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 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.
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!
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 😊
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.
This painting is on my cupboard door and came about because my husband said, “everything else in our house is painted, that side of the room looks bare”. It was supposed to be (and is, really) a lighthearted, decorative mural….However, it has taken on loads of meaning for me. especially since this is the first thing I have completed in ages; I’ve been struggling with a pretty bad case of artists’ block.
Since researching fairytales and fables as a the theme for my art programmes this term, I have come deeply appreciative of how much these whimsical tales have influenced my art even on a subconscious level. Fairytales can be macabre, but they have a quality about them where we find the most naive and earthly aspects of our humanity is connected to magic and the divine. Princes turn into beasts and bears, children are brought out of intolerable situations through their own courage and wit, animals speak plainly, forests are enchanted ..the whole world is charmed in a fairytale, and anything can happen. There is also something wonderfully redeeming about the phrase “..and they lived happily ever after”.
This painting has aspects of the tale “The Singing Tree”, where a besotted prince takes a magical tree from an evil goblin in the hops of winning the hand of a beautiful, narcissistic princess. The goblin threatens to turn the prince into whatever form he chooses if the princess fails to fall in love with her. Sure enough, the spoilt princess rejects the prince. She is turned into a hag and cast out from the castle; he is turned into a bear. They are forced to live in the forest where the goblin torments them. As a bear, the prince looks after the princess and they eventually fall in love as her heart softens because there are no mirrors to remind her of her ugliness; she finds kindness in her heart instead of self-absorption. Needless to say, in the presence of love the spell is broken “and they lived happily ever after”.
I have had 4 years experience working as a primary art specialist, and also exhibit and sell my own work. I am a big advocate in the importance of art education as it enhances academic performance as well as emotional resilience. This year I am running a range of art classes from my home studio. I design my lessons to teach students to make artistic choices and generate their ideas; as well as learning practical skills such as contour drawing and printmaking. I am also able to assist ATAR art students with their art assignments.
Students will work with clay (firing is an additional small cost), mixed-media, watercolour and painting techniques, drawing, and perspective. Homeschool students will be provided with a brief report at the end of each unit.
Cost: $96 (casual rate $15 per class) Classes run for 8 weeks.
Primary group: Tuesday 2nd February- 22nd of March
10:30 a.m- 12:00 p.m
Highschool group: Wednesday 3rd February-23rd March (full)
After School groups
Primary: Wednesday 3rd February-23rd of March, 3:30p.m-5:00p.m
Highschool: Thursday 4th February-23rd of March, 4:00 p.m-5:30