Tuesday, January 31, 2017

roosters for chinese new year

The drawing class last week focused on roosters since Chinese New Year was being celebrated the next day.

Each student chose a reference picture of their choice. They also made their own decisions on how they would compose their image on the paper.

8 year old

After a couple of warm up exercises using their reference material as a guide, we got started on the final drawings.

First using a water-soluble pencil, each student found the outside line shape that made up their image and put it on paper. They then went over the lines with a bit of water to start to create value.

6 year old

My goal this class was to focus on line and how it can be used to create texture and interest in an artwork. So after they went over their first lines with water, each artist could then choose to either use the water-soluble pencil again over the damp paper (creating some very ink like lines) or change to graphite to start adding detail lines.

10 year old

Once they had added a bit more detail to their first drawing, we stopped and looked for pattern of lines in the reference image and then each student interpreted their observations how they saw fit into their drawings.

11 year old

And finally because one student asked if we would only ever do drawings in black and white last week, I put out some chalk pastel so each child could add a little color.

By the end of class, each student had a lovely complex drawing focused on line and pattern.

Happy New Year!!!

Monday, January 30, 2017

emotion jugs

I have been mulling around clay project ideas for the after school elementary class since the fall.

I am an Art Docent at the Vancouver Art Gallery and while there one week found I had some extra time, so myself and another docent walked through one of the exhibits.  The Juxtapoz x Superflat  exhibit is not one we are touring school groups through, so thought it would be fun to have a look around. I came across the works of artist Rebecca Morgan and immediately thought her artwork could inspire a great project to share with the kids in the studio.

Rebecca Morgan at Vancouver Art Gallery

I have been wanting to create a clay project that would allow the kids to explore creating a pot either using a coil or pinch pot method. The idea of also having them explore creating faces on the pots seemed perfect. Then I remembered how fascinated I was with Rembrandt's tronies, practice renderings of facial expressions, while visiting Amsterdam. It also has been on my "to do" list of projects for quite some time and seemed like a great addition to this project idea.

So after introducing artist Rebecca Morgan to the students and looking at several of her pottery sculptures ( I first wrote, "looking at her jugs" which somehow seemed off when talking about kids....), the students shouted out all the different emotions that came to mind.

I loved how Rebecca Morgan's work boosted the confidence of the children. Her work inspired a sense of silliness that the kids were eager to explore. Her work was also a great introduction on how to use texture to create interest in artwork.

goofy, 8 year old

One day I will have a kiln, but for now all clay work in the studio is done with air dry or oven baked clay. This project was done with air dry clay. The students created their sculptures the first week and then the following week painted the dried clay with acrylic paints which were then sealed with a high gloss varnish.

happy, 6 year old

Before the students began painting, we talked about how color can also be used to define emotion. The students brainstormed for several minutes about what colors might define certain emotions. Then they got to work painting their pots.

crazy, 7 year old

Of course it did not take very long in the creative process before several of the children asked if they could create animals. 

happy cat, 8 year old

awed mouse, 8 year old

bewildered bear, 8 year old

As always, working with clay was a great lesson for getting the students to think about all angles of an artwork. No surprise that they were also thrilled to be working in 3-D. There was a lot of discussion on what they would be using their finished pieces for at home and torrents of giggles while they figured out how to create their emotions in clay. Rebecca Morgan's work was great inspiration as a jumping off point for the children, just like I knew it would be the minute I laid eyes on her artwork at the gallery.

pensive pencil holder, 9 year old

Both myself and the kids are now big fans.

Friday, January 27, 2017

swan drawings

Using graphite, the drawing class worked on creating value while drawing swans.

Using a reference photo of a swan, each artist made their own artistic choices on how much of the bird they showed and what features of the bird they emphasized.

Then using a gradation scale of grey that they first worked out before drawing, they began to add value.

The class is an hour and after warm ups and discovery exercises, they spend the last half hour on their final drawing. Just by focusing on darks and lights, they were able to complete some stunning pieces.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

abstract acrylic landscapes

I have had a group of homeschoolers at the studio on Wednesday mornings this month.

The first project they worked on was an abstract landscape painting of Vancouver.

We first discussed how an artist abstracts a painting. Then looking at a reference of photograph of Vancouver that they chose, each student decided how to abstract the shape, color and line to create their own original abstracted painting.

The five year old focused on the Inuksuk in English Bay.

He truly enjoyed mixing the paint colors while creating this work of art.

The nine year old chose a very complicated photograph of the seawall in Stanley Park. I found it quite interesting to see him simplify the enormous amount of trees in the park by using a solid pink and just indicating a few of them in his painting. 

The seven year old focused on the lighthouse in West Vancouver. She took out everything but the lighthouse and then made this conscious decision to keep her painting all in one color. She spent an enormous amount of time mixing just the right color for each area and this is a very thought out piece of art.  Interesting she chose such a warm color palette as we have had an unusually cold and snowy winter last month! Maybe she is wishing for warmer days......

At the end, each child cleaned up their lines with a blue and black oil pastel to finish the painting.

They went home with the artist this week and I miss being able to enjoy them hanging on the studio wall.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

mixed media bird sculpture

This past Friday there was a teacher work day at the schools so the kids had the day off. I decided to run a three hour morning workshop for twelve children where they were able to build their own mixed media bird sculptures.

Each child started off by cutting out two bird shapes out of watercolor paper. They each then folded a seventeen inch piece of floral wire in half, using masking tape, covered the wire and then stuck one end between the two pieces of paper and glued it all together.

Then holding onto the wire, they painted each side of the bird with acrylic paint.

While that was drying, they cut out wings and feathers and painted them too. Once everything was dry (students ate their snacks while waiting), they began to glue the pieces together.

Then I brought out a variety of different mediums for them to use and add to their birds. Ink, oil pastels, watercolors, charcoal, you name it, I think at one point during the day it was on the tables.

It was quite interesting to watch how each child used the materials and embraced the idea of process art instead of having a clear idea on the end product.

I had purchased some corks and a small piece of wood to create a stand for the birds. The kids painted both of these with watercolors. My thought was the wire would easily stick into the cork.

This was the only glitch in the day.

I could not penetrate the corks with the wire! I'm sure if the end of the day was not so near, I could of figured out a solution to get the wire stuck into the cork but with twelve children all unable to do it I had to think quickly to get the project complete.

So I brought out the glue gun and began to glue the wire on top of the cork. Thankfully in the end it worked.

The kids were all pleased at the end with their creations.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

enlarged animal eyes

The elementary class just finished these amazing acrylic paintings of animal eyes.

The project goal was to teach them how to use a grid to enlarge a reference picture from a small size onto their painting paper.

We took a square piece of 10x10 acrylic paper and a 4x4 reference picture of an eye and divided each into equal squares. Then starting with one square at a time, the students painted what they saw. Each child caught on very quickly and the results are lovely.

The artist were all given just primary colors along with black and white and mixed everything themselves. When finished I handed out some charcoal for them to finesse any lines they wanted to add that were to fine for a paintbrush.

8 year old

7 year old

8 year old

9 year old
8 year old

6 year old

7 year old

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

painting pears

A few years ago, I found this exercise on Pinterest.

I actually had a preteen student create an artwork using the instructions back then too. She had a great time making the work and I put the project on file for later use.

Well this December did I ever put it to use! Every single class and age group did a project inspired by this exercise.

And it was a successful project regardless of age too.

Each child started by creating a painting exercise using red, yellow and brown.

Then using what they learned in the exercise and picking what they liked best of their discoveries during it, each student created one larger painting. My goal was to give them the opportunity to explore value and brushstroke to create interest in their work.
This part of the project filled the entire hour and a half class. The following week when the students came back, they began again with their exercise paper and applied colors of their choice over the underpainting.
8 year old

Then again looking over their exercise sheet, made choices of what they wanted to carry forward on their final work of art. 

9 year old

And what stunning works of art they were too! These two large canvases were created by elementary students.

8 year old wip

The above elementary student finished his work but something about it wasn't just right to him at the end of class. I told him to go ahead and take it home, live it awhile and if he still felt the same way the next week to come early to the studio and redo what he didn't like. 

The great part of this was that he had already learned that adding another layer of color was no big deal and before his classmates arrived had created a work of art that he was happy with in the end.  (If you are curious, you can see the silk mounted on frame in the background for the new silk painting project they were about to start)

8 year old finished work

The pre-teen class worked on a smaller canvas. Why different size canvases for different classes? Because I had a lot of leftover canvases sitting around the studio that I decided to use up. They were solely picked based on me having the correct amount of one size for the correct amount of students enrolled in the class.

Again the artist could choose whatever color combination they wanted and apply the skills they learned during the warm up exercise on the small paper.

10 year old

11 year old

11 year old

11 year old

And the teen class completed these works using a square piece of acrylic paper.

And because I was on a roll with pear projects, the fun carried over into the drawing class too! Here are a couple of the drawings I captured on film.

10 year old

9  year old

Lots was learned about the importance of value and brushstroke. Lots of beautiful pieces of art! And lots of very proud and happy kids of all ages. I'll put that down as a win.