Archive for the 'Ruth Days' Category

The Ruthies – Layered Abstracts

Posted by laura on Apr 12 2010 | Fun, Making, Ruth Days

It’s been weeks since I’ve posted images from our Friday Ruth days. We’re still going strong and the girls are doing some fantastic work, so I thought I’d dig out some photos from weeks past and show what we’ve been playing around with here. These photos are from one of my favorite days – we were doing layered abstracts.

We started out by taking a look at some contemporary artists who incorporated different materials, images, text, you name it, into their work, and we talked a little bit about the idea of layering meaning into the work as well as color and texture. I’d pulled out tissue paper, paint, crayons, markers and everyone dove in.

Some were focused on color, and we talked about the technique of stepping away from your work to see how it reads from a distance.

Others loved playing with dimension. They’re ready to try anything.

I think this piece, though, was not only one of the best outcomes of the day, it remains one of my favorite experiences working alongside this group. This painter started out with multicolored circles drawn in crayon all over the paper. For a while, she really liked where it was heading. Then, all of a sudden she thought she’d gone too far and that it was awful. She wanted to throw it away.

At that point I said, well, what have you got to lose? Push it farther. When she asked me how, I suggested that she just dive in with some paint, but I thought she should try acrylics because then she could have some fun with texture. Layer after layer of paint went on, and at every stage, she said she thought it was awful and I encouraged her to really wreck it by going just one step further.

She came back to crayons, sometimes dipping them in paint and using them like pens, other times digging into the paint and to carve out a poem and more circles that played off the ones that had been there at the beginning – it was just so cool. The end of the afternoon found us all around the computer again, looking at Jasper Johns’ work. An absolutely terrific day.

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These Days

Posted by laura on Mar 01 2010 | Fun, Making, Ruth Days

It’s been a month of technical delays, but it looks like we’re up and running again. DSL was touch and go for a little while there but it’s all good again.

Everything else has been rolling along nicely, I’m happy to say. We’ve been keeping up our Friday afternoon art days – I always think of them as the Ruth Days, after my neighbor and mentor, Ruth Bowen. She was a brilliant mother, teacher and artist who also relished having people, kids and grownups alike, making art in her home. I wish so much that she could join us; I think she’d really have fun with this gang. I still use her materials though, and try to channel her great optimistic spirit every week. So the Ruthies benefit from all that talent and kindness one way or another.

Still Life Abstracts

For our second session, we kept things pretty open with some still life abstract paintings, touching on negative space, composition and layering. I asked the girls to look at a few basic forms – a teapot, a vase, some scientific glass – and do some sketches of those forms intersecting on the paper. We played with leaving out sections of line, looking for shapes that appealed to us, and I encouraged them to think about the whole page. That is always such a tough thing to do.

Once they came up with sketches they liked, they penciled their compositions onto watercolor paper and drew in some of the lines with crayon to act as a resist for the watercolor. Then it was time to paint. We looked at limited palettes and balancing color across the page.

After working on these paintings for a while, they branched out into all kinds of painting.

I’ve known these kids for years now, but it amazes me how different it is to be working side by side with them. By trying to keep the concept simple – exposure and experience – I think we’re getting into a nice groove.

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