Educating Students in the 21st Century
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Expression Paintings

After learning about Kandinsky's emotional and improvisational paintings, my middle school students create their own works of abstraction. This is their first project of the year and they learn a lot about the art elements in order to make a successful composition.

This project has evolved over the years which keeps it fresh and fun. The first year teaching this lesson, the composition was all about the textures, colors, and shapes contained in squares. Then classes experimented with cutting their paintings into interlocking shapes and this year made backgrounds more active with white/metallic colored pencils. The students learn a lot from manipulating their painting. Experimentation is extremely important to develop creative thinking and this sets the tone for the whole year.

Please click on the image gallery below to see how the Expression Paintings have changed over the years.
Topic(s): acrylic painting mixed media 2011 middle school lessons
By Heather on November 15, 2011 at 1:20pm EST Add Comment

Pure Joy

I love working spontaneously. I didn't have an exact plan when creating this piece and I'm pleased with the outcome. It's made out of a scrap of cardboard, acrylic paint, and colored pencils. The abstract shapes reminded me of something my puppy would investigate and zoom around so I wanted to include her. I like to combine representation with abstraction. Her happy swirling trail reminds me of all the fun we have running around the many trees in our yard. Pure joy!
Topic(s): acrylic painting mixed media 2011 colored pencil cardboard puppy
By Heather on November 14, 2011 at 1:47pm EST Add Comment

I'm not a sculptor but that doesn't mean that my work will never take on a 3 dimensional quality. This piece titled "Enlighten" (2004) is basically a bunch of 2d components organically stuck together to make this nature inspired sculpture.

I forgot about this piece because it was done quickly and then stored away. Many of my friends and family have never seen it, so it is time to give it a chance to glow (and it does!) once again.

The main structure is made from papier-mache and a textured spray paint. The petal forms are sheer fabric sewn to wire wrapped in natural material. As you peer inside, a translucent watercolor moth glows from the lights hidden in the base. The use of paper helps to illuminate the entire piece. Enlighten was inspired by the amazing work of Lee Bontecou. Her structures continually shape my ideas.
Topic(s): 3d mixed media 2004
By Heather on June 28, 2008 at 6:00pm EDT Add/View Comments (4)

Artist Book - Inside and Out
This artist book is a reflection about my passion as an artist and educator. It's called "Inside and Out" because it's about taking little steps back from what I'm simply composed of. I made each page with different mediums to emphasize my interest in experimenting with them and also the fact that I'm not afraid to take risks by being a life long learner to the arts.

Let me explain how some of this was made:
Top Right Cover:
Actual intaglio copper plate with a green patina. (right beat)

First Page: intaglio heart print (right plate)
Watercolor red/white blood cells
Oil Paint blood
Intaglio heart beat (left plate)
Charcoal bones (hands which are extremely important to an artist)
Computer art muscles (photoshop)
Intaglio heart beat (left plate)
Pen & Ink on vellum skin (two layers)
Colored Pencil nude
Intaglio heart beat (right plate)
Fabric from clothing worn in next page
Digital photo with color manipulation: self-portrait (photoshop)
Intaglio heart beat rendered with colored pencil (left plate)
Intaglio door print
Intaglio map print with watercolor enhancement
Intaglio heart beat (left plate)
Computer art world with media text (photoshop)
Intaglio heart beat (right plate with light red ink)
Intaglio heart beat (right plate with red ink)
Last Page: actual intaglio copper plate with green patina (left beat)

There is much repetition in this book. The mosquito intaglio print that buzzes throughout - I grew up with annoying mosquitoes and the fact that they're after my blood intrigued me for this book because of the subject matter - me and what makes up myself and how that could be shared artistically. Of course there is the rhythm of my heart and how the alternating plates visually represent the sound. Page after page there is a return to this life force.

I hope you enjoy this reflection and maybe be inspired to look at your own life, in small steps, inside and out.
Topic(s): artist book mixed media education 2005
By Heather on April 5, 2008 at 11:56am EDT Add Comment

Bug Collection
I think we've all, as children, caught fireflies or a caterpillar out of fascination. We place some grass clippings, leaves, and branches in our pickle jar believing we created an ideal environment for our creature. I even caught tadpoles and watched them change into frogs. Unfortunately, our experiments do not always work out but it's a learning experience no less. This mixed media "Bug Collection" (2003) preceded "Entrapment" and repeats the idea of catching/keeping something fascinating while having the heart to let it go, knowing that the atmosphere you made may not have been suitable. This theme can also translate to our own human experiences as well, to ensure growth.

The materials used to make this piece include: acrylic and oil paint, paper, crackle medium, dirt, and organic matter. Each bug is contained in two ways, the old canning jar and the paper circle, except the escaped firefly.

For some reason, I have always been captivated by jars. I know it seems silly, but I find them beautiful...old and new jars, colored and clear, from sauce to jellies and the history of canning to preserve our gardens. The jars are a good way to create symbolism in my work and it causes me to constantly wash and store different jars, especially if they have interesting shapes. It pains me to think about them sitting in a landfill, so even if I don't keep them, I make sure to recycle them. Hopefully, I'll explore this avenue again someday and use some of them I've collected!
Topic(s): mixed media painting 2003
By Heather on March 8, 2008 at 6:07pm EST Add Comment
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