Sunday, March 29, 2015

One more time!

One of my weekly students participated in the "Meet the Neighbors" camp and was disappointed when she was unable to attend the last day.

Her mom and I reassured her that anything she missed that day, we would do during her weekly class.

And so this past week, together we worked on a family portrait inspired by Douglas Coupland.

I showed her the artist sketch for "group portrait 1957"

We went over how he created a circle to represent each person by the colors most predominant in their artwork.

And then we created circles for each of her family members using colors that represented them best and placed them on a black and white family portrait for her artist sketch.

Then like Douglas Coupland did with "Group Portrait 1957" we created a sculpture of her family.  My students' sculpture isn't quite as big as the one on the Robert McLaughlin Gallery building and it doesn't actually transmit the history of the gallery either.

Coupland inspired family portrait sculpture, 10 year old

But it is quirky and charming all the same and I bet she had just as much fun as Coupland did creating it.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Happy 5th Birthday to Miss C!

Today there was a Princess birthday party for a little girl who was turning five. Her and seven of her good friends came to celebrate and create a princess picture at the studio.

Except for the one boy, who was happy to skip the princess picture and make a self portrait instead.

I presented the work of Amedeo Modigliani and together we talked about what we noticed in his art.

Giraffe necks.

Long faces.

And then we got to work. 

Who is your favorite princess?

Can you guess which one was the most popular?

None other than the singer of "Let it go", Elsa.

Tied for second place was Snow White and Merida. 

Starting with copy paper, each child created a long circle for the head. Some of them were happy on the first try and others were happy on the third or fourth try. 

We repeated this process with the neck.

Once they were happy with the neck, we went over hair. 

Does your princess have curly or straight hair? How can we draw shape to create the hair?

Then again using the same process, they added hair, the eyes, the nose, and mouth.

By the time they had a final sketch they liked, I'm guessing each child had probably worked on five or six sketches. Then we did a pencil rubbing on the back of the sketch, placed it on the grey pastel paper I had taped to the table, and traced their final sketch. 

Finally, I brought out the oil pastels.

I showed them how to overlap the colors. I gave them an "artist secret" and convinced them to start coloring the background first instead of their faces.  

Then we smeared.

And smeared. 

And smeared some more until their backgrounds were a fabulous combination of colors.

After that, they began coloring in their skin tones and all the other details.

Finally, I had them go back over their pencil lines with the black pastel.

Then just for fun, I gave each child a skewer so they could go back into the work and scratch in their signature.  They also were told they could add in pattern and whatever else they desired into the work.

It was pretty precious when the birthday girl stood back from her work and announced, "I really like this picture"

Happy 5th Birthday Miss C!!  It was fun meeting you and all your friends.

Snow White created by the birthday girl

self portrait

Snow White






Heading down the garden path

In the bottom drawer of the reference file cabinet at the studio, I have a mishmosh of different substrates I've collected that the older students can choose from for their work.

Heavy cardboard, plaster, canvas in all sizes, birch, and then I had a few wood pieces I had picked up awhile ago.

One teen was doing a focus on a model she admired, Allison Harvard. She wanted to work on a painting, so started looking through the bottom file cabinet. She got pretty excited about this piece of wood and was happy to use it for her work.

That is until I told her it would need to be treated with gesso and of course the only gesso I had on hand was white. (note to self, buy some clear gesso)

She didn't want to lose the natural wood surface so she began to use prisma pencils instead.

As my mother would say, she started walking down the garden path to wherever that may lead.

And by allowing her plan to change and by making decisions as the choices presented themselves, she ended up with this piece below.

Pencil, acrylic paint, and then glazes.

My 22 year old came home from University for the weekend and walked into the studio to say hello. She spotted the work sitting on the table waiting for the artist to make her final touches and fell IN LOVE with the work.

Beautiful and dark is what she called it.

The purple just glows on the work in person. 

The student was very happy in the end and that makes me very happy.

I thought it was a very nice combination of materials. And since I had never thought to combine colored pencil and acrylic together this way, I was quite happy to follow her down the garden path to see where the artwork would end up. 

Which was somewhere lovely indeed.

portrait of Allison Harvard, 14 year old
acrylic and colored pencil on wood

Friday, March 27, 2015

When the day is longer than expected

From time to time, you end up with this small amount of time that is too long to just let the kids talk amongst themselves until their parents arrive, yet too short to really begin the project you had planned for the next day.

I always like to have a few activities in my mind that do not take a lot of explanation, but also fulfill my need to not only have fun but also introduce a new skill or technique.

Below are a couple of those projects that I used during the Art and Animal camp.

With 20 minutes left on Wednesday before pick up, I created an arrangement of a few stuffed animals in the middle of the room.  A dollar store went out of business a year or so ago and I happened to pick up all their sketchbooks for next to nothing. I keep them in my supplies for moments just like this one and gave each student a book and a pencil and introduced them to "life drawing". 

We removed all the stools so everyone could walk around the arrangement easily and then, starting with one minute sketches, began to draw.

After several one minute sketches and ample opportunity for each child to explore drawing all the different stuffed animals on the table, I told them we would do one five minute sketch and to pick the animal they had felt most successful drawing.

Once that was done, I gave each child a piece of Bristol and told them to look for their very favorite sketch, and it could be a one minute sketch, and use it to draw a finished sketch on the paper.

Then until their parents arrived (and for some, that was very quickly) we worked on looking where the shadows were on the stuffed animals and tried adding it to our drawings.

This is a very quick, yet very sweet little project in the end.

8 year old

6 year old (my heart turns to mush every time I read, "monkey")

7 year old

8 year old

8 year old

10 year old

Then on the last day, the day they worked on the pastel projects from the last post, I ended up with far more time than I anticipated.  Not only did I need a project that would engage them and that they would be able to finish before pick up, but I also needed one that took the noise level down a wee bit in the studio.

Thank you sumi-e!!

I purchased box sets for Sumi-e in Chinatown, full of brushes, ink sticks, stones, and water wells. I also bought LOTS rice paper for the studio because I know how much kids really enjoy exploring this art form. After bartering, it was an inexpensive art purchase...which kind of seems like an oxymoron when you are discussing art supplies.

While the students were grinding their ink stick on the stone to create ink, I reminded them this is a time for QUIET reflection and meditation, to spend thinking of the marks they will soon make on the paper.

Ahhhh, blissful silence as they all began to listen to the sounds the ink stick made on the stone.

It sounds a bit like a lovely rain shower and without fail always seems to calm the room down.

Then with a large stack of rice paper at their disposal, they began to try their hand at this beautiful art form. 

It warmed my heart to see the friendships that had formed during the week come to fruition as they decided not to use the tables, but gather in a circle on the floor to work together.  I gave them clipboards to make it easier for them to work this way.

And that was the last thing I had to do.

They became so focused on their work, several of them didn't want to go home when their parents arrived.

They enjoyed learning how to use the brush to create different strokes, how to create different tones with the ink, and how to create animals using the least amount of brush strokes possible.

Since it was the end of the day, I didn't capture everything but here are some of the works.

This dragon! As class ended I looked over and this eight year old girl had created a dragon that used several pieces of rice paper. She was so proud of her work and I was so excited to see this amazing piece she had created on her own accord.  It was simple stunning. 

And then as I was finishing cleaning up the studio at the end of the week, one of the last things I discovered was this impression left on the countertop by one of the sumi-e brushes.

I thought it simply and beautifully captured the amazing experiences of the two weeks of camps held at the studio.

Now I'm back to my regular schedule of weekly classes.  It's been a fun week to reconnect with students who were on holiday the last two weeks and I have enjoyed the new bonds formed with some of my students who came to camp.  Also exciting is welcoming some new students who just didn't want camp to end and so have decided to start coming weekly too.

Hope your spring break was as satisfying as mine and full of just as many lovely memories.

Enlarged Animal Eyes

Coming right off the chalk pastel project, I immediately introduced an oil pastel project so the kids could compare the two back to back and decide which one they liked better.  

For this project, I again used black paper in order to help them apply the color better and encourage them to do more blending of color.

I had a lot of eyeball reference for them to choose from and each child found one they thought was interesting.

I showed them how to do a grid drawing, but all of them except one decided not to try it.

I was very impressed how each of them really paid attention to the details they saw in the reference and how they interpreted that into their work.

Below are their amazing results.

owl eye, 8 year old

wolf eye, 6 year old

Wolf eye, 7 year old (she did use the grid method)

gecko eye, 10 year old

gecko eye, 8 year old

elephant eye, 6 year old

tiger eye, 8 year old

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pastel animal drawings

I think this might be my favorite project of the entire week at the Art and Animal camp.  There are so many artworks below that are near and dear to my heart.

I always like to spend one project having the kids explore chalk pastel and show them all the marvelous things they can do beyond just using them like a crayon.

Each child did their original sketch on copy paper and once they were happy with it, traced it onto the black pastel paper by rubbing white chalk on the back of the sketch, laying it over the paper, and tracing their marks.

I then handed them a black oil pastel to go over the chalk lines.  I use black oil pastel because the lines don't disappear as they begin to add the chalk pastel.  I also like the way it looks in the finished piece too.

Were we a colored mess at the end? Absolutely.

But everyone had fun and I think the pictures are quite charming.

7 year old, resting giraffe

SHARK! 6 year old

A quick little note about the above work. I stress with each and every child who I work with that mistakes are to be embraced.  That each and every one of them holds such a vivid imagination that they can utilize to make that mistake into a great opportunity. 

The above shark began as a dolphin, a really great dolphin.  But as the boy started adding all the color layers of chalk, the dolphin got very skinny and didn't look like a dolphin very much anymore. 

Did he get upset?  Absolutely not.  He stated the obvious, "It doesn't look like my dolphin anymore" and then quickly followed up with, "But it looks like a shark"

I encouraged him to develop his shark and that no one would ever know in the end that his shark had started it's life as a dolphin.

No one would know until his art teacher shared it with the world on her blog at least.

I think it is a marvelous piece and a great lesson in problem solving and thinking outside the box.

8 year old

8 year old

8 year old

10 year old

african termites, 6 year old

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Menagerie of Animal Prints

There is always one printmaking project during the week of camp and this one was no different.  Below are the series of prints the students made of an animal of their choice.  What a variety!

Each child did three prints.

Exhausting day for me, but well worth it as it is always one of the highlights of the week for the kids.

6 year old, dinosaur

8 year old

10 year old

8 year old

7 year old

8 year old

6 year old, dinosaur bird