Monday, July 5, 2010

Back to the Beach with Ocean-Inspired Art: Day 1

I’m on break from my summer illustration project and taking on the role of fearless art student!!! Today was Day 1 of the course I’m taking this week called Drawn to the Sea: Art, Science and the Nature of Seeing though UMD/CUSP and Connecting Oceans Academy. So far, being an art student again has been pretty fantastic.

We met today in the former AT&T building in Fairhaven where we had some course intro by scientist Jack Crowley and artist Virginia Freyermuth. Both Jack and Ginny are also experts at providing teachers with very meaningful experiences that they can bring back to the classroom. Also facilitating our creative processes are teacher and textile artist Mary Ellen Nochimow and artist Peter Stone.

Today I was one of several art educators in the group, but there were also lots of teachers of other grade levels/disciplines. The atmosphere is totally supportive of everyone creating, writing, and being expressive. The majority of the group has already taken this class before and have had to come back, so that’s a really good sign!

When we arrived we could choose a studio space which had lots of supplies all ready for us and books, too. The course is inspired by the work and writing of environmentalist Rachel Carson, and I’m looking forward to reading more about her work.

At different points during the day, we broke into groups for some demonstrations by Ginny and Mary Ellen. Even though I'm in student mode, I am always interested in seeing not just what people are teaching, but how they are teaching it. How does the person describe what they are doing? How much is explained in instruction, how much left to discovery?

Today I began working on scientific observational drawings. I tried out a beautiful golden spotted seahorse which Ginny had photographed at the Ocean Explorium (also known as the Oceanarium) in New Bedford. I drew him in pencil, and I am working on a pen version, then maybe color. I'm still thinking about how to deal with some seaweed in the background of the pen drawing do that it doesn't take focus away from the seahorse. Maybe I'll use stippling or keep it in pencil...

I’m also trying out some weaving. (My experience with textile design is mainly quilting so this is much more organic and out of the box for me). I’ll leave you with a picture of the in-process weaving which is inspired by the ocean’s edge. (Trying to figure out how to make some skinny black seaweed weave the way I want it to without breaking.) When it's done, I want the weaving to express the feeling of the ocean creeping up on the sand.

Now it’s time to sew the top of my weaving to hold a cool piece of drift wood I got from from Mary Ellen’s stick collection. Tomorrow we are going to Fort Phoenix to draw for a couple of hours. It may be hot, but that never stopped me from going to the beach! More tomorrow...

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