Thursday, June 16, 2016

Project: Clay Mexican Folk Art for Kids

We wrapped up the school year in the art room with this fun colourful clay project!


Air-dry clay (white is best)
1 drinking straw
Multi-coloured Sharpie markers
Acrylic finishing medium in high gloss
Paint brushes

(this project was completed in two parts on two different days to allow for drying time)

I handed out small amounts of the clay and the students (varying in ages of 5 - 8) flattened the mound with the palms of their hands, forming a circle.  With a sharp pencil, they drew a circle with a centimeter margin on their clay.  Then with scissors, snipped sun rays.  The kids then made imprint marks for eyes, nose and mouth, again with a sharp pencil.  Smoothing everything out with fingers dipped in water was the last step on day one of this project.  When they were layed down for drying, I pushed a drinking straw through the top of each, so that the suns could be hung with string as ornaments.

I left them to dry on the racks in the studio for a full week.

On the second day of this project, the kids were encouraged to use as many colours as possible.  We applied a thin coat of high gloss finishing medium and then they were ready!

These were some of my favorites:

The perfect project to welcome the start of the summer with!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Lovely Days

Some snapshots of recent adventures!

We recently had a chance to get away from town to discover a sweet coastal community, Sechelt.

We could hardly believe this beautiful playground we discovered overlooking the ocean:

One sunny Sunday, we roamed around Main Street in Vancouver, were I got lots of new ideas and inspirations for art lessons.

This picture we took of Oliver and Charlotte on the walk astonished me...they are growing so quickly!

Teachers in BC recently took some time out of the classroom to learn a new curriculum.

The Parks Board in our town arranged for various camps to keep the children busy that day.

Oliver and his oldest friend (they have known each other since their birth!) Hudson, canoed the local lake.

Being a stay at home mom (mainly) has its perks;  the local library pulls out their bins of lego on rainy days...we spent more than half a day there recently, building little magical worlds and special memories:

I had the privilege of being invited as guest art instructor at the Rhododendron Festival at the Lake last Sunday.  There must have been a hundred people who tried their best to draw a bee with the graphite pencils we had on hand...I managed to get some photos!

Hope you have all been well too!

Sunday, February 28, 2016


This a has been a lovely month.

One full of  joyful times with family and also creative moments, as always.

We beachcombed locally, just the four of us.

I led my class (these students are 10 years old!) at the studios by the river, in painting a local icon, the Samson V.  

Here are some results:

I just discovered Lily & Madeleine...their harmonies have been my soundtrack this month.

Lily & Madeleine

At Oliver's hilltop elementary school, I spotted this lovely group project in the hallway between two classes, symbolizing student and teachers' desire to work with and respect one another.  I can see ribbons with names on them, likely woven into the mix by each individual.  Lovely both in form and function!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Midnight Pond

Surfacing to share a lesson from the art classes for children I'm currently teaching!

I've been having such a fun time letting the littles explore texture, colour, and different mediums.  They are open to new ideas almost immediately and quickly learn to manipulate the techniques they've learned to suit their personal style.

Recently, I made these lovely multi-media pieces with my 5 - 9 year old class.  We called the works "The Midnight Pond".  Here's how we made them!

'The Midnight Pond'

First, we made our own patterned paper by using a variety of shades in the same colour family (watercolours work well) on plain old computer paper.  (Sounds crazy, but the texture of hand painted computer paper is perfect for what we are doing here.)

...make one of each, a green-ish one and a brown-ish one...

Let those guys dry.

Meanwhile, with a pencil draw a hatch pattern on some white cardstock  (I cut them to a 8.5 x 5.5' size...more manageable for this age group with the colouring we are about to do).

Then let the children pick a selection of blue shades from piles of crayons, pastels, pencil crayons, markers, you could even let them paint one or two of the squares!  The idea here is to have them explore the various mediums within a structured pattern.

The end effect is just the right balance between order and disorder for visual interest.

I outlined the one square that is going to represent the moon in yellow, to avoid the "I forgot to leave a square for the moon!" cry that is bound to happen with some students.

Once all the squares have been coloured in, your painted papers should be nice and dry.

(Crispy, right?  Perfect for folding and manipulating?  See, I wasn't crazy to use computer paper!)

Let the students cut some tall, some short "reeds" for their pond out of the green paper.

Also, cut one large typha plant (commonly known as cattails) out of the brown.

I had the students fold their reeds in half to add some texture and I handled the glue gun to affix them to the pond.  

They told me where they wanted them, most finding the framing option (both on the right and left margins) most pleasing.  (Before I glued anything down, I added a black stem for the cattail with a black sharpie.)

I put the glue onto one side of the folded leaf, only at the bottom so that there was plenty of surface area to 'pop' off the page, giving visual interest and texture.

I thought these nature-inspired pieced turned out quite well!  They reminded me a bit of the Lily Pad art I did a few years back.  It's fun to switch up the techniques to keep the kids learning and on their toes!

Thanks for stopping by...

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Beware the Kraken!

When the skies are grey and the nights long here in the Pacific Northwest, I often gravitate to the melancholy for inspiration when coming up with themes for art classes.

My English undergraduate degree provides limitless fodder for the melancholic; Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Kraken is one of my favorite examples of this mood.

I read this short poem for my class of intermediate elementary school students, lingering for not very long on the words 'abysmal' , 'shadowy', 'sickly' and...eeeeep!... 'die'!    Rather, I hoped for 'deep', 'enormous', 'slumbering green' to colour the imaginations of these student artists before me.

The plan was multi-faceted: I was going to teach them watercolour grading principles, incorporating minor collage and printmaking techniques also.

Here are the results!

The children did a graded sky, and a wet-on-wet watercolour technique in the sea.

Once the watercolour was more or less dry, we painted the Kraken with a light grey acrylic that I custom blended.  Also, we added colour to the ships (we'd drawn in pencil at the start) with a limited palette of pencil crayons.

A marker cap dipped in some white acrylic paint was our printmaking tool to make bubbles in the ocean.

With paint brushes and white glue, we collaged just a few strips of pastel tissue paper to the ocean, for some interest and texture.

A high gloss acrylic medium washed over the entire image once everything was dry.

Some students decided to go over some of the illustration lines with sharp graphite pencils at the very end.

These works were, happily, very well received by the parents of the students and satisfied my romantic/ melancholic soul this winter...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hello, 2016...

Eyes wide open, heart and mind full of designs and ideas...some photo journalling from the past few weeks...

I think the best thing to come home from Oliver's art lesson at school to date!
  This 'lantern' that he decorated, lit our Christmas season every night and will for 
the weeks to come.

Hmmm...the bold contrasts in our living room are making me happy.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that a beautiful product would have such beautiful packaging.  This from our New Year's Veuve Cliquot...

Our little Charlotte turned FIVE yesterday.  She's been creating the most interesting line drawings recently.

To wind down at bedtime recently, had the urge to colour a portrait of Marie Antoinette.  I quickly printed a colouring sheet I found online onto watercolour paper, but tiiiiiiny (this portrait is only about two and a half inces in diameter).  This activity would have paired nicely with the aforementioned Veuve, now that I come to think of it.  Next time!

Happy New Year to you all!!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Collage Lesson: Sideboard Vignette

Here's another snapshot from one of my studio classes, this time from 'Collage and Printmaking' for 8 -12 year-olds.

I came up with the subject for this piece in my subconscious, as Mr. Hausfrau and I were planning a petite re-decor of our living space.  A case of "art imitating life"!

These are just a few of the finished collages entitled 'Table in the Hall'.
Mediums: watercolour, phonebook pages, acrylic finishing medium, sharpie.

Always trying to teach multiple art techniques in one lesson, I wove in creating blooms in the watercolour while it was still wet, using saline.

I took the time to create a digital collage of vintage telephone pages to hand out for students who wanted to recreate this project at home but didn't have access to phone book pages to rip up (a rare find these days!)

Feel free to copy this high resolution version for your own makings!

The students created really gorgeous art and learned some new techniques.   I designed the overall layout of this project to be simple, with lots of whitespace so that despite the vintage subject, there would be a modern effect in the end.

It all started with the new/old phone in our newly 'scaped living just never know where inspiration comes from!

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