Friday, 22 February 2013

All kids love Clay!

There is something about the lovely texture of clay that fascinates kids (and adults alike).  I've already had a few requests for clay so it was easy to decide that this weeks theme is ..... CLAY. 

Whenever I have children over during the holidays or on weekends they always want to play with clay in the studio.  Interestingly it's been found that few mediums can kindle creativity and skills in children like clay does. Something magical happens when children work with clay, it seems to have a therapeutic quality that relaxes them and holds their attention for hours.  "Working with clay is good for sensory development, motor skills, self esteem, and self expression, problem solving skills, discipline, and pride" says Patty Storms in her article The Importance of Clay and Pottery in Child Development. If that's not incentive enough to expose your children to clay I don't know what is!

People often steer away from clay work as its messy and yes it is yet its easy to clean up.  You don't need to have a kiln.  These days there is plenty of air drying (or paper clay) around.  I don't have a kiln so I decided to expose the children to two types of clay during the lesson. We used earthenware white clay for our pots and paper clay for our sculptures.  Using paper clay for the sculptures allowed the children to make something quickly which they can paint and take home next lesson. By using earthenware clay for our pots I can teach them about the firing process and glazes.  

First we discussed what clay is, where it comes from, what colours it comes in and the process of firing clay and glazing it.  I showed them a few pieces of pottery that my children and myself had made.  Each child was then given a small piece of clay to begin with.  I encouraged them to play with it a bit and get a feel for the clay.  I asked what does it feel like, does it retain its shape when you push it? What happens when you add water?  Can you smooth it? Can you flatten it? How would you add pieces to it? Can you break it into bits? Can you roll it into a ball? How would you make it into a sausage (coil)?

I then gave each of them a piece of clay and showed them how to make it into a ball.  I demonstrated how to make a pinch pot by sticking their thumb into the middle and pinching it (I liken this to using your thumb and finger like a crabs claw and pitching this way).  When they had finished their pinch pot they decorated it with various buttons, stamps and tools.  Below are a couple of our unfired pieces.  Pretty impressive considering some of the children had never worked with clay before!

Thursday Pinch Pots.  I love the one with the curved edges and some have lovely detail on them.

Tuesday Pinch Pots.  Two of these were made by 5yo boys!

The children were then given a piece of paper clay and I told them they could make whatever they wanted.  I did show them how to make a coil shape for an easy snake and how to flatten the clay with their hands if they wanted a flat shape. Some were inspired to go into the garden to get leaves to imprint into their clay. We ended up with a few interesting sculptures including a microphone, hotdog and lots of mushrooms (inspiration from my pottery mushrooms in our garden).  Below are some of the pieces before painting.

Snake and Bird in a Nest

Leaf Print

There is nothing better than witnessing the smile on a child's face as they experience the sensation of sitting at a potters wheel for the first time.  I find the children absolutely love the feel of the slippery wet clay spinning beneath their hands.  They are facinated by the clay and water spraying everywhere and lets face it children just love mess!  I offer all children (our youngest are 5) a go on the wheel.  I tell them it's all about the process rather than the finished piece and it doesn't matter if they don't make a pot.  I just want them to enjoy the feel of the clay beneath their hands and experiment with pressure and hand position.
A childs pot on the wheel

That's it for this week.  I will post some pictures of our painted and glazed pieces once they are finished.

The artist of the week is Wassily Kandinsky.  He was choosen as his artwork is very colourful and abstract which I believed would appeal to the children.  I also want to introduce painting to music and Kandinsky is known for this.

Cheerio Fee

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Hearts, Hearts and more Hearts.....

I just couldn't resist with Valentines day this Thursday - today's theme is HEARTS...

For those who also love hearts go to 366 Hearts where a woman has set herself the challenge of creating a heart a day for 366 days.  I loved looking through them and finding inspiration.  My husband and I usually ignore Valentines Day thinking its commercial rubbish yet I find myself tonight (after being surrounded by hearts all art lesson) reflecting on all those wonderful people I love and that make me happy.  That said my husband still won't be getting any cards or presents - we don't want him dying of shock.....

Colourful Heart Fruit skewers for afternoon tea
Heart Gingerbreads before decorating

Heart Gingerbread after decoration with edible writing pens
We started the lesson with our heart inspired afternoon tea (see above pictures).  I chose this time to discuss that art comes in many forms and not all art is done in the classroom.  You can create art in the kitchen, in the garden, in the playroom, anywhere really.... We then decorated our afternoon tea cookies using edible markers.  The children all saved one to take home which I packaged up for them.

Wax resist Warm and Cool Hearts
Our first activity today was..... you guessed it a Heart painting!  The inspiration for these came from a Pin on Pinterest click here.  Children were given a piece of A3 watercolour paper and were asked to draw a big heart with black oil pastel.  I checked with them all first to see if they knew how to draw a heart.  We had one 5 year old boy who didn't know and even though we did practice a few times we decided to get him to draw a circle instead. They were then instructed to draw anything they wanted in or around the heart with white and black oil pastels.  We did a quick check in on what we learnt last week about primary and secondary colours and then introduced the concept of warm and cool colours.  The liquid watercolours were brought out in WARM colours and the children painted the inside of their hearts.  Finally we brought out the liquid watercolours in COOL colours and they painted the surrounding paper.  I asked them to try and fill the whole page.  I have to say I'm really pleased with the results they are beautiful and vibrant and ohh so loving.....

Our second activity used one of my favourite mediums at the moment Salt Dough.  We have used this for numerous projects at our house over the past few months.  Salt Dough is great for children who are a bit too old for play dough and want to keep their creations.  It can be coloured, painted and decoration added.  It has the advantage over clay in that its less messy and you don't need a kiln to fire it.  We love it!  The basic recipe is:

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup fine table salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2/3 cups water

Mix salt and flour in bowl.  Add oil and water.  Mix with wooden spoon until combined.  Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead to make a smooth ball.

Once your little artists have made their creations let it air dry or bake in an oven at 100 degrees for around 2 hours (or until hard).  Any left overs can be refrigerated for later use.

We tried a little experiment and painted our salt dough ornaments whilst wet with the left over watercolours from the first activity.  Usually I wait until they are dry and paint then, yet this way we finished the whole activity in one lesson.  I always seal it once dry with Modge Podge although I imagine PVC glue or varnish would work just as well.

The children created lots of things including the pictures of the hearts below.  These were created using different techniques I've seen on the Internet over the past few months.  I'm guilty of not remembering where all the ideas came from yet most are from one of my favourite blogs The Artful Parent.

I must say children never cease to amaze me by their creativity. These were all done by 5 & 7 year olds!  These still need to be baked, varnished and string added. 

Stained glass.   Glue is added around the beads to hold them in.  These look lovely hanging in a window with the sun shining through
Beads and Watercolour
Stamped and bead (dough was coloured pink)
Watercolour and Glitter
Stamped (whole ink pad rather than a stamp!) and watercolour

Well that's it for this week.  No Thursday class due to a teachers strike in Victoria.  Our artist of the week is still Van Gogh.

Cheers Fee

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Fun with Colour & Marbling

I've just completed my first two art classes and I must say they were fun yet exhausting! I think I learnt more than the kids!! Both classes were on beautiful sunny afternoons and what I hadn't taken into account was that the kids might want to play in our back garden rather than do art (we have a large back garden complete with in-ground tramp, cubby, fort, slide, swings and a trapeze). Needless to say when I went inside on Tuesday to fill a bucket during clean up I came out to find them all on the tramp!  On Thursday I actually made a jump on the tramp (after clean up) part of the class. That way they got a quick release of energy and I felt under control.  

This weeks theme was COLOUR....

I wanted to ensure they understood what the primary and secondary colours are and how to mix them to get new colours.  It's really important kids grasp this concept early on and understand they don't need to be supplied with lots of colours.  As long as they have red, blue, yellow and white they can make any colour they wish.

We started with an afternoon tea including rainbow biscuits (use standard sugar biscuit  recipe, colour with food colouring, roll into sausages and squash together, then cut into rounds). During this time we read one or two of the very inspiring books by Peter H Reynolds (The Dot, Ish and Sky Colour).  We discussed how art doesn't have to be perfect and there are no right ways and wrong ways. Some of the children had already heard the books and we discussed the Ish like drawings they had done at school.  Sky Colour is about a little girl who has no blue paint so she paints the sky all these wonderful colours after realising the sky is not always blue.  On Tuesday the children really took this on board and felt quite liberated painting things whatever colours they wanted during the class.  We had a very colourful guinea pig and discussion on different colours for grass, sky and dirt.

Rainbow biscuits

Next we did a little science experiment (as we all love science) to see the primary colours mixing to secondary colours.  I got this idea from All For Kids.

Mixing Yellow and Blue to make green

Step 1. Place some blue food colouring into a glass of water
Step 2. Place a rolled up paper towel into glass and into empty glass next to it
Step 3. Place some yellow food colouring into a glass and place a rolled up paper towel into this
Step 4. Place the other end of the yellow paper towel into the empty glass next to the blue cup.
Step 5. Watch the coloured water get absorbed by the paper towel and mix in the empty cup.
When the experiment is finished the water level will be the same in all three cups.
Repeat with blue and red, red and yellow.

On Thursday we also added another experiment (so all children had something to do) also from All For Kids and it also features in the Osbourne 100 Science Experiments book.  It showed that different coloured textas (eg green) are made up of different colours (eg yellow and blue) and that some colours are more readily absorbed in water (due to their chemicals) and travel further on the sheet of paper.
Texta Dots separating out through absorption

The children loved these experiments and they checked on their progress all class.

We then moved onto the MESSY part of our class - Shaving Cream Marbling.  There are lots of sites on how to do this.  I particularly like the directions on  The Imagination Tree

Shaving cream marbling - Tuesday
It certainly got messy there was shaving cream EVERYWHERE!  Yet that's what art class is all about getting messy at my house rather than theirs... The children really liked playing with the shaving cream at the start and end of the session.  I learnt from the Tuesday session to put out only a few paints and to encourage putting on small amounts mixing a max of 4 colours at once.  As you can see from the Tuesday photo we had lots of colours to choose from and it was probably a bit too much choice as the kids wanted to use all the colours and sometimes mixed too much and got brown! We also used my fluro liquid watercolours on Tuesday yet I put them away for the Thursday class  as I think the result is better with the normal liquid watercolours.   Below are some of the results - I think it looks really beautiful.  We will use some of the paper for a collage in a later class.

Shaving cream marbling results

Our second activity was a painting to practise mixing of the primary colours to get different colours.  Each child was given an A3 piece of paper and a black permanent marker to draw a picture. I let them draw whatever they wanted since it was the first class.  I did suggest a sea scene or an abstract painting so they could practise drawing different lines.  I then gave them a palette with the three primary colours (and white).  I asked them to colour some things with these colours and then to mix the colours to get the secondary colours (as discussed from the science experiment).  There were quite a few crys of excitement when they made colours they liked.  There were a few children who didn't mix much at all yet this was mainly on Tuesday when I was still in the midst of hanging up the marbled paper and didn't get time to go around class to inspect what they were doing.
Tuesday class paintings

Thursday class painting

Thursday class painting

Our artist of the week is VINCENT VAN GOGH.  The children left with a print out of his "Starry Night" painting (below) and were asked to look at it and think about it and we would discuss it at the next class.  I hope to introduce the concept to them that there are many different painting styles, some they will like and some they won't. It's always interesting hearing about the lives of the famous artists and how they became famous and what makes their artwork so special.

Cheerio till next week.

Friday, 1 February 2013


Welcome to Sunnyside Art House!

This blog will follow my new adventures of running art classes for children and other crafty, creative and inspirational ideas.  I'm so excited.  I live, breathe and dream about art and so look forward to spending more time in this space.  I'm really passionate about expanding children's creativity and awakening their creative spirit. I aim to give them as many experiences as possible to use their wonderful creative minds and hands. As Pablo Picasso is famous for quoting "every child is an artist".  I can't wait to see the creations that come out of my classes.  It's such a thrill to watch and teach children about art.  I love how they are happy to get messy, love to try new things (well most of the time) and their creations and ideas always amaze me.  I aim to encourage life long creativity.

For those adults who are creative or feel they have lost touch with their creative side I will be opening up the studio once a month for an adults session.  Feel free to bring along something you are working on at home or just come along and let the creative relaxing atmosphere inspire you.  You are welcome to use the studio supplies. Just pay what you think you owe by gold coin donation or donate some supplies in return.

I've been very busy over the past month converting our double garage (that strangely sits in the middle of our back garden) into an art studio.  My poor husband complains he has lost his work shed (and yes admittedly his tools are now in the far corner) yet I believe we can share the space.  Below is  a picture of the new studio.  It's a work in progress yet I'm happy with how much it's come along.

I loved getting out all my craft and art supplies and putting them all in one space (the kids still have their own craft space upstairs as well I could never take that away they love it and spend hours there). It's amazing how many supplies you gather over the years.
I have spent many an hour researching lesson plans and ideas for my classes. It's amazing how much information is out there. There are so many inspirational bloggers, art teachers, parents, homeschoolers and just crafty people. Thank you to all those amazing people, you have inspired me and given me the confidence to do something I love. Check out my favourites area for links to some of these inspirational websites.
Well that's it for now.  I promise my future blogs will be MUCH shorter.  I will post again after my first class on Tuesday, wish me luck.....