Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Thinking Outside The Box, Claymation!

Tomorrow I begin teaching stop motion animation workshops at a San Jose School in the Alum Rock School District. It will be in the 4th/5th grade class of Ms. Arlyn Illa at Horace Cureton Elementary. I have been teaching free art workshops in her classes for about four years now. This year we received a mini grant from The Alum Rock Education Foundation for an eight class claymation animation workshop series I have titled" Thinking Outside The Box".
Below: Emily my diligent helper. Yesterday we spent a couple of hours cutting clay in to cubes for this workshop series. We will be using CLAYTOON Modeling Clay by Van Aken. This is an oil based clay specifically designed for claymation.

I am so grateful for having this opportunity to conduct these classes and it has been wonderful to work with Ms. Illa's classes over the years. Her classes have always been a good testing ground for my art projects. The students always are super well behaved and curious to learn. Much credit here goes to Ms. Illa! She is an inspiration to me and I have absorbed a lot from watching her teach. The children arevery hungry for art which I think they pretty much only get after Star Testing every May.

Above: Clay cutter I made from two chop sticks and wire. You can purchase these clay cutters, but free is cheaper!

Below: cut cubes.

Below: Animation sample test. This will demonstrate to the students how to start with a cube, transform it into something and then have it transition to the next student's cube of a different color. This sample test took 15 minutes to make and only a few clay parts. I am creating a set table so the children can create interesting and varied sets and lighting.

The theme of the children;s animation workshop is "Thinking Outside The Box". This workshops series introduces students to the multi-stepped process of stop motion animation through hands-on creation of an animation start to finish. The project is based on the theme of thinking outside the box and what that means to each child. Each child will be given cubes of clay and each student will create an animation sequence that represents to him/her what thinking creatively outside the box means by transforming that cube of clay into something else. The children will also create transition sequences that link each box story to the next child's. The children rotate through the different roles of photographer, animator, director and narrator.

The springboard for ideas will start with the reading of three different cultural legends about magical boxes: Pandora' Box (Greek), Raven and Seagull (Nootka, British Colombia), and Anansi and The Box of Stories (West African). The children will be shown sample of artistic styles form each of these cultures to help inspire their designs.

The children will also be watching this Sony Bravia Bunnies video. I love it:

An artist friend recently questioned why I keep a blog and expressed a belief that it was frivolous and peripheral to an artist's process and art creation. I disagree. For me, keeping a blog is very important for documentation and organization of my thoughts, especially as I engage in more school and public art work that it grant funded. Two other artists in the last month have already referenced my blog in their collaborative grant applications. Every foundation and organization wants to be able to track the process and evaluate the success of what they fund. This is a way to keep them posted on that process. More on this later. I am always eager to learn other artist's processes if they are willing to share it. I believe that explaining process makes art more approachable, interesting and understandable. I am beginning to conduct school assemblies centering around my process, repurposing of materials and the historical context of recycling on the Plantations of Hawaii.

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