Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Brushstroke App and My Photos

I have an iPad Mini which enables me to take photos, write, record my stories, write and create music, draw and paint and make interesting images among other things.
Recently I found an app that turns photos into beautiful oil paintings and it only takes seconds. I thought I'd post a few here in case there is anyone out there who might find this of interest.
I will post the originals followed by the results. The app is called Brushstroke and it has many variations. I am not sure what to do with these images but I find it a delightful way to play when I have a few moments here and there. If you click on the images you can see them larger on your screen.

Friday, May 26, 2017

My Screen Play Course with Future Learn Exercise

This is an exercise for a course I'm taking with FUTURE LEARN   on Writing a Screenplay.
They suggest we post an outline in brief form of our character onto our personal blogs. This is a new way of looking at my novel manuscript.
  • From the end and working backwards.
Maggie Mulligan Rides a horse to the top of Blue Mountain, gathers up a portfolio, applies to a school of art, follows a young man into a difficult place, walks down city streets taking in beauty around her, fails at school, is forced to join an alien church, walks more, writes an important letter, begs dad to let her go to A, reads a lot, thinks a lot, hides the truth, prays and feels guilty when prayer has deadly consequences, grieves, sits in car, takes part in a kidnapping, applies to a contest, loves tea dances, phones a boy, giggles with a friend over results, dances in rain puddles, worries about dad's safety in storm, runs from her mother, betrays her mother, bravely enters a new school environment, loves music, enjoys a friendship, makes a phone call, gets rescued by dad, is kidnapped by mom, looks after brother and sister, enters a contest, deals with police, hides situation from teacher.
  • character’s wants and needs.
Maggie needs stability,to feel safe, to be loved and cared for. She wants to have a normal family, live in one place, and not to have to worry about covering up for her mother's drinking and she is afraid the Children's Aid will take her and her siblings away if they find out the truth.
  •  her basic psychology.
Maggie is skilled at memorizing poetry and lessons, she is promoted at school not necessarily because she is brilliant but because she's a work'a'holic who is rewarded with praise from teachers and strangers for her writing, drawing and piano skills. She is intelligent, naive about adults, self controlled, always aware of exits and how to escape difficult situations, cautious, sensitive to body language of alcoholics, able to become invisible so as not to upset the alcoholic
  • Describe the character’s superficial affect. 
High school teacher might say "It's really hard to get to know this kid because she doesn't talk much." Kids at school call her "Teacher's pet." and they resent her brief appearance time as she moves from school to school. Dad calls her "She's my cherry pie girl." Mother says in spirit "I am so sorry I messed up so bad honey."
  • physical characteristics
Tall, skinny, not much shape, brown wavy hair, Caucasian, thirteen years old, green hazel eyes, clear complexion, loves to dance and walks with joy, enthusiastic, starts dressing to fit a new culture alien to the Catholic upbringing, takes on rock and roll, Elvis, fashions, high school culture, football, cheer leaders, 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Free Continuing Education from FutureLearn

I recommend Future Learn online courses from the UK. They are free and every course so far has been chock a block full of information, with fabulous links to what is happening now around the world in the fields of your chosen topics.

Courses I've been taking over the last year are
Film Making And Animation In The Classroom    - The British Film Institute
Teaching Literacy Through Film
Explore Animation  -  National Film & Television School UK

The Enterprise Shed, Making Ideas Happen - Trinity College Dublin (I think this one is closed now so I don't have a link)
Digital Story Telling - University of Birmingham
Writing Fiction  - The Open University UK

These are small characters of plasticine created for a project creating animated movies using iPads, iMotion App, and iMovie with grade fours at Lord Nelson Elementary School. I was able to share what I learned from Future Learn with the children. My lesson plan reads like a book now. Now there's another idea. I wonder if teachers would want a lesson plan for this topic?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Oil Painting Course

Here is a post of a photo collage sample of bits from paintings I have completed while taking Dreama Perry's wonderful online painting course. Getting away from digital painting has been good for my back because when painting with real paints I stand. This is probably better for circulation when compared with sitting still for hours on my PC.
I recommend her course highly. She is offering a new course with a French theme in January of 2017. It is pricey around $500, but worth it.
Here's my sampler from her demonstrations.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Staying Sane by Making Art

What a week this has been. I realize that when I am upset I get busy.  It helps me not to freak out. What has happened in the US election has shocked me and everyone I know. I cannot imagine how it happened. My heart goes out to all of my friends down there. Making art seems to me at the moment to be the one thing I have some control over. I don't think I am avoiding facing what has happened. While I draw I think. When I am not drawing I am reading the New York Times and the Washington Post and the Globe & Mail and The New Yorker and anything else I trust. What has happened is wrong and not right. Maybe making art is a way to try to stay positive. Maybe one can hope at least for a miracle that will turn things around and bring back justice and integrity and hope.
To seem totally frivolous at this time, I made a little drawing demo just to see if I could actually do this. I have a small Wacom tablet, a PC and Painter Lite which came with my Wacom software. I also use Corel Video Studio Pro to edit and to record the screen shots. I wonder if I should make more demos?

Here are four of six new small painting sketches. I used my photographs as a reference base for these paintings below which I painted in Corel Painter Lite and later I will cross over to my real oil paints. I've been taking a course with Dreama Tolle Perry using real oil paints and I am not sure if I can pull off the real thing. But at least I can try. In any case these Painter paintings are very satisfying. And there's no clean up!

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Two Months

So little blog. I did manage to get the VSB display up of the beautiful self portraits created by the grade k-1 General Wolfe class last spring. Here are a couple of photos.

I have always wanted to learn how to paint with oils and Dreama Tolle Perry's oil painting course is everything anyone could ask for complete with wise advice videos, mediation videos, tips for painting videos and painting demonstration videos by a master painter. Dreama is offering a new course with an emphasis on France with photos and inspiring painting demonstrations. I recommend it to anyone who might want to learn from a gifted instructor. Just saying. The photos are from my class work, the last of six paintings finished just yesterday. It was really fun!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Cars, Fish & A Castle Animation Project

Cars, Fish and Castle

My animation project is now up on You Tube. I think students will find this a stepping off point into making their own simple animations. I am making a Lesson Plan Package for this.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Wolfe School Art Projects

This is the week there's a plan for a display to go up at the VSB main offices entrance way profiling these K-1's self portraits from a project from last spring. Mrs. G handed out mirrors and pastels. I did a demo of a drawing to show them how I would make a self portrait. Then off they went with great enthusiasm to create their portraits. It's not up yet but here's a photo of the work laid down in a row in my apartment hallway. I invested about ten dollars on a package of coloured paper card stock to make a background which I hope shows the art off in a positive way.

Other projects we did:

  • Watercolour landscapes
  • Painted paper collage
  • Fairy Tale characters from the Three Little Pigs and Cinderella
  • Prints for Valentine cards using thin foam sheets
We had five 90 minute sessions to do all this and as I write this down I realize it was a lot!

Valentine prints.
Watercolour landscape with painted paper collage.

One of the Three Little Pigs in pastel.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Animation Course

I stumbled into a free animation course with the UK and it's online and it is excellent.

For the first assignments of the week, I made two short animations yesterday using my iPad, some colored pencils and a little notepad.
and a little plastic bear drummer.

I used the APPS iMotion for stop frame animation and iMovie for editing and music on iPad.

The course is with Future Learn
They are FREE courses and what an opportunity to explore and learn.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Getting back to paper

I tried a watercolor yesterday but my ink line was not permanent and the color got muddy. My fault for not checking it out before I put the lines down.
I used Photoshop Express to adjust the color.
My reference for the scene is a photo I took last week which is much nicer than my painting.

I am really rusty. But it was fun to try.
I added 'Find Edges' in Photoshop Elements and I think it greatly improved it. The digital is better than the original.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Middle Grade Project Done

I've just finished the Children's Picture Book Academy's Mastering Middle Grade Novels course and I now have in my hands a Middle Grade novel of about 30,000 words.
I've been working on this book idea for sixteen years and finally, with the help of the course I found my way through the process. I found an ending that actually made me feel like dancing again. 
So no matter what happens, the process was a good thing to do. 
Now what I must do is to start mailing it out and wait for the rejection slips.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Butt in Chair

I have been taking a fabulous course from the Children's Picture Book Academy.
Middle Grade Mastery. That's where I've been. Writing a Middle Grade novel.
Organizing and rewriting a book I have been working on for sixteen years.

Butt in the chair and my nose to the keyboard since the beginning of March.
Now I am coming out of this place and I am still feeling and thinking like a twelve year old.
I have almost 30,000 words and a story that works.
At least I think it does. I have no idea if it is any good, but it is done. Wooohoooo!
I need to celebrate at least for getting this far. To an ending.
At least for today.
Tomorrow or next week I will probably go back another ten times to edit and adjust and add to it.

Now I am going out to the library to get some exercise and clear my head.
I highly recommend the Children's Picture Book Academy courses.
Mira Reisberg and Hillary Homzie have put together an incredible amount of information with an endless amount of generosity and sharing of great learning materials and resources.

Outside the streets are in bloom. Spring in Vancouver.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Painting and Loving it

I am writing and reading and learning in an excellent writing course for middle grade children. It is helping me to go back to a novel I have been working on for sixteen years. I never sent it anywhere because I didn't feel ready and I think this course is really going to be helpful to me in so many ways.
And I have been taking an online oil painting course with  Dreama Perry. I thought I'd post some of the painting exercises. These are from two exercises. A cupcake and a sunflower in the style of Dreama Perry. I do hope I can adapt this new way of working into my own work one day soon.
Dreama is the most inspiring and beautiful person who shares her gifts and her love with her students and it is a beautiful thing to be a part of it. Here is her website.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Anti Bully Thoughts and Actions

I am suddenly going through a blip in my life with a family tragedy and a world turned upside down. I came across a wonderful website dedicated to stopping bullying and I feel like this is a perfect week to post it. The website is and here is a link to a song about standing up against bullying.
I came across this while doing some exercises related to a writing course I have signed up with this week.
The Children's Book Academy course on writing  middle grade novels. This is day two and I am totally into the process again of writing.  I am so happy to be taking time for this! I LOVE writing. I had forgotten. And what a great way to focus on more positive things. Now off I go, and back to work.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

K's & Grade One Watercolors and Collage

Here is a picture of the final display. The kids were so proud.
These are watercolor and salt back grounds made in one session and then adding painted papers in collage on a theme of British Columbia landscapes and sea life and bugs. The teacher was wonderful and let the ideas flow. We began with looking at Emily Carr and Vincent Van Gogh landscapes and tree drawings.

We finally finished our project with watercolors, salt and collage with painted papers.

In our first 90 minute session, we made pastel paintings after talking about characters in favourite fairy tales. Some of the kids had other ideas once they finished a fairy tale pastel. they took off with some pretty wild and crazy wonderful pastels making a mess on their hands and loving it.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Print Making Fun

This week I had another opportunity to make art with a lovely class of K's and grade ones with their wise and creative teacher. I stumbled onto a great idea from Cassie Stephens, an American art teacher with a fabulous blog. I have followed her blog for a while now. Yesterday I discovered her videos of a print making project with grade threes and I was so impressed I thought we might give it a try. The teacher was open to the idea and so we made prints! It turned out to be great fun. The children seemed to love the experience of making these bright and vibrant prints. And I loved the fact we could use non toxic markers and pencils. I managed to find a package of Scratch Foam sheets at Opus Art Supplies in Vancouver.
I took photos of some results.

Friday, February 05, 2016

February Blue Grey Days

February days. Grey and rainy. Snow drops are peeking out along the sidewalks from muddy gardens. Crocuses peeking out on a lawn of soggy grass. Maggie and I walk around each morning searching for just a few more signs of spring please. January was my dizzy month. Vertigo. Not fun. But I think I am getting over it.
I am working with a lovely class of bright and energetic kindergartens and grade ones. We have been using pastels which was great fun for them. But very messy. They didn't seem to mind. And we have tried watercolours with salt and I wish I had taken in some real watercolour paper because it could have been better for them. And also, in hindsight, I wished we could also have used inks and dyes instead but I decided they would be possibly toxic to small hands. So we have less brilliant effects. But they were so happy about the process. And maybe process is what the sessions are about.

I took a set of watercolours in to the second class because I thought we might  get stronger colours with the salt. We used bigger brushes instead of those skinny useless little brushes that come with school watercolour pan sets. At least we could get more paint onto the paper this way and they worked better than I expected.  I took paper plates and showed the children how to mix colour. Once they started painting they threw themselves into it with what seemed like a little bit of joy. They loved the salt part.

 Idea for blue valentines using salted watercolours against a nice blue sheet of construction paper.
Pastel artists at work.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

A New Year Begins

Happy New Year to everyone out there in blog land! I guess most of us are getting back on track and into a new year of new goals. Julie Hedlund has been conducting  Twelve Days of writing with the purpose of helping writers of kids books to start the New Year with a sense of accomplishment from last year and inspirational exercises to get us moving into 2016.

 I have posted my exercises here so I will not forget that last year was filled with good projects and many experiences.

I will be working with a kindergarten class this year beginning very soon. I will be soon talking to the teacher and then I will build a lesson plan and create a project for the kids. I think we may be making masks among other things. Not sure yet.

I have signed up for a painting course with an amazing painter Dreama who has developed an online oil painting course of six weeks duration beginning on January 23. Sign up was opened up yesterday and numbers are limited. For me this is so exciting.
I have always wanted to study with a great painter. In art school my teachers had styles that never appealed to me and I sort of fumbled around trying to find my way with dull paints and bad brushes.

BUT when one has great artists as teachers a student can grow and learn and almost be transformed. In 1971 I had the great fortune of taking two workshops at the Haliburton Summer School of Fine Arts in Ontario. One teacher was a man named Sam Black and one man named Viktor Tinkl  These men taught me about how art can flow with colour and movement and pattern and line. What I learned from those two day long workshops had a great influence on my life's work through the years. What I learned from these two men came in handy for animation studies when I studied at Sheridan College. It came in handy for paintings in watercolour through the years. Those courses came in handy for the illustration work I did when I worked as the Vancouver School Board illustrator in the Media Services Department. And when I studied at Emily Carr the skills and knowledge learned from those two Haliburton teachers were so helpful. And now I have found someone who is also just as amazing to learn from.

Dreama's style is full of colour with beautiful subject matter and my heart can barely wait to start up with her class. I need to buy oil paints and supplies and I need to organize my space for painting. I have always wanted to give oil painting a good try. I will probably post progress on my blog as I learn new ways. There is still space and I highly recommend her course to anyone out there who may be interested in learning from a great painter.
I feel so blessed and I am so grateful to be able to continue to learn and hopefully to grow in the work. (Not in my size though! Too many Christmas shortcake cookies!) LOL.