May I never think I’m too old to colour with crayons

I teach art to junior and senior high students. Yesterday, my grade nine’s were working on a visual problem exercise inspired by one of my favourite artists, Carla Sonheim.

My teaching philosophy is such that I want students to push past preconceived ideas about rules within art and learn to take creative risks and solve problems on their own. As such, I rarely show examples and after teaching the required skill and explaining the piece they will be working on, I explain and then write my “must have/not have” rules on the board, (for example: you must include three different types of line, use two different media, or, you will not use cartoon bubbles to show dialogue) and then, I let the students loose to create.

As they first begin working, I try to make little direct eye contact with students and their artwork to minimize the non-verbal reassurance that we all seek to find out if we are doing things “correctly”. I tell my students I want to be surprised. For some, this is extremely challenging and they use every tactic they can think of to get me to check their work. I rarely answer those kinds of questions; more than not, I re-state the must have/not haves instructions written on the board. Over time I see students not only using their imaginations more easily but also making decisions on their own. Hallelujah! This is a transferable skill that will help them improve in all the other subjects they take.

In can be difficult, even with encouragement and practice, to approach a piece differently than one’s peers. If one student chooses pastels, I frequently see the whole table choose pastels. Junior high students are especially known for wanting to do the same as their friends and not wanting to do things that are for “little kids”.

Yesterday, after teaching and giving the instructions, I set my grade nine students to work. After waiting a few minutes, I began walking around the room and after passing the expected and usual marker and coloured pencil pieces, I came to a student who had pulled out and was using my box of 64 Crayola crayons from the art cupboard.

It honestly made my day.

IMG_8005

The Jumbings of an ice-bound Haligonian

I’m sitting here with coffee in hand reading through what has become a common theme in my Facebook feed; weather grief. There are so many opinions about yet another school day being missed. Some roads look clear, we’ve just had a long weekend, how much time can we miss before children’s educations are negatively impacted, parents need to work and where will their children go for the day, and…we live in Nova Scotia so we shouldn’t let a little snow stop us. (Read any news article for a hundred reasons more). We are however, still in the midst of clearing up from one of the worst kinds of winter weather…a snowstorm followed by rain and flash freezing. This means ice, ice and more ice, is now coating every inch of our city.

I was relieved that our regional school board, HRSB, cancelled today; my school follows suit. I have a great 9th floor view onto a main roadway. At first glance it looks great out there this morning; the sun is shining brightly and we are snow-flurry free. Another glance down to the road however, paints a different story. I have been watching people spend 40 minutes pounding ice off their car to then find their wheels frozen in three solid inches of ice. Cars turning onto our somewhat plowed street are skidding on ice patches they simply couldn’t see while people who are trying to get to the bus are walking with their arms stretched out as if walking a tightrope. They appear to be holding their breath with each step they make. I have noticed myself silently cheering them along til they finally reach the bus stop.

It seems as though no matter how well our city plans, shifts its clearing routine and hires new contractors, the weather itself adopts a brand new winter plan of grief. It makes me think of the flu. Each year the new flu vaccine is developed based on the strain from the year before in the hopes that it will lower flu incidents in the upcoming year. Some swear it works while others, well, you probably know people who say the flu shot didn’t help them a bit and was a waste of time. But scientists and doctors keep trying to develop a vaccine that will work for the next year. And it takes a year to find out how well they did. It seems like the city’s winter plan is a bit like that. They shift and re-assign and hire new contractors and then we get hit with yet another new kind of winter.

I’m sure some roads are cleared well by now. More roads are not. Sidewalks and walking paths are not. I’m relieved to be home, and not because it is another day off, but because I know the city still has a way to go before it is safe again for vehicles and for people. The fanciest boots, ice picks and warm clothes do not seem to protect enough from this ice. Snow is frustrating to clear. Ice, solid ice, is a nightmare. Large trucks and excavators have been spotted flipped over, have blown motors and even the scrapers bent off. There is no quick fix for ice. I saw a plea yesterday from a company willing to pay a high hourly price to anyone with an excavator. They posted their request a number of times but hadn’t gotten any takers because I’m guessing everyone who had this equipment was already out working.

As a teacher, I will find a way to make sure my students stay on track with the year’s learning plan. I also know lots of kids will drive their parents crazy today complaining of being stuck at home. My son may well be one of them. That’s okay. It can be a learning lesson for him in being patient and how sometimes, no matter how badly you want to do something, you just have to wait.

I love my city, in spring, summer, autumn, and yes, even when coated in winter’s ice.

IMG_7941

<a

In sight, in my mind…

Recently, as part of the LifeBook art class I’m taking, we created a jar of celebration. I used an old peanut butter jar and collaged napkins and stamped it into a new life. It now holds my metallic water-colour pencils.

I like using jars to hold my supplies. For me, the quote, “Out of sight, out of mind”, is accurate. I love using different art media but those special papers and tags I have carefully organized by colour and pattern into labelled boxes are quickly forgotten, sometimes for months at a time.

I watched a great video by Lynn Whipple on painting jars and so I found a couple of more jars to re-purpose. It took a few coats of paint before I couldn’t see through. I tried chalkboard paint on one and plain white gesso on the other. I then used my pencil, markers and other acrylic paints to add simple decorations and lettering. I wouldn’t use them to hold food items but in addition to art supplies, they could sit in a bathroom to hold Q-tips and make-up brushes, on a table with small candies, or anywhere you want.

I liked how they turned out and after raiding my mother’s cupboard, I plan on making some more this weekend in new colours and designs. Hurray!

IMG_7724

IMG_7722

IMG_7711

The Breakfast Club

Yesterday, Mom took her angel bag from my Society6 shop to her book club breakfast meeting. She said that everyone liked it including some people from a different group. (Yay!) You can check out my shop http://society6.com/kittysdaydreams
Last night I created and printed some plain business cards and then I painted doodles on each one. They were fun to make and now she has my arty contact info to pass along to her friends. :)

2015/01/img_7707.jpg

A little Sunshine In Your Day…Sharpies make everything fun!

I love to use found items to create pretty things to look at. I am also as stubborn as all get out and I refuse to look up tricks and tips to make creating easier. This little bottle didn’t strain my brain and six months after I made it, is still sitting pretty on my shelf.

2014-08-11 17.05.42

Isn’t this cute?!

This is all you have to do…

  1. Get an empty and clean bottle – I used a Jones Soda Bottle

  2. Take off the label – I used Goo Be Gone to get rid of the extra gluey bits. Be sure to clean the outside of the bottle. You can wipe off your bottle with some rubbing alcohol. Dry it really well.

2014-08-11 19.01.33

  1. Pick out a couple of your favourite sharpie colours and doodle on the bottle. Sharpies are permanent; your cute little doodles won’t wipe off.

sharpies

  1. Fill the bottle with water and add in a couple of drops of food colouring or, if you are an artsy-wanna-be like me, some acrylic ink (I used bright, sunshine yellow!)

sunbottle

  1. Display your creation so the light shines in. It will look beautiful!

(After a while, you will notice some of the water has evaporated…just add in a little bit more and it is as good as new!)

2014-08-11 17.05.17

I love looking at my little piece of sunshine.

It Will All Come Out In The Wash…

…other than permanent marker, watercolour pencils, and colourful inks…

As I continue to push myself forward creatively, I am viewing the world and the people around me in a brand new way. Everywhere I turn I see a canvas wanting to be sketched, inked, painted, collaged…

Art allows me to think more deeply, to reflect, to calm down and decompress. The physical actions required to put my mind’s pictures on a paper feel similar within my body to the ballet classes I took; it is exhausting and frustrating and beautiful and joy-filled all at once.

And when I have finished a piece, I have a permanent record of the hundreds of thoughts, emotions, reflections and physical actions that went into it. 

I think I will let the bright pink paint blob on my shirt live on the middle of my shirt…not everything has to come out in the wash.

ink and watercolour

May All Your Daydreams Come True

I just took the plunge…a creative one that is. After years of creating art for myself and as gifts for my friends and family, I have decided it is time to leave the safe zone and enter the world of business. I have just finished setting up an official Facebook page to sell my work; https://www.facebook.com/kittysdaydreams

I love to create art. I love to make people happy with my artwork.

I do not however, love promoting myself or my artwork. It puts me in the spotlight and that is absolutely terrifying.

People who know me and who are reading this right now are probably laughing out loud.

“Kitty, not liking the spotlight? She is a teacher, and on top of it a drama teacher! She loves to perform and speak in front of others. She must be making this up.”

I’m not making it up. There is something very different about standing in front of a class full of magnificent minds (aka students). When I’m sharing brain expanding information I am helping young people to grow and soar. When I am on stage acting, I am helping people forget about the drama going on in their world as they focus on the drama taking place on stage.

Posting pictures of my artwork on Facebook might put a smile on a person’s face; giving a piece of art means the receiver can like it or can hide it away. Asking someone to purchase your creations is a whole different ballgame. People only purchase things they want or need and in the case of artwork, it is generally the former.

However, if nothing else, this summer I have discovered that I have a deep passion for creativity. As I am a child of God and He has created me in his image, this passion for art must have worth, not only for myself but for others.

And so, it is time to bring my daydreams to life.

beautiful

I am Kitty, Mindful Based Artist.

Boomerangs and Ping Pong

For many summers, beginning when my son was just one year old, we went to family camp. One year, a camper brought a boomerang and in between our many scheduled activities it became the must-do activity for all of the campers throughout the week. It was fascinating to watch this wing-shaped piece swoop through the air in a broad arc before returning to its owner. For me, however, it was a source of intense frustration as no matter how hard I would fling the “boom”, I could not get it to “rang” back to me!

Then there was the summer of the hacky sack (I was able to hack the miniature beanbag few times before it sacked) and I will never forget the year someone brought a tightrope and for one afternoon we were transformed into a circus camp!

The first week of August brought a new fun-fad activity and as such, the “this is the most fun, and everyone needs to try it” activity from the year before was wiped clean from most of our memories.

There were a couple of activities that refused to fade away, like gigantic chess set and the ping-pong table that lived on the big deck of the main lodge; year after year children and adults alike spent hours on both. It only took about a day of hyper-focus with that summer’s fad before the classics made their way back to us, until by the end of the week, I would hear the plink, plinkity plink sound of the plastic ball bouncing back and forth as I slept.

I am learning that my creative interests are like the trendy boomerang and the classic ping-pong table. I am on a perpetual hunt for new ideas, techniques (and tools!) and as I discover the “newest” idea, or technique (which of course all require new tools!) those that were considered must-do and must-have only a year were shoved to the back of the supply cupboard.

There are some elements that refuse to be relegated to the the back shelf; I see them creeping into many of my projects. Incorporating words, rich colour and utilizing curved lines are my classics when it comes to creating art. They will stay with me and my creations long after I have finished #100 on the list of 100 creative projects you can make with kool aid packages.

Will Sharpies become a classic? I’ll let you know next summer!

What are your creativity classics?

20140720-140008-50408877.jpg

Stack ’em high, up to the sky…

But don’t let them topple over!

It sounds like a line from an old Milton Bradley board game.

Growing up for many included the Friday night family games night. I wasn’t as keen on board games like some of my friends were. I can picture one friend’s game collection; it literally filled and spilled out of a closet in the hallway.

In fact, I have never played the staple of board games, Monopoly. This is something I am secretly proud of.

For me, games didn’t serve a purpose.

             Could the purpose be simply to have fun?

Spinners that got stuck and pieces that were missing and people screaming because they landed on “(fill in this space with the landing spot of your choosing) just didn’t seem like a lot of fun to me. Perfectionists have a hard time with games involving chance although I suppose I could have looked at the spinners as an opportunity to perfect my flicking finger or spin to always land on free turn, but I didn’t.

I know I played some games. Looking back, I can see that they were the kinds of games that I guess  I thought had a purpose. I could improve upon, use my brain to figure out.

Memory and Trivial Pursuit were more my style as to win meant using a variety of memory strategies and applying prior knowledge. They were practical and had a purpose.

          And they were fun, right?

If I can say they were fun then my practical bubble may be about to burst….let me get back to you on that.

20140615-082817-30497265.jpg

Yesterday

I, like hundreds of thousands of other Canadians am still processing the tragedy that took place last week in Moncton.

I created a small tangle, and, for the first time used red to shade with as it is the colour that the RCMP wear. I don’t like my tangle, not for technical reasons, but because I feel I haven’t captured the emotions I am still feeling. I am certain there will be another piece shaded in red done very soon.

Day 10.

20140611-183346-66826674.jpg