Wednesday, December 30, 2015

silk painted scarves

The last holiday workshop I ran at the studio was creating silk painted scarves.

I have found over the years that children love silk painting and without doubt, a project everyone feels successful with at the end regardless of skill level.  

Each child created their own design and transferred it onto the silk with a water soluble pencil. To save time, I already had the silks mounted, so we just place a book underneath the silk in order for them to trace their designs.

I always have a test fabric mounted in an embroidery hoop for each student.  This gives them a chance to experiment with the resist and dye prior to working on their piece. They quickly learned how much pressure to add to get the resist right and a variety of ways they could apply the dyes.

Then they got to work adding the resist to their scarves! They quickly realized that this takes a long time!  I used a water soluble resist and found that by the time they finish the entire work, the first part was dry enough for them to start applying the dye right away. I had figured I might need to use a blow dryer, but in the end, that was not necessary.

Then it was time for the fun part, adding color! It looks a bit messy at this point with the resist and the water soluble pencil in the mix, but I assured them it will look quite different once we set the color and wash the silk out in the sink. As you can see, they had salt available too to add for texture.

When working on a silk, I have found that it is best to have them work on the subject matter first. Then based on the time left, I can judge how much detail they can add to the background. If needed, like in the case of this workshop, you can just wash in a color quickly to complete the project in time and still have a stunning work.

Look at these results! I believe everyone of them was created as a Christmas gift, which is why I did not want to post them until after the holiday. 

I ran two classes, the workshop and a private group created by a parent.  
(Yes! I am happy to run a weekly class or a workshop for a group of four or more students at a time that works best for the group.)

13 year old

When the artist started this scarf, she was thinking of giving it to a friend. By the end of class, she was not sure who she would give it too. I love the leaf montage and think she did a beautiful job adding the color.

13 year old

This artist made her scarf for her mother, she loves poinsettia flowers. She was concerned her mother wouldn't like it, can you imagine something this lovely not being liked by anyone? much less her mother? No doubt in my mind it was a huge hit Christmas morning.

13 year old

I unfortunately cannot remember who this artist created her scarf for but I do love that the reference used for this design was actually a succulent plant, not a rose! Such a cleaver idea.

10 year old

This artist created her scarf for her grandmother, who is also a textile artist. Her work is on display at the Seymour Art Gallery gift shop and she creates these lovely fabric dolls and felted fairy shoes. The  felted shoes she has made special for her granddaughter were the inspiration for the scarf she in return made for her. Isn't that special? I know her grandmother will cherish this gift.

grade 3

This artist came into the studio knowing exactly what she wanted to create for her mother. She wanted an abstract design in warm colors because her mother loves the sun and warmth. After a discussion together, she decided to work with overlapping circles (great sun reference) in a mixture of warm colors. She focused on color mixing and adding salt for texture. It was a joy to watch her get lost in the process for creating this scarf.

grade 3

This artist wanted to create a holiday scarf for her grandmother. How cute is this holly scarf going to look worn during the Christmas season? I would be thrilled if I was her grandmother.

grade 3

Another lucky grandmother! Such a cute design and I love how each flower has it's own unique design based off of the same repeated drawing.

grade 3

This artist came to the studio knowing she wanted to create a cherry blossom for her grandmother. We spent quite a bit of time up front working out the sketch working side by side drawing. I showed her how to break her reference first down to shape and then work out detail. Once I could see her confidence grow, I left her to work with some of the other girls. When I came back, she had the most stunning drawing worked out that led to this beautiful scarf. She was quite proud of herself in the end.

grade 1

This scarf speaks volumes to how forgiving silk painting is with children. Talk about a child who came to the project with complete abandon and a zeal for adding dye to the silk.  This scarf was all about the process. She LOVED watching the colors move on the silk, blend together, and was quite involved in experimenting putting different colors on top of each other. As she finished the first flower, I was quite worried she would just have a brown mess at the end but reminded myself to trust in her process. There was lots of dye, lots of salt, and lots of excitement and laughter while creating this scarf and in the end, it came out lovely. 

No need on my part to worry at all that she would not be happy with her scarf when finished- she was thrilled and quite excited to show her dad when he arrived at pick up. I know her grandmother will be quite thrilled to when she opens it up on Christmas morning.

I unfortunately forgot to photograph the last scarf created in studio. It was in a private class I ran for a mother and daughter the day before Christmas. It was quite special too and in my rush to get their projects finished for them for Christmas, I did not remember to take out my camera. The daughter made a scarf for her Aunt of her black lab, Sadie, that had passed away. Such a heartfelt gift that I know probably meant the world to her Aunt when she opened it on Christmas.

So impressed with each and every artist who worked on these scarves. I love doing this project almost as much as the kids love working on it. I'm guessing they made for a very merry Christmas for the lucky people who received them.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

wet felted trivets

I waited to post this project because two of the boys decided to give their wet felts to their dad for Christmas.  I think they were more excited about their dad opening their homemade gifts than they were about what Santa would bring as they left the studio.

I gave each student a large freezer bag to start.

I asked them to create their roving work on top of the bag, as a way to remind them to not let their artwork get bigger than the bag since it would ultimately have to fit inside of it.

They laid their first roving horizontal, the second roving vertical, and the last roving horizontal again.

This created their wool base.

13 year old

They then took bits of wool roving to create their pictures. At this point it did not matter what direction the roving was placed on the base.

Very carefully each student placed their roving inside the baggie.  If anything moved in transit, they took a moment to fix until they were once again happy with the placement of all their colors.

We carefully then added warm water with a drop of Dawn dish soap, pressed it gently into the wool, and released any air from the bag before sealing it close.  Each student then gently scrubbed their wool until the fibers began to adhere to each other. (1-3minutes)

I told them to pretend they were giving their wool a back rub.

9 year old

Once the wool was beginning to meld together, the students began the rolling process. They would roll up the baggie and then, like rolling out cookie dough, roll the baggie back and forth 50 times.

Unroll the baggie with the wool in it, turn it once clockwise, and repeat the same process over again until all four sided had been rolled 50 times.

(During this process you might have to open the baggie and flatten out the wool piece.)

Then they flipped the baggie over and started the rolling process all over again.

7 year old

At this point, the wool was felted and taken out of the bag. I gave them a quick rinse in hot water, then cold water, then hot water once more and left them to dry.

Once dry, we blanket stitched a grey piece of felt on the back and voila! They had trivets to use at home.

All three works were given as gifts to someone important to them.  I can't wait to hear their loved ones reactions when they opened these sweet little felts when we start back with classes in the new year.

Monday, December 28, 2015

lovely teen art from the holidays

I have one teen who every year loves to give her loved ones gifts she has created.

This year, her dad was a very lucky man. I can only imagine how touched he was as he opened the presents she made for him, they made me get teary eyed when finished in the studio.

First there was this piece, a large acrylic painting of a beach they enjoy here in Vancouver.

14 year old

This is something she had been working on by herself and brought to the studio frustrated. To be honest, it did not need much help from me, really just some encouragement that she was indeed on the path to a beautiful work of art and some simple suggestions on how to finish the work and put in the trees, breakers, and pier. 

This is even more stunning in person and I am sure it took her father's breath away when opened.

14 year old

And I have no doubt this work left him with a huge lump in his throat and more than a little teary eyed.

I had the elementary class wood burning and acrylic ornaments displayed on the wall, a project you can read about here and here. The artist was quite impressed and intrigued with the younger artists' works and asked to try her hand at the project too.

Another gift she wanted to create for her father.

She opened up here phone and showed me a picture she had taken that she wanted to use for reference, a winter scene with a log cabin.

I told her it would be a perfect subject matter for the project and she began to work. As she was working, I asked her about the picture.

This is the family cabin in Quebec. 

Every year at Christmastime, they meet up with all her father's siblings and their families here. Her father has six siblings and the cabin was built from a kit by the artist's grandfather with the help of all the siblings when her dad was just six years old.  This cabin has been apart of his life for almost as long as he can remember.

Can you imagine the significance that this particular artwork will have for her dad? What a priceless gift.

Now you can see why I got so choked up when she was telling me the story. 

I think she hit it out of the ballpark with these two gifts, but the young woman was not quite finished yet.  On the last class, she brought a print out of a photograph taken at her cousin's wedding this past summer.

She wanted to use it to create a mixed media project using image transfer.

As you all know, I love broadening my own creative horizons and find online classes an easy way to fit new techniques and ideas into my schedule. I was doing a quick course created by artist Ivy Newport called, Shades of White and had the first project using cold wax on the wall drying. This was a jumping off point for the young artist's project for her cousin.

14 year old

This piece is an image transfer with acrylic, conte crayons, water-soluble pencil, graphite, and cold wax. Believe it or not, there use to be a crowd of people included in the transfer who were at the wedding.  I think she felt a little guilty as she painted out her aunt to be honest, but what an incredible job she did melding the photograph and her painting together.

Yet again, amazing and I have no doubt will not only surprise the bride on Christmas morning but also become one of the most treasured gifts she received during the holidays.

( If you're inspired by this work, Ivy just opened registration again for Shades of White in January, you can sign up here if interested.)

This artist is a very talented young woman. A young woman who has a deep desire to create gifts with meaning for those she loves and does so magnificently.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

grid painting

I really like introducing children to grid drawing/painting.

I think it is really important to show them ways to conquer visual challenges when things seem impossible.

So during the holidays, I handed a very big visual challenge to a couple of 10 year old students in my class.  I asked them to create an acrylic portrait painting of Santa Claus on canvas.

The girls divided their canvas and the reference picture into proportional squares.

I asked them to treat each square as an individual painting and not to think about or worry about the adjoining squares.

I even encouraged them to skip around the canvas and paint random squares.

If the project seemed too daunting, I suggested they gain their confidence by finding an "easy" square to paint-like one of the squares that was just red for example.

It was quite interesting to watch their confidence grow as they learned to trust the process of grid painting. Unbeknownst to me, one of the girls was not keen on continuing the painting after the first class but her mother encouraged her to keep going and to just try her best. 

By the end of the second class the young artist announced she didn't want her mother to see what she was doing, as she wanted to give her the painting for Christmas, letting both me and her mother know that her opinion of the project had done a 360 as her confidence bloomed with each square she completed.

10 year old

When completed, each girl had the opportunity to go back over the entire painting and touch up and meld any squares they felt needed work.

10 year old

What breathtaking work they created using the grid system. What a great life lesson in learning nothing is impossible when broken down into simple steps.

And what lovely holiday paintings their families will have to display for many years.  

They were both so proud of their work when finished not only because they thought their paintings looked great, but more importantly because they had worked hard and not given up on something that originally seemed hard.

I am so proud of both of them and what they accomplished.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

pinecone elves

This past Sunday was the last of the holiday workshops and the kids all created pinecone elves.

Years ago I became fascinated by these little elves after coming across them in a thrift store.  Best I can figure, they were produced in West Germany and Italy, but Japan was quick to jump on the bandwagon with their popularity from around the 1930's through 1950's.

If you know more about them, I'd love to hear about it as I cannot find much history on these little pinecone people.

These were the inspiration for a holiday project I created to do with the students. Like me, the kids were fascinated by the vintage elves I had on the table for them to look at for inspiration.

Once they were done admiring them, we got down to creating our own take on these quirky little holiday decorations.

First each student picked out a couple of pinecones that caught their fancy. I happened to have a few dozen that I had spray painted silver last year for a project that never came to fruition. I was glad to finally have a reason to use them!

They stuck the pinecones firmly into some white oven baked clay to create a sturdy base.

If I had the luxury of time, I would probably of used air dry clay. When I did these with my own kids almost 10 years ago, we used a painted cardboard circle that I hot glued the pinecones onto for a base.

While those were in the oven baking, each child took a couple of wooden beads and a bit of flesh colored oven bake clay and began sculpting faces. They first covered the wooden bead completely in clay and then started added clay as necessary to create a face.

Believe it or not, this was a great opportunity to throw in a lesson on the planes of the face while they were having fun.

About the time they finished the faces, the pinecones were ready to come out of the oven. So out came the pinecones and in went the heads to bake and harden. 

I had a bit of white paint out that the students could use if they wanted to add some "snow" to their pinecones. Some were quite happy with the silver and skipped this step. 

What they didn't skip was the opportunity to put a little glue on the clay base and add some glitter! Not many can pass up sparkle and I can't say I blame them.

I had a variety of cut 4" length pipe cleaner in brown, white, and red to use for arms. After finding the middle of the pipe cleaner, the kids added a bit of glue and stuck it through the scales where they felt the arms should be on their sculpture.

They then began to add some accessories for their little elves to hold. 

Some of the items I picked up on clearance at the craft store and others came from a jar of miniatures left over from past year projects, because as my husband exclaims anytime he comes into my studio, "Good Lord woman, you're a hoarder"

Kind of like the above elf. 

Is it even possible for it to hold one. more. thing?!  I can relate, there can never be too much Christmas decor. 

About this time, the heads were finished and the students had the opportunity to add features with either permanent markers or paint.

Do these elves not remind you of MADD magazines "Spy vs. Spy" comics?  I am quite smitten with them and their black eyes.

Especially this one where the arms were accidentally put on the wrong way, but it works! 

This elf, with his arms laden with gifts, looks like most men who wait until the 24th to do their Christmas shopping. Running around at a frantic pace through the mall, crossing the finish line as the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Eve.

And this little guy pretty much sums up my husband's expression after reading the above commentsabout last minute shopping. He is not amused.


Once the faces were decorated, I hot glued the heads onto the pinecones. Using a bit of white pipe cleaner, we hot glued on the "beard" and then they glued on the felt hats they had decorated.  I found a template on Martha Stewart's website for the hats.  (creating 20 of them took less than a half hour.)

There was plenty of time left in the workshop and so the kids began to create another elf. It was quite interesting to see how quickly the project took a life of it's own as the kids gained confidence in creating the elves. They began to push the boundaries with amusing and wonderful results.

The "so over it" elf or otherwise known as "the bah-humbug grinch".

This prim and proper elf with a fur hat and diamond earrings no less!

And this sweet little elf who is overwhelmed with it's holiday "to do" list while entangled in a string of bells.

Or this happy little clown elf all wrapped up in his winter scarf.

There was quite a collection of little guys by the end of the workshop. All quite worthy of giving the vintage elves used for inspiration a run for their money in the cute and quirky holiday decor category. 

I honestly believe the kids, who ranged in age from 6-13 years old, were sad to see the two hour class end and would of been happy to stay in the studio creating more elves.  

I found it quite difficult to say goodbye to these little guys as they left to add holiday cheer in their new homes, each and every one of them so full of personality and charm.  I'm guessing as the years pass by, they will become cherished little ornaments brought out each holiday season, much like the ones in my own house that my children created all those years ago.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

real life holiday drawing

Looking at some projects from Christmas past, here is a quick one put together at the end of a workshop where we finished the main project early.

I put together this quick little greenery arrangement with some cuttings from my backyard and bits and pieces I had collected from the thrift store.

I gave each child a set of oil pastels and told them to draw what they liked from the still life.

Maybe it was the entire arrangement, maybe it was a special item on the tree that fascinated them.

As the project progressed kids took items off the "tree", which is why you see some items scattered around the greenery in this picture.

I found it interesting what each child chose for subject matter and how they tackled this project. Although a quickly put together project, I loved the work in the end.

Once the kids had chosen what they wanted to draw, I took the opportunity to work with them on things like perspective, shading, and composition.

Just SIX MORE DAYS until I can start showing you some of the beautiful "top secret" projects that the elves students have been creating in the studio this holiday season.

I can hardly wait.

7 year old

10 year old

9 year old

9 year old

10 year old

6 year old

Thursday, December 17, 2015

image transfer and cold wax mixed media

A gift I can show! 

The artist was quite certain her cousin would never know about this blog and was OK with me sharing this work before the holidays.

This is one of my 14 year old students, an artwork she created to give to her cousin who was married this past summer.

After painting a very neutral acrylic background of whites, she took a photograph of her cousin moments after saying "I do" and printed it off the computer.

Using the printer image, she then did an image transfer onto her birch board that she painted.

Then using more paint, graphite, and watercolor pencils she created this beautiful artwork. 

They were not married in a forest meadow and there were in fact other people at one point in this image, which gives you an idea of the amount of original painting she did to meld the image transfer into the final art.

When finished, the artist then tried her hand at cold wax for the first time. There was a bit of a learning curve but in the end, she got the "icing" just right.  She used the wax in it's natural state and with a bit of waterbed oil paint in titanium white.

Simply breathtaking. 

I'm sure her cousin will not only be thrilled but quite touched that this 14 year old loves her enough to create such thoughtful and timeless gift of one of the most important days of her life.

14 year old, mixed media