SchoolArts Magazine

September 2016

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Struggling with Inspiration I nspiration is something everyone struggles with. We've all been subject to "artist's block." For the beginning art student, the teacher has the difficult task of guiding him or her on a quest for personal inspira- tion. In order to help others find inspi- ration, you must have your own. With the need to give a broad art education to high schoolers and art education majors, there wasn't always a push for me to find that elusive inspiration. During the first years of teaching you get wrapped up in the balancing act of creating lessons and prototypes, grading, and discipline. Next thing you know three years have passed and you ask yourself, "When was the last time I created a piece of art for me?" Revisiting the Classroom I took a continuing education class three years into my teaching career. After the first class about sighting and proportion, our homework was to create a still-life drawing with five objects—an open-ended task, but what was I going to draw? I brainstormed what my still life would be about, and decided to draw what I collect since these objects have personal meaning. At home I collected a necklace, a silver box, make-up, and sunglasses; common objects with strong ties to memories in my past. My favorite memory of my Aunt Sue is sitting in my sister's bedroom and having Aunt Sue put her make-up on us. Jewelry is something that I have always col- lected, and recently my father and I have begun creating jewelry. The other objects I collected at the flea market—a place that my mom and dad would often take our family on the weekends. Completing My Inspiration My last object needed to be unex- pected because I didn't want people to see sunglasses and make-up and think my drawing was trite. I needed some- thing that contrasted with the other objects and still had personal mean- ing, so I added a spider. My father and I would take walks when I was young and collect insects that were past their prime and incorporate them into sculptures. This reminded me of learning about vanitas paintings, which symbolize the passage of time with fruit, dying flowers, and insects. I created my own personal vanitas drawing with objects that symbolized memories of the past and present. I had my inspiration. Corinna McShane In many of my drawings I include my favorite artwork. What could have more personal meaning to an artist than the art that has inspired me from a young age? My father and I started going to local museums on Saturday afternoons when I was in elementary school, and I always loved my art his - tory classes, so it's only natural that I would include a favorite Hopper painting in a still life, but I always add something unexpected. Francis Bacon said "The job of the artist is to always deepen the mystery," and hopefully I will continue to achieve that. When you have a story to tell your students about your quest for inspira- tion and how you found it, they can go on their own brainstorming jour- ney until they find what they were meant to create. Corinna McShane is an art teacher from Baltimore, Maryland. P O I N T O F V I E W Next thin ou know three ears have passed an ou ask ourself, "When was the last time I created a piece of art for me?" SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 11

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