Friday, 22 February 2019

February’s Art Projects

Blog 8

As this is already the last February blog, I wanted to update you on my creative activities of the month. Since I stopped blogging weekly about my Creativity Challenge, I did not manage to keep my regular creative times going, even though I looked for opportunities to draw and to doodle when I did not have time to paint.

When I go into my studio to paint, I usually spend a couple of hours painting as I only take out my paints and brushes when I have time to paint for at least an hour and a half. Even though everything is set up in my studio, I have to change clothes and clean up at the end of a painting session. Therefore, I usually tend to draw or felt if I know that I have only a shorter time span available. Usually, I like to paint for about 90 to 120 minutes at a time before taking a little break. However, when I am very close to finishing an artwork, I am so focused that I sometimes spend hours painting without even noticing the time. This month, I was determined and finally managed to finish my double dog portrait of Alex & Candy that I had started in 2013.

Aside from this big project, I created some sketches during the recent Ottawa Little Theatre play “Of Mice and Men”, during lunch at Mandarin Restaurant, and of my husband through the rearview mirror while sitting in the backseat of our car.

I also created a heart-filled painting during the February painting party.

For my several art classes, I drew Mr. Incredible Bob Parr, Jack-Jack and Elastigirl from “The Incredibles” as well as Mario, the main character of a couple of video games. In class, I also showed my students how to draw Pikachu and Froakie, as well as Calvin and Hobbes.

To demonstrate the use of oil pastels, I drew the head of Olaf from "Frozen".

I also created a mixed media artwork of an underwater world with acrylic paints, glue, newspaper and tissue paper, wool, pipe cleaners, and foam shapes which was a lot of fun, not only for me but also for the students. While I created the painting at home to see if the materials would work in my mixed media piece, I did not show the artwork to the children but let them figure out for themselves what worked and how to arrange the pieces on their poster board.

For my upcoming Art Cafe: Say it with Flowers on Sunday, March 17, I created a doodle of a water lily. The Art Cafe is an afternoon of socializing and playful art. If you would like some more information and to register, please go to my website

How are your art and craft projects coming along? Have you put them aside again because life got busy? I would love to hear about your progress, to celebrate your successes, and to help you to get back on your creative path. You can either leave a comment or contact me directly at

Friday, 15 February 2019

Is My Child Talented?

I did this coloured pencil drawing when I was 13.   

Blog 7

From time to time, a parent asks me whether her daughter or son is talented. I hate to answer this question, especially when I have only know the child for the duration of a ten-week course.

I hardly ever answer the question directly. It is so much more important that the children have fun and express their ideas than whether they do it in a highly skilled way. I encourage them to use their imagination and to be proud of what they are creating. In today’s society, we are so focused on competition. There are hardly any hobbies where children can just enjoy the action without being pushed into a competitive direction. We want our children to excel, to be the best.

Sadly, this leads often to frustration and loss of joy. I have more and more young children in my courses that are already so afraid to make mistakes that they are “paralyzed”. They are so used to the adults’ expectations of excelling in their works that they are afraid to express themselves. Picking colours for their painting or drawing can already be stressful for them. They want a step by step guide to avoid making mistakes.

I painted theses houses when I was 11.

In my classes, I try to guide the students and make suggestions when they get stuck. Sometimes, art is a struggle. It is supposed to be fun, but not every artwork will work out the way we had envisioned. It is important for children to learn that it takes practice and curiosity to try different materials and techniques. Creating art is about the process, not the result. It is a time to explore and learn about your world. I want my students to observe what is around them and not just accept that certain things have a specific colour. Just look at the colour of snow when the sun is setting. It changes colours with the change of light. Artists can take your liberty at changing colours to your liking to create a certain mood.

I want the students to feel proud of what they are creating. Art is such a wonderful way to build confidence and to express yourself. I am happy when the children create unique artworks and I encourage them to present them to the class so that they can tell their story. Unfortunately, I have heard so many stories from adults who stopped creating art because of a harsh word from a teacher or adult. That’s such a shame! Art is such a wonderful way to relax and express yourself. Your art should be as unique as yourself. Art is subjective and I do not want the children to compare each other’s artworks, except when we are talking about what effect the different use of colour has when creating a certain character or scene, and how it makes them feel.

If you would like to help your children to increase their creativity, here are some suggestions:

  • Provide art materials that are easily accessible, if possible even an art corner in an area of your house.
  • Bring a drawing pad for them when you leave the house. There are so many opportunities to bridge the time sketching, and it is so much better for your child’s development than playing games on a phone or tablet.
  • Encourage your child to use different materials.
  • Visit art museums with them so they are exposed to different types of art.
  • Let them enjoy the process of creating instead of focusing on the final result This is very hard for many adults because we often have the final result in mind.
  • Emphasize that their art is as unique as they are. It is not a competition. Speed and quantity are not important. You need practice and persistence to get better like in any other skill.
  • Guide them but do not tell them how something should look. It is important that they experiment and use their own imagination.

If your child is artistically talented, (s)he will continue to make art and will improve the skills through practice. Creating art is a lifelong gift that helps your child to relax, find new solutions and energy, and make friends. Therefore, before you push your child to become the next master, make sure they love their art so much that they are self-motivated to create art and do not need incentives. Once they are ready for more instruction, it is still up to them to grow because more than talent, persistence will define how far an artist will go.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Is My Child Old Enough for an Art Class?

Blog 6

In my almost 10 years of teaching art to children, I have often been asked the question “Is my child old enough for an art class?”. This is not a question that can be answered by giving the parents a specific age, as age is not as important as the interest in creating art. You cannot force someone to create art, but you rather encourage them to try out different materials to express their ideas and feelings.

Children are ready for an art class when they are eager to express themselves and let their imagination run free. It is not important if the teacher and the parents can “read” their pictures. For me, a sign that they are ready is rather that they are excited about the class and so immersed in their art that they do not care about the time passing. They can hardly stop at the end of the class. I will never forget the little boy that was in one of my first classes. His dad wanted him to pack up because the class was over and his answer was that he was not finished because his painting still needed a certain blue. His answer still makes me happy.

In my classes, I teach kids that are between 5 and 12 years old. I have young kids that are more focused on creating their images than older kids. I find it sad if a child cannot “finish” an artwork fast enough and is then refusing to work on anything else or to try anything new. I am not talking about finishing the artwork in a way I would as an adult. This is something that is hard to understand for many parents. Sometimes, they look at their kid’s work and compare it to the image I drew onto the whiteboard. Then, they ask me worriedly if their son or daughter is following well in class. Creating art is not about staying in the lines and carefully colouring shapes. While I try to show the children how to create the basic character or object, I encourage them to make it their own by changing features and colours and then making it part of any story of their choice. If they are excited about their artwork, this energy is visible. While older children often have better technical skills, often the artworks of the younger children are more raw and powerful in their expression.

Creating art is about the process, not the result. Even as an adult, concentrating on the result will take out the joy from creating art. Sometimes, you are not happy at all with an artwork but you still had lots of fun. For a child, the joy of creating should be the most important aspect. It is a time to explore and learn about their world. I am happy when the children create unique artworks and I encourage them to present them to the class so that they can tell their story.

If you are not sure whether your children are interested in art, register them to a short session or an art camp before committing to a course that stretches over a couple of months. For more suggestions on how to boost your children’s creativity, please continue to follow the rest of my February blogs.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Creativity Challenge 2019 - Week 5

Blog 5

I had a busy week both on a personal level as well as at work. It started with a three day family reunion at our house, which made it challenging to fit some creative time into my life while entertaining. Nevertheless, I was able to squeeze in a couple of minutes both on Friday and Saturday.

Day 25: I used the time at the restaurant when I was waiting with my daughter for the arrival of the rest of the family to create a sketch of my daughter. I am not happy with the sketch but it was a good exercise. Later, I was even able to continue my temperature shawl. Now, I only need to knit the rows for the last 7 days of 2018.

Day 26: While the whole family was at the fabulous Museum of Nature in Ottawa, I managed to sit down for two quick sketches. One is of a water bird, while the other is of an interesting branch in one of the insect habitats.

Day 27: The Winter Sunset Painting Party was a lot of fun. I enjoyed guiding the participants to versions of the painting that bring out their uniqueness. After the event, I felt so energized that I created a heart-filled Valentine’s painting for the February painting party.

Day 28: In preparation for my next Cartooning and Drawing Class, I checked out the characters of the Lego Movie 2. The students had asked to draw a character from the movie. At the end, I picked the Apocalypseburg Unikitty. I also created one doodle for my mixed media class and two quick doodles of a snail and a cat which were fun to make even though they are not very sophisticated. It is important to play, especially when creating art!

Day 29: Tuesday was not my day; a lot of things went wrong. The snow caused additional delays and inconveniences. At the end, I only had time to demonstrate the drawing process for the students of my class.

Day 30: What a nice break after the messed-up day! I met with two of my friends for an hour of crafting. This gave me a chance to continue felting my cardinal.

Day 31: On this last day of the month, I continued felting my cardinal. He is definitely going to be a big bird but I am excited to see how he will turn out.

It is already the last day of January! I managed to create something almost every day.
The accountability of the blog certainly was an extra encouragement. I will continue with my daily creative time but will also add some different content to my blog. For upcoming events please check my website I have decided that 2019 will be all about fun and spending time with old and new friends. I hope that my workshops and painting parties will help you to improve your skills and create new relationships.