Friday, June 5, 2015

Five Reasons I'm Full of Hope!

These are the teens who signed up as volunteers to come and learn to make paper jewelry in preparation for assisting me at the summer paper jewelry program I'm teaching at the local library.

They showed up cheerful, friendly, on time, ready to work, ready to listen, rapid learners all, and this is why my town looks to me to be in good hands!   

Each of them will help supervise one table of youngsters age 7 and up, to have a wonderful time making bead bracelets from practically nothing!  

The theme is local color, and the aspect I'm looking at without explaining it in some many words, is the way color changes dramatically depending on what color is next to it. 

So as they make the beads, they get the visual interest of seeing how the paper transforms as they turn it -- the volunteers were very amused when this happened to them!-- and when they string them, they get to choose the colors and order of stringing.  

Everyone will get a plain colored sheet, and a magazine sheet with brilliant colors, and a piece of kraft brown paper (this makes beads which look like wood).  So they'll have choices and as they pick, they'll have the experience of the interaction of color. As well as the experience of turning scrap paper into a thing of beauty to wear.

Josef Albers would be proud!  this understanding of the interaction of color was his lifelong work.  If you're interested in knowing more go here  

I went to the major show at the Guggenheim years ago, to spend hours being transported by his Homage to the Square studies, and have never forgotten them.  They were many many tests of the relationships of colors painted inside the bounded field of a square,  with squares within the painting.  What it showed was stunningly deep and significant in the understanding of the properties of color.And since Maggi Johnson, one of my own mentors, was one of the luminaries he taught at Black Mountain College many years ago, I have a special interest.

Albers was the forerunner of the color field painters who came later and was a huge influence on American art of the twentieth century, where color was accepted as having meaning aside from the relationships and shapes into which it was formed. Rothko, Clyfford Still, Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, and a lot of other major artists owe a lot to his insights.
Back to the local program: I really like the time bomb aspect of teaching -- where you present, without naming them, important aspects of making and understanding art, and it may be years before your students really get in words what you said. even while they're executing it in art. 

Then, when it's presented to them years later, using the actual terminology, they realize, oh, I know this!  but they've been influenced by it all along.  This works for adults as well as kids, and I mainly teach adults, who can build on a lifetime of knowledge and experience and add to it and analyze it through their art and generally expand their lives.

It's not just a fun little time!


  1. what a good way to share techniques by involving teenagers yo pass on the skills, lets hope they carry on with creativity both with paper and fabric

  2. Looks like a fun time was had by all, but mainly (I suspect) by the teacher! Teenagers learning to create is planting a lifelong seed.


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