Learning how to see
With Easter here again, I love to look back on the art projects I’ve done with my extended family over the years. We all go ‘camping’ on Mum’s-cousin’s property at Easter, and it’s a wonderful thing. I’m no camper, but it’s the most lovely way to really catch up with people I love but don’t see all the time.
2014 – Circle Painting
At Easter 2014, my youngest was nearly 5 so I finally had a free hand to run a bit of a group art activity. I decided to facilitate two ‘circle paintings’.
I bought two lengths of primed canvas and filled disposable cups with pastel shades of acrylic paint.
The project was completed in three parts/layers:
- Large patches of colour to cover the whole canvas, then let it dry);
- Use big brushes to add circles, dots and dashes (no text or symbols) then let it dry; and
- Use smaller brushes to add even more details until it looks balanced and done!
I love that everyone got involved – from age 2 to 72! One finished canvas was pinned to the wall for a many years, and is now used as a dust cover on a downstairs bed. I brought the other home and totally meant to upholster a chair with it… but it hasn’t happened…
The painting has faded because I used craft paint, not artist quality paint. A deliberate choice back then, but often a trick for young players.
I did save it by uploading the images to my Society6 shop and have printed it on phone cases, shower curtains and cards over the years. It’s still available here!
2016 – Hand Print Canvas
This was a simple project where everyone at Easter that year added their handprint and signature to one large canvas. Dogs and babies got in on the act… it was simple and wonderful.
2017 – Aerial Map Painting
This aerial view of our ‘family camp site’, ie. Mum’s cousins, Peter and Jennie’s farm, started as a Sharpie marker sketch, painted with acrylics. I remember only taking cool primaries – Yellow, Magenta and Phthalo Blue, and White. The rough purple dots are trees and the squares and rectangles are tents and caravans.
Once the painting was dry, everyone signed their name near their tent site or home and it now hangs in the main house. It’s a lovely memory of both the people and the site as things have changed over the years.
2021 – Family Tree
We have a pretty big family – on both sides – and it came to my attention that a lot of the kids really had no idea how everyone was connected. So in 2018 I made up a family tree using Post-it notes and everyone took a look to see if it was right. Then Covid happened, and in 2021 I finally took those details back to Easter, drew them up on a large sheet of watercolour paper, and invited anyone who wanted to, to fill in the spaces between the names with colour and flowers.
In 2022 I printed the image on A5 postcards so everyone could have a copy – and yes, there were still two mistakes! But it’s good when you’re your own client and it’s definitely better than nothing!
2021 – Group Drawing
Covid was still a thing so while many of us made it to Easter for a visit, not everyone could stay. This meant we couldn’t get our usual group photo, and seeing as I was on a roll with the watercolours, I decided to sketch a group pic of everyone who had made it that year.
It was made more fun by the presence of my cousin Josh (AKA High Kick Guy on insta) who HAD to be doing his thing. It’s also impressive because there’s a lot to it… although there really aren’t too many good likenesses (hence, the names!).
In 2022 I had this image printed on souvenir mugs for those who wanted them. Great fun.
And this year?????
Well this year I’m taking a literal LEAF out of my latest online sketching workshop and will be heading down the hill with a stash of watercolours and small sketchbooks.
I’m going to invite everyone to do their own self portrait, complete with their name… and if they don’t really want to, they can find another relative to do it for them (we’re all related so that won’t be too hard). They do have to write their own name though! That’s really important.
When they’re done I’ll arrange and frame them all together. Stay tuned on the socials to see how it turns out!
If only they all did my #shinyhappy21 #fillyourbook workshop 😉 They’d all be so confident to draw, leaving their perfectionism at the door… perhaps I can convince them!
In the meantime, I wish you a lovely Easter. I hope you get a break and I’ll see you on the other side.
About Anna Battle
I’m an artist, guide, mother and a very handy Art Friend!
My life’s mission is to share the joy of drawing and painting.
In 2011 I started offering in-studio guided Paint Alongs, and my first online course, 15 Flowers, went live in 2015.
In 2016 my book, Painting Party, was published (it’s still available on Amazon).
I now offer online Paint Alongs and workshops so that you can reconnect to the creativity inside you. Gift yourself the time to paint, and the guidance you need to improve your skills and your confidence.
I invite you to join me and see the world through the eyes of an artist!