Angels and Archetypes, a Tribute to my Son

Angels and Archetypes, a Tribute to my SonI’m in the process of working towards an exhibition I have entitled “Angels and Archetypes”. It has caused me to really look at what is at the heart of my artwork and why I am drawn to certain images and themes. Most of the paintings are from 2018, however, there are some I have included from earlier. They are all linked by their archetypal element- people, places, animals and objects that have a symbolic meaning. The archetypes highlight the connectivity of human beings, since they are found in the collective unconscious, a place of myth, legend, dreams and folklore.

This exhibition is dedicated to my son Jordan who died tragically in a car accident in 2016. It feels like a wonderful way to honour his continuing presence in my life, not only as my son but now as a guide and source of inspiration to me. He is a creative soul, blessed with an inexhaustable curiosity about the world and everything in it. I wonder what he is doing now. I hope he is playing music and making new discoveries, free, unfettered and joyful. I know he is beside me always giving me so much encouragement. My creativity will always be a way to connect with him while we are separated in this life.

So much love to you my son, always, always.



Charles Blackman in Wonderland

Charles Blackman in Wonderland

I love the work of Aussie artist, Charles Blackman. He has done oodles of paintings based on the Alice in Wonderland story. One of his paintings hangs in the W.A art gallery (‘Blue Alice’). It’s my favourite. Some artists really know how to capture whimsy, without being contrived or clumsy.
Hence, it was a small step to make Blackman and Lewis Carroll’s famous story the catalyst for an art project with my upper primary students. This picture is of their final art piece; a painted table (and chair) setting…a great opportunity to transfer a Blackman masterpiece onto a functional tabletop! This is the unfinished version, but I’m so proud of students from both classes (I have done this project in 2 different schools). Kids worked so well together and we all learnt how complex seemingly ‘simple’ paintings are to reproduce. It’s like getting into the mind of an artist, brushstroke by brushstroke! More pics to come 🙂

Process or product: An art activity gone wrong

Process or product: An art activity gone wrong

I was pretty excited to lead my grade 2 class in a messy spray-bottle edicol dye experience the other day in art. Worked really well with the pre primary and grade 1s at another school. The idea was to get squares of canvas, make masking tape ‘pictures’ and then spray the canvas with brightly coloured edicol dye. Rip the masking tape off, and wallah…masking-tape-resist prints. Easy. Unfortunately though, having anticipated a repeat experience with the yer 1s and 2s, I found I was sadly short of the canvas I had been using. Oh well, there’s heaps of donated fabric in my art room, so I decided to use it instead. This fabric was heavy, but somewhat soft and furry, so when the grade 2s excitedly removed their masking tape, all the dye bled through creating psychedelic blobs of colour on material. 😦  Needless to say, I aborted the plan to do the same thing with year 1s (sigh).

Next week we had a go at salvaging our psychedelic muck ups by getting them to do black fruit prints over them. I actually loved the process of doing this. There’s something old school about using fruit and veg to print with, reminds me of when I was in kindy (well I don’t remember actually doing fruit prints, but I have a kindergarten association with them nonetheless). Whilst the finished product is a bit ‘meh’, it made me realise how very important the art process is, not the finished product. I now have a whole saga of edicol dye Meanderings to act as catalysts for conversations about texture, colour and focal point with the kids.

Smartie & m&m primary + secondary colours

Smartie & m&m primary + secondary colours

I’m busy creating an art programme for pre primary to grade 3s at one of the schools I work in. Starting off with colour. Hopefully these little tasty things will engage some interest!!! It may provide a fun discussion about what colours might taste like or what they may say if they could talk (these colours all taste the same. Maybe I should have used skittles, but I don’t think there are purple ones!!!)

I pad art apps

Layers app
Layers app


Bamboo app
Bamboo app

I’ve been trying out different art apps for the IPad. Someone said somewhere that the iPad is nothing more than a $1000 pencil. I would agree if not for the fact that it is a pencil, fineliner, paintbrush, crayon, watercolour palette and more… I am yet to discover the animation possibilities.

So far I have noodled around with bamboo (smoking lady picture), layers (pot plant) and art rage (evergreen trees by a lake). I like art rage best, this will be my best friend when I do not have time or opportunity to paint. The effects are wonderful, and the “paint” can act wet or dry. The bamboo app also has potential, mostly because it is like a virtual journal ( book format), and journaling keeps me sane!!

Application to teaching is limitless, especially for extension activities. Artistically inclined students with iPads ( which are on the book list at the school I will be teaching at) will be able to really hone their skills. These apps are also a wonderful motivator. My nine year old has already tinkered with the layers app-which is somewhat easier to use for younger kids.

Assemblage art

Assemblage art

This was a very well received art project. I used the example of American artist Louise Nevelson (check her out on youtube: Many artists create versions of assemblage art, however, so you can search the net and find loads of examples. the concept is simply using found pieces of junk, assembled to craft something unique. This is (in a nutshell) how I introduced it to my year 4-7 students, using texture as my assessment focus.

As a class, we viewed some assemblage art, to get them thinking about the artistic possibilities. I asked open questions with the intention of getting them to notice the textures and whether the artwork is considered 3D or 2D (it can be both).

Students were given a piece of craftboard. I encouraged them to bring their own ‘junk’ from home to use in this project. I was fortunate in that I had acquired a heap of wonderful junks for the art room also, so children were also free to explore and plunder the art room!
It was helpful to get them to access their vocab- how would they describe this texture? How is it different from the other things they collected? What is the overall effect? Do the ‘things’ mean anything to them? Why did they choose them? (anecdotal notes are great here, but you can also access this information by getting them to ‘show and tell’ their finished work)

Once my kids had collected their various bits and pieces, they experimented with ways they could be ‘assembled’ on the craftboard. I encouraged them to go for a variety of textures- even soft things like fabric can look amazing when they are glued.

In the next step, they were set loose with the hot glue guns, which they used with great enthusiasm ( strictly two students at a time-this can easily become a situation where safety can be somewhat compromised, especially if you are the only pair of adult eyes in the room!!!)… I have to say, dangers aside, the said glue gun was a source of pure joy for many of my upper primary students. They went on to create mini playgrounds made out of popsticks, hessian-and-shell wall hangings, intricate little sculptures…(I digress)

The final stage of this particular project was to spray paint everything gold or silver, This has the effect of highlighting the shapes and textures (Louise Nevelson style). That said, the sky really is the limit here. If I were to do this project again I would leave it far more open ended, or have it as a skills-teaching segment, allowing them to experiment with using paint, paper, photographs etc to finish them off. There are some great examples of assemblage art in pinterest, a recent discovery-

End of year art exhibition

End of year art exhibition

The last three years have been a blur, juggling family commitments, study and embarking on my first year teaching. Even though I was part- time, it was WAY more challenging than I had anticipated.

I’m pleased with the work the kids created…Looking over the year’s challenges and successes, I think my art teaching philosophy rests firmly in the “teaching for artistic behaviour” realm. This is a paradigm I have only recently started to experiment with in teaching my upper primary school grades. Teaching for ‘artistic behaviour’ basically means that I will give children choices in how they go about producing an artwork, rather than having a step-by-step approach where the children basically produce the same or similar work.

To facilitate independent explorations I provided children with various learning centres, offering different media such as clay, charcoal and objects for a still life, recycled materials, oregami etc that they can freely move between. The overarching objective is that children, as artists in their own right are encouraged to pursue their own ideas.

I am hoping to develop this approach within my own practise as an art teacher next year. There is a ‘Teaching for artistic behaviour’ (TAB) website, which has some great ideas about how to facilitate studio centres, how to assess, and, most important, why it is such a great approach: