Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Studio Visit Project: Matisse "Cut Outs"

These are paintings made of cut paper. The artist is Henri Matisse, a french painter. He loved bright colors. One day, Matisse painted some very large sheets of paper with bright colors. He cut out all kinds of shapes, flowers, leaves. birds, fish. He was delighted with the way he felt, it was like "painting in the air." He moved the shapes around on paper until he was happy with his composition, and then he pasted them down. He had never created a painting with cut papers before. He called them "collages." (Did you know the french word for paste is colle? Coll..age. Get it?) This is Matisse at work on his "cut outs."

Here is a project inspired by Matisse's Cut Outs. It's called "Gardens." You can create colorful collages just like Matisse did. You'll need some beautiful, bright papers. You can draw some large flowers, leaves, birds and fish, and then cut them out. Paste them on colored papers and create exciting collages.

You'll need some large, bright construction paper
2 scissors
Elmers School Glue

Draw some flower and leaf, shapes. Let an adult help you cut them out. Arrange them on a large paper. When you like the composition, paste the shapes down. When your collage is finished,
mount it on the wall.

Draw some bird and fish shapes. Let an adult help you cut them out. Arrange them on a large paper. When you like the composition, paste them down. When the collage is finished,
mount it on the wall.

Draw some people shapes. Let an adult help you cut them out. Arrange them on a large paper. When you like the composition, paste them down. When the collage is finished,
mount it on the wall.

Do another. And another. Mount them on the wall. Stand back and admire your "Garden."

Friday, December 3, 2010

Musing: About Mozart's Father

We know that Mozart's father Leopold, passed on some astounding music genes to his little son, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of the most gifted composers ever. But let's not forget that Mozart's father, a pianist to the royal court and a music teacher, taught little Mozart to play the piano as soon as he could reach the keyboard. When Wolfgang was only five years old, Leopold explained the structure of music composition to him and taught him to write his own compositions. Leopold taught his sister to play the piano too, and he encouraged the two children to play duets. He surrounded Wolfgang with great music by great composers like Bach, Vivaldi, and Handel.

When Mozart was six, the king invited him to play at the palace. He gave recitals in many of the palaces in Europe. He had amazing talents. He played many musical instruments. He composed in many musical forms, including opera and wrote some of the greatest music in the western world.

Genes are vital, but it was Mozart's father's daily lessons and nurturing gave Mozart the reality, the "world of music," when his genes were buzzing. Bravo Mozart. Bravo Mozart's father.

Some young children have a special gift. They "hear" the music. But without someone like Mozart's father to guide them, they do not discover their gift until much later, maybe never. Special young talents need nurturing as early as possible. The younger the better. Talent can get lost in the drive to learn to read and write. Training should be with Mozart's father types, artists with great talent and passion. We don't believe it, but very young children need to have contact with great artists. Great artists communicate a unique belief in creating art. This is true of all the arts, painting, writing, dancing, acting...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Studio Visit Project: Picasso's "Faces"

Picasso with his wife and children

Here is an art project inspired by the playful "Faces" Picasso painted on his ceramic plates and jugs.

Pablo Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973) was a Spanish painter, draftsman, and sculptor. He was one of the most recognized figures in 20th-century art. He is known for his wide variety of styles. Late in his life, he moved to the south of France, where he also worked on ceramics. He loved to paint faces on ceramic plates. Here are some of the fabulous faces Picasso painted:

Picasso painted faces on ceramic vases too.

You could invite a friend to your house, for a "Faces" art playdate. You could both paint "Faces" on paper plates. When your "Faces" are finished, you could mount them on the wall. (Use that picture-hanging goop that doesn't stain, and comes off easily.) Do lots of "Faces." Mount them on the wall next to each other.

You could invite a few friends and their families to your house, for a "Faces" holiday party. Everyone could paint some "Faces." Just give each person a brush, some paint and some paper plates. Imagine how exciting your wall will look, with lots of painted "Faces" on it. And, whenever friends visit you, you could ask them to paint some "Faces." Mount them on your wall too.

Materials you will need:
Dining room table or floor
Plastic drop cloth taped down
A package of paper plates
Tape to hold the plates still
Tempera paint
Non-marking wall-mounting tape

Step by Step: Prepare some saucers with tempera paint: black, blue, red yellow. Put out some 2" foam brushes. Put out some 1" bristle brushes. Tape a paper plate to your table. Paint two eyes, a nose, a mouth. Add some strokes around the edge. Let the painting dry. Mount it on the wall. Do another painting, then another

You will discover that a wall of "Faces" makes one of the cheeriest holiday decorations ever.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Museum Visit Project: Howard Hodgkin's Brushstrokes

Here is a great project that will show you how to do paintings using brushstrokes. 

Did you know that you can create shapes with your brush?. See how the artist Howard Hodgkin creates shapes with his brushes.

Tape down a piece of paper. Dip your brush in some paint. Wipe it on the side of the jar. Press it on your paper. Then splash, slap, splash, slap. 

Just look at these lush prints of Howard Hodgkin, the contemporary British painter.  I discovered them online at  the Metropolitan Museum of Art's fabulous web site. (Imagine being able to visit an exhibition online.) The original prints were on view in the Print Collection galleries.

I like the "marks" Hodgkin makes using a thick brush and short stubby strokes. His brushstrokes often run right onto the frames. His paintings sometimes look like brightly-colored landscapes; sometimes pure abstract bursts of color. His paintings seem naïve, but they are actually highly sophisticated, strong statements of simple ("minimalist") ideas. After all, they are "purely" brushstrokes.

A terrific Hodgkin-inspired painting project that explores the shapes brushes make.
Buy some brushes in different sizes and shapes at the hardware store. Buy two 2 inch wide foam brushes. Buy two 1 inch bristle(?) paint brushes. Buy some large sheets of colored construction paper at the art supply store.

Tape down a sheet of construction paper. Pour some tempera paint into a saucer. Dip the front edge of your 2" foam brush in the paint. Drag it across part of the paper. Dip it again. Take a little more paint this time. Try painting a curve. Try painting small dashes. Do the same thing with your bristle brushes. Tape your painting to the wall and let it dry. Wash your brushes and dry them.

Tape down a new paper. Pour another color into a saucer. Dip the tip of your 1" brush in the paint. Drag it across part of the paper. Dip it again and try painting curves and circles. See what your brush will do. Let your painting dry. Add another color. When your painting is dry, you can add another color. You can do this with up to four colors. Remember to let each color dry before you go on to the next one. Make sure you wash and dry your brushes between colors.

You can put your artwork in pre-cut white mats and mount them on the wall. (You'll find them at the art store.) Or you can mount your paintings directly on the wall. Use the picture-hanging goop. Invite your friends and family into your "studio" to see your new art work. Arrange a playdate with a friend and do some Hodgkin-inspired paintings.

A link to the Howard Hodgkin prints at the Metropolitan Museum{5A77FEEC-17F1-47FA-95B6-5EEA279A349B}

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Museum Visit Project: MoMA: Alberto Giacometti

A 3 year old Uma discovered a Giacometti sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art. She thought the thinny thin Giacometti was terrific. We asked her how she knew this thin figure was a woman, and she answered, "she has bobos."

Alberto Giacometti b. 10 October 1901- 11 January 1966, Swiss sculptor, painter, draftsman, printmaker) Giacometti was a well-known sculptor. His father was an artist. As a young man, Alberto worked at his father's studio, and learned about painting. In 1922, he moved to Paris, to study sculpture and painting. He experimented with some of the new styles of cubism and surrealism, but he preferred to draw exactly what he saw when he sat in front of a model.

From 1936 to 1940, his figures became more and more stretched out and long, and he began the unique artistic phase that made him famous.

Giacometti said that the final result represented the sensation he felt when he looked at a woman. He created very minimalist figures, but you could tell their gender and sometimes even their age.

In 1962 Alberto Giacometti received the Grand Prize for sculpture at the Venice Biennale.

Here is a project inspired by the sculpture of Giacometti

You'll need some play doh or clay to use as a base, some pipecleaners to use as the armatures (structure) for figures, some tissue paper to wrap around the pipecleaners to give them some detail, some library paste to dip the tissue paper in, to make it stick to the pipecleaners. It will dry hard.

Twist the pipecleaners into figure shapes. They can walk, or run, or stand still. Make a pancake of clay and cut it into a rectangle. It will be the base for your figures. Press the ends of the pipecleaners into the clay to hold them upright. Dip strips of tissue paper into the paste and press them around the pipecleaners. Let them dry overnight. You can combine several figures on one base. You can paint your figure after it dries.

Museum Visit Project: Jackson Pollock

“Pollock's technique of pouring and dripping paint is one of the origins of "action" painting. The paint flowed from a brush or a stick right onto the canvas. He placed his canvas on the floor and was able to work on it from all directions.

"Splashy Splashy" is a Pollack-inspired, dip and splash art-making project. Brush in, brush out, splash and dribble. You might want your child to do this "nudie" or in a large old shirt. Make sure you spread a large plastic drop-cloth across the floor. Put on some jazzy music. It's super fun if you make some ground rules.

Materials you will need
Table or floor
A roll of paper 18” x 20 ‘
Tape to hold paper down
Jars of non-toxic tempera paints
Sticks or brushes

The drip technique requires paint with a fluid viscosity like thin cream. Use non-toxic water-based paints tempera or gouache paint. Expect a mess. Don’t be surprised if there are footprints and hand prints along with the drips. Have fun.

“Splashy Splashy” will teach children there are many ways to create paintings. They will learn that even the most casual drip or blob, can be seen as a form. Parents and children will discover the fun of “messing around” together.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gallery Visit:Bonakdar Gallery: Sarah Sze

Sarah Sze (Born in Boston in 1969) is a contemporary artist who lives and works in New York City. She uses ordinary objects and junk, to create site-specific installations. Sze graduated  from Yale University in 1991. She received a MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York in 1997. Sze is 2003 recipient of the MacArthur Fellows Program "genius grant."

While at Yale, Sze studied with Judy Pfaff. Roberta Smith's, New York Times review Roberta of Pfaff's recent show at Ameringer McEnery Yohe, points out that Pfaff's "everything-and-the-kitchen-sink attitude has had its share of influence on current art."

Since the late 1990s, Sze has been creating immense, intricate, site-specific installations that penetrate walls, suspend from ceilings and grasp the ground. Her work is informed by sculpture, painting and architecture. She uses everyday objects in her installations, milk cartons, takeout cups, bars of soap, feathers, lamps, ladders, pebbles, potted plants, pens, plastic bottles, tools, twigs and other objects, arranged like precious artifacts of a lost civilization, on cantilevered platforms in tower-like formations that rise to the top of the gallery space. 

Sze's style is similar to Pfaff's, but Sze's work has more of an emphasis on bravura architecture, while Pfaff's work has a more tender quality, especially in Frio, where she takes a group of "birch trees" right out of the woods and mounts them directly on a wall.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Museum Visit: MassMOCA: Sol LeWitt

I have always loved Sol Lewitt's wall drawings. They are amazingly gorgeous; they are big; and they are conceptual.

They are ideas that come to life on the interior walls of buildings. They are executed by teams of artists who follow LeWitt's meticulous plans, detailed instructions to draw certain types of lines at specified spacing, length, color and thickness,

or to smoosh watery inks in geometric layouts,

or they project the image of curvy lines in order to enlarge it to wall-size.

The wall drawings are truly beautiful. (Did I say that before?) And they are impermanent. They exist for the duration of the exhibition, then (gasp), they are painted over. Happily, this exhibition will remain in place until 2033.

Yale University, MASSMoca, and Williams College have created the largest ever show of Sol Lewitt wall drawings in a recently acquired mill building in Boston. It is truly wonderful. Go and see it!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Gallery Visit: Marian Goodman: Gerhard Richter

There is a five-decade survey of drawings by Gerhard Richter at the Drawing Center in Soho. Mr. Richter is an artist of many styles. His idea is to keep his meaning unclear. Traditionally trained, Mr. Richter became involved with Conceptualism early in his career. He took basic techniques apart and rethought them.

This is the way he developed a drawing called "Mountains." First, he took a photograph of a grand, romantic, mountain. Then he turned the photo into a slide, which he projected and then drew. The drawing lost the image in translation, becoming a blobby form that looked like an amorphous creature as much as a mountain.

Richter likes to blur the boundries of each medium. Some drawings in graphite look like paint strokes. Small watercolors look like large oil paintings. They were actually done by dripping paint and moving it around.

Some drawings are graphite scribbles. Yet he has drawn academic studies of a skull, and a female torso.

He wants you to feel unsure of what you will see. He works in many styles without committing to any one. I liked the four very large drawings from 2005 that hang together on one wall.

The show is organized in clusters of ideas, a good way to see the ideas Mr. Richter is developing over a period of time. The Drawing Center is a great place to see all his drawings, large, open, and neutral, it is a quiet place that lets you study the work slowly, and arrive at your own thoughts.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Gallery Visit: Marion Goodman Gallery: Rineke Dijkstra:

Rineke Dijkstra, the Dutch artist, photographer, videographer, is best known for her portraits of teens. Her recent show at the Marion Goodman Gallery on 57th Street in New York, caught their awkwardness included three brilliant videos and some still photographs of British adolescent kids visiting the Tate Liverpool galleries.

Most of her portraits are close-ups of a single subject. Her close-ups of adolescents are moving. They are set against a white backgrounds, causing you to focus on their expressive and open faces, to notice what they feel, their slightest reactions.

In the 12-minute video "I See a Woman Crying," nine British school children view Picasso's "Weeping Woman," a portrait of Picasso's wife Dora Maar broken into glass-like shards.

The kids are asked what they feel about the portrait. You never see the painting; the camera stays on the faces of the kids.

Another video shows one of the girls sitting on the floor drawing the painting.

A third video shows adolescents dancing at a club, a subject that Dijkstra explored earlier.

In other series, she photographed a row of adolescent boys, and a row of girls at the beach, with the sea as the background.

Most of her portraits are close-ups of a single subject. Her close-ups of adolescents are moving. They are set against a white backgrounds, causing you to focus on their expressive and open faces, to notice what they feel, their slightest reactions.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Studio Visit: Charles and Ray Eames

I was cutting up shirt cardboard, looking for ways to create a simple system that preschool kids could use to build simple arches and walls. I remembered Charles and Ray Eames's brilliant "House of Cards," a little box of slotted cards you could combine to build sturdy little constructions. Maybe slotted cards would be a solution. I found some shirt cardboard and began to cut 4x6 cards with slots.

I thought about the great design legacy of the Eameses. Their designs are timeless. They were done in the 1950's and 60's, but they are still fresh. You can find them in the Museum of Modern Art's Store catalogue. I called the MoMA Store to find out if the "House of Cards" box was in stock. It was, and I hurried there to buy it, and then spent the afternoon playing with different ways to play with those beautiful cards.

Who were Charles and Ray Eames?

Charles (1907–1978) and Ray (1912–1988) Eames (pronounced /ˈiːmz/) were American designers, who worked in and made major contributions to modern architecture and furniture. They also worked in the fields of industrial and graphic design, fine art and film.

The Eameses were definitely among America's greatest designers. The husband and wife design team began designing products shortly after the Second World War. Production had slowed all over the world. Products needed to be energized, re-designed. They believed that products needed to be simpler, more practical, easy to use, easy to mass-produce, and above all beautiful. They were quintessential contemporary designers, at a time when contemporary design was becoming a great international force. They were passionate about design and quickly became an important part of the American design scene.

They had a major impact on the design world. They re-invented office chairs, giving them a sleek beauty that would be at home in the new contemporary architectural spaces.

They gave elegant little objects a new look, clocks, whimsical coat racks, humorous toys. Many of their products are still in production today. (See the Museum of Modern Art catalogue.)

The US federal government, in a moment of great wisdom, sent the Eameses around the world as ambassadors of American design. They helped establish America as an international resource for modern design excellence.

The Eameses took thousands of photographs of American design, new architecture, new products, art, everything they thought was exciting and beautiful. They used the images in multimedia shows and films, that taught corporate executives how to think about modern design.Their dedicated efforts to teach us about design helped place American designers in the center of international design, a position we continue to enjoy today.

Here is a link to the TED conference talk the Eameses grandson gave.