Thursday, August 28, 2008

Crash Landing

"There's definitely something strange about the atmosphere of this planet..."

I've been trying to piece together all the ABC Challenge strips into one story. There was one big gap in the first part of it that I wanted to fill. These strips will be part one of an epic that will be serialized in Eclectic Comics.

Quality Fruit Growers

Our challenge this week at the Gurney Journey is to look at a business card and imagine what the business owner(s) are like. This business card:

...inspired this comic:

Eclectic Comics #2 Preview

I have had a very productive summer, and have enough material for a second issue of Eclectic Comics -- and then some! My goal is to have several issues to offer for sale when I participate in sales and conferences.

Now I'm in the midst of coloring it with the help of my son Dan. (Thanks, Dan!!!!) I have to admit I don't enjoy coloring as much as I do drawing, but I'm going to keep at it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

“The old man felt a tendril of anger rising.”

Will the Mighty Andar ever get out of the offic of General Patriot and onto a space ship? I hope so! The title of this post is our prompt at the Art by Committee challenge this week.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Uncle Andy's

I've been teaching art for over 20 years. I've always found art history to be fascinating. My students don't always agree with me, but I consider it a challenge to find ways to show them great art in a way that will catch their interest and spark their imagination. When I first started teaching, I I looked for artist biographies that were written for children that I could share with my students. They were few and far between. Now there are tons of them! The best one I've ever seen is a story about Andy Warhol called Uncle Andy's. Probably one reason it's so good is that it's written by Andy Warhol's nephew, James Warhola. James (an accomplished artist in his own right) writes about what it was like to go visit his famous uncle when he was a young boy. It's so neat to see this artist through a child's eyes. I read it to my fourth graders and they love it. Then we begin a unit of instruction learning about Pop Art, Warhol, and printmaking processes.

Well, here's where this post gets exciting! I asked my fourth graders if they'd like to write to the author and let him know how much we liked his book. They were excited to do that and we brainstormed together about what we wanted to put in the letter. I wrote their ideas on the board and they took turns writing on a single piece of paper. They also filled an envelope with drawings they made inspired by the book and some of their linoleum prints.

Mr. Warhola wrote back! My students won't know this until school starts, but he wrote a very lengthy hand-written letter answering our questions and telling us even more about his own art and writing and more about Andy Warhol. And that's not all -- Mr. Warhola sent us a signed poster and some original drawings -- working sketches for his next book. I can't wait to get these in a frame and hang them in the school.

One of the things kids find amazing about Andy Warhol when we read Uncle Andy's is that the artist had 26 cats all named Sam! James' next book is going to be about those cats! The working sketches he gave us are of a couple of those Sams. Uncle Andy's Cats will be coming out next summer. I can't wait!

One of our academic standards for art in PA is to teach kids the difference between original art and reproductions. Young kids sometimes are confused by this.

Mr. Wales: "This is a Picasso painting --"
First grader: (interupting) "Wow! How did you get ahold of it?"
Mr. Wales: "Well, actually it's a poster of the painting that he did."
First grader: "Well did he make it or not?"

And on and on it goes.

These gifts from Mr. Warhola will help teach that standard! I also like to stress to kids that artists don't just sit down and create masterpieces out of the blue. A lot of planning goes into creating a work of art, including sketching. Trial and error, making plans and refining. These little sketches are a glimpse into his process and something an actual original drawing the artist made.

We're starting our own gallery at Lynch-Bustin Elementary School! Last year we received a similar gift from artist James Gurney.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Curriculum Comics #2: Learning Styles Part 2

The second issue of Curriculum Comics is finished! First of all is the cover above. Now, on to the rest of the comic.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Not Sorcery!"

“The man spasmed against the snow. 'Gods, no! No! No sorcery'—'Hold him,' I said calmly, as he tried to leap up and run."

That's the challenge this week from Art by Committee art game. You'll notice I had to cheat a little to get it to fit my story line, hence the lack of snow, leaping or running. I can show you my artistic license if you need to see it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Curriculum Comics #2: Learning Styles -- Part 1

I'm taking classes toward getting my Phd. We're usually asked to write a sixteen page paper as a final project. What I've started doing is asking if I can instead make a sixteen page comic book that synthesizes what I've learned in the course. So far I've been allowed to do it, and I think what I'm making demonstrates the power of art and comics to communicate important ideas on any topic.

The class I'm taking now is called Learning Styles. Issue #2 of Curriculum Comics is written and penciled, now I just need to finish in pen and ink, erase, erase and erase, then scan and submit!

I'll start posting it in sections as I get it finished. Here's what I have done so far!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Mighty Andar -- Stayin' Alive

"Their voices are high pitched and piercing, yet human" -- this is the prompt for the Art by Committee Challenge this week. I immediately thought of the Bee Gees, and worked them into the current Andar epic.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

ABC Challenge -- Work Assignment

Every Wednesday, James Gurney posts a challenge on his blog for artists. He posts a random line from an actual science fiction manuscript for us to illustrate. He always tries to stump us with a tough one. It is amazing to see the variety of creative responses to the prompt. Here's my entry for this week's challenge: "His left eye was swollen shut."