This is a work conceived from the two contrasting mindsets of my life. A split mind birthed from a split schedule: artist, and middle school art teacher.
On one day, I explore the nooks and crannies of the inspirational, emotional, and energetic work of my own. Work that is a constant struggle and joy. And usually happens alone in my studio (shed) under the soothing shade and ecosystem of the multi-lot spanning tree in my backyard. And, another day, I explore the realm of 13-year-olds in order to find the creative solutions that give momentum to their creative journey in life. Within the walls of a cold, germ-infested, fluorescent light buzzing facility, my students think "life stops" and "strenuous demands begin." But, I've enjoyed, throughout the years of teaching, practicing the basics, that are the foundation of all creative work.
As they are contrasting worlds, they do feed off one another. It is a joy to share my work with my students, because they've only yet known artwork to be pretty, and created by that "starry night guy." And, it is a comfort to wear myself out on the mindless exercises of contour drawing, demonstrating linear perspective, squeezing critique responses out of children, and problem-solving the "oops" moments in a process. I feel these things can be elementary at times, but I've noticed how they have strengthened my core of art making.
A couple of weeks ago, we delved into the process of printmaking. And with the limits of the cost of blocks, I assigned my students a brainstorming mission for a theme that spoke from their heart. "An image that only you can make, given your background, experiences, and preferences. What is something you would hang on your wall?" The outcome: mostly sports, dance, clothing apparel. But also, themes, of loneliness, death, friendship, futures, and God. My job finds its happy moments when I get to witness the unfiltered creativity of 13-year-olds in this way.
Hands no. 3
In preparation for teaching this unit, I tested out my own block and fell in love with the process for the first time since college. The contrast between quick, gestural decisions in my painting process and the organization of precise gouging designs is vast and refreshing. As I searched for direction within my own work, I decided upon this study of hands to use for my first print. I can't get away from the physicality of hands. They can express so much. And, this image in particular has a sensitivity that I just love.
I like having the option to go a little further with my work and be able to not explain, but deepen the meaning of the visual with a haiku. This is something I suggested for my students as well. The haiku offers them words to direct, but also limits them by syllables. This was a challenge for most.
I am pleased to present this as my "gateway print." I've caught the bug and I am eager to create more. I printed a limited edition of Hands no. 3 to be sold individually in the effort to fund the next print. You can find them in the shop.