What a busy day. But I did carve out some time for tree number twenty-nine. Twenty-nine. I am almost there. For this tree I did not do any of my usual pre-drawing. I started with on face, looking straight on, and then started using the text intertwined with hair to gradually construct the trunk of the tree, drawing additional faces where they seemed to fit.
I started to add more black to the right side of the tree... sitting down drawing it is a little tough to really see the work. I did stand a little, looking and then swooping in to make a mark here and there…I think I will need to go back into this one and make the increase in the dark values a little more gradual from left to right, it is too abrupt. Also...for this one I really focused on using my text as an element to move around the composition and as scaffolding for constructing the tree form.
I will not be ‘in the studio’ this week…dare I take my sketchpad with me? I feel like if I do take it I will neglect it, and then I will be mad at myself for dragging it with my and not using it. Then again, I feel like I should really do some reflecting before I just into my final tree…if it is in fact to be the final tree. I need to sit down and look at each drawing, allow the previous marks to inform what is to be this last (?) tree. So I am going to leave my big ‘ol sketch pad sitting on my drawing table, waiting for me to finish that last page. And I really don’t know what my next step will be. I have some canvasses waiting, I could move to charcoal or pastel and loosen up…will have to see where inspiration leads me. But for now, here's tree twenty-nine.
A week off….kind of. I need to find a way to balance my time. I started back coaching this week, and I am excited to have my own team to coach this year. I have been crafting it up, making all kinds of fun cheer stuff but the trees remained unresolved. I need to go ahead and find a way to manage my time now, before the school year starts and I have even more obligations pulling me away from my art. But I did do some creative things, and I worked on my Etsy site, so all is not lost. Per usual, I digress. Back to the latest trees….Tonight, I saw my large sketchbook with those three remaining pages and I knew- time to get back on it. So I started tree number twenty-eight. Rather that reference a previous tree, I tried to start fresh and just sit down and draw…surely by tree twenty-eight I should be able to do this. So I did. I did just few pre-drawing lines and then…just went with it. I seemed to focus on the text for this tree. My focus? The word love. Over and over again, the word love. I think I am drawn to this particular word for numerous reasons, and the fact that Love is my maiden name is actually not one of them. When I was little, my mom had a picture of a tree and it had the word love over and over again hidden in the branches. I remember looking at it as a child and trying to find every single one. I think I became aesthetically aware because of this tree painting. Looking back on it, I know it was probably some very seventies-looking piece, with lots of brown and orange and a dark wood frame, but that picture fascinated me. Now, there are other connections to the word LOVE, but this particular image is clear to me right now.
Anyways, still figuring things out. One my friends from college commented that she had been following the trees…what were they about? The word that came to mind is vehicle. These trees are a vehicle to get me working. These trees are a vehicle to hold trees, figurative work, curvilinear line, patterns…the trees are a vehicle to move me from inactivity as an artist and a creative soul to a person of action, making art and not just talking about it. So…may I present…tree number twenty-eight.
(Left) Tree twenty-eight. (Right) Close up.
...all done. Art camp this week was a success, the kids went home with a ton of new projects…I made a new ‘art/teacher friend’ and I am looking forward to having someone to help keep me motivated for the upcoming show at Bear and Bird Gallery and Boutique in Fort Lauderdale…I think I am going to get something started for their upcoming Creep Cinema show.
And…I finished up with my ten faces. I added the final marks in charcoal, sprayed fixative on them and I am calling it a day. It was a good outlet for me, having something to work on here and there throughout the week, but I am still kicking myself on the size. I should have gone bigger; I can always crop it down later. Lesson learned.
(Below) Slideshow of ten 9x12 inch faces, charcoal and wash on Bristol.
...and let the ellipses begin... I added some additional layers of ink wash in various values to the faces today... I did feel a little restricted by the smaller paper size…here I am, with all of the wall in front of me…space to move around, to step back and see how the work is progressing... regressing...changing...etc…and due to my paper choice I limit myself…If anything, the faces give me a sense of tension, of containment.
I was excited to have more of a studio setting to work in, even if on break and lunch, little bits of time… but again, it comes down to not really being able to fully utilize the space for this set of drawings…the paper size I chose is too small…or does the paper make the work more intimate, more personal…especially when set against the large wall, the openness of the room…if anything, it was a chance to loosen up, to work standing instead of sitting over my drawing table...tomorrow I will go back in and do a little more line work with the charcoal…oh yeah, and finish teaching my camp classes…then get back to the rest of the trees this weekend… and those canvases aren’t gonna paint themselves, so that’s on the list…for now, it’s a wash. (If you appreciate cheesy art puns, and I sure do, hopefully you got a chuckle)...hee hee hee
…you’re making some progress, then this comes along, and this leads to that…and all of a sudden it is almost a week since you did your ‘art’. So by you, of course I mean ‘me’, ‘I’… had not picked up my pen to work on anything since about a week ago. I am hoping to pick back up with the tree series tomorrow, but for today I pinned up 10 of my 9x12 pieces of Bristol to the wall at the Armory (much like the big ol’ white walls from art school, takes me back…big nostalgic sigh and slight smile) and I started to…just sketch with a big, unforgiving piece of charcoal…off the top of my head, taking suggestions from the kids…’should she look up or down? What is the story?’ It was a fun, spontaneous way to just…CREATE.
I won’t beat myself up about it; sometimes life gets in the way of making art. But being aware of it and making an effort to just make time to be creative is all I can do. Such is life.
I took a day off to deal with, well, life. Nothing too crazy, just some organizing and then tonight I made the time to sit and work on one of my trees, number twenty-six to be exact. For this tree my time frame was a little over an hour. I love having my little computer right by my side to listen to music and to post updates, but it sure can be distracting. I kind of started, then stopped, and after about twenty minutes finally got in the zone again.
For this tree I referenced tree number nine for the overall shape of the tree and treatment of the background. In tree nine, I got a little playful, using a heart motif throughout the work, from the interior of the tree to the shape of the ‘sun’ shape just behind the tree. I kept these motifs in tree twenty-six while adding my own face (yep, me again) from two angles, then used the hair as a unifying element. I am still hiding words in my work, it’s almost like I am meditating on a particular word or feeling while I am working and it shows up in my line work. All positive thoughts, sending love as my subliminal message if anything.
About fifteen minutes ago I put my pen down. Tree twenty-five, done. I feel like this one went a little faster, I started it around noon, worked for about twenty minutes before going to lunch and such. I guess I ended up putting almost an additional two hours into the drawing. It is not that I am keeping time, just making the observation to myself that since I hit drawing twenty the work is taking a little longer, getting more involved. I referenced tree six for this drawing, sticking basically to the exterior shape of the earlier tree and the horizontal line work in the background. For the most part I kept the same patterns and the same pattern placement, again trying to ‘marry’ the pattern and figurative elements. Another change for this drawing, instead of looking at my magazine ‘picture file’ I actually used some pictures I had taken of my own face a while back from a variety of angles. So if the gal looks familiar (and hopefully she does at least a little) then that means I did okay rendering my own face. Side note, I do like the sharp black edges from the pen work, but I am itching to do some ‘detail drawing’, really explore value and realism…another direction for me to explore.
Now I have five more drawings to go if I stick to the ‘new’ goal of thirty. However, I feel like I am just getting warmed up –just a little closer to resolving the drawings now that I am twenty drawings into it. Also, thirty was really an arbitrary number, I chose thirty because there are thirty pages in my 18x24 pad of paper, not because thirty is a special number to me, or because it represents the number that will yield to some greater understanding…that’s just how much paper I had. With this in mind, per the title of this blog, ‘Tree Twenty-five...the end (and beginning) are in sight...’ To me this means that, yes, I could be almost to my goal, but it also means that after getting this close to that goal I think I have more questions than answers, each drawing has spawned other ideas, and I really do think that after I complete that ‘last’ drawing it will be just the beginning. I did go and buy some canvases, so I will be taking a little break from the drawing table in favor of standing at the easel and painting. And I do have intentions of bringing my embellished fiber collage technique to this body of work, so all of these things will really be a continuation of what I started out with; just a gal in awe of Klimt and Mucha trying to push past creating just piece of work as a ‘solution’.
I am going to start tree twenty-five, really I am…but I did get a little side-tracked this morning. I finished up and submitted my final reflections for my experience as an SDA Scholar at the Confluence in June. Keep in mind that it was my participation in Anna Carlson’s workshop that really did inspire me to start blogging, to really make an effort to write about my process and my art. I don’t know if anyone reads this blog besides me, but I really do enjoy sitting down and reflecting on what and why I am creating. Now, don’t let the occasional grammatical flub fool you- I feel like I am better able to articulate about my art just from sitting and writing about it via this blog. (Mrs. Aldridge, if you ever read my blog please forgive my lapse in syntax and love for commas.)
Attending the Surface Design Confluence in Minneapolis really made me awaken artistically and I know that this growth will also show in my teaching. I am going to post my reflective essay below along with the six pictures that I submitted. I think that the reflection, or parts of it anyway, and some of the pictures may be published on the SDA web site or via their on-line journal. I do want to acknowledge again what an impact attending this particular conference has had on me. So, here is what I wrote…if you know me you can skip the first paragraph…
My name is Jennifer Love Gironda. I currently teach art to grades 5-8 at Indiantown Middle School, which is a small school of four hundred students. I just completed my eight year of teaching; I have taught art to all levels, K-12 in those eight years. I earned my MAEd and BFA from East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina where I was inspired to study textiles by my Surface Design Professor, Christine Zoller. I am a National Board Certified Teacher in the area of Early and Middle Childhood Education and I am also an avid grant writer. I recently joined the Surface Design Association, and was thrilled when I found out that I would attend my first conference as an SDA Scholar. What an honor.
The workshop that I signed up for was Anna Carlson’s Beyond One of a Kind: Creating Collections, Series and Signature Style. I had two main reasons for choosing this particular workshop; artistic and professional growth. On a personal and artistic level, I signed up for this workshop to do a little soul searching and to get these hands creating meaningful work again. I graduated from my masters program in May of 2009. In my last semester I felt like I had really started to find my aesthetic. I was working with hand-dyed and fused fabrics at the time, which I heavily embellished and then combined with my drawing and painting works on paper. I felt like I was finding my voice. However, then I graduated and the work seemed to just…stop. I have done some work here and there since graduate school, but I felt like I was just making work that did not have a connection; work that I was not connected to. Sitting in Anna Carlson’s workshop the first day and watching her introductory PowerPoint, I knew that I had picked the right workshop for me. The whole purpose of the workshop was to identify personal style and aesthetic and then to learn how to push past just making that one piece to really exploring a complete, cohesive, body of work. I was able to discuss my work and inspirations with an amazing group of women, and to get feedback and direction. The in-depth exploration of my aesthetic, and looking for recurring themes in my own work helped me to see that I have little pieces of me in all of my work, I just never allowed myself to push past that one piece.
On a professional level, this workshop has many applications. First and foremost, maintaining my own direction and learning directly impacts my students, they always benefit from my professional growth. In addition, anyone that has ever worked with students can tell you of the dreaded, “I’m finished.” I saw this workshop as an opportunity to learn how I could push my students beyond the initial point of completing a work and really delving into a study of a subject or a theme. I had become so used to just ‘doing’ that I forgot the how and why. I will take from this workshop a focus on reflection and looking for connections not only in my students’ art but in my curriculum planning. I have the potential to help my students really connect to their work and make art that is meaningful to them.
I am currently enjoying the last of my summer break. Since conference I have taught two art camps to students ages 5-7 and worked on lesson plans for my own students in the fall. One thing that I have noticed since I returned from the SDA Confluence is my desire to have a textile reference or technique in all that I do, and I am excited about infusing my curriculum with surface design. In addition to planning for the next school year, I have started an art blog, which I write in almost daily. I realized that I am heavily influenced by Gustav Klimt and Alphonse Mucha, so I committed to creating ten 18x24 tree pieces combing what I love about these two artists. After the first ten drawings were done I decided to just keep pushing myself (thank you, Anna) and now I am on to drawing number twenty-four and still going. I have plans to work with a variety of painting and collage techniques and to return to the fused fabrics and beading that I fell in love with in graduate school. I feel more aware of myself as an artist and a creative spirit as a result of the SDA Confluence and I am excited to see my passion extend into my teaching this coming fall.
So, that is what I submitted. I am not great a proof reading so I am sure that there are some mistakes, but I wrote it down- I got it out there. If by chance any of my fellow art teachers are reading and want to know more about the Surface Design Association and the SDA Scholar program, here is the link to their site: http://www.surfacedesign.org.
And now.. what else? Starting tree #25, which will be interrupted by a trip to Michaels and lunch, but nonetheless, I am starting it and that has to count for something.
…just finished tree number twenty four. While working on this one I tried to take pictures periodically to document the tree as it ‘spread’ across the paper…kind of like watching it grow from a thought to my drawing on paper. I kept hearing the Avett Bros. song, ‘And it Spread’ in my mind as I was drawing. (…and I admit, I did play it on my Ipod once I finished the drawing)
I digress, per usual…So for this drawing I looked back at tree number five as a reference point. I used the same basic shape for the tree, give or take a few curves. In tree five, I guess I started to become interested in the background. I remember thinking about rays of the sun and what the wind would look like if I could trace it- and trying to mimic this in my line. I brought this to tree twenty-four, kept working with my figurative elements, and tried to make more of an effort to allow the patterns and motifs to transition into the ‘macaroni’ hair, usually by using thin curvilinear lines to move from one area of the tree to another, and to provide boundaries as needed. I am still hiding words in the image, which I don’t think I have mentioned yet. (So…ummm, yeah, I have been hiding text in the trees…)
I guess this tree took about three hours. I am getting lost in these trees, lost in just making marks on paper and I love that feeling.
Anyway, I will take a photo of it tomorrow when I have daylight. For now I am just going to post the in progress pics, get some sleep and then see what I can create tomorrow.
Artist and Art Teacher