Introducing Botanical Artist Lara Gastiger

I would love to share an amazing artist and botanical illustrator, Lara Call Gastinger I discovered on Instagram.

She describes herself,

“Botanical artist, illustrator, documenter and interpreter of all things exquisite and awesome in nature.” and “As a trained plant ecologist, my love of learning and drawing nature is exemplified in my field journals. I do these journal entries for myself and also as commissions.”

Her works are finely detailed, beautifully painted and wonderfully intricate.   Her artistic and observation skills allow her to capture all the small details, the tiniest veins and fibres, the uniqueness of each specimen and form amazing complex nature journal pages.

She often creates one large or double-paged spread, forming a detailed and layered journal entry for each month.

Check out her sketchbook on her website http://www.laracallgastinger.com/work.

She has inspired me to draw much finer details and to layer my journal pages with notes and to place a few sketches inside smaller boxes on my page layout.  Her idea of adding several sketches to a monthly double-page layout seems such a good idea, instead of trying to create 4 weekly pages.

We are so blessed to have the technology to discover and share amazing talent!

Blessings, Nadene

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Time for creative mom

In response to my post Sketching Again, a reader recently asked,

“How much time do we as moms need each day to be creative? “

I suppose it depends on your family life and demands on your time, and whether you enjoy creative activities.  Enjoyment is a powerful motivation.

If I can carve just 20 minutes of creative sketch time for myself, I feel so grateful and rewarded. This is not every day, and it is not always possible when life and stressful situations are more important, but it is something I find easy to pick up and do when there is a lull or gap in my days.  Right now, with just one teen to assist in her homeschooling, I have a lot more free time than I had while juggling three young kids all on different cores so I can find time to be creative!

We need to grow and be creative ourselves in order to give continually to others.

For some folk that “creative / me time” may be physical, such as going for a brisk walk or run, doing a quick workout, or taking a nice hot bath with soft music playing. Others need to be alone, maybe to read a book or listen to a podcast.   Some love to garden, sew, knit, quilt, or sketch.

When the children are young, then it is best to sketch or craft with them. Within a few weeks of doing sketches or nature journal prompts, the kids feel more confident and know what to do and can pretty much work without your help, giving you that time to do the activity along with them.

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Doing art together with my children. You’ll see my art page at the bottom of the picture.

We enjoyed Fabulous Fine Arts Fridays, a whole day for our Music and Art Appreciation lessons and some poetry or Shakespeare.  Our Fridays were always so relaxing and enjoyable, so different from our normal school schedule, that we all looked forward to this time together.  It was also very informal.  We simply listened to a classical music piece while observing an artist’s work and often did some art ourselves.

Sketch Tuesdays always were a wonderful opportunity to draw and sketch something really simple.  Because we had a whole week to complete the sketch, there never was any pressure.  And despite there being no feedback or critique given, the children learnt so much about their art and skills simply by viewing the slideshow and experimenting with new and different art mediums.  We sometimes copied other famous artist’s style in some of our Sketch Tuesday sketches, discovering the artist’s true talent and ability.  Again, it is fairly simple to pull out some paper and sketch and paint right alongside your children.

Otherwise, simply do something creative and personally rewarding in the afternoons while the family are doing their own thing.  I often find a half hour after lunch before I need to take down washing or start preparing dinner.  Weekends are also a good time to sketch, paint, garden, sew or do some sort of creative hobby.

If you have lots of children, or little babies or busy toddlers, then you may be deep in the trenches, and creative time for yourself might be impossible for this season, but, remember, that this season will pass, and you will be able to have your body and space back!

Blessings to you as you carve out small Mother Culture moments for yourself each week.

In Grace, Nadene

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Recent Sketches

Recently I shared that I had started Sketching Again.  I decided to keep my Mom’s Nature Journal and sketchbook out on my desk as a visual reminder, and I try to spend about 20 minutes daily sketching and painting in time squeezed between folding laundry and preparing dinner.

I am using the Doodlewashed September “Simple Pleasures” prompts and here are my latest sketches ~

I was particularly happy how my first watercolour portrait came out, but I am not including the second portrait I did of my other daughter because it was so completely off that it would be a huge injustice to her if I posted it.  Portraits are really tricky!

I enjoyed creating all the details in “Popping bubble wrap” and felt good about the painting of the hands in “Rock., Paper, Scissors”.  The other paintings felt a bit “meh”, but I enjoyed the process and feel that I am learning as I go along.

It is important to just keep painting, experimenting, changing the approach or the medium.  If you are in a slump, just play.  Do abstracts.  Don’t worry about the end-results.  Just have fun!

For those who are keen to try sketching daily, why not join the rest of the world (really!) with Inktober  31 Days 31 Drawings.

I encourage you, moms, to also make the time to sit and sketch weekly.   Join your children in the weekly Sketch Tuesday topic, or sit and create an entry in your Mom’s nature journal page.  It is wonderful to give yourself time to sit and be creative.

Blessings, Nadene

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Sketching Again

Recently I shared that I had lost my inspiration and that somehow I had lost the joy in my sketching.  Truth be told, I actually hated my own recent art work.  Every attempt seemed so childish, colored-in and flat.  It wasn’t the lack of inspiration, but the lack of style.

I love pinning ideas and finding artists who inspire me on  Pinterest and Instagram posts.  There is an endless stream of amazing sketches and art, but the result of all this influence is not helpful to developing one’s own art.

You need to create your own art to find your own creative style. 

My 17-year-old daughter’s advice to me was to try a new art medium or technique.  This is very helpful, especially if you just play around without an end product in mind. I suppose recovering from lost art inspiration is a bit like horse riding after a fall; you need to get straight back up and ride again.   But in the end, finding art inspiration and personal style is like the Nike slogan ~ “Just do it“.

During a quiet spell this past weekend and this week, I pulled out my sketchbook, downloaded the Doodlewashed September “Simple Pleasures” prompts and began again.

My first attempts were not too bad, but I found that, as I sketched daily, I rediscovered something in my style that I liked, and the joy returned.  I loved the simple pleasure of sketching and painting.  I loved the quiet, right-brain activity.  And I enjoyed my art again.

While still finding my new artistic joy, I want to encourage you, moms, to also make the time to sit and sketch weekly.  You need times of creativity.  Join your children in the weekly Sketch Tuesday topic, or sit and create a nature journal page (prompts at the bottom of the post) each week.  It is so restorative.

Charlotte Mason called it “Mother Culture“; spending time learning and growing.  Spend regular time reading your own book list, creating art and journaling in nature; all part of your personal growth portfolio.

May I encourage you if you haven’t done any sketching for a while ~  Start again,  Just Do It!

Blessings, Nadene

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Using a grid to draw

In our Art Appreciation lessons we love to copy great art works and images.  An easy way to accurately copy pictures is by using a grid.  Here are some of our Peerneef artworks we painted using a grid ~

Instead of drawing the grid from scratch each time, I created transparent grid lines on MSWord in several sizes which you can lay over any image.  Here’s your free download ~ Transparent grid

To create your own grid over a picture  do the following ~

  1. Download and save the Transparent Grid to your computer.
  2. Open a new Word document.
  3. Insert the image you want to use for your art work.  You need to click”Wrap Text” on the top menu and select “In Front of Text” so that you can freely move and position your image.
  4. Open the Transparent Grid doc and select and copy the grid size best suited for your image. (Use the very small blocks for very detailed pictures, or the large grid blocks for larger shaped images)
  5. Paste the grid over your image and position as needed.
  6. Save.
  7. You can work directly from your computer screen onto your own art paper or print out your image with the grid.

Here’s an important CHEAT ~ You can create a pencil sketch of your image using the free photo editing package “Picasa“.

Open the image in Picasa, select the blue icon “Even more fun and useful image processing” button, click the “Pencil Sketch” option, and “Save as”.  Now insert this outline image in your grid for even easier copying!

Prepare your own art page and create a grid to match your printout, in the same ratio of blocks across in rows and down the side, but these blocks can be larger than your printout if you want to enlarge your image.  In other words, if your grid image has 4 blocks across and 5 blocks down, then your art page should also have 4 across and 5 down.  If the printout grid lines are 2 x 2 cm, you can create your art page grid lines 4 x 4 cm (or larger) so that your new image is larger and fills your art page.

Now you are ready to sketch the image on your grid printout or on your computer screen.

  • Work block by block, copying the lines, angles and shapes in that block.
  • Use where the shapes intersect the grid lines as your measure.
  • Work with the large shapes first and then add the details.
  • Once you have your outline, gently erase the grid lines and you are ready to paint!

But there is an easier way! Art Tutor has an excellent Grid Tool that does this all for you ~ http://www.griddrawingtool.com/   Simply follow the step-by-step tutor and download and save your grid image to your computer.

So now you can recreate any image or picture on your page using the grid lines as guides to make your own art!  Enjoy!

Blessings, Nadene

3 things to avoid in art lessons

What Works! 

Art is about creativity and inspiration, but many moms avoid teaching art in their homeschool because it is often seen as messy and unpredictable.

Here’s what to avoid in your art lessons — with helpful practical hints to do instead ~20160607_143154

Too focussed on the end product

Inexperienced moms and insecure children often look for a “cookie-cutter” approach to successful art lessons.  Typically these art lessons give step-by-step instructions which always result in similar outcomes.  This often kills creativity.

Always look for an opportunity to teach important art concepts, techniques, or history, and find ways to tie as much learning and personal choice as you can into every project you do with your students.  It is important for the art teacher to know what to do and how to do it, but it is more important to allow the child to discover and create and enjoy the artistic process without feeling afraid that it “won’t come out right”.

20150831_152347Too Formal

A gentle, informal approach to fine arts is really effective!  After years of teaching art, I found that most real creativity is often spontaneous and requires a sense of freedom.  Avoid tedious technical lessons, or using mediums that require great skill and ability or processes that frighten and exasperate children.  Rather let the child practice with a new medium or process on scrap paper and then apply this to another process.  This encourages exploration and discovery and will increase the child’s artistic skills.

Too Time-consuming

Plan art lessons in manageable  time frames.  Young children need shorter lessons, while older children can work for longer periods.  It is always difficult to pack away art and try restart the process another time.   Homeschoolers can devote a whole day to fine arts and complete rather complex art activities, if they want.

Plan and schedule art and do it with your children!  It is a wonderful way to build relationships and grow in creativity together.

What have you found works in your art lessons?

Blessings, Nadene

Combine Art & Read Alouds

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

art-read-alouds

Busy hands with listening ears” has helped my kids focus during read alouds in our homeschooling.  I always planned hands-on activities for each theme so that my kids were quietly and constructively busy while I read aloud to them.  But, while some projects were distracting, drawing, painting and coloring-in activities were very helpful.  20150701_113932

Combining several children on the same core and covering the same Fine Arts is a wonderful way of streamlining and easing your homeschooling!   We used my traced outlines of art masterpieces and painted them for art appreciation lessons and this was a wonderful opportunity for combining art with listening to classical music or our current read aloud.

Many first-time homeschool moms are often overwhelmed by the huge amount of reading they have with their children and fine arts is often neglected.  So, why not plan a simple art activity for each week and let your children quietly create while you read aloud.

Each week try put out new art materials such as oil pastels, or glue and string, or some magazines and scissors, or puffy paints or glitter, so that your kids can experiment and enjoy a variety of art supplies   (Look on my Art Page for many more art appreciation lessons and ideas.)

Often I encouraged my kids to illustrate the characters or current scene in the read aloud.  These gorgeous illustrations often formed part of their narrations.  After the chapter reading, my kids would dictate or write their narrations next to their pictures.  My youngest is a visual learner and could often express her ideas far better in an illustration than with words!

Alternatively, small kiddies can play with playdough, felt boards, stacking, sorting, beading, or threading, while older kids who do not want to draw or paint can do handwork such as knitting, embroidery, hand sewing, or building puzzles, or making models.

Legos were a favorite, but it was sometimes difficult to prevent the noise of sorting through all the blocks and pieces.  I would encourage them to pour out the pieces on a towel and spread them out first before I started to read aloud.  We even used Legos for narrations!

Read Jean Van’t Hul of Artful Parent.com “Why Read Aloud Time is Drawing time“.

Hope this encourages you in your homeschooling!

Blessings, Nadene

 

I’ve been Doodelwashed!

This week I have been featured as a guest artist on Doodlewashed.com!

Doodlewash sketches I discovered Doodlewashed on Instagram and loved Charlie O’Shield’s generous and inclusive approach to sharing art with others in his #WorldWatercolorGroup.

So, what exactly is Doodlewashed?  Here’s Charlie’s explanation (emphasis mine) ~

DOODLEWASH – (noun)
doo·dle·wash \ˈ[dü-dəl-wawsh]

  1. Anything one creates that involves a drop of water to create beautiful washes of color and/or ink: I grabbed my brush and made a new doodlewash.

DOODLEWASH – (verb)
doo·dle·wash \ˈ[dü-dəl-wawsh]

  1. To apply water to colors and/or ink for the purpose of creating immense satisfaction: After I finished that sketch, I just had to doodlewash it!

DOODLEWASHER – (noun)
doo·dle·wash·er \ˈ[dü-dəl-waw-sher]

  1. Avid creator and artist who uses water with color and/or ink to make beautiful things
  2. One who can’t resist adding splashes of water to sketches: I sometimes just use pen and ink, but I’m a doodlewasher at heart. 
  3. A super cool person: No way! I didn’t know she was a doodlewasher. That’s so awesome!

DOODLEWASHING – (verb-ing)
doo·dle·wash·ing \ˈ[dü-dəl-waw-shing]

  1. The compulsive need to make something new and then apply water to itI know there’s a new show on TV, but I’d rather be doodlewashing. 

DOODLEWASHED – (adjective)
doo·dle·washed \ˈ[dü-dəl-wawsht]

  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of a person who has become addicted to daily doodlewashing: I can’t imagine stopping now. I’m totally doodlewashed!
  2. The state of being one feels while “in the zone” while creating a doodlewash: It’s been how many hours? Oh my, I was so doodlewashed I didn’t notice.
  3. Having your amazing watercolor art featured on doodlewash.com: Yay! I’ve been doodlewashed!

Synonyms

  1. happy, calm, ecstatic, relaxed, delirious (it’s really your call here)

I took part in his August Adventure “Share Your Favorite Things” and it was a wonderful way to get to learn a little more about each other.   He posted 31 topics for the month and we shared our daily sketches on Instagram’s  #WorldWatercolorGroupNad's Art

Similar to participating in Sketch Tuesday, the simple act of daily sketching and sharing really heightened my creative juices, and I couldn’t wait to doodle and draw daily.

Join  @Doodlewashed September Travel Memories and share in the creative Doodlewashing fun!  doodlewash-september-2016-adventure-prompts

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Self-Portraits In Pen

This week we decided to create pen and ink self portraits.    Lara and I both used  current photos on our phones and we sketched happily for several hours.

Here’s Lara’s photo and self-portrait ~

IMG-20160712-WA0000Ii is unusual to see my daughter with such wild hair and I love her photo editing skills!

20160711_150611I love her shading and accurate sketching!  Her picture is an A4 size.

Here’s my photo and self-portrait ~

IMG-20160708-WA0001

IMG_20160712_170043537I must confess that this is my second attempt.  My first sketch seemed very out of proportion which worried me every time I looked at it.  Somehow, one is more critical of a self-portrait and one notices everything that is slightly distorted or out of proportion.  Makes one wonder if that is how we see ourselves?  My sketch is much bigger, a lovely A3 size page.

What art are you busy with?

Blessings, Nadene

Kate’s Doodles

Hardly a day goes by without Kate sketching or doodling.  This is just one of her many gorgeous “doodles” ~

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