Tag Archives: art

Art is not just pretty pictures: The deep process of artistic creation

My topic today is Art as a subject in schools. I wonder if we sometimes underestimate or misunderstand the role of Art in a student’s learning. It’s so much more than making pretty pictures. Art personifies learning through a transparent process of deep exploration and problem solving – with an end product to show for it. Just as with literature, the end product can be unpacked to reveal the influences which were part of the creative process. Fortunately this is not a purely scientific process but one which invites the exploration and interpretation of the viewer. Art is a model for problem solving in other areas of learning. We should hold onto Art, and not be fooled into thinking that it is less valuable than subjects which are associated with occupational success. We need Art.

I visited a year 9 class today to see the students happily working on large representations of themselves based on their exploration of the unit ‘Home and Place’. My part in this project was the collaboration with Mihaela Brysha, Head of Art, in resourcing the project  in our library website (Libguides). I’m including the project brief:

This unit explores ideas about belonging and is designed to question our relationship and interaction with:

  • Others
  • Pop culture
  • Consumerism
  • Cultural beliefs,
  • Personal histories
  • The natural world

The aim of the exploration is to make and visually interpret personal statements about what home and place means to you and how it shapes personal and cultural identity.

Australian artists Patricia Piccinini, Fiona Hall, Gordon Bennett, and Howard Arkley address some of these ideas from very different perspectives, influences, art forms, aesthetics, materials and techniques. The study of their ideas and studio art practice as well as interpretation and analysis of their artwork aims to provide stimuli for the exploration of ideas, content and techniques for practical explorations.

The online resources were a starting point for further research into these artists:

Fiona HallGordon BennettHoward ArkleyPatricia Piccinini

The art of Gordon Bennett strikes a chord with many of our students whose families come from different countries. Bennett’s art depicts the cultural tension between his ties to his Indigenous roots and his association with Western culture.

I loved the size of these art works, their bold colours and strokes, delicate details, diverse imagery and visual storytelling. I loved the energy and focused activity in the classroom, the productive interaction between students and teacher. I took photos.

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I’m looking forward to the hanging of these in the art show. Well done, boys, and well done, Mihaela.

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Year 9 Art project on paper, iPad and Pinterest

                              

Our year 9s have been working through a project in art which combines the best in hands-on activity, iPad technology and social media. Mihaela designed a project in which students worked through a process starting with research of patterns from different cultural backgrounds and culminating in the students designing their own patterns using the iPad app, iOrnament, and creating an oversized paper plane decorated with their pattern designs.

The research process encouraged students to dip into a rich and diverse cultural store of patterns before deciding on the designs of their own, and including some of the elements of water, fire, earth, air and wood. They were to select one or more of these elements to fuse with the theme of rejuvenation of the spirit and sense of self.

I relish my partnership with Mihaela, Head of Art at Melbourne High School. Every teacher librarian appreciates the teacher who is happy to collaborate, and in my case the partnership is built on respect, reciprocal interests, love of creativity and experimentation,  a desire for excellence, and determination to create a challenging process leading to a synthesis of understanding and original design. After we chatted, I was clear about what Mihaela wanted for the students and how I could support the project. I created libguides with visual examples and links to further resources to get the students started and hopefully inspired.

patterns2

My research into examples of patterns within a broad range of cultural contexts was a joyful task for me. Pinterest is a rich online resource which allows the discovery and collection of an enormous number of high quality visual examples. I searched The Grammar of Ornament on Pinterest and was overjoyed with the results.  I referred the students to the Symbol Dictionary online for a bit of research on symbolic background. Delving into the how and why is always fascinating, and often informs the direction of research.

I didn’t want to overwhelm the students so I limited my pattern examples to some of the main cultural sources, but also linked to Pinterest boards I was creating along the way. If the students chose to, they could continue to browse collections of general patterns, and also African, Australian Indigenous, Chinese, Indian, Islamic, Japanese, Maori, Mexican, Moroccan, Russian and Turkish.  One of the advantages of using Pinterest is that you can continue to add visual examples to the collection without changing the link, so students will be able to view a continuously edited collection with one url. Students can also search within Pinterest itself. Design of online resources presents the challenge of depth without overwhelming the user, and a reasonable number of external links for further research.

The students were also introduced to four artists for whom patterns were an intrinsic part of their art works. I created Pinterest boards for Shirin Neshat, Ah Xian, Ginger Riley Munduwalawala and Sangeeta Sandrasegar.

     

It’s a shame that the quality of the images in the following slideshow is not fantastic. I’ve included some general art study, such as colour theory, amongst the Pattern mix. Although you can’t read some of the text, you get an idea of the type of process journalling they have done.
The best part of this project, as far as I’m concerned, is the richness of the process. This is what I love about art – it is an example of the kind of process which should be embedded in all subjects. I was intent on documenting this patterns project in a blog post because it makes transparent what is most valuable about learning – the process of research (wondering, browsing, getting lost, refining search), working and re-working ideas and techniques, synthesizing found and created concepts and ideas, evaluating and reflecting and much more. Wouldn’t it be a smart world that required all students to study Art?

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What’s been happening – term 3 has been a busy one

I’m not the only one remarking on the lapses between blog posts. The blog is no longer the main platform for sharing and communicating – there is a long, long list of online places which need to be fed and looked after – for me that includes other blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, Scoop.it, Diigo, Slideshare, Vimeo, Libguides, Facebook and all its groups, and more. So I thought I’d drop in and do a quick update on what may be worth checking out in case it’s helpful or even interesting.

My school library blog has been keeping up with reading ambassadors for the National Year of Reading (#nyor12). These short and informal interviews are a pleasure to read, and reveal thoughtful responses to reading preferences. We’ve also recently celebrated 2012 Book Week with a hugely enjoyable ‘party’ in the library. I’ve included photos I think you’ll enjoy of our costume and cake competitions so that’s definitely worth checking out. This is the first Book Week celebration I’ve attended at Melbourne High School since I started a year ago, and it was fantastic. I was so impressed by the willingness of staff and students to dress up and play the part. The creativity displayed in our book-themed cake competition added a gastronomical dimension – who can resist cake? Yes, we did go on a bit about the cakes looking too good to eat but it didn’t last long.

I’ve been having such a good time resourcing the art curriculum in the last few months. My art blog churns out a diverse selection of inspiration to art students and teachers (I hope). This includes images, photography, design and animation.

Our students explored links to websites with antiquated encyclopedia images to create their ‘transformations’ which I combined in a slide show. The reduced image size doesn’t do justice to the details in the students’ work, so have a look at larger ones in Mihaela’s new art blog.

Yes! Our head of art now has a blog, and so do her students. This term our year 9s and 10s were lucky enough to get iPads, so we decided to get them to create Posterous blogs which we linked to Mihaela’s ‘mother blog’ and encouraged them to start snapping away with their iPad cameras so that they could develop a store of visual inspiration for their work. The beauty of a mobile device is the opportunity to capture photos as you go about your everyday activities. I’ve found the best images are the unexpected ones. I was inspired to get the art students blogging when I saw my dear friend, Marie Salinger’s, student blogs. Marie’s students have realised the rich potential of blogs in terms of journalling, reflecting, evaluating and just plain sharing. A blog is visual, it’s sequential, easy to access online and share with others; it invites responses and conversation. In her Visual Arts blog, Marie has reflected about the way in which iPads have enriched learning for her girls. The way Marie’s students used their blog to experiment with and evaluate iPad apps for drawing, then share with others, inspired me to talk to Mihaela about doing the same. Consequently I went into obsessive mode and lived and breathed art and apps for a couple of weeks, adding an Art Apps page in our LibGuides, my art blog, Pinterest, Flickr and Diigo.

Robot I am Apps used: Blender Pixeltwist                 (iphoneart.com)

Recently a dedicated team of students from the co-curricular group, Writing Competition, successfully wrote a book in a day. They had to collaboratively write at least 8,000 words and illustrate their story. The whole thing had to be done within 12 hours. I was very proud of the way they managed to work together and fuse their ideas and talents to produce a fantasy story for the Children’s Hospital. I hope to be able to share their book once I check the copyright.

Well, that’s it for now. Hope some of this has been useful to you.

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Fingerpainting is back as iArt

I was very excited to find artists using iPad apps to draw, or ‘fingerpaint’, wonderful art. In some cases these projects are collaborative – that aspect always excites me. There are people who are sceptical about technology, in terms of the quality of things produced by apps – and I have to say I was one of those who thought of art apps more in terms of sketching ideas rather than creating a serious art work – or those who rate new technologies for doing the same things they already do only online. I’ve had many conversations with these people, and I feel that there is only one way to change their minds (bearing in mind that you can’t change a closed mind, but you can certainly try to surprise their minds open) is to find amazing examples of technology-enabled projects.

Yesterday I stumbled across (don’t ask me to trace that thread back to its source) fingerpainters – artists who use the iPad and even iPhone or iPod Touch to create art with drawing/painting apps. I have these apps on my iPad and I’ve shown them to art teachers, but without an inspirational example, those apps just sit there in their folders doing not much. Of course, when you find an artist through your Google Reader of from Twitter lists, you know the discovery will lead to many more discoveries, and so I want to share some of these artists and works, their blogs and where they also live on Twitter and Flickr.

I started by discovering the artist Benjamin Rabe and his Flickr sets, including this one of finger paintings he did on his iphone or ipad. A painting on his phone!

Of course, when you discover an artist who has an online presence, they lead you to many more artists. This is how I came across the amazing Cedric Phillipe’s Flickr photostream and his fingerpaintings on his iPad and his iPod Touch. How on earth somebody manages to create an artwork on such a small screen, I’ll never know.

Mojitos

This one is done on his iPod Touch mainly using the app Brushes

This one is done on his iPad mainly using the app Brushes

Cedric has a wonderful Tumblr blog which you must see. This is where I found his stop-motion animation. What a treat!

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An impressive little set that Cedric built for his animation. Have a look at photos here.

The Helen Keller quote at the bottom of the Woven Narratives webpage nicely summarises what I consider the most exciting about emerging technologies – the collaborative aspect. “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller. Woven Narratives are the collective works of artists’ collaborations using mainly iPad apps to create their art works.

Most of the works presented here were created and shared using only the iPad as a drawing and painting tool. Recent pieces have developed in three dimensions as small ‘soft sculptures’and the latest round of work has seen the development of a series of paintings on cardboard, which have been shared by post. Each of the works has travelled an average of 40,000 miles during its creation, bouncing back and forth via email or through the international postal system as its individual narrative unfolds.

Particularly interesting is the value-added aspect of this technology-enabled project:

The collaborations have helped both of us develop and extend our image making practice and have pushed our personal work into new and interesting directions. The narratives which develop throughout the process of making the works are playful, intriguing and entertaining. Many of them are hidden by the process of making, whilst others peek through to reveal themselves in colourful and often humorous ways. The result is an ongoing dialogue of signs, symbols, image-making and colour, a series of ‘Woven Narratives’, which engage the viewer in a ‘mesh’ of images and marks which share collective stories and experiences.

I can relate to the idea of process, and particularly collaborative process, resulting in new and exciting learning. Surely the experimental nature of emerging technologies is leading to new ideas and possibilities. If we allow for time to play…

In any case, have a closer look at Woven Narratives and the artists responsible. One of the artists, Jonathan Grauel, has discovered new possibilities for art making with mobile devices since an accident with a table saw left him without an index finger on his dominate hand and limited sensitivity in his thumb. When his wife and friends surprised him with an iPhone, he discovered a new joy in “finger painting.”

A blessing for art students and teachers is when artists share their art work, ideas and techniques. The blog Fingerpainted shares apps used to create art works which you can see for yourself. The About page shares the evolution of the blog. Here’s a link to the posts tagged with ‘apps’ – very useful and full of examples.

UK artist, Fabric Lenny, and US artist, Jonathan Grauel, have teamed up to produce a body of work in iPad despite the distance between them. Sketchshare is a series of 154 images which were painted simultaneously in the iPads.

You can view all these pictures done in real time in their Flickr stream.

Finally, here’s a video game fingerpainted entirely on the iPad. The music was also composed on the iPad.

I hope this post will inspire some art students and teachers. I’ll add an iPad/iPhone apps page in my online art resources very soon.

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We live in a visual world

I’m hooked on pictures, as some of you may know. And since I haven’t shared for a while, I thought I’d throw in a few examples of the visual delights I’ve been discovering. Some of these go into my art blog for student inspiration and others are just chucked into Diigo.

I fell in love with this animation a little while ago.

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The Tadpole
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So much to love in this animation – the soft, translucent colours, the textures, the attention to detail and sense of wonder.

And how amazing is this paper art by Alexander Korzer-Robinson whose art focuses on the notion of the ‘inner landscape’.

The cut book art has been made by working through the books, page by page, cutting around some of the illustrations while removing others. The images seen in the finished work, are left standing in the place where they would appear in the complete book.

There’s something about Sea Hyun Lee’s red landscapes that I can’t define. That’s why you should read this analysis here.

Corinne Vionnet is the creator of a series of photographic works entitled “Photo Opportunities”, from hundreds of snapshots of tourist locations found on the Internet. By collecting and then bringing together successive layers of around a hundred similar “photo souvenirs”, these images conjure up questions about representation and memory of places.

I love the ethereal impression created by these dreamy versions of  cliched tourist landscapes.

Matatoro is directed by Mauro CarraroRaphaël Calamote, and Jérémy Pasquet.  Motionographer has a fascinating post with an interview with the film makers on the process of the making of the film.

Watch the film on Vimeo. You will not regret it; it’s brilliant.

You can see the rest of the pictures in mapolito’s Flickr photostream.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. If you have any art/illustration/animation/film blogs you would recommend, please share.

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New: Google Art Project

Google has developed a new project – The Google Art Project.

Explore museums from around the world, discover and view hundreds of artworks at incredible zoom levels, and even create and share your own collection of masterpieces.

Here’s a video showing you how to use the site:

You can create your own art collection, add notes to  join a discussion about art, save closeups, share collections with people across networks, take a trip to different museums, and more.

Take a look at some of the art museums involved in this project

Google approached the museum partners without any curatorial direction, and each museum was able to chose the number of galleries, artwork and information they wanted to include, based on reasons specific to them. All content in the information panel pertaining to individual artworks was also provided by the museums.

At this stage, these are the museums involved:

  • Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin – Germany
  • Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian, Washington DC – USA
  • The Frick Collection, NYC – USA
  • Gemäldegalerie, Berlin – Germany
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC – USA
  • MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art, NYC – USA
  • Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid – Spain
  • Museo Thyssen – Bornemisza, Madrid – Spain
  • Museum Kampa, Prague – Czech Republic
  • National Gallery, London – UK
  • Palace of Versailles – France
  • Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam – The Netherlands
  • The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg – Russia
  • State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow – Russia
  • Tate Britain, London – UK
  • Uffizi Gallery, Florence – Italy
  • Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam – The Netherlands

I’m sure this list will grow. What an exciting project. I’m looking forward to browsing the art and also to what will develop here in the future.

 

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Holiday bloggy sluggishness. But wait! something… mathematical?

Apologies for my rare postings of late  to those who still take an occasional peek into this blog  – although I doubt the existence of these people very much because there has been an unmistakable lapse in eventful posting. This is due mainly to school holidays and family things, not all pleasant. Nevertheless, here I am, and even if nobody is here to witness my thoughts falling into this post, I will proceed undeterred because I haven’t got anything better to do. OR, I actually have something interesting to share with you.

Today a Facebook link shared by my dear online friend and PLP colleague, Hiram Cuevas (@cuevash on Twitter), gave me the pleasure of discovering a rare talent, Vi Hart, who is obviously a very gifted young lady. Vi is as passionate about maths as she is about music, art and other things.  Her website made my jaw drop. Often I’m astounded by how much of value very young people have achieved in their short lives; how much more do they have to offer.

Here’s the first video that caught my attention. Let me know what you think.

I love the doodling videos; here’s another one

What did you think?

I haven’t explored everything in Vi’s site but the music boxes are fascinating.

The balloon page looks challenging. Not sure if the average party clown would be game for these.

A little about Vi from her own website:

I like most creative activities that involve making a lot of noise, mess, or both. Aside from composing, I love improvising on various instruments, drawing, sculpting, and other methods of making things. My main hobby is mathematics, with special interests in symmetry, polyhedra, and surreal complexity. This usually manifests as collaborative research in computational geometry and other areas of theoretical computer science, or as mathematical art. I think the human brain is incredible and strange, so I have developed a great interest in dreaming and consciousness. As a result, I am a trained hypnotist and a lucid dreamer. The human body is pretty neat as well, so I enjoy dancing and judo. I always love to learn new things—variety is the food of creativity!

It would be interesting to trace Vi’s learning history to peek at the environment which supports such an intelligent, creative and unique person. I will be taking on a new role at school next year, Coordinator of Learning Enhancement, and I’m mentally hovering over different mental images of how best to support and inspire those responding to learning enhancement opportunities. All suggestions and ideas are very welcome.

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