Math Journal Graffiti | David Rufo

In the 1940s photographer Helen Levitt went to Spanish Harlem to document children’s street drawings made of chalk on asphalt, concrete, and stone. In his essay “Children as Visionaries,” Robert Coles described the children as feeling “impelled to make their various marks” on a world “whose children still had some visual independence” [1]. I thought […]

Wolfgang Laib, Fourth Graders, and the Openness of the Artistic Process | David Rufo

A fourth grade girl set out an array of colored pencils, copy paper, and glue sticks on a table. I watched as she took a glue stick and, with it, formed a tight circle on a sheet of white paper. She then sharpened a colored pencil, flipped off the top to the sharpener, and proceeded to […]

When Checking Out Is Checking In | David Rufo

Serendipitous opportunities are part of the working repertoire for artists. In a documentary about Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, John explained how he “stumbled upon” the opening chord progression for the title track [1]. The album sold more than 31 million copies and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, yet the music […]

Technique Schmechnique: Why Kids Don’t Need to be Taught How to Use a Paintbrush | David Rufo

On an online education forum an art teacher asked: “Can students be taught to use paintbrushes so that the bristles aren’t ruined?” I replied with a variety of suggestions: students could experiment with paintbrushes or employ alternate methods of paint application via fingers, sticks, paper towels, or squeegees. The responses from other educators endorsed traditional […]

Masking Tape: The Artist’s Urge to Wrap | David Rufo

There are many iconic images of boxers getting their hands taped before a bout: a gritty yet elegant photograph from the early 1930s by Willard Van Dyke titled Boxer’s Hands[1]; a variety of black and white photographs from the 1960s of the legendary trainer Angelo Dundee wrapping the hands of Muhammad Ali [2]; a 4000 […]

Drawing on Tabletops | David Rufo

Or: How My Fourth Graders Produced Work that Rivals Jackson Pollock and Cy Twombly This past school year my teaching partner and I allowed our fourth grade students to draw on the tabletops. Many of the school staff and parents thought this made the tables look dingy, chaotic, and even repulsive. Others described them as […]