I Just Want to Make Beautiful Things, Even if Nobody Cares

Hey All,

There are so many wonderful quotes about art out there that showcase a true expression of feelings. I want to start this post by sharing a few of my favorites.

“Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.” -Stephen Sondheim

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” -Scott Adams

“It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process.” -Max Eastman

So you may be asking yourself now… why this discussion on art? The reason is because right around the time Green Lantern left for his deployment, I decided to take a little bit of a jump myself. I started, on a trial basis, an art club within the elementary school.

Not that this concept that was a completely foreign idea. I’m not sure if it has been mentioned in any of my other posts, but I am actually an artist of sorts by trade. I went to design school, and worked as a photographer and assistant for years before I got married. The idea came to fruition because of the request of just one little girl. She came up to me and asked if I would be willing to give her art lessons, because she really wanted to get better and learn some new techniques. I thought it was a good idea… so good in fact, that I thought I would maybe like to try it with more then just her. I concocted a plan that allowed me to take 4th-6th grade students, and do a variety of different art projects that appealed to all different mediums and kids.

I got excited for my first batch of kids, and picked a mildly challenging project. We made accordion fold books with foam covers on either side. This allowed them to decorate them with whatever they wanted on the outside, but also gave us a portfolio to glue their work into. I gave them a freebie for their book too.. a piece by M.C. Escher for them to color. As I watched these children, so excited about what they were creating, making their very first book by themselves, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride. I had given this to them!

The second week we took on something a little more difficult. This project dealt with many different aspects of art in general. The first was working on a grid. The second was understanding and using shape. It also worked wonders with the concepts of contrast and depth. However, instead of working that creative, wild portion of the brain, this project focused on the more analytical portion. I discovered that some kids had a hard time visualizing this, and others could do it without even blinking. I think in some ways I might have outreached my elementary children with it, but they rose to the challenge admirably. I quite learned to appreciate my children all over again.

A Student’s Week 2 Project, and my Week 3 Sample

The third week we talked about Andy Warhol, and the Pop Art Movement in General. The kids LOVED the bright colors and repetitious style, and could repeat back to me many of the facts I had told them from our lesson at the end of class. Using the famous portraits of Marilyn Monroe as inspiration, we concocted a four frame portrait using their hands. We then painted their hands in dark paint (another thing they loved about this project!) and showed them how to slightly offset them in true pop art style. In the end, this turned out to be my favorite project with them!

Our last week presented the only project that went wrong for the whole duration of the club. I really wanted them to be able to make shirts for the club. I even designed a logo just for them! I found in our stores screen printing equipment, and got so excited to try it with them. I decided, however, after re-reviewing the process of screen printing in my head, that it would be logical to skip some of the steps with them and just let them actually do the printing. That means I would cover the screens in emulsion, expose the positive, and create the stencil.  After trying a grand total of SIX times… I discovered that screen printing was not going to happen. Like… at all. Every technique I tried… Every trouble-shooting tip I acquired, every single one fell into just complete failure. I was so bummed! I wanted so badly to give the kids this one really cool project and an art style I had fallen in love with from a great teacher in school. Unfortunately… that didn’t happen. However, I did give the kids a free art day, and that was something that they loved just as much.

Overall, I was stunned by what I considered the blazing success of the club. Not only could I teach them things that I had learned and found important, but I could do these fun projects and simultaneously distract myself from my obviously empty house for a few extra hours. As much as I constantly miss Green Lantern, these kids turned into little super heroes of their own, saving me from focusing too much on my husband’s absence. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I am now so excited to run the club for the kids all year next year, and trying out all kinds of new projects to see what they create.



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