Monday, November 2, 2015

B is for Beauty and Busy Backgrounds too


Every term my students at MAC are asked to fill out a class evaluation form. I get to read these after they have been submitted and read by the powers that be. Reviewing my latest pile I was quite taken aback to read this answer to the question “What did you learn?” My young student wrote, " I learned that there is beauty in everything.”

Frankly, this response equals enough laurels to rest my teaching career upon, except that I love the kids and the work so much to quit while I'm ahead. But for me, sending a child into the world with the sure knowledge that there is beauty to be found in everything (if only you pay attention) is one of the two goals that I have as an educator. The second, and equally important, is to help my students (young and very old) know that they have the ability within themselves to do good work,  enjoy the learning and the process, and be successful, even when their day’s work is not up to their own standards. Believing in ourselves – now that’s beautiful.

Speaking of beautiful, I love busy. I love the wildly patterned backgrounds that Matisse included in his interiors, I love mosaics and heavily patterned fabrics. Wildly colored and glazed teapots are my cup of tea. I also love to limit my palette. This drawing is done in color pencil with blues, greens and yellow. And a little brown for the black and whites (cookies).

Seeking a fun project for several of my older students, I doodled a tea pot and a cup, This became the basis for a student lesson that then expanded (like tea leaves in water) to become my own series of table scenes that include pots and cups. These then expanded to include complicated backgrounds and my favorite cookies in the foreground. This project has been a great way to introduce these ideas for students, and to allow them to explore their own ideas for patterns, tea party tables, and what lies beyond. One of my favorite aspects of this project became seeing what my senior students (top age 102!) brought to their tables. Wine anyone?