Seeing Success at the Scribbler’s Retreat

I wrote this post before my visit to the Scribbler’s Retreat Writer’s Conference. Click here for an update with pictures of my trip and a copy of my handout.

This Friday I will be speaking at a conference for writers at the Sea Palms Resort on historic St. Simons Island, Georgia.

Through a series of written and shared exercises, I will help participants
+ visualize their finished work in magazines or bookstores
+ feel the satisfaction of achieving their goals
+ create plans to bring their projects to fruition.

Kirk at Work

While attending a performance of the local symphony, I made some quick sketches of the conductor in action.

A couple of weeks later, as part of a painting demonstration for school children, I pulled the drawings out of my purse. I did this quick painting to show students that you can make drawings at any time and use them later in a composition.

If you teach,

1. Encourage students to fold a sheet of newsprint or recycled white paper once in either direction.

2. Tell them to carry the paper, along with a short pencil, in a pocket for a day.

3. Encourage students to make at least three quick sketches.

4. Allow them time to create a color version of the drawing.

5. Use crayon, tempera, torn paper, textures from magazines, or watercolor to create the composition.

6. Emphasize that the sketch is just a starting place.

Oh, Oh, Oh!

ooo by bluerabbit
card at Zazzle
This is one of three large acrylic paintings on canvas done to fit the theme of a contemporary art show in a local gallery. The theme was "Text."

At the time, I had just finished the manuscript for my phonics book, "ABC, Follow Me!" The book concerns itself with the shapes of letters as well as the sounds they represent. It also includes a number of craft projects to teach these shapes. In short, I had letters on my mind.

I started the first painting with an elaborate concept, but it just wasn't working, so I let it dry and moved to another. The same thing happened. The deadline was approaching, and I didn't know what to do.

Then, I decided to use letters as English words. I painted each of the large canvases with a different pure hue. I started with I, I, I, I; moved to three U's ("Oh lucky You"), which add another layer, as they suggest horseshoes. The one shown here is "Oh, Oh, Oh". It calls to mind the famous joke:

A first grade teacher comes out to the parking lot and sees her bumper dented. Then she fumes, "Oh, oh, oh! Look, look, look! Darn, darn, darn!

Recently, I used the concept I developed with these paintings in a demonstration for school children. We made paintings on bright hues if single letters.

Still Life

Orange by bluerabbit
Other posters from zazzle.com
I did this painting as a demonstration for school children. Betty Edwards has a great recommendation in Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. She says to create a one-object still life. She uses potatoes and bits of ribbon. I like fruit. I had a bag of oranges at home, so this orange is what I used.

This is a great painting problem for artists of all ages and stages. There is a lot of room for stylistic interpretation.

Electricity in Blue

I love this series of expressionist works. I begin each one with a random element, such as a word chosen from a printed source, background music, or a brushstroke contributed by an onlooker. I then add more thick paint, or a glaze and see what the canvas has to tell me.

This particular piece was featured in a beautiful short film called “Lumenis” by Brazilian composer and filmmaker Bernardo Uzeda. (http://bernardouzeda.kinghost.net/)

Something Fishy

Kindergarteners took turns painting colorful fish on a green background, which I modified into this abstract pond. Show a print of this picture as a sample and invite primary students to create a fish painting in tempera. (This one is acrylic on canvas.) Limit the colors to three or, at most, four.

Almost Like Mondrian

I did this acrylic on canvas painting with school children at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts during Spring Art Week.

Based on the style of Mondrian, the piece provides an opportunity to review rectangles vs squares, large vs small, and color vs black and white. I used the color scheme to review the three primary colors. I also pointed out the fact that the addition of black lines and white rectangles makes the colors seem even brighter and more pure.

I encouraged students to make their own versions of this work in tempera on paper and to search for actual works by Mondrian either online, or in books of reproductions.