As a “gig” worker, my summers were jam packed with lots of different classes and workshops where I’ve taught art and clay to students of all ages. Covid changed that for me and so many other instructors. Last summer I chose to teach virtually. It worked well. I learned to adapt. Thinking about summer 2021, I decided to return to in-person teaching. I took one full time job for 8 weeks teaching summer clay to campers grades 1-9. I didn’t make as much money as I could have teaching multiple shorter workshops, but it felt safer for me and safer for my young students, the majority of whom were too young to be vaccinated.
Interacting with new people, making friends, hearing the laughter of children and watching them create was joyful. I became part of a bigger community whose job was to provide a wonderful enriching summer for children in a time when that need could not have been greater. I think we succeeded as I look back on the amazing pottery the kids created…
The COVID19 Pandemic and quarantine impacted my art. My ceramic homes represent my neighborhood.
One of my neighbors, a nurse, organized a “first responders” event in April. She emailed neighbors to ask for help in recognizing the health care workers in “Cloverland” (the name we use when referring to our Westwood, MA neighborhood). She asked for money to purchase restaurant gift cards for these families, to create signs of support, and help to decorate these homes with lawn signs, chalk signs and balloons. It was a huge success!
In the middle of July, some of these signs are still standing – through hard rain and wind storms – just like these health care workers. It takes a village… and my art reflects this life that is.
Who says you can’t learn about the amazing world of ceramics virtually? I’ve just finished up a week of teaching pottery in a virtual camp to young students. We’ve had some clay projects and some 2 and 3D paper projects to explore ceramics and how they teach us about different cultures. The above screenshot of middle school students’ artwork shows the beautiful designs they came up with as they imagined themselves creating tiles in Florence, Italy during the Italian Renaissance period. Using the medium of their choice on paper, they emulated decorating a tin based white slip covered earthenware tile to learn about majolica. They also learned how trade from Spain brought the process to the country and the way it functioned in society.
If you live in my neighborhood, you might have seen me working away out in my garage. It’s where my kiln is and a great place to be when the weather is warm and the clay is low fire brown. I’ve just managed to fill my kiln to run a bisque fire for the first time this season. The pandemic really affected my creativity and I’ve just started to emerge from quarantine with ideas for some new work. Stay tuned for class updates, pottery to purchase and a lot more blog posts!
Teaching teens pottery is a different experience from teaching elementary aged students even though there may be only a small age difference. Teens in middle and high school have had many more life experiences. They have acquired more creative tools. Their work has time to develop with a daily interaction with clay. Here is a look at what they created in our week long class this summer.
Teens explored building castles using coils and slabs. From left to right: clay is used to create buildings; castles are glazed in bright colors; artwork is finished with a glaze firing in the pottery kiln. Below are a few more finished pieces.
Once the students were familiar with architecture, they started their second project: architectural tiles.
The results were very unique and exciting to see. Starting with a clay slab, the students used their imagination to take the next steps. They then moved on to glazing and the tiles were fired.
For the final project, the students created a functional piece. They began with a flat two-dimensional slab of clay and turned it into a three dimensional mug. The theme was animals but some decided to move away from topic and create an original piece.
It’s always a great experience to teach clay for Newton Community Education! Check out my poston what the elementary aged students created during their weeks of summer pottery class.
I had a great summer teaching pottery to kids in grades 2-5. They were fun and creative and seemed to really enjoy the experience of working with clay. Here’s a look at some of the projects we worked on in Week 1.
Coral Reefs: before with wet clay and after with colorful glazes.
Here is a look at the projects we worked on in Week 2:
Pinch pot animals, sea creatures or fish (and the cookie monster!)
Covered jars in the form of a favorite dessert.
It’s always a great experience to teach clay for Newton Community Education! Check out my next post on what the teens created during their week of summer pottery class.
“Flowers”: a summer collection installed at the Dedham Square Artist Guild located in historic Dedham Square, Dedham, MA
In the summer months, I enjoy working with low fire clay. A lower firing temperature allows me to utilize brighter colors that can “burn out” when the temperature in a ceramics kiln is higher. I began creating my “Flowers” collection while working on my summer art classes curricula.
I spent time at my local library, pouring over books to come up with new and exciting ideas for my students and found myself interested in learning more about certain flowers.
Vessels were hand built and ready for surface decoration. Slips, textures, carving and underglaze ceramic paints were used to create imagery; low fire glazes completed the vision.
“Flowers” can be functional for bouquets in water, food for a party; or, individual pieces can be hung on a wall or displayed on a tabletop. My ceramics are meant to be picked up and explored. Textured surfaces to the finger tip are a delight. Three dimensional art begs to be touched, picked up and interacted with. Ceramics is functional art.
Please visit the Dedham Square Artist Guild to purchase a piece from “Flowers”. Each piece is one of a kind. The collection is small but varied. Each piece stands alone but works well together. “Flowers” is perfect for the collector and just right for a wedding gift.
Tonight, Sue Hoy and I will host a reception at our Guild in Dedham Square. We are featured artists of the month for August. Please join us from 5-7PM for wine, cheese and ART at the Dedham Square Artist Guild located at 553 High Street in Dedham, MA.
Lisa W B Walker Summer Collection 2016
Sue Hoy Summer Oil Paintings
About the Artists
“As an artist, I am trying to capture the spirit of my subject by reducing details
and concentrating on light and shape. My paintings are rich in color and
bold in brushwork. I am inspired by nature’s beauty and the chance to interpret
it in simple, yet compelling ways.”
Sue Hoy is a painter, graphic designer and art teacher living in Milton MA.
Her inspiration comes from her family and the endless beauty of New England.
Choosing subjects that capture attention and emotion, Sue strives to simplify shape
and color to reflect the essence of her subject. Her voyage toward simplicity,
versus over-working and illustrating with paint, is ongoing. Her paintings have
been in numerous shows in Massachusetts and she currently has a solo show at
Abby Park in Milton, MA. She teaches painting and clay classes for children
in the Milton public schools and at Milton Art Center.
UMASS Dartmouth, BFA Visual Design
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Studio Art/Painting
Lisa WB Walker
I fell in love with a color: Robin’s egg blue; and, it defined summer for me.
Early morning bird calls greet a warm rising sun that announces day break.
Watch the soft wind blowing a sheer textured curtain as you lay blinking sleep from
your eyes. You are young, free from school, and you feel what summer really is.
Lisa W. B. Walker is an Artist working in clay who lives in Westwood, Massachusetts.
She creates wheel thrown or hand built functional ware to explore surface decoration
in order to create one of a kind original work. Lisa received her Studio Art Degree
from Skidmore College, continuing with additional classes at the Museum School
of Fine Arts Boston and the Art Institute of Boston. She writes a weekly blog, www.lisawbwalker.wordpress.com, participates in local arts related community
service, and, shares her knowledge through teaching, workshops and demonstrations.
Summer pottery class with older students in grades 3-6 were taught techniques to create work in clay. The older students were able to understand and grasp concepts in a different way than the younger students. Sometimes they were more hesitant to take chances, but when they did, they were rewarded. Their finished pieces show maturity and understanding of skills. Here is a look at a few of my favorite pieces from this 4 day summer pottery camp at Newton Community Education.
Ben’s pinch pot dinosaur
Mairead’s pinch pot turtle
Brianna’s coil pot
“Create your own” utilizing pinch pots and coil
Mio’s “Create your own” utilizing slab, texturizing and scratch & attach with slip.
These imaginative students were a thoughtful group who found joy in creating with clay – yipee!
In my classroom for 2D art camp, the students created all sorts of wonderful projects. They were given many high quality materials to work with and learned how to use them. Here is a look at some of my favorite projects from each lesson:
(oil) Pastels and Watercolors
Creating texture with Tempera Paint
Painting Rocks with Acrylic Paint
Creating books with colored pencils and regular pencils
Colored markers and a composition that describes you!
It’s the last day of summer! How would you spend it? Tell me in paint on a canvas….
I come away from teaching with a renewed sense of wonder 🙂