Monday, March 30, 2009

Student comments about residency

"Before, I didn't really like using watercolors because it was difficult for me. Ms. Murphy taught me brush strokes and color blending to make it easier. I actually like how my painting is turning out so far."

"likes to do animal and nature pieces and interesting to find out their spiritual meanings."

..." Ms. Murphy allowed us to be free with what we wanted for our projects, yet helped us with it along the way...."

" I LOVED the program. My favorite thing was the free range in the medium.....Ms. Murphy gave us plenty of tips, but never forced her ideas on my project. She was very encouraging and creative."

" She helped me take my painting to another level...."

" I enjoyed thinking and learning about symbolism. It was my favorite because I really didn't know about it."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Laurel Highlands Residency

Laurel Highlands High School is located in the Uniontown, PA area. Mike DeFazio is the art teacher at the school and after a summer of clean up and organization, has a great teaching space for his eager art students.

In a typical 10 day residency, I introduce myself and my work on the first day and work on meeting the students. This is my 7th year working with Mike although in the past I have taught with him in the elementary schools. My first year working with Mike, he was the only art teacher for 5 elementary schools. Talk about Art on a Cart!

Mike’s professional ability is his work as a painter and I got a chance to see some of his wire sculpture pieces. His range of talent is such a huge asset for the high school. All this plus the fact that the students love working with him is just another sign of a truly great “teacher”. Before school, during lunch and after school, his art room is Never empty of students who want to continue enjoying the art that is offered by Mike.

This year’s residency project involved the students in learning some basics about watercolor, composition and the use of symbolism to create their own piece. One of my favorite books called “Animal Speak” by Ted Andrews has been a helpful introduction to animal, insect, bird, flower and tree imagery. Students were asked to come up with 3-4 adjectives to describe themselves and these words were then translated into related symbolic images. Most difficult for the high school students were coming up with 3-4 Positive words to describe them. The end result is a type of Portrait, not of what they look like on the outside, but who they are on the inside.

Works by the students progressed very well in the 10 days. Using little tricks like Saran Wrap and Kosher salt to create water areas or texture is always a fun way to spice up a watercolor. Basically, I encouraged students to come up with a good rough draft, transferred it to watercolor paper and then had them start with light washes. Watercolor is a transparent medium so creation of color can come from layering color on top of each other. Some students inked in their designs while others used pencil to complete their pieces.

Also involved in this residency was the initiation of a large wall mural in Mrs. Savini’s room. She teaches hospitality and business and delighted in our creation of a beach scene with palm trees and water. The girls in this class were quiet and wonderful to work with on this project. Although it was not completed by the time I left, we did get a great start for the class room. In the process, the girls were commissioned to continue with their mural painting ability for several other class rooms.

The student body at this school were exceptional in their welcome to me. I will be delighted to return next year and continue another great teaching experience.