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Archive for the ‘Arts Education’ Category

Oklahoma! by the Sitka Fine Arts Camp Musical Theater Camp, 2019

Directed by W. T. McRae. I designed and built this with the Best. Crew. Ever. Performed at the Sitka Performing Arts Center.

9 to 5, Sitka Community Theater, Spring 2019

My design, also at Sitka’s Performing Arts Center. Again had stellar crew, all community volunteers. Lighting design by J Bradley!

Fuddy Meers, Sitka High School Play, Spring 2019

This was also at Sitka’s Performing Arts Center. Did this in pretty short order, using as much as we could pieces from 9 to 5 – the Xerox machine is now the kitchen sink, and the “bed” from Once Upon a Mattress is transformed into the kitchen stove. That’s a real refrigerator, but we gave it the Avocado Green treatment. Created by community volunteers and the Sitka High School Drama class, directed and taught by Christian Litten.

Photos is with the upstage curtain open, right after I finished touching up the paint. It was closed for the show.

Once Upon A Mattress, Young Performers Theater, Spring 2019

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In 2018 I got to teach at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp Elementary School session. The camp groups students by age and rotates four sections of each age group through four different classes, in music, theater, visual art, and dance.

This year I had the 5th grade group, kids going into 6th grade, who came in for I think around 50 minutes each. Each group had around a dozen kids, and we had to set up, work, and clean up in that time before the next group came in. The camp was one week, so five mornings total.

The cleaning up is an important part of the process – young people actually like knowing what’s going on and they actually like cleaning up, especially sponging off the tables.

The first day I gave them watercolors, and had them try various techniques, with nice watercolor paints (they are Cotman travel sets, and over the years we have replaced the paint as it was used up with Daniel Smith watercolors) on 80# drawing paper. First we looked at some slides of the work of Helen Frankenthaler and Vasili Kandinsky, and told a little about those artists and periods.

Tuesday, we did observational drawing, of a wooden stool, doing fast draw, blind contour, then a longer drawing, then, if they had time, a smaller object of their choice. In this one I showed them basic drawing tricks, using angles, proportions, overlap, scale, and the trick of using the back ground, and the angles of the box the stool was on, to give their drawing depth.

Wednesday we drew the counselor, with the same drawing instruction, with the addition of learning to show the model respect.

Thursday we drew a still life of at least two objects, on the table near them. We didn’t do any warmups, but instead sketched on newsprint, then drew with pencil and outlined with pen or drew with a pen, then watercolor, on 80# drawing paper, using the various watercolor techniques from Monday.

On Friday, I set up lights and pushed the tables together, with the lights at one end, and kids sitting on the long sides of the tables. They did a quick draw then shaded (modeled) drawing of white styrofoam balls. Then, had them gather all their art, and put their favorite piece on top, and we did a little art walk, where each said something they liked about (someone else’s) picture.

One more thing was to have each kid at the end of each session put his or her work in a stack. I didn’t have any drying racks, so we arranged the stacks of pictures all around the edges of the room on the floor.

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Some Responses from the Faculty of the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, June 12, 2016

Before each camp, the faculty get together for orientation and introductions. In 2016, introductions extended to each of us telling why we teach. It made for a long meeting (!) but some beautiful expressions, and I took notes and am finally posting them here:

to give students an approach to learning

it is the act of giving in a genuine and meaningful way

to connect students to deeper reality

to give students tools for life

it is the act of recognition – of being recognized

empowering people

deep relationships

to counter capitalism

modeling strength for young Native people

collaboration – joyful

using skills and focus, the joy of creating

teaching allows me to question how and why I do my art

to teach problem solving

stretching by teacher and student

to learn empathy, confidence

the only way to make revolutionary, radical change

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Gotham News, 1955 by Willem de Kooning ( 69 x 79” Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo)

We looked at images of paintings by Helen Frankenthaler, Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Kooning, including pictures of the paintings in galleries, and Helen Frankenthaler and Jackson Pollock working in their studios, to show the very large scale of pictures in this school. I also told them where some of these pictures are, and had a snapshot of one (Small’s Paradise, by Helen Frankenthaler) I took in Washington D. C. in March.

I told them how Abstract Expressionism was painting that was not of something, but was the thing, in the words of Jackson Pollock. And how painting is a language, in which you can express things you can’t put into words.

The paintings they liked were both by de Kooning: Excavation and Gotham News, which is the one we talked about. The kids each noted something about the picture, and brought out the bright colors, and how it references people, dogs, layers, cities, noise, excitement, heavy equipment, Batman, buildings and other structures, without being pictures of those things.

It could be too that they were drawn to this picture because it holds up better on the rather dim “interactive white board” projectors the school has. You don’t get the benefit of the brilliant colors of Helen Frankenthaler’s work. We held up the laptop so they could get an idea of the brilliance of the actual paintings.

Inspired by the picture, they made paintings in the manner of Abstract Expressionism. I think some of them felt like they were being naughty, by using a finger or their hands, in making layer on layer, in using gobs of paint, and even in scraping back to get to layers below. But they were not naughty, they were all fully involved in the paint and what it was doing. This was the most energetic and focused group I’ve had, as far as everyone diving in.

We asked them to mix at least 3 colors, and this time not to make a picture of a thing but to paint with colors and shapes and lines, and to try different brush sizes.

As in other classes, each kid got a paper plate palette with primary colors and white, a yogurt container of water, paper towels, a plate to mix colors on, and they had had a short reminder of how you rinse your brush between dipping into the color.

We even had time to clean up and to spend a few minutes looking at our work.

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A Still Life by Henri Matisse

The very beautiful still-life paintings by Ms. Love’s Fifth Grade class in 2015. I’ve been meaning to put these up for a while. The students first learned about color mixing. They did these paintings in one session, painting from still lifes set up with colored cloths and fruit. They are done with tempera paint on canvas board (just because the teacher had some she wanted to get used!).img_2132smallimg_2133smallimg_2134smallimg_2135smallimg_2136smallimg_2137smallimg_2138smallimg_2139smallimg_2140smallimg_2141smallimg_2142smallimg_2143smallimg_2144smallimg_2145smallimg_2146smallimg_2147smallimg_2148smallimg_2149smallimg_2150smallimg_2151smallimg_2152small

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So yeah I paint and jigsaw sets – and the occasional piece of giant cutlery. The Young Performers Theater productions are all in the Odess Theater, Allen Memorial Hall. The Sitka Fine Arts Camp Musical Theater Camp productions are at Sitka’s Performing Arts Center.

Wizard of Oz by the Young Performers Theater, Spring 2016

Young Performers Theater Wizard of Oz. Photo by Christine Davenport http://www.xtinepix.com/keyword/sitka%20fine%20arts%20camp/

Young Performers Theater Wizard of Oz. Photos by Christine Davenport.

Young Performers Theater Wizard of Oz. Photo by Christine Davenport http://www.xtinepix.com

The Emerald City - 16 feet wide, Pete Weiland engineered sets with 8-foot-wide "pages" that turn.

The Emerald City – 16 feet wide, Pete Weiland engineered sets with 8-foot-wide “pages” that turn.

The Wicked Witch of the West home, also 16 feet across

The Wicked Witch of the West home, also 16 feet across, two pages that turn.

The gate for Oz, for Young Performers Theater

The gate for Oz.

The Yellow Brick Road!

The Yellow Brick Road pages! Yellow bricks by Jennifer Carter

Wizard of Oz  Photo by Christine Davenport http://www.xtinepix.com/keyword/sitka%20fine%20arts%20camp/

Wizard of Oz. The house is on casters, and has the house interior on the other side, complete with wall paper.

Peter Pan by the Young Performers Theater, Fall 2015

Young Performers Theater Peter Pan. Photo by Christine Davenport http://www.xtinepix.com

A "table" and a "barrel" for Young Performers Theater production of Peter Pan

A “table” and a “barrel” for Young Performers Theater production of Peter Pan. Below: the house the Lost Boys built for Wendy

The house the Lost Boys built for Wendy

Guys and Dolls by the Sitka Fine Arts Camp Musical Theater Camp, Summer 2016

Broadway, these signs are lit from behind, thanks to the tech crew at the Sitka Performing Arts Center

Broadway, the set of Guys and Dolls by the Sitka Fine Arts Camp Musical Theater Camp. These signs are lit from behind, thanks to the tech crew at the Sitka Performing Arts Center. I laid out and made the signs from plywood, using hole saws and jigsaw to make them look in perspective (they are all parallel with the stage). J Bradley and his team stretched white fabric on the backs and cleverly aimed lights, and figured out how to “fly” them so they stayed flat.

Beauty and the Beast, by the Sitka Fine Arts Camp Musical Theater Camp, Summer 2015

Nice silverware

Nice silverware

Beauty and the Beast: I only painted according to models the pillars and trees (trees on one side, columns on the other!)

Beauty and the Beast: I painted according to models the pillars and trees (trees on one side, columns on the other!)

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Robin Hood by the Young Performers Theater, Fall 2016

This was a real collaboration – the director found a picture and projected it onto the backdrop, where I stylized it into a “paint by number” for our volunteers. It was fun, and surprising! we also recycled and repurposed things from previous shows.

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At the 2015 Elementary-age Sitka Fine Arts Camp, I got to work with the 3rd through 5th graders. The first day we made abstract paintings, after looking at slides of paintings by Wasilly Kandinsky. Then we drew for two days, and the next, we painted their counselor modeling, or, if they wished, a figure, or anything they wanted.

Each group of 15 kids rotated through four classes:  music, theater, dance and visual art through the mornings during one week.

The only thing I asked on this one was that they mix three new colors for their picture.

Their work:

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The Sitka Fine Arts Camp has an elementary age session, one week of morning classes. Groups of 15 kids rotate through four classes of just under an hour. This year I got to do art with 3rd through 5th graders. One day we drew a chair – and on another, their counselor modeling!

Here is their work:

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This morning had the chance to work with kindergarten kids in Mrs. Matiatos’s classroom at Baranof Elementary School, in Sitka Alaska. This is an amazing group of kids. Last week for first lesson we looked at slides of Willem deKooning’s and Jackson Pollock’s art, and talked about this picture:

Excavation by Willem de Kooning, 1950, 81 x 100 1/4 inches, Art Institute of Chicago

Excavation by Willem de Kooning, 1950, 81 x 100 1/4 inches, Art Institute of Chicago

then did abstract paintings using a limited palette:

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Today we looked at some paintings by Helen Frankenthaler,

Mountains and Sea, 1952, 85 1/2 inches by 117 1/4 inches, National Gallery of Art

Mountains and Sea, 1952, 85 1/2 inches by 117 1/4 inches, National Gallery of Art

and saw some pictures of her, working.

I also showed them how enormous these pictures are, and tell them where they are, so they can know they can go visit them.

It’s funny how different groups respond to pictures differently. For these kids it was all about COLOR. I was blown away by their work:

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This is going back to Fine Arts Camp, the Elementary Camp in 2012. The first day is under Color inspired by Kandinsky for 3rd through 6th graders.

We had 60 children, coming in for about an hour in a group of 15 at a time.

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This day, we drew – using good old exercises that might be familiar to you if you took a drawing class in college. I brought in a chair from home, and had the kids do various exercises, like rapid timed drawings – a minute, 30 seconds, 10 seconds. You use newsprint and vine charcoal.
Another great exercise is called blind contour: first you hold your pencil or charcoal out, and trace the contour of the thing you are drawing, in the air. You visualize your pencil as a tiny bug, crawling along the contour of the object. Then you draw, not looking at the paper, just looking at what you are drawing, going slowly, and not picking up your charcoal.The results are a big squiggle, but with remarkable truth in the lines.It helps to tell the kids that this is a college exercise. It is hard, or challenging as we say. You have to be sensitive to when the kids are done – depending on the group of kids some went further, some did less, you play it by ear – but that’s any art class. It’s like – there’s nothing like it. But such a great feeling to be guiding a group of people, feeding off their energy and ideas, to direct them to something greater than they thought they could do.

Then do some quick drawings, and then further develop them. Amazing pictures.

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chair drawn by an elementary school child

chair drawn by an elementary school child

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