I'm inspired to write about all the ways that art has brought joy and purpose to my life, and one thing that jumps to the front is CONNECTION. Art has literally brought about many wonderful connections in my life, and it's proof that I'm on the right track in helping to lift people up and bring joy to others' lives.
Here are some of the recent connective experiences I've had because of ART:
1. I have been hanging art in 2 local cafes for close to 10 years now. It started when I wanted to help my students realise themselves as exhibition worthy, but to also show the community the wonderful art that is coming out of my studio. I approached the owner of a cafe who happily jumped at this proposal that I hang art and regularly swap it, in his cafe, which led to me also taking care of his other cafe. He sold the first cafe on, but the new owners are even more happy to have my students' and my art hanging up there.
(The cafe shown his Mealmates Cafe at Davies Corner in Fairfield Hamilton, and the other is Impresso Cafe in Rototuna, Hamilton.)
Time and time again, I met lovely locals in the cafe (mostly older folk) as they come up to me when I'm swapping the art, and they ask about the students and marvel at their lovely, expressive drawings and paintings, hung on clip boards, in frames, or on canvas. It's really a pleasure exchanging wee chats with older people in my community that I would otherwise not have met.
The cafe workers and owners are a joy to catch up with, swap fruit with, and I love that Anne from Mealmates surprises me from time to time with a yummy free coffee too!
Sometimes I feel lazy and don't want to spend all the effort it takes to find new ways to hang art that won't be dangerous or too heavy. Sometimes I don't feel like like loading up my car and driving around Kirikiriroa Hamilton to do this. Sometimes I even lose sleep over leaving art up for too long, and not knowing what to plan next that will fit there..... But most times I go in, to be honest, I get lovely smiles from strangers, a kick out of seeing the students buzzing about it, and getting messages from grandparents who loved going to see their grand child's art and enjoyed a lovely brunch at the same time.
Connecting even with people I'll never cross paths with, but have impacted in some way, by them stopping to view the art of a child, that really does have a special, innocent feel that you can't just not notice. What a special way to connect through ART.
2. Meeting other creative business women in my area.
I've got artist friends, and art teacher friends, but it's always great to connect with people doing different fields of creative work.
I've had my photos done 4 years ago by Dannie Han of Dannie Living, and again last week by Kirsten Anderson from Anderson Design, who I met when I saw an offer she left an offer on a local business group page. It's super important for solopreneurs to connect with each other, and there ends up being soooo many relatable things to talk about! It's even got me thinking of ways to collaborate, and get her in to do photography workshops for kids, as she mentioned she's done that in the past. Very inspiring arty connection!
3. Getting involved with a school again.
It's sure been a while since I was last teaching in a primary school as a Primay Teacher, but I've been recently visiting a local school to introduce my online art lessons, and LOVING it.
I was contacted by Endeavour School Deputy Principal about connecting their students up with my online art lessons. This is for the art club with loves to create on their break time on Fridays. I have set them each up with their own access to the course, so that they can work at their own pace and BE THE BOSS OF THEIR OWN ART.
Connection is a HUGE part of my online courses! Each student can watch the videos I make in their own time, stop, start, pause, and go back when they like AND post their art right inside each lesson page, and quickly get feedback from me. These students have met me in real life which makes it even more meaningful when we use the discussion area of the course.
Already I've received feedback from a parent telling me of their child's excitement at submitting her drawings and hearing back from me. And the fact that she's logging on at home, and taking care to apply what's shown in the lesson without distractions from other kids at school, means her skills are super blossoming! This is my aim, and it's really a pleasure to connect with students and even their parents in this way!
It's been a pleasure meeting Kylee Edwards, and the students at Endeavour School, and I look forward to presenting some prizes at the end of the term. An absolutely joyful exchange, and all because of ART. ( I can't wait to share some of the children's drawing with you on my socials soon. )
4. I've not done many of my personalised paintings for kids lately, but these are seriously special keepsakes and families love to add to them. They do touch souls. All because of my joy of painting. I've been able to help families celebrate their babies and kids with my little paintings or family portraits, and it warms my heart each time I go through from the first connection point, to the last email once they receive it. Connection through ART again.
5. And last but not least: MY REGULAR STUDENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES!!!
Aw man. These kids are kinda like family to me. My own kids have grown up somehow and time has got away on me, but I always have these amazing children coming here every day after school. Because I have only 4-6 kids per session it means I get to have great little convos with them and / or their parents and get to know their family, hear about their pets, what's important them etc etc. This connection helps me to better gauge where they're at in their art and be able to help them best. The atmosphere I've created is lovely and peaceful, so the children mention that most: that this is a place they love to come because they feel so good and calm here.
How lovely is that!? Connection is what it's all about! And art! Art connections!
6. Creative Waikato
I've been meeting with the staff from Creative Waikato and I'll be letting you know what comes out of. Here's what it says on their website, if you'd also like to connect:Creative Waikato is a non-profit organisation that’s been doing good things to help the arts, support the community, and make creative things happen since 2012.We develop, support and champion Waikato arts and culture by understanding the unique needs of our bold and ambitious creative sector. Collaborating with national and regional organisations, individuals, councils, and communities to drive positive change, opportunity, and growth in arts, culture and creativity throughout our mighty region.
Have you made special connections just because of art in your life? Tell me:
This is 10 year old Adrian's squirrel drawing that he completed easily within a 1 hr after school art class, here in my Hamilton, NZ studio. Adrian has mastered Done is Better Than Perfect.
"Done is better than perfect" means that it is much more productive (and kinder to yourself) to complete something, rather than keep reaching for a perfect standard that you can never seem to get to. And in reaching for perfection, we often end up procrastinating, sabotaging, getting quite upset with ourselves, and make a much bigger deal than the thing usually is.
In my art classes, I do a lot of mindset work with my students. Not that they even realise this is happening. Done is better than perfection is one of the key messages that I love to get across to my kiddos, and it applies not only to art class but to life in general.
Here are some examples that you can also use for yourself or your kids in homeschooling, or just at home, or for art teacher or primary teachers to help students, when they are struggling in their art, being hard on themselves, giving up or getting angry:
1. Remember that you are a human. That's right. You are not a camera or a robot. You cannot possibly copy something exactly, or create exactly what you might see in your mind as being ideal. Plus when people look at art, they LOVE to see that it was made by a real person and often it really MATTERS WHO the artist is. That's part of what makes it special. The marks you make on the paper or canvas will be different to the way I make my marks, because of the way you hold your pencil or brush, and the pressure that you use, and the speed and all that. Your marks are unique. Like your voice.
2. Consider how long you are going to spend. KNOW that you are doing a drawing in a set amount of time, and release yourself the intention for perfection, and call it a PRACTISE VERSION/ A TRIAL RUN / A TEST DRAWING.... In my online lessons, as well as my studio art classes for kids, I aim for about an hour of concentrated drawing. Often less than that because of the talking, thinking, looking etc. So, let's say you are actually going to spend 30 min on a sketch. Remind yourself that you are not here to create a piece of art that will be celebrated the world over. You are practising a skill. You are testing out an idea. You are just giving it a go. If you do small drawings in your sketchbook with the intention of privately trying something, then you can surely be proud of getting that DONE.
3. Be prepared to be surprised No big expectations means you can leave the end result open. You can start, then stop and check, make another decision, then another on top of that. When something isn't looking right to you, and you have no expert art teacher around who understands your concerns, then you get to make another choice all on your own. You can choose to stand back and look at it from further away... You can try using a different medium on it.. You can perhaps paint the back ground first.. Or add darker darks. Or add some drips or splashes... Sooo many decisions and they are all YOURS. What ever you do, you will be learning by DOING.
4. Compare this learning to other life learning examples. Learning instruments? Cooking? Sport? Tying your shoes? How did you learn that? Did you keep practising, or did you give up and throw your shoes out, and just have velcro or jandals for the rest of your life? If you were learning to knit, you would be able to create a beautiful sweater that looks like it came from a shop, at the start of your knitting. When starting to ride a bike, were you able to do jumps, ride with no hands, etc? What about driving a car? When you are ready to start learning do you expect that you'll be perfect at the start or will you give up and never get your licence at all.
5. Be kind to yourself. Pat yourself on the back. You are awesome for giving things a go. For reminding yourself that you are NOT EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE PERFECT when it comes to art. You are SUPPOSED TO BE UNIQUE. How cool is it that you are creating some imperfect, fun, new and fresh art!? What else can you say to yourself that is kind? (think old you talking to young you)
6. A moment in time. This is where you're at now. The way you look at this is unique to your age, ability, interests, influences etc. You are always changing and life is changing around you. If you did this is same thing a year ago or a year from now, it would be different, and different is ok. It's now. And it will be DONE. Which is better than perfect.
7. Old wrinkly you. When you're old and at the end of your long life, what would you say about young you and this art you're making today? Would you say what a dork you are for not getting it to look like a photo? Would you say that it's wrong? Would you be glad that you gave things a go and got creative, tried new things, tested new ideas, and saved your work so you could look back on it when you're old? Does young you want to grow as an artist over time? Will old you BE an artist looking back at how you started and were kind to yourself along your arty journey, or will old you be one of those adults who believes that they are NOT AN ARTIST or thinks "I haven't got an artistic bone in my body" or "I can't draw to save myself."
8. Small changes eventually add up to huge results. Please never stop learning. Bit by bit. Little bits of done.
Never stop noticing other's art, and the art in nature all around us. Nothing is perfect. Love the imperfect. Embrace the unique. There will be a great story behind what you are looking at there. And YOUR story of small changes is YOURS. Where do you want to take it?
If you're like me, and you want to make sure that your child knows that "everyone's an artist", here are some things you can start doing:
"I have just signed us up for the 6 month package and am feeling so excited. The 4-week drawing challenge has been such a neat experience, sitting down for a short, directed art lesson with my young kids once a week - I was feeling sad it was coming to an end! This is the perfect way for all my kids (and me) to do an art lesson (not just chose one child) and they're always more enthusiastic and willing to give it a go when I sit down with them. I just LOVE to see everyone's very different creations given the same directive. You have made the course so affordable Kim, it was a no-brainer - I won't stress have to if we're having an off-week or if its only 1 or 2 of us that participate. I so want my kids to grow with a love of drawing and creating that they will take into adulthood, and this course will help me to more easily facilitate it instead of putting 'doing art together' into the 'not-today'/too-hard basket. Thanks Kim, and can't wait to see what you'll have us making over the next 6 months :)" . Michelle Challies, Hamilton, NZ
I'd say this mum hit the nail on the head in her lovely email she sent me (and gave permission to publish) If you have more than one child, and you also love art as well, then good quality online art lessons are going to do you a world of good. When you KNOW you don't have to travel to a studio, KNOW you can work at your own pace, KNOW your kids can come back to them, and take turns using them, and best of all if you KNOW you can trust you art teacher and get in touch with questions, then you're onto something.
There are a lot of companies on the market though, and sometimes it can be hard to tell what kind of actual teaching you are going to get. Will it be follow-along-with-me type of thing, or will it be stretching your children's thinking a bit more, and encouraging them to make free choice in their art, and learn from the lesson but also ADD to it?
In All Smilez video lessons, perfection is not mentioned, but uniqueness is. Problem solving, putting on your own spin on it, and discovery IS. Learning the principals and elements of art in a casual way, while you create and have fun, builds confidence, encourages mindfulness, and if you can get this for your whole family with one enrolment AND get teacher feedback on your art submissions right inside each lesson, you're super winning.
It might also be worth checking if the company you're considering, has a trained teacher who has much experience with kids of all levels. Do they show you common issues and struggles kids have when learning to draw? Do they know how to build you up so that you can feel confident in discovering your own abilities?
If you can get some sample lessons this would give you a good idea. If you can directly contact the actual teacher, this is also a good sign that what you are about to purchase is worth it.
Also check if you get access for the lifetime of the course, or is there an expiry date.
If you have any questions about All Smilez online art lessons, courses, classes, please just email Kim@allsmilez.com. She really cares.
Whether you're fostering the little artist IN YOU, or you have a little artist at home whom you'd like to nurture and foster their creativity, this is for you.
Kim, at All Smilez art school honestly believes we are all artists whether we know it or not. Back when we were children we were able to enjoy making art (until something went wrong and we got the idea that we were no good, or should stop). So, it's important that we help the children (or inner child) in our lives and protect them from whatever it is that separates people who think they're artists and those who think they're not.
So, start now, doing what Kim does in her art classes for kids, or even in her online art classes for kids. Ensuring you do these 3 things to foster the artist.
1. WORDS - what you say and how you say it.
These are the words in your head as well as the words you say aloud. If you create a mindset within yourself as an influencer of young people, then please make sure its positive and boosting. BUT, it's important not to just throw nice words around.
Young artists are good at knowing when something is fake.
Which is why Kim suggests that you get it in your head that EVERYONE'S AN ARTIST.
If you can start to trust that each and every one of us has the ability to think like an artist, and create cool art in our own way, then use words of encouragement.
NICE STUFF TO SAY TO A YOUNG ARTIST:
- what are you experimenting with today?
- would you like to tell me about this?
- what are you learning from what you tried?
- I like the ___________ in your drawing. (insert: colour, lines, arrangement on the page, patterns, whatever you notice). They'll trust you more if you notice things that are true.
- how are you feeling about your drawing? Let them talk if they want.
- would you like me to put this on the fridge? If they are proud of their work, this is how you'll find out.
- I love how you are always trying new ideas!
- are you going to sign your name?
- would you like to put the short date on it so that when you look at it again in the future you'll know how old you were?
DO NOT SAY:
- Wow that's awesome, cool, amazing...... every single time the young artist shows you something.
- What is it? - never say that.
- oh that looks like....... - just don't interpret too quickly.
2. VALUING THEIR BEST WORK
How do you know when it's their best work? If you are not sure then perhaps it's because it seems rushed to you, or too messy or?? Rather than making comments that might upset them, you could ask how they feel about this piece and ask them how THEY know whether a piece of art is a sketchbook practise, or if it's framable.
If they are not sure, you could ask them to think about why they are creating BEFORE THEY START. Try to catch them when they are sitting down to draw.
Ask, will you be just doodling, learning, experimenting today? OR are you making something for the wall, or for a card for someone?
Ask -What do you need when you're planning something to frame?
Help them think about the size of the paper required, will the drawing or painting materials work on this kind of paper, and will your idea fit into the space on the page?
Help them draw a wee soft border around the page which will help to frame their composition, and help you when you go to frame it because some paper will need to be behind the frame or matting, to keep it held in.
When you have a piece of art that they love and you love, then you have a winner and it should be displayed and shown off. Talk about the stuff in it that catches your eye. Say that ___ catches my eye because I love how it overlaps.. or how the colour blends, or how the texture is interesting in that part, or the expression on the face, or .... something specific about that piece of art. (as in number 1, above) And let them hear you talking about their art to other people.
3. GET THEM A MENTOR
Find someone else who knows how to talk to kids about their art. This is very important that your little artist feels like they are growing as an artist, and has someone who can validate and steer them when they need it. Ask a teacher, friend, family member.
For a range of long or shorter term options, you can get someone online.
Kim Garside, in Hamilton NZ helps kids all over the world in her online art courses. The best part of the online courses, is seeing the kids post their work under each lesson. AND the boost that the parents get as well, because in the video lessons that parents AND kids enjoy, Kim talks to your artist about how to think like an artist. Parents can also grow their inner artist, and voila, family drawing sessions!
Through years of teaching art to small groups in her home studio in Hamilton NZ, Kim has a way of diving deep into the artists knowing, and core beliefs in their drawing ability.
Consistency is key, whatever you do.
Grow that young artist!
allsmilez.com/onlineart for more info about ways Kim can help you.
Why would a good art teacher, who really knows how to teach kids how to draw and paint, supply her little art students with a colouring in activity?!
Well, I figured that for the price of $4 I could buy at least 1 to show them what's available at kmart for cheap, but also to refer to a larger outline mandala like this, with no colour, and discuss how this mandala could so change it's look and feel/vibe depending on the colours used.
I decided to grab the Paint Markers just to see if they might be any good, as I have been often times let down by my expensive as Posca paint pens. So, for the price of one quality Posca pen, I got a whole pack at Kmart.....
Well, I just love them.
And so do the students.
And I got a much added BONUS!
I discovered something really really beautiful (beyond the price of these 2 products used together!) And this is why I'm sharing this with you, so that you can get this cool vibe at home!
LOVE, COLLABORATION, PRIDE, CREATIVITY, DISCOVERY, INCLUSIVENESS, MEMORIES, AND MINDFULNESS!
My students fully embraced the sharing of this ONE MANDALA! 40 students have had a hand in this. If even just for a minute or so at time, they all remember the bits they've added.
Originally I thought I would do a give away at the end of term, and one of the students could get to take this home, but now that I've felt the love vibes off of it, I think it would be best to keep it here in the studio as a memory of my lovely 2021 All Smilez kids.
So, my message to you dear parents, or grandparents, or whoever is reading this:
This is a wonderful activity to try at home with your family. It's something that you could do in pairs while chatting, working together to turn and complete your chosen detail all the way around. It's something that can worked on bit by bit over time. It's something that everyone can add on to, even if it's just some little stippled dots like we've done in black.
It's something awesome to have at the bach over summer, getting the whole extended family to add to. The collaboration of it is what makes it a special keepsake. It's what gives it the beautiful love vibes, and each artist who adds to it will remember the calming, mindful act of the colouring-in areas they've done.
So special. And so affordable. Mandala stretched canvas $4, Paint marker $9 for the set. Both from Kmart.
Do you think this is something you'll do? Have you got other collaborate art ideas to share? Comment below and let me know. :)
Simply put, everyone is an artist.
The sad thing is that those who don't believe they're an artist, have decided this at some point in their lives because of something that has happened. ( someone else's reaction, or unrealistic expectations from self or others ). The good news is, I can help people of all ages feel better about drawing and painting, and thank goodness some good folks have found me and I am able to help their children here in the studio or even online.
What I've learned:
Parent's usually bring their children to me for a few different and valid reasons.
They want me to engrain this confidence in their kids from an early age, so that they don't lose this into later life. They value the visual arts and understand that it's important for creative development.
They have no idea how to help them at home because the parent's believe that they are not artists.
They know that their child is not receiving this education and guidance at school, or their school teacher is so busy with all of the other subjects that real art lessons are getting missed. Most primary school teachers are not actually trained to teach children HOW to draw.
Parents are more and more realising the importance of mindful activities, and creativity.
They trust me that I can show them how to think like an artist, solve problems like an artist, and create works of art that are unique, skillful, and thoughtful. Keepsakes are made, relationships are built, future education pathways are influenced, and artists are nurtured.
If you have a child who already loves drawing, or a child who starting to doubt themselves and their artistic ability, or even a child who is just plain missing out of the benefits of drawing, please get in touch. I can help.
Can I help parents too? Yes, I sure can. In fact, parents are loving to try my online lessons alongside their kids, and enjoying to send me photos of their own drawings, alongside their children's, and you know what? THIS IS GOLD!! Excellent role modelling right there! Being vulnerable. Trying something new. How can our kids grow in drawing if their parent's are afraid to let loose and have some fun with it too? You may not even need my help. Sometimes all your child needs is to watch YOU.
So, long story short. How do you know if your child is an artist? Do they draw and enjoy drawing? Yes? They are an artist. No? They are still an artist but just don't know it yet.
This photo is by mother and daughter, Mariella and Ashlee, from the Drawing Challenge #2. Just beautiful!
It means a lot to me that so many families have kept their children enrolled here for so long, over the years. Most of my current students have been with me for more than 2 years, some as long as 6 or 7 years! It's certainly not what I had planned or imagined. And I sure to love it. It feels like family, it really does! And I love them all.
I've tried before and chickened out, on creating online lessons so that I could help more people, but now I am pretty stoked to have found a platform that I feel works really well to set up an online course, AND works well from a student point of view of well...
So, with this being 10 years of All Smilez Art School, and (20 years of All Smilez website, back from when I painting personalised portraits), I am darn well going to celebrate!!!
It's not easy being self employed, in little ol' NZ. I'd really love to thank everyone who has supported me over the years, bought my art, or enrolled their kids.
And a HUGE thank you to the people who have left feedback for me to share. This means the world to me, especially now that I need to figure how to get more people to find out about new online art courses and clubs.
This photo is from 10 years ago, when I started after school classes by first renting a room in a school after hours. Not long after that I bought my current home, and started converting the garage (on a tiny budget) into my current studio!!!
If you have special memories from way back then you'd like to share, feel free to email Kim@allsmilez.com or post on our facebook page! I'd love hear how everyone's going.
Please join me in the new art club
Let's celebrate our birthday and boost self esteem with drawing and painting. The new art club is where you get weekly lessons, like in the Drawing Challenge, but these are in monthly themes. You can currently sign up for 1 month or 6 months, and with the new package deals, you can get the drawing challenge for free. (value $35)
AND for our 10 year of art classes birthday, use the code BDAY to get 10% off all courses!
(excludes package deals and bundles and 1 month art club trials)
Save with packages and course bundles...
Art club members are invited to join our facebook group.
Thanks again everyone, for all your love and support!
Did you know that All Smilez got it's name from Kim's smiling students? It's true, but its not what you think. Way before Kim started running small group art classes from her home studio, she was a primary school teacher.
Even before she had her own children, she was a primary school teacher.
And even before that she was an artist.
When she was at home with her first baby, she had to think of something inspiring to paint. What was the first thing that came to mind? Her sea of smiling students looking up at her from the classroom mat when she was a regular classroom teacher.
That's when Kim started painting simple smiling children characters. These grew in popularity and soon Kim was painting personalised paintings sold all around the world!
Check out this 2 page spread in Little Treasures parent's magazine from 2006!
Back at the start, she called it Artworx by Kim, and when it came time to build a better website, a more fitting name of All Smilez was born!
From time to time Kim still gets orders for these little portraits. And STILL receives emails from families who cherish these keepsakes 10-20 years later!
To get your own, even extra large family portrait style, where Kim paints these WITH your children, go to this page:
When Kim decided to move from Raglan to Hamilton, and create her own little art classes, she called it Kreate Academy.... then when she realised she needed a website for this too, it became obvious that she should use the website she already had. So the name Kreate was abandoned and All Smilez was jolted into something more!
YES! Kim could combine her love of painting, with her teaching experience, AND her love of small groups/ 1 to 1 , more personalised teaching.
And do you know what????? I have something really special to tell you next.
WATCH THIS SPACE FOR THE REVEAL OF THE NEXT DEVELOPMENTS IN OUR
ALL SMILEZ JOURNEY!
Let's face it. We all know someone, young or old, who honestly believes that they are no good at drawing. And that, my friends, is super sad.
I have been working with children and adults in the exact same way, and I am happy to report that all of them could draw, although, lots did start off with a bit of resistance or fear. If you or someone you know thinks they are no good at drawing, or that they just don't know how, so why should they bother.... PLEASE send them my way!
My drawing challenge is pretty private. Great for building up confidence.
I'm bringing to you, and other members of drawing challenge, 1 lesson per week.
It's something I know that you can do. You can do it as simply or detailed as you like.
That's what I love about the way I teach. It's doable. YOU are in charge. You need to be able to see that you can indeed ENJOY drawing first, then you can have fun experimenting with what you can do with the lesson of the week. It's fun.
Ideally, you might do this along side a family member, young or old. Or at least you will talk to each other about it at home, even if you do the lessons at seperate times.
Check out our drawing challenge which starts Mon Mar 22, but after that you can still join up and do it whenever you like :)