Category Archives: Inspiration

Things that inspire me to create art and write about it.

Hand Built with Nature and Love

img_0526

Do textures and patterns make you grateful for your eyes and hands? These hand-built ceramic bowls enhance the textures that surround us from woven fabrics to living things. Nature and woven burlap are carefully pressed into clay to reveal the delicate textures patterns that live around us. Send a message to Mary Jo via sunporchartstudio@gmail.com if you would like to make purchase for the holiday season. Prices range from $20-$25 and can be shipped for an additional charge.

What other patterns and textures could live a beautiful life pressed in clay?

Happy Giving Season,
MJ

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiration

CAMP ON THE SUN PORCH 2016

SUN PORCH STUDIO is thrilled to announce some new opportunities for art making during the summer of 2016.
If you are an art enthusiast, young or older, you won’t be able to pass these up.
This year, the Three Village CSD has 3 half days scheduled for the last week of school. If you are a parent in need of child care and would like it topped off with some serious artistic action, please read on.

IMG_2296CAMP ON THE SUN PORCH 2016
When: Wednesday-Friday, JUNE 22, 23, 24 from 1-4pm (after care available until 5:30)
Where: Sun Porch Studio, 18 Hillside Road, Stony Brook
Cost: $40 per day. Includes materials and a snack.

Sign up for one, two or all three days!
Register NOW as space is limited to 8 students.

What will we be doing?

Sun Porch Studio offers art instruction to children ages 6-12 with a focus on building skills, creativity, and self-confidence. All children are considered working artists and their imaginative ideas help guide their personal creative process. Although children work in the same art medium, instruction is given on an individual basis. To help each artist work towards a personal potential, classes are small and cap at 8 students.

photo (10)At CAMP ON THE SUN PORCH, young artists will be focusing in one medium each day. On Wednesday, June 22, we will be exploring acrylic painting on canvas while observing nature’s gift of color, and creating zoomed in flower portraits. Do you know what artist inspired this form of art making? Yeah, you guessed it, Georgia O’Keefe. She once said “No one really sees a flower, because to see a flower takes time, like to have a friend takes time. We will definitely take our time observing various flowers while noticing their unique shape and color.

photo (27)On Thursday, June 23, young artists will be building sculptures made from recycled materials such as wood blocks and scraps, corks, bottle caps, and much more. We will be focusing on balance and composition with an opportunity to incorporate color using acrylic paint and paper collage. Artist, Louise Nevelson was curious about bringing new life to an object that may have been discarded: “When you put together things that other people have thrown out, you’re really bringing them to life – a spiritual life that surpasses the life for which they were originally created.”

IMG_0678On, Friday, June 24, we will exploring the art of Printmaking using a relief printing method. In relief printing, ink is applied to a raised surfaced, called a printing plate, and then transferred or printed on paper by rubbing. This process encourages new and innovative ways of creating an image, because you can ink up your printing plate as many times as you want! Printmakers often make an edition of 300-500 prints! Although we may not have time to create that enormous amount, young artists will have the opportunity to explore printing on paper, greeting cards, and a t-shirt.

To find out more about CAMP ON THE SUN PORCH and to REGISTER your children ages 6-12, please contact:
Mary Jo Allegra sunporchartstudio@gmail.com
or call 631-379-8068

We hope to see you at the Sun Porch this summer!

During the warmer months, SUMMER ARTS @ THE SUN PORCH offers art workshops to adults in landscape painting, batik painting and ceramic glazing. Our creative experiences are for adults who yearn to remember what it feels like to get messy and create magic with their hands. No experience is EVER necessary, however, you must be willing to laugh and value Wabisabi, the belief that there is beauty in the imperfect.
Stay tuned for workshops in late June 2016:

DSC00904Ceramic Glazing: where participants will be hand-painting large serving platters or pasta bowls using ceramic glazes. All finished products will be fired in a kiln and can be used with love and placed in dishwasher.

&

Batik Silk Painting: Explore color and composition while hand-painting your own silk scarf. After drawing with a water-based wax resist, silk paint will be applied bringing life and vibrancy using a fool-proof method that will be sure to please the eye.

Creative Art Parties are offered in tie dye, jewelry making and sculptural painting activities. Art Parties are most meaningful with children ages 5 and up in groups of 15 or less. A two-hour event is organized with a special art making activity, an art related game, and creative cupcake decorating.

Private Art Instruction is offered at the studio and in your home. Students explore a variety of techniques and materials such as acrylic and oil painting, watercolor and gouache painting, observational drawing, clay hand building and printmaking.

IMG_0310Founder, Instructor, Mary Jo Allegra, currently teaches Visual Arts at Friends Academy in Locust Valley, NY. She received a BFA from Pratt Institute and an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University. Mary Jo believes that experience across learning disciplines inspires depth and creativity in works of art. Her teaching style integrates imagination with life experiences and immerses children in an array of art mediums and techniques to help them build their own personal aesthetic.

Sun Porch Studio, Stony Brook, NY

Contact: sunporchartstudio@gmail.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiration

What is the role of the Art Display?

Each year the National Art Educators Association holds a conference for educators from around the country to come together and share great ideas. This year’s theme is The Art of Design

The conference, this year held in New Orleans, will take place over 3 days and include thousands of opportunities for shared dialogue and meaning making.

IMG_2173

I have a passion to share: It involves the role of the art display. You know, the stunning masterpieces that live on the walls of schools, dress up art galleries and also share space on your refrigerator.

My question is grounded in the choices we make when curating an art exhibition and the message we are communicating through what we choose to display. I like to include process photos:

IMG_2364

So much magic happens in the art studio everyday, and I want the world to know it. Every picture tells a story and, along with written summaries and student anecdotes, adding these to our art exhibitions will help educate the public about the powerful role the arts play in the development of the whole child.

This year, at NAEA 2015, I will be presenting on this topic. If you are at all curious, feel free to download PDF: TheInteractiveArtDisplay2015

Hang your child’s art with pride,
xoxo -MJ

1 Comment

Filed under Inspiration, Teaching Art to Children

Embracing Ambiguity: Understanding the Growth Mindset

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt a little bit helpless and a little bit unsure? That’s good.

What?! Really?

Yes. It is good. Guess what? You don’t have the answers to all of your problems and when you are able to embrace an awareness of that fact, and let it sit for a while, you are creating the causes for creativity to be born.

When I am faced with a problem, my first response is to solve it. Give me that quick fix so I can attach the bandaid, wipe my hands clean and move on. My mother is infamous for preempting her response with “Here’s what you need to do…” and it drives me insane. Most likely because I see a little bit of that in myself, and because I wish she could just listen and let things be. There is a theory that states when people come to you with a problem, it is helpful to that person if you simply listen and let them know that you understand their feelings. In a TED talk and a new online course, Brene Brown shares that having empathy means being strong enough to just be with someone where they are. No judgment, no sharing advice or “how to”, just an ability to be in that space, whatever it may be, with another for a while. The unsettling, ambiguous and often helpless emotion you may experience is HUMAN.

           So, wait, how is this connected to a Growth Mindset?

 

photo (9)In Creative Confidence, Tom and David Kelley claim that a fundamental prerequisite for developing creative confidence is the belief that our capabilities for innovation are not set in stone, not fixed. They suggest that as “analytical thinkers, an unresolved issue hanging in the air is uncomfortable.” And in those situations, is it the uncomfortable feeling that drives us to search for and offer the quick fix. Creative thinkers who exercise a Growth Mindset recognize that there are many possible solutions and have the courage to utilize an open mind, thinking big and wide first. This helps them to become aware of a number of possibilities before settling on a single idea. People who have a growth mindset are comfortable to wade in the pool of uncertainty. They are willing to just be where they are for a while.

So, the next time you are faced with a situation that brings up these unsettling emotions that make you feel helpless or unsure, try to pause and notice what you are feeling. Know that these emotions are human. Get pumped for this new opportunity, a challenge to swim in the unknown. Think of it simply as an experiment to see where it will take you. Reflect on the experience. And then tell someone about it.

Courageously,
MJ

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiration

Building Confident Illustrators through Collage

PEOPLE. That is what we are. Super complex beings on the inside and out. Have you ever sat down to draw the human figure? Drawing people from observation is quite challenging let alone creating one from our imagination. There is so much to include, so where do we begin?

SHAPE. We begin with geometric shapes. Read on, I will tell you all about it.

people collage

First graders have been exploring geometric shapes through paper collage. We have discovered that many shapes can be made by simply cutting a square into smaller pieces. Cutting on a diagonal can create two triangles and cutting horizontally can make two rectangles, or even four more squares. A circle can be made by trimming corners. We use our shapes to form the recognizable things that make up our world. One of which, is people. We begin building people in paper collage.

photo (2)

We ALWAYS PLAY FIRST by arranging our shapes until we are satisfied with our design, then glue is introduced to make it permanent. We discover how our body is made up of ovals of all sizes!  We discover that our arms and legs bend and that we can show action of these parts by snipping a rectangle in half and arranging it at an angle. We discover that shapes make up our world.

collage into drawing

Let me ask you this: If I gave you a pencil, could you draw a simple square? How about an oval? Now try a rectangle? Yes! I thought so. Children begin a second work of art in pencil. While looking at their collage, students illustrate a human figure beginning with simple shapes and adding color and details when necessary.

collage and pencil

Children discover how a drawing of absolutely anything can be achieved by breaking it down into simple shapes. It is empowering to know that you have the potential to manifest anything your imagination can possibly dream.

Why Collage before Drawing?
Offering children an actual shape to hold in their hand, manipulate and feel, offers them the kinesthetic experience that we all need to build new knowledge. Hearing the idea is one thing, but experiencing it with our own hands makes it real. Furthermore, the act of holding the shape while working in collage helps them to “see” where the shape ends and begins. We feel its corners and sides and the shape is distinctly defined for us.

photo 4

Shapes are all around us. Take a walk outside and embark on a shape scavenger hunt. See what you find and notice how your mind opens up to new discoveries. You may even “see” something in a way.

Have an artful day,
-MJ

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiration

Happy New Beginnings

Maybe it is because my birthday falls in the month of August that I perceive the annual cycle to end and begin in the summer; I finished each grade level as one age, and began the next as a year older. Or maybe it is because being an educator is written in my genetic code and that is just the way I was programmed. This time of year brings excitement and the promise of a brand new adventure.

Are you eager for the beginning of school? How do you feel when you anticipate the initiation of a new routine?

I am eating up any anxiety by focusing my energy on productivity. Literally. I am producing worksheets to help develop learning experiences. Because if they are interesting to look at, I will be more likely to use them, right?
Heather at The Bees Knees Cousin developed her own planner which inspired me to do the same. I have been playing around just in Word and am discovering how much I appreciate soft shapes and grey tones.

Here’s a look at what I have generated so far…

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 12.45.46 PM

 

and if you fancy the portrait layout,

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 12.44.05 PM

If you want to test them out, download a copy here: Visual Planner 2014

How do you spend these early days prepping for the new year?

Have a productive day,
xo MJ

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiration, Teaching Art to Children

2 Awesome 2 Pass Up

IMG_0863

 

I just had to share this fabulous photo with you all.
You can’t help but feel that gesture. Do you dig it?

I am grateful for the unique instances a photograph can capture so much in a flash. Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

Have a grateful day!
-MJ

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiration, Teaching Art to Children