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Paper Flowers with Messages of Affirmation with Kim Stuart and See Beautiful

Any chance to hang out with Lydia and the See Beautiful group is a true joy! On February 24th, Paint Love artist Kim Stuart taught the group how to make large paper flowers. We encouraged the girls (and guys) to write affirmations on the petals to be a reminder of how unique and wonderful they are. Kim Stuart was the perfect artist for this event. She speaks with such honesty and openness. The kids enjoyed it so much.

I love this recap of the event from Lydia:

// Smart is the new, fun cool. // ~ 8-yr-old wisdom
He wasn't supposed to be in our See Beautiful Club. We hadn't planned for him. We hadn't planned for any of the kids who joined us. When our See Beautiful Club members were pulled to prep for an upcoming performance 60 seconds before our club meeting began, there was a moment of desperately trying to figure out how to see beautiful in the moment. Paint Love was with us, and they brought the incredibly talented artist, Kim Stuart, to lead our girls in an experience of affirmation and celebration of self. Standing in an empty room, we brainstormed next steps. There was a group of students still in the Decatur Housing Authority afterschool program. They were the children who's behavior precluded them from being in the upcoming performance (that our girls were yanked to practice in). They were the kiddos who often miss out on the most exciting things. They're the students who are told the least often how special, loved, valuable, worthy, kind and beautiful they are. They were the perfect group of kids who deserved this experience. Our See Beautiful Club shifted and we sat with these 25 amazing students and asked them to talk about what parts of themselves they deemed beautiful, or loved. It was crickets. They couldn't name anything and that silence was not lost on me. We started by sharing examples, "I statements" to help them craft their own voice and reflect on themselves. Affirmations slowly started to trickle in, but what happened next was the best. The activity Kim planned was to make flowers of affirmations and we were faced with a lot of children who didn't immediately think "flower-crafting" was cool. But then it happened. In the midst of markers and poster board everywhere, every single child sat with the invitation and the affirmations poured from their minds to their fingers to their faces. The sheer joy of celebrating and honoring themselves was palpable. Every single child beamed with happiness as their flower came together and they had space to see beautiful in themselves. It wasn't how we planned it. It wasn't what we were expecting. It was infinitely more beautiful.
While there were incredible sentiments shared by these precious children, this one statement, by a child who initially said he didn't have any good thoughts about himself showed such grace and belief in his abilities. Smart really is the fun, new cool. He's brilliant.

(Lydia Criss Mays - See Beautiful)

Look at those super stars!! We had several incredible volunteers at this event. They did an amazing job helping things run smoothly! 

Seeing the confidence and joy in these young students is so inspirational. Their creativity abounds!

On Being Authentic: Masks with Kim Stuart and Artfully Made

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Happy New Year! Julie and I are excited to be back at it in 2016. What a beautiful year this is shaping up to be! If you haven’t heard, we made our year end fundraising goal! We have an official Thank You post in the works with all the details, so stay tuned! We are so, so, so thankful! We're so excited to see what incredible projects we have this year with the talented youth of Atlanta!

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I wanted to kick things off this year with a project about authenticity. Kim Stuart led this 2 part project last year with Amy Myers’ Artfully Made group at Powder Springs Elementary. We talked about what it means to be authentic and the masks we sometimes wear. One thing we talked about was the difference between wearing a mask and modeling a specific behavior. One girl gave the example that being studious and calm while working on school work isn’t the same as wearing a mask - wearing a mask is acting like someone you're not. I thought it was awesome that, even at a young age, these ladies recognize that there are so many different sides to ourselves. 

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To start the project, Kim talked about her mask that she made. We all shared examples of times when we weren’t being our most authentic selves. We talked about the reasons why we felt like we needed to wear masks. After our talk, the girls cut out and painted the base layer of their masks. We used cardboard so we could make them BIG!

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We painted and added eyes, ears, mouths, and noses. Then we glued everything together. It was such a fun project, both light hearted and thoughtful at the same time, our favorite kind. We spent two project days working on these. I like that we were able to spend extra time discussing and working on something the girls were really proud of! It has been wonderful to work with this group throughout the year. We are so thankful to know them and looking forward to more projects with them this year! 

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What we decided is that authenticity looks different to everyone because everyone is different.

The best thing we can do is to discover our authentic selves and then share it with the world in a kind and caring way. I hope this is what 2016 holds for us: let us recognize the awesomeness within and be brave enough to share it!

Wishing you an authentic and brave 2016!

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!!