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eBook’s and Getting Creative at Home

 I like to think of an art guide or eBook like a cooking recipe. Sometimes you follow them word, for word, ingredient for ingredient and other times you flick through, find inspiration through the photos and make your own magical concoction.

Last week was pretty exciting for me because I finally launched Sunflower and Ivy’s first eBook called Nurture.  One of the reasons I launched an eBook is because I wanted family’s to be able to create at home. I grew up in regional Australia in a family of four children and although I went to art classes, the cost of us all going, in addition to any sports we were doing would have been too much.  Access to art classes and workshops can also be limited in regional places. I also know that a lot of people following Sunflower and Ivy on Instagram don’t live in the same place as me so they can’t attend our range of workshops.

My first eBook is for all of these people; people who know me on Instagram but can’t get to a workshop, people that live in the many regional and rugged places of Australia, for the bigger families and also the people who don’t have a lot of cash to spare. I want quality art activities to be accessible to all of these people and also the art addicts; the creative families that happily create every day. Nurture includes 20+ art activities that of course have my signature therapeutic twist. Besides all the activities being fun, easy and helpful in getting creative juices flowing they also promote discussion and learning around emotional resilience and identity.  I purposely included add-on’s so each activity can be kept simple or modified for challenge and further depth.

From dream catchers, to time machines and safety hands I have made sure my eBook has plenty of activities to keep creative hands, hearts and minds busy. I always love feedback, so if you buy the Nurture eBook, get in touch. You can also share your creations by e-mailing me or tagging me on Instagram; I would love to see them.

So with celebrations still running hot, since I released the my first eBook and with several more in the pipeline, I thought I would take a some time to write 5 things that can help you in getting creative at home.

  1. Space

Having a dedicated space is paramount to being creative at home. When I was little we had a huge wooden  extendable table that is where all the magic took place from play dough rolling, drawing, puzzles and homework, it was definitely the hearth of the home. It also featured nightly dinners and seasonal family meetings. I know of other people who have a fold out table for craft in their laundry, and others who use the outside patio. Some people like to use a play or games room. Knowing where creativity happens helps reign the potential chaos in. For people or parents who don’t see themselves as creative, they often get anxious about the mess and this can be a real barrier to creating. Choosing a location helps children to know the boundaries; it establishes a routine and prevents the dreaded paint being dragged into carpeted areas. It goes without saying that tiled or hard floors are the best kind of spaces as they are easy to keep clean and it is easy to mop up any spillages. If you only have carpets try and Invest in a good solid tarp or drop sheet. Or perhaps you can plan art dates at a friends or relatives house or at the park.

  1. Materials

Next on the list are the materials. Just like space, organisation is key. I love a good art-box or crate that can be tucked away in a cupboard and brought out as needed. Pencils and paper can still make an everyday appearance, but paints, glue’s, crayons etc can all be tucked into a box, along with aprons or art clothes. I also like to have an extra box that stores found or recycled materials. You will notice in our eBook that toilet rolls, cardboard boxes and ribbon come in handy. Simply add these materials as you find them and you will soon have a stock waiting when your ready to get creative. If you already have a well established but messy stock of art materials, you can read my tips here on how to organise them.

  1. Mood

One of the main pay-offs to getting organised with space and materials is that you can get creative when you’re in the mood. While it seems attractive to have an all-round access to creative materials, a child spilling paint just as the dog is barking for its walk and dinner is over cooking on the stove is a less than desirable scenario. Paper and pencils will tie the family over spontaneous creativity and you can save the messy and the diverse so those crafternoon’s.  If you find your never quite getting to do art and craft despite scrolling all the blogs and Instagram pages, try scheduling it in to a regular time-slot. Some families find joining forces easier, so grab a buddy and alternate having art time at each others houses. Art and play isn’t all for the kids, so get involved; have a go yourself. There are no rules!

  1. Activity Guides

If you are in the mood but stuck at what to do, having some guidance can be so useful. I like to think of an ebook or art guide like  a cooking recipe. Sometimes you follow them word, for word, ingredient for ingredient and other times you flick through, find inspiration through the photos and make your own magical concoction. Whether you want to make something, invite exploration and learning or just have a sensory experience there are hundreds of art guides. Ebook’s and paper books in the world. Try Google, the library or Instagram. Some of my favorites places to explore are The Imagination Tree, Meri Cherry and Raising Kinley and of course if your looking for ideas you can buy my eBook here.

  1. Clean-up

It’s odd that when we get all grown up the idea of un-contained mess gets our nerves twitching. Once where we would have participated with reckless abandon, we now cringe and wonder whether the paint will stain the white wall or how we will unpick the play-dough from the tile grout. I guess it is because it is us doing the cleaning now. To make creating at home so much more attractive, you need to get your cleaning game up to scratch. No one has time for hours of clean-up post art  activity. Firstly choose your space wisely. Secondly a warm bucket of soapy water on hand will be your friend as will a container for sweeping all the cuttings and bits and pieces off the table. Lastly make cleaning up a part of your routine so your children come to expect that they will be helping. Many hands make less work! You can find some ideas for making cleaning up fun using games through the Inner Child Fun blog.

So there you go, 5 ways to get prepared for home creativity. It really is worth it. Creative expression will bring so much joy and learning to your home.

Ebook  and getting creative at home



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The Beauty of Waste: Recycling Art

“And that is the scary bit, bins -especially recycle bins convince us we don’t need to be resourceful…So how can we reuse? Because let’s be realistic those tin cans, spaghetti boxes and milk cartons aren’t going to be going anywhere soon”

This has to be one of my favourite topics. For a long time I could never reconcile my two passions for art and the environment. But once i started working with children, i realised how important it was not to pass down the habit of using toxic and wasteful materials, many of which are plastic based. These days I never look at the recycle bin the same way (and I have to get in first before my puppy!). It is not secret that our consumer habits and waste is getting pretty out of hand. My mumma tells me memories from when she was younger and remembered her parents and grandparents being extremely resourceful. Post-War England had no option but to be. Now? There is a bin for that. And that is the scary bit, bins especially recycle bins convince us we don’t need to be resourceful. The truth is we need to be resourceful now more than ever. Precisely because there is so much waste and so many products on the planet. It is best to be an advocate for reduce and reuse before recycle. So how can we reuse? Because let’s be realistic those tin cans, spaghetti boxes and milk cartons aren’t going to be going anywhere soon. This week on Instagram I posted some fun art and craft ideas straight from your household recycling. (it won’t be my last recycling art inspired stint of posts, so head over and follow me if you’re interested in a dose of inspiration). To recap i posted ideas for toilet roll animals, robots, letterboxes and a time machine- check them out here.

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How Scribbling Increases Imagination

The best thing about scribbling is that it not only boosts the imagination but it can also be a way to connect. I use these scribble activities to break the ice, build rapport, have a giggle, get my brains and hands warmed up and connect with others

So If you are a parent, teacher or you happen to be in possession of the family archives you are sure to be in ownership of a hefty amount of scribble artworks. We all know children scribble a lot. They get themselves through reams of paper and sometimes choose to delight you with some on on-the-wall versions. Scribbling is part of kinaesthetic development, meaning that it is a means of developing body awareness and awareness of movement. Kinaesthetic feedback is required to draw, write and engage in motor activities and tasks. Baghban, M (2007) also points out that scribbling development underpins a child’s ability to story tell. Drawing directly creates symbolic cues used for storytelling.  So next time you get handed yet another page of scribble, remember that the chaotic (and lovable) mess of lines is the building block of drawing and writing.

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Mandala: Natural Art Therapy

The Mandala creates a clear visual boundary which can be grounding and soothing for a restless mind.

So I took a break and have come back a little more process orientated, a little more humbled by materials and a little more motivated to match my environmental consciousness with my art business. I have spent this week posting about Mandala’s on my instagram and thought they were worth a little more limelight. Before I get started on the many ways to create Mandala’s minus the plastic fantastic art materials, I thought I would give a brief description of where Mandala’s come from. The traditional mandala originates from Tibetan Buddhism and is a sand ritual that symbolises the interconnections of the universe; it also acts as a reminder of impermanence as the mandala’s are swept up at the end of the ceremony and ritual. Within each intricate design are different lessons, symbols and meanings. The complexity of the design can be outstanding.  There is a strong connection between Mandala’s and healing. Read more on the process of Tibetan Buddhist Mandala in this BBC article. You can also see Tibetan monks on youtube creating Mandala’s. They are pretty special.

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Angry Volcano

Volcano’s are the perfect metaphor for anger, they bubble, spit and are scorching hot. Really the sky is the limit with this art activity but here is the basic method and some variations to get you bubbling (!)

It’s been a little while since I added an activity to the blog. But an angry volcano is a long time art activity favorite which I am very excited to share. An angry volcano can be crafted many different ways and can be adapted to make a big multi-stage art project or you can whip up the basic materials for a bit of instant fun. I have used this activity countless times in my Art Therapy practice, because it’s interactive and a great conversation starter about anger.

Angry Volcano

Really the sky is the limit with this art activity but here is the basic method and some variations to get you bubbling (!). Younger children may need some extra help, but it’s  suitable for any age. Continue reading Angry Volcano

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The New Year and a Memory Jar

This time of year I must admit is a bit of a mixed bag for me and probably, in reality, it is the same for most people. It is a time filled with hope, anticipation and gritty determination.

Hello 2018! It is nice to meet you.

This time of year I must admit is a bit of a mixed bag for me and probably, in reality, it is the same for most people. It is a time filled with hope, anticipation and gritty determination. And depending on the state of your previous year the new one can be met with anything from welcome to relief to trepidation. Last year was a personally tough one for me so I was happy to see the New Year in and say goodbye to 2017. I am a dreamer and love that in January the whole year stretches ahead with stoic potential. While some are relieved the festivities are over by mid-month, that the loneliness or stress of an empty or chaotic Christmas is tucked neatly behind them, I am always fortunate enough to be a little sad. I travel to my hometown for Christmas each year and I always find it hard to swallow the inevitable ‘goodbye till next time’ when I leave. 10 years on and I find the town and the coastline still has my heart as do my dear family members that still live there. The aqua waters, white sand, lazy sleep ins and family board games have been replaced with the urban sprawl and oven like temperatures of Perth. So as I settle back in to city life, I Continue reading The New Year and a Memory Jar

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Ultimate Play Dough

Play dough is a multi-stage process which means it is a great holiday activity for children who are learning how to follow methods and sequences. Involve your child in the whole process

If your a regular reader of this blog you will find that I love nothing more than to discuss the serious and at times messy topics of art therapy and mental health.
But I have decided to start a regular addition to my posts in the form of a creative activity. I’ll annotate activities, recipes and ideas with emotion related titbits and variations. I am hoping these activities offer something practical for parents, caregivers and anyone who spends a lot of time with children. Creative activities for children help them develop fine motor skills, sequencing and problem solving abilities and encourage development in imagination, sensory processing and confidence. The playful, fun and creative aspects of childhood are often the most essential to development. So without further rambling, my first activity to share is a classic- Play dough!

Play dough

While I had grand plans to test a whole range of play-dough recipes and then tweak them until I had the ultimate recipe, I was in fact saved by The Imagination Tree. Anna’s  award winning blog is all round amazing and I definitely recommend it as a resource. I love this recipe in particular because it is no-cook, soft and lasts a long time (like months and months). It is the only one I use. I usually keep play dough in ziplock bags to keep it fresh, but you could use an airtight container. I have used the recipe without glycerine and it is still is the best recipe!

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