“Sometimes artists [art teachers] don’t find the time to draw every day, so other artists help them out by creating daily art challenges.”
That is how I introduced #abstractadvent to my elementary art students at the beginning of December 2021. And of course I was talking about myself, routinely back off the routine of a daily art practice.
I enjoyed that month of drawing so much that I continued on – giving myself a personal challenge of making marks 24 days out of every month. It has worked. I’ve emotionally problem solved through what it means for me to be a mark maker. It has allowed me to visually play and explore with materials again and know more firmly what I want for my students (not rigid ideas about what good art looks like!). My inspiration has come from my garden, my young students, my family, past art experiences and the people I have met living in Calgary.
This month I ended up working on two explorations: one for Inktober and another documenting plant structure through mono printing.
November is a busy month and I will also be travelling briefly, so I will not commit to a November entry, but I look forward to picking this practice up again in December.
Please find enclosed my sketchbook entries from May to October 2022. (You can find previous entries here and here.)
You know you have a solid and helpful family when they save you from yourself and gently encourage you to move away from personal ranting on social media to other, more productive pursuits. That is what happened this week and I am pleased to say I began the long over due catch up on some personal creative time during November break.
While I was doing some quick research for this post I stumbled upon Neil deGrasse Tyson. Even more appropriately, he seems to get that people – for whatever reason – including those expending Herculean energy on not ranting about professional and moral injustices – are in a hurry.)
I was looking for a quote on cosmos (not necessarily the flower – but I will get to that in a minute) and instead I found this quote which sums up both what has been on my mind professionally and what gives me mental strength as I go back to work next week:
“You’ve never seen me debate anybody. On anything. Ever. My investment of time, as an educator, in my judgment, is best served teaching people how to think about the world around them. Teach them how to pose a question. How to judge whether one thing is true versus another.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Keeping in mind that making art, thinking about art is different than astrophysics in that there is often more than one true answer, this stumbled upon piece of literary information affirms my core belief. My job as an elementary art educator is to help children build curiosity about their visual world and build personal capacity and a visual vocabulary to express the truths they discover.
So, there are lots of quotes on the universal COSMOS. I will let you look that up if you like and with that I will move on to COSMOS, the flower and my quick little foray back into printmaking this week.
This was my first year growing cosmos, the plant. A gift of mixed seeds from my mom. Out of the mix, and out of power of deduction, I believe the one that produced for me is called Bright Lights.
The plant structure itself was airy, the flowers visually interesting in their variegation. They added large shape colour blocks in cut bouquets and stronger colour hits in the garden.
More interesting to me was their seed formation and the beautiful and delicate skeletal spikes that formed in the autumn. (No photo, because I’m in a hurry.)
These unique and lovely seed pods are what inspired the linocut study below:
My visual question was: Could I create an image that would capture the fragile beauty of these forms?
I was hoping to use this image as my annual Christmas card but I feel there is an imbalance between background and seed heads. The two seed heads in the centre are heavier than I would like and I don’t want to hurry a resolution. I feel that I have somewhat answered that visual question in the bottom three, but as my personal week draws to a close today and I have to go to school to prep clay for next week and finish up report card marks, any further investigation on this matter will have to wait.
I’ve always been drawn to small. Takes up less space. Economical. Energy efficient.
As I reflect on another year gone, I see that this size parameter also measures the amount of posts I have added to this site and the amount of mark making I produced this year. So realize this entry won’t take up much time… and look closely!
For a month I was diligent about keeping a daily sketchbook practice. I spent 20 minutes to 2 hours every night recording mostly pieces from my garden. As garden specimens dwindled, I turned to recording words and other items. I am glad that I recorded a beautiful brooch my Mom gifted me, as it became the inspiration for the linocut Christmas card I designed this year.
I hope in the coming months I will pick up a more frequent drawing practice, but I know that work will be demanding between January through to March and then it will be garden season once again! (I have also continued with spinning, which I will record in another post.) Best wishes for a bright New Year. Peace and creativity to you – even if you find it in small ways.