Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Feles Requies" Painted for Open Call at the Witch Dr. in Salem, MA

"Feles Requies" 8x8 Oil on Panel, Sept. 2013 Copyright Margaurita Spear
Its October, so that seems like the perfect time for skulls and creepy things. This skull painting was created in response to a call for work at the Witch Dr. studio in Salem, MA. Salem, of course, becomes synonymous with Halloween this time of year and skulls may be the least creepy thing to be seen around the city.

This particular skull was technically painted in September so it could be on view throughout the entire month of October. (It is also for sale at the studio by the way). This is not a human skull, which you may have already figured out. It is a cat skull. It also has the distinction of being the first ever painting I have made of any type of skull. The closest I've come before was a charcoal rendering of a Georgia O'Keefe inspired skull in high school.

At first attempting this painting freaked me out. I am a cat mommy after all. And in depth observation of a cat skull inevitably made it nearly impossible not to envision my own cat's skull every time he looked at me. But now I rather like this painting, especially the reflections in the table surface. Maybe I'll paint a skull every year for Halloween (just work my way through the many animals).

Reading List: The Learner-Directed Classroom -- Developing Creative Thinking Skills Through Art

This book reinforces some ideas I've been grappling with for a few years now. In an art room, I have learned to teach lessons in a "teacher directed" approach. But through teaching I have felt in my gut that something was intrinsically missing when using this approach. I became even more aware of this as a substitute teacher filling in for elementary classrooms that used centers for learning.

In my own art room I would like to think of the shared space as an artist community and my students as beginning artists. I would like to establish sub-spaces in the room that can be considered mini-studios with a separate quiet area to act as a resource library called the "salon."

This fantasy art room design was something that I kept in my head and did not share because for a long time I thought of it as an unheard of and untested approach to teaching art.

Then, I stumbled across some resources, like this book, that specifically address a "student directed" approach to teaching. Suddenly my ideas did not seem so out there anymore because other art teachers had come to similar conclusions.

Now, transitioning from one approach to the other may present challenges. But at the very least some "student directed" concepts should certainly make their way into the art room. After all, the art room should be a place for creative expression, outside the box thinking and problem solving. How can students be creative, outside the box thinkers and problem solvers when the teacher tells them how their art should look, what materials to use and how to solve problems that arise?