Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Organizing for Drawing

Posted 17 Mar 2014 — by Jennifer
Category Uncategorized

Last week I had an opportunity to work with children involved in drawing a portrait of a friend sitting in a chair from different points of view, front, back and sides. Organizing the materials, and preparing myself, I reflected on my own drawing process (see previous 2 posts).


I taped the paper to the boards, instead of using a clipboard. I liked the stability this offered me, knowing the paper wouldn’t move around when I was making a careful line.

I offered different sizes of paper, and put out extra paper, so that a)children wouldn’t feel the pressure of only having one “chance,” and b) so that children could determine the size of paper that best fit their point of view

There were black markers, and hard and soft pencils, and erasers. Before we started, we tested the different drawing implements to notice different qualities. Pencil and erasers leave more room for error, black pens are very precise, and nice to draw with.




IMG_0568I removed the table and put cushions on the floor, one for each child, each a different perspective. In the center would be a chair (see 4 options in front of the table), and the model (an enthusiastic volunteer).


I asked the children to look silently at the model from their vantage point for a few minutes, and then to exchange observations. Remembering my own problem of deciding what to draw and when to start, I asked them to think about what they see, what they don’t see, and where they will start their drawing.


For my observation and documentation, I was looking for the starting points of their drawings, and the cognitive knots they would encounter (perspective, proportion, composition, etc).




Process of a Drawing

Posted 17 Mar 2014 — by Jennifer
Category Uncategorized


I love this space in my house, and there is a couch directly across where I can sit comfortably. photo-2





beginning.jpgI think: What part of this room will I draw? What will I include or exclude (the photo, above, reflects most of what I chose to include, but when I am sitting in front of the space, there is a whole lot more to consider)?  Where do I start the drawing? I begin with the chest, since it is central, and I think the objects on top will be fun to draw. I hesitate, and make a tentative mark. It curves to the right. 



big planter.jpgArrghh–the planter is too large. I consider restarting the drawing, but decide instead to see if I can work with it.





drawing done.jpg Further along in the drawing process, I am trying to make the straight lines of the door and wall (at right). I squint my eyes, to eliminate all of the extraneous stuff and focus on the negative space between the line I am drawing and the edge of the paper. I turn the page around so I am drawing top to bottom, not pushing the pen bottom to top. I am watching the space the line is making, not the line itself. 




I use the pen top and my thumb to measure the size of the top of the tall cabinet in relation to the dark wood chest. I still get it wrong, but oh well…





start painting.jpg

I begin to watercolor to the drawing, deciding not to outline the flowers on the wall in pen so they become part of the wall. I again start with the dark wood cabinet-excited by the wood grain. 






I stop here, fearful of overworking. Some big challenges:

The light was hard to capture, as it changed constantly. I had to stop and continue around the same time each day. All the walls are “white,” but not really…some light was warm, some was cool, it was hard to find the right value and tint. I noticed that putting in shadows really changes the drawing. Adding the dark darks-just small lines or areas–made spaces pop or recede. As I look, I see so many mistakes, but I learned from them. I can’t wait to start another!

A little background…

Posted 17 Mar 2014 — by Jennifer
Category Uncategorized

Inspired  to act by Austin Kleon’s blog, Think Process, Not Product, I am going to take the plunge and share the process of a recent drawing/watercolor, and how I have been connecting my personal process with my teaching. But first, a little background.

You should be aware that I really don’t draw. I’ve been told I am  ‘bad” at drawing, and I harbor a deep-seeded insecurity. I was inspired first by my husband, who picked up some Sharpies and a sketch book one day a few years ago and embarked on a journey he is still on. I was jealous of his intensity and focus, the way he loses himself in each page for hours at a time. I get that feeling, but never from drawing.

I started drawing during a snowy weekend at Wineberry Cabin the Shenandoah mountains. It was really cold, and there was over a foot of snow on the ground. Warm and cozy in the tiny cabin, I cracked open my new sketchbook and began drawing what was directly in front of me-the wood burning stove.







I made 2 more drawings that weekend:



There is something about drawing with Sharpies that is both intimidating and liberating– Sharpies are immediate and bold-you must make a decision and deal with the consequences…something about the permanence of the mark freed me, and I found I could take more risks. At the same time, I am forced to visibly deal with mistakes, not erase them, not try and get it “perfect.”

Another inspiration was a good friend, who did this crazy beautiful, yet technically incorrect, drawing of a kitchen. I love her drawing, the way her personality shines through–the quirkiness is what makes it interesting. I began to realize that maybe drawing isn’t about making something look exactly the way it is “supposed” to look, it is about making something look like who  I am, and howsee, and that’s my ultimate challenge.

By the third drawing (Sharpie and watercolor), I started to pay attention to what was going on in my head–I had a problem I was solving, I was trying to figure out how to distinguish the inside from the outside, and how to deal with the multiple lines and angles I was seeing from my point of view.

I think that figuring–what happens in that space in your brain when it’s clicking and firing away at a problem–I think that is the “art,” because your brain is stimulated in new ways-it is in uncharted territory without a formula or pre-determined solution.

Now on to the process…see next post…









Think Process, Not Product

Posted 11 Feb 2014 — by Jennifer
Category Uncategorized

Think Process, Not Product.


I really admire this blog, by Austin Kleon.

He is making the process the product, in a way, and it is so beautiful and inspiring to see the working-through, the creative process.

It makes me consider  documentation in a new light.

Pablo Neruda: Ode to Criticism II

Posted 05 Feb 2014 — by Jennifer
Category Uncategorized

I came across this Ode the other day, and it was so relevant to the many conversations I have been having at schools this year. I thought I would share it here:


I touched my book:
it was
like a white ship,
half open
like a new rose,
it was
to my eyes
a mill,
from each page
of my book
sprouted the flower of bread;
I was blinded by my own rays,
I was insufferably
my feet left the ground
and I was walking
on clouds,
and then,
comrade criticism,
you brought me down
to earth,
a single word
showed me suddenly
how much I had left undone,
how far I could go
with my strength and tenderness,
sail with the ship of my song.

I came back a more genuine man,
I took what I had
and all you have,
all your travels
across the earth,
everything your eyes
had seen;
all the battles
your heart had fought day after day
aligned themselves
beside me,
and as I held high the flour
of my song,
the flower of the bread smelled sweeter.

I say, thank you,
bright mover of the world,
pure science,
of speed, oil
for the eternal human wheel,
golden sword,
of the structure.
Criticism, you’re not the bearer
of the thick, foul
of envy,
the personal scythe,
or ambiguous, curled-up
in the bitter coffee bean,
nor are you part of the scheme
of the old sword swallower and his tribe,
nor the treacherous
of the feudal serpent
always twined around its exquisite branch.

Criticism, you are
a helping
bubble in the level, mark on the steel,
notable pulsation.

With a single life
I will not learn enough.

With the light of other lives,
many lives will live in my song.

-Pablo Neruda

What are they thinking?

Posted 11 Dec 2013 — by Jennifer
Category Uncategorized


Atelier, Creativity, Citizenship: The culture of the atelier between thinking and acting

Posted 09 Dec 2013 — by Jennifer
Category hundred languages, Uncategorized

IMG_0003_2 In the atelier: Human figure between bi-dimensional and tri-dimensional.










I just returned from a week in Reggio Emilia, where I attended the International Study Group: Atelier, Creativity, Citizenship: The culture of the atelier between thinking and acting. 

On the plane ride home, I thought about how I could communicate the big concepts of this Study Group to colleagues and friends. I found my answer in a book I have been reading:

Speaking of Art, Four Decades of Art in Conversation by William Furlong

(This quotation is part of an interview of  artist Frank Stella)

Stella: “I don’t know that much about Duchamp, and I don’t know whether that’s exactly what he said, but making a separation between any of the senses and the mind is a perilous undertaking. It just doesn’t work that way. Given that there are blind intelligences, you have to be taught in a lot of different ways. All of our perception feeds our ability to learn. Intelligence is not an abstraction–it’s a growing part of a whole. So, I don’t see any point in making that separation in human beings or in life experience. Nor is there any point in separating or isolating art and the experience of art.”



Can’t We Do Better? –

Posted 08 Dec 2013 — by Jennifer
Category Uncategorized

Can’t We Do Better? –

I like Friedman’s points about ownership and high imagination.

Art Makes You Smart –

Posted 24 Nov 2013 — by Jennifer
Category Uncategorized

Art Makes You Smart –


Cob House Man

Posted 22 Oct 2013 — by Jennifer
Category Uncategorized

About 10 years ago , we had a cob house  built in the playground at St. John’s Episcopal Preschool. I am reading a book which includes our cob house, “Dig Your Hands in the Dirt! A Manual for Making Art out of Earth,” by Kiki Denzer, and I want to share this paragraph from the foreword:


“To me, art means working for beauty before money. Beauty, as a medium for culture, craft, love, home, as well as a medium for exchange. Beauty as a vision of wholeness in a fragmented world. Beauty as an essential element of life, like air or water. Beauty as a way to nourish living culture. Beauty as a link to an unbroken chain of artists/craftsmen.humans whose hands have build homes and communities, grown food, delivered and taught children, and provided for the future. Beauty as a way of life, in which art is a common language–and participation is not a right to be won, but a simple and undeniable fact.”

Kiko Denzer

Beauty-full, indeed.


P.S. I tried out his mud painting recipe with my son- it was easy and has many possibilities!