Sunday, June 28, 2015

Happy 6th Birthday Miss M!!!

Yesterday there was a birthday party at the studio for a darling little six year old. Her mother told me she liked all things "girlie girl" and sparkle.

I suggested we make "Fairy Heads" inspired from a project I do in the fall with the students where we make Sugar Skulls.

The mother thought the girls would enjoy the project and so we were ready to go!

Let me just say this was the world's most calm birthday party I have ever held....even after they were fed the world's cutest Rainbow Birthday cake made by mom.

So it was very easy for me to work with the girls.

I gave them each some FIMO clay in white to sculpt their heads.  Working with the girls, we went over how to build a face.

And as with most projects, children began to add their own visions as they worked and what started off as fairy heads, quickly turned into a variety of interesting ideas.

Like the birthday girls' cat head.

birthday girl

Or her sister's alien!

Here are a couple of other views of her sister's alien. She was quite adamant that I take photos of all the details to share and who could blame her? She put great thought into her design.

Her oldest sister however created a darling fairy head.

While the FIMO was in the oven baking, the girls enjoyed cake and opened presents. Then they used markers and sharpie pens to color their sculptures. When they were happy with the color, I had crepe paper in the birthday girls' favorite colors to make flowers to put in the hair and rhinestones for a bit of glitz.

What I love the most is how different each girls' work is from each other. I love that after working out a project idea and putting out materials with an idea of the finished work in mind, children will always use those materials in the most unexpected ways when given liberty to add their own ideas to the parameters of a project. In the end, the work is always so much better than my original thought.

I had put out marker colors I thought would work to color hair, create eye color, and add a bit of blush to the cheeks or lipstick.

And some of the girls used them that way.

And others went off the beaten path and created green hair and why shouldn't a fairy have green hair? 

One girl created quite an elaborate head piece for her fairy, lots of flowers and rhinestone. This is the second set of pictures taken of the work because she thought she was done and had me photograph the work and then went back to the table and began adding more flowers and stones to her piece. And again, a bit of unexpected with pink eyes instead of traditional "human" color eyes.

I enjoyed working with this group of talented girls and I certainly hope they enjoyed the class. But most importantly, I truly hope Miss M had a very happy birthday and feel very privileged I was given the opportunity to be apart of it.

Happy Birthday Miss M!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Watercolor Still Life

This is a project I did a couple of years ago with a group of children at summer camp.  I happen to come across it while planning this year's enormous amounts of camps and wanted to share it.

On the last day of camp, I brought in several found glass jars filled with some flowers at my house.

The flowers are sparse because I am not known for my green thumb....

Each student sketched out their composition first and I prompted them with questions to help train their eye to really pay attention to the objects.

Due to their attention to detail and exploration of the shapes they found making up the objects, the paintings are quite impressive given their ages.

To this day, I'm still so proud of this group of students. It was truly a lovely group of kids to work with for the week.

7 year old

11 year old

8 year old

7 year old

7 year old

Sunday, June 14, 2015


I created this clay project inspired by a folk custom from parts of South America.

After showing the students some samples of Milagros and discussing their cultural importance, each student was asked to create their own.

Milagro simply means "miracle" in Spanish. By tradition, the charms are shaped as body parts that might need healing and worn to express a belief in healing to come. They are also worn or offered in thanks.

They are usually made of some type of metal but can be found made of wood or wax.

The students were asked to think of a symbol to represent something they were thankful or hopeful for in their lives.

Using air dry clay, since we didn't have access to metal, they each created their own Milagro.

Once dried, they were painted in silver and then given a watered down wash of black paint that was wiped away to highlight the details.

We added a hole in each one so that they could wear them if desired.

Friday, June 12, 2015

A new way to draw

13 year old

Last winter, I challenged the teen class to try drawing in a new way- with an eraser.

It is harder than it looks!

But once the students get the hang of creating different values by erasing at different pressures, the results are quite interesting. It was a great lesson in having them really pay attention to whites and darks.

The above student liked it so much, she covered an entire large paper, instead of just an animal head like I suggested.

This past Thursday, Seymour Art Gallery asked if I would come out and work with a group of grade 5 and grade 6 students who were visiting the gallery from Richmond, BC.  There were 35 students who listened to a talk by the curator and then explored a project with me.

The artist on exhibition is M.A. Tateishi.  Tateishi creates a full artwork and then covers it with another artwork, the layers of completed works are up to 15 layers deep on each piece!  Then Tateishi begins to tear away, revealing different layers, finally applying a resin to complete the piece. The exhibition is called, "Secrets" and the works are quite breathtaking.

I wanted to come up with a project that was inspired by M.A. Tateishi's artwork, but of course with only an hour, 35 students, and keeping in mind we would be working within the gallery and mess needed to be minimal, I knew it would have to also be quite different than Tateishi's work.

While the curator and I were brainstorming, I remembered the elephant project done months earlier with the eraser. It seemed that "taking away" the pencil markings would tie in nicely with the "taking away" of Tateishi's art displayed in the gallery. The Curator agreed, plus no real mess with paper, pencil and eraser the only supplies needed. We had an idea!

So after the students had a chance to get up and really look at the works after the curator's talk, we got down to having some fun.

I explained they would be creating artwork with items they each had in their desk at school. Well at least I thought they had them in their desk at school, until one of them spoke for the group and informed me I obviously went to school with the dinosaurs because their classroom had computers at their desk...NOT pencils and erasers. The teacher tried to ease my pain as I came to terms that I was in fact very old, by telling me she did have pencils and erasers in her desk.


So once my brain stopped reeling that pencils and erasers to today's students sounds as crazy as slates and chalk did to me when growing up, we got down to work. I asked them to each create the outline of their subject's shape and then shade it in darkly with the side of their pencil.

Once done, they began drawing with a simple Pink Pearl eraser.

I walked around making suggestions and encouraging them to try to get at least 4 to 5 different values. I also let them know they were more than welcome to go back and add more pencil if they felt they had taken away too much, until they were happy with the work.

I had brought in some reference material of animals, along with lemons, raspberries and pears. (some of Tateishi's titles are "Pumpkin Pie", Lemon Meringue Pie", and Raspberry Pie") Some students chose to work with these and then some went other directions.

Like creating snowmen

or finding inspiration in the exit sign overhead. I love when artist find inspiration in very simple, everyday things we take for granted.

Others got very creative and combined a variety of animals together. This is part unicorn, pig, and beaver.  Love it.

Then there were students who really went off the beaten path and took the project in directions I had not even thought about before.  This one is inspired by an artist in the gift shop with First Nation ties.

I tried to pick a variety of the pieces to share here so you can see all the amazing things that can be created with just a pencil and eraser. I was quite impressed with each and every student in the gallery that day. It is always interesting to see how many ways there are to interpret a simple idea and I always enjoy seeing each child's unique personality come out in their artwork. 

I hope they enjoyed the morning as much as I did. Thank you Seymour Art Gallery for inviting me over to work with this great group of students. Seymour Art Gallery and their curator offer some very exciting opportunities for school groups in the community and I could not recommend enough for people to enrich student's lives with the programming available at the gallery.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Peek-a-boo dye painting

I had a make up class this Wednesday and the student had requested we work with the dyes she remembered trying with me a couple of years ago in a camp she attended.

She wanted to use the salt.

And so I had the dyes set up and waiting for her when she arrived, along with a file folder full of colorful fish for her to choose from for reference.

She decided on a couple of different references of a clown fish and sketched both out on working paper.

She looked at the composition combining both sketches and then each singularly.

Then decided to use her sketch with the fish peek-a-booing out from the anemones.

By the time she was finally on her watercolor paper, we were almost out of time in the class! Since this was the last class before summer, internally I began to panic that she would not have time to finish as I anticipated all the anemone work to take a long time.

I called her mother to see if it was possible to stay longer, but due to the running back and forth of children to a variety of activities, that we all experience, it was not possible.

What a great learning opportunity this became for the student.

As artist we all have to work within certain constraints.

Be it time, money, materials or a host of other unforeseen challenges.

For me, this is one of the best lessons learned in art classes. Using your imagination and creativity to resolve problems/challenges.

A skill that will serve children well throughout their lives in a variety of situations that have absolutely nothing to do with art.

Having the ability to think outside the box is in my opinion what separates the leaders in the world and I certainly do my part to help students attain this skill.

And this student rose to the challenge beautifully!

In just 20 minutes, this breathtaking artwork was created. The artist did not falter when faced with limited time and a complicated composition. Thinking outside the box and utilizing her imagination to come up with a solution that would interpret the anemones and the fish hiding within them, she resolved with brilliance.

11 year old, dye on paper

Don't you agree?

Thursday, June 4, 2015


I'm excited to be able to open a second camp of Magic and Myth this summer. Reserve your child's spot through the website at Space is limited. 

MAGIC AND MYTH,  August 10-14, 1-4pm, $125.00
Create your own magical land in this fun filled week.  We will explore sculpture, printmaking, acrylic paint, watercolor, pastels and more while creating a magical land filled with buildings, transportation, people and mythical creatures.

Appropriate for ages 6-12.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A few spots left in this summer's workshops!

This summer, Kudzu will be offering workshops for the first time. Contact us through to register. Space is limited in order to give each student the one on one instruction they deserve, so don't wait too long as there are already several spots already gone in each class.

SILK PAINTING, July 8 and 9, 2-4pm, $125.00

Come and explore the exciting world of silk painting. Create an original composition, transfer it onto silk and add resist. Then have fun exploring all the amazing things dye can do on silk. When finished, we will set the work and apply the silk to canvas so you will have a one of a kind artwork to hang on the wall at home.

July 14 and 15, 2-4pm, $75.00

Students will have the opportunity to create gelatin prints, monoprints, reduction and relief prints in this two day workshop. There is always something very exciting when pulling prints as you never know what to expect. The element of surprise always makes printmaking a favorite at Kudzu Studio.



July 28, 2-4pm, $40.00
Spend a fun afternoon creating one big painting with acrylic paint. We will learn about composition and painting techniques creating a lovely artwork on large canvas of a subject matter of their choice.


August 5-7. 9-12pm, $100.00
In this three day workshop, the city of Vancouver will be our inspiration. Inukshuk sculptures, acrylic paintings, watercolor, and printmaking will all be explored while focusing on the beautiful city we call home. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

"We went to the farm"

"Wy wint too the form"
sketch file cover for 6 year old

Yes sir we did, we went to the farm.  For the past two Sunday mornings, I have been teaching through the North Vancouver Arts Council at Maplewood Farm.

The first Sunday, we spent the two hours walking through the petting farm and sketching the animals with charcoal. This looks easier than it really is because the animals move around! A lot! And that takes a little bit of getting use too.

What the eight students ranging in age from 6 to 8 year olds learned quickly is that it's best to use your sketchpad as a resource to collect visual notes, rather than finished drawings.

It was a great exercise for them to learn how to let go and draw quickly.

They had a great time at the farm. We saw parrots and peacocks, not the first thing you think of when you go the farm, along with all the farm friendly regulars you expect to see when you are pretending to be Farmer Brown- ducks, chickens, cows, goats, sheep, rabbits, donkeys, and horses.

There was a lot of drawing going on and the highlight was definitely the goat who tried to eat my sketchpad at the end of the two hours. I think he just wanted to join in on the fun.

This Sunday the students went through their sketches and developed one into a graphite drawing. From there, they created an acrylic painting.

We discussed they could add an environment for the animal of their choice that did not necessarily have to be the farm. They could also choose to paint their animal like the Fauvist if they wanted, in wild beast colors, choosing to express the emotion of their animal through color.

It was interesting to see which sketch the students decided to use and the different styles they all decided to explore.  I love the results from the beginning sketches to the finished paintings.

I have grouped each child's exploration from start to finish, so you can see their thought process. And North Vancouver Arts Council is registering for their summer camps. If you would like your child to participate, check their website for details.

8 year old charcoal sketches from farms

graphite drawing

acrylic painting

 6 year old charcoal sketches from farm

graphite drawing

acrylic painting

7 year old charcoal sketches from farm

graphite drawing

acrylic painting

he's working out shapes to draw the bird

again you can see him breaking the sketch into shapes first to record the cow

6 year old charcoal farm sketches

graphite drawing

acrylic painting (rainbow colored peacock)

6 year old charcoal farm sketches

graphite drawing

Acrylic Painting, "wild beast colors" with lines of movement

6 year old charcoal farm sketches

graphite drawing, lamb

acrylic painting, lamb

6 year old charcoal and pencil farm sketches

graphite drawing, horse

acrylic painting, horse

8 year old charcoal farm sketches

graphite drawing, peacock hen

acrylic painting, peacock hen

The colors in these paintings was definitely richer than what recorded due to the sun and the fact that the paint was wet and reflecting the light. The kids were working the entire two hours between the graphite drawings and the paintings.