Friday, January 19, 2018

Anti-Bullying & Three Doodle Cats

I was looking back at posts from 2016 and I came across a video about bullying in school environments. Since I have a great new job as a playground supervisor I am posting it again. Every day I see kids being teased and bullied. Maybe we can be 'the ones' to help stop bullying using some of the techniques on this excellent anti-bullying resource website.
Check it out with it's catchy tune and neat images here. STOP BULLYING

I have been taking some neat courses with Skillshare and recently I followed along with an amazing American illustrator Jon Burgerman called

Digital Illustration: Doodles to Designs

 to create this weird and flawed but fun doodle.
In a series of demonstration videos he shows digital illustrators how to create (with eyes closed) a large doodle that can be scanned by smart phone or tablet or scanner as a finished line drawing into Photoshop and Illustrator.

I only have Photoshop Elements and a PC so I used CorelDraw which seems to work in a similar way as Illustrator for vector art.
In any case, watching Jon Burgerman was fun and delightful. Just watching him is worth the time.
I learned some new techniques. It's all good.

Skillshare is free for a while and then you can sign up at extremely reasonable rates monthly or yearly. And there are so many other courses for artists to choose from.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Unexpected Surprises

2017 was for me a year of unexpected things that took me by surprise. My little dog Maggie almost died because of a bug that devastated her gut and the cost of vet bills became overwhelming. But she pulled up after six months of vet visits and many tests and a new diet of boiled chicken breast and kibbles has calmed her gut into normal function again. The only thing that came up in tests was something called Cryptosporidium and I have no idea how she got it.

Then my dentist announced I'd need dental work to save my health. So I went ahead with that.

I sent two manuscripts out to a publisher and an agent. I had no feedback from the agent which meant no interest in my Cherry Pie Girl manuscript at least from that particular house of agents. I was not crushed but I thought at least they might send me a note. But nothing means no so there it is.

Then I had a form letter back from a publisher for a picture book manuscript I sent in. A polite sorry but it is not a fit. I am not crushed. But I should be sending my stuff out to more people and maybe I will do this in 2018.

By the time I heard back / not heard back from these people, my life had moved into realizing that as a retired person with a small pension with benefits, I needed also to get a job to pay for having a dog as well as maintaining my teeth. So in August I put my energy into a job search.

To my surprise I got a lovely little part time job working with kids in a school and on the playground. I have now become a part of a community of teachers and children and other support staff. It is quite lovely to be with people and socializing every day in the real world. I know so far this choice is a good one for me at this time of my life. The kids are amazing and funny and wonderful to observe from a research point of view and I have been coming up with more ideas for picture books. It is such a privilege to be with them.

So in 2018 in January I am signed up for Tara Lazar's Story Storm, which is inspiring writers to gather up an idea a day for the month of January.

Last spring I must not forget that I worked with a grade four class creating animated videos with iPads. In the process I developed a detailed lesson plan and I found a great number of resources and I learned a great deal about building small sets and making characters out of plasticine, wood and fabric and also learned how to creat inexpensive sets with file folders and paper. I think my lesson plan might have some value for other teachers. So this is a positive thing and I might work on this in 2018.

In 2017 I wrote a number of picture book manuscripts while taking a course with Picture Book Blueprints. This is a great program and well worth the cost. I also have begun a Middle Grade Blueprint writing course.

So this year of 2017, for me, was full of unexpected surprises. And of course if one looks at the whole world politically and in general, it was filled with many unexpected and most not so welcome surprises. Now onward to 2018.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Brushstroke App

I have an iPad Mini and I kind of love it and I wish I could tell the world how much fun it is to play with. 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.
The app is called Brushstroke and it has many variations. If you click on the images you can see them larger on your screen.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Drawing an Elephant Experiment

I was in a funk and had some time to try to see if I could make this work. The Program is called Art Rage and the brush is rainbow. I recorded it with Corel Video Studio Screen Capture and uploaded it to youtube.

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 painting exercises completed while taking Artist Dreama Perry's wonderful online painting course.They are all small paintings about 10 inches by 8 inches. Each one took me a long time because life kept getting in the way and I kept putting the paints away in a box. I don't really feel as if these are mine since they were all class projects and everyone painted from the same reference photos selected by Dreama Perry.
The best part of her course, for me, was the weekly meditation modules and her informative sharing of her techniques using pure color. It was a wonderful experience for everyone who took the course I think. Her beautiful and thoughtful videos went on for weeks.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Staying Sane by Making Art

Making art seems to me at the moment to be the one thing I have some control over. While I draw I think. Maybe one can hope at least for a miracle that will turn things around and bring back justice and integrity and hope for the world.
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?

Below, I cheated and painted over my photos in Corel Painter Lite. And there's no clean up!

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Two Months

Display at the Board Offices Lobby
Portraits From General Wolfe's Grade ones. I finally managed to get the VSB lobby display up of the beautiful self portraits from the Artist in residence project with the children and their teacher. From Spring 2016 and put up in September 2016.

Taking an Oil Painting Course
I have always wanted to learn how to paint with oils. Dreama Tolle Perry's oil painting course is everything anyone could ask for complete with wise advice videos, meditation videos, tips for painting videos and painting demonstration videos by a master painter.
The photos are from class work. It was really fun but I still have tons to learn and I think I kind of suck at this non digital activity so far!
Now I am wondering if I can actually paint something without Dreama's guidance in the use of oils. Somehow I think it is going to be really hard.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Grade Four Classroom Animation Project

Cars, Fish and Castle

When I was preparing a proposal for using iPads, Stop Frame Animation and DoInk Green Screen I got a crazy idea for a way to make a project with flat paper. My little video above is silly and it goes on forever but at least it all worked as an easy fast exercise for kids to learn and have fun with. I thought the students might find this a stepping off point into making their own simple animations.

When it all came together we ended up making plasticine characters and 3D paper sets. The children created characters, wrote stories and worked in pairs of three with iPads. It became more than I had imagined because the children's creativity was amazing and so impressive. They seem to have a natural gift for visual story telling.

Because of privacy protection concerns I am unable to post their animated videos. But I can assure you they were all wonderful.

I can recommend a Future Learn Course titled Film Making & Animation In The Classroom for any teachers interested in working in animation with ipads with students.

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.