Teaching art to Grade 8 is not as easy as I thought it would be...

I was very proud of myself in December (2015) when I came up with a theme around which I could structure my Grade 8 lessons. I thought I would look at landscape - starting with looking at the land from above using Google Earth & then in each subsequent lesson I would guide the girls towards the earth in ‘layers’, getting to street level using Google Street View & eventually getting close to the ground and examining things from a ‘bug’s eye view”.

I introduced line drawing to my Grade 8 classes by getting them to draw contour views of the earth using fineliners. 


We watched the following video where the artist uses drawing as a meditative exercise. The girls later told me that this exercise hurt their eyes and gave them headaches. FAIL No.1

We then moved on to a painting exercise -  I taught the girls various watercolour techniques & we were going to use these techniques to create landscape paintings from images sourced using Google Earth. This lesson was inspired by the following post:

The techniques & experiments with watercolour were successful but when the girls started painting they forgot the light playful quality of the experiments and the paintings became overworked and too literal. Most were like the image below. FAIL No.2

I then got the girls to tear up their paintings & re-collage the fragments, they also had the option of including figurative elements from magazines. The paper was difficult to stick down because it was quite thick watercolour paper and many of the girls didn’t enjoy tearing up their work. FAIL No.3

The next phase of the program was to draw buildings in perspective using ‘Google Street View’. I had just taught a perspective component to my Grade 9 classes that they found quite difficult - so I realized that I had to reinterpret this task & make it more manageable for my Grade 8 classes. I taught the basics of one and two point perspective and my Grade 8 classes made notes in their sketch books. 
Once they understood the concept of perspective. I introduced them to the work of Ben Heine & explained how he set up his drawings. Using the following illustrations:

The girls then had to immitate Ben Heine's work but had to use an image that included perspective. They seemed to enjoy this exercise. WIN NO. 1 

I then moved on to two street art exercises that completely won over the hearts of my Grade 8 classes. I told them they were going to do a form of street art within the school & that the other teachers didn't know about it & if they were caught - they had to say 'he knows' - and run away. (I cleared everything with the headmaster of our school before embarking on this project.) The girls came to art dressed in hoodies and sunglasses, I let them see a YouTube video on 'googly eye-bombing' (see below) & let them loose on the school. WIN No. 2
They were very excited, ended up disturbing a few classes, but most teachers thought it was a fun exercise & tolerated the disturbance. Below see a video of a fragment of the experience: 
Some of the 'googly eye' bombing ended up being really cute & I am sure brought a smile to many people who inhabit our school. 
The last project of the term got the girls involved in tape grafitti. I had been looking on Pinterest and other sites at images of schools creating tape grafitti with blue tape. (They were usually students who were older than my Grade 8 girls, so I introduced the idea to them by showing them what other schools had done.)  I gave them one lesson to plan their piece in their sketchbooks & to book a spot in the school with me. 

They then armed with one roll of masking tape each created their temporary tape artworks around the school. The senior girls and the staff loved the transformation of our very formal school into a more visually exciting place. (WIN NO. 3) 
The two girls who produced this last piece filmed themselves creating and taking the work down. 

Using an iPad to work out the composition, colours and mark making in an oil painting

I started this painting at the beginning of this year at Dee Donaldson's teaching studio - Studio 3. Selecting the image below of my Sphynx cat Sam as reference.  

Below is a pic of my workspace at Studio 3

I started this piece using a flourescent Lemon yellow acrylic for the background and did the initial drawing of the cat using water soluble wax pastels. After drawing with the pastels the surface was moistened with water using a spray bottle - creating drips and 'fuzzy' lines. 

At this stage I shifted to oils and started to work up the painting. 

Layering different colours, marks and thickness of paint. 

I took this painting to Maggie Strachan's studio (an artist friend) & did some work on it there. Maggie & I spent more time chatting than working... (the intention was for us both to spend the day together painting) I use a red shopping cart to transport all of my oil equipment around when I work in other artist's studios. (See behind the easel) 

This painting got abandoned for many months & I worked on other art pieces & I recently returned to it. I wanted to layer various images of Sam over the initial one. 

After layering this pic (above) over a photograph of my painting in an app called 'Superimpose'on my iPad I liked the composition so much I decided to include only one cat over the previous one. 

The initial drawing of the second cat was done in indigo & I glazed some of the values in using the same colour paint.  

More glazing using indigo coloured oil paint.  The dots were created using a crafter's stencil. I wiped away the paint through the stencil using a soft cloth.  

Adding warmer colours and more detail 

The range of colours used in the top layer of this painting 

I photographed the piece at this stage & resolved the rest of the composition on the iPad using the app Procreate. 

 Below the iPad painting over the photograph of my painting:  

Below the video of my iPad painting (no sound) 

The final piece:  

The muse standing in front of his portrait: 



Pandora's Box 

My Grade 12 student, Megan, produced an interactive artwork for her exam piece to fulfill the theme 'Surplus and Scarcity'. The piece was a comment on society's greed and lack of focus on things that have real value. The following pics show the examiner opening a present. This is supposed to trigger the greed impulse in her.   

She takes off the outer wrapping paper & ribbon & encounters a box 

She is a bit nervous at this stage and tentatively moves the tissue paper. 

She starts to react to what she sees inside the box (bottles of raw meat) This meat is a metaphor for us - suggesting that we will not rot/decay & eventually die. 

Looking at the chicken hearts: 

Looking at the boerewors (a South African sausage): 

Horrified at the cow's tongue: 

Taking out the livers: 

And eventually she discovers the Vanitas oil painting at the bottom of the box: 

I made a video of the whole process below: 


Dee Donaldson Fundraiser 

I took part in an art auction to raise finds for a fellow artist and art teacher, Dee Donaldson, who has recently discovered that she has breast cancer & has had to spend some time recovering after chemotherapy sessions. 

Her students decided to assist her financially by organising a fundraiser. This fundraiser took the form of an evening event last Saturday evening, where artwork donated by local artists was auctioned and monoprints made on Saturday 10th October were sold.

I made the following two monoprints of my cat Sam:  


and donated the following artworks:  

Inspired by Kate Kubareva (a member of the sktchy community) 
Inspired by Tri Sarah Tops (also of the sktchy community)  

Inspired by my Devon -Rex cat Matilda 

I managed to bid for a piece of art myself & managed to aquire a Carol Hayward Fell ceramic sculpture 

Below is a pic of it in my home amongst some of my other collectables:


Threaded Drawings May 2015 artSpace Durban

It was with great trepidation that I approached the theme of this group exhibition.  Although I am familiar with drawing and I do use stitching in my work… the combination of this with the brief “based on drawings by your favourite artist” was daunting.

I at first searched for artists who suited the type of subject matter I explore & when that didn’t work out I switched to looking for an artist who draws in a similar way to my style of drawing. I discovered the work of Joseph Loughborough whose “impulsive and intuitive rapid-fire mark making centers on honesty, expressionism and possibly exorcism. The result is an attempt to grasp a comprehension of the human condition.” (

Although the content of his drawings are generally darker than mine I tried to emulate his style in mixed media drawings mainly of my iconic Sphynx cat Sam and drawings of artists faces I have made contact with through the iPhone app “Sktchy”.    

I have introduced, due to the influence of Loughborough, graphite powder and a more agressive surface line & mark making that hasn’t appeared in my work to date.  He also makes isoteric symbols or circular marks on the surface of his drawings in a different colour. These symbols have been translated into threaded focal points in each of my works. 

Some of these artworks on board I uploaded to my ipad and procesed them a bit further, printed them on photographic paper, collaged into them using washi tape & finally stitched n to them using my very old Elna sewing machine.