Kate's Club Art Day: Empowering Teens Who Have Faced Loss

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Last Sunday Paint Love had the incredible privilege of partnering with Kate's Club, an Atlanta based organization founded by Kate Atwood that empowers children and teens facing life after the death of a parent or sibling.  

Two Paint Love artists, Kim McGill Stuart and Penny Treese, both wax encaustic artists, led the club's teen students in purposeful art projects supporting the mission of Kate's Club and empowering the teens who have faced loss and grief.  What resulted was an amazing afternoon spent sharing and creating. We witnessed the touching genuineness of Kate's Club students, the love of their staff, and the support of their wonderful volunteers!  It was an honor to be a part of the work they are doing and we are so proud of Kim and Penny for creating an incredible day with such thoughtful and beautiful projects.  The staff of Kate's Club loved the art projects so much many staff members joined us downstairs to participate and create artwork of their own!!  We are beyond excited that we get to go back at the end of this month to teach another group of teens!  

A big THANK YOU to our artists and Kate's Club for creating a place where we can PAINT LOVE in the lives of youth!!

Below are some pictures and descriptions of the projects Kim and Penny so carefully planned and so lovingly demonstrated!!

Before starting our projects for the afternoon, we had a quick pre-event group meeting.  There were several other great organizations volunteering that day at Kate's Club including Ron Anglin, a comic and educational juggler, Camp Twin Lakes, and the Junior League of Atlanta.

Project One:  Burnt Paper and Melted Wax on Canvas

Each student was able to participate in two projects.  The first project was led by Penny Treese.  She wanted this project to represent "Burning Away Sad Thoughts and Creating New Ones."

Penny gave each student a large sheet of paper.  They used the sheet to write or illustrate their feelings, thoughts, and emotions.  They were given time to move around the room and find a comfortable place to write everything down from happy thoughts to feelings of loneliness or sadness to drawings of meaningful objects.

Once the students filled up their sheet of paper, they ripped the sheet into as many pieces as they liked and placed the pieces in a bucket.

We took the students outside and set their torn pieces of paper on fire.

Penny asked the students to watch their thoughts go up in smoke and image their fears going into the heavens, into the universe, where they can’t hurt anyone.

She encouraged the artists to watch the ripped pieces and fragments of the words burn.  Penny asked the students to notice how their hearts felt as they watch the flame and smoke rise.  We helped the students cover their bucket to extinguish the flames before the paper burnt completely to ash.  (We also brought some water to make sure the fire was completely out.)

We love that Kate's Club staff and volunteers joined in on the projects as well!

After all the students were finished with their buckets outside, we took them inside to create their artwork.

The students took the burt pieces of paper and ashes and covered their canvas with them.  They added paint, flower petals, tissue paper, and/or other items to collage with and create a piece of art that captured their feelings.  There was no right or wrong.

Finally, the students dripped melted wax over the top of their piece to protect and preserve the paper and collage items.

The pieces turned out AMAZING!  It was so much fun to watch the students dive into this project, carefully choose collage items, spread out their pieces of paper, and add color.  They loved the process and we loved watching them create something they were proud of and a piece that was very meaningful for them. 

The students started to get a lot of interesting ideas for the melted wax…one being a deceptively waxy glazed donut. : )  We loved that they could have fun, create, and be themselves during our workshop.  And we promise, no one ate the "glazed" donut. 

Project Two:  Emotion Color Study by Melting Crayons

The second project was led by Kim McGill Stuart.  In preparation for her project, Kim researched the relationship of emotions and color.  (We SERIOUSLY cannot be more PROUD of the work and time these artists put in to making this event so meaningful!)

Kim created worksheets to get the students to start thinking about how certain colors can evoke emotions.

The students used hot glue, heat guns, crayons, and other collage items to create works of art.

Kim demonstrated several different techniques the students could use from heating their canvas first, then rubbing the crayons on to hot gluing crayons on the canvas and allowing the heat gun to melt the crayons.

After the demonstration was the over, the students hurried to start their projects.  The ideas and works of art they created were incredibly unique.  Both Penny and Kim, commented on the fact that, though they were the instructors, they learned so much from watching the students use and create artworks with the materials.  The students let go of their fears and enjoyed the process.

It was fascinating to watch the process of the students.  Some of them had a clear vision while other students allowed the heat to help mold and dictate what their final product would be.  Once again, there was no right or wrong with these projects!  And like the first project, these pieces turned out beautiful!!  Pictured below are a few of the amazing finished canvases.

Discussion

The discussion we had at the end of the session was by far one of our favorite parts of the project, and it wasn't even planned!  We had some time after both projects were complete, so we opened up the floor for discussion.  We allowed the students to describe their work and talk about what was going through their minds during the creative process.  They were so open and honest about their feelings and their artwork.  It was an incredible moment for our team!

We loved when Penny and Kim had the opportunity to speak into the projects as well.  They pointed out some of the unique features of each of the students' work.  It was an incredible way to wrap-up a day full of creativity and emotion.

We loved hearing the student's perspectives on the projects and having more time to get to know each of them.

It was a wonderful day for Paint Love and we can't wait to do this again!!