Purple Twig- Art Exploration for kids. A mom run small business in Los Angeles. Stop by to see the trials and tribulations.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A New Year

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It has been over a year since I have written a post and to be honest I don't know if anyone reads blogs much anymore. I hope so. I feel like a year ago I stepped away from quite a few things due to trying to save my small art studio from utter collapse. So many things have happened in the past year but also it seems as if time has stood still. Isolation can make each day feel much like the last. Events are happening out in the world but we are still here doing school virtually and trying to keep our minds together. We move forward at our same pace but feel as if everything has slowed way down. I look up and my kids are a year older. 

All that said, I feel like this isolation has made me really consider what is important to me and my business, being more thoughtful about my teaching and living philosophy. I have simplified my life in meaningful ways, stripping away the superfluous focusing on what I really want. One of the things I have wanted for many years was to write a book. I love a book as both an object and a carrier of ideas whether they be narrative fictional ideas, a memoir, an art monograph  a cook book or a book of project ideas, I love thumbing through the pages, not afraid to earmark certain passages I want to remember.  Well about 2 years ago an idea was hatched of creating a book of drawing projects. A book proposal was created and with the help and support of Barbara Rucci of Artbar, an introduction was made to an editor at Quarto Books, quite a few conversations were had and finally a contract was signed. 

I was very excited to begin a new adventure as an author of art projects for children. Last January I put together a group of curious and willing students to create the drawing projects while I photograph them as they worked. My BFA in photography was coming in handy.

I was in heaven. Creating curriculum is one of the most rewarding parts of owning an art studio for me and sharing these ideas is an important way for me to be part of a community. 

When we had to close our doors in March I had to reconsider how to finish the book. Luckily my two kids were up for the challenge. Each week I would set out a drawing provocations for them and they would work on the project while I photographed them. It became a lovely way to spend our time together while in quarantine. Writing this book was a saving grace for me while our doors were closed and there was nowhere to go. 

I am now happy to announce that the book is finished and out in local bookstores. 

I am now dreaming about book parties in person with an ice cream truck and leading everyone who joins us in a drawing project. A girl can still dream. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Deep Dark Woods Accordion Book

Quite a few people have asked me about creating this accordion book with kids so I looked through my images and found quite a few of for this drawing project so I here it goes  This accordion book focuses on creating depth in a painting using just a few materials.

cardboard-6 1/2 inches X 6 1/2 inches
watercolor paper- 6 1/2 inches X 24 inches
sumi ink-

I do pre-fold the watercolor paper for the kids before giving them to the kids and prepare the ink ahead of time but diluting some sumi ink 1 part ink to 4 parts water. The long piece of paper does lend itself to telling a story. We offer the children the idea of a forest as the scene for their narratives.  . We talk about  You could set it in a city or underwater or the desert. I like to read the kids a story before hand to offer a little inspiration, linking ideas and language with their drawings. I read them the "The Deep Dark Woods".

The kids started with the watered down ink and we talked about all the different shapes of trees. Once that layer dries, I give them the full strength sumi ink. I ask them to add a few trees using the black ink or maybe add some details on the lighter trees.

Does it look like the darker trees are closer than the light trees or farther way?

The scene is all set for their stories.  I give them oil pastels to draw the characters in the forest and add details to their trees if they like. The variety of stories and events happening in these forests was so delightful.

I don't have images of their covers but we glued the cardboard to each end of the paper, decorated the covers using tape and stickers and colorful paper. We then added a paper handle on each side so that the book could be opened and closed like an accordion.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Cloud Cities

This project is such an incredible combination of both observation and imaginative drawing. We also combine materials, using semi ink and pencil. The kids learn how to begin with the big forms working on the whole drawing then moving on to adding the details that give the drawing a new layer of meaning.

Sumi ink
watercolor paper
cloud images
paint brush

Yes, that is it.

We start with cloud images to look at. We talk about shadows and where the sun is in the picture. We observe the light part of the clouds and the darker part of the clouds.

I give the students a diluted solution of the semi ink and a brush. Sumi ink is so dark that this dilution can be 1 part ink and 10 parts water, but please test it for yourself. You are looking for a light gray.
I ask them to paint at least 4 clouds on the page. They can be big ones or little ones or a combination of both. They can also add more if they want but at least 4 to make the city work.

When finished I give them a darker diluted solution of sumi ink, creating a dark grey. It's best if the lighter ink is still wet on the page, that way the two shades of ink will merge with each other.  I then invite them to really look at the clouds in the picture and to observe the dark areas of each cloud.
I pose questions like 'Where is the sun shining?" "Where is the cloud darker?"

We then let these dry before we start in with the pencil.

When discussing adding the cities to the clouds I ask some questions in order to spark conversation "How will people get from one cloud to the other?" or "what kinds of structures will people live in?" or " Where will people get their food?"

Conversation and drawing is such a wonderful combination. We learn so much about each student and they learn about each other. Each drawing is so unique depending on the kids interests.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Sew a Softie

Look at this little ball of cuteness. It's just a head, no legs or arms. It bounces and rolls from place to place. We use socks when introducing sewing to the children at our studio. It's such a good way for kids to create something for themselves while learning simple stitches. Some kids don't quite get the hang of stitching right away, but it just adds to the personality of these little softies.

plastic needles or metal needles with big eyes
felt- we make our wool felt by getting wool sweaters from thrift stores and wash them. Then cut the up. I cut out round and triangular pieces for them to sew on. 
glue for some of the decorations

With our older kids 7-9, I invite them to thread the needle. I asked them to tie one end of the yarn to the needle and make a knot at the other end.  With the younger students ages 5 and 6, I have the needle threaded for them and ready to go.  

We offer the kids a variety of socks to choose from.  They also choose their felt pieces and buttons for the finishing touches. They stuff them and sew up the bottom using the running stitch or overcast stitch. 

They then sew on the felt shapes, round felt for eyes. triangles for ears, beaks or tails and finally they sew on the buttons. 

Our younger students (ages 5 and 6) glue on their fabrics and ribbon and buttons. They are usually exhausted from working through the frustration of sewing for the first time. Gluing on decorations certainly can revived them.

The variety of soft creatures continuously amazes me. They each begin with a sock, which is basically the same shape and every creation is unique. 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

The ARTful Parent book

When doing research for the curriculum for our Summer Camps, I spent a lot of time reading Jean Van't Hul's book, The ARTful Parent, simple ways to fill your family's life with art and creativity. She just published a revised version of this fantastic book. The first version has been in my library since it came out in 2013. It has been a staple for both curriculum in the studio and for projects at home with my family. The new version has wonderful updated ideas  for creating thoughtful, process oriented projects with your kids, or in my case for my students. It talks about how to set up simple invitations for you child, how to start a play group and lots of recipes to make materials for your kids. It is full of inspiration.

You know how sometimes you look through a book and you see a project that you have known about for years, but something about the way it's presented, it's like a brand new project. This happened to me when looking through the Artful Parent, I came across a recipe for making your own finger paint. Finger painting is mainly thought of an activity for under the age of 4, but what if we presented it to our campers age 5-10? I did! And they loved it.


3 cups water
1 cup cornstarch
food coloring of your choice

1. Place water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. 
2. Whisk in cornstarch until the mixture thickens.
3. Remove from heat and let cool.
4. Divide mixture into individual bowls and add a few drops of desired food coloring.
5. Store paint in airtight containers

An alternative mixture recipe:
Jean also writes about alternative recipes and projects to do with the paint. 

We made ours by adding liquid cornstarch to tempera paint, so that it would have that slick sensory feeling. 

We used some tools with our younger students ages 2-4, bubble wrap on rolling pins, foam brushes for those children who didn't like the feel of the paint. We also offered chopsticks for drawing and corks for drawing and printing. 

I offered finger painting for our campers ages 5-10 and they were so excited.  We lay a big sheet of paper onto the table, covering the entire thing. Knowing that the kids would be interested in mixing all the colors together, working together, we gave them yellow, green and blue paints. They used big movements and facial expressions and laughter to move the paint around the table. Our hands are such important tools. Learning to use them and becoming confident in using them is essential. 

Finger painting is not just for little ones. Please do try this with older children. They need sensory play too.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Spring in a Bowl

This a a project I did with our afternoon hand building ceramic class for age 6-8. Both the kids and I had so much fun making these little garden bowls full of vegetables that I just have to share it with you. I went a bit nuts photographing the project. I just could not get enough of the sculpted vegetables. We used low fire white clay and low fire glazes for this one.

I lay the vegetables out onto a tray for the kids to choose from. They each chose what they would like sculpt. Worked on that vegetable, by looking and feeling as the radish or carrot revealed itself from the clay. 

Each child had their own way of seeing and their own way of working. Here are the examples of the variety of vegetables that were made.

Once the students felt they were finished with the veggies, we made some pinch pots to put our inedible morsels into. Then one student had the idea to make a snail eating the veggies and like most good ideas, that idea spread through out the classroom and snails were crawling all over the bowls.

Once dried, I did a bisque firing. The kids used a variety of bright low-fire glazes for the veggies and bowls and I did a glaze fire. I was giddy waiting for the kiln to cool once fired. As usual opening the kiln was like opening a long awaited present. And I was not disappointed.

Look at these cute little radishes

and mushrooms

 and carrots

The kids were so excited and proud to take them home and I was so sad to see them leave the studio.