2015

Built for Connection: Our Event with GSU + Fostering Together

Over the past two years, Paint Love has had the privilege of bringing some of Atlanta's greatest artists to serve and inspire hundreds of incredible students. At Paint Love we believe art is therapeutic, emotionally healing, and ultimately transformational.  That is why we work to bring the best artistic environments to our community's youth, particularly to those who face or are vulnerable to face difficulty including: stress, depression, abuse, neglect, grief, poverty, and self esteem issues.

Built for Connection Volunteers helping with Check in! 

Built for Connection Volunteers helping with Check in! 

On an individual level, art can positively impact self-esteem, confidence, and even happiness.  But in a collective environment, art can be even more powerful, bringing together a community, creating opportunities for communication, and building connections.

This couldn't have been demonstrated any better than it was just a few weeks ago at Georgia State University, where we were able to host our largest Paint Love event to date. 

Our Volunteers from GSU + our Paint Love Artists. Such a big group!

Our Volunteers from GSU + our Paint Love Artists. Such a big group!

With the volunteer support of 40 Georgia State University art students and four Paint Love artists, we created an event specifically tailored to foster children and families around the theme "Built for Connection."  Partnering with Fostering Together, we were able to invite families from thirteen different agencies including four DFCS county offices. 

Paint Love artist and Licensed Master Social Worker, Hannah Kimbrough helped our staff come up with the theme "Built for Connection" for this special event.  We love this idea.  

We as humans are built to be connected. When we work together in life (or in art) we can create something far more beautiful than if we tackled the project alone. 

With our theme in place, four Paint Love artists, Mac StewartJoe DreherRoss Boone, and Sabrina Barilone, volunteered to lead projects.  Each artist taught a creative technique infused with their personal style. Our guests were able to walk through the space (graciously provided for free by GSU)  and stop in at each of the artists' tables and create works of art (with many supplies generously donated by our friends at Binders.)

Take a look:


Mac Stewart working one on one with a child

Mac Stewart working one on one with a child

Mac Stewart and his gang of GSU volunteers

Mac Stewart and his gang of GSU volunteers

Mac Stewart:

Atlanta Visual Artist

Created 3D paper sculptures. 


 

Joe Dreher:

Atlanta visual artist and Artist in Residence with The Creatives Project at the Goat Farm Arts Center

Created portraits using clear acetate paper and mixed media paper and paint and frames from Ikea.

Joe Dreher's Project at Built for Connection

Joe Dreher's Project at Built for Connection

Joe's volunteers trying out the techinique

Joe's volunteers trying out the techinique

A child practising the technique on Madison 

A child practising the technique on Madison 


Paint Love Artists Ross Boone teaching the technique to GSU volunteers.

Paint Love Artists Ross Boone teaching the technique to GSU volunteers.

Paint Love Artists Caitlin Chase and Kim Warner working at the Thank You table!

Paint Love Artists Caitlin Chase and Kim Warner working at the Thank You table!

GSU Volunteer helping a family with their word art collage!

GSU Volunteer helping a family with their word art collage!

Ross Boone:

Illustrator and Writer

Ross created positive word art pieces around the idea "I am" to represent all of the strengths and characteristics of each family member

 

 

 

 


GSU Volunteer working one on one with a child!

GSU Volunteer working one on one with a child!

GSU Volunteers helping teach Sabrina's technique. 

GSU Volunteers helping teach Sabrina's technique. 

Sabrina Barilone:

Art Teacher in Cobb County

GSU Volunteers prepping for the event.

GSU Volunteers prepping for the event.

Sabrina created face mugs that fit together when stacked using air dry clay


This event in the press:

GSU Art + Design

 


 

 

Building Confidence through Creative Writing and Illustration

Let me introduce our next guest author, Ross Boone! Ross, of Raw Spoon, is passionate about writing and illustrating books (and he's really good at it!). We brought him to Camp Horizon, an organization that empowers youth in foster care who have experienced abuse and neglect. Camp Horizon does this by building consistent relationships with the kids over many years. We're honored to be a part of their program! I'll let Ross take it from here!

Building Confidence through Creative Writing and Illustration, Camp Horizon and Ross Boone

No matter how hard you plan, with a new group of kids, I’ve found it’s always best to be ready to fly by the seat of your pants.

Paint Love asked me to share my skills and experience in writing and illustrating books with the teens from Camp Horizon. This year, they brought the teens to Camp Twin Lakes and spent the weekend learning about leadership types through fun crafts, group discussion, and games in the gym—the stuff of a good camping memories.

Building Confidence through Creative Writing and Illustration, Camp Horizon and Ross Boone

In the weeks prior, I had teamed up with Aimée from Paint Love. We spent hours meeting, planning, scheduling, making tutorials, and trying to define different types of leaders. On the day of the event, we met up with Lea from Camp Horizon.

Lea led us into a yurt with the words “Arts and Crafts” on the side. We dragged in our bags of supplies, moved tables into circles, propped up a dry erase board, set up the scanner, and realized how crazy it was to try to get these kids to make a book in an hour and a half.

We were gonna be way crunched for time.

The kids poured in—all ages, sizes, colors, and energy levels. How were we going to meet them all on common ground? Luckily, behind them, an army of volunteers poured in. Camp Horizon likes to match every student with a leader and they were there to help us.

As Aimée set up the scanner, I corralled the students and got them seated and quiet. Looking around, I realized that attention spans were going to be short. We would need to be interactive. So instead of telling them my story about a leader, I asked them for theirs.

Ross Boone teaching illustration at the Paint Love event at Camp Horizon 

Once they had a good working reference for leadership, I truncated my lesson to a few tips on drawing human figures and some simple storytelling techniques. I summed it up like this: “A story is a character that overcomes an obstacle. Now, make a story about a leader and draw a picture of them looking like a superhero!”

A couple studious girls got right to the task and made quick progress. They wrote stories about overcoming the fear of learning to swim and about Superwoman saving people from a burning building.

A group of boys on the other side of the room were laughing and teasing as much as they were writing and drawing. They wrote stories about “Hatman,” whose struggle was to find a pair of shoes to match his hat, and about the violent reign of “Kingfly.”

Several of them got stuck with feeling that they either didn’t know how to draw or didn’t know what to write. So we gave them mini-lessons and helped with brainstorming along the way.

I remember one young man, in particular. Forty-five minutes into the project, his paper was still completely blank. I tried to help him brainstorm by asking him what he was passionate about, but he replied, “I just can’t draw and I just can’t think of anything to write. I just can’t do this.”

I pressed in, asking him what he did at home or what he was hoping to do in the future. He just shrugged his shoulders and hunched over his paper even more, looking defeated.

There was a long awkward pause, as I tried to think of what on earth I could say to encourage him. Finally, he said: “I won’t need to write or draw anything when I go into the army.”

“Oh! You’re going into the military?! Cool. Tell me about that.”

He seemed to open up. He told me about what base he wanted to be stationed at and what he would be doing there. Something about that seemed to turn the tables.

Ross Boone teaching creative writing to the youth at Camp Horizon

I got pulled away to help someone else with a drawing and when I came back to him, he was writing furiously. I stopped, kept silent, and slowly backed away. He had filled up nearly half a page of tiny writing in only a few minutes.

When I went back to check on him near the end of the exercise, he showed me his story, which now filled the whole page. It was about a mouse going up a huge staircase. The mouse struggled with the big steps but eventually learned to conquer them and taught others how to do the same.

“It’s a deep metaphor. Lots of layers of symbolism and meaning,” he said.

He asked how to draw stairs, so I showed him some techniques. By the end of the project he had finished not only a complete story but also an awesome, expansive staircase winding up the other side of the paper.

The project with Camp Horizon was a blast for me. The kids walked away having completed pages for a book of their own stories and pictures that we compiled into an ebook for them. I was extremely blessed to see these kids making stories and drawings out of nothing.

Hopefully, they were able to see little bits of heroism in their own lives, too.
Thank you, Paint Love!

Thank you, Ross! We're always so impressed by how much time and energy our artists give towards Paint Love projects. We're beyond grateful! SRSLY #Blessed. This is such an amazing story of impact!

Artfully Made with Amy Myers

Artfully Made Yoga Class with Amy Myers and Paint Love

I was so lucky to sit in on a program that Paint Love artist Amy Myers is developing for her class at Powder Springs Elementary. Powder Springs is a Title I school with an arts integration program. Arts integration is a teaching approach in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. A good example of this is learning math through rhythm and music studies or learning about culture and history through the visual arts like in the American Hero’s Mural Project.

Artfully Made, a curriculum by Amy Myers is written around the theme of self worth. It's goal is to teach young girls that they are wholly lovable, loving and loved. 

The first part of the session was spent teaching the girls that what is on the outside changes nothing about what is on the inside. Amy showed the girls a sparkly ring. After the girls all agreed that it was beautiful and valuable, Amy put the ring in a beautiful clay pot. She asked the group, “Is this ring the exact same on the inside? Is it just as valuable and beautiful?” The girls answered, “Yes, of course!”

Next, Amy put the ring in a grocery bag and said, “Now that I’ve put this ring in an old worn out grocery bag, is it any different?” She had the girls go in a circle and say mean things to the ring while it was in the grocery bag. Dirty, old, cheap, yucky—all these words were used to describe the ring. Then Amy asked the girls, “Did this outside packaging and those mean words change anything about the ring inside?”

This was a pivotal moment. I saw some girls struggle with this question. Finally, the group agreed that nothing anyone said about the ring or the bag changed how valuable the ring was on the inside. One girl in particular was mulling this through. I could tell she was working hard on sorting this information out. Once Amy declared the truth about the ring—that it is beautiful and valuable no matter what anyone says about it—the little girl’s face lit up. I saw her make the connection and learn the lesson that I’m still trying to learn: nothing anyone says about you and nothing about your outside appearance takes away from the truth that you are valuable beyond measure.

Artfully Made Yoga Class with Amy Myers and Paint Love

After this discussion, we did a short yoga flow. This was a super fun yoga class compared to the ones I usually attend. Giggles abounded! I toppled over during one pose and spurred on the giggles even further. Throughout this whole time, Amy was reinforcing the affirmations and truths about our value. At the end of the flow, we layed in the resting pose, savasana. Amy repeated the affirmations and truths about us and gave us the opportunity to let these soak deep into our hearts.

When we woke up from our resting pose, a few of the girls had tears in their eyes. Amy and I both shared a look. This occasionally happens in yoga. The poses really awaken deep feelings and tears are sometimes the result. It’s surprising what yoga can bring up! The tears are a way for those feelings to get out of the body. You’re on the path to healing!

After the yoga, we had a group discussion. Amy asked the girls if they have ever been called a mean name. What was that experience like. Some of the stories the girls shared were so familiar. I think as an adult you imagine your own struggles to be so much bigger than a child’s struggles. But when you get right down to it, they share the same themes: feeling alone, like you don’t belong, like you’re not wanted, like you’re not enough. It’s the same whether you’re in fourth grade or you’re forty years old. A child’s insight is incredible. They can can teach you things in a heartbeat that would otherwise take years to learn. The truth is that you are valuable beyond measure—and nothing can change that.