Making Art With Children    Thursday, April 7, 2016


"All Children Are Artists"

Pablo Picasso


        Gwenie and Grace free painting with watercolors - Exploratory Art K-2

When making art with kids I am acutely aware of how the precious gift of natural creativity is so present in their beings. Part of what I try to do is create a balance between developing real observational drawing skills combined with non-objective drawing and mark making to keep things loose and fluid. Beautiful fluid and dynamic marks, color and the ability to transfer feeling, movement and energy without drawing a particular object is just as important as careful rendering and can say just as much with equal value in my humble opinion.

Girl with a Flower by Iliana age 5 Exploratory Art K-2


In addition to this I believe that children, especially those in the early grades should be given an opportunity to work with a wide variety of art materials. Changing the colors, textures and different properties gives them a wide range of options to develop skills and find a place to develop likes and different ways of working creatively.


Mixed Media Portrait Exploratory Art K-2

Another thing that I always find so very important in my classes is to set aside part of each classtime for free drawing time.  This is completely unstructured time for kids to use oil pastels, markers or regular crayons to draw whatever they want on plain white paper or newsprint.  I try to start and end each one of my classes in this way. Why is this important? It is complete decompression drawing allows kids unbridled downtime to allow their imaginations to expand.  It is time to create fantastical monsters, beautiful princesses, mermaids and fierce army battles. It is a place to re-create conflict from the placeground or home in a safe, managable way.  Sometimes it can be sad, joyful and other times hilarious. Yes I love my kids structured projects - they listen, pay attention and boy can we really make some great things together. One time in a camp week I saw a three year old go from drawing nothing but scribbles to drawing simple faces from watching and copying her classmates during free drawing - how powerful!  As an instructor I always have to remember that art is also a time for introspection and  quiet personal development - even for  kids.  Sometimes my job is to just stand back and allow for that magic to happen.

Free Watercolor Painting by Gwen age 5 Exploratory Art K-2






The Daily Painter - My Morning Studies    Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Morning Study - 12"x12" mixed media, charcoal, graphite, gesso, mediums, watercolor paper, ephemera Marcy LaBella 2015

Daily Painting?

"Dont think about making art, just get it done. Let other people decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art"

Andy Warhol

Daily art practice can seem like a daunting prospect and it can be easy to procrastinate about doing it if you believe that every piece you are creating has to be museum worthy.

However, there is a movement over the last few years of daily painters and daily art makers.  Web pages based on that concept, 365 faces per year challenges, web groups that promote and sell work of artists that are working daily and making smaller scale work. How far would your art progress if you made just one small project every day? I can tell you that you would quickly find that you will almost immediately be spending more time in the studio then you believed possible.

What a lot of people are finding is that committing to a small window of time and a small project each day - vastly improves their work. Small projects are do-able, give a sense of accomplishment, and it's easy to see progress over a short period of time.  You may not be as daunted when facing a 6"x 6" canvas as you are when facing a 20"x 20" one. The same goes for sketching, drawing and collage or any practice from writing, to sewing, to songwriting or any creative endevor.

It may also be easier to market and sell your smaller scale art.  While selling larger scale paintings might take longer and you may need to go through a gallery or second party - you can easily sell and ship smaller less pricey art through your own web store or etsy.  Small works can be digitally photographed and made into greeting cards and sold time and again.  Getting together with other daily practice artists to sell together is getting more popular. Many groups and web pages can be found online to help you promote and sell your work such as The Daily Paintworks a website dedicated to promoting and selling the work of daily painters.

Sometimes just getting started is the hardest part - try setting aside just a half hour to draw, paint or collage and see what unfolds in your personal practice.













Giving Back    Monday, November 30, 2015

Wesleyan Potters Donation 2015 to the Wadsworth Atheneum Festival of Trees

Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 

600 Main St, Hartford, CT 06103

(860) 278-2670


"No one has ever become poor by giving" Anne Frank


Tis the season as they say and even in the world of non-profit art organization it's time to remember to give and support each other's missions.  Each year the Wesleyan Potters creates a Christmas Tree for the Wadsworth Atheneum's Festival of Lights tree sale fundraiser.

 Our crafts people create ornaments, a topper and a tree skirt.  The trees are auctioned off by the museum to fund their programs and facility.  This year I was asked to create the topper.  I was a little pressed for time and the studio was already closed...but I agreed.  I decided to do one of fiber and upcyled some brocade fabrics, swarovski crystals and wire to create a tree topper.  The entire thing is built up on a tomato cage armature that has been covered in quilt batting and covered in fabric and beaded.  None of the tree colaborators had been in touch be we all came together with a gold theme and the tree looks fab!  


Don't forget to check out all of the beautiful trees at the Wadsworth Atheneum this season!






Wesleyan Potters Annual Sale    Friday, November 27, 2015


             Wesleyan Potters Annual Sale 60th Year 2015

There is a lot to be said about those who create and those who buy and appreciate hand made hand crafted items.

On the creative side I can say there is an inner motivation and creative force that continuously propels my work forward. I feel a strong drive to create work, share ideas with other artists and to teach what I have been developing with other people.  Less often we talk about the people who appreciate, love and purchase our work.  It is important to bring them into our dialog because without their input and support our art centers and studios would not be self supporting. It is as important to find fullfillment and happiness in owning, using and living with art as it is to create it - it is a symbiotic relationship.

Each year Wesleyan Potters the co-op I belong to completely deconstructs it's studio and turns itself into a huge gallery. This year is our 60th such celebration. This is no small undertaking and takes place over a period of weeks - it is an amazing transformation. 

Please join us for our 60th Annual Sale!  This year I have Ceramics, Jewelry and Cards in the sale...see you there.

350 South Main Street, Middletown, CT 06457 860.347.5925





Making Art With Children    Thursday, October 15, 2015

Not only do I love teaching children especially the kindergarten through 2nd grade level I normally work with...I just really find their art inspirational.  Kids are just so free and expressive about creating art at this age, they have no judgement about mark making, color choices and they work with complete abandon.  It is very magical to watch their process which is completely and totally uninhibited. The regularly tell me how great they are at art which makes me giggle and of course I always agree with them.  I see so many adults who are terrified to do anything without help,  without asking, or without an instructor hovering over them.  Kids can't even wait for the instructions before they are ready to dive in.

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