Sunday, July 25, 2010

Criticism vs. Encouragement

I admit it -- I watch a fair amount of reality tv -- "So You Think You Can Dance" is my favorite.  But I also discovered one of Bravo network called "Work of Art".  In case you haven't seen it, about a dozen different artists from very different backgrounds and with varied amounts of experience are given artistic challenges each week.  They usually have a day or two to complete the challenge, and then reveal what they have done at an art show.  The public is invited, as are several distinguished judges.  The best works are highly praised, the worst ones are critiqued, and the artist with the worst piece has to go home. 

This past week, they were to go back to their childhood roots, and work with only those materials that were to be found at a children's art museum workroom.  With only a few hours to work on their pieces, they were all buzzing along, when Simone entered the room.  Simone is a European art "guru" who has a cool accent and everyone hangs on his every word.  He went around to the various artists -- two of the artists got high praise from him, and three got some pretty disparaging remarks.  The two with the good comments worked even harder, and the three with the negative comments all abandoned their projects and started something new. You could see the doubt and confusion on their faces.  Flash ahead to the art show.  Guess which two artists had the highest marks on their pieces?  Guess who was in the bottom three -- with pieces that lacked direction, didn't say anything, looked boring?

It reminds me of one of my favorite college classes -- Foundations of Education.  Even non-education majors took it because it was such a great class.  One class period, the prof sent two groups of students out of the room.  While the rest of us watched, he dumped a big bunch of tinkertoys on the floor and ushered the first group in.  "You can build anything you want!" he enthused.  But every time one of them began something, our prof questioned them, criticized them, or just made them feel like their ideas were not good. They ended up with three tiny structures.  Then he brought the second group in with the same instructions.  Only this time he said things like, "You guys are so talented!  Wow -- great ideas!  Keep it up!"  And they built a huge tower with moving parts and everything. 

It makes me wonder what the projects would have looked like if Simone had told everyone that they were doing a great job and keep on working.  More importantly, what are the messages about my art that I tell myself?  What messages are you hearing? 

You can do it!  You are creative and unique!  Keep up the good work!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day Trip to Oak Park

I was in Oak Park the other day and had a couple of hours of free time.  Oak Park has an arts district that has developed in the last few years.  (Harrison Street, just north of the Eisenhower off of Austin Avenue.)  It's hard to believe that, until 15 years ago, we lived only 1/2 block from this artistic playground!  Above is a close-up of an inset in a door in the neighborhood.

Below are a couple of pictures taken inside the Buzz Cafe -- a very fun and eclectic place to cool off on a hot day with a glass of iced tea!
They must have had a fun painting party when they decorated the chairs.  (And I love the way they levelled the table with a folded newspaper!)
Then I went into a thrift store, where they had a whole wall of color-specific shelves:
And I also hung out at the park and tried to get some fun shots:
It's a good thing I brought my camera with me.  It was a blast taking these pics!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Poor Man's Garden Fountain (for the birds)

Recently I heard that birds really like water that is running or at least dripping.  While I would LOVE a real garden fountain, it's not something I have the time or money to research right now.  But I also heard about this clever idea:  freeze water in a container, and then hang the container above a bird bath so that as the ice melts, it will drip into the water at a steady pace.  I hung the gallon milk jug that was about half filled with solid ice at 9 this morning.  At 4:30 it was still dripping, and the birds seemed to be enjoying getting drinks from it.  (I had pounded about 5 or 6 holes with a hammer and nail into the bottom).  The only problem now is how to refill the jug to freeze more water -- there are holes in the bottom!
The tiny native plants that I put in earlier this season are growing like crazy.  Take a look at those cheery black-eyed susans!
Finally, this is a collage I created for the online class I'm taking.  It's hard to see here -- I need to photograph it in daylight.  But it's made with all found or scavenged items -- a raspberry container from the farmer's market (stained with the berry juice), some little twige and bark, bottle rocket sticks from the 4th, and a bottle cap and foil wrapper from different bottles.  Maybe I can post a better pic tomorrow.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Painting with fruit and leaves

I'm taking an online Experimental Art Class with Amelia Critchlow, and one of the exercises is to use household items to use as paints and stains.  As I was putting the berries on my cereal this morning, I wondered what kinds of marks the fruit would make.  The bright pink was made by raspberries, and you can see the dark spots where the seeds stuck.  Blueberries didn't do much, so I searched the fridge and found sweet cherries.  The lovely little violet colored flowers with the yellow centers are the result of using the cherries.  (The yellow is Sharpie Marker -- along with raspberry colored pencil lines, the only non-organic media I used)  To make the leaves, I headed out to my herb garden, where the mint grows in cheerful profusion.  I had to experiment, but the best way to make a leaf print is to put the leaf with the underside (vein side) down on the paper.  I then covered it with an index card and burnished it with the back of a wooden spoon.  Voila! Leaf prints!
The only thing I don't like is the big blobby thing in the lower left hand corner.  The more I messed with it, the worse it looked.  But I learned what I don't want to do in the future!  Here's a close-up of the part I do like:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fun find and new journal page

Today I drove out to visit my friend Amy who, along with her sister Cindy, owns a lovely "Green Boutique & Book Exchange" called Eclectique.  I've been wanting to see the shop for quite awhile, but it's in Plano, IL which is a bit of a drive for me.  But today the wanderlust hit, and I made the trek.  It was very worthwhile.  I've been in plenty of used book stores in my life, and none were quite as inviting as this one.  The books were tastefully displayed, and not shoved in everywhere.  There were lots of vintage items (such as the little bird pick I found) as well as homemade items by local craftswomen.  All in a lovely little shop with little places to perch and delightful things to peruse.  Just in case you're ever in Plano, it's at 300 East Main Street, open Tuesday through Saturday afternoons.
And here is my latest backyard journal page.  It seems everything is coming up in shades of yellow -- one of my favorite colors.  I had fun playing with a grid type page.  I think it was easier to be creative and add some interesting elements. 

Guess what?  I was in Hobby Lobby this afternoon and they were putting up their Christmas display!  NOOOOO!  I'm not ready!  Hope you are enjoying this season of growth and beauty!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth America!

One of the best parts of summer are all the festivals with concerts, carnival rides, booths and booths of junk food (just about anything can be friend and put on a stick these days!) craft fairs, fireworks and people watching.  On Friday night we checked out Lisle's Eyes to the Skies Festival with a beautiful hot air balloon area.  We heard a couple of bands, watched fireworks at the end of the evening and had a magnificent time!
There were some interesting people there -- like the guy below (those are peace signs on his glasses):
And I was a bit surprised to see people flocking to pay their $2 a person to go inside this tent and see the most unusual thing in the world:

I think they look a little puzzled.  Perhaps they are thinking, "We could have saved our money and bought another funnel cake instead".  :0)

Happy Independence Day, America!  And enjoy this fun season!