Artistic Fundraiser

An urban community holds an annual Christmas tree decorating contest as an annual fundraiser for area non profit organizations. I like the concept of the event, and I love the opportunity to engage the community with art. My favorite tree features miniature art images of various Ronald McDonald Houses located around the world. I'm guessing they started as simple line art images that the kids colored or painted. The result was quite beautiful.

A Patient & Temporary Art Medium

When I recently attended an academic/religious conference, Tibetan monks demonstrated sand painting over a (long) three-day period. Every time my schedule took me near the room designated for the sand painting I stopped in to watch the (silent) progress. 
Aside from the position of leaning over the art for hours at a time, no conversation among the monks working so closely together, and the fragility of the art created, the process is a lesson in temporality. Upon completion the art is dispersed as little bits of colored sand. In this case, the sand was given to anyone who attended the closing ceremony. Hours of laborious work: gone. A very humbling perspective. 

Waterlogged Stenciling for Subtle Backgrounds

I have a collection of journals that I use for various designated purposes. For example, I have a sermon journal, a mission journal, and I also have a separate journal for each academic course I teach. I don't like to write on plain white pages. Instead, I prep the pages with generic layers of watercolors. Generally I prefer to use layers of stenciling. To speed things up (and do more background pages quicker) I spritz the watercolors using a spray bottle with diluted watercolors from a tube. If/when the colors are too strong, I'll literally drown out (and mute down) the excess color by over-spritzing with a light color.
The flower garden border came off a bit strong with the purple watercolor spray so I drenched it with pale yellow. 
Bonus extra: take the (messy) stencil and press it face down on a fresh page. 
It is initially quite strong. Press with a paper towel to absorb some of the extra color (if desired).  The bold look is great but it can be difficult to journal over; so adjust according to your expected use. 

Puzzle Project Fosters Memories of Home

An artist friend (Lynn) developed a simple puzzle project as a teaching tool for children to learn about different human habitats. I adapted it as a project with immigrant women inside a family detention center as a way to talk about memories from home with their children.
The project requires eight Popsicle sticks taped together (use two pieces of masking tape on the backside). It's easier to have the sticks pre-taped. Lynn offers step-by-step guidelines on how to draw one's own home ("habitat"). The art technique emphasis is contrasting colors. Outline in dark and fill with light; or vice versa. 

It is important to have a sample, not only for the "students" to have a visual but also so the instructor has had the experience in making the puzzle. It was helpful for me to have photos of my house to refer to as "guide prints."  Of course my immigrant participants would not have that luxury. 

Write your names on the back.
2.           Draw your “house” picture step by step, ONE step at a time.
3.           OUTLINE each step and color it in. Outlining is part of this process.
4.           Outline the house, door, windows and roof/chimney.
5.  Color in the forms made. Use colors that stand out next to each other
so you can “see” the outline –use a dark outline with light interior or vice versa.
6.  Outline the smoke and color it in.
7.  Draw a yard horizon line
8.  Draw the tree, foliage and branches Outline first then color in
9.  The flowers are next. Outline and color in with chosen colors.
10.        Draw the front “lawn” and color in or put flowers/rocks/pathways in. Color and outline
Draw any people, outline and color in.
12.        Outline mountains, or any background. DO NOT color in yet.
13.        Draw a sun next, outline and color in.
14.        Outline clouds and color in. Put mountains in, outline and then color the
 background after all images are outlined first. Add birds (“V” birds!)
15.       Add any details.

16.       Pull tape off and reassemble puzzles. Trade and do each other’s puzzles!