Whimsical Watercolours

I have been mad keen on the ‘fairytales and fables’ theme with all of my students. For older artists, I like to keep things a little open ended, so their brief was: “an image inspired by a fairytale”….very broad, I know. We have already had conversations about the ins and outs of fairytale lore…it’s not just the realm of little children, some of them give a great insight into the history of the day…(Did you know that in the timeframe of the Grimm brothers, it was not uncommon for women to die in childbirth…..so, the cliche of the ‘evil stepmother’ found in the most popular fairy tales has some roots in real life situations).

Anyway, I’m really pleased with their efforts; they researched and chose images that had some meaning for them, and learnt the subtleties of using watercolour to boot.




Pre Primary Castles

Pre-primary artists used corrugated papers and paint to make fairytale castles. This is a great activity to teach shape and texture. We achieved this in two 50 minute sessions, the first session we looked at the shapes found in old castles, and I demonstrated how to cut out shapes and assemble them onto the paper……so very important to demonstrate, I always have to remind myself that children are not mind readers!!! After doing some drawings of castle shapes, they cut out their shapes (some needed a little help- cutting castle turrets is hard work!), then glued them down onto black paper (we used pva glue). I was a bit torn between painting them the following week or using them to make prints….but I think the greater learning was achieved through just painting them. Young kids looooove colour mixing. I think the more of this they can do, the better. I love hearing shrieks of “oh wow I made gold/purple/green”….messy but worth it! I think these young artists should be very happy with what they have achieved.

Exploring dreams through art

Today was my first adult workshop I have facilitated in a very long time, and it was such a joy. My initial undergraduate degree, before teaching, was in counselling, and I have had a huge interest in art therapy. That said, I wanted to create a space that allowed for healing or growth through art, but as a by-product of the art exploration process itself -rather than being the main focus. I don’t want to go into a recount of our artistic musings today, rather, I just want to reflect some thoughts I am left with….

We need to be gentle with ourselves, our unique viewpoints and experiences. Everyone has creative inklings and expressions that are precious. The world needs to hear or see them.

Our inner critic needs to go on holiday sometimes.

Clarity is found sometimes in the most mundane pockets of our lives.

Our subconscious or dream life is not shy, sometimes the things we need to know are right in front of us.

There is a collective subconscious when we share dreams.

Finally….I’m just blown away by how amazing and intricate we all are, and what a privilege it is to watch creativity unfold.

Fairytale Sihouettes

My senior homeschool group have been working (meticulously!) on creating fairytale inspired silhouettes. We had a look at some artwork by Czech artist Divica Landrova (1908- 1982), noting the repetitive shapes and stylised images.


Students then researched some fairytale silhouettes using whatever device they had on hand (phones, iPad, laptops). They sketched their designs onto black paper, then cut out their image using a scalpel or Stanley knife. Some of their designs were very intricate! They then glued their composition on to white paper. These pictures show some of their work in progress!


Intuitive painting: exploring dreams in art

Come and explore dreams and find out how to utilise them in our artwork. You will have the opportunity to explore collage techniques, and other mediums that work well with acrylic paint. Your final outcome may be abstract, representational or somewhere in between. Dreams have been used by artists for centuries for inspiration and artistic content. Think of Dali, Chagall, Klimt, Rousseau, Munch, Kahlo….

You don’t need to intentionally ‘remember’ or write down your dreams to attend; we can uncover the wisdom in our dreams simply by being in the ‘here and now’ (the ‘Gestalt’).

This is not an ‘art therapy’ workshop as such, however, the mere act of committing ourselves to creating has wonderful benefits. Making art is an amazing vehicle that helps clarify our thoughts and feelings and also lays down neural pathways for problem solving and healing.

Date: Saturday February 20
Time: 1:00-5:00 p.m (afternoon tea included) Venue: My home Studio (Alyssa’s Art Garden), located in Medina (south of Perth).
Cost: I am offering my first workshop for free, since I would love your feedback so I can make them super awesome and relevant! I would ask, though that you bring your own canvas (a good size is 40 x 60 cm)
Register: Contact Alyssa on 0409 497 739, or msg me on my Art garden page.

A bit of mixed media

I’m teaching my 3/4 class how to include foreground, middle ground and backgrounds in landscapes. We used tissue paper and paint to make the foreground appear closer. We also made some trees out of torn newspaper. They painted on some recycled lino donated from the Pre Primary classroom. They look pretty cool so far, can’t wait til they add the finishing touches with oil pastel..although, these ones look pretty good as they are 😊

The magic of Art

Lately I have been reminded of the wonderful ways art can transform and heal. I have been able to spend time on my own art projects as well as teaching; and I can almost feel myself breaking out of destructive thought patterns and habits. We may not be aware of it, but anything creative be it music, painting, dance or writing sets in motion a healing chain reaction; we are creating new neural pathways to help us understand ourselves and the world. I think though, most important of all, creative enterprise gets us to live in a way that is deeply authentic. It’s a privilege indeed to teach art to children, because I know I am passing on something precious.

I homeschool my youngest son, who is nearly 12. He has dyslexia and dysgraphia. This means that he finds it difficult to read and write; not surprisingly, he is prone to anxiety in learning environments. Being dyslexic also means that his brain is wired differently and he is excellent at problem solving and divergent thinking. Being an artist and an art teacher means that in my homeschooling efforts my son gets more of his fair share of art education. Contrary to what many may think (that I may be neglecting other areas to his detriment); I have been delighted by the way he has been able to express himself through art. Dyslexic people come across challenges in the realm of getting their ideas out, because so much of how we communicate is through language. His skill level has increased out of sight, and he has experienced genuine pride in his accomplishments in art. Part of me feels a bit sad that society at large considers the arts to be ‘lesser’ subjects. If it was valued as highly as maths English and science, my son would have even more to gain from his art. Art is still considered by many to be the subject kids oscillate towards if they can’t do the ‘serious’ ones.

This year, among many other ventures, I want to advocate for the arts. Living in the upside down world we are in this is a tough call. Isn’t it crazy that the things we value as a culture are conformity, logic, ambition and stoicism. If nothing else, these are the qualities you must have to get far in the world. My inner wisdom always brings me back to a place where I must acknowledge the need to just be myself. It’s harder sometimes than others, because people’s perceptions of ‘artist’ or ‘art teacher’ can lead to those stereotypical labels ‘flaky’, ’empty-headed’ or ‘eccentric’. It’s such a shame, since we are marginalising the very thing that brings us closer to God, and also closer to each other. We are all potential wellsprings of creativity. This creative energy is valuable, beyond any human measure. Whether it is expressed through words, encouragements, drawings, recording dreams, songs or stories; we each have something to add to the world that is truly unique. I hope my boy comes to know and value his; and it’s really the quest we have all been given, to be true to the person God created us to be.

‘Green Arrow’ by Fletcher, 11