Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mickey: Dedicated Artist, Talented Educator

Mickey is so much fun, yet so even tempered. She has a clear sense of who she is and what she needs to do. Not only is she an accomplished art educator, but she is an incredible artist. It's clear that Mickey loves life and loves what she does. She answered the "Women Artist Educator" questions on a hand written sheet, and her answers are so great that I do not want to edit them at all.

How do you define yourself?
"As a creative person, love people (all kinds), animal lover. I have a positive outlook; almost always happy. I am a good friend."
What makes you unique?
"I think everyone is unique. I would say (if I have to) my personality, because I think that is what defines a person."
Do you feel limited by any of your titles?
"Yes. I love teaching but I have NO time for my own art. When the children were young I had no time and now they are gone and work occupies my time."

Mickey brings up the issue of time. So many of these women artist educators wear many hats. It truly is a balancing act for some to be able to work, and mother, and make art.. not to mention be a wife, sister, friend, or just be.

What about you makes you a great educator?
"I guess because I love art and I love children, and I want us all to be the best we can be. I try to learn all the time, whether it be from people, children, books, internet, etc. I have to be a lifetime learner to be a good teacher."

What about you makes you a great artist?
"I think I paint what I feel. I believe I can see things that others can't (some times), like color in white, etc. I love to let my mind take over when I do art. It just happens. Art is my life, always has been. It is who I am, I guess."

What about you makes you a great woman?
"I am always willing to learn and listen. My cup is always half-full."

Mickey sent me some photos of her family (husband, children, pets), to use in her portrait. She also shared a quote that was meaningful to her, which is included in the work. More than anything, her positive energy has been a driving force as I create her "Woman Artist Educator" portrait.

Amanda: Funky Art Mom

Amanda is eccentric, and quirky, and fantastically artsy. She puts off a great positive energy, and believes that the way our characteristics and personality traits combine is what makes each of us unique. Amanda embraces her labels of daughter, mother, teacher, lover, student, friend, and artist, but confesses that being a "teacher" does limit her freedom of expression. In her eyes, subscribing to the stereotypical teacher characteristics, affords her the opportunity to teach a subject that she is passionate about.

Amanda's love of art and teaching...and again, her positivity, are what make her a successful educator. You cannot be a great educator if you do not have a love and passion for the subject matter and for the profession. She shares that being a great artist means something different to each artist and each viewer. In her words: "I believe that every artist has a bit of a God complex. We create. We take from what we are and we form a new thing. For me, I put myself into my art and send it out, hoping it is meaningful enough that the viewers are drawn to it. I want the viewers to form a relationship, to see a meaning. I don't care if it is the meaning I, myself, assigned to it. If it is strong enough to have meaning to a viewer, then it is alive. Alive as an artwork and I, in turn, have created that life. That, to me, is what makes a great artist and I hope I have achieved that, but it is really the viewer that is the judge."

With the right mindset, good energy, and dedication a woman/artist/educator can make tremendous accomplishments. Amanda illustrates this in her life, work, and art.

Kim: Preservice Artist Educator

I haven't known Kim for very long, but I have a strong sense of who she is as a woman. She is at at point in her life where she is figuring out who she wants to be. In a phase of transition and change, she is seriously contemplating who she wants to become. Kim has very broad interests; art, sports, and music. She appreciates material things but also has a great appreciation for nature, which keeps her balanced. In her opinion, these are the things that make her unique.

Kim doesn't feel limited by any of the titles that describe her because she has defied/ broken so many of them. As an illustration of this, she shares that she was an artist at a design firm and then decided that art education was a more desirable field. She is a non-traditional student and I think she embraces that idea. Her titles do not restrict her because she can break right through them.

I love Kim's outlook on what will make her a great art educator. She believes that everyone has potential but they need help reaching that potential. She enjoys the diversity in the learning styles of students, and is comforted by the knowledge that an educator can truly make a difference.

In terms of success as a professional artist, Kim has a unique perspective due to her work experiences. In terms of graphic design, she has the skills to interpret what people want. She makes the effort to understand the client and translate their ideas into the work. This is a huge consideration in the life of an artist who is looking to make a living from their work. I think Kim is the first artist educator who has answered this question in this way. She's turned the tables, and I find it intriguing.

When asked what makes Kim a great woman, she shared that she just does her own thing. "I don't depend on anyone to to anything for me."

Kim donated a beautiful collections of papers with a variety of textures, patterns, and colors. She also shared some photographs of her digital work as well as paintings. Her contribution of black glitter (which is pretty amazing) did drive the tone of her portrait to a large extent.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sandy: Art Educator

My interview with Sandy was conducted in bustling and busy environment. This was appropriate for her, in that she is one of the most effective multi-taskers I have ever met. Sandy's views herself as art educator primarily, and most importantly.

As a child, Sandy wanted to be a ballerina. She started making acrylic paintings at a young age, and people in her small town took notice. A gentleman that worked for the town newspaper assumed that Sandy wanted to be an art teacher because she was such a great artist. She was always encouraged to be a teacher but didn't commit to the idea until a high school guidance counselor convinced her that it was the appropriate career path. She recalls stating, "I guess I'll be an art teacher."

Sandy believes that the things that make you a great person are the things that make you a great woman. A great woman needs balance. Sandy views herself as constantly changing: "My obsessions change." A great woman has drive, passion, love for family, and is always seeking more.

She struggles with the title of artist. Sandy describes herself as an art lover, an art enthusiast. She likes to make art, but is not actively breaking barriers. In her opinion, a true artist is striving to break barriers. Although she feels like she's fallen off of the "artist" bike, her passion has shifted to teaching art. Sandy is a great educator because she loves to learn. "I have a passion for what I teach." She believes that if you're not excited about it, you shouldn't be teaching it.

When asked if Sandy feels limited of any of her labels, her response was that people take on their own labels. It depends on your own perception of your labels. As a woman, you understand things differently but Sandy went on to say, "I don't have any label I don't wear proudly." She confessed that she doesn't always feel that she's taken seriously by the art community due to her role as an art educator. That is merely an avenue and an opportunity for change.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Culmination of Summer Work

These will be framed, and I won't say that they are finished yet. A frame can change the feel of a piece and I have big ideas for these frames. Lori, Carrie, and Leah (in respective order) have been wonderful inspiration for the beginning of this project and I am learning about myself by working with the pieces of their lives as Women Artist Educators.

Leah: The Process

Leah's piece began with some linear raised elements and patterned paper. Her piece, for me, is about a feeling of nature and strength. I worked on some gels of her personal artwork and a portrait gel that was b & w. I didn't paint behind this one so that the colors and patterns in the background could show through. I have some saved items to incorporate, including: stones, photographs, papers, fabrics, and magazine clippings. I have to decide which to add in their raw state and which I will make gel transfers from. The challenge on this piece is that I enjoy the overall feel of it as it is... so I have to carefully place additional material and framing.

Carrie: The Process

I began this piece with acrylic orange painting and sponging in the background.
I added some saved items that were donated by Carrie, some in their original state and some that had been altered.
I used gel transfers of some photos from around Carrie's home as well as a gel transfer image of her. some of these gels were b & w with acrylic painting behind them, others were color gel transfers.
Jellybeans have been added and coated with envirotex, the significance of the jellybeans will be understood by the subject. There are also some sewing needles "poking" in around the arm of the subject.
As a femmage, this piece includes photographs, saved items, made by/for a woman, and there is a nod to a typical female activity: sewing.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Gel Transfer Technique

So... I started this project with the intention of using photocopy acetate to transfer the images onto a gel covered surface. The trouble I experienced with this technique was that it was just a bit too unpredictable. I wanted to preserve the quality of the image, but with the acetate, I was only getting a faded and sparse image.

Aiming to achieve a different effect, and with some advice from my Mansfield professor, I started painting thick layers of gel over a paper image. The image has to be toner-based, but can be color, b&w, or even from a magazine or book. After the gel layers dry sufficiently, I submerge the entire paper into a bowl of water (as seen on the video clip). After the paper fibers have softened enough to be removed, I carefully work the paper away from the gel. The toner has already bonded to the gel, so when the paper is removed, the image stays on the gel.

In the video, I begin removing the paper from an image that has been coated with gel, and I finish up paper removal on a smaller gel that has already been worked once. No narration, just the artist working with the birds happily chirping in the background!

I've found that this technique is working well with my "femmage" collages... and I have been able to successfully control the results to some extant.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lori: The Process

On this particular work, there are two gel transfers on the bottom layer that have been painted from behind. The next layer has some transfers from a book that Lori passed along to be with some basic tissue paper collage. Each layer has been coated with "enviro-tex" epoxy which has been flattening and smoothing the layers. The layer added in the video also included text that was derived from Lori's personal experience in art, along with some line work.

There are several aspects of this piece that qualify it as a "femmage." First of all, it is created by a woman, and the subject is female. Photographs have been included, by way of acrylic gel transfer. The quilted transfers add two femmage aspects. The fact that they are photographs of quilts, I believe, can be interpreted as a form of fabric. Also, the book was something saved by the subject. Text, although it is not embroidered, has been included.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the result, and I can't wait to see if Lori and other viewers can identify the piece as a portrait. Final image will be posted soon!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Adding a gel to "Lori"

The video clip captures the artist at work! After removing the paper from the gel, and deciding on placement, I use the gel medium to adhere the portrait transfer to the piece. Once dried, I add a layer of "enviro-tex" polymer.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Leah: Free Spirit

Leah was my first phone interview and we had an amazing conversation. Leah is also the first Woman Artist Educator that I have interviewed that is also a mother. From this interview, I have learned that Leah has an amazing sense of who she is. Not as an artist, or mom, or woman, but as a human being.

Leah has struggled with the definition of artist. Being an artist isn't something you do, but rather a way of thinking. She tells me that this realization occurred when she became a mother and it was an evolutionary process that took about two years. An artist is an artist even if he/she isn't actively making art. She has a similar view on the role of educator. Although Leah made the decision not to teach in a formal classroom, she is always teaching herself or others. As a counselor now, Leah sees herself as a personalized educator.

She is working hard to define herself. We are more than the roles we play. I am a mom, wife, provider, artist, homemaker... but I am freedom, joy, love, and spontanaeity. Leah is a free spirit.

I asked Leah what makes her a great educator, artist, woman, and mother. She was the first participant to answer without questioning her "greatness" in these roles. I interpret this as self-confidence and self-awareness on a different level.

Leah's level of consciousness makes her a great educator. She realizes teachable moments and shares her experiences from the heart, not from the ego. Being a great artist and a great educator are one in the same. You are great if you are creating through the heart. Leah is a great woman because of her balance of masculine and feminine energy. Feminine energy is strong, powerful, and seductive. Men and women are powerful in different ways.

Being a great mother is challenging. You take inspiration from the moms you admire and trust your intuition. A great mother has patience and gives unconditional love. It is important to consider that we do not own our children, we are facilitators of their growth.

See the video clip of my phone interview with Leah. She responds to the question, "Do you feel limited by any of your titles?"

Do you feel limited by your titles?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Carrie: Artist Educator

I sat down with Carrie on Tuesday, July 13th 2010. The most notable point that I can take away from the interview was Carrie's belief that being an artist and and educator play off of each other. You can be better at both by doing both simultaneously.

Another interesting fact about Carrie was that she knew that she wanted to be an artist and an educator from a very early age. She didn't decide later that art education was a good career choice, rather she planned her education with a career as an art educator in mind. Carrie recalls viewing her own artwork on a wall when she was in the first grade. It was a pastel of a bunny with a carrot, and she still has the piece.

Always labeled the "artist" in her small school, Carrie chose a college close to home and studied art. Although her degree was labeled 3D Studio Art, she was a graphic artist at heart and made it a point to study all types of media to prepare her self for a career in art education. She knew since about the 8th grade that she wanted to be an educator and that artist and art teacher go hand in hand.

When I asked Carrie how she defines herself, she responded with, "I don't like labels." She doesn't think of herself as the stereotypical artists. She is competitive and a perfectionist. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. There are many things that make a person unique. Some of the things that make Carrie unique, she views as weaknesses and doesn't want to be defined by those particular factors. Carrie tries to maintain a balance and believes that your unique combination of characteristics makes you who you are.

Why does anything have to be titled? The label of art teacher can limit you, since people make assumptions based on titles. Your titles combined define who you are, but they can also limit you. Carrie is an art teacher, she grew up on a dairy farm, and she looks incredibly young for her age. Although these things are part of who she is, she dislikes the stereotypes associated with them.

I asked Carrie what makes her a great educator, artist, and woman. She had similar responses to all three questions. "How would I know?" How does anyone know if they're great at anything? It depends on who is judging. Carrie says that she has done her best, and it's her responsibility to provide an art education to children. It's not a job, it's a responsibility.. I think that pushes toward greatness.

In art, there is always room for improvement. I believe Carrie has made a commitment to being a lifelong learner and that opens up the possibility to achieve greatness.

As a woman, Carrie believes that there are certain things that society defines as "great" in women. Our grandmothers were great women. They were housewives and mothers. They ran a house. Carrie thinks she has not achieved greatness as a woman because she has not earned these societal labels. However, she is an educated woman, with a job and a house who gets to make art for a living. I think that's pretty great.

In the photo, I have displayed the items that Carrie donated for her femmage. The glass, favorite photograph, soccer ball segment, and scrap paint board will be incorporated into the piece.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Gel Transfer Experiment

I started to experiment with acrylic gel medium transfers. From what I've found floating around on the web, there are about four thousand different ways to go about it! I am trying a few techniques simultaneously. First, I photocopied some images onto acetate in b & w. I painted a few 5x7 gesso coated boards with a light layer of acrylic and then coated with gel medium. I cut out parts of the acetate image and rolled them (coated with medium) on to the board with a brayer. From what I'm seeing so far, I think the gel medium must be allowed to dry, and then the acetate can be peeled off. I'm finding that it is helpful to use some sort of barren tool to burnish the image before peeling off the acetate. Results have varied, drying times have varied, but I'm getting close to the proper procedure.

I also took a paper photocopy and covered it with a thick layer of gel medium. After this dries, I will be able to soak it in water and peel the paper backing off. This will produce a clear and flexible image transfer which can then be collaged into a piece. Again, I must wait for it to dry before moving on.

Of course, I had a failed experiment with printing directly onto the transparency film. What a mess. The inks began to bleed immediately.. which was sort of cool.. but when I attempted to transfer the image, all of the ink just smeared through the gel medium. I don't think I'll try that technique again.

I will be testing out a few more variations on technique before working on my larger pieces.

Lori: Independent Female Artist

I sat down for an interview with my first "Woman Artist Educator" on Thursday, July 8, 2010. Lori is extremely shy and very soft spoken. So much so, that she became uncomfortably nervous when I asked to video record some of our interview. Of course, I didn't pressure her and we had a wonderfully relaxed conversation about her life, work, and art.

Lori knew that she was an artist at age 4, and was always "the girl who could draw." She told me that she can even pinpoint the drawing of Charlie Brown that confirmed at an early age that art was for her. She went to Kutztown for undergrad and specialized in printmaking, then to Tyler for her MFA. This artist did not have any intention of being an art educator. She was an artist with a fear of public speaking. After having her run at being a starving artist, she decided to go back to school and get a teaching certificate.

Currently Lori is working as an educator, working even harder as a single female artist, and maintaining her independence.

I loved that Lori considers herself an artist first. Being an educator is sort of her day job. She teaches at the high school level, but sees herself as teaching the students about what it's like to be a working artist in today's society. She stressed that art needs to come from the self. You make art for you, not for anyone else, and it must be significant. Art should tell a story.

I asked Lori what makes her unique. Her response was that everyone is unique. Life experiences, how you use those experiences, and how you treat people defines the self. Lori confessed that she feels boxed in by the title of art educator. Her perspective is that when people hear the "art teacher" title, they interpret that as someone having limited creativity as opposed to being thought of as an "artist."

In my personal opinion, Lori is great in many ways. However, she doesn't see herself as great... yet. She teaches great things to her students and enjoys guiding and encouraging students with a true love for art. Again, she doesn't view herself as a great artist, but is great at expressing things visually. Art is an outlet for expression. "I don't do art for other people." Lori shared with me that she thinks of her mother as a great woman, but she has yet to achieve greatness herself. She is proud of her independence, her honesty, and intuition. "I'm not afraid to do what I want to do."

Lori is a single female artist who is inspirational to artists of any background or gender. She is an artist educator with an unique perspective on working as an educator. There are "things that you have to do to be able to to the things you want to do." Lori just wants to make art.

The image is a manipulated photo taken in Lori's home. She has a "thing" for shoes, and as an independent female, she can collect all the shoes she wants without answering to anyone. The image includes some of Lori's fantastic footwear and one of her self portraits can be seen in the background.

Great first interview. I'm looking forward to learning more about the lives and work of women artist educators.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Concept

The title of my arts-based research project is Women Artist Educators: A Showcase of Individuality through Mixed-Media Femmage. Sounds complicated, but the concept is simple. We live in 2010 and there are so many things to worry about in your day to day life, but you don't often worry about yourself. Personally, I am mother, an artist, an art educator, a tattoo enthusiast and a self-proclaimed independent thinker. I really don't take the time to think about "me" very often. I think there are many women in similar situations that are talented, busy, and wonderful but don't often think about themselves. There are many women who are educators that don't take time for themselves to focus on their own art.

Through experimental collage and acrylic painting techniques, I will capture the unique qualities of several women artist educators in the realm of a portrait. This week I will experiment will acrylic gel medium transfer and interview some of my subjects/models.