Saturday, January 30, 2010

Some student Cyanotypes

We made cyanotypes in the schoolyard today! Wow that was wild. We're going to finish them by mounting them alongside our sketch and our clear plastic film. These were made by the 6th graders.

Friday, January 29, 2010

One More Tragic Outcome in Haiti: The Loss of Art

Haitian artist Levoy Exil

As the personal stories come forth from Haiti I feel more and more touched by the situation. As a narrative person, the stark images of destruction posted in the AP were hard for me to identify as real. I know they are, but in my blessed ignorance I’ve never witnessed that sort of experience, so it is hard for comprehend. But these stories, the stories!, that keep coming out about people who were lost, found, are still missing, corpses burned, suffering etc. are overwhelming and bring that stark reality right straight home. I especially love the way this one is written. It follows the course of the earthquake for several Americans, but ends with a questioning note: What must it be like for much of Haiti’s poor who lack a voice right now?

And, in the aftermath it seems that we are beginning to realize that along with life we have lost the humanity, architecture, and art of a culture. I never think of things in those terms. This passage pretty much sums of this article best:

The significance of art in Haiti may be hard for outsiders to understand. But with few functioning institutions, few outlets of expression, Haiti’s brightly colored depictions — some laced with spiritual traditions of voodoo culture — of sun and sea, people and animals serve as memory for a country that has suffered under dictatorships and failed governments and is today the poorest in the Americas.

With unemployment as high as 85 percent and a majority of Haitians reeling in abject poverty, art has also emerged as an economic lifeline.

And now, much of it is gone, the means of it currently gone.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

IN Baby!

Some of my high school students got into the GA All-State Art Symposium! Here is their entry:

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Parents' Backyard

My Mom has an incredible green thumb, and my Dad loves to have the yard look good. They make a great team. In the summer, Home and Gardens has nothing on those two. But, I like the look of quiet browns in the winter too.

Dog Portrait for Africa

I've been running the promo in my shop for the months of Jan/Feb for the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya. Here is one of the resulting portraits (4 in x 6 in gouache on bristol):

Friday, January 15, 2010


Sunprint instructor: Prof. Valerie Dibble KSU

Brief Summary:
Prof. Dibble took us through the process of sunprinting. We actually used a machine that simulated sun-exposure for faster printing, but you can use a blue-bulb light or natural sunlight to produce a print.

- cyanotypes are prints that are made from paper that has been treated with iron salts. When the iron salts are exposed to ultraviolet light reduce their ferrous state and then change color when oxidized. Thereby creating a print.

- The process is fun and simple and can translate to students of all ages.

- Basic process
o Take treated paper and arrange matter on top of the coated surface
o Expose the coated surface to ultraviolet light until the paper turns nearly white
o Rinse the paper in lukewarm water for about a minute
o Put the paper in a bath of cool water and hydrogen peroxide (this oxygenates
the water and helps the print to process more quickly)
o Allow to dry
o You now have a finished print
This is a fun and easy process. I think the thing that is most provocative about it, is that while it is so simple, it can be so sophisticated. Small children will no doubt draw a great deal from composing and exposing their paper. But, older students could really show off a more sophisticated understanding of art by applying multiple layers to their work.

They could do this by:
-adding digital transparencies (negatives)
-drawing on transparency film with ink/toner/marker etc. to create a print
-adding organic and found matter to negative and/or other translucent surfaces.
-manipulating negatives/transparencies but cutting them up before printing.

One of the things that most interested me was applying this to a technique that I already use. I use a scratch-board method that is on transparency instead of paper. So, when a student scratches away all that is left is clear film. I've been applying the clear film to paintings etc. . . But this sunprinting raises a cool idea.

What if I were to:
-have students create an image on the scratch film (say a bird)
-make a photocopy of their creation
-have them scratch away more of their film to leave empty area for leaves/matter for a nest.
-make a sunprint using their scratch film and organic matter.
-present the finished work as a triptych of 1: photocopy of transparency, 2: sunprint, 3: actual scratch film
The above are a few scratch film sheets from last year's project. took one and put it on sunprint cloth and left it in the sunshine on a cool day for 20 mins. The result is below:

I like the way this presents the opportunity to discuss positive/negative space. Both pieces look awesome and finished, but for different reasons.

I think it would be interesting to take it a step further and add organic matter from the school yard.

I also think it would be vitally important to present students with a lot of exemplars. I want for my students to not just make a sun-print but to also make quality art work. As such, it would be important for them to view exemplars so they can understand how to make their sun-print into a thoughtful composition.

I also am really enjoying these links which are getting me to expand my mind in terms of sun-printing:

Boomslice has awesome examples. They got me thinking about what TYPES of organic matter would work best in the classroom. For example, ferns seem to have excellent edges for printing.

This site walks teachers how to use sun-printing in a classroom. It really gets you to think about the types of procedures you would need in place to keep order during this process as a class.

This site has a "history of the cyanotype" section. I think this could be really interesting when encouraging students to think about the links between sun-printing and photography.