Friday, August 2, 2013

End of Summer Story Camp

The summer started out with a week of Animal Art, progressed into "Hippie" art, and ended with this week's Story Camp. I've had this idea in my head for a while, but haven't had the opportunity to put it into action until this week. The idea is that a group of kids, in this case 11 kids between age 6 and 11, collaborate to create a picture book in the span of a week-long camp. Thanks to the Carnegie Center for the Arts in Turlock, CA for giving me this opportunity!

Day 1 - Brainstorming

I spent the first part of our 3-hour day thinking about the types of books we could produce. I passed out several samples including and ABC book, a counting book, poetry, a concept book and what I like to call a "process" book -- one that explains how to do something, or how something comes to be. I'll admit that I was partial to this idea at the start... something like Lois Ehlert's "Growing Vegetable Soup".
But, kids will be kids. They had their own ideas. They said "what about crazy, funny stories?" I said, hmm, won't it be a little hard to collaborate on ONE story that has a beginning, middle and end? But, lets brainstorm some ideas.
In the end, we all agreed that we could use one of the ideas as a thread connecting a lot of the other ideas into one story. And so the "Sonic Time Pod" came into existence. Each kid came up with a little mini-adventure using a time machine. The Time Pod had apps that take you different places, as you can see.
The device

As an introduction to the block printing process, I had the group come up with an image of what this device might look like. Then we each created a styrofoam "plate" to practice the printmaking process. OOPs. Writing is a tricky thing in printmaking. But, after a couple of mistakes, they learned that the writing must appear backwards on your plate in order to print correctly on the paper. Whew.

Day 2 - Story Mapping and First Illustration

The kids each created a story map for the place that they would visit using the Sonic Time Pod. We talked about using our senses to imagine what the place might be like. And we ALL agreed (really it was my rule) that there would be no weapons or violence in our story. Its just a thing with me.
Story Map

Then the kids set out to sketch their first illustration idea. After that, the idea was transferred onto the styrofoam plate using a ballpoint pen. When they were ready, they started the printing process. I created a cover and an introduction.
Sketch on the left, and styrofoam printing plate. Remember, NO WORDS.

My goal was to print a complete book for each kid, and one for me. A total of 12 books. This part got a little messy. But on the whole, they did a great job cranking out 12 prints each of their first illustration.
We got pretty messy. I'm sure there must be a neater way.

At the end of day 2, we took some time to work on the writing process. I took the text home that night and typed it up for the next day. Wow. Spelling.

Ian's first illustration, plate and finished print. Krakatoa, before the eruption.
We used all available counter top space, and a very large drying rack.

Day 3 - More pages

On day three, the kids spent most of the day producing more illustrations. But first, they edited the first day's text, and added another bit for the second illustration. My goal was for everyone to have at least 3 illustrations, and accompanying text. Everyone met that goal, and some far exceeded it. The tough part was making sure that the illustrations were clear and meaningful, and that the story held together, despite it being written by eleven different kids.
Sam's sequence of events.

Day 4 - Even more pages

We had to finish all the illustration and text on Thursday in order for it to be ready to assemble on the last day. So final touches were put on writing. And a few more illustrations completed. I encouraged a couple of the older kids to try putting a little second color on. I had intended to do one illustration with 2 colors for everyone, but the younger kids weren't really up for it.
Just a touch of 2-color on this dinosaur picture... the comet. Awww.

Day 5 - Collating, binding and final touches

I used nearly a ream of paper to print out all the pages, with the text in place. With all the illustrations, it came to 42 pages! First thing this morning, we used yarn to tie the pages together.
Yarn binding method not so good.
Then we played follow the leader around the room, picking up one each of the 40 illustrations. Then, the kids spent most of the remainder of the day cutting out the pictures and pasting them onto the text pages. They all realized that if they made a not-so-good print, or didn't print quite enough, it affected other kids' books. Hmm, more careful next time.
Pasting the illustrations into place.

In the last few minutes, a few of the kids put some finishing touches on their copy of the book, personalizing it for their own. After only small hiccups, they were done!

What I learned

  • Kids have the best ideas!
  • This is really not the best project for 6-year-olds
  • Kids can't spell
  • We needed to work more on the writing part. Although the story was connected by the Time Pod, we could've used more collaboration to unify the whole story.
  • I'd have liked to try a variety of printing techniques, and possibly more assemblage and personalization after the main illustrations were complete.
  • Should've had a better method of binding
  • We needed more time
Definitely need to try it again!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Summer Activities

Something for Everyone

by Sofie at Rose Avenue School 3rd grade
My Own Evening Art Camp: June 3 to 7, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. In the cool of the evening, we'll have a new activity each night at my home studio. $50 for the week. Limited to the first 8 students. All materials provided. Kids and adults.

For information or registration, email or call 209-247-2626.

At Mistlin Gallery:
Junior Art Camp, Course 1*    
Children will have fun painting scenes and drawing in 3-D while they are learning principles of art. Each day will also include an art game and finish with an age appropriate craft. Crafts for this course include recycled 3-D sculptures and collage. Supplies furnished.
When: Wednesday and Friday, June 12 and 14, 1:30  - 3:30 pm
Where: Mistlin Gallery 
Ages: 9-12 years 
Price: 2 sessions/$40 plus $2 materials fee paid to teacher the first day of class.

Mommy/Daddy & Me*
Children will have fun using paint, scissors and glue to create collages and other textural and imaginative art projects. All new projects, so come again if you have attended in the past. Child must be assisted by an accompanying adult or teen brother/sister. Supplies furnished.
When: Wednesdays, June 12 - July 10 (no class June 19th), 4:00-5:00 pm
Where: Mistlin Gallery Classroom
Price: 4 sessions/$40. 
Ages: 4-6 years

Intermediate Drawing*    
Students will learn to draw for self-expression and communication. Includes learning to design a poster. This class is for older students who are ready to focus and concentrate on art. No previous classes necessary. Bring your own 8 x 10 or larger drawing pad.
When: Mondays, June 10 -  July 8, 3:30  - 4:30 pm
Where: Mistlin Gallery 
Ages: 11-17 years 
Price: 5 sessions/$50

Register for these classes through Modesto Parks and Recreation at

At the Great Valley Museum (MJC):
July 11 and 12: Light and Shadow science and art. One hour each day at 10 a.m., ages 7-9.
July 18 and 19: Prehistoric Art - from dinosaurs to cave art. One hour each day at 10 a.m., ages 7-9.
$40. Register by calling the museum at 575-6196.

At Carnegie Art Center in Turlock:
June 10-14 Animal Art Camp. Lots of fun painting, drawing, sculpture projects and possibly a couple of days of dance activities too! Ages 5-8.

June 24-28 Hippie Camp. Arts and crafts from the 60s and 70s, including tie-dye, macrame, and batik among other things. Ages 8-12.

July 29-Aug 2 Story Art Camp. Students will look at picture book art, write a story and illustrate their own book. Ages 8-12.

Aug. 5-9 3D Art Camp. All the projects will be 3 dimensional including paper mache, clay, wire sculpture, textiles just to mention a few. Age 8-12.

Carnegie camps are 5 days each, 9 a.m. to noon. The cost for each camp is $150. You can sign up soon for Carnegie's classes on their web site:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Student Show Coming Up in January

I will be entering several students' work. I'm very proud of all my students and love to show off what they can do!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How to... yarn baskets

This has been one of my students' favorite projects over the past few years. Its a little complicated to set up, but its worth the trouble. Usually, the only thing I prep for students is the marks on the edge of the plate. I have them do the rest, working with me as I demonstrate.

Start with an 8" Chinet type paper plate. Mark 27 lines, approximately one inch apart. Then, number the marks as shown. This is not a magic number, just what I've found to work well. It does have to be and odd number to work out right. I'll include a template at the end of this tutorial. See if your students can figure out the pattern.

Cut a 1/4" slit at each mark.

Pick a fairly lightweight yarn for the "warp" and place the end through slit No. 1.
Tape the end of the yarn to the back of the plate.

Yarn starts at number 1.

Stretch yarn across plate to No. 2, under the edge to No. 3, back across the plate to No. 4 and so on, creating a web across the front of the plate. Be careful not to pull the strings too tight. The plate should stay flat!

Continue crossing the plate until you get to No. 27. Cut off the string, leaving enough length to tie it off in the center.

This is the tricky part. Take your loose end and slide it down in the space between No. 2 and 25. Bring it back out and tie a knot around the middle, securing all the strings.

Tie your "weft" yarn onto the leftover bit of string in the center using a double knot.

Start weaving over and under in a spiral beginning at the center of the plate. Work with about a yard of yarn at a time, pulling it all the way through after weaving 5 or 6 strings. The yarn should pull up fairly tight into the center. Be careful not to skip strings! Keep going until you use up your length of yarn. You can change colors, or just tie on another length until you reach within about 1 inch of the outer edge of the plate.
Template for paper plate.

Conclusion coming soon...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Learning Line with Kandinsky

I've been working out a new series of lessons for Kinder and 1st grade that go over 4 elements of art: line, shape, color and texture. I've tested out the line lesson in a couple of groups with some wonderful results!

The original Kandinsky referenced, "Composition IV"

Line practice.

Line Practice

The first part of the lesson is thinking of all the different types of lines that one can make, giving them names: vertical, diagonal, thick, thin, etc, using a variety of mediums (shown above). Afterward, I show the Kandinsky painting and talk about the variety of lines he used.

I recently learned a fun activity called "Magic Paintbrush" where the group draws in the air on a pretend canvas using a variety of body parts. I ask them to imagine a painting they might make with different kinds of lines. For example, a single finger can make a thin line, and you can swish your hair back and forth for a wide, wavy line. The kids love getting a little crazy, and they can make the different kinds of lines without risk of doing it wrong. 

A Composition

The second part of the lesson starts with black oil pastel or sharpie (or both) to make a variety of lines, then adding watercolor in an abstract painting.

Test group 1 had really bad paint, but the idea got across!

Purchased some better paint, and got some lovely results.

Each one is SO different!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

On the agenda this week...

4th graders making yarn "baskets"

Weaving with Yarn

I found a box of pretty yarns in the garage this weekend. So, I think my students will be making some weaving projects this week! I have done weaving a couple of ways. One successful and fun project is a yarn "bowl" made by using a paper plate loom. Other times, usually for younger kids, I'll just use a rectangular cardboard loom. I've also been wanting to try weaving onto a branch (like to picture here). Although its purely a decorative weaving, I think it looks kinda cool.

My weaving projects come with a little background about Native American weaving and the traditions of weaving around the world.

Kid's Open Studio is every Tuesday, 3:30 - 5:00 for $10 at my home studio. Email for directions.

A finished yarn "basket" 
Weaving from a rectangle cardboard loom
Weaving on a branch loom, originally posted at this link.