Thursday, November 6, 2014

Needle Felting Resources (for MAEA Conference)

This coming weekend I am presenting yet another needle felting workshop. I'm hoping that having done this a few times already, I come off as poised and polished. We'll see.

The workshop is for the Massachusetts Art Education Associations (MAEA) Conference. Not only is this my first time presenting at a state conference, it is my first time attending one. So, that means I'll have lots to post about my experiences in just a few short days.

In the meantime, I am creating this blog post as a resource for those attending my workshop (and anyone else).

Little felted frog. Using a design from the book Wool Buddies.

This link will bring you to a printable/downloadable information packet that I like to handout. Its packed with lots of tidbits of information that I painstakingly sought out and put in one place. There are also step-by-step photos of some of the needle felting projects I've done.

You can find more visuals of finished felting projects at these links:
Lots of Animals
Tuxedo Cat
Colorful Owl
So Many Bunnies!

And for older posts on needle felting workshops, check out these:
North Shore Art Teachers Association
Wenham Museum

Happy felting and always watch your fingers!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween! Pumpkin Sculpting!

So this year I did a little more than just carve a jack-o-lantern. I had a very over zealous plan to make a fully three dimensional bee hive with equally dimensional bees. I had to modify this plan due to time constraints (like having to go to work). So this project took me about 4 hours. I need sharper tools to make it go faster. The tools used were: clay carving loop tools, a scoop for the pumpkin innards, a vegetable peeler, a pumpkin carving serrated blade, and a standard kitchen knife.

Here are some of the steps:

First get a nice heavy large pumpkin. Find a shape that speaks to your creative vision.
Sketch out your already planned idea. It helps to use a source image that you've cut into a stencil shape.
Scrape away most of the rind (orange skin part) and begin carving out the details of the imagery. The clay loop tools were most useful, but would have worked even better if they were sharpened. Larger flat loops scrape away bigger areas and the smaller loops carve fine details.
***Cut the top off and scoop out the innards before the next step. ***

Finish carving out 3D shapes and go all the way through on some of the details in the bees. Then cover the still orange parts of the bees with black paint for added contrast.
Add a light to your pumpkin and relish in your creativity!

This pumpkin won first place in the most creative category.
Sculpting a pumpkin reminded me a lot of the way it feels to carve plaster. The texture is similar to when plaster is not fully set and the rind hardens up the more it is exposed to air, just like plaster.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Small Painted Cats

As I mentioned a few posts back, I've started working small (Artist Trading Card size). This weekend I decided to make some little cat paintings. Here they are:

"Orange Tabby" Oct. 2014 Acrylic Copyright Margaurita Spear
"A Mother's Love Is Purrfect" Oct. 2014 Acrylic Copyright Margaurita Spear
"Good Morning" Oct. 2014 Acrylic Copyright Margaurita Spear
"I'm Gonna Get You" Oct. 2014 Acrylic Copyright Margaurita Spear
"Grey Tabby Green Eyes" Oct. 2014 Acrylic Copyright Margaurita Spear
"Meowloween" Oct. 2014 Acrylic Copyright Margaurita Spear

Monday, September 8, 2014

Intro To Drawing

For ten weeks over the course of the summer, I had the pleasure of teaching a private art student. He is a teenager planning to apply to art schools and wanted to work on some foundational drawing skills.

The syllabus I developed was a slightly watered down version of the assignments I completed during my freshman Drawing I class in college. We covered so many areas, all with a strong emphasis on building observational drawing skills. All drawings were completed in charcoal on 18 x 24 sketch paper.

In addition to finished products (for his portfolio) we worked on some drawing exercises to help him loosen up a little (ink renderings with twigs using his non-dominant hand), and some that were just about seeing (drawing through objects to understand their forms). Here are some of his completed drawings. Can you guess what we focused on in these assignments?

On the last week we had a brief review of all the work he had created. We pointed on strong and weak areas, things that had noticeably improved, and we talked about how he was now seeing things a little differently. He was picking up on subtle compositional elements and nuances of light... how exciting! This is the last of his drawings. It was not completed during the time we had on the last week because he discovered a better viewpoint and started over half way through, but I think it shows a keen eye for composition and placement. It also incorporates most of the things we worked with over the ten weeks (form, ellipsis, perspective, drapery, composition, value (there was a strong light source that would have given some wonderful gradations and shadows), and texture (the candlesticks were very textured).

August Art Journal Exchange: A Sensory Journey

The theme for the August journal was the senses and how our senses invoke memories. It took me a while to settle on an idea and the first one I had didn't work out at all. I was going to use actual carpet remnants to make tactile pages, but the remnants were too bulky for the sketchbook.

Then a trip to a peach orchard gave me some much needed inspiration.

I created two entries -- both were two-page spreads. The first entry incorporates text and am image of peaches hanging. The next entry depicts what I made with those peaches!

And there is a little back pocket at the end of the book... I left a sachet of spices in it for the journey onward!

"Peaches" Acrtlic on Paper, Copyright Margaurita Spear, August 2014, Private Collection of Rebecca Wren Owens.

"Peaches" (detail of original text), Image and Text Copyright Margaurita Spear, August 2014

"Peach Muffin" Acrtlic on Paper, Copyright Margaurita Spear, August 2014, Private Collection of Rebecca Wren Owens.   
The art teacher journal exchange has been a lot of fun; and the journals with themes have been just challenging enough to keep things interesting. There has been some lag in receiving journals (its been taking two months between them instead of one), so I'm hoping the momentum picks up soon. I can't wait to see what the next one I receive is all about and what other art teachers have been creating!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

There's A New Way To Find Me - Hello, Facebook!

I recently added a public page on Facebook. If you like my blog posts, you'll also love my new art teacher Facebook page. I've been creating exciting, colorful albums filled with art project images. And if you like and follow my page, I will be posting promotions and workshop events in the coming weeks and months.

Check it out at: 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Oh No! I'm Addicted to Artist Trading Cards!

I only starting making Artist Trading Cards a few weeks ago because I joined a Facebook group thinking it would be fun to trade with others. I finally finished cards I deemed worthy to post and have had such an amazing reception on the trading group page, that now I may be addicted. I keep thinking about making more (like all day long!). That is a sign, right?

Anyway my cards are all hand drawn and/or hand painted. Here's what I've done so far.

Copyright Margaurita Spear, August 2014
Copyright Margaurita Spear, August 2014
Copyright Margaurita Spear, August 2014
Copyright Margaurita Spear, August 2014
Copyright Margaurita Spear, August 2014
Copyright Margaurita Spear, August 2014
Copyright Margaurita Spear, August 2014
Copyright Margaurita Spear, August 2014
Copyright Margaurita Spear, August 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Just Sketchin' Around

As an art teacher my favorite way to keep kids busy and out of trouble is art making. This is true in and out of the art room.

Case in point, my current "job" is not as an art teacher. It is as an office manager at a music school where kids come for lessons everyday. Some days these kids can be a little rowdy, especially in the summer and especially when they come with friends because mom is babysitting. This was the case last week. Some very sweet and angelic on their own girls were getting a little antsy being inside on a warm summer day. Initially, I gave them all blank copy paper on clipboards and encouraged them to make some drawings of instruments. The girls had a better idea. They were going to draw each other. "Portraits! How wonderful!" I thought. Then suddenly they all decided to draw me.

Well, if they were drawing me then I was going to draw them. There was not much time, but I did manage a quick sketch of the youngest of the girls who sat near the window and very seriously worked on her own drawing. Here is that sketch:

"Lauren" Copyright Margaurita Spear, July 2014, Graphite on Copier Paper

Sunday, July 20, 2014

June Art Journal Exchange: Wild Rabbits!

The art teacher journal exchange has sadly lost some of its momentum. Several members have delayed completing and forwarding their journal entries, but life happens, so what can be done. The "May" journal did not arrive to me until late June, so it was not completed until almost July and then I forgot to post about it. So here it is.

For this journal entry I decided to share a little story involving two wild brown rabbits that were spotted on the side of the road. This painting is a two-page spread completed in Acrylic.

"Two Brown Rabbits: A True Story" Copyright Margaurita Spear, June 2014, Acrylic on Paper, Private Collection of: Lisa Blitstein-Beynon

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

This Printmaking Project Was A Hoot To Make: "Owl"

Since I had pulled out my lino-cutting/printing supplies for the collaborative print, I decided to try another reductive block print on my own. This particular print series isn't exactly a straight forward block print though because the backgrounds are all monoprints so there is definite variation.

Here are the backgrounds before the image was begun:

And here is one of the finished prints. I pulled four artist proofs and ten finished prints.

"Owl" 2/10 Limited Edition Print, Copyright Margaurita Spear 2014

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Collaborative Print Project

My gosh! I am behind on post updates, but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy. Maybe just a little forgetful.

Back in June, I created an alphabet lino-cut for a collaborative print project. This is the print being pulled (photo: The Museum of Printing, North Andover, MA); mine was the letter "I".

And here is the block and a test proof that I pulled before sending it along.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

North Shore Art Teachers Association Needle Felting Workshop

As an art teacher, it is such a compliment to be invited to present a workshop to other art teachers. That is the compliment I was given a few weeks ago when I presented a needle felting workshop at the North Shore Art Teachers Association.

I realized a few things during this workshop. One is that I make strange shapes with my mouth when I talk (or maybe its just that the camera always caught me forming a vowel sound). Another is that art teachers are amazing art students. Even though they came to the meeting tired after a long day of teaching, they all left feeling relaxed and happy and with tools, knowledge and materials to make more felt creations on their own.

Here are some images from the workshop. And at the very end of this post, you can find the pdf of the handout all the teachers received. This handout is packed full with historical context, online resources, shopping guides, tips and tricks, and step-by-step photos of projects. Happy felting!

Here you can see the selection of sample needle felted animals I brought along.   

There's one of those weird mouth shapes I mentioned. And a good image of my favorite beginner book Wool Pets.  


These are some of the teachers in the process of felting...

And some happy faces and projects by the end of the workshop...

And, as promised, you can download your own pdf of the informational handout here: