you don’t have to like everything you do

When working with a class of 13 years old students identifying the values they held and the positive qualities they were developing, we used an art journal to record their work . . . some found it really challenging so I developed a simple way for them to critique their work when they didn’t like the results using three quick questions.

1. What, specifically, don’t you like.  It was often something quite small such as the way some lettering went off the page.  This helped me know what to teach them next or, better still, which other student could teach them something about layout or lettering etc.

2. What details do you like (so you can do it again and share it with someone struggling . . . see  #1)?  If I did this again I ask the kids to add their names to a skills list  so that others could use it as a reference for support.

3. What are some ways you can improve on what you have done?  We developed the ‘step away’ assessment to help with this question . . . prop it up, take four big steps back and look at what the work might need.

We also developed, in groups, peers critiques where people noted what really stood out for them, especially if they though it something they could do.  If a student asked for support in the form of a question such as “What would you do next if this was your work?” or “Who can anyone show me how to do XYZ better?” a suggestion could be made . . . other wise it was positive feedback only.

As a result students became adept at finding what worked well and didn’t dismiss their efforts so lightly.  They also saw that many other struggled with the same things as they did.

So why am I telling you this?  Because I attended a workshop with Gill Allen on the weekend and didn’t like every aspect of everything I did.  By applying the same three questions, I came up with just a couple of things I didn’t like and a longer list of successes.

The overall composition doesn’t really appeal to me so I learned that I should go with my first impulse when making a choice.  What It learned though, is that by sticking with the choice it was more of a challenge.  And I learned more about manipulating acrylic paint because that became the focus and not getting the composition right . . . I had no picture in my head to perfect.

I haven’t touched charcoal for years and did very little and I really enjoyed getting my fingers in there . . . it was a great way to warm up.

Charcoal on brown paper: 32 x 43 cms or12.5 x 17 inches. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Charcoal on brown paper: 32 x 43 cms or 12.5 x 17 inches.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

I like details, little squiggly details . . . even in charcoal.

Little squiggly details add to the texture. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Little squiggly details add to the texture.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

I enjoyed the limitations place on us by the exercise because it allowed a certain freedom to experiment.  Being pushed out of my default way of working also meant I learnt more.

I loved painting BIG with a BIG 2 inch brush and I’d like to have a go at painting BIGGER with a BIGGER brush.

Acrylic 90 x 65 cms or 35.5 x 25.5 inches Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Acrylic 65 x 90 cms or 25.5 x 35.5 inches
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Tiny pops of colour can make a big difference . . . even of a big painting.

The little scarlet dots made all the difference. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

The little scarlet dots made all the difference.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

And this morning?  How do I feel this morning about the images?  I can see what needed a little more thought when I sketched out the original image and what could be changed now so using the ‘step away’ assessment more would have been helpful yesterday.  And I still like what I liked yesterday, especially those little scarlet dots.

Goals achieved (have fun and learn something), a great day . . . thanks Gill

 

 

welcome rain

It rained for the first time in what seems like weeks yesterday, and again today.  So what? You might well ask.

New Zealand lamb and dairy products, New Zealand wines, all world-class, all contributing to this small corner of the world’s wealth . . . we began building this country and made a name with primary produce, farmers are known as ‘the backbone of the country’ and we have a clean, green image, although in reality we’re probably no greener than many other places.  Perhaps we’re a little greener though in that our native forests are  predominantly evergreen.

But I digress.  The entire North Island and much of the South is experiencing a drought, a severe drought that has everyone saving water.  There are often water restrictions through the summer however in Wellington the situation is such that there is a ban on all outdoor water use . . . no watering your garden, washing your car or windows, filling the kids paddling pool.  So the rain is very welcome even though it isn’t nearly enough.  This satellite picture, courtesy of NASA shows how parched the land is.

Satellite images from March 2012 (L) and March 2013 (R) show significant browning across the North Island. Photo / NASA

 Our lives can have their own droughts too.  It may be time, affection, money, but all, hopefully, temporary situations that will be relieved eventually – harsh circumstances are easier to accept when there is an end in sight.

Sometimes I feel as if I don’t have the time to do what I’d like to do and my weekends could be regarded as ‘drought relief’ as I relax with my family, catch up with friends, or work on some creative project.  Recently I have been making some pencil cases out of hand painted canvas.

I borrowed Canvas Remix by Alisa Burke from the library and started to play . . . with a little help. I used canvas fabric, acrylic paints, an old credit card and stencils – there’s still some more to sew up.  I even made a label for my laptop bag.

IMG_1397

Each piece will make 2 pencil cases. I did 2, and the others were done by my granddaughters aged 8 and 4 . . . I defy you to guess who did which ones!

Pencil CasesLaptop bagDrought broken!

wonderful weekends

I’ve had two fantastic weekends and a Blinding Flash of the Obvious – the BFO can wait until tomorrow.

But the weekends . . . I try to squeeze as much creativity into the day-job as I can and because I work mostly with primary school teachers, supporting their practice in the classroom, I sometimes manage more than a bit of creative problem solving.

I worked with a group of children scraping paint onto A 2 sized paper to make some books.  It was pretty slow so I finished them off over the weekend before last.A2 bookletsI am learning bookletWhile the students will be writing about the skills they are developing in class, mine will be about learning to play again!

I’ve been making these booklets in various sizes in the classroom for years and just in case you want to make one too, here’s an explanation of how to do it that I found for you on You Tube.  They can be made from any size sheet of paper – the booklet ends up 1/8 the size of the page.  I usually glue the pages after I have finished all the folding and cutting.

The painting was so much fun that I decided I would make some more the next time my grand-daughters came to stay – and that was last weekend.  So there we were, a old painting drop sheet on the floor, jars and tubes of cheap acrylic, old credit cards, brushes, corks carved into stamps and some sponges.Nonsense DreamlandBy the end of the weekend, the whole family had had a play, the dining table was covered in supplies and everyone is feeling very satisfied with two watching Milo and Otis. 

The dining table is still covered with bits and pieces . . . one of the few joys of not living there during the week is that I get to walk away and leave it all behind waiting for next weekend’s playtime. And as if having family to stay wasn’t joy enough I had mail! 

Quinn McDonald was celebrating reaching 1500 posts (I’m up to 55) and sent out these wonderful journals . . . where will I send it on to?  Any takers?  I’ve not got supplies here at my little mid-week abode so next weekend . . . there is much smiling going on here!