Friday, October 31, 2014

Free Form Collage

Experiment with shape and line
My students continue to amaze me.
Prints and bits
After six weeks, they still bring their full attention to class, diving into assignments.
We've made stamps and stencils, printed with gelli plates, abstracted from images and developed themes. I learn so much from their different approaches.
Miniatures in progress
 This year I've encouraged the students to work on multiple pieces simultaneously. This is a stretch, especially at the end of the day. But it frees you.  You no longer need to find  to find The Right Answer. Instead, many answers appear.
Lollipop Tree series inspired by vintage fabrics and 1800s textbook
Stillness and fascination with texture

Thumbnails from photos
The class is so full of ideas it makes me giddy.
 Wolf and Spirit theme

Experiment with lines and layers
They bring so much to the class. They encourage each other, and challenge me. Transformative Thursdays, for all of us.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Elder Art: Collage

Scraps from my studio become art supplies
I brought a pile of autumn-hued fabric scraps to my art classes this week.

Adding leaves to a painted ground

Folks were surprised  that fabric could be an art supply. They loved the colors, the textures. Several noticed the silks and the remnants of hand-dyed table cloths. This is the generation that treasured those linens. 

This student, usually hesitant, often disappointed, loved the process.

a rich scene

For the Alzheimer's patients, however, tasks remained discrete. Think about it: gluing is made up of many steps. It requires a sense of what is possible in the immediate future, and that's just what Alzheimer's robs away. 

Every student needed one-on-one attention to get anything glued to paper. Then, the collaged image didn't hold together in their eyes. "It looks like blobs. There's too much white."

 So we backed up and worked on the processes that made sense to each person.
Trimming a rough edge
Adding leaves to a painting
A bit of green linen for ground
Adding color to the background
One woman painted the tree's edges green.  I handed her a brush with orange paint on it, and she carefully over-painted all the leaves.
a second layer of color

 Then she painted the trunk orange. And smiled a huge smile.

I come home to world news and this work seems so small. But it requires time, attention, patience, creativity and quantities of love. We could all use more of that.

 "Your class is a constant in a sea of change," a director assured me. "What you do makes them happy. We see the effects for hours afterwards."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Alzheimer's Art: Pumpkins

This is my favorite time to teach painting. Subject matter is everywhere, rich with color and memory. Last week I hauled pumpkins to all my classes.  Even the most hesitant residents were inspired.

 These first two are from a class in a long-term care facility. Both these paintings took two sessions to complete, and were worked in watercolor.
I love the circles of orange and yellow.
watercolor by Long-Term Care resident

Then I took my pumpkins to the Alzheimer's class. The pace slows down here. Last year we "grew" the pumpkin from the middle section out. This year I had them draw the left then the right outside edges, then we slowly added the curves inside with orange. Then they set to work filling in the segments. While painting, scraps of memory came up: carving pumpkins,  trick-or-treating."My mother never let me go. She said I was not going to go begging from door to door."
Each mark is a struggle, though often a satisfying one. 
 The ability to "fill in" areas becomes harder with Alzheimer's, and eventually disappears.This resident is at the edge of that transition.

 This resident loves hearts and delicate designs.
 But even better than the work was the conversation afterwards. I lined the pieces up and we looked at them together. "Which do you like best?" one asked me. "I like them all together best. The whole is better than the sum of the parts. They make each other stronger."
"That's the right thing to say," another answered. "You want everyone to feel they've done something worthwhile."
Knock-me-over-with-a-feather time again.
A good day.