Monday, June 16, 2014

Collaborative Paintings and Collaborative Music

  Artist, Michael Grine, offering one of his hand painted artist business cards 

Last week, the first Monday of June, Beth Inglish, artist and creator of the Nashville Creative Group, organized a fabulous event that combined collaborative painting and collaborative music.  I can't think of a better way to spend an evening than to share in the creative process with fellow Nashville artists. A big thanks to Jerry's Artarama who generously donated the canvases and paints. The only thing left to do was BYOB - that's short for "Bring Your on Brush!"  It's also a great idea to bring your own business card, especially if yours are hand made like the artist Michael Grine.

Beth (pictured) opened up the event with a great introduction that was supportive of each person's creative process and the power of vision when we all come together to play and support the larger Nashville Community. This even was defiantly a time for play! The My Emma space located in downtown Nashville near the Cumberland River is a great place to play.

Artists and Art Teachers:  Rachel Motta, Aimee Hall (Wink Wink Eye Wear) and Camilla Spadafino

As a Metro Nashville Public School art teacher who leads 5 creative sessions with students daily I was interested in finding out what it would be like to be a participant. I listened with earnestness as Beth gave a series of 8 directions that lead to a finished painting that involved some 25 - 30 people working together.  Working with large groups is typical for art teachers, but this setting, the inclusion of music and the actual process was far from a regular art class. I was thrilled to see three of my fellow MNPS art colleagues at this event. We bonded over our art teacher glasses!

Drawing with your eyes closed as a means to opening up more creativity 

We were first directed to close our eyes and feel the canvas with our pencils by making marks. I loved being an observer of this and noticing how people were at first unsure to trust their intuition, some were peeking while others were taking it seriously. Most were engaged in a combination of both peeking and drawing. What was so powerful about this initial step is that any time someone would peek, they would also see someone else with their eyes closed and feel encouraged to try again to "let go."

Nashville Creative group creating and learning together

Once I got my turn to jump in, it was time to paint. The directions were both about letting go of control and bringing control back in.  Although we each had a canvas, the canvases were pushed together in groups of four which made one big canvas per group.  Everyone was painting on each others' canvases so there was no real delineation of self.  Painting in this manner was very educational because you could see what others were doing and try mimicking what you liked with your own brush and paint. Painting in this safe and free environment is a great way to get people to open up, express themselves and learn about a variety of techniques. This event was like a week of painting class rolled into two hours of pleasure listening to amazing music and hanging out with friends.

Untitled collaborative piece made at this event

The end results were interesting since each table's art expressed very different artistic voices. Experiencing this process unfold was great reminder to me, as an artist educator, of the importance of grouping. The outcome showed just how much we influence each other and in order to have a more creative classroom the groups should rotate frequently.  It was great to be part of this event that was as much about playing, participating and learning as it was connecting and building community.  These are all attributes that I want to instill in my classroom and I think they show in this finished piece that was created by the MNPS art teachers at my table.