Wednesday, September 28, 2016

E.H. Shepard inspired pen and ink drawings

I brought the camp full circle in the last hour of the Storybook Wonders art camp.

Earlier in the week, we had created Sophie Blackall inspired watercolors after looking at the children's book she illustrated called, "Finding Winnie". A true story of the little bear that inspired A.A. Milne's classic children's book, "Winnie the Pooh".

So knowing how much children enjoy creating artwork with the fountain pens and ink, I knew the perfect way to end a week of camp was allowing them to create an artwork inspired by E.H. Shepard's illustrations for Winnie the Pooh.
E.H. Shepard illustration

For this project, I told the kids to think back on all the different illustrations they had created during the week. Especially the many different characters they had drawn from their imaginations! I asked them to create a pen and ink picture of their very favorite past piece inspired by the style of E.H. Shepard.

They each seemed to enjoy relooking at all the art they had created during the week and picking out their favorite character to redraw in a new situation with a new technique and medium.

I had created a zine book for each of them if they wanted to create a story or they could create a picture that I then mounted to frame to remember their week at camp.

Unfortunately I do not have pictures of everything since these were being finished as parents were picking up on the last day of camp. 

However you can get a sense of how endearing these final works of art were by the few samples I did manage to capture on film before they walked out the studio door.

This ten year old created both a book and a drawing for framing. She was very happy with both and was very adamant that I photograph both together. 

10 year old

She chose to focus on her flying leopard who chases away rain clouds. Isn't the illustration charming when framed? 

I did have colored inks available for the kids to hand color with also, which they loved.

8 year old

Although there is something quite lovely about the artworks where children make the decision to stick just with black ink too.

7 year old

I encouraged them to add typography to their artworks as part of the art. It seems to me they find it very freeing to be able to express themselves with writing without having to worry about the rules, strictly using letters as another design tool in their compositions. I have a personal affection for the charming way children spell when left to their own accord. I mean, how absolutely heart melting is "ones a pon time"?! In a million years I could not capture the absolute essence of childhood innocence if I tried in my own artwork.

7 year old

All week long this young artist explored bird drawings. I am so impressed with her decisions in this piece. The graphic nature of the bird shape, the decisive use of color and then again with the spelling! Be still my heart.

5 year old

And finally there is this picture. As if the artist did not capture my heart earlier in the week with a flying snowman in outer space wearing a flashlight helmet on his way to visit one of the moons on Mars, he then created this charming piece. Here we have the flying snowman with a couple of outer space friends. Can you believe the composition of this from a child so young? That both secondary characters are peeking into the artwork just makes me fall in love with the picture. Is this not a perfect picture to be hanging in a child's bedroom? 

OK, I'll stop now. Suffice to say, I fell head over heels with this finished work. Those characters peeking into the work just slay me.

I wish I had the rest of the artworks to share with you. They were all equally as charming as the ones I had a chance to record.

This was the perfect way to end a really lovely week of camp.

The studio is now closed for the month of September. Classes will start up again in the fall and I'm looking forward to getting back into the groove of after school art classes. If you are interested in having your child join in the fun, you can check out the schedule at I will also be teaching two workshops through the North Vancouver Community Arts Council, one for adults and one for children creating silk painted scarves.

I'll begin posting projects again once the fall classes start. 

Hope y'all enjoy your fall until then!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Beth Krommes inspired scratchboard

I fell in love with the scratchboard illustrations created by Beth Krommes while researching children illustrators for the Storybook Wonders camp.

What I really loved about her technique was the fact that she creates copies of the scratchboard that she then goes in and hand colors.

This was my plan for the project I created with the kids during the camp. Each would create a scratchboard and then I would make copies of them overnight on card stock for them to hand color the next day.

Well, so much for plans.

We ran out of time on the last day of camp, but each child did create a stunning scratchboard.

5 year old

I'll retry this project again in full for a Halloween inspired project with the October after school elementary class, only three spots left if you want your child to join in the fun!!

If you want to know how I created the scratchboards, check out this post from the Ben Lim inspired art camp at Seymour Art Gallery The only thing I did differently this time was use three layers of spray gesso in white instead of painting it onto the boards. It saved significant time when it came to sanding.

7 year old

Each child created an illustration of their choice inspired by Beth Krommes artwork. We had spent time looking at "The House in the Night", each child observing the line work in her pictures. It is a beautifully illustrated book!

They created some lovely works of art and I would of loved to have seen how they introduced color if we had not run out of time.

They really enjoyed working on the boards and I think they found it extremely relaxing just to etch into the ink and gesso.

5 year old

Even the youngest of students created stunning works of art.

7 year old

These two birds were created by sisters. Wouldn't they look cute displayed together on a wall?

10 year old

The line work this 10 year old did is quite amazing. She actually took her enlarged copy home to hand color. I'm sure it looks amazing.

8 year old

I love all the personality each of these pieces contain. Like I said, the kids seemed to really take to scratchboard and got lost in the relaxing technique.

9 year old

Such a great way to emphasize the importance of line in a fun way to children. What marvelous works of art each of them created. 

And I can say I know Beth Krommes felt the same way because she sent a comment when posted on the studio's instagram account mentioning how impressed she was with the work. 

A fact I'm sure would make each and every child very proud.

Mary Wormell inspired woodcuts

For a printmaking project, I introduced the children to a woodcut illustrator named, Mary Wormell, in the Storybook Wonders art camp.

We looked at her illustrated book called, 'Bernard, the angry rooster' and discussed different observations each child made while looking at her artwork.

Then it was time for the kids to create their own print using Wormell's work as inspiration.

chicken wearing a wooly sweater, 7 year old

I had planned on letting the kids create carved stamps but because the majority of the camp were very young decided I should probably rethink that idea, sharp carving tools and little hands are not a great combination and funny enough, parents aren't impressed at pick up if their children are covered in bandaids....

So instead I had them create styrofoam printing plates that they used for printing.

rabbit, 5 year old

I happened to have a ton of styrofoam round plates for the summer that I was using for paint palettes. So I just cut them up into a rectangular shape and handed them out to the kids. Reuse and repurpose at it's finest.

orca, 9 year old

Each child created a sketch of their choosing first on copy paper.

rhino, 8 year old

Then we taped down the styrofoam and placed their paper sketch on top.

rabbit, 7 year old

I put a piece of tape at the top of the paper to keep it in place, but give them the opportunity to lift it up and down to see if they missed any tracing lines during the next step.

rabbit, 10 year old

Which was to take a dull, and it needs to be dull, pencil and trace over their drawing to indent the styrofoam.

5 year old

Once they have an initial indent, each child went over the lines one more time just to make sure they were deep enough to create line when pulling a print.

When they were happy with their printing plate, they found an inking station and put ink over the top of the plate using a brayer.

Then put a damp piece of paper over top, rubbed it well, and pulled.


6 year old

Lovely prints.

sting ray, 7 year old

And as always, a big ol' hit with the kids and they pulled print after print after print. Excitedly exclaiming to others, "Look at this one!" as they made each discovery.

7 year old

About as cute as their final artwork if I do say so myself.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

wild thing pastels

Along with Eric Carle, how do you not introduce the artwork of illustrator Maurice Sendak in a camp focused on children illustrators?

5 year old

His books are among some of my very favorites.  After marrying into the most unconventional of families, one of my favorite memories is of my three year old sister-in-law, (yes you read that right), sitting on my lap reciting, "Outside Over There" to me. It was her very favorite storybook and after my mother-in-law reading it to her so many times, she had memorized it and so would recite each page as you turned it. There as nothing sweeter than listening to this small little voice recite the words with so much emotion.

5 year old

So I have had a soft spot for Maurice Sendak even prior to having my own children, which was just reinforced by my son's love of "In the Night Kitchen" as a toddler and Christmases spent going to the Seattle's Nutcracker ballet, where all the sets and costumes were designed by him- sadly now recently retired.

7 year old

However for this project I focused on the book, "Where the Wild Things Are" because I knew it would be instantly recognizable to each child. Plus I knew I could share a fascinating story with them about how Sendak used his childhood experiences as inspiration for the illustrations.

10 year old

There was a bit of a tiptoe around the Holocaust, as I had some very young children in the class, but Sendak had relatives who came to the United States right after the war. To paraphrase his description from his perspective as a child, they had dirty teeth, wirey hair, and wore funny clothes so he was a little frightened of them all the while loving them too.

7 year old

So when it came time to illustrate the Wild Things, he used these relatives for reference. So each of the Wild Things in fact are one of his relatives. Pretty amazing, right? Well as you can imagine the kids thought so too.

5 year old

And so a new fascination was born and a deeper love for the illustrations of Sendak as they felt a kinship because of the connection they now had to his childhood.

8 year old

After we looked at Marice Sendak's artwork and discussed the different characteristics they observed, each child created their own Wild Thing with pastels on black paper.

They first traced their drawings with a black oil pastel and then changed over to the chalks for color and as usual, we were all a rainbow of color by the end of the project.

7 year old

We ended up with an eclectic collection of Wild Things in the end, a group of characters sure to entertain a child while spending time caravanning and creating mayhem as ruler of the Wild Things until they realized there was truly no place better than home and the company of their loving parents.

6 year old

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Eric Carle inspired collages

How do you do an art camp focused on children illustration without looking at Eric Carle.

I was honestly surprised that the kids did not recognize him name, but knew immediately who he was once I started reciting, "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" by heart! Thanks to the million times I read it out loud to my now 23 year old daughter.

I can't remember my cell phone number but can remember a book I read 23 years ago.....

Anyway, this project was fun from beginning to end. We started by turning the studio into a paper making factory.

walrus. 8 year old

Each child had a palette of paint in primary colors plus a stack of copy paper.

I used this part of the project as a chance to have them really learn about color mixing and adding tones and tints along with my all time favorite teaching moment, texture and line!

school of fish, 7 year old

The kids created a large variety of papers in a multitude of colors with patterns, textures, and interesting lines. They had a ball. We made so much paper that I have a large stack leftover to utilize at a later date on another project.

Mr. Fox, 5 year old

This also gave me the opportunity to discuss with them what collaborative art is all about. I told them that we would all be sharing the paper the next day and so they were participating in a collaboration that benefited the whole group.

cougars, 6 year old

The next morning arrived and they could not wait to use the handmade papers they had created.

Each child chose an animal they wanted to create and looked at some reference photographs that I pulled from my files. Another great teaching moment as they needed to reduce the animal details to defining shapes in order to create their pictures.

cougar, 7 year old

I used matte medium for glue, in hopes this would help the younger children get things really stuck on the paper. In the future, I will go back to just a regular glue stick as I found the matte medium left a definite film over the artworks where they globbed it on.

leopard, 10 year old

All of the kids enjoyed cutting shapes, finding different color papers and then textures they thought were perfect for their animal.

Was the studio a mess afterwards? you bet.

But a quick sweep of the broom and all was back to normal in no time.

cat, 5 year old

Well worth it for the amount of fun the kids had creating this cute pieces of art.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Sophie Blackall inspired watercolors

While researching children book illustrators for the Storybook Wonders art camp, I stumbled across Sophie Blackall's illustrations in the book, "Finding Winnie".

This book was the first I knew for sure I would be using for the camp. I love the Canadian history involved in the story and the kids sat riveted while I shared it with them. More than once they actually had to ask if it was a true story, as it was exciting for them to learn that Winnie the Pooh is in fact, Canadian. Well I guess in reality Winnie the Pooh is a dual citizen but the kids were mighty proud to focus on the fact that he shares Canadian citizenship with them!

"Finding Winnie" is the true story of a little bear who was bought for $20.00 by a Canadian solider getting ready to ship off to Europe during World War I. This little bear becomes a morale booster for the troop and travels across the ocean with them. However the soldier thought it would be too dangerous for the little bear to ship off to France with them and so the London Zoo offers to care for the bear. Winnie becomes a highlight at the zoo for visitors, where they were actually allowed to pet and feed the bear! Can you imagine that happening today?

Anyway one the visitors who came to visit was A.A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin. The little boy so loved the bear that he named his stuffed bear after him.

And the rest is history!

Sophie Blackall, Finding Winnie

The story was perfect. The illustrations are a beautiful combination of watercolor and colored pencil, a perfect inspired artist project for the children to explore at camp. 

However the part I was most excited about was what I learned by reading Sophie Blackall's blog. There are several entries where she shares with the reader the immense amount of research she did before creating the artwork. What a great thing to share with the kids!

I think a lot of people just think artist sit down and paint pretty pictures, yet many artist spend an enormous amount of time researching and learning about their subject matter prior to sitting down to draw and such was the case with this book.

The book has several photographs at the end of the actual bear and materials associated with the book and along with pointing this out to the kids, I also shared Blackall's blog entry about creating the ship crossing to Europe.

Then I put out a bunch of old photographs I had in the studio for the children to use to create their own illustrative artwork.

10 year old

This artist used a sepia photo of my silly bulldog, Suzy-Q. In the photo she was lying on her back with an amusing expression on her face that captivated the artist. She took that face and put her bulldog under a bed, wearing a mustache disguise and guarding a giant blueberry. 

Each child used a combination of watercolor and colored pencil. In this case, I showed the artist how to allow the watercolor to run on the paper to create the bed skirt and then go in with the pencil to highlight the natural folds created. 

6 year old

I love this piece because this child got completely lost in the process. He had an original sketch that was forgotten as he blended colors and just added water and color and watched them blend. Afterwards I gave him a water-soluble pencil that he could go back in and draw. He didn't realize the pencil reacted with water until I gave him a bowl of water and told him to wet the brush and go over his pencil lines. He was so surprised and had fun once again using the water and brush. Finally he added color pencil and lo and behold, created this darling little monster. 

7 year old

The two amigos, the pair of friends who spent the week enjoying creating similar paintings. This time they were drawn to a reference picture of a little penguin hiding in a cave. Can you find their penguins? I love the scale and the sense of vulnerability you feel viewing their works of art.

7 year old

So many stories are waiting to be told about this little penguin and why it is hiding in a cave among giant trees in a forest.

5 year old

These two blue birds were created by sisters. Aren't they sweet? Love that the younger one wanted to be like her big sister and what an amazing big sister she is to her! She eagerly helped her sister by drawing next to her and these two lovely works are the result. Love that they used the same reference picture yet came up with two pictures that show off their own unique styles of drawing and painting.

7 year old

These two young artist had fun using the watercolors.

5 year old

During the week, this artist truly loved mixing colors. She used her polka dotted dog as the subject, the dog she created in the Wiesner's inspired art project. Do you see it in there?

5 year old

There was quite a story being told with this young artists' picture. Unfortunately I just caught bits and pieces of it while he shared it with the two amigos privately.

8 year old

And finally this eight year old boy, who obviously liked learning about the research Sophie Blackall did for the boats in "Finding Winnie" so much, that he honed in on a vintage photograph I had of a  freighter coming into Vancouver harbor.  What's not to like about this beautiful work of art?

The kids enjoyed experimenting with the watercolor. I think going back into the painting with another medium is something they had not thought of before and liked being able to add details with the pencils. But most importantly, they learned a valuable lesson in taking the time to learn about the subject they wanted to draw- whether that was doing research or gathering photographs.

They went home with lovely pieces of art, fans of Sophie Blackall's illustrations and proud of the Canadian connection to one of the most beloved children's stories ever, Winnie the Pooh.