Cave Art at Wat Ku Kam!

At Wat Ku Kam School this week we traveled back through time- way back! All the way to the age when humans lived in caves, a bow and arrow was the weapon of choice, and mammoths walked the earth. During our visit 30,000 years into the past, we, along with thirty other students at Wat Ku Kam, re-discovered the oldest form of painting and design: cave art.


Nyasha and I headed up this workshop. Nyasha first explained to our students what cave art was and why it was used-to tell stories. 

We introduced them to the words cave man, clay, and cave art with the help of Peapo, and hoped that the kids would use the information we told them to view their lives through a different lens; the ones that the cave men would have seen through.

For this workshop we used clay as our artistic medium, as it best mimicked the look and feel of what cave walls would be like. After we separated into groups of five, the students were each given a piece of clay to wet down and flatten.

Instead of flint or arrowheads to carve with, we opted for the more kid-friendly kabob sticks and let the class get down to business! 

The kids were really creative in their designs, portraying everything from battles scenes with bows and arrows to their families to butterflies and flowers-whatever they felt was important went into the clay!

By the end of the class everyone had a beautiful piece of cave art to show us! 



Puzzling Abstractions at Urban Light

This week on Thursday 24th at Urban Light- an organization that works with teenage boys between the ages of 14-24 who are at risk of being trafficked and sexual exploitation- Raii and myself were in charge of the workshop and we planned a new project focusing on abstract art.

 We chose 2 different pieces of abstract art and made replicas of the drawings of just the outlines of the shapes in pencil. Then we divided them both into 9 sections each. Each boy painted their own section and we expressed that they should chose colours that express how they are feeling. Then once all sections are completed the aim was to try and piece all the sections back together like a jigsaw game to observe and see the whole image come together.

I believe this workshop worked well everyone contributed and painted a section, using various different colours and brush stroke techniques. One boy even decided to use his fingers and was using small bits of tissue paper for different effects, which was really impressive.
At the end the boys all came together to try and place all the sections in their correct places to recreate the 2 photos. They were better than me at this, they could quickly identify where all the lines connected and similar shapes that match. It was a successful workshop.

The final result!

and painting #2!


Getting Back to Nature at Wildflower Home!

On Monday 21st July, myself and one of our newest volunteers Yolanda went off to Wildflower home,  a partner organization of ARI's which works specifically with young single mothers, providing a space for them (and their adorable children) to get on their feet, and learn to support themselves. The main objective of this project was to teach the women craft skills and create a signature look for the jewelry that they can then sell at markets. We want to develop a signature bracelet that the women enjoy making, so over the past several weeks we have been trying out different 

 This week we took the essence of the name 'Wildflower Home' and brought things back to nature, focusing on beautiful patterns and designs found in the world around us.
We met the young mothers in a workshop space and got started! 

sifting through natural materials!

The workshop flowed wonderfully. Everyone participated with imprinting the found nature objects such as leaves, seeds, feathers and shells into clay forming one main nature charm. We then threaded through elastic string, beaded up the rest of the elastic tying up the bracelet before we painted our charms and voila !

I felt the workshop was a great introduction to print and design making into clay, an extension of a previous workshop in which the women learned about charm making, and a welcome reflection of the beauty of nature around us. I felt that everyone enjoyed this project and the end results were beautiful.

Wonderful nature bracelets, for the group of wonderful Wildflower women! 

Victoria xo

Jellyfish Fun with Young Lions!

On Tuesday afternoon the Young Lions came crawling through heavy rainfall to the ARI office for their weekly art class.

The rainy season is in full swing in Chiang Mai so we couldn't fit in a game of football, however this meant we were able to get into our project straight away.

Hannah and I decided to make jellyfish with them as they might not be familiar with these creatures and also because they were fun to make and are great to watch floating in the wind. The kids started with taping the tentacles, made from plastic bags and crepe paper strips, onto the plastic bowls. Some of the boys put the bowls on their head and pretended they had colourful long luscious locks.

After all the tentacles were taped on, the kids started painting their bowls with watercolour paints for an underwater effect.
They had a lot of fun watching colours combine and creating new shades.

Everyone loved it when it was time to stick the googly eyes on as it characterised the jellyfish and made them look very silly. The boys all enjoyed it and decided to make more than one!

The jellyfish look great hanging up at the ARI office, they're happily floating in the wind.
I always look forward to Tuesday afternoons with the Young Lions as they have so much energy and are always really into the workshop.

Until next time,


Zara Treks through Thailand

Hello, I'm Zara, a 24 year old from the US, California to be specific. I'm here in Thailand for 3 weeks volunteering with Art Relief International. I'm currently a graduate student at UC Berkeley studying social welfare. I studied the use of art therapy for marginalized populations in undergrad and I hope to get a 2nd masters in art therapy after I get my MSW. I'm creative, adventurous, curious, and love nothing more than being immersed in new environments. I love music, photography, physical exercise, and witty humor. I'm excited for my time in Thailand and to learn about a new and different way of life, to practice using therapeutic art techniques with diverse populations, to enjoy good food, and to explore all the beauty (or as much as I can get in during my 3 weeks) Thailand has to offer.  I'm excited to collaborate with volunteers from around the world with different artistic and social backgrounds to create meaningful projects.


Jill Went Up a Hill to Fetch a Can of Paint

I am a second year graduate student at UC Berkeley studying at the School of Social Welfare.  I love exploring new places on foot or on bicycle and am passionate about social justice, cooking (and more accurately, eating), drawing, mural art, and coffee.  I was introduced to the arts education world during my work in New Orleans, Louisiana and have never looked back. I see art as a meaningful and powerful medium to foster self-expression, healing, community building and empowerment. I'm so happy and excited to join ARI, learn more about and support the populations we'll be working with, and explore the beautiful Chiang Mai.


The Finer Details with Thai Freedom House

On Friday July 18th, Art Relief International volunteers headed to our weekly art workshop with Thai Freedom House, a community language and arts learning center that provides educational support to people who have limited or no access to formal education. We continued on with our comic book workshop, which we have been working on for the past couple of weeks!

This week, we talked to the children about doing the finer background details in their comics. In comic books, there is always background details which we may not notice straight away. Never the less they are an important part of the comic! We talked to children about introducing background characters into the scene. More often than not there are background characters to be seen in comics who may play little to no part in the story. However, they add to the feeling of the story. For instance, if you were drawing a scene in a busy high street with only you to be seen, it would not give the feeling of a busy street. By adding background characters, it would greatly add to the effect.

In relation to background details, it is important to have place specific scenes and finer details. For example, if you think about a kitchen there are many features to note – cupboards, a stove, a microwave, windows, curtains, pots and pans, a kettle, a sink, the list goes on! If they are in your kitchen in real life, why should they be left out of the kitchen in your story? By adding these smaller details in to the background, it greatly adds to the entire feeling of the scene.

The children were progressing well with their comics, most finishing off detailing and starting on their inking of the outlines. Some had moved on to colour and were using different shades to add detail and depth to their comic strips.

By watching them drawing, I can tell the children are excited about their comics. Their concentration over the weeks has not faded and they are all as enthusiastic as when we first started!

Unfortunately, I will not be here to see the finished and bound pieces firsthand, but I cannot wait to see them from afar and I'm sure I'll feel a little bit proud that I watched all these wonderful children start from scratch to create this amazing piece of art and story telling. It's a credit to them and their abilities.

Raii x


Brush Stroke Dancing at Healing Family

This week at Healing Family, an organization that works with adults with disabilities, we explored the many shades of rhythm and dance. Starting off with a game of "Musical Statues" we got everyone showing off their impressive dance moves. After a winner was chosen, we settled into another form of artistic expression. 

Using Kandinsky's sensorial approach to painting, we splattered and splashed our interpretations of any given song onto paper. The twist: after each song snippet we passed our art work to the person to our right. Musical chairs sans chairs if you will. From Whitney Houston to Bob Marley, everyone swayed and played with colour and form. The final pieces were an assemblage of everybody's emotional reactions to the diverse playlist. And last but definitely not least, the troupe from Healing family treated us to a dance performance which included a fantastic mash up of Elvis and Michael Jackson dance moves. Fun times all around!