Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christopher and Jeanette Canyon, local gems!

Christopher and Jeanette Canyon visited our school last month and what gems we have living right here in the Central Ohio area. They are a dynamic two person show. I don't know if I've seen so many smiles and happiness radiate off two presenters. They obviously enjoy what they are doing and spending time sharing their work.

Christopher's drawing table was purchased at a garage sale for ten dollars when he was in third grade! It travelled with him to college and he continues to use it now. I thought this was an important message for children, things they try and do now can become something of passion and purpose later in life. Christopher's work is done by drawing, painting, and music has been a big influence. He has had the opportunity to illustrate a few of John Denver's songs and through this opportunity has illustrated connections from his own life within his work. In "Take Me Home Country Roads", the barn and truck were like the ones his family used and his dad played a banjo. While talking about this piece of work, he told the audience he was constantly reminded of home and home is a special place. He also travelled to West Virginia and shared several photographs he took, guiding his work for his illustrations. Illustrators conduct research too and I think this was important for the children to think about. It's not always the written word that gets researched. Christopher plays his guitar and engages the whole school in singing along, it was quite moving to see and hear a school of 730 students united through song.

Jeanette works and creates with her hands with the media of polymer clay. Her presentation included video clips of her actually working with the clay in her studio showing different ways she created things for her books. Watching an artist, in their studio actually working, is inspiring. She had some important messages for the audience also. She doesn't always know she is going to make something and figures it out along the way. She loves to experiment and it's important. Her tools were interesting to learn about, kitchen gadgets. How simple is that? A pasta machine, food processor, and even a mesh bag from the grocery store. Another important thing for children to think about. The use of everyday objects in new ways. However, she did warn the children to not use their kitchen gadgets for food and polymer clay. I'm holding off buying a mini food processor just for polymer clay myself. She too researches her work and showed how she took pictures of the coral reef and then used these photos in her illustrations. She finds inspiration in everyday things she sees, for example sushi inspired a cane of clay.

Both Jeanette and Christopher keep sketch journals and this is where all their work begins. They have lots and lots of journals. "A journal is a place to explore ideas, test them out, and do whatever you want. You can sketch, doodle, collect, or write. Sketches are beginnings" These two dynamic individuals really gave our students inspiration to work like them in realistic ways. I would highly recommend a visit with them if you have the opportunity. You can find them at their newly designed website.

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