Category Archives: Art Therapy

Mandala colouring activity

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After my yoga session and the Fantasticats collage activity with the young learners at the language school, the kids had half an hour to spare and wanted to colour in some Mandalas.These are great to have in a folder for “just in case” moments. Just in case kids arrive to class too early, just in case your yoga session finishes early, just in case some kids don’t want to join in with the main activity and prefer to sit alone, just in case you have forgotten art materials for the primary activity and so on, you can just whip out some Mandala templates and children absolutely love them!
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One little boy in the group at Language in Totnes, didn’t want to play football and he was constantly being left out of group game activities because he gets frustrated & angry when he doesn’t shoot a goal. This time round he decided not to participate and sat in the grass, he looked fed up and told me he was bored. I asked him if he’d prefer to colour in a Mandala using my very special pencil crayons. He smiled and said “Thank you” and began colouring in his picture, even as it started to rain. The art activity calmed him down and made him feel valued and included even though he wasn’t in the group dynamic. Having awareness of the situation and the therapeutic power of art enabled me to change the situation from a negative experience to a positive one. I reported back to his Japanese group leader that this little boy has an artistic flare as it seems to calm him down, she thanked me and said she will find coloring books for him to concentrate on when he feels frustrated.

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Mandalas are great and simple activities to bring to a class, they are very meditative and soothing. The whole class was quiet and very focused on trying to finish off their picture. This is a great tool to have within an art therapy session too.

Here are some funky mandala books to buy that you can keep reusing by scanning & printing out the pages:
Magic Mandalas Colouring Book
Mindful Little Me: Mandala Coloring Book For Kids
Color Me Calm Mandalas for Kids

Here are some free templates from the Internet:

Print Mandala
Free Mandalas
Mandala coloring page for kids

FantastiCats collage activity

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So, this was my last lesson teaching the young learners at Language in Totnes a two hour Yoga & Art session. I wanted to base the lesson round animals so the yoga lesson was all about Bunny & elephant breath and it was more like a guided moving meditation to calm them down after a game of rounders. By chance I stumbled upon the artist Laurel Burch and she creates these incredible funky cat illustrations, apparently she was big in the 80’s but I have never heard of her, so glad I found her though, I fricken love her art!

I discovered a simple tutorial on an arts blog that breaks down how to teach a Laurel Burch inspired art workshop to kiddies and it involved collage making and lots of colour! These two things go well with kids, collage making is very sensory because of the texture and tactile nature of it and ALL kids love vibrant colours!
This is also a great art therapy exercise for both kids and adults because collage making is very therapeutic and encourages those who feel they can’t be artistic because they can’t draw, realize that that is simply not true, creativity is for everyone so it’s a great confidence booster.

If you have a good hour with your kiddies, this could be done all at once, as long as they don’t get the wiggles too bad.

Materials for session:
• Colored 9×12 card paper (we used pink, brown, blue and yellow).
• Sharpie markers, or something similar…the regular thickness.
• Colored pencils and/or felt tips.
• Pritstick glue & kid friendly scissors.

Step One:
– Introduce Laurel Burch to the kids – show a slideshow of her art (I printed off examples for them to hold)
– Lead a step-by-step drawing of a cat sitting down. (Kids work on the colored papers, with pencil first). Start with a big letter “D”, then add a cat’s head with ears overlapping the top of the big “D”. Add nose, eyes, whiskers. Show how to make the back leg, then draw a short vertical line down for the front feet. Add a tail. The kids in this group intuitively did their own thing, some followed my direction when drawing a cat, others kinda just independantly drew their idea of what a cat looks like and that’s OK too!
– Talk about PATTERN, and what exactly makes a pattern a pattern. Ask, “Is one circle a pattern?” No, it must be a REPEATING shape to be a pattern. Have the kids draw patterns on their cats’ backs.
– Tell the kids to “Go Crazy” the more colour the better! The kids I taught this to were from Japan and Saudi Arabia and were all 7 years old so their English was reasonably limited, I kept saying “Rainbow Cats” to emphasize that their cats NEED to be as colourful, weird and wonderful as possible. I made sure they didn’t use dark earthy colours on their cats…. bright only!

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Step Two:
– On another peice of coloured card paper, have kids make a border to frame their cats, and draw patterns in the borders.
– Make a “hill” on the bottom, inside the border so the cat has a place to sit. Some decided they wanted their cats to float as though in space.
– Make a starry night sky with a moon and planets if they want, in the background above the hill.
– Cut out and glue the cats down!

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These cats are super funky, you can really see the Kid’s personalities through their final pieces. One boy decided to include two foxes to his collage, I wonder what that means to him? Another boy drew a heart right where the solar plexus would be, what does that mean to him? And a little girl drew a very traditional looking cat with small amounts of vibrant yellow on the eyes, ears and feet, what does that mean to her? Some of the kids named their cats as well which I thought was a cute ending to the lesson. Check them all out below!

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This is the original lesson: Talking walls Murals_Laurel Burch Cats.
I changed my lesson slightly to fit with the resources I had at hand as I had limited black card paper so instead I encouraged the kids to choose a coloured card of their choice, whilst using black card may have been better in fitting with the Laurel Burch aesthetic, allowing the kids to chose a colour they wish to use is great as it makes them feel a part of the project, instead of being told what to do. I did not use Sharpies with these kids either, their English language is limited and two of these kids were known to be badly behaved, I dread to think what would happen if they got their hands on a sharpie! And because this was being taught to a bunch of 7 year olds at a summer language school I had to keep the direction simple and allow for an intuitive process by allowing the kids to see they need to draw a colourful cat but not expecting them to follow exact instructions on form, shape and pattern. I literally just let them go with the flow whilst I guided them through the session.

Self Portrait Collage Activity

This is a beautiful activity to do with kids (and adults) as a way of introducing each other to the group and observing how the individual sees themselves. As someone who enjoys figuring out the meaning behind chosen colours, textures, facial expressions and added objects drawn on the paper I love activities like this as it gives a bit of an insight into a person’s personality and psyche. I did this activity with a group of seven children at a language summer school and they were between 7 and 10 years old, four of them were Japanese, one was French & two were from Saudia Arabia so having multicultural skin tone card paper was essential!
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This is a wonderful and very simple rainy day activity or can be used for an art therapy session or as part of a workshop program. This workshop can last about an hour or can be split up into two half hour sessions.
kids self portrait using collage

You will need:
Supplies:
• Multicultural card paper cut in 6 x 9″ sheets.
• Black sharpies (felt tip pens)
• Coloured pencils
• Background colored card paper, 9×12″
• Small-ish rectangles of pattern paper (we used both wrapping paper and contact paper)
• Tissue paper for hair colours that they can easily rip up themselves.
• Glue sticks
• Scissors
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•Part 1: Teach them suuuuper basic proportions of the face. Just show that the eyes go in the middle of the face, and show some ways to draw eyes, noses and lips. The first day, just draw the faces on the multicultural skin color papers, trace drawings with sharpie, and add some colored eyes (and whites of the eyes!) lips, and cheeks with colored pencils.
•Part 2: Put it all together: cut a “shirt” rainbow shape out of the patterned paper, cut out the faces, add torn paper (or tissue paper) for the hair. Glue, glue glue. Then watch the cuteness happen. Love these!!
rainy day kids art activities

self portrait kids

collage portrait
Those of you who do opt to give this art activity a try with your children, do send me their finished portraits and I will feature them on this blog!
This activity will be included as part of my yoga & art workshops I hope to promote and facilitate very soon, alongside dream-catcher making, art journalling, mandala painting, decorating tote bags & many more. The children will receive one hour of yoga and one hour of art as a form of creative meditation. At some point dance movement will also be included as part of a bigger package, perhaps as weekend or holiday workshops.
The original idea came from The talking walls murals blogspot

New Gromit Figurine

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Some of you will remember I painted a Gromit figurine for the Gromit Unleashed Grand Appeal fundraiser in aid of Bristol’s Children’s hospital a couple of years back. This Gromit figurine has been one of my most popular Blog posts world wide and has also been in a mini exhibition in a Grand Appeal pop up shop in Bristol.

Recently the Brand & Development manager of Grand Appeal has asked me to paint another Gromit because my first one (Named Henara Sutra) was well loved by the Gromit Unleashed team. This second figurine has recently been sent to me in the post and ideas are already whirling around my mind but if anyone has ideas too feel free to comment.
I just love being a part of community arts events and adore the Gromit Unleashed Appeal. I can not wait to get started on this little project. Stay tuned for a progress and the Grand Finale blog posts!

I am producing an illustrated poetry book

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I’ve been mulling over something very personal for a good few years now and it wasn’t until I discovered Rupi Kaur and Nayyirah Waheed that I felt the urge to actually make it happen. I was also doing a small illustration project dedicated to the poet Pablo Neruda a few months back when a few people at different times, randomly suggested, out of the blue “Why aren’t you illustrating your poems?” or “Why aren’t you publishing an illustrated poetry book?”. I saw this as a sign because all these individuals in various aspects in my life were suddenly suggesting the same thing? And it got me thinking “Why aren’t I getting my poems out there?”

I’ve been writing poetry since I was 13, my first poem was about death as a form of slumber in a dream world and ever since then I’ve kept journals of my thoughts, prose poetry and collages.

The poetry in Rupi’s book “Milk & Honey” and Nayyirah’s “Salt” speak to me so much and has inspired a courageous vulnerability in my heart.
It is time to write and produce my own book of prose poems. I have so much to say and so much to offer but I have been afraid of criticism and of people believing all that I do is a mere hobby when it is not. I live, breathe and love art in all forms, it is my life’s work and it is my soul calling. I am doing this for my beautiful Grandmother who was a Tap dancer and for my Aunt who was an incredible published poet and play-write however their lives as women were tragic and cut short. They live on in me; my Grandmother gave me my loving heart (and the sadness in my eyes) and my Aunt gave me my vivacious spirit (and my wild unruly hair), they are the reason I don’t allow people to tell me what to do and I am living my life to the fullest for them because they never could.

I am currently co-creating some promo images with a friend to get the project out into the world wide web and looking into self publishing with Amazon or HitRecord. Soon I will be temporarily leaving Yogi Approved for the summer so that I have more time to concentrate on this poetry book as well as submitting new material to other platforms in order to expand my horizons. It feels right as a woman who has just turned 30 to do this challenge and I keep dreaming of giving birth, babies and puppies which symbolizes the birth of an important project. I have always wanted to publish a book and perhaps be involved in spoken word poetry nights as well? I have already written ten new poems and adding older poems to the mix as well. Anyone who wishes to be of help in anyway, I will be ever so grateful.

“For the waters and the mud,
For the moon and the stars,
It is always with love.
It is always for love.”
-Katie Ness
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