Thursday, July 14, 2011

St Basil Cathedral Printable Project

This week St Basil Cathedral celebrated its 450th anniversary. What an amazing piece of architecture!  It was built under the rule of Ivan "the terrible" and it is said that he blinded the architect after its creation, so that he might never build anything so beautiful again.  It was almost destroyed under Stalin, but luckily the building was spared.

Today I thought I would share a project I did with the children I work with.  Some of you maybe aware that I am a licensed mental health therapist and board certified art therapist.  At some point, perhaps I will do a post just about that.  But for now, I just want to share my art project!

I was actually super pleased because the kids really liked doing the project.  It kept them occupied for nearly an hour and a half- which is really saying something when you work with a highly distracted group.  And their finished projects were beautiful!  All around win!  And just so you know, with this project we worked on listening and following directions, problem solving, dealing with frustration, and project completion.
Here are my easy peasy directions
Step One:  Print these templates! 
    Step Two:  Color!  Use lots of bright fun colors in unexpected combinations!  Just have fun!
    Step Three: Cut out the different building segments
    Step Four:  Put the pieces together in whatever way you choose to create your own unique piece of architecture.  I showed my students a few combinations- stacking a couple of large bases, then putting a column, and topping it off with an onion dome.  They didn't need much in the way of demonstration before they completely understood the concept. 
    Step Five:  Glue down your building on a large piece of construction paper.  You might have to make two separate buildings in order to use all of the pieces and so that it might fit on your construction paper.
    Step Six: Show off your finished piece of artwork!  

    Happy Constructing!

      Sunday, July 3, 2011

      Free Robot Monster Printable!

      My son will be two at the end of September.  When  I tried to get him dressed this morning, he kept saying no to every shirt I pulled out.  "Robot!  Robot!  Robot!" he repeated.  I guess he has reached that age where the only shirt he will wear is one that has a robot on it.  Unfortunately, he only has three robot shirts and two are sweatshirts.  It is a super hot day here, so those are out of the question.  The other robot shirt is in the laundry.  I made a good case for the monkey shirt- and he finally agreed- although he definitely was not happy about this.

      So in honor of my little robot lover, I decided I needed a robot monster.  (The above robot monster is only my working sketch- I will reveal my finished little robot monster later).  I generally begin all of my monsters with a quick hand drawn sketch before sitting down and working on the computer.  My daughter liked the sketch- and asked if she could color it.  I made a quick copy and she was very happy.  Of course, she made the electricity coming out of the rabbit ears into a nice princess crown.
      I thought- maybe somebody else out there would like to color my robot too!  So, I made a pdf file that you can download.  Just click the monster below!
      Happy Coloring!

      Wednesday, June 29, 2011

      Artist Series - Van Gogh

      Another week of sick children, changes at work, and lots and lots of cleaning up after two little ones.  I am still committed to my weekly alphabetty post!  So far so good:-)

      Today's featured artist monster is Vincent Van Gogh.
      Vincent Van Gogh was born in Holland in 1853.  Van Gogh is one of the best known post impressionist painters from the late 19th century.  His work continues to receive tremendous success -although he died at 37 virtually unknown.   Most of what is known about Vincent  comes from his relationship and letters to his younger brother and art dealer, Theo.  Much has been written about Van Gogh struggles with mental illness and anxiety - but there is no consensus regarding his diagnosis.

       As an artist, Van Gogh is widely known for his use of earthy tones and distinctive brushwork.  He was influenced by the Japanese woodcuts he collected and the works of artists from Paris.  His subject matter included portraits, wheat fields, and flowers.  For more information about the life of Van Gogh, click here.  
      Many feel that Van Gogh ended his own life because his mental illness became such that he could no longer make art in the way that he wanted to.
      Here are some of my favorite Van Gogh paintings.
      And here is a link to Starry Starry Night by  Don Mclean:-)

      Children's Books
      The Yellow House was written by Susan Goldman Rubin.  It talks about Paul Gaugin's visit to Van Gogh in 1888.  The book does an excellent job of contrasting the two artists and talking about their complicated relationship.  It does discuss Van Gogh's cutting of his left ear, so it might not be suitable for all children.

       Van Gogh and the Sun Flowers is a book by Laurence Anholt in his series that tells the stories of artists and their friendships with children.  This book has excellent reviews from Amazon- and I think this one is going in the wishlist:-)
       Ideas for next steps
      1. Van Gogh is another artist who used art to help him with emotional overwhelm.  Teaching children about the healing qualities of art is important- and a great coping mechanism.
      2. Self Portriats- Van Gogh did a series of self portraits at different periods of his life.  Have your child draw pictures of themselves.  Use a mirror so that your child begins to understand their own features. 
      3. I did a really fun project with some middle school children where we used finger paint to create our own Starry Starry Night inspired paintings.  Finger paints are often reserved for the very young- and they can sometime create some regressive behaviors in older children (meaning that they will begin to act younger than their age).  But finger paints are also excellent kinesthetic art materials that can  help children get in touch with things that can not be perfect, and that is wonderfully okay!
      Happy Art Making!

      Wednesday, June 22, 2011

      Artist Series- Andy Warhol Monster

      Being a mother, a teacher, a therapist, and an artist all at the same time is quite a feat.  I don't think that I am always as successful as I would like to be, but that doesn't keep me from trying.   Today was one of those rare days where I felt like I was really good at being a mom.  So many times, stress, overwhelm, and a need for perfection create some serious obstacles to being the mom that I know I want to be.  But today felt different.  My daughter had a melt down at a local restaurant.  Instead of being angry, nervous, and reactive -  I was calm, nurturing, present, and at the same time firm.  I didn't give in, but I also allowed her to be sad.  She cried, I offered her a hug, and she accepted.  She then sat next to me and we enjoyed our meal together.   I have been holding on to these two sayings:

      "Love me when I least deserve it, because that is when I most need it"
      -Swedish Proverb
      People need loving the most when they deserve it the least.
      -John Harrigan

      So in those moments where my beautiful little daughter is melting and acting like a completely wild little one, I remind myself of what she needs- and it makes me feel better and act in a way that makes me better as a parent.  Parenting is such hard work!

      Onto my newest little monster
      This little monster is inspired by
      Andy Warhol.
      Andy Warhol was born in Pennsylvania on August 6th, 1928.  His parents were working-class immigrants from what is now Slovakia.   When Andy was still in grade school he developed Chorea, a disease of the nervous system which caused him to move his extremeties involuntarily and skin pigmentation blotchiness.   Because of his sickness, he was often bedridden as a child and did not feel that he fit in with other children.  In bed, he would often draw to pass the time.  His father passed away when he was only 13 years old. 

      Andy studied commercial art at the School of Fine Arts at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh.  He was always interested in blurring the lines between what was seen as commercial art and that which was fine art.  His images often included cultural icons - such as Elvis Presley or Elizabeth Taylor and images from everyday culture that he would elevate to the level of "high art".  He was highly influential to many young artists.  He died in 1987 at 58 years old.
      There are lots of children's books inspired by the work of Andy Warhol. 
      A few of the favorites at my house include the following:

       This book is a children's book and talks about colors using the art work of Andy Warhol.  The pictures are vivid and it definitely captures a little one's attention from beginning to end.

      This book was actually written by Andy Warhol's nephew, James Warhola .  It talks about visiting the artist during vacation.  I really enjoyed how it made the artist in all his eccentricities - a real person- and not just the icon that we all know him as.  And I loved how it opens a discussion about how art can be anything and art is everywhere!
      This book is on my wishlist.  The reviews state that this book looks more at how Andy used art to overcome his social difficulties.  As an art therapist,  this book seems right up my alley!
      I love the cover.

      Ideas for next steps:
      1. Art Projects for Kids has a wonderful art project using self portraits and acetate done in the spirit of Warhol. Click here
      2. Find a photograph of your child and make four xerox copies.  Have your child color each one a using different colors.  Tape them together to form a square.
      3. As with Basquiat and Kahlo, Warhol used art as a means of coping.  Continue the discussion with your child around what skills they have that they could use when feeling upset or discouraged.  Encourage your child to have an art journal if drawing is something that they notice helps them to feel better.
      4. Show your child images of Andy Warhol's food series and have your child draw and paint their favorite food.  Having your child draw with a pencil first, then outline with a permanent marker, and then color the image in, will give it that "pop" art look.
      Hope you have some Warhol Inspired Fun!

      Wednesday, June 15, 2011

      Artist Series- Basquiat

      So, I have been out of commission for a while.  Between teaching, being sick, working my regular job, and taking care of sick children- life has been hectic... which really is pretty much usual.  Fortunately, the class I teach is almost over- and my life will resume to its slightly less hectic state. 
      Although I have not been blogging as of late, I have been making art into the wee hours of the night.
      I figured it would be a good time to talk a bit about what I have been doing!

      I have been working on my artist monsters!  I have been having so much fun researching artists and their images and incorporating them into my little creatures.  I also have had a great time using the monsters to teach my daughter a little about the artist that each monster is inspired by. She definitely has her favorites, and it has been wonderful to see how our aesthetic is so similar.  I want to find ways in my posts to share a little about the history of the artist and what images inspired my creature.  I also want to share possible ways that we can create fun directives to make the artist come to life for our children. 

      I will start by introducing one of my newest little monsters, King Basquiat!
      This little monster is inspired by  

       Born on December 22nd, 1960 in Brooklyn, New York.  His father was Haitian and his mother was of Puerto Rican descent.  He was a super bright child, who could read by age four and loved making art. Jean  Michel spoke French, English, and Spanish by the age of 11.  Although he was a gifted youth, he had a difficult childhood.  He was hit by a car when he was seven, his parents became separated, and he ran away from home at age 15.  He always made art, and would sell his art as a means of taking care of himself.  

      Jean Michel Basquiat's imagery is child like, bold, and full of emotion.  It often can remind the viewer of his start as a graffiti artist.  Other images look as if they have been drawn on a chalkboard.  His trademark is a golden crown.  His artwork can be found in collections all over the world.  Sadly, his life was always somewhat troubled, and he died at only 27 years old in 1988.  Here are some of my favorite images.

      There is a beautiful children's book with a poem by Maya Angelou and illustrated with the artwork of Jean Michel Basquiat called, "Life Doesn't Frighten Me."  Definitely worth checking out!

      Ideas for next steps

      1. One thing that I love as an art therapist, is learning about artists who really used artwork as a means of working through emotions or as a means of support.  Basquiat is one of these artists.  Teaching children about how art can be used as a coping strategy is an excellent way of helping kids deal with their own emotions.
      2. Use black construction paper or black canvas and oil pastels to have your child draw their own "Basquiat" inspired imagery. 
      3. Basquiat painted lots of postcards that he would send to his friends or sell on the street.  Have your child make a postcard and send it to someone they love.  Help them put the stamp on it and put it in the mail! 

      That's it for now!  Promise I will write again soon!

      Wednesday, March 9, 2011

      St. Patrick's Day Puppet!!!

      One of the things that I have wanted to do with this blog is share some of my art projects. As a mental health therapist and art therapist working with children, I do tons and tons of art. Children generally don't use talk therapy the same way that adults do. I will often use art as a way of communicating. When a child is just sitting in front of me and I ask him questions, more than likely he will not answer me... but if I have him make a Leprechaun puppet and I ask him questions (Or better yet, if ask the Leprechaun) I get a ton of useful information!

      In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I thought I would share my Leprechaun Puppet template.

      What you need for this project:
      • Scissors
      • A paper lunch bag
      • Crayons, Markers, or Colored Pencils
      • Glue
      • The 2 Leprechaun PDF Templates click Head & Body

      Okay.. so this puppet is pretty basic.
      1. Have your child color the puppet first. I find that when kids color before they cut things out, it is a lot easier for them. They don't have to worry too much about staying in the lines - since it will be cut out anyway.
      2. Cut out the puppet. Most of the kids I work with will need help with this step.
      3. You will be gluing your head and body to your paper lunch bag. If you look at the folded lunch bag, the head will be glued on to the small rectangular section on the top of the bag away from the opening. The body will be glued on the bottom portion of the bag, under the head. Remember, you want your leprechaun to be able to talk- so you will not be gluing it to the flat, unfolded side of the bag. You can take a look at my picture to get a better understanding of what I am talking about (for some reason this step is hard for me to explain!)
      4. Ta da! You are now puppet enabled. This is the fun part- I love interviewing puppets. I can get kids to tell me all kinds of things when I pretend that I am a news reporter. Plus it promotes creative improvisation on the part of the child.

      I hope you have fun making Leprechaun Puppets!
      Let me know how it goes!

      Thursday, February 24, 2011

      Georgia O'Keefe Monster

      So, Georgia is my newest little monster in my series of Artist inspired monsters. I have finished four- but have a couple more that I think I want to include (how much fun would it be to make a Warhol monster!!!)Anyway, back to Georgia. What I love most about Georgia is the way she is fiercely independent, strong, capable, and at the same time vulnerable and feminine. For me, the image Georgia created for herself was just as beautiful as all of her artwork. So what inspired my Georgia monster???
      I of course started with her hat and scarf, cow skull and then included the flowers.
      and then I found this picture, and knew I needed to include some cute shoes!
      Alfred Stieglitz took this photo - I love it!
      This last picture I took of Georgia's house in Santa Fe. One day I will move to Santa Fe. The light is so amazing. It is no wonder that Georgia fell in love with the place.

      If you would like an excellent book to introduce Georgia to your children, I highly recommend "Georgia's Bones."The illustrations are striking, but what I like most about this book is the way it teaches children to look at the world around them with new eyes. On one page, the author talks about how Georgia liked to look at the sky through a donut. The book introduces the concept of negative space beautifully. My daughter loves this book - and so do I.

      On another note, I was so happy this morning to see that my monsters were featured on small for What a great way to wake up! Hope the rest of the day is just as wonderful for all of us!

      Please sign up to win a couple of my monster prints if you haven't already! Click here.
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