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SKILLS I’VE LEARNED AT ART MANIA STUDIO

By | Art, Disability

In the last few weeks, I’ve been struggling with my inner critic,. Every time I’ve sat down here at my laptop and tried to put a post together, my inner critic has woken and started nagging at me, making me question everything I’ve tried to write. So this post is going to be a little different. Today I want to acknowledge the things I’ve learnt in the last eighteen months at Art Mania.

1. I have learnt that as a blind woman, I can paint.

I don’t need to see what’s going on upon the canvas. I don’t need to be able to see what I’m painting with my eyes. I can paint in my own unique way. By responding to music, painting the movement and sound. The emotions that the music brings up. I can also paint what my eyes, in my case my hands, observe. I learnt all of this by taking a chance on a suggestion from the woman who has been mentoring me this year, Ashlee. By trusting her and trying out the suggestions she gave me, I’ve discovered a skill I always thought was beyond me.

Sam standing in front of one of her paintings at an exhibition.

2. I’ve learnt to cut glass enabling me to create pieces for fusing.

I would never have thought I would be able to create pieces of art in glass. The first time I got to play with glass was in a one day workshop making wind chimes. I’ll be honest, I had no idea that part of the process would include me cutting and grinding all of the glass pieces I would need. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have booked my spot. By the time I realised what would be involved, it was two nights before the workshop and Fee was offering to provide the glass pre-cut. She never said I couldn’t do it, in fact, she encouraged me, wanted me to at least try to cut the pieces for myself. She was simply offering me an alternative if it proved too much for me.

Sam doing some glass work.

That’s when I had to prove to myself that I could do it. Even so, I didn’t expect to be regularly working with glass as I am now. That workshop was a turning point for me. I discovered skills I never thought I had, not just because of my blindness. It was more about the fragility of the glass and the viciousness of its bite if handled wrong. That day opened new ideas and possibilities in me. I started taking the weekly classes and felt like a clumsy idiot for most of my first six months. But Fee and Andrew and the other students around me encouraged me. Working with glass is now one of my favourite mediums to work with.

3. I’ve learnt how to paint with glass.

Again it was a wonderous day when Fee came back from a course in Melbourne and showed us all what could be done with glass powders. It’s like painting with butter icing and is as much about texture as colour. I love making textures of different types and thicknesses. Again, at first, I felt clumsy and like I had no chance of ever getting it right. And again, it was Fee who gently, but firmly pushed me to keep going and find the skills needed to create the pieces I am so proud of now.

4. I’ve learnt to how to use a grinder.

A couple of different grinders. And that was and is something I still get excited about, knowing I can do it.

5. I’ve learnt I can use a drill.

While doing a hebel carving workshop last year, I had to drill holes into the stone to be able to remove the excess. I still have the video a friend took of me drilling into my slab of stone. A very large piece of stone, because of course, I had to have the biggest piece. Again, as in all the other situations, Fee and Andrew never questioned my ability to achieve these goals. Rather, they gave me the support and assistance I need to complete the job.

Sam at a hebel carving workshop.

6. I’ve learnt that my hands can see as well as other people’s eyes.

It wasn’t until I made a sculpture of my last guide dog, that I learnt this. When people saw the sculpture, they knew it was Roscoe. I had expected them to be able to see it was a dog and even that it was a Labrador, but they saw Roscoe in the clay.

Jimmy with his Jimmy sculpture- made by Sam.

7. I’ve learnt to let go of the perfectionist who has stalked me all my life.

I’m not sure when or how, but I think it began when my mother told me, after I asked her about how I could possibly get it all right with my art. She told me that I should “embrace the imperfections”. This didn’t mean my work would be less. It just meant to I needed to work with what I have and embrace the uniqueness that I have and which is imprinted in all my work.

There are many other things I could write here, but I think I’ve proved my point. I would like to take this chance to say thank you to everyone wo makes up the Art Mania family. Thank you for all your support and help and encouragement and love. You have helped me find my creativity and myself.

Ashlee and Sam at one of Sam’s exhibitions.

I wanted to finish here by saying, if you have been following Art Mania on social media, but haven’t yet managed to make it as far as signing up and attending one of our classes. I hope this will help push you to take that chance. You won’t regret it and will discover a whole family you never knew you could be part of.

Jumping into 2021

By | Art, Disability, Lifestyle

JUMPING INTO 2021

Welcome to 2021 and a brand new exciting year at Art Mania. Now that the year has started, it’s time to work out where each of us want to be by the end of the year. I know the tradition is to make new years resolutions, the majority of which are abandoned by mid February.

I am not a new years resolution girl. Instead, for all of my adult life, I’ve spent a portion of the last day of each year, writing goals for the coming year. I don’t always finish everything on the list, and I do make alterations and edits throughout the year. I have usually managed to complete at least half of the goals on my list by the end of the year.

This New Year’s, I did things slightly differently to my old ritual. Before I sat down to write my goals for 2021, I sat down and made a list of achievements for 2020 and things that meant a lot to me. The things I’m grateful for.

I thought I’d kick off this year’s series of posts by sharing a few things from each list with you and hope they inspire you all. So let’s get started.

What I’ve achieved and am grateful for:

1. My job at Art Mania and getting to share my journey with you all.

I don’t think any of us will remember 2020 as a great year. Covid has been a major blow from left field, but I think we should be proud that we have survived. I think we should all, as I do, be so incredibly grateful to Fee and the Art Mania team for keeping the studio open and offering a safe haven to create in and catch up with friends. I know that this had a huge impact on me and kept my mental health on the positive side.

Sam is dressed in a white top with pink embroidery. She is standing on the walkway to the Wetlands Centre. A slim, brown-scaled snake is twined around her wrist.

2. Art Mania’s teaming up with the Wetlands Centre.

This year Art Mania started running sessions for our NDIS clients and those who identify as having a disability. We had a room for two days a week for our little group and it was magical. Firstly seeing how some of our newer clients slowly come out of themselves and try different things.

We even got to meet some of the reptiles, a children’s python named Kenny, blue-tongue lizards named Russel and Nudge and a pygmy bearded water dragon. That’s right a baby version of our own Jimmy. And for me, personally, Kenny had the biggest impact upon me. I would never have believed you if you told me I would touch a snake, but I have and it’s been so empowering to overcome a fear.

3. Participating in my first ever exhibition.

Thanks to Castle Personnel’s social media person, Zoe, Art Mania had the chance to showcase the work of our students with disabilities for International Day of Disability. There were five of us and again it was an empowering moment. I knew I could create, but it still gave me that huge boost knowing that people were coming to see my work. I also sold my first piece of art. I don’t know who it was who brought my painting, but if you’re reading this, thank you so very much.

Sam, dressed in an orange top and navy jacket, standing in front of her painting at the exhibition. It is a large canvas, the background is a mix of green, yellow and blue, with large white circles over the top, with yellow and orange circles inside it.

These are my top three and I promise to expand on at least one of these in the next weeks (but you’ll have to keep reading posts to find out which it will be.). So on to the goals for this year.

My Top Three Goals for 2021

1. To become a mentor to other students with a disability who join the Art Mania team.

We have been working on setting up a program for NDIS clients that enables them to come and join the Art Mania family and create art. On top of this, for those who are interested, we are offering a business support program, so we can learn how to set ourselves up and sell our art. And part of all of this, is giving the more established students the chance to support the new ones. I’m so excited and could rave about this program for pages, but I will save that for a future post.

2. To participate in my second exhibition.

In two months, well probably more like six/seven weeks, I am having my work exhibited at the wetlands. This has been one of the great things about the sessions at the wetlands. I love nature and this is the perfect excuse to submerge myself in the natural world and be inspired by it and all the incredible creatures that live there.

3. My third goal is to get out into the world, particularly the natural world with my beautiful girl Aimee.

I know this will give me back the confidence I lost when I lost my boy Roscoe. I also know it will be more inspiration for my art. And I really hope you will all follow my journey and keep reading my posts.

This brings me to one last item I’m grateful for, and that’s all of you who read my posts. It really means a lot to me that you do, and I’m so grateful for all of your support. Please keep reading.

 

 

 

MEET OUR NEW DRAWING TEACHER

By | Art, Lifestyle

A big welcome to our drawing teacher, Gail!

Gail has lived in Wallsend for 30 years with her husband & 5 children.

Gail completed her Fine Arts Diploma at Hunter Street TAFE, graduating from Newcastle University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, then with an Honours degree in 2011.

Her work is inspired by an interest and love for people & community.

Gail works in painting, drawing & textiles. These disciplines often cross over producing interesting hybrid art works of colour, image & stitch.

The essence of Gail’s art practice is acknowledging people’s lives, validating & empathising with their experiences. She finds teaching & exhibiting rewarding as she is able to connect with the community.

 

Gail has exhibited widely, she has shown her art within:

  • John Hunter Arts & Health programs
  • Wallsend Library
  • Watt Space Newcastle
  • Newcastle Art Space
  • Art Systems Wickham
  • Maitland Regional Gallery

Gail believes the world is the richer for the contribution of the creative soul.

She is looking forward to cheering others on to discover their unique voice & mark so that they can confidently express who they are & what they have to say.

ART AND MUSIC WITH SAM

By | Art, Lifestyle

Let me introduce you to Sam, part of our team and also a member of Art Mania Studio’s Business Development Program.
Before we went into lockdown, we were supporting Sam at our studio in her art and personal development studies.  

Sam participated in an art session in February that combined the creative powers of paint and music.
Sam worked with art teacher Ashlee, who chose the music for the session and provides support for Sam’s visual impairment.

“It’s about being in the zone,” Ashlee explained. “Painting the movement of the music and what emotions might come up in connection to the music.”

“Painting to the music reminds me of meditation,” Sam says.
“When I’m painting, I’m not thinking about things. I’m connected to the music and I just paint what feels right.”


“Yes, it’s not about technique, or thinking about what colours to use,” Ashlee added. “It’s very freeing.”


As I watch Sam paint, I can see how she likens the process to meditation. There is mindfulness in the way she paints.
Dipping her brush in colours without hesitation, the instrumental music connects to her paintbrush to create lines and shapes.
There is an instinctive feel to this process, an emotional experience that flows from sound and the stillness of being. 


Painting is only one of the mediums Sam creates with at Art Mania Studio. She also works in clay, resin and mosaic mediums.

One of the challenges Sam faces now is how to continue her art now that she is in lockdown at home.
She is currently participating in online art sessions via Zoom, and we have invited Sam to share her thoughts with you through blog updates.

Stay tuned for some personal posts from Sam!

HOW TO USE ART TO CALM YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM

By | Art, Lifestyle

Firstly, I’d like to invite you to take a deep breath.
Breathe in through your nose to the count of 4 and slowly exhale to the count of 4, do this 4 times.

Wonderful, now enjoy some nurturing information to help you during this strange time.

The left hand side of our brains are extremely active during times of stress as we cognitively try to find solutions to the problem we face.
When there is no solution, our mind can loop and the body continually produces cortisol and hormones that ignite our fight, flight or freeze response.
Not a good way to live!

So, how do we move out of that and into a more relaxed space by doing things that stimulate the right hand side of the brain – let’s get creative!

Your left hand brain controls:

  • Analytic thought
  • Logic
  • Language
  • Reasoning
  • Science and math
  • Written
  • Numbers and skills
  • Right-hand control

Your right hand brain controls:

  • Art awareness
  • Creativity
  • Imagination
  • Intuition
  • Insight
  • Holistic thought
  • Music awareness
  • 3D forms
  • Left-hand control

Art Awareness & Creativity

Draw, doodle, paint, make sculptures out of recycled things, plant something in the garden, make a nature mandala – be creative with what’s around you.

Imagination & Intuition

Tell stories and make them as elaborate as possible. Improve your intuition using practises like meditation, journaling or automatic writing. Ask a question and see what comes. Trust your feeling sense and follow it to do something that your being needs in order to relax the nervous system.

Play music, dance, sing, make shadow puppets or play dress ups.

We have a unique opportunity to shift our focus to our internal world and the private space of our home. What’s something you never had time for? What hobby could you start or study you can partake in that will nourish you and feed your heart and mind?

Talk to friends and family, stay connected and be creative.

Art Mania Studio wishes everyone a safe and healthy time at home.

We will be offering DIY art project kits and video tutorials very soon. These can be posted out and done at home to keep you having a creative outlet that feeds your soul.

5 REASONS WHY ART GIVES TEENS THE LIFE SKILLS THEY NEED

By | Art

We all know that being creative has a certain essence about it that makes us feel good, right?

And, by saying ‘being creative’ it doesn’t mean creating a masterpiece on a canvas that is intended for an art gallery. 

So why does it feel good and seem to affect so many other areas of life?

Creativity is a human trait. We are a species born to create. From meals, to buildings, to babies, to packing a lunch box. Creativity must be fostered, it needs encouragement and room to grow whilst still having limitations to exist within. 

For young people that have a higher than average exposure to creating art and the media for creating it, possess qualities that many others do not have. Exposure to art, ripples out to many other areas of learning and life. 

1. EXPRESS YOURSELF

As children develop, they move from the outward stage of exploration and finding identity to one of social integration and figuring out where they fit in the world. Many experience an internalisation of their true expression as the desire to ‘fit in’ and ‘be normal’ in this hyper-stimulated world dulls their externalisation of self. By expressing oneself on a physical medium, teens find a voice that may otherwise have never been accessed. Language is only one way ideas can be expressed, all youth need to build skills in other avenues to convey what they may be struggling to express in words.

 

2. FINDING SELF CONTROL

We’ve all had moments where we feel like life is out of control. For teens this can be a constant state and as they try to harness control of their life. Artistic engagement stimulates the mind and when they create something, they can call it their own. Overcoming problems in other areas of life becomes easier as they regain the sense of self-determination creating something physical.

 

3. PROGRESS IS POSSIBLE

When we see our improvement as we refine a skill, the sense of achievement is tangible. Youth increase in confidence when their talents begin to improve, such as with drawing, building, painting and designing. When teens see progress and change in something they have persisted at, it offers a reflection, illustrating that all things can get better with time and effort.

4. INSTANT V’S DELAYED GRATIFICATION

It can be hard when we’re young to truly grasp the notion of doing something now for later benefit. Most Teens want instant gratification and an instant result that is tangible. Art offers both. Creating something positive and worthwhile is an instant and tangible result. Being able to look at a beautiful creation over time, allows them to reflect on how they were feeling when they created it. They can see how the passage of time changes things, they also see their own capacity to create something real and lasting which adds to their sense of self.

5. SKILLS FOR LIFE

Every step we take teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. When our journey is guided by the freedom and boundaries art allows it offers a platform to develop skills that will be applicable to every area of life. The process of creating art is a healthy way to develop skills in making choices and solving problems, something we are all faced with each and every day. From a simple choice of which colour to use, where to draw a line, what size to make something, each choice makes something more their own. Art goes beyond, as through the process of creation, until that point, it was only in the imagination. They have the capacity to bring something to life that previously didn’t exist.    

 

Art Mania Studio’s Teens After School Development Program fosters not only artistic skills in the group, it also offers social, communicative and self-expression skills that will equip them for life.

 

WE HAVE A COUPLE OF SPOTS LEFT FOR OUR TERM 1 PROGRAM – for more details click here

 

Written by Jen Majenta Moon, Art Mania Team Member

Why enrol your child at Art Mania?

By | Art, Lifestyle

Creative Kids Voucher

Do you remember the look of pride and joy in your child’s eyes when you put their first piece of artwork onto the fridge? Remember the sounds of excitement and enthusiasm as texta’s or pencils scattered across the kitchen table as they decided to start their next creative project?

Recapture that excitement and pride by taking advantage of the $100 Creative Kids vouchers! Kids are taken on the most amazing journey over a term here at Art Mania Studio, they visibly blossom as their skills improve and their perspective on what’s possible widens.

Creativity is a foundational key to life. Kids shine and the ripple effect can be seen across every area of their life.

Art Mania Studio offers their After School Development Program for kids (age 5-12) and teens (age 13-18), to make sure that every child who wants to get creative, can! Wednesdays and Thursdays 4-5:30pm for 10 weeks of term is when it’s on! Weekdays no good for your family? The Krafty Kids Sat morning class also runs for the 10 weeks of term and gives an equal opportunity for growth and creative expression. These classes are a fantastic way for your child to delve into the creative world, and explore a variety of methods and techniques each week.

As parents and caregivers, there are a million different activities you can register your child for. So why should you choose to enrol your child at Art Mania?

  • Creativity is for every child (and adult!). It isn’t about having a special inclination towards being artistic; it’s not about how talented you are; it’s not even about whether or not you like your own work. Skills and techniques can be learned (just like riding a bike!), under the guidance of our wonderful tutors. Being creative has its own benefits – benefits that are just as important as those your child might get from team sports or similar.
  • Did you know that encouraging creativity in children encourages concentration, critical thinking and problem solving? Our classes engage participants in receiving and giving feedback – an essential social skill. Also, being creative helps your child learn to express themselves in different ways – this is a particular benefit for teens and preteens!

One thing that is so important is helping your child find their niche in life. The way of the world is changing and learning to use different parts of the brain will help your child in managing the demands of living in contemporary society and finding creative solutions to what life throws at them.

Our after school and weekend programs at Art Mania are a safe, fun space for your child or teen to really experience the world of art. They’ll explore different techniques and artists each week, with practical experience at the heart of each session.

Every child deserves the gift of creativity and expression.

APPLY FOR A CREATIVE KIDS VOUCHER

AVAILABLE KIDS & TEEN CLASSES

Creative Kids Voucher

By | Art, Lifestyle

Creative Kids Voucher

We’ve got some fantastic news – we are now a registered provider of the NSW Government’s Creative Kids rebate offers! These rebates give you $100 towards your school-aged child participating in our awesome kid’s art programs!

Parents and Carers can apply for a Creative Kids voucher through their MyServiceNSW account (you will need to log in or register) link here. You get one voucher worth $100 per school-aged child, and there’s no need to print the voucher after you have applied for it – all we need is the voucher number, expiry date, and your child’s name and date of birth.

From there, your child will be ready to enter an amazing world of creativity!

What do our Kid’s Art Programs offer? Your child will have the opportunity to express themselves in new and exciting ways, experiment with a whole smorgasbord of art mediums, but most of all, have FUN! To date we’ve experimented with painting, drawing, clay work, basket weaving – students have even created selfies – self-portraits away from the screens!

Kids need regular opportunities to work out their creative intelligence: it gives them a chance to make choices, express themselves, be creative (applying techniques in new and unusual ways), and to gain confidence in the process of creativity, rather than focusing on the finished product. These things are so important for kids of all ages, so that they can really hone not only their sense of self but also their ability to make choices. This program also helps kids who may not excel in traditional after school activities such as sport: we give them a chance to find something they can excel at, and spark a lifelong passion for creativity.

We’re running special Creative Kids classes for term 2, for new participants. If your child is already enrolled in our exciting kid’s art program, they can continue in their regular time slot. For new participants, we are opening two special classes for you to choose from.

Wednesday afternoons, 4pm – 5:30pm (two classes: one for primary and one for high school)

Saturday mornings, 10am – 11:30am (one class, with all ages learning together)

Both of these classes run for ten weeks, and the total cost is $300. For that, your child receives expert tuition, all gear required, new friends, time to explore, the chance to learn creative skills and the chance to explore art theory (this is always incorporated into practical and fun activities!).

With your voucher, you will get all this for $200! Awesome!

APPLY FOR A CREATIVE KIDS VOUCHER

AVAILABLE KIDS & TEEN CLASSES

Let’s Paint Frida

By | Art, Lifestyle | No Comments

Hi Ladies & Gents…

I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration. – Frida

Frida also used to say “There is nothing more precious than laughter”, we took it very seriously and honoured her with a day filled with fun, laughter and good vibes learning about her incredible life and capturing her beauty on canvases.

“I love how we got to paint our own version of Frida. I loved how Dee taught us techniques that made painting much easier to grasp in a very short amount of time. I love the freedom of using vibrant colors. I had such a great time!”  – Let’s Paint Frida – Workshop participant.

“I am my own muse. I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to better.” ― Frida Kahlo

Let us give you some background on Frida Kahlo de Rivera; (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954). She was a Mexican artist who painted many portraits, self-portraits, and works inspired by the nature and artifacts of Mexico. Inspired by the country’s popular culture, she employed a naïve folk art style to explore questions of identity, postcolonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexican society. Her paintings often had strong autobiographical elements and mixed realism with fantasy. In addition to belonging to the post-revolutionary Mexicayotl movement, which sought to define a Mexican identity, Kahlo has been described as a surrealist or magical realist.

Frida’s work has been celebrated internationally as emblematic of Mexican national and Indigenous traditions, and by feminists for what is seen as its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form.

Out talented painting master – Deanne Newland took us on an adventure to capture Frida in beautiful and colorful portraits using a variety of techniques. What an amazing and fun day of painting it was, just look at diversity of created artworks!

 

“Loved painting Frida! Art Mania Studio is a wonderful place to go to learn how to express yourself creatively. I thought I wasn’t creative  but in coming to classes and workshops at Art Mania, I have learned skills and techniques (and gained a lot of courage) that has helped me access my creativity. It is a joy and a pleasure to have a place where creativity is encouraged and inspired.” Emily Smith – Workshop participant

 

For more incredible painting adventures in Art Mania Studio check out and book into the following workshops:

  • VISIONARY VINO – SATURDAY – 3 NOV  – Our Visionary Vino gives you best of both worlds. Come & enjoy an afternoon session of painting & getting a bit arty along with some delicious wine to help you wind down on your weekend (or wind up if that may be the case!).
  • WATERCOLOUR WORKSHOP – SATURDAY – 3 NOV  – This fun workshop is designed for beginners! Experiment & learn about the nature of watercolour & its use. You will learn about colour & basic colour mixing, application of paint, wet in wet/wet in dry techniques, blending colours, isolating sections using a mask, transfer of an image, difference in substrates (papers), use of pen work & more.
  • PAINTING WEEKLY CLASSES – FRIDAYS – 19 OCT – 21 DEC  – Or sign up for a weekly painting classes and learn to paint with watercolors, acrylics, oils paints and more. Experience the joy of colour and texture, as you work in your chosen medium, painting what you love. Guided by talented artist and teacher Trish Menegazzo. Develop your own style and watch your skill level and confidence grow.

 

See you in Your Happy Place,

Love,

Art Mania Studio

Open Studio Night, Soup & Damper

By | Art, Lifestyle | No Comments

Studio Open Night – Soup & Damper Studio Birthday Bash!

This term we warmed up Wallsend with delicious soups, birthday candles & a cosy fire at our Studio Open Night. Each term Art Mania Studio holds this event to showcase the upcoming array of workshops, block courses & weekly classes available at the studio.

Between 6 & 8:30pm over 50 people got to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere & live art demonstrations. With wine in hand & soup in bellies everyone further tantalised their taste buds with the delectable range of creative opportunities on offer.

A highlight of the evening was the launch of the upcoming July School holidays Art Attack schedule. Face painting demonstrations opened everyone’s eyes to how fun the family face painting workshop will be, & Clay Play, Enchanted Succulent Gardens & Superhero Cartoons were just the tip of the huge range of arty goodness on offer.

 

A few special folk also left with extra big smiles as they scored the lucky door prizes of some of the beautiful handmade glass art the studio creates. Art Mania Studio couldn’t go past the rainbow cake to celebrate their 10th Birthday which beautifully topped off the night. Fee Madigan, the studio’s director, spoke from the heart, thanking all who came & all who helped. “It truly is a Happy Place, not just for those we welcome through our doors, but for me & the incredible team who make this life of creativity worthwhile.”

This community hub will be opening our doors again in Term 3 for another Studio Open Night, but before that we’re excited about the Rug & a Mug event. Live music, hot soups, hot chai & of course, lots of art.

See you in Your Happy Place,

Love,

Art Mania Studio