Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Gifts from the heart, part three

Sometimes it is very easy to see where a child's interest lie in a class. I have one young boy who is very much into creating sculptures at the moment.

Even more interesting to him, robots.

He told me he would like to use robots for subject matter at the end of class one week. I told him we could both start collecting bits and pieces of "junk" and use it to create a sculpture. Although I did not anticipate him coming to class the following week with his bag of bits and pieces since we had also talked about starting the silk scarf for his mother, he on the other hand was eager to start working on robots!

But who am I to say no? I mean it is their class and students should be spending time working on things that interest them and that they enjoy, so I told him that we would get the resist down on his scarf and then spend the rest of the class on building a robot.

I scrambled a bit for supplies as I had not held up my end of the bargain collecting "bits and pieces", but luckily I'm a hoarder of stuff and I had some of the paint cans left from creating the treat pails in October. So I gave him one of those for the base and pulled a bunch of "bits and pieces" I had stashed in the junk drawer in the studio for him to utilize too.

At first I gave him a hammer to nail things in place because what boy doesn't like hammering things? But the noise level was such that the other student was getting overwhelmed and he was having difficulty getting things to stay like he wanted, so we changed to glue. In the end, hot glue was the best so for safety, I was his assistant in getting things into place so there were no burnt fingers.

He built a reindeer robot.

8 year old

What is really cute is the fact that the eyebrows are magnets. So he can change the expression at whim.

He had so much fun creating this, he wanted to make another one for his dad for Christmas. So at the beginning of class he would continue to work on his silk scarf for his mom and then finish with working on his robot.

I love this little guy.  He filled the glass jar with screws and nails to give it a metallic look and because his dad "likes to build things". He was so excited about these two gifts. I'm not sure who the large reindeer robot was for, but when his mother came to pick him up, he refused to let her see either of them. As beautiful as his silk scarf turned out, and in the end he was quite happy and excited with the scarf, where his true joy lied was in these robots.

I hope his dad and whoever else was given these gifts find as much joy in them as the student did creating them.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Gifts from the heart, part two

I find more and more, the students in the classes are leading the direction of projects.  I try really hard to honor their ideas when they come to class and since my class sizes are small, I find it is not difficult to have different projects going on at the same time.

One student's father was pretty clear with his hints, he would like a winter scene painting for Christmas from his daughter.  She also figured he would want the project "big", so the following acrylic painting was done on a 16x20 canvas.

12 year old

I decided to take the opportunity to work with the student on how to use her brush as a tool instead of just a means to hold paint.  We focused on the use of brush strokes.  She started by laying in a background using tints of green and blue, then put in her tree with two different shades of green.

Once that was almost dry, I gave her some molding paste and a palette knife.  She placed "clumps of snow" on her tree and on the snowy foreground, focusing mainly on right around the tree.  Since the paint wasn't completely dry on the tree, the paste picked up some green also.

We dried the molding paste with a hair dryer and then she went back over the paste with some white acrylic paint.

Now the scary part.

I gave her a glazing product to mix with white paint to put over the entire project.

What?  You want me to paint over everything in white?!??

I gave her a paper towel so she could wipe away any glaze she thought was covering up too much green, just to give her a bit more confidence in the product and also showed her how she could control how transparent or opaque the final glaze would be by changing the ratio of paint to glaze.

Once finished, I think the work is breathtaking and I have no doubt her father loved it when he opened the present for Christmas.

And then that inspired one of the other students in the class, who while working on another project (the flower painting for her grandmother in the nursing home), was watching what this student was creating and wanted to create a winter scene for her father.

13 year old

Same large canvas, but what a different result.  Again, getting her to focus on using the brush strokes as a design element in her work she first finished the background trees and painted in a foreground.

The following week, she first wanted to put the glazing product over what was already finished.  Once that was done and she had a very subtle and soft background, she announced she wanted to do a "really bright tree in yellows and reds" as the focal.

Now it was my turn to feel a bit frightened.

With a palette knife, she began to throw in bright yellow and red paint and also some burnt sienna.  I placed some raw umber on her palette in hopes she would pick it up a bit to anchor the colors.  As she finished the trunk, it was clear she was unhappy with it but I encouraged her to keep going.

With a brush she started adding in the green but was still unhappy.

I knew it was because it was so arresting against the current background and pointed out that she might like to add some snow on the tree to pull the painting together and she might consider using the molding paste also.

So she threw some molding paste on the green and the snow in the foreground and then put some acrylic paint on top of that and since she had seen the results of the glazing product was quite confident with again applying it over the entire project to pull it together.

I think her original idea of the "bright tree" is quite brilliant in the end.  The work is very different from the subtle work of the first piece but just as arresting once finished.  Again, there is going to be a very happy daddy on Christmas morning.

And finally the first artist then wanted to do one more painting, this time for her mother.  She wanted to paint some roses for her mom on an 8x8 canvas.

12 year old

A very different style than the first work she did for her father, but I love how it turned out.  She sketched out her work with charcoal and then used some gesso over it to create her values before adding color.  I like how she used the other side of the paintbrush to create line work in the urn.  Once finished, she went back over the work with some charcoal before finishing.

I know her mother loved it.

I have one more day of projects to show you tomorrow.  I'm so proud of the work these students are creating and the confidence they have now developed that they can give their work to others as gifts.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Gifts from the heart, part one.

The month of December at Kudzu Studio resembled Santa's workshop.  Good grief, the students worked hard on different works for their loved ones!

One of the projects several of the students worked on was silk painting.

I found some great dyes through Jacquard that heat set with an iron.  Some of the students wanted to use a water based resist and others used a permanent black resist.  I made the frames from PVC pipe that I can adjust to the size of the silk project.

One student was so kind.  The cap was not on properly on the resist tube and exploded on her silk scarf.  She was quite easy going about it, more so than I was, and was fine when we shifted the silk to be applied on a canvas instead

14 year old

The other students all created silk scarves.

8 year old

I love this abstract work created by one little boy for his mother.  I think he chose a beautiful color palette.  I'm sure she was thrilled on Christmas morning when she opened it up!

10 year old

This scarf was created for the student's grandmother.  Evidently her grandmother loves purple. The student described her as a woman who wears all purple, including purple eyeshadow. So of course, the scarf needed to be purple too!

9 year old

Another purple piece, this time with cats!   Both the mom and daughter love cats and her mother's favorite color is also purple.  The student was so thrilled with this work,  she could hardly wait for Christmas morning to give it to her mother.  So great to see a child be more excited for what they are going to give than receive for Christmas.

11 year old

And finally one last work created for a child's grandmother.  She raises budgies.  This was not the students favorite piece she has created, but I know her grandmother is going to love it.  I told her to try to look at it through another's eye instead of her own and realize the extra significance the work would have for her grandmother, that the scarf is a thoughtful gift created with love by her granddaughter.  I know she will cherish it as intended by the artist.

I am so excited I can finally start posting all the different gifts created in the past month.  It's hard not to just load up the blog with three or four postings in one day to show it all off.  But for now, I think I'll just let you admire these beautiful gifts created on silk until tomorrow.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays!!!

I can hardly wait for tomorrow morning, not because I am anxious to open the wrapped packages with my name on them but because all the beautiful things the students created for the holidays will be opened by their loved ones and I can finally share it on the blog.

Until then, here's a silk painting on canvas completed by a 14 year old in the high school class this month.

Happy Holidays everyone!  I hope the next two days are filled with joy from your family and friends.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Carol Ship Celebration in Deep Cove

Last night North Vancouver Community Arts Council asked me to create a project for an activity booth for the Carol Ship Celebration in Deep Cove.  I needed to make preparations for up to 250 children.

I decided to do a relief print project.  Not only was I able to keep the cost below the budget given, each child was able to walk away with a plate that they could utilize at home to create holiday cards or prints to give as gifts.

I thought the carol ships offered beautiful inspiration although I saw a lot of snowmen, santa sleighs, snowflakes, presents, and various other holiday scenes being created throughout the night.

There were even a few prints inspired by the magnificent bonfire the Parks and Recreation board had burning, which is not surprising because it was quite something and I'm certain I wasn't the only one grateful to have it going on a chilly December evening!

I didn't get a lot of pictures because myself and the other two volunteers were very busy during the two hours.  We had a lot of children come through our tent.  Supplies included cutting the rims off of 250 styrofoam plates purchased from the grocery store, dull pencils, one tube of water based printing ink, a couple of brayers and plexiglass for inking, and basic card stock weight paper.

Then we set up an assembly line.  I was there to get them started with the project and help with the drawing, then the kids walked over to another table where a couple of volunteers helped with inking and printing.

I tried to get the kids imaginations started by offering up some ideas like their holiday wishes, the carol ships they were there to watch, or other things they associated with the winter season.  I always ended by saying they were also welcome to just create whatever they wanted too. I emphasized however that they should not write words as they would print in reverse and to use pictures to communicate whatever words they were wanting to write.

I did have one child who created a plate all with writing just because it would print backwards and have to be decoded...what a brilliant idea utilizing the limitations of the project!  And of course there were several children who wanted to take a stab at writing backwards on the plate.

Here is the stack of plates left to dry while parents and children enjoyed the ships and other activities of the night before picking them up at the end of the night to take home.  

And a couple of plates and prints I was able to capture as things ended while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate from the booth set up right next to us.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Line and Texture with Scratch Art

I was teaching a week long course called, "Experimenting with Art" and one of the projects I started with was Scratch Art.  It is a great way to introduce the many ways to use line to create interest in work.

I gave each child an orange.  I cut the orange in half and then took one half and cut it into quarters.  I then placed each child's cut orange on a paper towel and allowed them to arrange the orange any way they pleased.

Then they created a Scratch Art from real life drawing.

The oranges have lots of different textures to start with, the bumpy skin, the lines in the flesh, so I knew that if the younger students only focused on that aspect of the drawing they would have lots to focus on for their work.

As it turned out, the students all got lost in scratching away on their artwork and really enjoyed learning how to create shadows and lots of interesting line work and texture into their art.

7 year old

7 year old

7 year old

8 year old

11 year old

Thursday, December 11, 2014

the humble pencil

I realize that sometimes in my quest to create interesting projects that introduce new and fun mediums, I sometimes forget the simple things.

Like the pencil

Taken for granted and rarely ever given it's due as an important medium to be explored.

And that's sad because I realized when I presented a "sketch your stuffie" class to my students, just how much joy they found in spending a class working with nothing more than their pencil.

I had each child bring their favorite "stuffie", as they like to call them in Canada, or "stuffed animal", as I liked to call them in the States, and then we spent an hour just quietly sketching them.  This project really gave the students a chance to work on nothing more than their drawing and real life observation skills.

And since they couldn't hide behind paints and color in general for interest, their composition skills too.

I find the results charming and these are some of my favorite pieces to come out of my classes.

So next time you are wracking your brain for a creative and fun project in class, don't overlook the humble pencil and the joy it can bring in a simple but lovely project.

10 year old

7 year old

7 year old

9 year old

8 year old

7 year old

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Monday, December 22, 2014
All materials and pizza included

For all those last minute "Santa's" out there, here's a workshop to keep your little elf busy while finishing off the "to do" list.   Your child will create a holiday present or two while enjoying pizza for dinner at the studio.  Space is limited so call 604-971-1147 to register.

Kandinsky Inspired Landscapes

This is a collection of works created by students over the past two years with one of my favorite projects inspired by Kandinsky's landscapes.

I provide a lot of reference for the kids to pick from and be inspired by.  I always tell them that they can combine references as they like and edit reference as they no means are they to copy the pictures but just use them to pay attention to details.

I have done this project in large groups, with a wide variety of age groups, and in the more intimate environment of my studio.

We start by turning the landscapes into interesting shapes, not detailed drawings.  I tell them to edit small details as they will be difficult to draw with the oil pastels.

Once they are happy with their compositions, I give them a blue and black oil pastel and they draw their picture onto acrylic paper.

Then they paint with acrylics.  I try to encourage them to paint with unusual colors to create a mood.

When finished, they have the opportunity to retrace their shapes with the blue and black oil pastels.

I love the results.

(Love the cloud reflection in this painting)

3 year old

3 year old- moss on rocks

5 year old- trees at sunset

Sunday, December 7, 2014

BIG paintings

This is the last workshop in a youth series created by the North Vancouver Community Arts Council. Today the students painted very large paintings.  They literally took the entire two hours to paint from beginning to end.

Budget constraints made buying large canvas too expensive so corrugated cardboard was gessoed for the kids to make their masterpieces and it worked out great. I had a quick discussion with the kids that anything is free game to paint on and that artist, like Van Gogh, did a lot of their creations on cardboard and surfaces other than traditional canvas or paper.

Here are a couple of pictures to give you a sense of the size of the cardboard.

They could pick any subject matter of their choosing. I had brought in some reference for winter landscape scenes which were completely uninteresting to all of them.  Although three of the four works ended up with snow.....

The purple dogs were inspired by the white t shirt of one of the students.  These particular two girls are good friends and for the most part one follows the other when deciding what to paint.   The dragon was inspired by the students' wallet and the snowman? Well, it is December after all.

For the three who did winter scenes, once they were finished I showed them how to splatter white paint over the top to create snowflakes.  All three really enjoyed that and we had white paint everywhere.  I believe more than one of them walked out of class with "snowflakes" on their face and necks.

For the dogs, I let the girls use the charcoal again at the end to bring back some of their detail lines.  They had use charcoal to sketch directly on the cardboard at the beginning to draw and just rubbed out if they didn't like something.

I think they all walked out happy with the results.  Although they needed help carrying them since the works of art were almost bigger than they were!