Personal Side Project: Part 10

Last time I painted, I noticed that trying to multitask left me with very sub-par art work. This time I sat down with my tea made, my head phones on and all my supplies set out. I was not getting distracted. I enjoyed creating rocks and I wanted to work at it a little more, so I thought I’d create a waterfall.


I like the flowers at the bottom of the painting and the splashing at the bottom of the waterfall turned out surprisingly well considering I just dabbed on some white paint and hoped i’d turn out. I don’t like the flowers between the rocks though and I think the sky could have used on or two small clouds. Also the grass is too disjoined.

At this point I figured I really should put at least a little effort into creating nice clouds so I watched a handful of youtube tutorials and sat down to give it a try.


The thing I like least about this photo is the clouds. I really don’t know how to do the weird magical whatever that painters do to make clouds look all …cloudlike. That being said. I do like the main mountain and the cabin turned out better that I thought it would. I like that the tree closest to the viewer is different from the ones in the background. It makes the tree pop a little more. I like the birds flying off in the distance too. The little details make the difference. Still wouldn’t write home with this one, but my mom got another picture message!


Personal Side Project: Part 8

At this point I was starting to feel a bit more confident in my skill so I decided to just paint what I wanted to paint. I started with a the background. Justing painting as I liked. Then I thought of the tree I painted a while back and thought I’d try something similar. Then I decided to add branches of flowers. Since I had been trying to paint animals I tried to paint the bird I made way back when I watched my first painting tutorial.


And boy did it ever work out! The leaves have a lot more depth than previous attempt. I like the branches of flowers but there still seem to be something off about them that I just can’t put my finger on. The bird, though by no means perfect, certainly turned out better than my wanna be werewolf. Still not worth writing home about, but I could send a picture text message. It was worth that at least.

Personal Side Project: Part 7

At this point I have tried to paint a lot of plants and such, but I haven’t given wild life a try. I was still a little wary of going back to YouTube videos so I hunted around my room until I found a Chinese wall hanging my brother got me when he was traveling a few years ago. The wall handing had a bunch of butterflies sitting on a flower laden tree. I wasn’t feeling up to trying to create the flowers, but was happy to give the butterfly a go.


The tree branch itself was alright, but the leaves didn’t have enough depth and realistically the leaves should have been a lot bigger and not look so distant. The butterfly shape was alright but I thought the transition from red to orange to yellow definitely could have been smoother.

So at this point I thought I would give youtube a try again. I really did like the way Marc Charles explained paintings. Not to mention he has an accent which is always more fun to listen to.

Anyways I found an interesting tutorial on silhouette so I thought I’d give it a go. The video was my guide and the painting was my attempt.


You might have guessed that at some point I more or less ignored poor old Mr. Charles and started doing my own thing. The silhouette to the left near the end of the paint? yeah that’s a person turning into a werewolf. The white swirls around the girl? those were meant to be wind at first but then I add eyes and made them little flying spirits because why not.

Generally though it turned out alright. Clearly my silhouettes need some works and I should probably invest in the same brushes Marc uses in his tutorial but it did end up turning out alright so at this point I’ll save my money and upgrade when I have a little more skill under my belt.

Personal Side Project: Part 6

Right, so after a while watching videos of people who clearly use wands disguised as paint brushes try to explain basic motor operation to you gets more than a little frustrating. Don’t get me wrong I love youtube but it is frustrating to watch some patronizing old man talk about ‘just simply’ do bla bla bla when what ever he just did was really NOT simple. Anyways, I thought I would take try painting picture of the stuff from around my house. And lucky for me there are two huge paintings my best friends/ roommate and I brought together. The are of the same image, only one is red and one is blue (we figured we’d each take one when we moved away from one another). I thought I would combine the two and make a blue background with red leaves.


I’d say this was my best picture yet. The tree is adequately branchy (yep still using the word. Let no man confuse me for a benevolent dictator. I rule this blog for my own benefit). I like the mix of red, orange and yellow in the branches and the scattered blue and white background looks super cool in person. Like scattered clouds. When I was painting, I stopped looking at the artwork in my apartment after a while so the image is only vaguely similar. This painting was at least worth a facebook message back to mom. Still not worth a proper letter, but interesting none the less.

Personal Side Project: Part 5

Right so at this point I’ve tried to recreate a few different parts of nature. Living on an island though, it’s a bit hard to ignore the ocean and I hadn’t tried paint the ocean. This was my first go.


What the hell is that? you are probably asking. Great question! that is what having no idea what a wave should even look like, looks like. Obviously I had no idea how to paint the ocean. Good thing I do know how to use Youtube! And so attempt 2 was born and this time I picked happier, lighter colours (probably a subconscious effort to make myself feel better).


The main point I took away from this was that the wild nature of waves is simply not meant to be captured on canvas. Which is a blatantly lie and we all know it. Many great artist have capture the sea with such sophistication as to leave the viewer breathless. My attempt though, was cringe worthy. But it was certainly better than my first effort and for a beginner  it wasn’t all bad. The tree was certainly better than some of my other attempts. Clouds were still impossible but the background trees turned out ok. All around I was please about this one. Still nothing to write home over but I was certainly getting better.

Personal Side Project: Part 4

At this point, I had a bit more experience with the art of tree making and sky blending so I thought I’d try creating a bit of depth by making a background with trees in the distance. The result was thus:


Again, I found my trees were not adequately branchy (yes I am well aware of the fact that ‘branchy’ isn’t a word, but this is my blog and I shall rule it as I please!). The trees in to the right turned out alright. I thought the blue in the sky was a little obnoxiously light. Real life doesn’t work like that. If it was dark enough out that part of the sky was that black, no part of the sky would be that blue. Still, clearly better than other attempts.

The next grand plan was to create a winter wonderland! Why not right?! Also, I briefly saw a you tube on the matter. I quickly skimmed through it and gave the painting a go.


I didn’t have the suggested brushes at the time so I had to make do with what I had. I would like to go back and try this one again. First, I want to watch the whole video in it’s entirety and second I want to use the proper brushes. I think it will make a big difference. Still, compared to my very first picture, this turned out really well. My tree on the left hand side is certainly  more branchy then the tree in my last image. The sky was alright. I found it harder to blend white to blue to black then from white to yellow to red.

Personal Side Project: Part 3

So armed with some Walmart paint brushes, some dollar store paint, and two or three Youtube videos I ventured back into a world of creation. My first thought was to make something a bit brighter. I also wanted to give clouds a go again. The painting below was the end result.


As you can see I left a lot of room for cloud creation. And it was a lot harder than I thought. I didn’t produce a single cloud I was happy with. The mountains were ok, but I belatedly realised that the lightest colour should have been the farthest away. The dotted flowers in the left hand look really off. I like who the sun turned out though.

Next I wanted to go back to the the tree that I had started the time before. I wanted to do a dark image this time. I thought I’d give flower making another go while I was at it.


I like the black and blue back ground but the stars weren’t right. I wasn’t sure what was so off about them but it made the sky look flat and without dept. It was as if there was a veil of yellow dots behind the tree rather than a blanket of stars stretching out in space. The tree was ok, but I think it needed to be a bit more… branchy. The flowers are alright but again they lack dept. I’m not really sure how to fix that though and Youtube was surprisingly lacking in helpful advice on the matter. Mostly I would watch a tutorial and the narrator would do some magic with their paint  brushes that I am pretty sure was magic and mere mortals such as I could never hope to emulate.

Personal Side Project: Part 2

Right so clearly I had no idea how to work a paint brush if my first piece was anything to go by, but I enjoyed the process and I created an image so I figured I could work with it. Where does one go when they want to learn a new skill? Youtube, obviously. this IS the 21st century. And what to my wondering eyes should appear? well many great videos, the best which is here!

So I watched the video, took notes and gave it a try. The bottom left hand side was my attempt at copying the directions. The left hand picture was my messing around with leftover paint. The bottom image in the right hand side of the right picture is actually a tree, but you’re seeing it upside down. I don’t really remember why I painted it like that. I probably didn’t have a reason now that I think about it…


Euro Financial Problems in the Classroom

As an elementary school teacher, I really don’t see how I could ever tie the European deficit into an elementary classroom.  That being said, as a human being who is  mildly aware of world affairs, I kinda want to find a way. The video below explains the Euro debt crises in a fairly easy to understand way.

I really don’t know how one would include this in the classroom. The topic itself isn’t really relevant to anything in the pre-grade 10 curriculum. As well, the idea of debt crisis in foreign countries would likely be a bit beyond the average elementary school kiddie. That being said, sometimes I get the feeling that I underestimate the abilities and maturity of children. Perhaps a child could grasp some of the significance that is discussed in this video.

I don’t know if it would really be appropriate (being as it is still a rather controversial issue), but perhaps in the older grade (grade 6 and 7) students could take on the role of a country in the EU, research that countries values and debate the issue as a mock/mini- Euro conference. The project could touch on research, debate and presentation PLO’s in Social Studies; as well as, writing and oral language PLO’s in English as students prepare and present presentations.

Anywho, what the video if it’s caught your interests and leave a comment with other class ideas if something comes to mind.

Best wishes,

Emma Denhoff

How to Make Canadian History Fun

Bellow, I have posted a Ted talk which address some of the interesting part of Canada’s history. The speaker, Chris Turner, mainly focus on the gold rush and some of the more interesting figures in Canada’s history. He also talk as about how Americans have greatly affected Canadian history. Americans created an image in their own culture of Canada being a “steadfast, law abiding mounty”. Canada has come to adopt this same view and its own citizens often undermine the value of the rich Canadian stories that have become forgotten over time. At the end of the video, Turner urges views to research and write a story about some of the interesting figures in Canadian history.

Since a good portion of elementary level Social studies looks at Canadian history, why don’t educators have their students respond to this call to action. Personally, I would like to give it a go in my own classroom at some point.

I’ve always loved history, I have no problem finding the interesting stories in Canadian history. I’ve found all sorts of short stories that both made me proud and ashamed of my country’s heritage. I think both these stories should be embraced. No one has a perfect history. Everyone has things they are ashamed of. As a country we should both be aware of the mistakes we have made so that it does not repeat and we should acknowledge the events in our history which showcased our strongest qualities.