February 20, 2022

Patterns and Possibility - Reuse Before Recycling

Trash day and I hustled to flatten boxes and set out the bins before heading to teach at American International College.  The day before I had spontaneously decided to teach an introductory block print lesson to my History of Art class.

Trash Can Packing Box Trash

I had chosen a simple pattern to teach.  However, I fell in love with this gorgeous cardboard nest for my recently purchased cylindrical trash can.

Patterned Seat

Within hours of this discovery, I had deconstructed the pattern into elemental shapes and taught a one hour introduction to block printing.  As I Certified Zentangle Teacher, I am familiar with this process of noticing patterns in the world and then teaching workshop participants how to draw them.

The Prof's Show and Tell

As students printed their carved blocks, I inked the bottom of the cardboard packaging and pushed it down on paper.

Not a Deep Impression

After this first iteration, I refined my creative process by applying more ink...

Packaging Totem

... and this time pressing the paper down onto the upturned inked cardboard.

That's What I am Talking About

Here are some results from students:

A Complement to Looking at Art

A novice printer "accidentally" moved his block while printing, laying down two slightly offset impressions, creating this lovely, energized offering.  Where would we be without mistakes?

Only Way to Learn is to Live (Chapter Title from The Midnight Library)

John Nordell teaches courses in the Visual and Digital Arts Program that he created at American International College in Springfield, Mass. He blogs about the creative process at CreateLookEnjoy.com