An Art Auction and a Special Exhibition

As an artist, I am always on the lookout for new ways to connect with art lovers. And I think being artist also gives me a ‘try anything once’ mentality, because, hey, you never know right? So this month I have decided to try something new: ArtBomb.

I have known about ArtBomb for a while and have been a subscriber for a few years. Now I hear you asking, ‘What is an ARTBOMB?’ Well let me tell you….

ArtBomb is an online art auction for Canadian artists which provides a list of subscribers with a daily dose of Canadian art delivered to their email inboxes. If you like the art and want to own it, you can bid on it. Simple as that.

So why am I telling you this? Because I submitted a selection of images to the Montreal curator and was accepted! This little 12 x 12 Chickadee will be included in the auction for Sunday, December 18th.

Chickadee Three 12 X 12


And this little guy, also 12 x 12, comes up on December 19th (that’s Monday).

The opening bid will start well below the retail price. And it’s an auction, so you never know what is going to happen. You might come away with a bargain!

If you want in on the action, sign up is here.


Howick Elementary After School Art Program Vernissage

For approximately the past fourteen years, I have been teaching after school art classes to children at the elementary level. Although I have taught at a few schools, Howick Elementary is special to me because a) I went to school there myself (in a time before Disco, when bell bottoms ruled the earth),  and b) because it is a small country school with a fully stocked ART ROOM WITH A FUNCTIONING SINK. If you have ever tried to teach twenty kids a monochromatic painting exercise in a room WITHOUT a sink, you will understand why this matters.

Each year at Howick we (my awesome teacher co-pilot Chris Wallace and I) teach two sessions of Art Club. The first session is for Grades 1-3, so kids between the ages of six and nine. At the end of each session the school hosts a vernissage complete with juice and ‘hors d’oeuvres’ for the young artists and their families.

Here are some samples of the exhibition for Grades 1-3 held this past Wednesday, December 14th:

Matisse-inspired paper collages.

Vernissage for kids and their families.

Watercolour/mixed media projects and a snowman perspective exercise.

The kids are so proud (and rightly) of their work, and the parents are always genuinely delighted. The best part for me is turning kids on to the pleasure of making art and seeing how they can be surprised by their own abilities. I ran into a mother of one of my students yesterday and she asked my advice for types of paint to get because her daughter wanted art supplies for Christmas. And another artist is born.

Child’s Play

It was March Break this past week which meant I also had a week off from my regular classroom gig. I have been teaching art classes for children for over a decade now. More than ten years! How did that happen? Some of the kids from the very first elementary school art programme I was ever involved with are now married and are having children of their own. It makes me feel like an art grandma.  Perhaps in a few years I will be teaching those children, too.

One of the joys of teaching children is witnessing the surprise and pleasure they get out of exploring a new technique. I like to introduce to them things they might not otherwise get to try, things like found object sculpture, print making, and, of course, painted paper collage. I also like to push the kids a little.

Our projects in February were all about drawing and learning to “see”. We worked on grid drawings – what artists call “squaring up” – in order to help the kids understand that they can observe the parts of an object in isolation and just draw what they see bit by bit instead of trying to make sense of the entire object all at once. Often seeing the “whole”, especially of a complicated object  like a human face, can be very intimidating, so these grid drawing projects are real confidence boosters.

As February is Black History month, I had the kids work on an iconic drawing of Nelson Mandela. They made an 100% enlargement of the original drawing (above) to go from an 8 x 10 to a 16 x 20. It took a couple of classes to accomplish this. I was stunned by the level of patience shown by a class of 9 – 12 year olds. You could have heard a pin drop in the art room, these kids were so focused!

Once the drawings were completed, we then moved on to making a black and white poster out of the drawing. I supplied the class with four values of paint from black to light grey. The kids were responsible for figuring out which value went where.

Pretty impressive results! It will be fun to see all these posters displayed together.
I will be back to school this coming Wednesday. With Spring just around the corner (I hope) it seems appropriate that we begin to discuss the theory and uses of colour.

Lighting the Way for Others

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. ~William Arthur Ward

Painted paper collage art project for children- Alyson Champ

I’ve had a regular teaching gig for about seven years now. Although I have been teaching music and art privately for decades, it wasn’t until 2003 that I first set foot inside a real classroom. There was nothing quite like standing in front of a class of twenty or thirty energetic children to make it painfully obvious that I really didn’t know anything. OK, maybe that’s not entirely fair. I do actually know quite a lot about making art. But knowing, and being able to impart this knowledge effectively to others, especially children, are not at all the same thing. Teaching is in itself an art. And just as a great work of creative genius is something marvelous to behold and is not easily forgotten, so it is with great teachers. A great teacher teaches you in way that makes you want to learn. He or she inspires you to go beyond the set lesson, to strive and to experiment. No, I’m not claiming to be one of these rare creatures. Most of the time, if the kids enjoy the project, have learned something, don’t have glitter glue in their hair or paint on their good clothes, and the classroom isn’t on fire, I call it a good day. Great teachers are memorable. I have had a few truly wonderful teachers in my life, and one of them was my high school art teacher, Mr. Tilley.

Mr, Tilley was an Englishman, transplanted to Quebec, who somehow found himself responsible for the art program at Chateauguay Valley Regional. How he came to be there I never knew, but during the five bleak years I spent as a high school student, I was awfully glad that he was. The art room was a haven to the school’s social misfits and creative weirdos, of whom I was obviously one. My friends and I lived in that room, spending every free moment there – and Mr. Tilley let us. He certainly wasn’t a strict teacher. He explained and assigned projects and then pretty much left us to ourselves. We did things in whatever order we wished and as long as we did our work and made a reasonable effort, he was happy. Help was always available if we needed it, but mostly we were responsible for ourselves and left to learn at our own pace.

And boy did we ever learn. We explored everything from three point linear perspective, to traditional lettering, basic elements of graphic design to Carolingian calligraphy. We hand lettered diplomas and made posters for local events. We painted in the style of the impressionists, the cubists, the fauves, and the pointillists. We studied colour theory and art history from cave art to modern art. We learned a great deal and we learned it painlessly, or so it seemed to me, because it was fun. Now, when I look back over the past (gasp) thirty years, I am shocked not only by how much he taught me, but by how much I have retained and continue to use.

I have read that the skill of a great teacher is like a candle: it burns brightly and in so doing consumes itself to light the way for others. Mr. Tilley has been dead for many years, but his light lives on in all of us whom he taught. One teacher in a rural high school helped to create the careers of many professional visual artists, graphic designers, illustrators and photographers. He also helped to foster an appreciation for art in countless others. Mr. Tilley probably could not have guessed how far reaching his influence would be. That’s the thing about being a teacher. You never know whose life you are changing.

Mr. Derrick Tilley, CVR yearbook 1982