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?

Posted in allthesmallthings, competition, galleries and shops, inspiration, news, process

#allthesmallthings competition

CassandraHarrisonIllustrations1

The other night I thought I would lay out all the drawings I have made for the #allthesmallthings exhibition.  The floor was covered from corner to corner.  I am rather impressed with the number of drawings I have created in spaces where I thought I did not have time to draw. It is interesting to me to see how much my style has changed and developed in just a few short months.  In August I was asked to draw people for the DECIEM launch event in Edinburgh.  I was like ‘People?!  You want me to draw people?  Have you seen my artwork?  I do NOT do people.  Or animals.  Buildings yes, but nothing on two or four legs thanks very much.’  So then I started drawing my friends and family and my obsession with drawing people caught in-between moments grew from there.

There is certainly a style growing from this challenge and I’m so glad I can use materials on the hoof.  I think of those artists with massive studio spaces and hours to be in those spaces.  One day I shall have that but for now I will embrace my parameters and see what great things I can make from here.

As for the COMPETITION part of the title, I have a little competition on the go.  It’s easy to play along.  All you have to do is Follow this blog or Follow me on Twitter or Instagram and tag in a friend.  What do you get for this small yet big action?  On January 31st I will choose two names from a hat and will draw a photo of you/your family/your favourite building/your best holiday snap/your favourite cafe/your prized shop dog in my style.

Please share and thanks for following.

CassandraHarrisonIllustrations2

Posted in allthesmallthings, inspiration, news, process

#allthesmallthings

shrinkies

I could go on and on about how a decade has ended and a new one has begun.  Really, though, a new decade follows an old one every year.  2019 looked back on its own decade from 2009 and 2018 reminisced about all of its days from 2008.  It is exciting to look back at all the fun, cool stuff you saw and did in a nice chunk of time and I have to say, my ten year time lapse has been incredible.  As with many others, I have seen so much change within the lens of my own life that I could not have even guessed at most of this that has come to pass.

To say I have hit the ground running would be accurate for this new batch of months.  I have booked an exhibition space at Bloc Gallery and have been working on sketches towards artworks to be completed for the show.  The initial idea was to create hundreds of sketches then choose a few to work into paintings.  I have realised, however, that my life is not parceled up into nice, long blocks of time where I can concentrate fully for hours or days, if needed.  That is so far from my life.  I long for that, but that is not how it is right now.  So, I will work with what I have.  I will choose to not feel restricted by it but will instead embrace the 20 or 30 minutes I have and do what I can in that time.  What I have found out is that what I can do is quite small.  Literally. This is one reason why I have chosen the title ‘allthesmallthings’ for my show.  It is about capturing those moments in-between.  Those small spaces of time.  I have chosen my materials also based on this theme.

There is a lot more I could say about my 2020 plans however they are on a very different topic.  So until then…I hope you enjoy the gift that is this time of year.  It’s nice/agonising/painful/uplifting to reflect on what has passed.  Let us now look forward and do something great with the time we have together on this spinning blue and green ball we call Earth.

 

EdinburghDrawing

Posted in inspiration, news

Next Phase

A comical optical illusion
A comical optical illusion

As you can see, I am large with child.  Well, getting larger by the week with this creature that insists on growing and growing and growing (which is a good thing as this is what should be happening).

I haven’t blogged about this next phase yet, and in fact, I have hardly blogged at all as I hardly know what to write about anymore.  Do I write about this and what it’s doing to my life or do I carry on as if nothing happened.  Seems a shame to not mention the impending life that is about to rock our world – the world of Jimmy, Cassandra and their two unsuspecting dogs Josey and Seal.

It is interesting what other artists have to say about becoming a parent and what that has done to their lives.  I have spoken to two gallery owners/artists about this new adventure.  One has suggested that I just be a mother, don’t even worry about the creativity.  Enjoy all the moments that you can because they grow up so fast and before you know it they are living on the other side of the world and God knows when you’ll see them again.  Oh.  Some of that could be MY parents’ experience of what I’ve done to them.  Another artist said that the bursts of creativity she had whilst she was a new mum took her art in an entirely new direction – one that she was excited about and others had commented.  She said it was because you get these small small bites of time and what you create is very spontaneous.  I have to say, I like the sound of that as I feel my own works are heavy with planning, work and re-working.

I found an online article ‘Will having kids ruin your creative career?‘ which, man, sounds negative or what?!  There is a paragraph in there about a woman that went back to work two weeks after her baby was born.  She works as director for a theatre company in New York and just sort of strapped her baby to her and carried on as if nothing had happened.  Hm.  I somehow don’t think that’s going to be my style and have my own opinions about how healthy that is for both parties involved.  In that, well, it can’t be good for neither.

My plan is…to have no plan.  My work life has certainly slowed down to a pregnant crawl into comfortable sitting positions.  I’ve been getting lazy.  Sleeping in.  Napping.  Snacking every two hours.  I’m in the final stretch now and should certainly not feel guilty about all this glorious downtime.  I am still making work and have three more original prints to create before I disappear for a month or two.  Or three or four.

I’m just wondering, though, what kind of parents are we going to be?  So far we have gathered for the new addition to the unit: two hand knitted hats, two small plush bunnies and a print of two bears and a robin.  It certainly won’t be short of beautiful things to look at.

 

Posted in news, process

Present!

Present, St Mary's Street, Edinburgh
Present, St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh

On my journeys to and from the Copyshop (for all my scanning and postcard printing needs) I often pass this little gem wedged between restaurants and cafes on St Mary’s Street.  I have ventured in, bought presents and cards, ventured out then went on my merry way.  The thought occurred to me that perhaps my prints would be a good fit for them and so I made contact.

I am happy to announce that they have taken me on.  Hurrah.  Any shop with a shop dog is ace in my book.  Bunty does not disappoint.  She is complete with handmade scarf, her own house and tiny bowls, and sweet demeanour.  Can’t help but like that the owner of the shop is sporting tattoo sleeves of the real variety.  No meshy slip-on ones for her.

The tourist season is soon upon us and this makes me sigh with relief.  I know I’m a bit of a sell out, but we must all make a living somehow.  I like it that they like my work (especially the Yanks) and that my artwork is living in homes from the States to Japan and lots of places inbetween.

And so, I plot my next artwork, possibly a view down from Calton Hill.  If I can manoeuvre my expanding self up that steep incline.

Posted in galleries and shops, golden hare pop up, news

Put a badge on it (and other ventures)

For those of you who haven’t been introduced to the bizarre world of Portlandia, please indulge in this little clip: Put a Bird On It.  Go on.  You know you want to.  It will only take one minute and 42 seconds of your time and I promise you with my whole heart that you will thank me for it.

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Last weekend, Jimmy and I put up our wee little exhibition at the Golden Hare bookshop in the Grassmarket.  We deliberated over the name and came up with the gem that is ‘New Wave Deco, ‘ which is an exploration of art deco architecture found in Edinburgh.  Buildings like Dominion Cinema, the Lothian House doors and the derelict Odeon were represented in bright, new wave colours created over backdrops of super stellar interplanetary ‘shizzle.’  The show piece was created by both Jimmy and myself.  It was an experiment of using my fabric techniques with his mixed media patterning and…badges!  The badges are mini artworks of the originals.  And hey, hey, lucky you!  You can have a mini artwork of your very own should you happen to wander through the doors of the Golden Hare.  Badges are £1.50.  Bargain!  Hello stocking stuffer and hello happy recipient.

putabadgeonit

Now.  About the badges.  I now need to introduce you to Tex and Bonnet, which can be found by following the yellow brick road to this link.  This is currently our holding page but hold on to your hats, kids, there’s going to be a whole lot of developments with this new venture as the months roll out.  We’ve been planning plans and scheming schemes.

As for me and my varied life as artist and teacher, I’ve been busy working in two local schools.  My day began with orchestrating the putting together of a dramatic Winterwonderland display.  One 4 metre stretch had a set design of 8 foot trees (white painted mdf) in the foreground and houses in the background.  The other space, stretching across 4 metres, is a set design of icebergs peopled by penguins.  The art departments have been busy creating 3D penguins galore, stars o plenty, background houses and 3D snowflakes.  As the children and teachers were discovering the set up, there seemed to be an overall feeling of ‘oh, penguins!  Cool!’ and ‘Man.  Those trees are huge.’  Hopefully a happy festive spirit has been properly injected into that space.

This afternoon I was at the primary school teaching young minds about the amazing qualities of salt on watercolour paint.  We were learning all sorts of fun techniques for watercolour painting.  These will be used next week when we revisit the Urban Sketching sketches they worked so hard to create.  With a little wax resist here and paper towel effect sky there, I should think their paintings are going to shine.

What a week.  And tomorrow…the commission of Royal Circus.