A Man of Many Faces

May 11, 2009

l_182674f0f2f300f7eb3b03d958aca9f1     Angel Silva is a Chicago artist with roots stretching back to Mexico. Working out of the Pilsen area, graffiti artist turned fine artist, and further into a world renowned tattoo artist, Silva’s work continues to turn heads from street scenes to galleries. He is most notably recognized for his black and white portrait tattoos, one of which I am very proud to sport. Don’t let that stray you away from his coloring abilities,.. even those pieces are an amazing sight to see. 

     From sketches to canvas’ and even body platforms, there is a highly apparent sense of culture flowing through his work. Whether it is representing images from Dia de los Muertos, or his own hyper-detailed ability of Chicago style graffiti, the aspect of Angel always appears.


     As an artist, he has risen with ability as well as a professional. With owning his tattoo shop, The Native Soul,located on 17th and Ashland, he has progressed by converting the front half of the studio into a recognizable art gallery. There, they hold shows of individual artists coming from all over Chicago, group shows of graffiti based icons working on canvas’, and recently open studio programs for the neighborhood to join in on some fun. All in all, this is one artist that continues to grow with a stature of professionalism and incredible skill.


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     Although tattooing would be a difficult to impossible topic to create a lesson plan on, I think the exposure to artists that work in various fields of their skill is important for students. Additionally, it is equally important to expose them to professional and interesting artists that are from their own cities (in this case Chicago).

     Depending on the classroom setting (school or community center), tattooing is a touchy subject for principles/parents. This includes temporary tattoos. However, if you can squeeze past some of the regulators, there are pretty neat ways to make temporary tattoos. 

     First, you can have your students create a design they would want on their body. Simplify the images for the first round, then let them advance in detail once they get the hang of the process.

Method One (EASY): 

Materials: Masking Tape, Markers, Water, Fan/Blow Dryer

You use the typical tan masking tape and create a layer of tape strips slightly larger than your tattoo design. Then, with a sharpie marker, draw onto the STICKY side. Adhere it to the body, usually clean & hairless areas are best. With warm water, lightly dampen the tape. Do Not Rub or else your design will smear. Press the tattoo area firmly. Continue pressure for a 5-10 minutes, then dry with a fan or blow dryer & slowly peel the tape back and enjoy your new ink!

Method Two (DIFFICULT): Keep in mind, this application lasts Much longer – Creating your own Henna tattoo.

Materials: Henna powder, Lemon Juice, small squeeze bottle w/ fine tip, plastic bowl, plastic spoon, plastic wrap, small container w/ lid, two trouser socks, and rubber bands.

You’ll need to sift the Henna before mixing it to get the clumps out. A simple way to do this is to get a small container with a lid on it. Take two trouser socks and put one inside of the other. Put them into the container, toes at the bottom, and pour the Henna powder into the toes of the socks. Put the lid back on the container and rubber band it shut very tightly. Shake the container as hard as you can until all the Henna is sifted through. Mix the sifted Henna in a bowl with some lemon juice until the consistency is a little thinner than mashed potatoes. Since the Henna paste will start to crack and flake once applied to skin, add some sugar or honey to your mixture before applying it to skin. This will help it stay on the skin better, giving you a better, darker tattoo. Once it’s mixed into a good consistency, cover it with plastic and let it rest until the dye has been released. You can tell when it’s ready when the top layer turns a brownish color and the underneath is a darker, greener color. Spoon the mixture into a small plastic bottle with a fine tip. Next hold the plastic bottle like a pen and apply the desired design to your skin. Next wait until your tattoo is completely dry and doesn’t look wet, but not yet cracking. Heat up a small amount of lemon juice mixed with sugar until it is bubbly, then let cool. Apply some to cover your new tattoo, carefully not to disturb the design. Dry the sealant with a blow dryer. You’ll want to wrap your dry tattoo with toilet paper, and then plastic wrap and leave overnight for best results. When you wake up the next morning, gently wash the paste off of your skin and viola! You’ve got a beautiful new tattoo that will last 1-3 weeks!

Warning about Black Henna:

Most Black Henna contains a toxic dye called para-phenylenediamine (PPD). Some people add this to Henna to speed up the dying process and create a black color. This dye can not only harm your system, it can also leave itchy spots, oozing sores or even blisters on your skin.


health & relaxation

May 10, 2009

personally, and I don’t know if this comes as a big surprise, but I REALLY like to relax. I like hot tubs and eating and taking naps and takings naps on couches and eating and then taking a nap on a couch. For us though, educators, in a high stress position, the time for all these simple pleasures is dwindling. That’s why I think it’s important to reboot in our summer months, to get in touch with our commitment as artists, and maybe catch 40 winks. Don’t forget we were artists first, so brushing up on your skills, taking time for yourself, and having more credibility as a teacher can’t hurt, can it? This is really important to me, that we relax and remember, when we’re older and veterans of the teaching scene, that we came from somewhere, that we are artists first. Take time for yourself, and more importantly your art. An art teacher who doesn’t make art isn’t taken seriously, so take yourself seriously.

so, some places in illinois.


Ragdale is an artists’ retreat located on the grounds of Arts and Crafts architect Howard Van Doren Shaw’s 1897 summer home in Lake Forest, IL.

The artists’ community, which is situated just 30 miles north of Chicago and overlooks 50 acres of prairie, now hosts over 200 emerging and established artists of all disciplines each year.

it’s 30 dollars to apply, but having been to this rather remarkable place, I would definitely recommend it.

A list of All the Great Lake Artist Retreat

great list. seriously

Drea had a great suggestion about writing your artist statement in preparation for an application. Include your past works, all the materials you work with or intend to work with, and what your purpose is as an artist. How do you want your students to perceive you? I know we talked a lot about not having a “medium” this semester, so with that in mind, how important is it that we be perceived as “working artists”? I know my favorite teacher in high school went away every summer and came back with great stories of a time for regrouping, getting her head on straight from “a year spent with you“, and renewing her energy as a person. It was apparent that it wasn’t the time spent away with us, or getting up after 5am, but that her art was important and therefore OUR art was important. Maybe getting away from the midwest would be good for you. We all know a good travel might be the most important thing you do for yourself as a person.

Fortunately, it’s summer now (officially!) so I’m gonna go take a nap.

Collective Artists

May 10, 2009

Young British Artists or YBAs (also Brit artists and Britart) is the name given to a group of conceptual artists, painters, sculptors and installation artists based in the United Kingdom, most (though not all) of whom attended Goldsmiths College in London. The term Young British Artists is derived from shows of that name staged at the Saatchi Gallery from 1992 onwards, which brought the artists to fame. It has become a historic term, as most of the YBAs are now in their forties. They are noted for “shock tactics”, use of throwaway materials and wild-living, and are (or were) associated with the Hoxton area of East London. They achieved considerable media coverage and dominated British art during the 1990s.

Leading artists of the group are Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. Key works by them are, respectively, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a shark preserved in formaldehyde in a vitrine, and My Bed, a dishevelled double bed surrounded by detritus.

I’m interested in the YBA’s because they’re on the forefront of conceptual art, our generation’s equivalent of the art stars like Andy Warhol. They began at a time when there was very little public funding for the arts in England, and Damien Hirst is currently one of the richest and most well known artists in the world. Tracey Emin is a personal favorite of mine, her art influences mine more than I even realized until lately. They draw from the dadaist movement, it’s inspiring to see people who began as lowly art students as well become as successful as they are, who were once in my position.

mostly I’m inspired by Tracey because her art is very very personal. Her piece “all the people I have ever slept with” is what I hope to achieve one day.

there’s something about the self deprecation, the brutal honesty, the catharsis of the process. It becomes art when she defines it as art.

LP: I think the project i’d like to do with kids, with this collective in mind, would be something along the lines of a postsecret/found object project. insight into the deeper, darker, weirder parts and more importantly, the things we all have in common. I had something in mind of old journal entries, secrets anonymously posted in the classroom, written on the inside of t-shirts or hats. It was really a turning point in my life and in my art career when I began to loosen up and share things that scared me at the time. The need for acceptance in elementary and high school is overwhelming, and the closest bonds I ever made were in the confines of the art room, theater and my creative writing club. There we found new ways, like writing stream of consciousness and improv activities to let loose and feel comfortable enough to begin the journey of self-exploration, which included a lot of cathartic exercises. I think that looking at artists like Tracey Emin who is SO far out there with her work would be inspiring to kids and adults alike.

Physics Masters

May 6, 2009

Leaping, dropping, diving, slamming…probably not the most pleasant of words one likes to hear. Though there is no better way in my head to describe people when they breakdance. I have to say, I personally love to brekdance. I just hear the beat sometimes and can’t help but get on the dance floor. Though breakdancing is a relatively new form of dancing, I find it to be one of the most fascinating. When your breakin’ your free, nothing applies anymore. You simply go with it and your body follows. You become a Physics Master, leaping, twirlling, spinning, etc. breakdancer

Breakdancing takes dedication, and unlike many other dance forms, there is a high likely hood that you will be hurt. You may fall on your wrist wrong, twit your neck, bruise your knees, your stomach, etc. If the name Breakdance doesn’t let you in on that that fact, well then, now you know. This style of dance is a combination of strength, flexibility, balance, and of course creativity.  I myself have been breakdancing for years, yet don’t assume I am the best. I am far, far, far, far, far from being the best. You can be the strongest man in the world and have no flexibility. The the most flexible and have to balance. Be the most balanced and have no creativity. To truly be the best in breakdancing, is a myth. There is no best. There is only your dance, your style, your feelings when you are on the dance floor. bboysYou can spend a whole lifetime trying to be the best, but that would lead you nowhere. People b-boy for the love of it, for the feeling and rush you get when you finally land that move or learn that tricky step.  All I can say is, Breakdancing is awsome. It is a beutiful expression of the body and the soul. It is both complex and simple. I feel it can take music and transcibe it into physical space. So if you ever want to boggie down, but don’t know exactly how, give breakdancing a shoot. You might be suprised, the bumps and bruises are only the beginning.


For my lesson, I would have the class choose one of their favorite songs and design steps to it. I would lead the class in basic breakdancing steps prior to this. Basic footwork, downrocks, uprocks, etc. I feel breakdancing would promote both a  healthier lifestyle, through the exercise and physical activity involved, and would also open up the students to different forms of expression. Breakdancing being one of these forms.

If your idea of a delectable desert is a Hostess Twinkie from your nearest 7-11, I have a treat for you! Two basic cake recipies- nothing fancy but extra tasty.  Maybe you have never baked a cake or you think, why wast the time? Well, friend, let me tell you- these cakes will be worth your while. If you don’t think you like cake, this cake just might change your mind.

I come from a long lineage of fabulous bakers so I have a serious love for cake.  Here are two recipies I love!

carrot cake

vanilla cupcakes

And then there’s icing.  Wilton is a company that has been supplying cake goods since 1929.  My family swears by them for all cake products and I think their buttercream icing is hands down, the best.

buttercream icing

Here’s a few basics that will make your cake perfect!

grease only the bottom of the cake pan.  Rub a small amount of vegetable shortening on a paper towel on the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle with a little flour, shake around to coat shortening, dump out excess flour.  Greasing only the bottom helps your cake climb up the sides of the pan so it rises evenly.  Would you be able to climb a wall covered in vegetable shortening? Neither can your cake.

To turn a cake out of the pan, let cool about 10 minutes.  Run a knife between the edge of the pan around the entire cake.  Hold a wire rack on top of the pan, while grasping both flip the cake upside down.  Remove pan.

Mix wet ingredients. Mix dry ingredients. Mix them together in adding dry to wet.

  • Don’t over mix your cake.  Cake is usually too dry because of some zealous mixing.  Once all the dry ingredients are mixed with the wet ingredients  enough to no longer be visible as their original form- stop! That’s enough!



May 6, 2009

at our last class we talked a bit about reflexology so i though it would be fitting to incorporate this into the blog. so sit back and give yourself a foot massage.

Reflexology is a form of bodywork that focuses primarily on the feet.


The underlying theory behind reflexology is that there are “reflex” areas on the feet and hands that correspond to specific organs, glands, and other parts of the body. For example: the tips of the toes reflect the head, the heart and chest are around the ball of the foot, the liver, pancreas and kidney are in the arch of the foot,low back and intestines are towards the heel


lesson idea: draw your own reflexology diagram.



sustainable art

May 6, 2009

making your own inkmake your own papermake your own paintmake your own screen print

make your own watercolors

Traditional printing ink poses a serious danger to the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. This is because toxic chemicals that are produced during the manufacturing and disposal processes, as well as during the use of this ink, are released into the environment.There are, however, alternatives to this unhealthy problem. Some companies use non-toxic, water-based inks for their screen printing needs. The advantage of this over traditional ink is that it leaves the fabric soft, washable and iron-able without fading or releasing toxic fumes. The disadvantage is that it only can be used on light-colored fabrics.

mantis graphics makes a great case for water based inks for screen printing.

Making your own ink, paper, paint, wax, screen-printers is easy, affordable, and downright jolly. It also leads to a more satisfied artist, one aware of the materials they use and what the process is of making them. This also can enlighten students to the dangers of art (chemicals, etc), how to avoid using premades, etc. Also it stands to teach kids a thing or two about reusing materials, about the resources all around them, and about being eco-friendly!

LP: a long term project, including stretching your own screens with pantyhose or other sheer fabric from around the house (or provided by the teacher), followed by the mixing of the ink, and either paper making for birthday/holiday cards and/or their own designs. Depending on the age you’re working with (I think this would be equally as exciting for both elementary and secondary students), perhaps canvas bags for shopping (for mom and dad, or yourself) (see above) or their own t-shirts. During the process of making the screen prints/ink/etc. to keep everyone motivated, small drawings and thumbnails can be due. This is also a great way to get the long term processes across to kids, and you can cite the great masters who made their own pigments and stretched their own canvases.

materials and resources can be found nearly anywhere. for wood try local thrift store chairs or tables, or if you’re working in a high school, the wood shop. The ink is fairly self explanatory and most of those can be found at any craft or paper store. paper pulp is normally just created from old paper, so if you’re going to go this route, perhaps talking to your students about the recycling program at your school would be beneficial! These products will last just as long as anything you can find in bulk or is machine made, and stressing this is important so that maybe the next generation can make better choices than ours.