Expressive portraits at Juvenile Detentiom Center

Hello there!

This week we went to Juvenile Detention Centre, a place where boys stay while they await their sentence. A fellow volunteer, Ana, prepared a workshop but couldn't participate on that day, so we decided to lead it all together. Her idea was for them to create expressive self-portraits.

In the beginning we all sat in a circle and Sophie showed them some images of self portraits from famous artists, abstract and realistic ones so they gained inspiration from the different techniques and styles. After that, Emma explained to the boys how to make the proportions when drawing a face.

But before we started with the self portraits, we asked them to sit I front of the big mirror in the room and to draw themselves without looking at the paper and without taking the pen off the paper. This blind continuous line drawing was a really funny activity and the boys laughed a lot about their drawings.

Then we started with the portraits. We told them that they could use any style and material they wanted and after a few minutes it was completely quiet and everyone got really into their self portait, drawing and painting. They were so focused and concentrated the whole time! We also did a portrait, it was really enjoyable and calming.

We had a really amazing time and great outcomes in the end!

It was the last time for me and two other volunteers, Rosie and Sophie, and we're all going to miss this place and the boys so much.

All the best,


Self reflection with the boys from Urban Light

Hello there!

This Thursday we went to Urban Light, the organisation that gives boys a chance to escape from working in the red lights districts. When we arrived we had lunch with the boys, played guitar and looked at some artwork from previous workshops. Then we went upstairs to start with the workshop. This time we concentrated on expressing feelings and emotions and the first step was to draw the body outline on a big piece of paper in any pose they want.

After that, they painted their body shape using colors that expressed their feelings. I brought crayons and magazines for them so they could decorate the different colored parts afterwards using things that influence the certain emotion.

Only two boys at the Urban Light centre were interested in joining the art workshop, so the volunteers decided to paint their body outlines as well.
It was a lot of fun and very interesting to see what everybody created! One of the boys shared his artwork in the end and it was very exciting to hear how he was feeling and what influences these emotions.

All the best,

Ten Pin Bowling with the Young Lions!

Hey there,

So Tuesday 17th March, we saw our weekly dose of the Young Lions Global Art Programme, started by ARI. We offer free art classes at our office to neighbourhood children of all ages, ethnicities and social backgrounds, and the kids come voluntarily after school to build relationships and have fun, whilst learning a new creative art form. It’s a very special workshop!

The children have so much energy, especially with it being school holidays at the moment; so I wanted to run a workshop that would have both a creative and play element to it. I decided it would be good to practise painting skills and colour mixing again, especially in case any new kids were to come! I therefore decided we would make a ten-pin bowling set; painting plastic bottles vibrant colours and then having a tournament.

When we started painting, I pointed to colours and asked the kids to say the name in English; P’Pepo also informed us when they wanted to mix a colour, and we showed them how to make secondary and tertiary colours. They all practised mixing many colours and decorated their bottles in such different and vibrant ways!

We then went outside for our bowling tournament. We set up the pins and the kids took it in turn to throw a ball at the pins from behind a chalk-drawn line. 

Each Young Lion managed to knock at least some of the pins down throughout, and we kept the scores on the board. They all did so well, and then after the tournament they continued to play with it, working together to set it up!

 I had intended to create an enjoyable art activity that would teach them a new game; they all had a lot of fun and were very quick to learn!

Peace and love,


The Animal Kingdom's Musical Statues at Healing Family!

Hey readers!

   Last Friday 13th of March 2015, we went to Healing Family Foundation, which is a house of joy for adults with mental and physical disabilities. It was started by a Japanese volunteer by the name of Mr. Nakayma, who came to teach Thai people how to weave; Healing Family Foundation’s weaving by its members is intricately beautiful. It is through Healing Family that these adults come together to participate in fun activities, make friendships and learn new skills!

   I absolutely love going to Healing Family and am thrilled to have had the opportunity to run a workshop there again! This week I decided to have both art and drama-based components to the workshop. I decided that we would make animal masks, focusing on animals affiliated with positive qualities, for example: lions as brave, elephants as caring and butterflies as free, to show we all possess these qualities. Then, at the end of the lesson we would think about movement and facial expressions we could adopt with these qualities, as people and animals, and play Musical Statues!

We started, as usual, by introducing ourselves and playing Chilli Chilli, Hello, How Art Thou? and Heads, Shoulders Knees and Toes. I then showed pictures of 8 animals and we went through each of their positive qualities, so the group could think about which ones they’d like to possess and be. We then gave out paper plates and other painting materials and got to work on our masks.

One of the great outcomes was that we had a huge variety of animals; they all chose different ones they liked and were so inventive with how they created their masks! 

They went beyond using just the round shape of the plate, by both cutting into it to replicate ears or a mane (for the lion), and shaping other pieces of card and plates to add on to represent noses and ears. Each one was so unique!

Hugs shared between Farr and Jaew show the wonderfully supportive atmosphere of Healing Family! 

Once we had made the masks, I then reminded the group to think about how to represent their animal’s quality through movement and facial expression, and the animal itself. We then put on songs from The Lion King and played Musical Statues. The members of the group were all so engaged, and we even had people moving on different height levels like their animals, or flapping their arms as the wings of their butterfly. 

I had wanted to encourage physical movement and create an enjoyable group atmosphere in the workshop, and knowing how much these participants love dancing, this seemed like a great game to play whilst also corresponding to the art part of the workshop. They were very quick to learn and thoroughly enjoyed playing Musical Statues; sometimes it was difficult to hear the music over the laughter! 

At the end of the workshop, we all came together for a group photo to celebrate our animals and qualities, and then spent a bit of time playing and interacting as them. I as a monkey was having a fierce battle of Tag with one of the lions, sounds included!

It was a lovely afternoon! They really are one awesome group.

Peace and love,



Photo Frames at Wildflower Home

Hey readers,

On March 9th 2015, we went to go see the ladies of Wildflower Home. It is a centre for single mothers and their children who may be in vulnerable situations, and so the home provides free education and training skills to equip the women for when they are ready to leave. Wildflower Home also offers shelter, food, health care and counselling, carefully considering the needs and opportunities available for each woman. When Art Relief International visit every two weeks, we primarily focus our workshops on life-training vocational skills.

I therefore decided to teach the women how to make photo frames out of simple discarded materials (a very nostalgic session for me, as I used to spend many weekends as a child creating them to enclose every single photo I could find in the house…!). I aimed to create a calm environment where the women would learn a new technique which they could proceed to market.

We sat down, and I explained that the women would be learning the process step-by-step all together, which would be a more valuable experience if they wanted to make them later. We started by measuring two rectangles of cardboard 6x8 inches, which would form the front and back of the frame, and a piece of paper the same size. Then out of one piece, we cut a rectangular hole just shy of 4x6 inches, so that a standard photo would fit in snugly. If they were to market their skill, it’s important they are precise in their measurements.

     I brought an assortment of fabric and magazines for them to choose from to decorate their frames. They quickly learnt how to cover the cardboard and fold and stick the edges to give an overall more smooth and neat surface. They did this on the back cardboard, the inside edges of the front frame and just one outer edge. 

    I then showed them how to take the paper, and stick it along the three edges where the outer fringe had not been folded over. They then saw how this made a pocket for the photo to slide into! We then stuck the front and back together, and made stands for the backs.

The women really worked together and helped each other at any stages which were more challenging. They seemed really keen to have learnt the process of this new skill, and even told P’Pepo at the end that they were going to get some cardboard to continue making them in the future!

They all looked so lovely and colourful, and now that they know the technique they can individualise them with other skills they have learnt in or outside of ARI workshops, like applique. It was a very peaceful afternoon!

Peace and love,


Drawing Workshop at Thai Freedom House

Monday 16th March was my first time running a workshop at Thai Freedom House. I decided to focus on different types of drawing as drawing is a fundamental skill in art and it's great for the children to learn new techniques.

For the first task, which was continuous line drawing, we sat the children opposite each other in pairs. They had to draw each other without taking their pen off the paper. For some this was a really challenging idea. It's not the way that we learn to draw, however it is a great way to loosen up when drawing and to observe your subject closely. The results can be very expressive.

Next, we asked them to do the same but 'blind'; this time they couldn't look at their paper. To remove the temptation to look at their drawing, we gave them each a piece of paper to put over their pens. By making a hole in the paper, it moved with their pen so they could draw freely. They found this to be a really funny exercise as I don't think they had ever done a drawing without looking at it before.

The next style of drawing was mark-making using ink and unconventional drawing tools. We had lots of different materials for them to experiment with, including twigs, cotton buds, straws, wooden skewers, lolly sticks and plant seed pods. They each had a piece of paper which they had to fill with as many different types of mark as they could. I think this was a good task for them as they really had to think about the different types of marks that were possible.

For the second half of the workshop we focused on shade and tone with still-life observational drawing. We set up different objects around the room, positioned with lights next to them to create shadows, and gave the children chalk and charcoal to draw with.

I was really impressed with how the children responded to the workshop. They were all really engaged in the tasks and were very focused on their work. I think the lighting in the second half also encouraged a calm, studious environment.

I really enjoyed running this workshop, especially as I felt that they all learned something new.
Looking forward to next week!

Styrofoam Printmaking with Young Lions

On Tuesday 10th March we did a printmaking workshop with the Young Lions. We showed them different types of patterns, including geometric and abstract, for inspiration.
Once they had an idea for their print, they drew their pattern onto a styrofoam square, making sure to press hard enough to indent the foam.

After they had drawn their pattern, they could choose a colour and begin rolling the paint onto their foam plate, making sure to cover the whole thing.

The next step was to print their plate onto paper. You have to press the foam firmly and evenly onto the paper to create your print. The most exciting part is peeling back the paper as you never know how it's going to look. The children got really creative with their choice of colours too and began mixing them to create new ones.

Overall I think everyone had fun and made some great prints.