Recently the Sustainability Stewards, TERRA, and student government at the College of Idaho worked together to bring us the event TOMS Style Your Sole. In case you’re unfamiliar, with TOMS, it’s a shoe company dedicated to sustainable materials, and for each pair of shoes they sell, they give a free pair of shoes to barefoot children in developing countries. So buying a pair of TOMS shoes is not only a way of procuring fashionable, comfortable, eco-friendly shoes, they’re also guaranteeing that you’re helping someone in need.
The idea of the Style Your Sole event is to buy basic, plain white TOMS and then decorate them with your own signature style. When groups or organizations do this, they’re ensuring that many pairs of shoes will be donated. This spring the College of Idaho held a Style Your Sole event. I bought a pair of white TOMS to decorate. I made it my first art project of the summer to decorate them with my interpretation of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Now I have a pair of comfortable shoes that convey my love of art to anyone who sees them.
Wednesday night I enjoyed another presentation by the Caldwell Fine Arts. I went to watch an enchanting presentation by the Juan Siddi Flamenco Company.
I was astounded at the dexterity of the dancers, and the speed of their toe-tapping feet. But what I think I found most surprising was the importance of the dancers’ hands. Juan and the ladies alike all used their hands in subtle, expressive movements. Tiny changes in their finger positions and twists of their wrists were surprisingly elegant and seductive.
I admired the dresses of the female dancers. Brightly colored fabrics with wild patterns added energy to the performance. Some of the dresses had long, full skirts covered in colorful ruffles. These drug behind the dancers and swung through the air by carefully aimed kicks. I also enjoyed all the fringes incorporated into the costumes, including the fringed shawls draped around the shoulders and waists of the female dancers. Juan Siddi also wore a scarf with fringed ends, which emphasized the movement of his dance.
The music, the singing, the dance, the costumes – all wove their magic together, leaving me frozen in my seat, eyes wide open to the experience. I highly recommend the Juan Siddi Flamenco Company, as well as any other Flamenco performances you might be lucky enough to watch.
I realized I still haven’t posted the final jewelry pieces I created for my class in winter term. It’s time I did so. Part of my hesitation was the rather poor quality of the photos I took, but I realize now I don’t have time to stage them nice. These will have to do.
I tend to focus on classic, visual arts on this blog, such as painting, drawing, sculpture, and the like. But my definition of art is much broader than this, and includes music, song, dance, poetry, writing, cooking, woodworking and much, much more. That why I wanted to share with you highlights from my school’s 3rd annual Cultural Show. The Cultural Show is hosted by our campus’s International Student Organization. Nearly 100 students from 47 countries call the College of Idaho home, and the Cultural Show offers a way for international students to share aspects of their culture with the rest of the campus and local community. This annual event typically occurs during a campus celebration of Diversity Week. I thought sharing clips of the student performances would be a great opportunity to highlight the diversity of “the arts.”
Tonight I went to a concert at the College of Idaho. We listened to the Langroise Trio perform their 20th anniversary concert with renowned Croatian pianist, Martina Filjak. It was a beautiful experience, with the music flowing around us in the fine acoustics of Jewett Auditorium. Martina Filjak was an animated performer, letting her body language express the emotion of her music. I’m including a YouTube video of her performance, so that you may enjoy her music as well.
So we have a really neat resource on campus, called the Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History. It’s right here on campus at the College of Idaho, under the math and science building, Boone. It has a lot of fine specimens available to study. I’ve visited this museum a few times with art classes, and used the museum’s displays for sketching practice and inspiration.
On my most recent visit I was charged with creating a portrait composition, inspired by things on display. I ended up settling on a sketch of our model sitting in front of a stuffed and mounted zebra bust. Later, when I went to pursue the project further, I ended up blocking out the values of the stripes and the shadows on the model’s face, comic style. As I was doing so, I was inspired to combine the stripes of the zebra with the hair of the model. I flushed out the idea with water-soluble pencils. It took me about three days to finish the very tedious piece, but I very much like it. The most difficult part for me, aside from the stripes, was deciding how to capture the value of the model’s face. I felt like the face needed three values – white, gray, and dark gray – but I was limiting myself to only two. It was challenging for me to ignore the mid-tones. I don’t think it’s my usual style, though the illusionistic morphing of the model and the zebra reminded me of my figure drawing final project.
It’s the end of week two of our month long winter term. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s wearing on me. I used to say “I could do art all day long!” or “I wish art was the only class I had.” I still love art, I truly do, but having art classes for six hours a day is beginning to try my patience. It becomes physically exhausting, being hunched over a drawing board, fingers tightly gripped around a small pencil, eyes straining to see details. When I’m not drawing I’m making jewelry, and my finger tips are covered in tiny nicks and cuts from the sharp ends of cut wire.
But all griping aside, I feel that I’m making a lot of progress in both classes, especially so in the portraits. I’ve been practicing drawing the features for most of my homework assignments (in a sketch book), and I can see evidence of this practice showing up in my live-model class drawings. The features are looking more realistic, and I’m getting a little bit closer to making my pictures accurately resemble the models.
Since this homework has been helping me a lot, and it’s fun to watch my progression, I thought I’d share some of my practice in my sketchbook. Keep in mind that I do better at replicating portraits from 2D photos than I do with real models. Some of the drawings are studies of David Cobley’s paintings, and were assigned by my professor.