March is Youth Art Month

March 19, 2012 at 11:14 am | Posted in Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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Sponsored by the Council for Art Education, Youth Art Month is observed annually throughout the month of March. The goal is to spotlight and support quality art education for all children.

I’ll quote off their page which reflects my thoughts on the subject.

“…art education is often wrongly considered a “fringe” program.  In reality, it provides students skills they will need as adults.  Art education develops self-esteem and self expression, as well as appreciation for the work of others.  It also develops critical thinking skills that will be important as children continue their education and as they enter the working world.  Our fast-changing environment will require that future leaders – today’s children – be creative and imaginative in problem-solving.  These skills are learned best by students involved in art.”

Art builds brains and hearts. Encourage art making in your home, your schools, and community.


Local students created these fun entries of recycled art that are on display in the Community Room, at the Kern River Valley Branch of the Kern County Library, 7054 Lake Isabella Blvd., Lake Isabella, from March 17, 2012 through March 31, 2012. The exhibit will close at 4 p.m. on March 31, 2012. The exhibit is part of the Living Green in the Kern River Valley Festival.

Fish-Go-‘Round: Art from Trash

February 27, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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©2012, Joan Desmond, Fish-Go-‘Round. assemblage.

Fish are patterns, stripes, dots, chroma, shimmer, and flashing movement-darting singly, or en masse. Fish fascinate me and are recurring subject matter, so the idea of “fish mobile” came readily when thinking of something kinetic.

©2012, Joan Desmond, Fish-Go-‘Round-detail.

Although this piece doesn’t go ‘round & ‘round, the fish shapes bob and sway easily with a puff of breath or nearby vibration. Created from wood scraps, wood dowel, a kitchen appliance part, colored bubble wrap, button, cardboard, clothing catalogs, non toxic markers, and fishing line.

Birds anyone? Organic shapes like Alexander Calder used? Leaves perhaps, geometrics…what else may dangle free in a mobile?

Fuzzy Creature: art from trash

February 27, 2012 at 10:12 am | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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You can cut and/or tear cardboard boxes, foam cubes, plastic cups, etc., for use in flat art pieces. But think of the uses for sculpture! Three-dimensional trash holds endless possibilities for fascinating creatures, robots and humanoids, animals, architectural ideas…endless, once the brainstorming starts.

This little thing hasn’t been named, but I’m getting somewhat fond of it. Hope the kids are careful as its head already fell off once while working on it. Which brings up how to attach things. I admit to using a glue gun because it is fast and sure. The glue sticks are made from polymers (plastic), not so good for recycling, although my research shows vapors and skin contact are relatively harmless. Then there’s the burnt finger aspect, not desirable for kids. I also used Yes Paste, suitable for thick paperboard materials; it is non-toxic, acid free, and can be thinned with water as a final glaze. Non-toxic glue sticks are less expensive and easier for kids to manipulate, and are for light paper/collage applications. However, the bond does tend to break down over time. For many of the more sculptural pieces, PVA glue, such as Elmer’s will work well, since it’s art to be looked at, not handled. Tapes may also be used.

I was told this fuzzy creature looks like something from Star Wars. Its makeup is: yogurt container; plastic fruit cup; cap from a prescription vial; old drawer knob of plastic; plastic spice jar lid; plastic from a cable tie; sewing remnants of two buttons, a piece of cord, and half a metal fastener; toothbrush part; an old wig; leather purse handle parts; and left-over Halloween hair paint. What could you do with the plush covering from an old stuffed toy?

While playing around with Little Fuzzy I considered how it might live, it’s environment and habits. It’s easy to imagine a story there and how such a project could be used in the English curriculum.

Shiny, Shiny Night: art from trash

February 26, 2012 at 10:15 am | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
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Shiny, Shiny Night, mixed media by Joan Desmond 2012

For the past week I’ve been imagining again what to do with discards, trash, and used-up items, how they may serve as art material. The prompt was a display to be set up at Woodrow Wallace School to drum up interest for the Youth Recycled Art Show in March, part of the Living Green Festival.

It’s an easy reach to use magazines and paper goods in collage, but what to do with yogurt containers, the numerous caps and lids, the plastics, so many plastics, the Styrofoam (polystyrene foam actually, made from petroleum, why is that still next to our food?), on and on. All I had to do was be particularly conscious of the man-made materials that passed through my hands each day. Much of it gets re-cycled, re-used, and re-purposed but it’s also an endless, free resource for upcycling into art (gottta love new words). The projects needed to be doable for kids.

Here’s the first one. Built on the paperboard/cardboard backing from an empty 9”x12” drawing pad, it uses: colored bubble wrap; foil insulated bubble wrap; foil wrap from a gift plant; foam scraps; take-out container Styrofoam; those trusty magazine cuttings, and glue. It was entirely too much fun to create.

2009 Community Mural

April 21, 2009 at 8:51 am | Posted in Considering Ideas | 1 Comment
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More than fifty people participated, ages three to eighty seven, to create this feathered 5′ x 36 ” image at the South Fork School Arts Festival. A great mix of individual style. We’ve got color!  This mural and the one from last year remain at the school.

Art Festival Mural Project

April 29, 2008 at 10:21 am | Posted in Considering Ideas | 1 Comment
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The beginning of May is near and I’m thinking back over the past busy month. This mural stood out as a fun creative idea that needs mentioning. Many participants, ranging from a 3 year-old, to someone in her 80’s, completed this mural. The occasion was the South Fork School First Arts Festival held on a sunny Saturday at the end of March.

My idea was to put together an art experience with a large scale work that people could plunge into and… one that wouldn’t be intimidating.  On matboard I loosely sketched a 5′ x 36″ fish drawing, which I then cut up into 6″ squares, so 60 squares in all. Most of the square images consisted of parts of the bigger image so there was an abstract quality to them. There was a small photo showing the complete image for initial reference, but the idea was that the approach would be free form. Each person that walked into the workshop completed a square, in whatever manner they wanted, using colored pencils and/or markers. Some of the kids did a couple of squares. The finished squares were then mounted on two foamcore panels recreating the original composition, and sprayed with a fixative to be hung in the school community room. A separate chart linked names to the individual images.

If this had been a workshop completed over several days, or with a specific group, they would have designed their own mural initially and the materials would have been expanded. I have seen something similar done with ceramic tile for instance. However, this particular approach worked well for a situation where people wandered in and out of the workshop throughout the 5-6 hours of the festival.

I think they did a terrific job!

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