My Artistic Journey

My most recent artistic focus has been on art activities for students in the primary grades. I am interested in finding ways that we can create a lifelong excitement for art, an appreciation for the beauty of our natural environment and a willingness to take artistic risks.

How’s Your Heart Today?

Medium: Chalk Pastel

Purpose: Emotional Exploration

Where can we go from here?

How’s your heart today was the first lesson of our art class. We were given the opportunity to explore creating art using oil pastels as well as blending and water mixing techniques. In addition to our artwork we completed a one-page write-up conveying our intended message. What I enjoyed most about the activity was the follow-up class where we worked with a partner. Partners looked at each others hearts and tried to comprehend the meaning behind the artwork.

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My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith

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The book “My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith features the excellent illustrations of Canadian Cree-Metis Illustrator and artist Julie Flett. Each page of the the book begin with the line “My heart fills with happiness when…” The book is inspiring in both it’s art and it’s message.

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My heart fills with happiness when


As a cross-curricular activity between English and Art students will draw the things that make them happy and write a short sentence describing the scene. Students are encouraged to include the five senses: taste, sight, touch, smell, and sound.

Artwork from Mrs. Astin’s Grade 1 Class (Twitter @MrsNastin)

Colour Exploration

Medium: Tempura paint

Purpose: Exploration of tints, shades and tones

The paint exploration activity gave our class the opportunity to experiment with tints, tones and shades using complimentary colours. It was a valuable reminder that a lot of white is needed to make light coloured tints and that very little black is required to make dark shades. Creating our own colour names was a interesting creative activity that I had never done before.

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Mix It Up by Herve Tullet


Students will follow along with Herve Tullet’s excellent book “Mix it Up” creating a variety of interesting new tints, shades and colours.

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Guided Colour Exploration


The teacher will project “Mix it Up” on the document camera over the course of several days students will practice creating their own tint, shades and colours.


Inspirational Message for the Classroom Poster

Medium: Tempera paint & marker

Purpose: Exploring colour mixing, line and shape

We were tasked with creating a growth mindset poster. The Creation of my poster began in the bottom corners where I experimented with tints and shades of blue and orange. During my experimentation I realized that I preferred the effects created by two colours being placed on the brush at the same time and wet lines of paint intersecting lines of a different colour. I chose Albert Einstein’s quote “Play is the highest form of research” because I believe strongly in experiential education (particularly for young students) After I had finished lettering my artwork I noticed that the “Albert” in “Albert Einstein” was difficult to read. I thought about outlining the letters in a light coloured paint to make them more visible but upon further consideration I decided to leave Albert difficult to read. I made the intentional decision to keep the name difficult to read so that the viewer will focus more closely on the author of the quote and recognize the significance of Albert Einstein suggesting play as a form of research.

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My Museum by Joanne Liu

Art Children’s Books

My Museum follows the story of a young boy who visits an art gallery but it is to crowded for him to see the art being exhibited. The boy realizes that art is everywhere and that even the patterns on the walls and the shadows on the floor can be art. The works of Matisse, Calder, and Johannes Vermeer are subtlety integrated into the book.

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Finding Inspiration


Students will travel around the school and find something that is not traditional artwork that they find inspiring. Students will then draw the object or item and write about why it inspired them.

Text and drawings by a grade 1 student

My Approach to Drawing

Medium: Pencil and fineliner marker

Purpose: Exploring our shifting beliefs about “being good at art”

I found creating the sketchbook more challenging than I had expected it to be. I guess this is because I am “good at art” but poor at drawing. My main artistic interests have always been photography, digital media and sculpture. Creating pencil sketches put me out of my comfort zone and made me recognize that I have many areas for improvement within sketching and drawing.

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Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg


During the drawing activity, one of my realizations was that it is okay to make mistakes and sometimes mistakes lead to something that is far more interesting (as was the case in my doodle drawing). I chose the book Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg because I want my students to explore and be creative in their art making without worrying about making errors because, “Every Mistake is an Opportunity to Make Something Beautiful!”

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Oops Art Activity

Source: Instagram @yoga_with_claire

Students will work in pairs to create an “oops” artwork. Making use of as many recycled and scrap materials as possible (e.g. coloured pencil filings scrap pieces of paper from the recycling bin, juice box straws,etc) each partner will decorate a sheet of paper after the papers have been decorated the partners will switch papers and will make a drawing out of the object on the paper.


Distinguishing Features of Norval Morrisseau’s Eastern Woodland Style

Medium: Gel pens

Purpose: Identifying the features within Morrisseau’s artwork

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The THUNDERMAKER by Alan Syliboy


Categorizing Morrsseau’s Eastern Woodland Style paintings was

The Thundermaker Book Cover

Alan Syliboy is a Mi’kmaw “the book Thundermaker is based off Mi’Kmaw artist Alan Syliboy’s mixed -media exhibit of the same name. According to Syliboy’s webpage:

Thundermaker brings to vivid life the story of Little Thunder. as Little Thunder’s father, Big Thunder, teaches him the important responsibility of making thunder for his people. As Little Thunder grows, he learns about his Mi’kmaw identity through his father’s teachings and his mother’s traditional stories. When the day finally comes, readers will root for him as he takes his journey—with the mischievous Wolverine— to finally become the Thundermaker.

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Thunderstorm Art Project (adapted from:


In this activity for students in kindergarten or grade 1, Students will combine black and white tempera paint to create the appearance of a stormy sky…

mixing black and white paint to make gray
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After covering the entire canvas with paint students can place raindrops and clouds on the wet tempera paint which will adhere when the paint dries.

Weather Activities for Kids: Thunderstorm Art Project

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White Winter Snowflake

Medium: Mixed media

Purpose: Exploring real and illusionary texture

The snowflake was designed and created as a group

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Land Art for Kids: In The Woods by Richard Shilling & Julia Brooklyn


Students will view Richard Shilling’s land art book. Students then discuss which land art they like the best and provide the reasons why they like it. As a follow up to the book, students will create their own land art.

Land Art by Richard Shilling

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Andy Goldsworthy Inspired Nature Art

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Students will walk to a nearby forest (or other natural area) working in small groups of 3-4 students they will use the objects they find in nature to create collaborative, Andy Goldsworthy inspired art projects. When the students have finished creating their art an outdoor gallery walk will take place.

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