Sunday, September 30, 2012

Maggie Taylor: A Photoshop Master

Adobe Photoshop Master Class: Maggie Taylor's Landscape of Dreams

Seems like I'm catching up on making sure I share all my favorite books. I have done a Maggie Taylor project for several years with my Photo II and my Computer Graphics I students. Taylor is magnificent and she is an official Adobe Master.  She's married to the great photographer Jerry Uelsmann who creates amazing surreal photography in the traditional darkroom, but she has fully embraced Photoshop as her darkroom. Her work is intriguing. She does not tell concrete stories, but has snippets of connections to memories, leaving you wondering what the story could be.

The way I approach this project is that I ask my students to remember, or ask a family member to tell them, a family story. We discuss how family stories morph over the years and how surreal they almost seem. The students must then collect images that will help tell the story and use blending modes, tinting, and brushwork like Taylor does to pull it all together.  The results that I've had have been beautiful, and some of them very moving. Last year a student's image had two men in a boat on a humongous wave, with beautiful Photoshop brushwork creating a dark and stormy, frightening scene. I don't ask about the story until the end, and we all were aghast when she explained that her father and uncle failed 3 times to escape North Vietnam in a small row boat. Each time they were caught and imprisoned. The fourth time they succeeded, and she and her siblings were born here in the US.

My lesson plan for this project is now available on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Hand Lettering

Handwritten: Expressive Lettering in the Digital Age

I think the subheading of the top book really explains it. Our culture has developed a fondness for hand lettering again. I even see exquisite hand lettering on chalk boards in coffee shops. It's become part of hip business's identity.  It is independent, expressive and full of character, like we all secretly want to be. My students love these books. The second book has an unfortunate title for high school, but has an inspiring variety of hand lettered type faces.

I do hand lettering projects with my traditional media class, but you could also scan student hand lettering to a final document for a digital class.  This is also yet another connection to the popular nostalgia of the late 60s and early 70s when hand lettered posters were everywhere. Do I age myself if I tell you I still remember how cool doing my name in bubble lettering was?

So, last week I put up my hand lettering bulletin board and one student said, "Hand lettering. My favorite project!" So, then I realized I had to not just do it in Art 1, but in Art 2 as well.  

There are so many concepts to tie hand lettering to. I've done character education: design a poster with hand lettering with a quote about compassion; social commentary: What do you want to tell society? Say it in a hand lettered poster. Another I will do soon is hand lettering inside a shape.

Another good resource to inspire them is the website. Some of the fonts are first hand lettered. Remember that when you click on the name of the font, you usually can see the complete alphabet.

Caution: One of my senior students used all her amazing hand lettering skills to do a poster for the Art Club. One of the administrators saw it and then insisted that she do a very large banner for an administrative retreat...which took her a whole month to finish.  So, beware, this could lead to a side business.