Category Archives: Hand made

Pastel progress

I am very happy with the progress my class has made in using pastels.  If you compare this group of seascapes to the previous ones you will see more definition in the sky and the sea.  These pictures were done on coloured paper which helps create a mood.


We have moved on from watercolours in  our Art class.  We tried a couple more techniques with watercolours first, including masking areas with masking fluid and combining watercolour with black pen outline.  Maybe I will post about them some time, but as I have yet to post about the giant snowman my kids made with their cousin in January,  I wouldn’t hold your breath!

When we first began watercolour everyone complained that it was hard and they couldn’t do it, but as the weeks went by they improved and mastered several different techniques.  The week I brought out the pastels, I was told again that it was too hard.  It is hard, I agree and has to be approached quite differently to watercolour.

We have several sets of pastels, each one a little different and by the end of the lesson they are spread from one end of the table to the other.  During the first lesson we tried several techniques with pastel just to see what they could do.  Blending was the most popular and  continues to be used quite a lot.  It is hard to get used to the idea that the colour  needs to be built up layer over layer.   Although we roughly shade in the main colour areas first it takes a while to give definition to the elements in the picture.

The following pastel drawings are from our second class; the first week we drew fruit, something I did many times  in highschool and college art classes.  It wasn’t very popular with my group so we moved onto landscapes the next week.

The one above with the dramatic sky is B9’s.

More from my Art Class

We did a few more snowscapes and then tried a seascape before the class as it was adjourned.  The writers went back to writing and the younger two resumed their ancient history studies.  But I was having too much fun to stop so we found a new time slot and made it a non-mandatory subject.  For this Daisy project I had four students.

We started with a sketch of a pineapple concentrating on the negative space, ie. we had to draw the pineapple by shading in the background not by sketching a pineapple.  This helped us look at the space the pineapple took up rather than the pineapple itself.  After that we did the same thing with a daisy, using an image on the computer as our model.  Instead of shading in the background with a pencil we painted in the background with yellow and green washes, leaving our daisy shape white.

The following week we practiced before filling our daisies in with grey shadows where necessary to define their petals and then orange and yellow wash to make their centres.

The top one is by A13, she thinks it looks like someone painted a daisy on their camouflage pants.  I don’t have all four to show you because one student was adamant that hers not be displayed this time.  I really liked it, but there was no budging her!  The ones I did in preparation have been added to my painting page.

Art class

During January and February the Group of 3 had  art class once a week which I taught.  This has been good and bad.  Good, because lesson prep for an art class is fun!  Bad, because there is so much I don’t know.

We were fitting the art class in while the writing classes were not meeting so I wanted to plan some exercises for developing technique as well as some where we would complete a piece of art.  We began with some drawing exercises which, apparently did not appeal to everyone.  We looked at perspective and proportion and how to get it right.  I set up boxes and bottles and a cardboard cylinder for us to draw — not that exciting I admit.  We also drew a vase with dried hydrangeas in it; again not a popular choice.  I, the art teacher was happy  nevertheless, with the results of the exercises.  The following week we drew some of the same items breaking them down into basic shapes first, and we did the vase of hydrangeas again – and again it was not popular.  (In future weeks I carried it over and sat it on the table for fun just to see what the response would be)

Our first piece of art was a watercolour snow-scape with silhouetted trees.  The first step was to create the background which was a combination of snow and sky.  We wet the whole paper and used different blues with a little black to make a swirly, abstract sky, leaving some areas white to suggest snow.   While that was drying we practiced drawing winter trees, either bare deciduous or different kinds of conifers.   The next week we added silhouettes of trees to our snowscapes.

Here are some of the paintings by the students including L15’s above.

There are a couple more snowscapes I will feature later when the finishing touches have been added.

(I’ve created a new page for my own paintings which I will update from time to time.  You can find the link in small print in the blog header)

Paint on the soles of my feet

And on my knees, under my fingernails, in my hair, but most importantly on the walls.  I am painting a room, something I have never done before and was quite apprehensive about doing.

Last week I began the fiddly but essential preparation.  I sanded, vacuumed and washed the bright aqua, glossy walls, then the grubby dented beige base boards and door trim.  Not the window trim, mind you, as there is none.  As with many of our windows there is no trim at all!  L14 picked a colour as this will be her room eventually and then I painted a sample patch.

Next came the frustrating and never ending task of cutting in.   I did less than a metre before giving up in disgust.  It looked terrible.   When Andrew came home he demonstrated, advised and encouraged so I began again.  It took a long time to do all the cutting in, sanding of drippy bits and repainting.  Many rooms have four walls which means four flat expanses to paint.  Some might have an alcove or a closet which extends into the room a bit.  Our house is full of rooms with strange protrusions ranging in depth from half an inch to a couple of feet.  The room I am painting is no exception it has eleven flat surfaces making up the walls, which translates into many edges to cut in!

But that is behind me now as today I began rolling.  The roller is much more satisfying and more forgiving also.  It is beginning to look like it just might work, and it definitely won’t be called the blue room any more.  Of course there is the trim still to come, which I imagine will be like cutting in all over again…

History dress ups


Our Canadian history studies have landed us in the 50’s and 60’s so I was intrigued to hear of a shop in the Byward Market which is displaying and selling a selection of clothes which belonged to Miss Canada 1954.  We visited Victoire and had a little fun with some history which didn’t involve politics or battles.



Tangle doodling

The girls and I did some doodling last week  inspired by a post I read over at Semicolon.  Sherry  found the idea and a tutorial on Julie’s Blog.

I am hoping we can do some drawing each week and this looked like an enjoyable activity to start with.  It was very relaxing just sitting with the girls and doodling.  We all doodle but it doesn’t usually end up in a form we want to keep, so it was fun to create a design with some structure but not so much that the freedom of doodling was lost.  We didn’t finish them in the lesson time but kept them out on the table and sat down and added to them when we had a spare moment.

Here is what we came up with:




Group of Four paints again…

…this time with watercolours.  Our group resumed last week with a painting lesson.  I have an artist friend who is just wonderful at inspiring children to create their own works of art.  She came and spent a little over two hours introducing the group to watercolours.  We could have spent twice as long, it was such a great session.  The first project was simply to see what watercolour paints do when added to the wet watercolour paper.  The children were all encouraged to, “see the magic”, a phrase which has crept into conversation at our place several times since the lesson.  Watching the colours blend and bleed into each other was indeed magical.

After the completing the first experimental “painting” all the children tried creating colour gradations and then did a cloud and water scene. The finished paintings were as individual as our eleven children but all showing the beautiful effects of watercolour magic.

As one of the artists said, “I don’t usually like my paintings, but I love this one!”

Two soups

I have two soup recipes to share with you. The first, I made and the other I enjoyed at a friend’s house.

Beef and Barley Soup with Mushrooms

½oz(14g) package dried wild mushrooms such as porcini
1 cup boiling water
1 tbs vegetable oil
8oz(250g) stewing beef, cut into ¼” dice
2 onions, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, peeled and thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cracked black peppercorns
½ tsp dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
½ cup pearl barley, rinsed
2 tbs tomato paste
6 cups beef broth
sour cream
finely chopped dill

  1. In a heatproof bowl, soak dried mushrooms in boiling water for 30 minutes, then strain through a fine sieve, reserving liquid. Chop mushrooms finely and set aside.
  2. In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to slow cooker stoneware.
  3. Add onions, celery and carrots to pan and cook, stirring, until softened. Add garlic, salt, peppercorns, thyme, and bay leaves and cook, stirring , for one minute. Add barley and stir until coated. Stir in tomato paste, chopped mushrooms, beef broth and reserved mushroom liquid and bring to a boil. Transfer to slow cooker.
  4. Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours or on High for 3-4 hours. Discard bay leaf. Ladle into individual bowls, top with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with dill.

taken from Delicious and Dependable Slow Cooker Recipes Judith Finlayson.

Orange Squash Soup

1 butternut or buttercup squash
1 tbs butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tbs ginger, finely chopped
½ tsp cumin
1 small carrot, thinly sliced
¼ cup orange juice concentrate
4½ cup chicken broth
¼ tsp nutmeg
pinch cayenne
salt and pepper
sour cream

  1. Cook squash. Heat butter and add onion, ginger, cumin and cook about 3 minutes.
  2. Add carrot, orange juice, broth and squash. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until carrots and tender
  3. Blend in blender and puree until smooth.
  4. Add spices, return to heat and serve with dollop of sour cream.