Posted in allthesmallthings, crash course in art history, inspiration, news, process, Uncategorized

Making is Connecting and Creating Community

makingisconnecting

You know when you stumbled upon a book and there’s that fabulous zinging sensation that pings through you, knowing that you are about to get your hands on something that resonates with what you’re about or the part of the journey that you are on right now? That was this book.

For weeks I have been teaching online classes via zoom.  I have been teaching so many art history and art making lessons that my files are stacked with ideas, images, notes, and even a book proposal based on what I am learning.  Not only is my mind being fed all these gorgeous, inspiring images but it is starting to make connections that I had not fully explored before.

On Saturday, there I was, sitting in front of my computer screen, watching my attendants appear one by one.  The ‘connecting to audio’ and ‘connecting to video’ messages gave way to faces I had not seen before. Some screens remained black so I had no idea who I was speaking to.  This past Saturday I was winding up my Saturday art sessions which have been rattling on for 15 weeks.  During that time we have explored Still Life artworks, the works of Wayne Thiebaud, Helen Frankenthaler, Suzanne Valadon, Jean Michel Basquiat, Landscapes and Abstract Expressionism.  We tried our hands at continuous line drawings, mark making, patterns, and collage.  All of these lessons were of my own making, sometimes using a small nudge from an outside resource.  It’s been fun for me to go ‘okay, I see what that lesson is doing but how can I make it my own and how can I fashion it better for the people in class.’

When the last session was winding down, the people on the screen began to talk.  Seattle calling. Australia calling.  Edinburgh calling.  We were calling from at least three of the four corners of the earth and here we were, all connecting for this session.  I nearly cried with joy.  What was it that was so touching in that moment?

I have been on my own journey of discovery, finding ways that learning about art can connect us to the past to better understand our present.  That is practically word for word what Eventbrite write on their page when they promoted my class to America. For years I have been teaching children and adults about the stories of perseverance seen in the lives of artists.  There are themes of loneliness, love, anger, bravery.  Art can create a bridge between people and help them to cross over to the other side to view life from a different vantage point.  Creativity is connecting to not only what is within yourself but to others.

In David Gauntlett’s book Making is Connecting, Gauntlett states, “…art was never really just ‘product’ – art and creativity have always been about ideas and relationships.” I circled this statement, wrote GOLD next to it, and dog-eared the page.

For the month of July I will continue to write on this subject and give examples from my classes.  In a time when many of us have felt increasingly isolated, making art ‘together,’ can be part of the answer to feeling part of a bigger picture.

Here is C Lavelle’s interpretation of Las Meninas.  I feel like we ended on a high.

Posted in allthesmallthings, inspiration, process, Uncategorized

Lockdown Painting Experiments Continue: Finding my groove

Threeinarow1Threeinarow2

£75 each

6cm x 6cm (two on the left)

6cm x 4cm (the allotment on the right)

Whilst in Lockdown I have been going on an adventure with getting down with my painting style.  I like where my drawings are going, I am happy with developments in textile work however now is the time to see where I can take my paintings.  For weeks I have been working my way through a series of hours of frustration, elation (if it can all be pulled together) and curiosity as I try different painting surfaces.  Textured canvas?  I like that for picking up oil pastel marks.  Hard board? I can draw on it with pencil easily and it keeps the line.

These paintings here are my favourite so far.  I have been working with these colours for years and I am glad they have found their way into my paintings.  These were inspired by a feed I follow on Instagram.  The photographer takes high contrast photos of buildings, using interesting angles.  I see the images and mentally break them down into shapes then begin to paint what I am constructing in my mind.  Of course it never translates directly.  Sometimes the accident that happens on canvas is better than what I held in my mind.

The above pieces are for sale for the Artist Support Pledge.  After I sell £2000 of work I then buy a piece from another artists.  It’s artists supporting artists and many of my artist pals are a part of this.  I would be so delighted to support one of them and of course, own a gorgeous piece of art that will bring me happiness for years to come.

 

You can see a portfolio of my illustration, commission and painting work here.  If you like the ones featured here please get in touch.

Posted in inspiration, news, process, Uncategorized

Interview with an Artist: Edinburgh Sketcher

The other day I caught up with Mark Kirkham (EdinburghSketcher) and had a great talk about how the Lockdown has been a time to create and explore new things.  Not all things are bad during this weird time in which we find ourselves. There are glimmers of hope and sunshine and I think the best in people has been brought to the surface.

In June Mark and I will be teaching Urban Sketching sessions online.  For more information and to book your spot, please visit the info and ticket page at Eventbrite

Posted in inspiration, news, process

Interview with an Artist: Kenris Macleod (She is sew fabulous)

Well, this is a pretty intense still however I do not have the skills to edit this bit or jump 30 seconds to the right or left.

Last week I caught up with Kenris Macleod about Lockdown, making art and her exhibition that opened just before everything became closed to business.  I hadn’t spoken to Kenris in weeks so this was great to see what she had been up to in the last month and a bit.

Posted in galleries and shops, inspiration, news, process

Interview with an Artist – Keith Paton

Yesterday I caught up with Keith Paton.  Talking with Keith is always such a wonderful experience.  He has so many great ideas about his work, supporting other artists and has even helped me set up my website.  Here we talk about what happened in Bloc Gallery right before life on Earth completely changed (aliens might as well land now, such is the extent of the weirdness).

This is also part of the Girl Interrupting Series.  Stay tuned and find out more…

Posted in a little bit country, allthesmallthings, inspiration, news

Interview with an Artist – Jenni Douglas

A couple of weeks ago I decided to start interviewing artists who I have been following on Instagram.  I have seen how their work and their lives have been effected by Lockdown.  These videos were created with the intention of sharing the creative process, how people have had to swerve with their careers to keep on keepin on, and to also give positive steps that can be taken to turn a day around if it’s not quite going your way.

My first interview was with Jenni Douglas.  I’m such a fan girl.  Please check out this video and then go see her work www.jennidouglas.co.uk

Posted in allthesmallthings, inspiration, process, Uncategorized

How do you define Joy?

And I don’t mean the person.  ‘Joy has a sparkling personality, is afraid of snakes and likes taking photos of bees whilst walking along the canal.’  Although that Joy sounds endearing and I’d like to be her friend, I am obviously referring to the feeling.

Over the last many days my joy-o-meter has hit highs, plummeted into a chasm of despair, then bounced back up again.  All the feelings seem so much closer to the surface and all of those nasty ways in which we measure ourselves seem even more difficult to control.  ‘What?!  No Likes?!  What do you know, Twitterland.  Oh wait…but this one has 35.  I am now awesome again’.  Guh. So tired of that game.

This week and next, I’m going to be redirecting my attention to those small moments where joy resides.  I have found that although I do like the spontaneous moment of joy (and by part of its definition, there is a spontaneity about her) I need to ring-fence time to let it happen.

During lockdown, I have given myself permission to treat art like the fun activity I know it can be.  It’s easy to get stuck in the notion that what I make HAS to be of worth to someone else.  In order to make a living, I need people to buy my art.  I have avenues for that (please feel free to visit my website and etsy page) however to grow as an artist, as a person, I need to let loose and experiment.  My current series within a series – Lockdown Art Experiments – gives me just that.  I have been painting in the alla prima style of painting and love it.  This is when you create a painting in one sitting.  There is a freedom to this as it intensely focuses my mind to solve this one problem right in front of me.  I feel lighter, happier, more like myself, when I have put boundaries around this special time to create something just for me.  Joy finds me here.  She finds me when I put two colours next to each other and they just sing.  She finds me when I paint a line that does what I was hoping it would do.  She finds me at the end when I survey what I have done and think ‘it’s not perfect, but it is the direction I have been wanting to go for a long time.’

So, what is it that you do to allow Joy to find you?  This week during my artist interviews, I will be asking artists this very question.  You can find these interviews on my Instagram page starting from this Wednesday.

 

Posted in allthesmallthings, inspiration, news, Uncategorized

Edinburgh Hopscotch Lockdown Game

LeamingtonHopscotchartwork

The forecast looks like rain for Wednesday.  Staring into my weather app with hope for many more sunny days and finding rain on the horizon is always a disappointing sight.  This week it is even more disappointing as usual.

Over the past couple of weeks we have watched the Leamington Terrace Hopscotch Game grow by leaps and bounds (oh please laugh at that!  It was a good one – yes?). We have added our own squares, aiding my six year old to add numbers following 1378.  We have seen the chalk bucket travel up the road and down again and more than once I have been astonished to find that no one has lifted it.  Well, either that or some very conscientious people are replenishing the chalk supply.

This is certainly a weird, terrible and wonderful time in which we are living.  What else have we noticed?  We have noticed neighbours sharing their superfluous garden plants, bread being baked and shared, a smile and a nod as someone chooses to walk in the street so you and your small child can have the pavement.  We have noticed children safely learning to cycle in the street (mine included) and kindness parading itself around like it was here all along but maybe we were too busy to see it or too busy to give it.

As for my bit, I am gifting everyone on my street a small print of the drawing I created.  The day was sunny, the game was on.  I hope we can look back on this time and remember it as a splash of sunshine in a climate of uncertainty and change.

Here is the news article about our wonderful street.

LeamingtonLottieHopscotch

Posted in crash course in art history, inspiration, news, Uncategorized

Surviving the lockdown with art – Crash Course in Art History goes online

CrashCourseArtHistoryCassandraHarrison5

In February I officially launched my business Crash Course in Art History  – Art Parties for Grownups.  The first event was a success, the feedback good, more parties planned and booked.  It was an exciting venture for me as I was able to share all this Art History information and How To knowledge with friends, their friends, soon to be friends and the broader public.  I had a wee mention on BBC6 Music during their #itsbusinesstime segment.  Hearing Lauren Laverne read to the nation about my business and my art was such a wonderful thing.

And soon after, I lost my teaching job due to budget cuts.  The week after I saw on the news that Ireland were closing their schools.  The week after that I took my 6 year old out of school, three days before they were officially closed.

So much change in only a matter of three weeks.  How do you survive that?  How has anyone been surviving this?  And so I did what I knew I needed to do to cope.  I pressed on.  The thing is, I know for me, I thrive with structure.  I thrive when there are events to look forward to, classes to plan, art to make.  It has been a long journey to understand these things about myself and I am glad to have figured this out before the lockdown shut us down.

The learning curve was sharp and climbed up quickly.  I had to learn how to use zoom, how to teach from a live setting to an online setting (not too difficult as I had already had teaching experience with myonlineschooling.com). My website was updated with extra pages for online teaching.  I rolled out my Saturday morning art sessions for grown ups and am happy to report that the people in the group taking part are absolutely shining and wonderful.  It lifts my heart to see their faces on a Saturday morning.  If you would like to know more about these sessions please visit the Crash Course in Art History page.  The classes are set up so that the first 15-20 minutes is all about settling in, getting our cups of tea and learning Art History then the rest of the time is spent with me leading the group through an art making project.

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A couple of weeks I also launched art lessons for children.  Some of these sessions are private group where a class meet up on zoom and we all learn about art and make art together.  This Thursday I am starting my Drop-In art session for children ages 6 – 12.  You can find that information on good ‘ol eventbrite. I call it Art with Cassandra (imaginative, yes?).  It would be lovely to see who stops by.  The lessons are created to follow the curriculum and should be self sufficient enough to engage the children so that parents can have a little break.  This is an additional aim.  I think we all need time to step away from the demands and rest our minds.

Honestly, this is the best schedule I have had in years.  I am helping L along with her studies (minus Science and Maths, left up to someone else to take those on), we exercise, go on bike rides, play in the garden and bake.  There are so many things about this lockdown that I am loving.  What I am not loving is the constant low level anxiety whenever I need to go to the shops (am soon switching to either Click and Collect or Schop).

There is also a lot happening with my artwork, however I will save that update for another day.

Stay well, everyone.

Posted in crash course in art history, inspiration, news, process

Crash Course in Art History launching…soon

arthistorybooks

Learn and Do

Join us on a journey, starting with the cave paintings in France and ending with Bridget Riley’s painted stripes.  We’ll hop through the centuries and decades, learning interesting facts about the artists along the way.  What did Michelangelo think about being landed the job of painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel?  Who were the Fauves and how have they influenced art today?  After flying through history, we will all create an artwork influenced by one of the artists we learned about.

Think you aren’t good at drawing?  It doesn’t matter!  Some of us have put up barriers due to a bad experience with art making.  This lesson will help to overcome that.  Do you love making art?  Great!  Perhaps you will learn something new and can then repeat that back home.

It has been proven that creating art relieves stress, focuses the mind, encourages us to become creative problem solvers and so much more.

The workshop is divided into two 30 minute sessions:  Learn and Do.  We learn.  And then we make.

Who is this workshop for?

Everyone!  But to narrow that down, here is a list:

– Team Building Groups

– Businesses who observe Mental Awareness Week and are interested in bringing something new and fun into the workplace

– Special events (birthday parties, hen parties, just because parties)

– Educational events (especially for those teachers that might not have a good grasp of art and art history due to the other hundreds of things you are teaching in class).

For more information please visit my website here.

My first event will take place in February and I have been burning the midnight oil planning, designing, thinking, and writing about this event and for this event.  Two months ago I officially listed this effort with Companies House and ever since that day, the foundations have been forming.

2020 is going to be a big year for me.  The exhibition was the first idea to land in my head and grow into big ideas about it being an installation piece.  Soon after Crash Course formed and I had to grab onto it and not let it go.  I have had to move around my work commitments to make way for these two new things.  I am both excited and daunted.  I am curious about how these two ideas will grow and that is winning out over any uncertainty.

What are your big, fun, and scary plans for 2020?