Photo by Karen D. Miller

Art with Kids: The Solar System

When we were looking through some craft books for ideas to do over March Break, my little boy saw a picture of making the solar system out of Styrofoam balls and for some reason he really latched onto the idea.  For the next couple of days he kept saying he wanted the “planets to hang on my ceiling.”  Now he is only two so I kind of thought the idea would pass.  But when it didn’t, I knew that it was one of the projects that we would tackle that week.

He and I took a trip to the store and stocked up on balls and other accessories.

The three of us did the painting.  Well, my son helped to paint one and then lost interest.  I think he thought that the planets would magically appear and then hang on his ceiling.  I don’t think he realized there was work involved.  My daughter and I divided up the rest of the balls and did the painting.  Most of them only required a single coat of paint.  A few of them needed some touch-ups so I painted those again later in the week.

Photo by Karen D. Miller

We were really pleased with how the painting turned out.  Many of them have a very variegated look that actually looks pretty realistic!  A couple of them we added sand and glitter to for further realism.  The sun is a paper lantern.  I wanted one in yellow but they only had orange so I bought it and then splattered some yellow paint on it.   My husband helped us do the hanging with some clear wire and voila- the solar system hanging on his ceiling. (There is one more planet not in the photo because of its distance from the sun and I couldn’t fit them all into the photo!).

With this project we were going for realism but I wasn’t a slave to it.  Some of the sizes of the planets are off- one is bigger than Earth and it shouldn’t be.  But that’s just the way our materials played out and I’m not particularly phased by it. My boy is happy, it was a great together time project and I know that as he grows up he can gaze at his solar system and dream of space adventures.  🙂

Karen

Photo by Karen D. Miller

Travel Friday

Where: New York City, USA- 2012

Inspiration:   I’m not a huge fan of geometrics but I do love all of the shapes and uniform lines in this building.  It gets me thinking of industrial designs and the use of repeated patterns.

 

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Every Friday in 2015 I am sharing a photo that I have taken somewhere that we have travelled.  My goal in looking back at these travel memories is to rekindle the inspiration that caused me to take the photos in the first place.

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Karen

Photo by Karen D. Miller

Art with Kids: Kinetic Sand

I have long eyed the boxes of kinetic sand that you can buy at several different craft and toy stores.  It looked like something that my kids would really enjoy but I could never wrap my head around the price for such a small box.

Then I came across this recipe for making our own at home.  So super easy and such great results!

This is a messy craft and it is definitely something I will try again in the summer in the backyard where we don’t have to worry about mess.  But I’m also a big believer that mess can be cleaned up and it is more important for kids to have fun so we tackled this one in the kitchen where it could be easily swept up (and shaken off of clothes and little fingers!).

The kids loved patting down the sand and then making shapes in it using cookie cutters.  They also liked molding the sand into shapes and creating their own “city” and highway and then destroying it and starting over again.  Next time I might make several batches in different colours to see what ideas that sparks in them!

A great tactile material, that spurred a lot of creativity.  This is one that we will be doing again soon!

Karen

Photo by Karen D. Miller

Travel Friday

Where: Archbold, Ohio USA- 2013

Inspiration:   Such a great sky.  I took this photo on preview night at Rug Hooking Week 2013 at Sauder Village.  Once the preview closed, my daughter and I went outside while my husband stayed in the hotel room with the baby.  We lay beside the bean fields and chatted and watched the sky.  Such a great memory for me of a very special time.

 

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Every Friday in 2015 I am sharing a photo that I have taken somewhere that we have travelled.  My goal in looking back at these travel memories is to rekindle the inspiration that caused me to take the photos in the first place.

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Karen

“Celebrating Colour in Fibre” at Todmorden Mills, Toronto

This past weekend I finally got to see our group exhibit in Toronto.  I had seen lots of photos that my fellow artists had posted online, but it wasn’t quite the same as being there in person.  And since I missed the opening reception, I also missed out on a lot of the buzz around the show.  So I was really happy when we got down to the gallery in time on Sunday for me to spend a whole hour looking around before the exhibit closed!
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It was such a great space.  There wasn’t a single piece, big or small, that wasn’t shown well.  The lighting highlighted everything beautifully.  It was a terrific place for some of our larger pieces to be on display without looking at all cramped.

And we filled the whole gallery.  There wasn’t an empty space to be had.

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Even though I arrived for the final hour of the exhibit, there were still people milling around taking a look at all the art.  I was told that that was the way it was throughout the duration of the show- there were always people there.

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I heard so much great feedback on our work.  I read so much great feedback in the guest book that people had signed.  I was thrilled to hear that many people had mentioned that they follow me here on the blog and on facebook and were disappointed to not have been able to chat with me at the opening.  I appreciate hearing that so much and hope that our paths will cross at an exhibit in the future!

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On Monday morning we all picked up our art and the show was over.  The space immediately looked empty but I was so, so proud of all of us for putting on such a great show.  The five other ladies that I was on exhibit with are extremely talented artists and wonderful people and I am thrilled to have been a part of it and to be able to call them my friends.  🙂

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Karen

Photo by Karen D. Miller

Art with Kids: Rubber Stamping

Rubber stamps are such a fun and easy activity to do with kids.  We have a whole bin full of them with lots of different colours of ink.  Is it a messy activity?  Yes.  Do I particularly care?  Not really.  The ink is easy to wash off of little hands, I don’t worry too much about cleaning the kids’ stamps between uses or when changing colours and I always put down the craft table cloth so I’m not worried about it getting all over my table.  That allows us to just settle in and have fun!

There is something kind of magical about watching a child’s face the first time they see a rubber stamp on paper.  It is such a simple thing but to a child it almost seems completely magical that the picture can appear on the sheet of paper.  After that they of course want to give it a try.  I like to throw markers into the mix so that the stamped images become little pictures to colour.

What I have also noticed is that if you have enough stamps the kids like to stamp them out on paper and make little scenes and stories with them.  I love how it engages their creativity and imagination!

 

Karen

* I know I owe a Travel Friday blog entry from last week.  I wasn’t feeling great on Friday so it didn’t happen- maybe I’ll do a double post this Friday.  Then I spent the rest of the weekend in Toronto again picking up my art from our group exhibit that is now over.  I finally got to see it in person!  There is a blog post on that exciting experience coming soon too.

 

Art with Kids: Finger Painting

Ok, I have to confess that I have been missing the blogging lately.

Over the years I have really come to enjoy making this a space where I can discuss my work, my inspirations, the things that happen in my everyday life.  And even though I may not have a lot of work to share right now as I continue to beaver away at lots of pieces for my upcoming solo exhibits, I do want to try to post here more often!

I have been thinking a lot about what the main themes in my life are right now and really, it boils down to art and kids.  I’ve been trying to think about how I can combine those two things and I am excited to say that I will be teaching my daughter’s grade two class how to make fibre art in a couple of months!  I can’t wait and I think it will be something fun that will tie the two themes of my life together really nicely.

Anyone who has followed me for awhile will know that I do a lot of arts and crafts with my kids.  I’ve been doing them since my daughter was about one year old and we have continued to do them all along.  In fact my two year old son now exclaims happily “It’s craft time!” when I pull out the old tablecloth that I use for messy activities.

You may remember the year that my daughter and I pledged to do a Christmas craft a day in December (and came pretty darn close to doing them all!).  We do crafts on special days leading up to special holidays, and we do crafts on normal run of the mill days.  I think it is very important to give kids an outlet to express their creativity and to experiment with different materials and techniques.  My kids may or may not end up being artists, but I think these skills and experimentation will stick with them their whole lives.  And we make some pretty cool memories while we are doing it!  It is fabulous together time.

In that vein, I have been making a list of different techniques and materials that I want to expose my kids to.  There are so many fantastic craft ideas out there and I want to get to as many as possible!  And I thought it would be fun to document our adventures along the way.

So here was our first- finger painting!

Finger painting has been a mainstay at our house.  I had my daughter doing it from soon after she turned one year old.  Last summer we tried making our own fingerpaints out of jello powder.  It worked ok but wasn’t great, and luckily I did it outside because it sure was messy!   Recently I stocked up on some new actual finger paints and let my son have a try with them.  At first he didn’t seem very interested until I showed him what I could do with them.  Then he got right in there.  Every time he filled a sheet of paper he asked for more.  He loved making circles and designs in the paints.

Photo by Karen D. Miller

I know for sure there will be another finger painting session in our near future!

Karen

 

Photo by Karen D. Miller

Travel Friday

Where: Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec, 2014

Inspiration:  I love the shades of blue in the background and the varying colours in the grasses and wildflowers in the foreground.  There is something very relaxing and beachy to me about this colour combination.

 

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Every Friday in 2015 I am sharing a photo that I have taken somewhere that we have travelled.  My goal in looking back at these travel memories is to rekindle the inspiration that caused me to take the photos in the first place.

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Karen

Photo by Karen D. Miller

1 Woman, 1 Man, 2 Kids and 16 Pieces of Art…..A Road Trip

On Sunday we loaded up the car with art, kids and assorted bits and pieces and headed off to Toronto.  It is about a five hour drive from Ottawa to Toronto but for some reason it didn’t feel that long.  Luckily we had great weather for the trip!

Photo by Karen D. Miller

Monday morning we headed to Todmorden Mills to drop off my pieces for our group show.  The gallery is hanging the show today and it opens to the public tomorrow.  I didn’t get a good chance to look at too many pieces from my fellow artists, but what I did see was incredible.  It is going to be such a good show.  Here are some of the pieces that I dropped off- needless to say my house is feeling pretty devoid of art right now as almost everything is in Toronto!

Photo by Karen D. Miller

 

The gallery is a great space too.  You don’t even see half of it in these photos- it wraps all around this section and there is even another little room off to the side.  It has a very industrial, modern feel with great lighting.  I think our fibre art is going to look fantastic in this space.

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Here you can see some of my smaller pieces on the table to the left, pieces from Trish Johnson on the table to the right and beside Ghost Trees over by the bar are some of Kathryn Taylor’s graffiti pieces.  The bar area is spectacular- love those exposed bricks.

So the show opens tomorrow and runs until March 15th.  The opening reception is this Sunday March 8th from 1-4pm.  If Toronto was not so far away for me I would be there for sure, but the other five artists will be there.  If you are in the area or nearby you need to go and see this exhibit- I promise you will not be disappointed!

 

Karen