Friday, December 26, 2014

Year in Review -The Year that was 2014

Well looking back at 2014 I feel a sense of accomplishment -success came in many ways though not so obvious at I reflect I can see.

While working full time and being pregnant for the first 7 months of the year and then having a newborn for the last 4 months of the year I managed to create 13 paintings (not all made the quality control check to go on my website. Some were done moreso behind the scenes for fun!).

I participated in an international Artist Swap Project, I had a second(though informal) solo exhibition held during Sep 2014 - Jan 2015 at St Vincent Hospital Brisbane and participated in my first group exhibition as part of the Brisbane Artsworkers Collective, Hatch, Graydon Gallery New Farm 18-23 Brisbane  Nov. I was shortlisted for the second year in the Moreton Bay Regional Art Awards. And was selected to be part of the Pine Rivers Gallery "Flights of Fancy" exhibition scheduled for Dec however my artwork SOLD!!! so was unable to participate. I did make some sales this year which is always nice. I also experienced my first market stall to do Kids Christmas Craft activities.

Did I mention I was pregnant and had a baby!!! Well that did make it all the more hard to not only be creative having been so tired (did I mention I work full time), and have a 4yr old and then a newborn to contend with while trying to do a minimum of 3 paintings to be exhibited in the group exhibition I committed to.

Also I did the motherly duty and did a couple of art lessons at the Kindy my child goes to (see here and here) and volunteered a few art lessons at a local primary school where my mother-in-law works. I also did my first PD webinar for teachers on the "Essential Elements of Visual Arts"

So I guess I have surprised myself how much I have actually accomplished considering all those life factors!

I also made a 'new years resolution' to focus on creating paintings that belonged to a series rather than one-offs, and I did mostly achieve this. I think that was a good thing to make myself to do. I also wanted to have a bit more of a conceptual focus this year rather than a 'for pretty sake' of making a picture.

So, I wonder what will 2015 bring...?

As usual I have an end of year sale to help turn over older stock to make way for new paintings, so please check out my website (share with your friends and family) and you could grab an original artwork for an affordable price.

Friday, December 19, 2014

'Frozen' Snowflake Birthday Cake

Frozen movie inspired birthday cake

Missy is turning 5 and as the movie Frozen is all the rage I decided to do a snowflake this year as the birthday cake (and tried to do something easier than years' past, see birthday cake age 1, age 2, age 3, age 4 which it appears I did not upload the photos last year but I made a Chicken 3D standing cake).

Snowflake design -origami
What you need:
Vanilla Packet mix 
Blue Food Dye
Silver Hundreds & Thousands and Silver Pearls

Snowflake design -Silver Hundreds & Thousands
  1. Follow cake instructions and add as much blue food dye as needed or alternatively leave vanilla
  2. Make a snowflake design using paper cut to the circle of the tin, using an origami method to get the design (fold paper and cut, unfold. Tip: Keep design simple and make approx 1cm wide.
  3. Make icing to instructions and add blue dye -ice cake.
  4. Place paper lightly over iced cake (alternatively wax proof paper would be better than photocopy paper)
  5. Sprinkle Hundreds & Thousands over iced cake before icing hardens push down lightly so that they stick. Unpeel design.
  6. Add sugar large silver pearls for added decoration-push in place.
Note: In the finished picture above you can see some white powder -I tried to make the non snowflake area like snow using icing sugar but this just covered the silver balls that is why the final design has the large balls as the main design.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Craft Activities

Try some of these simple and easy Christmas Craft activities for ages 3 - 12yrs. The purpose of these activities is to be easy for adults to do with their child or for their child to do independently. The learning focus is design and decorate using glue, sticky tape or staples, as well as other skills such as weaving, cutting, drawing or painting, collage and what ever tickles their fancy. Have a limited selection of materials ready to go and let their creativity run wild.

Paper Bauble (Suitable for Toddlers to Kindy)
Preparation: Using the middle circle of a paper plate, an adult can cut out. I spray painted just due to having the cans available but you may want to incorporate paint as part of the activity.
Using a hole punch to thread through some ribbon for hanging, child can choose to use a texta to draw a design such as a snow flake or do more hole punches to weave ribbon or pipe cleaners for example. Use sequins and glitter at the end.

Wreath (Suitable for Kindy to Yr 3)
Preparation: Cut out the middle circle and keep for the paper bauble activity above. Pre-paint the background or do as part of the activity. Using paper plates work best compared to plastic.
Use ribbon to weave around wreath ring, or pipe cleaners, add fabric, tissue paper, crepe paper, or paper, ribbon etc.

Bell (Suitable for Yr 1/3-5/7)
Preparation: If you can precut your paper cup to desirable size, poke a whole with a skewer and feed through ribbon with bells attached, knot and sticky tape down -otherwise this would be suitable for older students in yr 3 - 7)
The purpose of this activity is to focus on cutting skills using different type of patterned sissors if available or encourage pattern and shape and glue with glue stick. Add two hole punches and thread through pipe cleaner for handles.

Lantern (Suitable for Yr 3 -6)
Preparation: Precut tissue paper into squares.
Using a plastic cup (clear prefereable for better affect), you will need to us cellophane or tissue paper using PVA glue. Get children to put on table drinking top down to more easily glue and turn. Using wide thick ribbon staple sides to make handle. Buy battery operated tealight candles and use when you go looking at Christmas lights.

Fabric Bauble (Suitable for Yr 4 -7)
Preparation: Precut fabric into random shapes approx 2-3cm depending on styrofoam ball size (this one is 75mm which is a decent size). Skewer centre and feed through thin ribbon, tie a knot at one end and allow enough room for the loop. Note larger pieces of fabric will not curve around the ball as well. 
Using PVA glue, children put glue on ball in isolated places and add fabric, overlap and add glue over top -this will dry clear. If it is too hard for them to hold, place bauble in a plastic cup and rotate.

Paddle pop sticks craft: 


To Market To Market (To have a Kids Craft Market Stall)

I have had this thought for a while to do kids art and/or craft at a market stall. And the opportunity came up and circumstances suited so I said is my experience for anyone thinking of this idea, and things to consider:
  • Stall Fee plus public liability insurance (I got a good deal which is one of the factors that enabled me to do it, as well as a friend loaned me her Marquee)
  • Marquee and other Equipment such as a Tressle Table and kids table and chairs
  • Signage for your business if you don't have it already
  • Lighting (if it is a twilight market and access to a generator or power)
  • Presentation of stall in terms of containers
  • Float ($100 to $150) and money tin or bum bag
  • Plan B in case of rain or poor weather, especially if outdoors
  • Marketing of your stall -I did up a flyer and promoted on Facebook and printed out for the local sport my child attends. As I was only 1 stall holder and not the organiser of this event I didn't feel it was my place to be doing the leg work and promoting it, however in terms of promoting yourself and your stall you could consider contacting the local newspaper to do an article.

As my first one I wanted to be rather than allowing 'free reign' of stock I created some activities with 'base' packs, focused on design and decorate, and focused on craft rather than art -so no painting only gluing, sticky taping and stapling. I was concerned was the narrow focus of only having 5 activities to choose from but I feel this helped me prepare immensely to purchase and organise what I needed. I also brought along 'extra' materials for those wanting to 'stay and play' to add to their base packs. Also the value of having the base activity packs ready to go is peope could buy and take away if their child or grandchildren were not with them and they could do it later -all they would need is glue. Making the packs though was very time consuming as some activities needed to be 'prepped' to allow for quicker making time at the market. (I estimated 'stay and play' would be about 15mins). 

Because it is a market stall parents just want a quick but affordable activity. I ranged my prices from $3-$7. I found most went for the 'cheapest' activity pack but having said that it was also tailored more at the audience who came to the market (early childhood age -though I had packs for 3 - 12 yr olds). I was considering just a base/flat rate for all packs ($5) however I didn't feel that the $3 pack was fair to charge $5. I also made all my 'packs' random...this was ok as it is kind of like a lucky dip in that they can 'pick their pack' however any 'examples' I had the children said "I want to do that one" and had to explain that was just an example and each pack is different.

Other things to consider:
  • I ideally wanted to print out instructions to add to the packs but ran out of time. Depending on the level of difficulty this could be an option.
  • Having an example is good to show but also tests out the activity, and if you have access to a child, even better to test it out on them.
  • How much stock do you need? I estimated to reach/soell 50 units (activity packs). I made just over 80 but I only sold about consider what to do with left over stock. As my activity packs were very Christmas focused, it was not feasible to attend another market stall event to try again and sell more. This would not be an issue if your activity packs were 'general' craft activities.   Also Note this was a new market event so numbers could have been a result of lack of awareness, also being a twilight event (3-8pm) I found the people dropped off around 5.30 and pretty much had no-one after that, and also the weather the evening before was rainy and had been iffy so people might have been cautious not to go out...all these factors to consider. I would prefer an indoor stall next time -lucky the weather was fine.

I think the best thing about the craft market stall was the access for any child to be creative and parents saying how grateful they were to buy prepared activity packs to take away as they aren't creative at all or as one customer said "I love the idea of the packs as I don't have to think as I am not crafty". Also it provides opportunity for parents to engage with their child in a creative activity without fear and to have me their to guide ideas. It was also great to see the collaboration between child and parent.

I think the main thing is if you want to do this is attend a few and record your observations -who is your audience, what are they looking for, what are they prepared to pay etc. 

There was a lot of prep work leading up to this....from thinking and trailing activities to buying stock, to creating packs and in general preparing for the stall itself. In the end I just wanted to break even -and I did!

To check out the Christmas activities I did click here.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Still Life Drawing with Preschoolers

Still Life -Preschool drawing (right)

Preschoolers are at that age where they are now starting to 'look' at what is around them and be inspired by things. Sometimes intentional drawing is a good thing rather than to draw freely. Using objects of interest as stimulus starts the process of observational drawing; looking at detail, exploring proportion and scale, looking at variation in colour and tone, shadow etc in an indirect way without being too daunting.

Here we did a the drawing with familiar material -crayons. Already you can see rather than the flower being all one colour, it is 'two-tone', and the vase has a darker area at the bottom (if you are wondering what the red balls are they are to help keep the flowers fresher longer by providing a moist environment). Acknowledge if the child has focused on detail such as the thorns of the rose in this example.

Another example of drawing from stimulus can be found in this earlier post.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Coloured Ice Painting with Toddlers

Age: Most suitable for Toddler 1-3

  • Ice cube trays
  • Water
  • Food dye or watercolour paint or coloured pigments
  • Paper
  • Deep baking tray
Discuss ice -What is it? How is it made? What is going to happen to the paper when the ice cube melts?
Discuss colour theory -What will happen when colour x is mixed with colour y?


  1. Make up Coloured Ice solution by adding desired amount of colour (Note Food dye will stain fingers so this method is better for less mess) and  then freeze. Make shallow ice cubes as there will be too much water for the paper. It will only take a few hrs for shallow amounts.
  2. Place paper in deep wall baking tray and add two cubes (add 2 primary colours so that the child can discover colour mixing).
  3. Get the child to tilt tray on different angles to move the ice across the paper as it melts.
  4. Extension: Try using different pigments to create different types of watercolour paint ie crushed chalk, food spices and flavourings such as mustard, saffron, curry etc
A great summer art activity! 

Links to Curriculum:
Science -exploring change, liquid to solid, melting
Maths -Measuring volume and ratio

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Rainbow Fish (Resist Painting)

Age 3+

Difficulty: Need to apply pressure with wax or alternatively use white oil pastel/crayon

Art Paper preferable (as opposed to photocopy paper)
Watercolour Paint (I am using Mont Marte Tempera Block Set)
Wax candle or oil pastel/crayon in white
Sequins or foil

  1. READ Engage the children by reading "The Rainbow Fish" as stimulus to the activity
  2. DISCUSS Talk about the different aspects of a Fish which is the subject of the artwork ie Fin, Scale, Eye, Lips, Colour etc. Moral of the story is about sharing.
  3. DEMO Demonstrate the art activity. 
  • First take the wax candle and make an "invisible" drawing. Tell students to move their bodies or the paper around to see where the lines have been drawn. (Alternatively a light pencil drawing will suffice).
  •  Using the soft brush and watercolour paint, brush on paper to 'reveal' the invisible drawing. Use different colours -of the rainbow. What colours make a rainbow? How do rainbows happen?
  • Once dry, use the glue stick and large half circle sequins randomly to add the shinny scales. Use stickers for the eye. Go back and add oil pastels if they want to accentuate detail.
Traced Rainbow Fish by Age 4
Freedrawn Rainbow Fish by 4 yr old

Transparent, resist, negative space, translucent, watercolour, invisible,

Australian Curriculum:
Visual Arts
F-2: Explore ideas, experiences, observations and imagination to create visual artworks and design, including considering ideas in artworks by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists (ACAVAM106)
F-2: Use and experiment with different materials, techniques, technologies and processes to make artworks (ACAVAM107)

F: Respond to texts, identifying favourite stories, authors and illustrators (ACELT1577)
1: Creating literature Recreate texts imaginatively using drawing, writing, performance and digital forms of communication (ACELT1586) 
2: Creating literature: Create events and characters using different media that develop key events and characters from literary texts (ACELT1593)
F: Biological sciences: Living things have basic needs, including food and water (ACSSU002) 
1: Biological sciences: Living things have a variety of external features (ACSSU017) 
2: Biological sciences: Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves (ACSSU030)

The Rainbow Fish story in 1 pg PDF
The Storyline Online website is great. Listen to someone reading the story here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fossils without a Kiln

Not having a kiln does not need to be a barrier to making things out of clay. The beauty about it is you work with the process, allowing the clay to disintegrate naturally in the environment means the clay can go back to its natural state.

All young children LOVE learning about dinosaurs, and what better way than to have an activity on making fossils. Surrounding this activity can be a discussion about the environment; how fossils come to be, and talk about the role of archaeologists.

Difficulty: Easy
Ages: 3-5(Early Childhood)

What you need:
  • Clay (your choice, I have used porcelain as that is what I had, as well makes for a lovely smooth product, but you could use Raku or Terracotta as it is grainy and redy-brown in colour).
  • Not stick surface such as plastic cooking mats
  • Rolling pin
  • Small plastic animal objects to embed in clay
  • Paint (optional) with brushes
What to do:

Part 1
  1. Start by talking about dinosaurs and fossils and talk about the properties of clay
Part 2
  1. Give students a lump of clay about the size of their fist -get them to feel and play with it
  2. Get students to either 'pat pat pat' (younger ones) or use a rolling pin to flatten the clay no less than 1cm (it is not necessary for them to roll it into a ball first as the jagged edges adds to the look)
  3. Get the students to press into the clay their object (profile of object best or they can do feet too) -about half the object needs to be pressed into clay
  4. Allow clay to dry -this may take up to 24hrs. Clay is still drying if it feels cold to touch and when dry the colour changes.
  5. Get students to paint fossil if desired -natural earthy colours or bright colours for fun
Part 3
  1. Once fossils are dry, hide the fossils in the sand pit (alternatively a hide and seek in the garden)
  2. Talk about the role of archaeologists and get students to explore the sand pit for their own fossil
Links to Curriculum:
  • Subjects: Science, Geography, History, Art
  • Development of fine motor skill, aids touch and tactile recognition, imagination development through role play, connection to environment 
  • Cross-curriculum priorities -Sustainability

    Further information and resources such as videos can be found on the Queensland Museum website

Friday, August 15, 2014

Introducing the Digital Camera for Kindy Age

We live in a digital age, and many kids today are being introduced to various technologies at what is perceived by some as an early age. As such, kids are more inquisitive at using this technology. The digital camera is no exception and is an easy artform to introduce to the young artist without the mess. The only concern is safety of the camera. So as an introduction to using the digital camera I just used 5-10mins of play taking photos but the focus being on holding the camera. 

I have a mini DSLR so it is not one of those slim-line thin 'point and shoot' cameras. Therefore it is big and bulky and the child needs to be able to hold the camera. Therefore a technique I introduced was to get the child to hold their hand flat with the camera sitting on their palm and the other hand to support the camera and push the button. 


The camera has a digital preview screen so there is no need to hold the camera like a hamburger with their eye to the view finder. However if you have a thinner camera than this could be a better option. Also a tripod stand would be helpful. Once holding the camera steady has been established, looking at subjects/composition may be introduced.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Drawing from Stimulus (Undirected)

Missy 4.5 took it upon herself to recreate this toy as shown in a drawing...I then got her to talk to me about the drawing as she described the features. It is amazing the detail she went to even including the socks. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fireworks Glitter Painting with Preschoolers

Add a bit of sparkle to your paintings by adding glitter (large confetti like shinny paper for littlies or glitter dust for older children). Get children to paint using a brush and emphasise making lines. Get them to be energetic and make the sounds "boom" and "crackle" to help convey the movement and the mood. Describe the fireworks to look like a dandelion, asterisk, and long grassy shrubs for example. While the painting is still wet, and flat on a table, sprinkle with glitter.

Painting by 4.5yr old

Adult Example
Connect with Curriculum:
This activity links with a unit or theme on Celebrations. Specifically New Year's Eve or other events where fireworks is used, Chinese New Year etc. 

See an example painting of mine from my blog post "An Explosion of Colour" here  
 or view on my website here

Friday, June 13, 2014

From Journal to Reality (Canvas)

"Bystander" (c.) Chrissy Dwyer 2014
It is always nice when an idea you have been conjuring up for months finally comes to fruition...see the initial journal sketches and how I use my visual diary to document and record my ideas and develop my concept.
This piece was inspired from a few things... near where I live is a public park, Minnippi Park, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, where wild deer have been sighted over the years. There have been some attempts to capture and cull for the 'benefit of public safety'. Parallel to this idea of being hunted and safety of the hunted, the deer is a metaphor for our human selves and this idea came about at a time bullying was prominent in the media, and my own family member was experiencing this. It took me to thinking about how the bullied can often be one who appears strong and brave, like the deer, especially a deer with antlers. But what's more, it is those who are the 'bystander' and the title of this piece, that have much more to answer for. 

Inspiration from news article & sketches

Images & Research with sketches


Colour Scheme Studies
View my latest artworks here