UNICORNS, RAINBOWS & CATS – OH MY

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The kids got a quick lesson on Mexican Milagros and Nichos.

The discussion started with Europeans invading an existing culture.  With them, they brought their religion, Catholicism. Objects such as  statues, alters, incense and gold were introduced to the native people.  What happened was a little influence rubbed off on the natives, but a little native culture remained too.  Nichos were influenced by Catholic alters, but generally depicted local traditions.  Somehow even pop-culture made its way into these works.  From there, these little pop-alters were considered more folk-art than religious icons.

I asked the kids if they were to encounter Roman Catholic alters and not know much about their significance, how would they make an alter of their own?  What would be important to them?  What would they fill it with? I told them for me, I’d choose my pet. Mi gato Willow.  I made a Nicho depicting my kitty cat because I love her and she brings me joy.

They were each given a cigar box and two giant tables of tons and tons of materials.  I also showed them how to create some aspects in 3-D.  This is what they came up with:

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I accidentally started the pet theme, but some diverged.  Oh and there was GLITTER EVERYWHERE!!! By far this was the most involved project.  I assigned this the first day and allowed them to add to it for the rest of the week whenever they had free time.  I think they all came out with something significant to themselves.  I know I was pretty stoked to bring my own home ;)

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Apples at ArtLab

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EVERYTHING HAS A SHADOW.

This watercolor project is a terrific way to teach this principle.

Do you see the black arrow attached with tape in the image above?   Each kid had to choose where the sunlight would be coming from in their picture and then make sure every single object in the picture plane reacted with a shadow accordingly.

First, we talked about why we block our paper.  This is the act of taping watercolor paper to a board, wetting the paper and then letting the paper dry.  Blocking stretches and shrinks the paper.  When working with watercolor, a tremendous amount of water gets applied to the paper.  The paper absorbs the water and stretches itself to its max.  This causes waving and rippling. Normally, a piece of paper would stay in this state but a blocked paper has already encountered water in a controlled setting. It’s taped down tight with no room to warp and has been forced to stretch tight preventing the rippling. It’s a great artist practice and there’s even a little science behind it.

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Next, we started with the backgrounds. I had the kids take their pencil, follow their arrow and run it across the paper pretending it was a flashlight.  What part of the bowl will the flashlight hit first?  Following your arrow of light, where will the flashlight hit each apple? The rule of a shadow is that the shadow falls in the complete opposite direction of the light. So, the pencil pretending to be a flashlight really hits home the front and back of each object.  Many people do not notice that every single item be it a nose on a face or a pencil on a desk, has a shadow.

The third step was creating shadows in the bowl.  The deepest part of something with depth is the darkest. The shallowest part of a bowl has access to light, therefore its lighter.  The kids worked from a very dark center to a light outer ring. Hoping to convey depth.

 

 

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The finale culminated with the painting of the apples.  We filled each apple with clean water on the paper and then allowed the colors of an apple to bleed into one another.  Red, green and yellow were used and a little bit of purple to denote the shadow of the apple itself.

Watercolor is a tough medium to learn.  You are always adding paint and water as well as trying to take away paint and water.  It’s a tricky balance.

The only bummer is that I couldn’t show the kids the difference between expensive paints and cheap ones. Boy is there a big difference!  Of course we had the “affordable” paints.  With them, red looks like pink, green a faded yellow and black a light grey.  Cheap paint just doesn’t posses the pigments needed to obtain gorgeous colors.  Yeah, the kids catch the gist, but not the magic of amazing paints…

I guess that’s the prize of keeping with the arts and investing as you go along… I know my first watercolors were Crayola.  It was enough to wet my appetite for more.  I hope the same for this new generation coming up!

 

Something’s Fishy at ArtLab Camp

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This is an excellent kid art lesson in tint vs shade.

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For all of you grown-ups that forever get it wrong here is the definition :)

Tint:  A color with white added     Shade: A color with black added

Everyone calls everything a shade, but if you go further into painting, it helps to know what you need (black or white) to create certain colors from paint.

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We created the backgrounds by treating it like a game. We talked about math ratios.  To make a Chartreuse green you might use 5 dabs of yellow paint to one dab of blue.  To create a navy color, you might use 5 dabs of blue to one dab of black.  Powder blue would be 5 dabs white one dab blue.  Suffice to say, by the end of the project, each kid could tell me the difference between tints and shades and had a pretty good idea of how to create the colors they were interested in.

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Next, I wanted to make it a little fun.  I found this product online and was able to give each kid 5 sheets of rainbow scratch paper.  Like scratching off a Lotto ticket, you just can’t help but enjoy playing with these boards.  For my sample I created different patterns like checkerboard, parallel lines, dots, scales…ect.  You know, throw a little more education into it…. Here are the kids take on the assignment:

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I also printed out reference photos of different sea grasses for inspiration and all sorts of fish.  From there, I backed away and let them choose for themselves how realistic vs. imaginative they wanted their work to be.

There was a great mix of both.

Art Lab – Art Camp for Kids

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Good Morning.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve created a blog post. That’s because it’s been summer camp time!!!

One week was devoted to creating lesson plans and the subsequent two weeks were all about kids ranging in age from 7-14 making all kinds of art.  This week I will show you my example of what we were doing for the day and the amazing work the kids turned out.

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This project begins with studying tons of leaves of all shapes, sizes and textures. From there we discuss layout on our paper.  Maybe putting one leave dead center is not as interesting as creating a path of leaves around your paper for people’s eyes to travel?

Next, the entire sheet of paper must be covered in very heavy wax.  What is the most affordable way to provide wax to kids?  CRAYONS.  you bet!

Before we started working heavy with our crayons, the kids needed to understand the difference between warm and cool colors.  If the kids simply colored their paper using any old color, there may not be enough contrast to tell the difference between the foreground and background.  So they had to pick warm for one and cool for the other.

Now this is where some kids may have told you the true name of this place was “Mary’s Torture Camp”  because kids started moaning, trying to quit and complaining that they couldn’t “color-hard”, another stinking minute!

But very soon after, a few campers finished filling their entire sheets with wax.  Next they were told to fold and crease their paper as much as the possibly could.  Each time they made a crease, it made a crack in the wax.  When their papers were fully crinkled, I let them apply a watered-down black acrylic paint to their work.  The black paint only absorbed into the cracks, leaving their images intact.  We wiped off the excess paint revealing some truly fabulous art pieces.  This batik-style process brings so much visual interest to the art work.

The kids that finished their work became totally giddy and began to show the complainers their finished pieces and this turned everything around.  Not another moan was heard.  They all broke out into a frenzy to work harder and finish the project. And for good reason.  These wax resist artworks are amazing! Check them out:

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 I was truly inspired. I am going to try to incorporate this technique into my own work in the fall. I loved this project!

I look forward to posting some more projects as I get them off my camera ;)

Crazy Hair

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One more project for you as school is about to begin…

I don’t know how much the parents appreciated this project, but since I’m still 89% kid at heart, this project made me laugh my head off!

While the kids were busy working on another project, I asked to take their pics.  I told them to look at me as if their finger was stuck in a light socket.  They had no idea what they’d be doing with the photos, but like all good kids, they simply did what they were told!

I took the pics with my phone and at home converted them to black and white. I printed out a full page image of each kid and then carefully cut everything away from their faces -hair and all. I then glued each kid to the center of a poster board 3-4 times the size of their heads -a blank slate.

When I unveiled what we’d be doing for the day, for an extra laugh, I gathered the kids around and said “let’s take a look at what everyone in the class looks like bald”.  Oh their were some red faces and some really loud laughs… all good sports though!

So it wasn’t hard to get them to want to fill in the posters.  1-make yourself not bald 2-have fun creating something out of this world!

I think it’s a great thing about camp.  Sometimes teaching people to not take themselves so seriously can be just as useful as seriousness.  It’s a great lesson in releasing control.

I find the 7 year olds draw with reckless abandon while the 11-14 year olds sketch with pencil, then erase, then erase, then erase…. the session is done and they never got past sketching.  Which reminds me.  I gave the kids a black sharpie, not a pencil.

Such an early age and everyone is already worried about being perfect.

If I can leave the kids with anything from Art Camp, it’s this.  Laugh –period!  Don’t take yourself so seriously –it will ruin your creativity!  And finally, KEEP ART FUN. If you can manage to do that, art will be your friend for life.  You have to work at this though, society has a way of wanting to suck the joy and spontaneity out of one’s creativity.

Laughing is the key!

 

 

Think Outside The Box

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In the summer, my own art-making gets put on hold because I’m home with my kids for school break.  I always manage to teach a few weeks of camp to help pay for my own kids camps and thus it works out – all kids are happy and busy :)

So, here are some pics from what I called the “Think Outside the Box Challenge”.

The kids were given some plain old brown boxes I found at a recycling center.  Then they were shown a world of materials that they could use to transform their boxes into something else.  When they were done, their teacher shouldn’t be able recognize their creation as a “box”.

I had a black hefty garbage big filled to the brim with fabrics.  I had yarn, scrapbook paper, wall paper, 1980’s colorful buttons, feathers,basket fill, paint, markers, card board thread bobbins , glue, old jewelry components and a giant lump of polymer clay for each kid. I also had old clear transparency paper for the kids to use for windows… The sky was the limit on odds and ends that could be used to CREATE.

Here were some of the Think Outside the Boxes…

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When the kids were done, one of them said “Ya know, I could actually play with this at home.  I have little dolls I could put in there”.

Yes dear.

In the olden days, that’s what we used to do.  We’d create something to play with!

It’s a great skill to be able to think outside the box.  It’s a life skill that if started early will show up in everything you do later in life.

I promise!

Art Camp 2016 D.O.D.

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By far the most favorite project of camp – Oversized Day-of-the-Dead Skulls!

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Because time was limited, I cut out the outer skull.  The rest was up to them.  Ready…Set…Grab your glue guns!!!!

I showed them the trick to making the facial features 3-D.

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We dowsed them in white paint to give ourselves a blank canvas…

And then the fun began!

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I’m pretty sure many a tween bedroom will now be adorned in sugar skulls!

Best of Art Camp 2016

 

 

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I’m wrapping up my second session of Art Camp and thought I’d share some amazing child creativity. The kids ranged in age from 7-14 and were both girls and boys.

I gave each kid a 2ft x 4ft piece of black poster board, a close up of a symmetrical sarcophagus face, the exterior shape of a sarcophagus and many, many library books with real images as reference.

The kids were overwhelmed.  “How can we create something so massive and complex???”  I knew they could do it by breaking the sarcophagus’ into quadrants.  Focusing on symetry, each kid simply had to create one half of the image and then replicate it on the other side.

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Dare I say it went from a scary venture to something really fun.  On hand, I had 4 different shades of gold paint, black and gold washi tape, gold paper and gold pens.

The results were amazing!

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  These kids were maticulous and really taking their time, but I think it was well worth it.  I alotted two hours for the project but many were still plugging away on hour four.  The finished pieces sparkle and the detail is simply amazing.  I’m very proud of them!

Let it snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

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Check out this fun idea for an impromptu children’s art class.

I was asked to create an hour long project for 30 kids ranging in age from 5 years to age 12. What do kindergarteners and sixth graders have in common??? Yikes!

Oh and next, there’s no existing art room, so if I didn’t mind, could I cart everything I needed for the project?

Ah…Sure!!!

One hour, 30 kids all different ages and bring everything….yeah ok. Got it!

piece of cake ;)

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I don’t know why, perhaps because I watch too many Food Network challenges, but the idea hit me to give each kid a filled up paper bag of materials and challenge each kid to use them. This made sense too, because I had to haul a lot of materials quickly.

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The ideas started flowing from there. I made a pit stop at the Rhode Island Recovery Center. This is a place where all RI businesses can recycle anything from their businesses that people may be able to repurpose for education. You never know what strange materials you’ll find and its like 40 cents a pound. I chose the items with a certain theme in mind, divided up all the loot and filled up 30 lunch bags.

I decided to make the entire event a challenge. The bags would be stapled up tight and there would be about 10 secret ingredients within. The kids were also given a piece of light blue mat board and a chunk of self-hardening white clay.

They couldn’t touch a thing until I said “GO!” This created excitement like a race. I finally told them the theme was winter. I got their minds going…  What colors come to mind when I say winter? What would you find in a winter environment? What types of animals? Ect….  I handed each kid some wet glue and a glue stick and said “On your mark, get set, GO!!!” And they went at this project like they were on a mission!

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In all the mayhem, I think I only photographed the younger kids snowmen, but there was definitely more diversity. There were birds in nests, a narwhale, polar bears and penguins. I scored a bunch of jewelry boxes which were perfect building blocks for dioramas. I also found this 4 foot long silver tinsel at the recycling center which was perfect for icicles.

The moral of this very long story is if your ever stuck in a jam, turn the project into a challenge! The kids were so proud of their ingenuity, they had a great time building and they even enjoyed walking around to see what their peers came up with.

I can see the potential for this in my summer camps. The organizational aspect felt wonderful. All of the chaos was contained and I even challenged them to use the bags!

You’ll have to try this one… We’ll call it The secret bag challenge!

PS.

(pardon the grammar and writing – I totally struggled to write this on my phone!)

SOUP’S ON!

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Is it just me or does it feel absolutely horrible putting on your nice warm coat or settling in to your nice warm bed?  Watching the Syrian Conflict unfold has been heartbreaking.

My 9 year old was given the task at school of finding a community service project somewhere in the community to participate in.  Each kid in the class was on there own.  I told my son to try to give what ever he deemed to be one of his strengths.  He loves to cook so we started there.

A woman in my pottery studio had read in the paper that a local woman was volunteering at The Nour Education Program in Lebanon and how it was a school set up for Syrian refugee children.  It was decided that our pottery studio would host a fundraiser for this school.

My son and I decided this was the perfect community service project to invest in.  The studio needs potters to donate their ceramic creations to the event so that each person who makes a financial donation can take home a hand-crafted bowl.  They need homemade soup to feed the guests of the event and homemade bread. Make bowls and cook?  We got this!

I also volunteered to make the flyer for the event and I have to say, I am so proud of myself!  That’s my bowl! (ok and my husbands curry too!) But, I made that!!!  I photographed it and designed the flyer too.  I’m so thrilled with how it came out!  I can’t believe I made something in pottery that looks so darn cool on a flyer (yes, yes and my husbands curry too!)

Pardon me for gushing on myself.  I don’t do it that often, but once in a while I can recognize I done pretty darn good!

Now where was I….

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Oh yeah… Time to make some bowls!  My son decided to invite a bunch of his friends to come to the pottery studio to create a ceramic bowl to donate to the event.

They did an amazing job.  Without any prompts, the most beautiful things were etched into their bowls.  Words like “Pay it forward”, “Be the Inspirer”, “Know the Fun” &  “Joy, Joy, Joy!”  Kids are awesome.  They really are.  I love that my kid’s school has them thinking about the world at large and people in their community.  What can you do to help?  How can you be helpful?  I tell ya, I know I wasn’t doing community service in 3rd grade. I think I was drooling on an eraser and drawing on my desk!  Huh.

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I was not prepared for the turn-out of kids.  We made 19 bowls in total!

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This was my son’s bowl.

OMG. I will be the first patron in line to get that bowl –grandparents, don’t even think about it!!!

 So we are off to a great start.  I glazed all 19 bowls today.  I can’t wait to see how they turn out.  My son has decided he is going to cook up a batch of loaded baked potato soup and Dad is going to teach his son how to bake bread.  We are hoping for a good turn out and have started the process for a second fundraiser for the same refugee school.

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These photos were taken by Katie Jones at the Nour School.

It’s my hope that my son learns a valuable lesson.  You can’t save the world. You just can’t.  -but you can pick a spot and start making it better! 

That’s how us humans get things done!