Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Medieval Musings or Mayhem?

“Most risks we might not take if we could see what we would have to go through to reach our goal. Yet, we would never not take most risks if we knew the great learning experience and soul enrichment they would bring.”  - Linda Eyre

As a teacher of ten year olds with limited exposure to art materials and techniques, I am regularly faced with the challenge of promoting risk taking.  Thankfully, children are much less inhibited, in my opinion, then adults.  However mixed media projects usually incite a bit of anxiety even for the most daring.  My guess is that the given project at first seems too different from what they expect to be doing as "art."  There are always a handful of real "scaredy cats," but with enough TLC even they can be coaxed into tackling the blank canvas.

My school teaches the history of the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation in the 4th grade.  That means a treasure trove of art history to integrate!  A few years ago I was privileged to take a work shop in NYC with Lynne Perrella. See this great post about the workshop at Broken Heart Art: It was a jam packed day of wonderful instruction from Lynne with a Medieval theme.  Although the techniques, wisdom, and insight given by Lynne can translate to any theme, she unwittingly inspired our next 4th grade endeavor.  Why not teach the kids some of Lynne's techniques and have them make a Medieval style banner?  And so we did! That is not to say we were without the challenge of running from kid to kid answering questions and helping them shmoosh this and that this way and that before this and that dried!  Mayhem?  YES!  And how very grateful I am to have an assistant!

4th Grade Banner
The student works were selected for display at a teacher's convention! 

4th Grade Banner
We had to solve some unexpected display challenges.  The 4th grade work flanked a very large, encaustic, clip art Medieval "dude" made by an older student.  She, too, was a little daunted by the risk of deciding on a palette and using a quilting iron to melt cast off crayons.  And gold leaf?  I whole new animal!

Encaustic Clip Art Image on Foam Core
In the end, even the scaredy cats learned that taking a risk doing something new and "strange" gave them a sense of freedom and made everyone a winner.

“One of the most important things I've learned is that creating a vision ... is the beginning of making it happen.”  - Linda Eyre


  1. 4rd grade made those art pieces? Wow! Good job! And welcome at blogspot! :)

    1. Yup, 4th worked for weeks on these. So glad you liked them. I'll pass on the good word to the little stinkers! Thanks for the welcome!

  2. Replies
    1. We have all grown attached to him and he now lives in the art room looming over us! :-)

  3. I feel that a lot of us could be a little freer in our art regardless of the medium. I'm a quilter and I try not to restrict myself to just quilting cottons. There are so many fun textiles out there, it can be lots of fun to mix it up, even a little bit.

  4. Heather,
    You certainly sound like a person who thinks outside the box! A true "creator!" I agree. Just think of what women must have quilted out of sheer necessity down through the ages. Adding variety to our work, whether in cloth or paper or both, is what makes it so dynamic. I can't wait to stop by your blog and meet you and your work there! Thanks for stopping by here!

  5. Wow, what a fantastic group of artists! How lucky they are to be exposed to such rich imagery and history. I can so relate to starting out a scaredy cat and ending up an accidental winner!!thanks for the link to my blog post, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I was at Create NJ in Somerset NJ last week attending a workshop given by Michelle Ward. Much to my amazement, another artist approached me and we had also shared the incredible workshop given by Lynn! what a small world!xoS

  6. Hi Susan! Great to hear from you! You end up a winner because YOU have the right stuff! How wonderful that you could learn from Michelle Ward recently. And, YES, what a small world to bump into someone else from that Lynne workshop a few years ago. That was a day well spent!
    And by the way....I love your new "do!" You look great!