I taught my first Botanical Notecards Class this week at Minnetonka Community Education and it was such a wonderful experience! Five of us sat around a table, playing with plants and inks, stamping on notecards and talking about being creative. I learned this process from two books, Hand Printing from Nature: Create Unique Prints for Fabric, Paper, and Other Surfaces Using Natural and Found Materials by Laura Donnelly Bethmann and Lotta Prints by Lotta Jansdotter, my new favorite artist/designer. It is a simple, beautiful process that can be used to make stationary, curtains, pillowcases, napkins, dish towels, clothing...so many possibilities! I'll be teaching another one of these classes at Artistry in Bloomington, Minnesota, if you're in the Twin Cities and want to learn!
Last summer, I volunteered for a neighborhood project called Plant Grow Share, which is how I ended up getting this grant. The organizer of that program asked me and another artist to do a project related to Plant Grow Share and other than that, left it really open to each of us to do what we wanted. We each decided to do our own thing based on what our creative interests were. With that freedom, I ran with my idea to teach free sun print cyanotype activities throughout the neighborhood!
My vision evolved and I landed on two different events: 1. Community Garden Day, an event already happening throughout Minneapolis. I envisioned folks coming to a community garden, walking around, chatting with each other and picking plants that they were drawn to that I would show them how to make sun prints with and that's exactly what happened!
I decided to team up with The Little Free Farmers Market crew, which is a component of Plant Grow Share, and set up my activity in one of the community gardens in South Minneapolis where they harvest organic produce to give away for free. We got rained out twice but the third time we pulled it off! It was overcast but we were still able to make beautiful sun prints. Everyone had a lot of fun and wanted to keep making more, a good sign I'd say.
2. Join up with the Central Area Neighborhood Association's Central Neighborhood Fair and lead another sun print activity in a park for any folks who wanted to learn. There were some hiccups (like no water source, yikes!), but we pulled it off and I got to connect with a lot of kids and adults while teaching them how to make sun prints in a city park in Minneapolis.
Leading these activities is about helping people make beautiful art with their hands but is also about:
-Encouraging and demonstrating the rewards of patience in a time when we all want immediate gratification.
-Empowering people to trust their visual and creative instincts, follow them and learn from them.
-Encouraging play and pushing through the desire for perfection. I see this mostly in adults because kids are more trusting of themselves and are willing to experiment and explore to see what they can create. I love nudging adults to do that more through art making because it feels so freeing and exciting when you experience it!
-Encouraging people to enjoy the process while also being focused on the outcome. Finding that balance is a beautiful way to continue to learn and grow.
-Teaching people to notice opacity, composition, chemical reactions which look like magic, contrast, using different materials to create meaning in a final print and how to explore all of those things to develop your own artistic style over time.
-Encouraging people to practice articulating what they like and don't like about the final prints as a way to develop a refined eye, understand and use artistic terms like "composition, opacity, depth, color, contract, etc" and to continue to grow and expand their creative identity, opinions and expression.
I hope to do many more classes and activities in the future like this!
I got to lead two sun print cyanotype classes and a nature printing class at the Minneapolis Institute of Art over the last month and they were so much fun! I got to teach kids and adults these two creative processes at Family Day and Third Thursday. We got to be outside for the first one and inside for the second because of rain but that just meant we got to play with some UV light boxes instead of the sun! It was great to see everyone get creative and play.
I'm so excited to share that I received my first art grant from The Pillsbury House and Theatre in Minneapolis! It's called Art Blocks and there are a lot of amazing artists doing all kinds of projects within the neighborhoods of Minneapolis. In collaboration with the incredible program, Plant-Grow-Share who I volunteered with last summer, I'm going to be teaching a free sun print cyanotype class this Saturday, August 20th at Hosmer Community Garden. Plant-Grow-Share will have their Little Free Farmers Market set up for folks to come and take free organic produce home with them. I'll be there to guide people through the process of making a sun print cyanotype from something in the garden! I love sharing this beautiful process with others and watching their curiosity and excitement when they see the results. My intention is to help folks notice and celebrate to the beauty, patterns, textures and colors in our yards and gardens and open up a new creative outlet! I'll share some photos from the experience shortly afterwards.