Grade Two Explores Emily Carr

I had a placement this afternoon where the class, in fact, the entire school, had opportunity to watch a morning theater performance, “Emily Carr – Small Wonders” performed by
Canadiana Musical Theatre.  So, it only made sense that I follow that with an art extravaganza in the Grade 2 class.  This class has been helping me with my french lately and this has been great fun.

The inspiration for this lesson comes from Hilary Inwood.  I’ve been pouring over her stuff the past couple of weeks, absolutely in love with the types of small books, and works based on nature and ecology that she has been writing about and creating.  She has a large publication list and I encourage my friend-educators to look her up.  As my readers know, I’m quite big on picking up litter and being a steward of my environment.  I harvested from my own recycle bin and cut up three cardboard boxes this morning to be used in this activity.

First, we got the projector warmed up and watched a couple of short movies about Emily Carr, the artist.  While the children enjoyed the morning performance, they didn’t have opportunity to learn a lot about Emily’s art.  As we looked at several tree and landscape images, we talked about the wind and about the blowing shapes, in the sky, on the land and in the trees.  There was a bit of chat about British Columbia and the big tall evergreen trees and imagining walking through the woods there in the dark.

Before recess, we opened nine factories, most having two factory workers, but some, having three. I reused chart paper that was set aside in the art storage room, as factory place mats, deciding to use that for collage paper later on as well. Here, the students prepared a lot of collage papers in the approach of Henri Matisse, to be later selected and used for creating a personal landscape in the manner and energy of Emily Carr.

So, the factory workers went to work, using white, yellow, turquoise, green and blue tempera paint blocks and large brushes.  A helpful tip is to keep paint blocks out of the individual cupped containers as those are very tricky to clean.  Instead, I just set them out on palettes or margarine container lids.  Much easier to wipe off afterwards. Reminders to the students: “Stroke, don’t scrub, your brushes.”

?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ??????????Time for recess!  Over the fifteen minutes, the collage papers dried and I cleaned out the water containers, the brushes and the palettes.  Ready for students to rumble!

The students entered, rosy cheeked and eager. I projected the following image for some sketching in their sketch books.  I also demonstrated how when we draw evergreen trees, we don’t have to draw all of the individual branches, but can draw big clumps of branches all at one time. Among the Firs 1931

Among the Firs 1931?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ??????????To begin our compositions, we sorted our papers into two big piles on the floor, like piles of leaves.  We talked about the way the wind blows most of the time…side to side…this way and that…most of the time it’s not going up and down.  So, I initially requested a vertical composition (up and down), with the wind motion being wavy, but side to side.  “Mix up your papers, guys, to get lots of variety!”  I had brought a long a bag full of cardboard cut to size (different sizes and shapes) for compositions and a variety of tree trunks, strips also cut out of boxes.

I showed them Above the Gravel Pit by Emily Carr.

AbovetheGravelPitThe results…ta duh!

With advanced and Division II classes, you might add three layers of hills (foreground/middle ground and background)…and several trees.  At all grade levels, given time, you might also want to add textures/shading/highlighting onto the tree forms with oil pastel, before gluing.  Because this is a young group and I am a visiting teacher, one tree did the trick!

Thank you, Grade 2, for the magic of an afternoon making art!

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Wood!

That’s it…three sessions of scrubbing down my sanded furniture and I’m ready to apply the primer.  I thought I’d capture a photo of the living breathing wood before I seal its pores again with paint.

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After some discussion with daughter #2, I’ve decided to free-form the pieces for my bedroom to capture the feeling of autumn.  So…forget Marc Chagall.  Onward and outward, Kathleen Moors!

I used this furniture for healing.  It took me a long time to recognize that…but it is so!  Alzheimer’s disease steals layers of memory so incredibly slow.  My heart goes out to every reader who has had to find strength through years of watching your dearest loved ones make this journey…and I pray with everything in me for families who have just received a diagnosis and who need to find creative and accepting ways of taking this same walk.  I came to discover as I peeled back the layers of paint over so many nights and weekend afternoons that GRACE is what helped me…GRACE is what healed me and the quiet of hours picking away at paint in the warm light of my studio.  Mom, you remain, with all of your memories, inside of me always.

 

I picked up the green vanity on September 12 of 2011 and the other pieces August 22, 2013. The fronts and backs of every piece were totally suffocated in multiple layers of paint.  I will not be removing paint from furnishings again…let it be known!

Vanity Headboard Stripping Paint

 

 

 

Prayer Mandala

At times when I feel grief spill over me, for missing Mom, I take out her prayer mandala and spend time building upon the piece and praying, both.  One of those times came upon me this past weekend.  As recommended by my spiritual director and dear friend, I’ve connected my creative side and my spiritual side through this form of prayer. I know that mandalas are used in countless religious traditions and these are as varied and as unique as the people who create them.  As a practicing Catholic, I have used art for the past many years, as a way of drawing closer to God.  While I am painting or creating, I don’t feel as though I’m sitting outside, on God’s doorstep…I feel as though I’m spending time, sharing his kitchen…no rushing about…no distractions…quiet and restful.

P1030399The process of creating a prayer mandala, one that is not intended for art, but for the focus and spiritual aspects of the prayer, may take much time.  As an example, the initial four concentric circles took somewhere between four and six weeks to complete, beginning in early September.  I think that more typical of a mandala, is a pattern that segments itself around a central point, where as my mandala has become a series of almost concentric circles.  I wanted my mother at the prayer’s center.

Many years ago, at a silent auction, intended to raise funds for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, I bid on and won a mandala created by Tamarah Alister Rose AntaresShe creates exceptional works and is a beautiful woman.  I took a photograph this morning, out on my back deck, of Tamara’s mandala that hangs in my bedroom.

P1140703The process of praying my particular mandala, incorporates many of the memories I have of sharing times with Mom…but also, a bit of a journey through her life as little girl, growing woman and mother.  I am comforted through this process and while it is a deeply personal journey of prayer that I can’t share here, I think it’s alright to share that this can be a very healing possibility that might benefit readers going through similar loss.  If you’ve created a mandala, I would like to hear about it.

Four to six weeks of prayer...

Four to six weeks of prayer…

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Reading over Mom’s old letters to me…and incorporating them…remembering her teaching me the blanket stitch…of doing and undoing…of weaving…

I think it is important for the artist or spiritual being to not see or set limits to the experience of prayer.  I think that God opens up the heart and the mind…we are simply needing to be open to that.

I think this is a particularly wonderful exploration of a mandala by the Dalai Lama.

Weekend Blessing #2: Inspiring Art Journals

One Book One Calgary, sponsored by the Calgary Public Library offers a whole range of wonderful programs and session surrounding this year’s book selection, The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha.  I chose to attend a session Saturday morning, along with my cousin, at the Thornhill Branch…Inspiring Art Journals.  What a blast!  the Session presenters were Meredith and Jann of the Fibre Optics Group.

It was so generous that we were each gifted a visual journal through the One Book One Calgary initiative.  Then we received a whole variety of hands on activities and approaches to creating our own personal art journals.  It was a very relaxing time and an hour and a half swooshed by so quickly.  I’m posting here some pages that I found particularly beautiful in both Jann and Meredith’s journals.

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A wee site that might be of interest to the natural doodlers in my reader list, might be this one.  This was my initiation into the concept of zentangle.

From this session, Margy and I headed to the Calgary Waldorf School for an afternoon exploring crafts, woodwork, art, fabrics, wool and pottery.  We had a great time looking at all of the beautiful home made products and chatting with the artists and artisans.  It was spectacular.  One of my main reasons for heading up to this event was to support my friend, Belinda Fireman, who is an exceptional artist who I’ve connected with through the Gorilla House.

Belinda is a featured artist in the book, Journal It! Perspectives in Creative Journaling by Jenny Doh.  I was very excited to purchase one of these books and a couple of other knick knacks at her booth and what a remarkable one it was!  Thanks for the inscription in the front of my book, Belinda!  I’m going to have a blast exploring some of the ideas.  I love it when words and art connect!

Photo Credit: Belinda Fireman