Dear You Art Project

Mail Art + Pen Friends = Dear You Art Project

carbon paper

The artists from Kontula!

2017, Dear You Art Workshops, Finland, China, 13 year oldsArlene TuckerComment

It was a pretty magical day with the artists at Helsingin yhteislyseo! We first started the session by warming up our minds and bodies.  This is something I like to do before I start making art and I was happy that everybody was willing to try and participate.  We all stood up and took turns doing different movements to activate ourselves.  Shake it out to let it out!

Everybody was very excited to hear that we have friends in China that we will be exchanging art with!  As when making new friends, we slowly start by sharing bits and pieces about ourselves.  We saw this as a chance to also learn something new about ourselves.  First we got into small groups to do some investigation.  Our partners would be our mirrors and tell us what they see about us- factual things like how the light flickers against our hair, the color of our eyes, details about our hands, etc.  Sometimes taking a close look at something else can also help with how we approach looking at ourselves.

When we started experimenting with the carbon transfer technique it seemed slow going at first because this method does take time to prepare, but once the marks started to come through, everybody got more motivated to make their self-portrait.  Everybody had such a different approach and idea to making their self-portrait!

The class wrote a letter for Tian Tian and her artists:


We hope you like our artwork!

The 13 year old artists at Helsingin yhteislyseo in Helsinki, Finland are making and sharing art with the 13 year old artists from Shenzhen Middle School in Shenzhen, China.

In autumn 2017 Dear You project in Kontula is supported by the Museum of Impossible Forms.

Expressing ourselves with carbon transfers

2017, 1st Grade, 6 years old, China, FinlandArlene TuckerComment

Teacher Tian Tian and her young artists in China have been busy making art!  They were experimenting with the carbon transfer technique and then used marker to add color to their self-portraits.

Their friends in Finland cannot wait to meet them!

The 6 year old artists at Shenzhen Primary School in Shenzhen, China are making and sharing with the Explorers, 5-6 year olds, from International School of Helsinki in Helsinki, Finland.

ISH Explorers create self-portraits!

2017, 5 years old, 6 years old, China, Dear You Art Workshops, FinlandArlene TuckerComment

It was so nice to see the two groups of Explorers have Morning Meeting in their own classrooms. Both Mrs. Nikurautio and Mr. Prebble have their own lovely way of being with their students. We then got all together to talk about the first Dear You project- Unique You!  Everybody was so excited to hear that we have new friends in China who will be making and sharing art with us. We talked about when we first meet somebody new, what would we like to share with them?  What would we like to know about our friends?  This guided us in making our self-portrait.

We first used pencil to make the carbon transfer and then added charcoal.  Once the mark making started to come through, their curiosity grew bigger and bigger.  The artists could see how the charcoal was also adding elements of their fingerprints, which is a part of who they are!

Some reflections from the artists are:

Enzo said, "me playing with my dog. My dog is barking at his dog friend. I held my dog so he didn't run away."

Devansh said, "I'm in a boat going to India. There's a submarine and fish following us.

Deethya said, "She's at the hairdresser because she needs short hair. She's with her mum and there's a rainbow behind you since it's a beautiful day."

Aishiki said, "There are hearts in the sky. Because I like them. I feel like I am hearts in the sky."

One little artist said, "My picture makes me happy."  

They all make me happy!!

Before closing the package we all sat down to write a letter for our friends.  We have lots of questions!

Do you like frogs?
Do you like fish?
What do you do in China?
What are your names?
What language do you speak?
Where do you go in China?

We can't wait to see your artworks!

With love,
The Explorers, Arlene, Mrs. Nikurautio and Mr. Prebble

The Explorers, 5-6 year olds, from International School of Helsinki in Helsinki, Finland are making and sharing with the artists aged 6 years old at Shenzhen Primary School in Shenzhen, China.

Monkeys make magic

2017, 5 years old, 6 years old, Australia, FinlandArlene TuckerComment

The Monkeys are very excited to have new friends from Australia!  We looked on the map to see where Australia is in relation to Finland. It's a looong ways away.  They already had a sense of that because one of their teachers is from Australia.  They are looking forward to making more friends from there!

We started off by talking about what it means to make a self-portrait.  We looked at one other and tried to be eachother's mirrors. As we were investigating ourselves, we were thinking about what part of us would we like to share and tell our new friends.

This was the first time using carbon transfers and they all did a great job! As they were understanding how the technique works, they were coming up with their own ways of drawing. At that time, the Monkeys were learning about space so a lot of the artists incorporated the moon and stars into their self-portrait.

Everybody got a chance to talk about their self-portrait.  Rafael said, "I have shabby hair and eyes."  Miro said, "I am playing a game on my tablet."  Adripto included a pictures of himself and his sister.  Alia said, "It's me and my little brother. We are looking at the shooting stars and there is the flag of Somalia."  Do these sound familiar to you?

We are very curious about you all and where you live!  The Monkeys would like to know, what do you see in Australia?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

My best,
Arlene & The Monkeys

The Monkeys from Your School in Espoo, Finland are making and sharing art with K1HT class from Bulli Public School in Bulli, Australia. All artists are 5-6 years old.

The Tigers are great storytellers!

2017, 4 years old, 5 years old, Dear You Art Workshops, Finland, USAArlene TuckerComment

The Tigers are super welcoming with their big smiles and good creative energy!  Today was extra special as I got to tell them that we have new friends from Moonstone Preschool in Philadelphia. Immediately the questions started buzzing and they tried to make connections.  They started sharing stories of who they know in the USA and if they have ever visited the country.

This was the first time the Tigers had ever made carbon transfers.  I am so proud that they all took their time to cover their paper with graphite.  The magic started when they began to draw.  That's when they got extra excited and thought it was magic at first!  Some got frustrated when the marks didn't go through, but they persevered and got it to work for them!

When we were finished we all sat down together to look at each other's artwork.  The pictures are so descriptive of who the artists of, where they live, and what they like.  Erik said, "I am on a bus. I am riding the bus to my home. This is big me and little me."  Mikelus said, "I am walking outside and stop in the forest for the postman."  Vanessa decided to make a family portrait.  Leevi said that this picture is of a happy person.  I love the positive image Leevi has about himself!  Reno said, "a tiny baby superman is playing basketball with me."  Who wouldn't want to play with you?!

Can you find the portrait of the carpetman?
Which pictures are of a happy person?
Which picture has somebody walking through an apple orchard?

We are so happy to make a collective book with our Moonstone friends!

With love,
Arlene & The Tigers

The Tigers from Your School Espoo, Finland are making and sharing with the Full Moons from Moonstone Preschool in Philadelphia, USA. Both groups are 4-5 years old.

I am unique!

2017, 8 years olds, 9 years old, Dear You Art Workshops, Dear You Workshop Leader, China, United KingdomArlene TuckerComment
Heather Connelly, local artist to Nottingham and Dear You workshop leader, introduces to Class 4 where there new friends abroad live. In China!

Heather Connelly, local artist to Nottingham and Dear You workshop leader, introduces to Class 4 where there new friends abroad live. In China!

Class 4 had a fantastic art workshop thinking all about the topic of what makes them unique and how we are all different. After having completed some homework beforehand about their families, appearance, DNA, likes and dislikes, travel and heritage, the children were ready to explore their ideas in art. Heather showed us some fantastic images of how celebrated artists have created pieces focused on the differences in the human body and the idea of a map to represent uniqueness. The children then discussed how they were all different and how this diversity can be represented in artwork. The children loved comparing their fingerprints, as well as talking about their different heritages and how this influences their daily lives. 

After discussing the ways in which uniqueness and the idea of 'self' could be represented in art, the children then started practising their own ideas. Many children created a pencil drawing of the lines of their hands and their fingerprint. The patterns created on paper were brilliant! One of the children commented, "My fingerprint is completely different from my friend's. That means I'm unique. That's pretty amazing!" I hope it is clear that this uniqueness is expressed in the children's fantastic artwork. 

During this practice stage, many children were fascinated with how lines and simple patterns could be so effective in artwork. They soon realised that art is not a perfect picture with recognisable objects; it could instead be a representation of themselves through basic lines, swirls and strokes of their pencils. The children then used carbon paper to transfer their drawings, which created an interesting texture on the paper. Some pupils loved using the carbon ink to create more texture, which represented their own characteristics! 

Having looked at all of the pieces of artwork, I think it is apparent that Class 4 are a very talented and unique group of children! No piece of artwork is the same, and the little slips of paper tell the story of the artistic process for each child. 

We are all very excited to receive the artwork from our partner school and to complete our next piece of art! 

Many thanks, 
Alice Wilby

The artists in Class 4 (8-9 year olds) at Sneinton C of E St Stephens Primary School in Nottingham, England are making and sharing art with Grade 3 (9-10 year olds) at Taizhou Pheonix Primary School in Jiangsu, China.

From single to double self portraits

2017, 5 years old, 6 years old, AustraliaArlene Tucker1 Comment

We had fun on our first Dear You !

The kids had done the priming activities before the day, discussing identity and DNA etc with Barbara Turner, the classroom teacher. 

They had also spent some time preparing their "transfer paper" with 6B pencils so that when it came time to doing their self portraits, they were able to hit the ground running.

On the day we did two activities - the first was doing a self portrait with the eyes closed, and i did a demonstration of this on the whiteboard, which was a source of much hilarity - the resulting self portrait is pretty odd! 

Self portrait with eyes closed using hand to feel the face. Demonstration on whiteboard for K1HT class, for the Dear You Art Project with a class in Finland.

Self portrait with eyes closed using hand to feel the face. Demonstration on whiteboard for K1HT class, for the Dear You Art Project with a class in Finland.

Some of the kids were able to concentrate on this for a bit - many of them found it challenging to keep their eyes closed and focused, perhaps because of the proximity of all their friends - but at any rate it offered an alternative way of "seeing" the world through touch. 

For the second activity, I had found some double mirrors from the university - our visual arts students use them for a self-portraiture activity in first year. They are on a hinge, I think these mirrors are designed for hairdressing apprentices originally.

So I asked them to do a 'double self portrait'. There were a few tricky things about this - the mirrors were standing up at 90 degrees on the desk, and so their reflective surface was a bit low for them to see their own faces. So Barbara got them to take away their chairs and kneel down on the floor so they could actually see their own faces. 

The other tricky bit was just how to do a double self portrait. I didn't give them a demonstration - partly because I wanted to see what they would come up with - but in retrospect it might have been good to do so. There are some basic things about drawing your own face in a mirror which would have been worth pointing out - like observing specific things about the visual characteristics of one's own face, rather than just taking for granted that we all have two eyes, a nose and a mouth. You know, the usual "draw what you see, not what you think you see". 

So I reckon if we were to do something like this again, I'd focus more on the actual mechanics/principles of observational drawing, so we would generate more specific, less generic, faces.

However, some of the kids did do some really interesting double self portraits, strange doublings, where two faces sit side by side, or one next to the other, or one slightly at different scale but otherwise almost identical. 

We then got them to do their transfer print, using their double self portrait. This was a process involving a normal pencil - so that a harder tip could push the image through the 2 layers of paper onto the sheet that was receiving the image. 

The transfer prints came through successfully, a bit faint perhaps, but it worked. They have a nice low-fi feel to them I think.

Barbara had photocopied lines onto the back of the paper, so the students then wrote a letter to the Monkeys in Finland - they enjoyed this process - for some reason a lot of them want to write "Kind Regards" at the end of their letters - very formal!

After the class, Barbara and I (together with a couple of young artists)  experimented a bit with using crayon or pastel rather than 6B pencil as our transfer medium. This has advantages, as its much faster to cover the surface of the transfer paper with crayon, and the image transfers much more darkly to the final print. I reckon if we were to do this activity again, that's what we'd change. 

I think Barbara was going to post them to you in the day or so after the activity - so with any luck the Monkeys will receive our parcel soon!

All the best,

The K1HT class from Bulli Public School in Bulli, Australia are making and sharing art with the Monkeys from Your School in Espoo, Finland. Both groups are 5-6 year old artists.

Moonstone Full Moons + Your School Tigers = MoonTigers!

2017, 5 years old, 4 years old, Dear You Art Workshops, Finland, USAArlene Tucker2 Comments

Dear Tigers,

We hope you will enjoy our collective contributions. Enclosed are our portraits along with our handmade transfer (carbon) paper. Feel free to separate them from our portraits and reuse them in your transfer explorations. It was fun (and messy) creating transfer paper.

While we worked on our portraits we thought about shadows and became shadow catchers, trying to capture illusive shadows casted by flashlight and lamp. Shadows have no eyes and they do not speak. Sometimes they grow, other times they bend under doorways and hide in dark corners. Our transfer paper making inspired us to take two large collaborative pieces of art and make a huge transfer portrait/piece, representing our unique and collective selves. Like unique individuals, groups are often unique assemblages. We are excited to art pal with you. We are calling our unique collective: MoonTigers.

Paint, pencil, charcoal, graphite and pastel are the featured materials in this piece along with our imagination (an essential). We applied our paint with squirt bottles and casted shadows with brayers, tiny little rollers. They really helped us spread the darkness. This large piece was then placed onto (above) for transferring. Here are our portrait samples (below).

We look forward to making art with you!

Moonstone Full Moons + Johnny Buckley

Moonstone Full Moons, 4-5 year olds from Moonstone Preschool in Philadelphia, PA, USA, are making and sharing art with the Tigers, 4-5 year olds from Your School in Espoo, Finland.