Summer Camp

The week before last was spent wrist deep in paper-machete, animating Legos, and monotyping; It was the Jim Jeffries Summer Arts Workshop. Arguably the most challenging endeavor of my time at Piney Woods so far. I spent the first 4 weeks of my time in Texas, scheduling, inventorying, and preparing for this week long seminar. The workshop serves children ages 5-14, and offers regular classes in Photography, Drawing, Watercolor Painting, and Sculpture. The children lucky enough to be enrolled in the afternoon session were treated to a group of guest artists that pales in comparison to rosters of workshops in cities five-times the size of Crockett.  Sam Lawlace, a stop-motion animator, Steve Stringer, an auto-motive and aircraft designer, and myself, print-maker extraordinaire!

But seriously Sam and Steve are artist beyond their humble surroundings. Sam has won a number of awards and produces whole works ranging from thirty second commercial spots to a thirty minute short film.  Sam gave the kids a quick demo on his process as an animator and shared a number of his films with the group.  A small group of children wound up hanging out with Sam all afternoon. Creating a rather Dadaist film that appeared to focus around some sort of teleporting car thief who is also Darth Vader. One rather industrious student asked to experiment with a few figures and his own digital camera. An hour later Sam and I walked by to see how he had progressed to find a rather impressively choreographed four frames per second fight scene. Mind you this was accomplished in an hour, with Legos and a rather common digital camera.

Steve Stringer quickly rose to the top of the list of most impressive people I have ever met. If you’ve looked at a car in the last 50 years and thought “Damn! That car looks good!” odds are good, Steve Stringer had a hand in designing it. Yeah. This guy was responsible for at least parts of vehicles such as, Corvettes created between ’61-’67, the original Viper, and the final Shelby Cobra-Mustang created under Carroll Shelby.  Oh yeah, Steve was on a first name basis with Carroll Shelby. This man knows more about the automotive industry than the Ford President who spoke at my graduation.

My workshop was pretty well received though the crowd seemed less than impressed with my brief explanation of the lithographic process and the survey of printmaking history that I offered to support my presentation. It was the first time I have ever tried to teach printmaking to a group of people rather than just one on one. It was exhilarating to see what the kids soaked in and was surprised by the ones who really grabbed a hold of what the process could do.

For the project portion I taught a very simple process that I have been experimenting with to create monotypes, but I made the kids create a relief project out of it. You take craft foam that kids cut up to make craft animals and other 2-Dimensional things with and draw on it with water soluble markers. Apply gentle pressure to a piece of paper and you have created a simple though surprisingly accurate monotype. You can also cut shapes or carve into the foam with a dull blade to create a relief shape or a stamp for repeatable printing. As I said I have been creating monotypes with this process at home in my spare time. I am still in a research stage but I plan to create a new body of work with this process once I explore all of my mark making possibilities.

Camp was a blast and the week culminated with an exhibit of the kids work. Right now, I am working on moving a selection of their work to the local public library for a summer long display to help promote the event for next year. Now that this project is done, life has slowed down a bit. Once the Earl Thomas Conley concert passes tomorrow I will spend my time waiting to hear back from potential employers and getting down to enjoying my summer despite this insane heat, but more on that later. Stay Classy.

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About Damon

Damon G. Taylor is an emerging artist and printmaker. Originally from Fairview, Illinois, Damon received a Bachelors of Fine Art from Bradley University in Peoria, IL. Damon currently resides in Flagstaff, Arizona where he works as the Program Coordinator for the Flagstaff Cultural Partners. Damon has plans to enter Graduate school in the Fall of 2014.
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