Looking & Writing: Inspirations for Art Making

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Where does it come from?

Maira Kalman describes her approach to art making as “journalistic.” She is a collector, and recognizes the unrecognized, and gives meaning and value to seemingly ordinary forms. She asks questions like, “Who am I?” and “What parts of myself do I want to reveal to others?”

Kalman is also a storyteller, and she brings readers and viewers into her spaces through the use of color, form, text, and content. She surrounds us with diverse cultural references, digressions, and question marks.


” My dream is to travel around the world. A smallish backpack, all essentials neatly in place. A camera. A notebook. A traveling paint set. A hat. Good shoes. A nice pleated (green?) skirt for the occasional seaside hotel afternoon dance….”

2nd graders at Bayside School and Willow Creek looked at the work of Maira Kalman, and learned that writing can be a great beginning to making a work of art.

Each student received a color “thumbnail” Kalman image. They were asked to first write what they noticed.

Then each student received a paint swatch that they could find somewhere in the Kalman thumbnail…..and the challenge was to create a LIST POEM – collecting all the things that are that color.

Students were then asked to create an illustration of one of the words on the List Poem.Students worked with colored pencils on 6 x 6 pieces of watercolor paper.

Inspiration comes from all around us.

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