I recently taught a Role Model Workshop, The Secrets of Illustration and Graphic Design at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in downtown Washington D.C., designed to introduce teens to art careers, the day to day work of an artist and give an opportunity for young people to create original art.
Because I wear a lot of hats as an artist – that of a children’s book illustrator and author, graphic designer and teaching artist, I started off with an introduction to each and what the requirements were to work in each arena. As a children’s book illustrator I showed some of my picture books and discussed step by step the collage method I use to create the illustrations.
As a graphic designer I showed examples from my portfolio of publications I have designed over the years. But nothing captured the participants more than when I pulled out a plush girl clown that I designed recently for Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus. I showed preliminary sketches of the clown and the rounds and rounds of revisions I went through to get to the final approved design.
Equipped with paintbrushes, liquid watercolor, tempera paints and other art supplies, the teens then had a chance to dive into their art making. I demonstrated three paper decorating techniques that I often use in the art for my books. One, called paste paper, involves mixing tempera paint with wall paper paste and painting directly onto a sheet of paper. After that we used various tools like a comb, to work through the paint, making rhythmic marks.
Liquid watercolor paint was manipulated with plastic wrap and salt in two other techniques I demonstrated, to create organic textures. The students created very striking, colorful designs.
Finally, at the end of the afternoon the students were able to use the papers they decorated as well as other papers to create their amazing collages, using scissors and glue. The teens left that day with the papers and compositions they made and hopefully a lot of information and a detailed look at the work of one artist.
Posted in March, 2008