June 5, 2013

Teach, Learn, Teach, Learn...

As my son and his girlfriend wind down their last days of high school, I found myself playing teacher in the studio.  Kevin needed to create a visual example of a possible future species of plant, calculating how this imagined plant species would evolve over one hundred million years and create a model.  All I heard in my head was the Scooby Doo noise, a sort of "Huh?"  It was fun to sit at a restaurant at the beach after a visit to the aquarium, sketching ideas on a napkin and brainstorming about the materials he might use to create this faux tree and vines.

We went to the craft store and wandered the aisles grabbing bags of moss, mesh wire for form, paper clay mix and mini grape vines for his project.  His girlfriend wanted to make a "survival kit" for a classmate who will be moving across the country for college, having been admitted to MIT (Go Robbie!!!) and found a wooden trunk to paint.

The studio was jammed with teens and their stuff.  Kevin and I mixed up the paper clay, I helped him figure out how to use the screen and bits of wire to create a tree trunk form, and taught Shawna about the joys of gesso.  For such simple projects, I was really excited about getting my hands dirty and helping them learn.  Ah, I miss my days as a Girl Scout leader!

Kevin continues to take over my studio on day 3, I think, of his project.  Todays lesson was about the use of a hot glue gun (don't put in on the desk, don't set it down on my sketch pad, don't burn your fingers, yes, you can apply paint over it, but use a little gesso first...).  I was reminded of a couple of rules myself.

1.  Don't try to take pictures of your teen.  It makes them grouchy.
2.  Don't photograph your studio when it also serves as your laundry room, or all of your dirty laundry and related equipment will be made public.  Oh well.
3.  Teens can multi-task by talking on their cell phones, snarling and attaching phony vines to a phony tree all at once, all while the mom's IQ drops by double digits as is proven by the fact that she thinks she can take a photo of her teen without making him grouchy.

The multi-tasking king

I jest.  He only growled a little, but didn't actually snarl.

The next big lesson today was more of a confirmation than a lesson.  I definitely, positively stink at soldering.  The soldering iron I bought (the only one I could find) came with a solder that had a bit of flux "built in."  It spit and sputtered and looks like I parked my piece under a tree dripping sap.  Yuck!  I also think I actually drew blood in at least three fingers handling this spikey mess after Round II of attempting to solder.  Sheesh, I need to take a class.  Maybe two.
Back, using papers I made in a monoprinting class I took with Traci Bautista
 Seriously, I drew blood!  I'm not even sure how this works.  I *think* I can use the soldering iron to melt down the spikes and smooth them to a less dangerous surface, but I'm not sure.  Windex would probably remove the tacky splatters of flux, but I'll have to check with Uncle Google on that one.

In any event, I have been making art.  It may suck, but I don't care.  While at the craft store with my son, I bought a new little pack of water colour paints and have been doing painterly doodles with those as well.  Those doodles also suck, and I don't care.  This is progress!

My newest goal remains to rediscover the joy of creativity.  There will be no test, no report card and no critic's review of my work because I am going to make art when I can for the sake of making art.  Exactly one week from this very moment, I will be watching my son, my baby, walk the stage and graduate from high school, ready to move on to college.  My days of having to struggle between time in the role of a mom and time in the role of an artist will start to dwindle.  I may even regret that new found freedom and time to create.  Another lesson.  Appreciate what we've got when we've got it.  I wouldn't trade the mom time for anything in the world.

Good grief, now I've made myself woofy.  Time for a glass of wine and a trip to the studio with my camera to torture my son while he's still available for torturing ;-)