Saturday, 30 September 2017

Artwork with Children - Top tips

I've probably said this before...I am a teaching assistant and I know a lot of other teaching assistants read my blog and look at ideas from my Pinterest. We're all different, with a variety of skills and talents, but most of us will have to do displays at some point.

So here I am, happy to share... and give tips, especially if you are new at this, or just not confident with creative activities. It's all about that Growth Mindset can't do it ...yet!

At the moment I work with 5-6 year olds. I have been in the Infants/Foundation Phase for about 12? years and their artistic skills can be a bit immature (obviously)... they are still learning, still developing their hand eye coordination, gross/fine motor and observation skills. I cannot expect an independent masterpiece, I need to guide them.

Whenever I give a piece of paper to a child, they will always draw a small picture in the middle, so it takes a while to learn to use their arm, rather than just their hand (ifykwim) to draw bigger, that is, with a pen or pencil. Although, they do tend to draw a bigger picture with a paintbrush when standing up, but then it's sometimes hard to make out exactly what it is as the detail is lost. So I like to demonstrate what I expect and ask them to 'fill the page'.

So that's where collage comes in handy for display work. I will make a sketch and provide the resources so that everyone can have a go and be involved in a class project. 

I use anything that's in the classroom - but if you have read my blog, then you will know that I am cheap the Recycling Queen. So save all those bits of wrapping paper, especially anything gold - the inside of a chocolate bar....(any excuse to eat chocolate). Yes I have a shed for storage - I'm sad atm as the floor has just collapsed, probably from the weight of all my stuff! Hoarder. I also keep my stash in my conservatory where it is a little less damp. I do have a de-stash every summer (honest) - making things to sell at the school fete.

I can always use children's individual pictures as a border - and this is what I tend to do on most of my displays. I also try not to use too many different colours - I want it all to blend and work together.

 Now, I know that some people find it hard to colour coordinate, it's easy for me, but you may find it helpful to look at a colour wheel - blending colours, different tones and shades or contrasting colours. 

I think in layers, is there an interesting background? Make sure the work is the right size - will it be 'lost in space?'  I like to make a small sketch of what I want first.

For example, this display has a central piece that has been collaged with strips of ripped paper with a group. (I know, ripping?? - we didn't even use the scissors this time - cutting?? Well that's a whole different story! Who's got time for that?)  The back, yellow layer was created first, then the people stuck on top when dry, if not more than a little titivated. They needed guidance, but each child has made their own picture for the border. I work with about 8 children at a time - activities are rotated, so I will work with all the children over the day, or afternoon, or week.

 I don't worry too much about mess - I have a plastic tablecloth, the children wear aprons - its my rule - when we do messy work - its aprons on. No complaints from mums then! The children help each other to put them on as I'm usually too busy - or have sticky hands myself - I also wear an apron as I tend to wipe my hands in myself! ... and that's good role modelling too.  We can wash our hands when we're finished. I have 2 hanging peg airers - you know the ones that you put your socks on? Invaluable for hanging up wet pictures - I just don't have the space to lay anything flat.

 The children also help to tidy up too, especially picking up bits off the floor - they love helping! Give them merits for doing a great job.

 I needed to demonstrate how to draw a body - we all really do have a neck and shoulders, for example, we are not potatoes with stick arms and legs. So I will demonstrate and draw a picture of myself. I use a black liner for the outline because if you just use pencil, then by the time they have coloured it in, the features have been lost. I want it to 'pop' out from the display. Just make it clear to them - do not colour in with the black pen! I gave the children an A5 piece of paper for this piece of work. Waste not, want not.

I will also make sure that I provide different skin tones and a mirror - we're all different. I will limit the choice of colours - here, we were drawing our school uniform, so it was blue and grey.  I use oil pastels for display work - they are brighter than crayons or pencils. I have sorted my boxes of oil pastels into colours so they are at hand. I rarely (probably never) use coloured, felt tip pens for colouring in - they make holes in the paper and it can look too messy. I save those for independent work on the writing table. The children love to make pictures and their own little books by themselves.

 I also always ask a couple of children to write out the key words for the display, rather than printing out the words from the computer. That way, they can relate to the display - the children must be involved in creating visual displays for their classroom, otherwise it has little meaning to them. 

So all you scaredy cats out there who don't think they are creative enough to do displays...have a go! It's supposed to look like the children have made it! Not pre-printed (and inspectors love it too!)

I love art and craft and will always look for ways to incorporate different techniques. If it is not great at the end...then I make it better! Don't forget, that when you mount a piece of children's work onto a piece of sugar paper or black card - it enhances it... a lot!  That's part of our job - to advance their learning and to display their work proudly and creatively. 

The paper cutter is your friend! If you haven't got one or have to share (share?? lol you'll never see that again! or the laminator for that matter) try to get one from the budget.

Take photos.

Don't waste.

You may be in the same class next year - is there anything that could be used again? Some of my displays are only up for a few weeks. Can you laminate the title? 

I keep an example of each piece of work in a file, so that next year I have a copy to hand. Don't reinvent the wheel.

Take a stroll through my blog, there's a search bar too.

(Oh and no - I don't just do art all day! I do 'real' work too lol)

Gelli Printing

New toy!

I love printing and after watching lots of YouTube videos I decided to buy a Gelli plate (Ebay), so have been playing around with some leaf printing.

I used a foxglove leaf here.

Some good results with positive and negative prints

I bought my printing inks and brayer from a company in the UK called Handprinted.
You can make your own gelli plate too. I was too impatient, and cost wise not sure how that would work out.

I've already tried it out with the children in school too...

...for our Dinosaur topic using stencils and leaves, with line drawings. 

I love the detail on this dinosaur - we looked at toy model dinosaurs. We 'felt' the skin and looked at all the little lines.

The border has printed footprints. A couple of children looked at the model dinosaur feet, then drew them. I pin-pricked the outline of their drawings onto Styrofoam (you could a pizza base or takeaway tray), cut it out and mounted it onto cardboard, (although you could just print with a cardboard shape too) and printed it.

This one's 'fierce' - look at those teeth!

We used 'volcanic' paint colours. I used ordinary acrylic paint here.

I also used the same leaf printing technique for the background on this Holy Family display. 

Sepia tones for Autumn leaves

Collaged with wrapping paper, hessian, a bit of voile and tissue paper from some new shoes. The gold was from a Christmas cracker.

I wish I took a photo of just the background...I will when I take it down.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Welsh Tapestry Cushions

My Dad was a great collector of things.....many things.... and amongst his stash were some off-cuts of  vintage Welsh tapestry fabric that were coats and skirts in a former life.
So this morning I have made some cushions, reusing my old cushion pads, choosing a palette of mustard and browns. 

Really pleased with them

and a blue one too.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Turquoise Liberty Quilt ...part 2

Ok...I's taken a while (about 2 years) to finish this patchwork. I love it and the colours, but not sure I would ever make a Grandmother Flower Garden quilt again this large with such small hexies. Still have to quilt it - hopefully it will be done this summer as I'm now on leave. 

I originally made a small doll's cot quilt in this colourway and design and then decided to make a bigger one with the intention of using it in my daughter's room which she had decorated in duck egg blue. However, she decided that she liked this one better.....

just the edge to finish on this one and then start quilting it - I may just give it to her to finish as she's actually moved out now!! Plus she graduated in Fashion and textiles so is well able. I must be the slowest quilter in town.....

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Liberty Dress

Just getting through that mighty stash of Liberty fabric that I purchased in Lancaster last autumn. Standfast & Barracks print Liberty fabric at their factory and have an outlet shop. 

A cool summer dress in Liberty Tana Lawn fabric (Douglas Stripe Blue). We've had a mini heatwave this week in Wales!!!

Angel sleeves and a tie back

I've searched and searched for a pattern,but to no avail, so made this one up as I went along. 

I'll be making a few more of these I think...

Monday, 19 June 2017

Liberty bunting

Liberty bunting for a little girl.

 The binding is patchwork effect


I love the day I shall live in a little cottage in a harbour somewhere...

In Swansea, the Mumbles, (this is Limeslade Beach) my go to beach when I feel the sea calling me, my daughter lives nearby.

umm...funny name..there is a story to this apparently - a take on catamaran

and a bit of textile art inspired by my trip

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Vintage Crocheted Bunting

Just finished - 10 metres long, made from my own collection of doilies and a few of my Mum's.

yellow, cream, whites and greens

Friday, 16 June 2017


A doll I started a while ago

just finished as a gift

and my mermaid costume from last year's book day

Father's Day Card

Simple one to make 

in contrasting colours with coordinating cupcake cases to make a well deserved rosette

Happy Father's Day!