Saturday, December 31, 2011

Kids Painting Workshops

I ended up doing four different painting workshops for kids grades 2nd-6th. From the comments I've received from parents, it sounds like the workshops were a success! I thought I'd pick a few from the three I haven't posted. The students had 2.5 hours to complete the task. We only used tempura paint on canvas paper.

The Second Workshop

Becca, 2nd Grade
Erin, 4th Grade
We used the sponge technique for the background. The color palette was yellow, blue, white, and brown for the background. I wanted it soft so that the silhouette of the branches and bird would stand out. The kids had to do two coats of the black paint. For the composition I asked that the branches cross each other.
What I learned: It is really hard for the kids to paint the branches, making them fat to thin. 
We blow dry the layers to speed up the process, but too much heat cracks the tempura.

The Third Workshop
Collin, 6th grade
Megan, 2nd grade
I decided for the third workshop to go with a holiday theme. We did a sponge painted background again with greens, browns and yellows for glowing lights. Then we used shapes, and talked about how to make them look more three dimensional by shading and highlighting it. After they painted their ornament objects then they used dot painting to create patterns.

What I learned: For the younger students, three ornaments they had to think about shading was a lot. For them, I should have had them focused on just one ornament.

The Fourth Workshop
Madison, 5th grade
This one was fun and I had different results. My morning class took at least two hours to finish. My afternoon class, which had a younger age average only took one hour. Sponge water background required that I explain you add small amounts of color to white to make light colors, not the other way around.
Zoe, 1st grade

I then gave templates of three fish and two lily pads. They played with their composition by moving the templates around the page. I explained that if the elements all lead the eye out of the painting, people will naturally not take the time to look at the detail inside the painting.

Rachel, 2nd grade

I showed the students several different artists interpretations of koi fish. They were given freedom of the fish coloring and patterns.

What I learned: Have a back up plan for those students that finish early. I did directive draw, free draw and paint, and finished with pictionary. I am always surprised by how different each child puts their personality into their work, no matter their age. I love that!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Does This Beginning Hook You?

YA Science Fiction: The Lion Within
First Page (219 words)

Insects scattered across the outside of the shower curtain. Renna ignored them, and focused on the warm bucket of water splashing over her head. After two years in Kenya, she had the timing down to the second. The shower would last three minutes. Shampoo. Soap. Rinse. Fast.

She grabbed her towel and tapped the curtain forcing the bugs to the air or ground. All but one departed, a bright purple beetle, the size of Renna’s pointer finger. She tried to flick the straggler off but it wouldn’t budge. Examining the bug would make her late, but she couldn’t help herself, she’d never seen one like it. The huge and creepiness factors made her move slowly, yet something about it drew her closer. She admired its paper thin, iridescent wings folded across its flat back. 

Like a praying mantis, the beetle tilted its head to look at her and then took flight, bouncing off Renna’s cheek. She shrieked, and fell backwards hitting her funny bone against the wooden divider that served as a wall. Pain ran up Renna’s arm, tingles shot down to her fingertips.
The lines between her brows deepened beyond her 16 years. She clenched her teeth. Grabbing her hairbrush, she threw it at the wall with a grunt. The crunch of the beetle’s shell made Renna flinch.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ouch Critiques Can Hurt!

Being critiqued is painful, and wonderful and painful. Jessica Silva took the time to critique the first 700 words of my novel. I've rewritten this part so many times I've lost count. Her advice is priceless, and did I mention painful? 

Every time I submit for critique I wait with baited breath to hear those words, "I LOVE IT! It's wonderful! I wouldn't change a thing!" Alas, I'm not there yet. It stings, but I'm an artist by trade and know that in order to improve I need to keep learning and working hard.

If you'd like to see my critique, visit Jessica's blog. She is a 23-year-old intern for the amazing agent Elana Roth at the Johnson Literary Agency and writer of YA. I highly recommend visiting her blog

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Time can be Frozen...

...It's the only way Santa can do the impossible. 

Several times this past week I've thought about freezing time, the moment my son cuddled with me and told me I was the best mom ever, and when my daughter's smile lit up the stage at her dance show last weekend. A photo is not enough to contain a whole memory. The smells, the sounds, the touch, those fade away as time rushes forward.

I've been worrying so much about getting everyone's gifts out on time, that I've not taken as much time to enjoy the holiday season. I get flashes, like seeing the decorations that add a certain glow around our homes, or receiving a friendly happy holidays from someone I don't know. But the worry 
quickly returns and I think about all that I have to accomplish in so little time.

Time will run out though, to get presents to arrive before Christmas, and then I've lost the reason to worry. I can focus on the twinkle light at the end of the tunnel, the smiles opening presents will bring. My kids remind me that there's magic all around us, and really in the end the greatest gift is spending time with them.