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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Across the Pond and Beyond: Art Attack!

Hello again, blog followers, and welcome to another Wednesday entry.  You all know what happens on Wednesdays, right?

Before you all ask...yes, I did end up designing the above graphic.  Am thinking of doing one for each of the seven theme days.  Let me know what you think, all right?

(And just to clarify, my world map is not designed to scale and probably looks like something you'd see on a seventh grade geology project.  But as Five for Fighting asks...what kind of world do you want?)

Besides, we aren't here to go all Simon Cowell Steven Tyler on my ability to draw.  I wanted to share some of my basic art skills because it relates to the theme of this blog entry.

How many of you have heard of a show called 'Art Attack'?  The guy up above is named Neil Buchanan, and for seventeen years he hosted this successful children's show based in the United Kingdom. 

Like a lot of children who grew up in Southern Ontario, my first experience with 'Art Attack' was watching a little channel called TVOntario.  TVOntario was a station that aired dozens of children's shows, and I can guarantee you that many who were born around the same time I was probably spent quite a bit of time watching these educational shows.

When I first saw this show, I couldn't have been much more than ten or eleven.  All I remember about my first episode was that this guy who always wore a red shirt of some kind and who kept referring to construction paper as coloured card was a friggin' genius.

No, seriously, he was.

I was so jealous of his art studio (which, granted was put together by the fine people of ITV), because he had almost every possible art supply in the world.  Coloured pencils, magic markers, chalkboards, glitter glue.  It was like an entire Staples location exploded on a television screen.

He used all those materials to create awesome art projects.

He would make three-dimensional puzzles using cracker boxes and magic markers.  He would make simulated neon lights with pink and yellow chalk and black construction paper card.

He was basically the MacGyver of arts and crafts.

Oh, sure I tried to use some of his wonderfully creative ideas to make my own versions of his art, but mine never really seemed to look as good as his did.  It didn't matter to me though.  I loved making the effort.

Did I also mention that Neil Buchanan just didn't do artwork in studio?

Sometimes he would travel to various places all across the UK and he would make his whole world his canvas.  Sometimes he would set up on sandy beaches.  Other times, he'd be inspired to create something on a golf course.  Everywhere was fair game.

And when the world becomes your canvas, simple Crayola crayons would not cut it for art supplies.

No, he needed something bigger.  If he needed orange, he would use carrots and oranges.  If pink was what he required, he'd use cotton candy or roses.  Whatever objects he had at his disposal, he could use to create works of art like this.

Or, this...

Or, this...

Like I said.  The guy is a freakin' genius.

Could you just imagine how much fun art class would have been had we had Neil as a teacher?  Not that I'm completely dissing my art teachers that I had in school (well, maybe except one, whose idea of art was giving us a colouring book and crayons and saying 'enjoy!'

This kind of ties the idea of this blog post to my own experiences.

I absolutely loved art class. 

Was I absolutely proficient in it?  Hardly.  The above is a picture that I ended up doing about four hours ago.  Granted, it's no DaVinci, Van Gogh, or even a Neil Buchanan.  But, I think it turned out not too horribly.  And that's basically what art meant to me.  To me, art is something that is completely subjective.  What one person may consider to be trash, another might consider to be treasure.  Art is supposed to be about expression.  Expression of creativity.  Expression of emotion.  An expression of yourself, and what makes you,!

To me, I didn't care whether an art project got me a grade of an A+ or a C-.  Everything I created was beautiful because I created it by myself without any help from anyone else.

It's not only limited to just physical artwork either.  I was a band geek in elementary school.  Played the baritone for three years, earning my only awards for extracurricular activities in elementary school.

I also did lots of cut and paste artwork.  Using pieces of construction paper, computer paper, even wallpaper and turning them into something beautiful.  One of our homework assignments in sixth grade art class was to create a poster for the charity event 'Jump Rope For Heart', and I created a pop up guy made out of wallpaper and construction paper.  It turned out beautifully.  I only wish I had the poster to scan for you, but I made it eighteen years ago, and it kind of disintegrated over the years.  However, my poster was noticed by the people in charge of our student art gallery, and for the last few months of 1993, my picture was prominently displayed right outside the gym.  I even got this cool certificate to go along with it.

Wasn't that nice?  On another unrelated note...June 21, 1993 didn't seem all that long ago, did it?  Sigh...I feel old now.

And how could I NOT continue on with my love of creative classes without talking about the one I loved the most.  I attribute my love of creative writing to my vivid imagination, which I wouldn't have found if not for the dozens of art classes I took. 

Creative writing is an art too, you know.

So is fine penmanship and calligraphy.  The first one admittedly took me years to master, but I managed to get it down pat.  The second one is something I'm currently learning.  Calligraphy may be seen by some as a lost art, but it's one I've always wanted to learn how to do.

Art of any kind should be something that all kids should have the right to do.

That's why it really, really bugs me when some schools actually cut art programs out of schools to balance the budgets.  To me, that would be devastating to attend school without art classes.  Art is the one thing that kids can create to effectively define who they are as children.  I wouldn't take it if my school got rid of our art programs.  I would either transfer to another school or picket the school board offices until they reinstated the art.

That's how much I care about the arts.

Where would museums be if people didn't create masterpieces to display?  Political pages would be without those funny cartoons.  Comic books would be blank pages.  Children's books wouldn't be as fun to read without art.

I wouldn't be who I am today if art wasn't a huge part of my life.

Even though it's been years since I took an art class, I still get a high whenever I head to a store's arts and crafts section.  It was the best part about back-to-school shopping, and even as far back as I can remember, my favourite toys to play with was a stack of loose-leaf paper, Crayola crayons, and a 24-count of Laurentian pencil crayons. 

Those were the days.

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