Wednesday, June 8, 2011

me and barry mcgee.

I have been digging Barry McGee's work for some time. He started out as a graffiti artist (aka Twist), gained some San Francisco recognition, then went to college, and continued to travel and develop his mix of line, characters, and assemblages. He has been able to bring his "street style" to museums and galleries around the world. I love the way he assembles many drawings and/or patterns to create one of a kind installations. I also enjoy the often sad sack looking dudes that inhabit many of his paintings and drawings. I find the juxtaposition between those guys and his repetition of line, color, and shape quite enjoyable and dare I say, intriguing.

So, the 5th graders got one more dose of street art in their art curriculum this year:)

The students thought those dudes were pretty interesting. And pretty weird. I showed them a number of his more current pieces and emphasized how Barry creates a lot of unity in his work through repetition.

I did this project with two of my 5th grade classes. Each of the classes created a large collaborative drawing based on Barry's use of pattern and portraits. Each of the students was responsible for at least a pattern in the final design. If they wanted to include a portrait into their drawing I encouraged them to do so.

One class did their drawings on all white paper. The other did their patterns on black paper and portraits on white. I wanted the 2 final pieces to contrast in terms of base value. As students finished up with their drawings they brushed multi-media varnish on the back and then placed them on a large canvas.

Once the assembled drawings were totally dry I went in with scissors and and an x-acto blade and removed the extra canvas around and in between the pieces. I brushed a clear varnish over them as well. The clear varnish removed some of the color intensity on the black paper one. I should have tested it on a small piece before jumping in. Lesson learned...

Overall though, I think they came out pretty interesting. We are hanging our big student show this week and next, so I will have to post a couple pics of these in "exhibition context".


  1. What a fun project and display. Very nice!

  2. Lovely! We are about to launch a drawing competition so would love your students to take part. Could you email me please?
    Thank you!

  3. Wow, I wish I had you as a teacher!!!

    bye, J

  4. wow what a cool idea for a class...niiiice!