Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Guest Post

Hi everyone,

I'm guest posting today over at Skip to my Lou

I'm keeping up with my shorebird theme.  Head over there to find out how to make papier mache version.

See you there.


Monday, July 6, 2015


Summertime for me is spending time by the water. Whether at the cabin by the lake, visiting the coast or even just having time to walk by the river here in the city.

As a bird lover I'm immediately drawn to my feathered friends.  Sketching birds in plein air is challenging, they are always on the move. So it helps to be armed with a fast camera and lots of patience.

Don't rely entirely on photographs though, make little gesture sketches that record common poses. You can then refer back to those sketches and add birds into your  larger compositions.

This painting is a good journal project….

and this seagull is a painted paper collage.

Both projects use a blurry line technique.  In the past I used gel pens but their quality has gone up in recent years and it's getting harder to find ones that will bleed when hit with a water wash.

There are other options.  My favourite is the Stabilo pencil.  It's easy to draw with and works on paper, glass, plastic and metal. I have to buy mine at a fine art supply store and they are about $2.00 a piece.

You can also use a watercolour pencil. You get a similar blurry effect. They are not as soft as a stabilo so I find them a little harder to sketch with.

A charcoal pencil will give you a bit of blurriness, you can smudge them with your finger before adding the water wash to enhance this a bit.

Watercolour markers will also give you a blurry effect.  I use them often at school as they are on every student supply list. My only complaints are they can blur too much and you may lose definition in your sketch. The colour also changes and your black fades into blues and purples.

Materials Required:

- paper, you can use an art journal or a nice quality drawing paper.  At school I use this paper a lot. Although it is called white construction paper it's not a construction paper. It paints up nice. You don't get WC paper effects but it is a good alternative and it's cheap.  It's an amazing drawing paper (better than the so-called drawing paper most suppliers carry) and has enough tooth (rough surface) to take pastels (both oil and chalk) beautifully.
- pencil and eraser
- stabilo or alternative
- disk tempera
- acrylic or liquid tempera
- sponge
- glue
- sandpaper


Let's start with the journal page. Now I made a journal page but you can easily make this into a single page project.

Select a shorebird you would like to draw.

Here I sketched a spotted sandpiper.  I used some reference photos of mine and gesture sketches.  I added a piece of driftwood in the foreground to add interest and included the water in the background, (both of which were not in my photos).

Then I went over my sketch with my stabilo.  Sometimes I go straight in with the stabilo but this was a new composition and you cannot erase a stabilo.

Start adding colour.

I have lots of watercolour paint in my studio but I used disk tempera to show you can easily do this project at school. Disk tempera costs a fraction of what watercolour does and I'm always impressed with how far I can push it.

The secret here is to treat it like watercolour, use more water to fade out your washes. Now I paint around my sandpiper because of the stabilo, I want to control the blurriness as well as conserve my whites.

I add some colour to the bird. The stabilo starts to blur forming the shadows. I use straight brown and watered down brown to get my colour variation.

I also leave some areas with no paint for the white of the feathers.

A nice touch is to go back and add a touch of white on top of the paint, (extra feather detail, some waves in the water).

You can use white disk tempera which acts very much like gouache.
I also use PITT markers which are opaque white ink, acrylic markers, at school I might use white pencil crayon, white oil pastel, or even white chalk.

I add some clouds using white liquid tempera or white acrylic and a sponge.

I want to add some text,  because it's a sand piper I cut a letter "S" from some sandpaper.  Great textural element.

I made a pattern out of some scrap paper and then traced it on the back.

I want it to stand out a bit so I trace around it with a black crayon. This gives the "S" a nice black outline.

I glued it into place and added text with a fine sharpie pen.

Painted paper collage:

I take a piece of that nice paper and tape it down to my art board.

Using liquid tempera or acrylic I take a dark blue, a light blue, and a little white and paint the background.

I use this cross stroke a lot for backgrounds.  Start with the darkest colour and work your way down adding the lighter colours.

While the background is drying I painted the paper for the posts in the pier.

I use brown, black, and a little white acrylic or liquid tempera.

I need a scraper so I take an old gift card and cut it to the size I want.

The paper I'm using is a scrap of brown kraft paper.

 I dip the end of the scraper into a few colours.  I then spread it down the paper getting this nice effect that looks like weathered wood.

Set aside to dry.

Using the same technique as for the journal page paint another bird.

This is a seagull I photographed last year in Cape Breton and you can see I misjudged the size of paper I needed.  Oh well….we'll just add some legs.

Cut out the seagull and the posts.

It started off as being all one piece but I couldn't get it to look right.

So I cut them apart. I also added a little white for a highlight on top edge.

Glue into place.

Sponge on a few clouds and then glue the gull into place.

I hope this inspires you to make a few shorebirds of your own.

Take care everyone.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Giveaway Winners

The 3 winners of the adult colouring books are:

Carolynn , who left a comment on this blog
I love the Dad clay portraits. Kids do amazing things with great teaching! Keep up the great work!
Carolynn if you could email your mailing address to me at:
Laura Hay Hamilton, who left a comment on Facebook
and Jenny Peck who sent me an email.

Thank everyone for entering, there will be a new giveaway next week.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Book Giveaway and Student Work

The end of the school year is finally upon us.

I have been finishing my last residencies as well as an onslaught of Father's Day workshops.  Here is just a small sampling of some of the student work over the last few weeks.

Here are some DAD clay portraits that were done with Grade 3 and Kindergarten.

Calgary Towers done with Grade 2.

Toucans with Grade 5.

Mini gardens with Grade 4.

Air dry clay portraits with grade 7 & 8.

So as summer vacation approaches I am looking forward to having time to paint and try out some new projects.

Children's colouring books are not as popular as they were when I was a kid but adult colouring books are now top sellers.

There is something soothing about filling in all those empty spaces with colour and it can provide inspiration for new art projects.

Skyhorse Publishing has several of these books available.

I love all the patterns and immediately the wheels started turning about how I was going to attempt some of these patterns as a mono print or collagraph.

I also like that the pages are perforated so you can remove them easily and add them to your visual journal or put them on display.

Sample pages are provided at the front of the books to give you colour combo ideas.

The back of the book has colour bar space to try out these combinations before adding them to the designs.

Each book has 46 designs for you to colour.

I have 3 of these great books up for grabs.  If you are interested in winning one of these to enjoy over summer vacation please enter by one of the following ways:

- leave a comment on this blog post
- email me directly at
- like or comment on this post on my Facebook page

I will make the draw on Friday June 19th/15.

Good luck everyone and thanks to Skyhorse Publishing for sponsoring this great giveaway.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Grade 2 Inchies

This is a recent inchie project I did with Grade 2.  It relates to the social studies curriculum where they learn about: - the Arctic
           - the Acadians
           - the Ukraine

Inchie projects are so adaptable. I use them constantly and they are always a hit with the kids.

Some of these squares you may have seen in my other inchie projects, which is another great thing about inchies, as you can swap in/out squares to fit.  I also use them whenever I'm presenting at professional development conferences or sessions.  They are a big hit with adults as well!


I say this before listing the materials for every inchie project. Don't freak out by the long list. Use what you have and substitute as needed.

- wc paper cut into squares as the base for our inchies, we used 3"x3" squares
- disk tempera paint (my old standby)
- white and yellow acrylic paint
- white and yellow oil pastels
- black and red sharpie
- pink crayon
- salt shaker
- bubble wrap
- a drinking straw
- scraps of coloured paper
- scraps of white paper
- little wooden hearts, you could substitute cardboard if you have a star punch
- metal duct tape
- scraps of corrugated cardboard
- googly eyes for polar bear and fish
- masking tape
- white felt and/or craft foam
- little flower embellishments
- tacky glue
- gold sparkly paper or wrapping paper


Cut your squares.  We did all 9 squares but feel free to revise this depending on time available.

This was a 3 session project. (1hr. sessions)

We work on many squares all at once. I'll give you my schedule at the end. For the blog I find it better to present each square from start to finish.

Square#1:  Inuit Whale

This inchie is based on another art project, Inuit Whale Portraits.

Paint one of the inches with yellow disk tempera.

Trace around whale template on black paper.  Cut out and glue onto the yellow square.

Out of scraps of coloured paper cut some accent pieces.  I gave the kids white and red paper.  They also used the leftover black from the last step.

Inchie #2 Polar Bear:

Paint an inchie with blue disk tempera.

While the paint is still wet lay a small piece of bubble wrap on top, bubble side down.

Leave it on while the square dries.

I gave everyone a small square of white felt and asked them to cut out a hill shape.  Some kids thought it would be an igloo.

Glue into place.

I then handed out a white scrap of paper.  I had them cut a rounded triangle shape.

Glue on top of felt at the top.

I handed out pink crayons and they added some colour for the ears.

I gave them a small scrap of white craft foam and they cut a circle out of it.

Glue onto the face for the muzzle.

Glue on some goggly eyes.  For the nose we punched a hole in some black craft foam but you could also use paper.

Inchie #3: Arctic Landscape

Draw on a few low hills on an inchie with pencil.

Now you can go over these lines with glue and then let it dry for a glue resist effect or you can just use a white pastel for a pastel resist.

Out of the metal duct tape cut a small moon and then peel and stick into place.

Paint in the sections.

Before the paint dries sprinkle on a little salt.

Spread on a little iridescent glitter on the landscape.

Out of a scrap of black paper cut a little inukshuk and glue into place.

Inchie #4: Fish

Paint a square with blue tempera paint.  While the paint is wet you can sprinkle on a little salt.

When the paint is dry rub off the salt.

Using a straw and a little white acrylic paint stamp on some bubbles.

Take a piece of metal duct tape, draw a fish on it with pencil.  It will leave a nice etching.

Use coloured sharpies and colour in parts of the fish.

Cut out the fish, peel and stick the metal tape fish onto the blue square.

Using stamps you can stamp on the word FISH.  At school I printed out text and the kids glued it on the square.

Inchie #5: Lighthouse

On a square draw some rocks, a water line and a lighthouse.

With the red sharpie colour in top of lighthouse and then outline it with the black sharpie.

With the yellow oil pastel draw smudge on the glow from the lighthouse.  Put white oil pastel where the light is and on the lighthouse tower.

Paint the entire square purple.  The oil pastel will resist the paint.

Paint the rocks black and the waterline dark blue.

Inchie #6: Acadian Flag

Paint the little star yellow.

With masking tape place a strip down the middle of a square.

Paint one side of the tape blue and one side red with disk tempera.

Remove masking tape when paint is dry.

Glue on the yellow star to the blue stripe.

Inchie #7 Ukrainian Easter Egg

Paint a square with green disk tempera paint.

Using a piece of cardboard, stamp on some grass lines with green acrylic paint.

Cut an egg shape out of some scrap white paper.

Using crayons draw on some designs leaving parts of the egg white.

Paint egg with a wash of disk tempera.  The crayon will resist and show thru.

Glue the egg onto the green square.

Inchie #8: Ukrainian Church

Disregard the tape on this square. Paint a square blue and while the paint is still wet lift off some clouds with a kleenex.

Glue on a square of white paper.  Using a black sharpie or pencil crayon draw on some windows of the church.

Cut a dome out of some sparkly gold paper or wrapping paper.

With a sharpie add a cross.

Inchie# 9: Ukrainian Dancer

Paint a square blue.

I made a template of a head and shoulders.

I had the kids trace it.

Add colour to the dancer. We added the vest, some X stitch embroidery on the sleeves, and a few necklaces.

Cut the dancer out.  Glue onto the blue square and then glue on a few flowers.

Glue completed inchies on paper background.

That's it.