book cover

Drawing Projects For Children by Paula Briggs.

Black Dog Publishing.

Reviewed by Julianne Negri

 

How would you like a drawing book that encourages risk taking in art? A book that emphasises process over product? A book that encourages experimentation within guidance? A book that is full of messy-get-your-hands-dirty drawing projects? In short, a book with smudgy fingerprints all over it? Well if these things tick your boxes like they tick mine, Paula Briggs’, Drawing Projects for Children published by Black Dog Publishing is the art book for you.

Paula Briggs has not only created a beautiful object with this book. She has created a welcome antidote to a world (wide web) full of outcome based children’s activities that seem to be all about the photo opportunity to display on whatever platform – blog/insta/facebook/twitter – a parent chooses. She says in the section aimed at the facilitator:

“For children to get the most out of drawing, they need to be encouraged to push beyond what they consider ‘safe’ (‘safe’ drawings are those in which we know what the outcome is going to be before we have even started making them) and to take risks. By doing so they will widen their concept of what drawing is and what they are capable of achieving.”

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This is very much a gorgeous(smudgy) hands on book, divided into two sections – warm up drawing exercises and more in depth projects. So the only real way to review this book was to try it out. First – rustle up some children (fortunately not a challenge for me). Here are two I prepared earlier. Pepper and Wanda are active creative 7-almost-8-year-olds.

pepper and wanda final

The book is firmly aimed at children but without any dumbing down of language or “fun speak” or the sort of cutesy Dr Suess sort of language you often find with this target audience. For example:

“All of the projects in this book also use a huge range of drawing materials from inks and watercolours to graphite and pastels. Remember, great drawing experiences are not always about the outcome, but often about the things you learn when you experiment. So get ready to try out some new techniques, and make some wonderful creations!”

This tone generates respect for the child artist, for the materials being used and for the activity being undertaken. I read sections aloud to the kids first and we discussed some of the concepts – risk taking, process, not worrying about “mistakes”, no rubbing out etc. These are hugely neglected concepts in the world of a 7-almost-8-year old’s art practice. They are at an age where they lose the earlier wildness of creativity and have been firmly indoctrinated into school ideas of right and wrong and drawing like the person next to you, with a seemingly strong preoccupation on getting eyes and noses especially “right”!

While Paula Briggs suggests this book is aimed to be used independently by children, I found it does benefit from focused facilitating. And for kids this age? Fairly strong facilitation is required. Fortunately I had a background in art and understood the materials and requirements of the tasks, but it is written with point by point instructions, a colour coded idea of levels of intensity and a material list like a recipe and is therefore very accessible. For preparation we made a trip to the local art shop with a list in hand – lots of newsprint paper, various pencils, charcoals and pastels and some ink – and we were ready.

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We began with some warm ups which were wonderfully fun and challenging. Just look at the concentration on these faces.

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This “continuous line drawing” warm up was a terrific way to display process over outcome. Pens, paper, still life and go. The kids had to look at the object and draw it while not lifting their pen from the page. They were happy to keep trying this for ages!

drawing warm up final

Our second warm up was “backwards-forwards sketching”. This was a good way to focus on looking and observing while slowing down the hand and creating texture.

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My kids are very physical and these drawing ideas are also very physical – hand-eye coordination, large gestural mark making and sustained concentration. We interspersed the activities with kicking the footy in the back yard to freshen up.

We enjoyed perusing all the projects in the book and the kids have ear-marked many they want to try asap. But the obvious “project” to undertake right away was the “Autumn Floor Drawing”. We ran around the house and street collecting leaves, seed husks, plants and all things Autumnal.

autumn box final

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I found myself joining in and rediscovering the joys of charcoal and of delicate lines and shading in a way I hadn’t indulged in years. It was so relaxing, for me and for the kids, to play with the materials without any pressure on the result.

autumn3 final

Drawing Projects For Children, while not completely independently accessible to younger children, actually benefits from involving a facilitator as well as the child. I found that Paula Briggs language and ideas generate an inspirational and stimulating practical art experience. Through warm ups and projects she extends children’s idea of mark making and drawing into a new realm. It challenges children (and teachers and parents) to explore, take artistic risks and to discover the fun inherent in drawing when there is no pressure for the outcome. It is a book we will return to and from just one day of experimenting it has already inspired these two kids to observe things a little differently and to think more about how to represent their world through art.

Drawing Projects for Children is highly recommended for those who love messy art. For those who want to encourage careful observation, thoughtful mark making and inspire artistic processes. For those who understand that experimentation and sustained exploration of a medium is more important than a quick simple art activity that results in a picture perfect photo opportunity. Go get the book, some supplies, some kids and get your fingers dirty.

 

 

 

 

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For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

Fete 2014 - collage

It’s all pretty crazy over here at Whipup blog HQ and I’ve been neglecting my post(ing)!

It’s the Fetes.

In ancient Greek mythology, the Fates were the daughters of Ananke, Goddess of Necessity – these days it’s the school Fetes which spring forth from need.

In Australia, the school fete is an annual fair organized by parents (with lots of help from the teachers) to raise money for the school. Most schools would have a fete – and if not would certainly be raising funds in other ways. Raising money for the school is a necessity. Schools get government funding, but not enough to meet all the costs of running a school. If you want decent facilities and resources you have to raise money. A great deal of money.

So it’s crazy busy here and here and here and elsewhere as we gather our offerings for the Fetes: sorting through wardrobes for the clothing stall; ruthlessly ransacking toy boxes for the toy stall (the kids will never know – just hope they don’t buy them back); loading boxes with once-read, never-touched or double copies of books; hunting throughout the house for ill-considered purchases or miss-matched well-intentioned gifts; running amok with secateurs and trowels in the garden for the plant stall. I don’t bake but I know there’ll be a paper plate coming home from school with instructions to please fill with clearly labelled baked goods and return for fete day.

Every week there’s a new item to add to the weekly grocery shopping list. Last week it was Jaffas for the Jaffa smash (Jaffas are small round chocolate sweets with an orange-flavoured red sugar coating). This week it’s lollies (UK English = sweets, US English = candy) for the lolly bags. Next week it will be bottles of… anything really, for the Mystery Bottle lucky dip. Last year we bought three tickets in Mystery Bottles and won a bottle of blue nail polish, a bottle of salad dressing and a bottle of raspberry syrup. I was hoping for champagne, or maybe some craft brew beer…

For the last four fetes I’ve been working on the Environment Stall. There’s a core group of about six parents and teachers, with extra hands joining in for working bees and fete day staffing roster. We talk about ideas all year around but the serious pinning to our Enviro Stall board happens about four months out from Fete Date. I think there are about 2000 pins there now, and counting… But it’s time to stop pinning and start upcycling.

We’ll be bringing back the big hits from last year (juice/milk carton wallets; t-shirt bags; melted vinyl LP planters; recycled felted sweater garlands; scrabble tile magnets and brooches; plastic soy sauce sushi fish earrings) but we have lots more to add this year…

I’m making containers.

Containers out of plastic milk bottles, olive oil tin lids, ice-cream sticks, plastic lid rings and googly eyes…

Put your snack in here…  and your Easter eggs in here…

Milk box collage - whipup March 2015

Containers out of texta markers…

put your secret message in here, or your earring studs, or a couple of Jaffas for when you need a sugar hit…

Texta lid best buddy secrets - fete March2015 copy

Containers (bags) out of t-shirts

put your towel and swimsuit and sunglasses in here…

T-shirt bag complete - small

Containers out of plastic yarn (plarn) and tarn (t-shirt yarn)

carry your groceries in here…

Plarn tarn market bag collage - Fete March 2015 copy

and put your fruit in here….

Plarn and tarn bowl - small

And that’s not all!

The other crafty folk are making all sorts of gorgeous things – I’ll take a few pics and put them up here too.

Back to work for me now!

What are you up to?

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Nine things Whipup sampler

Can you believe it – Whipup is NINE years old! Hiphiphooraybirthday!!

So for the month of February 2015, if you pop into the shop here at Whipup.net or at Action-Pack you can get 25% off on Action Pack purchases by entering the coupon code:

NINE2015

I had a little stroll down memory lane this morning, visiting the first posts back in 2006 – Wednesday 1 February 2006. There were twelve posts on that date and a community of contributing Whipsters. Why don’t you settle down with a cuppa and some cake if you have some handy and pop back in time for a lovely crafty reunion.

I got a bit wistful and teary, but also inspired to go and make something straight away – well, almost straight away. I decided we needed to bake a birthday cake first.

Now, I’m not a baker – I’m not handy in the kitchen at all really. But I do love to decorate cakes. Last year, (or possibly the year before…) I went through a (very short) phase of making fondant icing and sculpting little critters to put on top of cakes. I had bowls full of rainbow coloured sugar in the fridge for ages. OK, maybe a week. It was FUN.

I had a lot of help from the intertubes in particular from Ann Reardon’s How to Cook That on YouTube.  I decided to watch Ann’s tutorials because I live in Australia and since she does too I could be pretty confident that I’d be able to source all the ingredients she used. There’s nothing so frustrating as following a recipe and then finding you have no idea if cornstarch is the same as cornflour or if the recipe means flour made from wheat or flour made from corn… or something. You think you speak English and then you find you actually speak Australian – or Canadian, or American, or South African, or Northern Irish or… English? Yikes.

So anyway, (back to that birthday cake) I went off to look at what Ann Reardon had in the birthday cake line, and then checked to see what the Domestic Goddess and others in my husband’s cookbook collection had to say (he is the cook in our family – and thank the Domestic Gods for that…). And then it was all too much for me because I read too many yummy recipes and was frustrated that not one of them was possible without a trip to the supermarket.

I ate a biscuit and had a cup of tea to revive.

Then I created a Happy Ninth Birthday Discount coupon for purchases of Action Pack instead of baking a cake.

Happy Whipping Up everyone!

Nine Grannies

 

 

 

 

 

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Tootgarook front door tinsel and coathanger ornament 2014 ed

It’s Christmas Eve.

We’re down at the beach visiting my Mum who lives at Tootgarook. It’s about an hour and a half’s drive south of where we live in Melbourne. The quirky tree ornament greeting us at her front door is made from coat hangers covered in tinsel. Yes, she’s my mum and all that crazy packaging-repurposing and scrap-hoarding crafty goodness has come down to me through her genes.

Just as well she keeps all that stuff – we haven’t wrapped the presents yet so Mum’s stash will have a good going over before the end of the day. I feel quite odd if I buy new wrapping paper. Like I’ve suddenly changed bodies with someone else. It doesn’t feel right somehow. I blame Mum for this. And I thank her. Thanks Mum – love you, love ya work.

I thought I’d spend a little time linking to other lovely crafty mums and not-mums who are great with the re-craft.

Decorations…

Top of the tops for me is my gorgeous friend Julianne who is a mum who crafts and blogs and loves both types of music, country and western. Check out her re-purposed, upcycled craftiness and her glorious re-styled pre-loved vintage glamourousness at Sister Outlaws. In particular I’ve been loving her Coffee Sack Stars ornaments and her shiny shiny Glamtastic Disco Wreath. I should have linked to these earlier – but they’re worth checking out for a little late eco Christmas gawking!

Wrapping…

The Crafty Crow is a fabulous hunter gatherer of the kid-crafty kind. I’ve followed the linky links to Buggy and Buddy’s tutorial on printing your own furoshiki - Japanese wrapping cloth – and a feast of re-crafted wrapping from the Rockin’ Art Moms. I really like Pink Stripey Socks’s interactive poppable wrapping paper made from bubble wrap. That’s my kind of wrap! Follow the Rockin’ Holiday Pinterest board for more.

Presents…

In my Christmas Letter to Santa I directed him to Betty Jo Designs and suggested he make special note of Petal Seasons necklace and the ‘I still call Australia Home’ wall plaque. These glorious creations are made from pre-loved Linoleum off-cuts. I totally adore them, they make me smile. I hope Santa gets my letter on time. I really have been a very good girl. Truly. Betty Jo blogs at the Lino Forest, but sadly her Gleaners Inc shop has closed it’s doors so browsing is online only.

I love finding new uses for the discarded, post-consumed and pre-loved. Wrapping presents, that crazy festive exercise in crafting the most ephemeral of artworks (one excited exclamation, one look, one touch and it’s gone) seems a very appropriate place to use (and reuse) those bits and pieces otherwise overlooked or thrown away.

So today, as we hide in the spare bedroom sorting through the collected papers and bits of ribbon and string and wrapping the odd-shaped presents oddly, we – Mum and I – salute all the parents and not-parents out there who’ve passed on their out-of-the-box craftiness to us all.

Happy Holidays everyone!

 

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3 Angels in the grapevine

It’s soooo close now. Christmas. I’ve barely time left to clean up the house – actually I don’t have time for that, I’d rather be making stuff…

I’ve been archive diving. There’s so much treasure down there it’s sometimes hard to remember to come for air and a cuppa.

After making lots of tassels and turning them into angels, I thought I’d go for a dip into the deep bottomless (surely) pool of the Whipup ‘holiday’ category and find some more dangly crafts to make and share with you – while there’s still time. Plenty of time left if you don’t clean the house…

Here are a few cuties:

A home sweet homey little house by Cate Anevski (Bee’s Knees Industries)

  HouseOrnament1

This AMAZING wreath by Michele Pacey (Michele Made Me) made from a MILK CARTON! I didn’t believe it either.

Milk Carton Wreath Completed - Michele Made Me

A re-fashioned necklace by Cheri (I Am Momma – Hear Me Roar) that would make a fabulous Christmas wreath hangy thingie

necklace5w

 

There is MUCH MUCH more in the archives – pretty pretty vintage-style hearts by Hanne Matthiesen at Heaven & Earth;  A no-sew Matryoushka ornament by Kathreen; Chalkboard gingerbread people by Helen of Curly Birds; and many more tutorials besides these. I think I counted 32 pages of tutorials on all sorts of subjects and creations going back to 2006. So there’s a lot to keep us busy through the holidays and beyond!

Thanks goodness of all that creative energy out there!

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