Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tree Carvings

Early immigrants to Idaho used the bark of the aspen tree as a canvas for their artwork.   Over 100 years ago, immigrants from the Basque country found work as shepherds in the mountains of Idaho. While living alone in the mountains for months at a time, they left their mark on the bark of alpine aspen trees in the form of tree carvings.  These carvings, called arborglyphs, often inlcuded names, dates, hometowns, poetry and  drawings of their homes, family and items they longed for.  Today immigrants from Chile, Peru, Brazil and Mexico also find work as shepherds in Idaho and continue the practice of carving on the bark of the aspen trees.

These photos were taken up near Stanley, Idaho in November, 2008.

If you hike or camp near many of the sheep trails throughout the state, you may have seen some of these wonderful carvings.  Please respect our forests and enjoy the arborglyphs, but reserve the carving of the aspens to the sheepherders.

Students will have an opportunity to try their hand at creating their own arborglyph by carving on sheets of scratch foam this coming week.  After carving the foam, we will roll ink across the surface of the foam and, using a relief printmaking process, students will create their own aspen tree carvings.  By the time the week is over, we should have a beautiful grove of tree carvings!

Connect the Dots!

It was a very busy week in the studio.  And we couldn't have done it without all the wonderful help of the art moms.  On Wednesday local artist Tiffany Kimball Santos joined us in the studio to help with our project. With a generous donation of wood veneer from the Art Cottage, we created some extraordinary bark paintings in the tradition of the indigenous people of Australia.

We listened to the music of the didgeridoo while learning about how aboriginal cultures use story telling, music and animal imagery in their paintings to maintain strong personal connections to their ancestral origins.

Students were given a piece of wood and invited to trace the wood on a piece of paper. A tempera paint "wash" was provided to stain the wood and allow the grain to show.  While the wood dried, the traced outline provided a format for students to develop the main subject of their bark painting.  Once the wood was dry, students used a variety of colored tempera paints to create their imagery.

Students used the brush to paint large shapes of color to represent their subject. To simulate the dot pattern found in traditional aboriginal art, students dipped the blunt end of the brush in the paints,providing details on their flats of color as well as outlining their work with the dot patterns.

The indigenous people of Australia have a great respect for creation which they call the dreamtime and for the place of their birth called the dreaming.  We talked about our birthplaces and used animals and landscapes to represent the places we were born.

I took photos of the bark paintings created on Monday by students in Mr. Steidel's, Mrs. Wolfe's and Mrs. Doell's afternoon class.  Be sure to click on the photos to enlarge the images. Each week I will be posting the work from a few classrooms so be sure to stay tuned and watch for your student's creations.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bark Paintings

We've learned that painting can be done on many surfaces. Starting with the caves at Lascaux, we found that early civilizations painted on the walls of caves. And, we've learned that wall painting, whether on caves, cement blocks or stucco, continues today and is a popular way of telling or selling a story. Artists that choose painting as their medium find many surfaces for painting depending on what they have available and what they have to say. Take Australia, for instance, where caves and rocks have been popular painting surfaces for centuries. Art has alway been an important part of traditional aboriginal culture, where story telling takes the role of written language for passing information from generation to generation. With one particular aboriginal group, the bark of the eucalyptus tree has been the perfect surface for painting. Painting is not only a means of telling a story, it is also seen as a spiritual act, and the act of painting serves as a source of energy for the artist.

We'll be tapping into that energy this week while listening to the music of the didgeridoo and learning about the themes and messages contained in aboriginal bark painting.  We'll see how dots, lines, and concentric organic shapes can be used in creating art on a brand new surface.

I'm looking forward to a great week with your students!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Artifact [ar•ti•fact]

Street Art

I decided to drive around town today and check out our city's street art.  Last week when the students made their pastel drawings we talked about how the Lascaux cave paintings tell a story from 17,000 years ago.  The brick wall drawings the children did  this last week tell a story about what they find to be important parts of their lives and culture.   We talked about Boise's street art last week before the children began their work - and many of them came up with the examples I will post below.  I was surprised when I returned home that I had so many photos!

Here goes!

This mural sits on the edge of the Basque Block in Boise

A little dinner music?

The Skate Park downtown is loaded with skating imagery.



Ceramica offers a little magic.

Even the electrical units are covered with art!

The coop sends greeting to Ninth Street visitors.

Do you think this might be an ad to remind you to put your bike in the garage at night?

A favorite store in downtown Boise

If dogs could read, they might want to stop in.

A familiar glance at the foothills

Freak Alley offers local street artists a place to practice their skills.

The artists are given an area to show their work.

There is always a variety of artwork on display

And this is a very popular area on the  city's public art walk

A nice touch outside of a Boise design agency

A message seen from the connector from people that care.

Part of the city's attention to detail

and more detail.

You' might feel like royalty when you get your auto serviced here.

City lights in Boise

Can you guess where this might be?

Or how about this?

A familiar neighborhood painting adorns the outside of a favorite local market

Celebrating nearly century old touring cars.

But then you can always take a trolley.

Hungry folks might recognize this wall painting

And every parent can identify with this tender touch.

I'll be back with one more to add that I must have accidentally erased.  I'll stick it somewhere in the middle and let's see if anyone can find it.

Have a great week!