Saturday, September 22, 2012

Groovy Amoeba Quilting

I started quilting the bed quilt I'm making for my youngest.

The right tools- a quilting hoop and a leather thimble which I got from a doll-making supply company,  make all the difference.

I'm doing abstract, groovy, amoeba-like shapes for the quilting.  I like making things up as I go along.  It keeps things interesting.

Look at these luscious colors.  It is a joy to work on this happy, happy quilt for my little boy.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Glue, Salt, and Watercolor Painting

 I found this delightful project on The Artful Parent Blog,  We did it with kindergarten and first grade children, and they loved it.  Since each child did two in the hour, I only took a random sampling of photos. I didn't have time to sort through them and get one picture from each child before the children left for the day.

 I showed them an example which I had done which looked like a wiggly worm, an abstract line of curves which curled and crossed one another.  I had painted my line with frequent color changes.  My son said it made him hungry because it looked like a gummi worm.  Each child could draw anything they wanted on their paper with their glue bottle.  Then we put their pictures in a deep cookie pan and dumped salt on top until the glue was covered all over thickly.  Then they were ready to paint right away.

I taught the children how to be gentle with the little brushes, and not to splay them out and scrub them on the watercolor cakes, which breaks the hairs.  Some of them could remember that, and had the coordination to do it.  Some weren't able to do it, yet.  I think next time we paint we will practice stroking a pretend cat with our brushes.

Unless you are using liquid watercolors, teach the children to gently stroke the watercolor cakes with the brush with plenty of water until the pigments are dark and wet. 

The reason is because when you touch the salt-covered line with your pigment-loaded brush, the salt will slurp up the paint.  The more paint, the more vivid your painting.  Here is a picture of a young artist softly tapping her salty drawing with the brush.  I asked the children to tap on the salt as softly as they would tap the back of a ladybug with their brush, so that the ladybug wouldn't get hurt or even have to bend its legs.

Although I couldn't think of a good reason to tap a ladybug with a brush, everyone worked with great care and had the fun of watching the salty glue soak up their paint.  Younger children would not be able to tap like that, and would mix the paint and the glue with their brushes, and that would be beautiful, too.  We needed to keep our watercolor cakes from developing a gluey covering which would keep us from using them next time.

The classroom was very peaceful, and the children seemed very content as they worked.

Aren't the colors luscious?  I love the way the children used their colors!  Incidentally, I removed all the black, brown, ochre, and beige watercolor cakes from the boxes to help prevent mud puddles from happening.

I wonder if the upper primary group would like this project, too?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


When we were up in the mountains a few weeks ago I was lying in a meadow in the sunshine, and I heard the sound of an alphorn in the distance.  As soon as I got up and started walking toward the sound, it stopped.  I saw some picnickers nearby.
"Hello, did you hear an alphorn, or was that my imagination?"
"It was your imagination," the woman answered.

I lay back down in the meadow thinking, this must be the Swiss equivalent of searching for fairy music in the Irish countryside.
Later we had lunch in a mountain restaurant and while we were there a man entertained us with his alphorn.  I didn't imagine it!

It can be a very majestic sound, especially as when I have heard alphorn played, the music has a slow pace, dignity and gravity to it.

If you would like to hear alphorn for yourself, there's a link to some music at the bottom of the post.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ice Cream Sundae Collages

 Everybody pick a color you like for your background!  Now make a fancy dish wide enough to hold a lot of ice cream!  Why a lot?  Because everyone is coming over for a big ice cream sundae!  Gramma and Grampa, the uncles and aunts, plus all the cousins!  There needs to be enough for Mama and Daddy and our brothers and our sisters, too, of course.

 I asked the children to leave the top of their dish unglued, so they could slide the balls of ice cream inside.  They glued the edge of the dish down later. I had prepared the collage papers ahead of time since the children only had an hour to do art.   This child asked for a marker and created a beautiful, delicate candy decoration.

 We had some recognizable ice cream flavor colors on hand, chocolate, vanilla, mint, and strawberry, and then some bright colors, for a fantasy sundae of crazy flavors, like blueberry, cotton candy, bubble bum, raspberry, and some other flavors never yet invented!

 A crumple of tissue paper makes some delectable-looking whipped cream! you want a cherry on top?  This cherry was dipped in chocolate and is nestled on top of chocolate sauce!  A double whammy of chocolate deliciousness and all so colorful!

 Everyone could make a spoon out of some paper painted with metallic gold paint if they wanted, so that their sundae is ready to eat!  I find the combination of orange and blue, complementary colors, very powerful in this collage.

 I love the curves in this sundae and its bowl, and the sensitive flicker of light on the cherry, with its little leaf.

 Isn't it interesting to see the different shapes of the bowls, the different choices of colors?  This sundae has a banana looking comfortable in its cushion of ice cream balls.

And this original sundae has a giant ball of ice cream in the center, surrounded by smaller ones, which all seem to me to be rotating mysteriously.  Again, I came away inspired and charged up by the children's creativity and use of color.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Crazy Bugs Art Project with Little Children!

 A helper and I did this project with 12 children in kindergarten and first grade during an after school art class today, and I'm so happy with the results that I'm still smiling.  Aren't they beautiful?

 I prepared collage papers ahead of time, because the children only had an hour for art.  But if you have plenty of time, your children could paint the collage papers themselves and have days of fun.  I painted paper with tempera paints in red, several blues, green, yellow, orange, purple, brown, and black.  The children picked the background color they wanted to work on.

 I encouraged them to start with a body about the size of their head, so that they wouldn't end up with a teeny tiny bug in the center of a big piece of paper.  And I encouraged them to use their imagination and make their bug any way they wanted, with a mixture of any colors and any features they wanted!

 Most of the bugs had wings, and some of them had hair and other details like stripes and dots.

 Look how different they all are.  I like the way this one has two different colored wings. 

 This little bug has a very determined expression, it seems to me.

 I suggested that the crazy bugs could have heads of any shape, and this child said, "My bug is going to have a square head!"

 This one has a tail or a stinger.

 Look at the star shape on this bug.

 There are spots on this gal and a fancy hairdo!

I know this bug is upside down and I can't seem to turn it back over.....maybe it is flying upside down right now....anyway...I love the colors.  Turquoise, red, pink, and!

Hey, there is one missing!  I wish I had gotten a picture of it, too......Maybe the mother of the young artist can take a picture of it and send it to me.  Then I could make a poster of all the wonderful bugs and hang it in my studio to inspire me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sunday, September 2, 2012


 We're back in Switzerland and yesterday we visited Exxopolis in Etoy.  Exxopolis is a new "luminarium" by Alan Parkinson, executed at his Nottingham studio Architects of Air.

 It is a sculpture which you can go inside and explore.  It's made of fabric and inflated with air.

 Parts of it block light, and parts of it allow light to shine through.  This is a picture of my husband.  The heads of silver and fair-haired people disappeared in photographs in the luminarium!

 There are areas between "rooms" where colors mix and vibrate.  This particular luminarium, (there have been 20 since 1992, touring 38 countries,) was inspired by Islamic and Gothic architecture.

 It was set up at a center for handicapped adults, and many were visiting that day.

 There were little alcoves off the rooms and halls where people gathered.  A large group of teenagers were crowded into one of the alcoves, looking like a nest full of prairie dogs.

 People were also lying on the floor looking up here and there.  I should have done that, but I was too excited to stop walking around.  There was music, and the sound of distant drumming.

The website about Architects of Air is