with some paper and glue. Many thanks to my friend, Marci, for the generous sharing of supplies and dye-cutter.

Monday, February 10, 2014

FreeForm Fabric Collage

 Freeform Fabric Collage at Arlington Center for the Arts:  Every time I teach this class it is a surprise, full of new talent and ideas.
exploring color
This year is no exception. The students are all experienced. They are working with paper as well as fabric. They want to experiment with form as well as design.
preparing fabric
The first week, students took an existing image and explored in line, value and color:

 Last week we worked on the surface, creating stamps and then printing and stenciling. 
abstract and image
Even in two session, people's styles emerge. Look at these. Same artist, two assignments:
This student is working with leaf designs. I love her layered pieces from last week. The left is from stamps, the right from stencils, but they work harmoniously together.

We alter surface once more this week, using gelatin plates. Then we start to shape andcollage, with glue, fusibles, and stitch. Cards, boxes, books, flags, all waiting to be born.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Image Transfer Class

layered family images
This weekend, ten  women joined me at Arlington Center for the Arts for a fast-paced class in Image Transfer.  They brought images and substrates, everything from tissue paper through mat board to cotton, silk, even clothing. I hauled in my printer and an array of transfer media.
many busy hands

The subject is so broad, the techniques related yet disparate, and the materials constantly evolving. I "narrowed" the subject down to four techniques. We started with the tidier methods: water transfer from a waxy surface, and iron-on transfers.

iron-on transfer from original photos
After a quick lunch we got down to business with the larger adventure of  alcohol and acrylic medium transfers.  A lot to cover? Yes, but these folks were up to the challenge.

images from Israel
Along the way: lots of experiments,  excellent questions, shared failures and discoveries. The bonus for me as teacher, the surprise of new ideas. Some fine pieces happened.  One person even embellished a shirt. I love when people bring in clothes to alter.

The beauty of learning in a classroom is the support that students offered each other. Everyone was generous with their knowledge, sharing how the same techniques worked (or didn't) on more substrates.
making gel transfer
Plus there was real support for finding potential in the unexpected.

Many styles, many samples
Thank you, Mary, Amy, Heather, Elizabeth, Judy, Maryanna, Jean, Kimberley, Gayna, and Lolita for a wonderful day.
gel transfer onto silk

Friday, February 7, 2014

Elder arts: winter wonders

Class this week at RiverCourt Residences made everyone feel warm and snuggly in spite of the cold.  Inspired by this idea, I led two groups to paint an arctic scene.

I must adapt each project for a variety of challenges. Hands tremble. Eyes are weak. Directions confuse. Tracing is out of the question. With dementia patients, even the act of moving paint from a tray to brush to paper can challenge. 
 I discovered that my stash of old clear contact paper could act as a removable resist. So we started by putting "magic bears" on to each page.

I gave each student a 2-inch house paint brush and showed them how to wet down the page. Surprisingly, even though this made little visible change, the process went easily. Linking the action to house painting instead of art triggered strong memories. "I know I'm good at this."

Then each student painted their page with color, mixing purple and blue. Here their abilities widely separated. Some grasp the concept and run with it. For others, filling a blank area can become quite hard. From what I've learned, as Alzheimer's progresses, edges become dominant. So painting a line makes sense, but painting an area does not. But with this subject, I could assure students that white was a fine choice for the final image:

Last step: trade the brush for a Q-tip and the watercolors for white paint. (Next time I'll remember to put the paint in clear containers. In old yogurt cups it was invisible.) They daubed on dots - snow or stars. Like house-painting, this motion made sense to most everyone, even students who'd had a hard time applying color.

When we removed the bears ("Remember the magic bears?") everyone was amazed, even the assistants. Sometimes art feels like a magic trick. The best part is the pride students clearly feel in the moment, even the ones who will forget.

I repeated the class with the Independent Living group, with the additional detail of adding precut stars and snowflakes. Big hit.

Art class is a time to relax and concentrate, follow instruction and make things up, all at the same time. And afterwards, if things go well, others can see and be amazed: a circle of delight.