Saturday, May 28, 2016

"Flowers for Mother" a monoprint zine

I'm going backwards here a bit.

This zine was created by a student in the teen class the week leading up to Mother's Day.

It was a gift to her mother.

She created the zine itself using a folding method. Creating Nature has a great tutorial if you want to try one yourself.

For this project, I brought out some very early 1900's postcards I have collected for reference. Many of them have lovely illustrations of flowers on them which was the inspiration for her zine.

Hasn't she created a beautiful color palette too?
Using the gelatin plate, she created a series of floral monoprints for her mother.

zine cover, "Flowers for Mother", 13 year old

For this project I had her sue Golden Open Acrylics, just the primary colors along with white. The artist had to work fast but the Open Acrylics gave her a bit more time as they do not dry as quickly.

I love the title of her zine. Although I don't think she calls her mom, 'mother', it seemed appropriate given the old fashion nature of the zine. She chose to write the title in a soft graphite so it could be smudged a bit.

zine page one

It was a joy to watch her as she created this zine. As each print was pulled, she got more and more excited by the work.

zine page two

There were several, "Oh, I really like this one" as she made her prints. 

zine page three

I have to agree. It is hard to pick a favorite from the beautiful floral prints created. I truly love the soft color palette she created. LOVE!

back cover, "a book of monprints, Mother's Day 2016"

I sure hope her mother enjoyed the gift as much as her daughter did making it for her. She was just so pleased at the end when the zine was finished. 

What a lovely little gift she created to give to her mother.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Gideon Rubin inspired portraits and other gelatin prints

I have been fascinated by the work of Gideon Rubin for some time now and when the curator of Seymour Art Gallery gifted me some photographs from her family collection of people no one no longer remembers, a project was born.

I am fascinated by old photographs, especially ones found in thrift stores and flea markets where the people no longer have names but just reference a moment in time. That is probably why I find Gideon Rubin's work so appealing, faceless portraits from another time.

class of 1947, Gideon Rubin

When I pulled out the photographs for the preteen class to look at, they were fascinated by the story about no one remembering the people within the photos. They spent a lot of time looking at them and made a connection that many of the photos were of the same two people throughout their lifetime. The girls decided they were brother and sister.  

Two of the students settled in on a couple of photos they wanted to use to create a gelatin monoprint inspired by the work of Rubin while the others focused in on creating some animal mono prints.

work in progress, 11 year old

These gelatin plates are something I made last fall and I cannot believe after all the projects throughout the year that they are still holding up great. They have been such a great addition to the studio and I cannot recommend adding them enough to your supply list. They are so easy to make too.

Believe it or not, the 11 year old was not very happy with this work of the little girl she created. She felt she ended up looking "fat" and not nearly as cute as the picture that had won over her heart.

11 year old

She was so frustrated in fact that once she pulled the print, I had her move on to an animal portrait in order for her to end the project on a positive note.

11 year old

Personally I loved her portrait inspired by Gideon Rubin, but at the end of the day it is not about what I like and so I am quite pleased she is so happy with her final animal print and hope one day she looks back on the portrait and realizes it is quite wonderful too.

On the other hand, this 10 year old artist was beyond pleased with her final Gideon Rubin inspired portrait.

10 year old

She chose this portrait of a woman because she really liked the hairstyle. I think she got such a wonderful monoprint from it. I'm not sure her mom "got it" at first, but the artist was so pleased at the end and in love with her work, which made me so very happy.

10 year old, portrait of a woman

She had quite a bit of time left in class after creating this piece and so her attention then turned to her favorite subject in the world, cats.

10 year old

Another artist who left the studio that night quite proud of her work was this 11 year old. I have no doubt this lovely horse is going to find a special spot in her home. She worked so hard on it.

11 year old

I always have the kids pull the ghost print with the leftover ink on the plates. Sometimes they are wonderful and the kids actually like them more than the original and sometimes they are "eh", but I do find students are always quite excited to find out what might be pulled with the leftover ink at the end.

In this case, the artist loved her ghost print.

Cats were the de rigueur of the day. They were also the focus of the 12 year old in the class.

12 year old

Those eyes! Who could resist those eyes!

12 year old

This cat maybe because it looks "so over" everyone purring about how cute the above cats' big eyes are. I love the emotion the artist captured in this piece.

I was pleased to see each student walk away from this project happy and proud of their artwork. I always find it interesting to see what each child takes away from a project or how they decide to tackle the project at hand. This night was no different.

I am so grateful for the jumping off point the gifted photographs from a friend provided, along with the beautiful work of Gideon Rubin. It made for some beautiful art created by the preteen class at the end of the night.

Friday, May 20, 2016

large watercolors from real life

My youngest just finished her first year of University.

Hard to believe, but kids make time move quickly and it really does seem like it wasn't THAT long ago I was picking her up from her first day of Kindergarten.

But evidently it has and after years of living with me, she knows me well. Evident by the fact that when a dorm "neighbor" was going to through out some plants she had before going home, my daughter said she'd take them because "my mom will do something with them in her art classes".

And so I did.

I thought it would be fun for the elementary class to try their hand at creating a painting while looking at something from real life. I had the bouquet that the five year old had used to create his plaster painting or the succulents my daughter had brought back from University.

All the girls chose the succulents, although they did not all choose the same one.

I had some very large watercolor paper that I had put out because I thought it would be fun for them to work on a something much larger than normal. I also gave each girl a palette of watercolor using the primary colors.

They created their sketches using a marks-all black pencil. Because it is water-soluble, any changes they wanted to make in their marks were easily 'erased' with water.

9 year old

Originally the above art work had two small 'red bumps' (sorry I do not have a green thumb and have no idea what you call that red thing) that she had sketched into the work. While painting, she decided she no longer wanted them and so with water, she just washed them out.

6 year old

I also had the girls work on things like washed with this work to help create values, especially the older two girls. For the younger ones, just understanding that these watercolors do not work like acrylic was the challenge.

8 year old

I'm so impressed with the yellow color this artist mixed in her piece.

6 year old

The girls seemed to really enjoy working big on these works. I love the details each child chose to add to her piece and how each child uniquely worked with the watercolors. I'm always impressed with the variety of work created from the same parameters and the confidence the children have to follow their own path.

My daughter knows me well. Coming up on nineteen years well, which is a lot more time that I care to believe has passed. Not only did I immediately use the succulents she saved from the perils of the dumpster, but thanks to these young artist some beautiful watercolors were inspired by them.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

plaster painting with 5 year old

I have two children currently in the 4/5 year old class. Last week I had planned on introducing a monoprint project to both of them but one wasn't feeling well. I had her in mind when creating this project and so when her mother called shortly before class to tell me she wouldn't be there, I quickly adjusted so I could save the project for the following week.

I happened to have a few plaster sheets I had created in the fall stored away, from a project focused on Michelangelo, and knew the other student would enjoy trying to paint on it. I had a bouquet of flowers I had made for the drawing class to use, so brought it out for him to also try his hand at drawing from real life.

Using tube watercolors, I created a palette for him using primary color plus brown and black. Looking at the bouquet, he did a pencil sketch onto the plaster and then began to paint his picture.

When finished, I gave him a thumbtack for him to try bringing back out the pencil lines that had disappeared when painted. Plus I knew he would enjoy exploring scratching into the paint. When he was finished, I cut off the extra burlap, something he was quite fascinated with and had asked a lot of questions about during the project. 

I had explained to him the burlap gave the plaster something to adhere too and made it so sturdy, he could actually break the plaster and it would still stay together. I even gave him the opportunity to drop his painting and create some cracks when he finished. He promptly declined, that is until his mother arrived at pick up and then he slammed it onto the floor giving his mother quite a fright since she didn't know it would stay together when broken.

His final work turned out lovely.

plaster painting by 5 year old

Here is it with the bouquet he used for reference.

He finished this project with about ten minutes to spare and so I asked him if he would like to use the rest of his paint palette on paper. He said yes and so I gave him a small piece of watercolor paper and while he painted and I cleaned up, we chatted about a vacation he had just taken to the United States.

He told me about staying on a farm and I asked what he saw on the farm. He told me about a canoe and a swamp. So I asked if he took the canoe out on the swamp and he said no because the canoe was very old and had barnacles on it.

We take a little more about his vacation and then he told me he was finished with his artwork.

abstract watercolor, "canoe with barnacles". 5 year old 

When I asked him to tell me about his work, he explained this was the canoe with barnacles. As if I wasn't already drawn to it because of the pattern and the color palette he created, the fact that he had painted the story we were verbally discussing made me so excited.

I love it as much as the main project he spent the bulk of class working on!

And this one he didn't slam to the floor, scaring the bejeezus out of his mother.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

en plein air watercolors

At the beginning of May children had a Pro-D day at school, meaning they had a day off while the teachers went in to prepare of the last weeks of school. A parent asked if I would run a workshop in the morning and with Vancouver's weather being so unusually warm and sunny for this time of year, I offered up a morning of en plein air painting in Lynn Canyon.

I had 9 children come to the workshop and we spent the entire morning painting in the woods.

I decided to take them down to the 30 foot pool, which is a very popular spot on the trails to sit and enjoy the shade and on the hottest days of the summer, take a dip in the cold waters.

I allowed the kids to find a spot amongst the rocks and spend some time sketching in the books I had given them. 

Then when they were ready, I handed them a watercolor palette with the primary colors, brown and black and some watercolor paper I had already taped to a piece of sturdy cardboard. I had taped a piece on each side of the board so they readily had two papers ready to paint.

What a relaxing way to spend the morning and the kids had a wonderful time. We spent over two hours down at the waters edge before it was time to climb up over 250 stairs and make our way back to the studio. By the time we arrived, the kids were famished and ate their snacks while I took the paintings off the cardboards and got some quick photos to share.

There were only a few minutes left of the morning by the time the kids finished eating and some chose to read some of the art books I have on the shelves while others just sketched with pencil or used pen and ink until their parents arrived for pick up.

6 year old

6 year old

6 year old

6 year old

8 year old

9 year old

9 year old

7 year old

8 year old

8 year old

6 year old

6 year old

8 year old, (white pen was added back at studio)

A beautiful day spent making beautiful works of art. 

I'll be heading back into the woods of Lynn Canyon for an entire week of creating art on July 4- July 8 in the "Artistic Nature" summer camp running from 9-12pm. There are two spots left and if you would like your child to experience painting in nature, register at

Friday, May 13, 2016

silk scarves for Mother's Day

The elementary class painted silk scarves for their mothers to give them on Mother's Day.

9 year old

There is something so special getting to be apart of the holiday through a child's eye. The kids could not of been more excited about creating something special for their mothers and they took such care with their work. If love could be in an object, these scarves are full to the brim with love, more love, and love to the moon and back. 

6 year old

Each child could create a scarf design of anything they wanted, but they all gravitated to flowers. All of them worked out their sketch on paper prior to transferring it onto the silk, which I had mounted prior to their arrival for class.

10 year old

When they were happy with their flower, I placed a book under the silk for them to be able to trace the flower over and over on the scarf to create a design.

6 year old

Once child just decided to wing it and drew her flowers all freehand and different sizes.

Then they began to add the resist. I had a piece of silk on a hoop for them to practice on until they were confident enough to work on their scarves. Each child put every last bit of resist on those scarves and I could not be more proud of their resilience, as it takes a long time to cover everything in resist.

Then it came time to paint. Oh did they have fun. By the time the hour and a half class was over, all of them had just begun to start their backgrounds on the scarves.

The next week, they spent the entire hour and a half painting. They quickly learned they could force the dye by scrubbing on the silk with the paint brush. They also learned they could create light washes of color by adding more water. And they all loved the process of blending two colors together!

And no silk painting project is complete without adding a bit of the beloved salt.

At one point one of the girls sighed heavily and stated how tired she was from all the work of painting in the scarf. I laughed and reminded her how many nights her mother had gotten up with her, sooooo tired, but never complained because of how much she was loved. The girl smiled, we all laughed, and she went back to work.

They all came out beautifully. I know they will be very cherished by the mothers. In fact, one wrote me the sweetest note on Mother's Day after she opened her gift. She was thrilled and her daughter had been so excited to give it to her, she woke her up at 6am!

6am! Happy Mother's Day!

Once the girls had all finished painting the scarves, I set the dye, washed out the resist and gave them a good iron.

We had a bit of time left at the end of the class and so the girls took the leftover dye and created cards. Honestly it was an afterthought on my part, but they came out beautiful and were works of art in themselves.

Double present for the moms!

Which for at least one mother was a good thing since she was receiving all her goodies and the ungodly hour of 6am.

Happy belated Mother's Day everyone.  

6 year old