A Peek At My Art4Educators Poster Collection!

I’ve squirrelled away for the first half of my summer vacation, and it has been so amazing for my spirit, my family and my art.

Have you ever been working away when it hits you? This is where I am supposed to be.

That just happened to me. I took 1 and a half days a week this summer to focus on building my business, and figuring out what that even meant. Uh – I still don’t know, but anyway. I’ve been planning for a line of art for educators (aptly called “Art4Educators”), and working on collections of surface designs that could be licensed, and profiled for companies seeking licensees. I also launched a new service to illustrate people’s kids.

I thought I might get 1 or 2 interested buyers, but within 3 days, I sold out. Sold out meaning, I had 20 clients commission illustrations – and that is more than enough to keep me drawing and painting until school starts again! I am overwhelmed with the reality of how opening up space to create has translated into more business than I’ve ever had before.

One of the new products I’ll be offering in, I hope, September, is a line of updated inspirational/motivational posters for the classroom. As a teacher, I know I’m sick and tired of walking the halls and seeing the same outdated, tired, cheesy and frankly – tacky – posters in the halls and classrooms. But there aren’t many options for good ones.

That’s why I’ve created some with quotes that are relevant to today’s learner and today’s teacher – and are simple, beautiful and classy.

It was in the moment of reviewing these this evening that I was hit with that “You’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing” moment.

And so – I’ve got to share some peeks at what I’m working on! These posters are created digitally, and are one side of my Art4Educators collection. The other side features hand-painted acrylic and mixed-media illustrations with quotes, and I am very excited to share those – when they’re ready!

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“I can’t do this!” *Mr. Patrick directs student to this poster*
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THIS is what I want my students to leave my class with – the understanding that it’s up to them, and that curiosity is the key to a life worth living.
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I made this one for my family, but it will make its way into my classroom, too. This is our family’s motto, our “golden rule” – and now it’s up for us to remember every day.
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I also made this one with a turquoise brushed background, and it is, dare I say, delicious.
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#ArtistsForLove: We Stand With You

When Kelly Rae Roberts posted her #artistsforlove piece, along with a blog loaded with gorgeous pieces sending the same message, I felt the call to create my own.

I talk to my students about this all the time.

I stand for kindness, respect, love, hope, and kindness. Above all else – above math concepts and spelling, above scores on standardized testing – I stand for these things.

I stand with all indigenous people, muslims, LGBTQ, immigrants, alter-abled, women, the disenfranchised, refugees, all people of colour, veterans, survivors, and anyone feeling alone and scared.

If you would like to join in, then create your own and share it for free with the hashtag #artistsforlove. You don’t even need to be an artist. You can just be someone who feels called to stand with the world, and all of the people who live within it.

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Process Post: Every Child Deserves A Champion

When a fellow educator asks you to make their art, it turns out that it is actually really tough. It’s one thing to think about education from an outside perspective: desks and text books and smiling teacher, oh my! But when you’re deep in the trenches and have strong (very strong … like, REALLY powerfully sometimes to a fault strong) beliefs about learning and education, it makes it more of a challenge. Add to that, I know – and admire – the client. I had my work set out for me.

After much discussion around imagery, purpose and intentionality of the piece, I set to work implementing a quote that she wanted to use, and I sketched out a few samples.

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We agreed on this image – the teacher is helping the student up, but is not entirely supporting the student. Learning is about the right supports, not entire support. The student is climbing this mountain of books – knowledge – all the while, gently and lovingly guided by the teacher. In the background is the quote, and on the books is a second quote from the same TedX Talk by Rita Pierson. Oh, how I love Rita Pierson’s being, words, and light.

Next, I set to work on the background, drew in the basic structure with chalk, and got to painting. For the faces, I blocked in the colour and set to work on shading and blending later. The text popped in quite nicely, and I was so in love with this piece by the end that I actually had a pretty tough time letting it go! However, it now lives in the Vice Principal’s office at a school in my board, and I’m so proud to be part of this new VP’s journey.

I take commissions! Check out my Facebook page for pricing, and get in touch! www.facebook.com/patrickguindonart (Pricing starts at $0.40/square inch, with uncharges for complexity or intensity needed for each individual piece! This lets me price it out for you fairly, but still adjust to your specific piece. Pre-made originals + prints are priced differently.)

Why You’ve Got To Stop With The Stick People

“Don’t worry about it, I can only draw stickmen.”

This common sentiment from parents and teachers is driving me NUTS. It’s also sometimes said as, “I can’t even draw a stick man!”

Seriously?! Enough already.

There are a few things going on here, so let’s get deep down into it, because I am sick and tired of this bogus sentiment shutting down creativity and limiting possibility.

The reason you either can’t draw a stick man, or can “only” draw is stick man, is because you’re lazy and you have no confidence. You aren’t willing to take a risk, you aren’t willing to build a skill and you are more than happy to limit the kids you live or work with as they find comfort in your chorus of ONLY drawing stick men or NOT EVEN bothering.


Guess what? I can’t really draw stick men. In fact, I couldn’t really draw PEOPLE until a year or so ago. There was a reason I stuck to monsters. 

But guess what else? As I practiced, copied characters I liked and pushed myself to learn, I found myself more comfortable with it. I experimented, tried different things and made a lot of REALLY UGLY PEOPLE DRAWINGS. But every now and then, I can draw one I like.

It’s about time and it’s about grit and it’s about effort and it’s about not having to perform on freaking command.

What are we teaching our kids when we tell them not to worry about it, because we too cannot or can only draw a stick figure? We are teaching them:

  1. Effort doesn’t matter. Just stick to the simple forms.
  2. You don’t need to push yourself. I didn’t, and so what? So you probably don’t need to try hard in math or on the field or with your reading and writing, either. If it doesn’t apply to you, don’t bother!
  3. Art is for artistes. Only the uniquely gifted may create openly and without fear. (Guess what? The “uniquely gifted” have worked their asses off and create with massive amounts of fear, most of the time. But they actually push and try.)
  4. Art doesn’t matter. Just get something on your page. You don’t need to try to find your voice or communicate anything beyond a stick with a head.
  5. You can be like me. I don’t want you to be better.

I’m not saying that you have to draw well. I’m not saying that everyone must be creative and artistic. I am, however, saying that you’ve GOT to stop limiting the imagination, exploration and fascination that kids can have with the world around them by tipping the first art-domino with one well-intended line: “I can’t even draw a stick man!”

Some Process Work

I’ve talked before about my process, and it seems to continually change. That’s the most important part of my work. It changes. Just like me, my mind, my thoughts, the way I speak, the way I approach and interact with people and myself – it changes.

I am focusing more and more on reference photos, and using my sketchbook to explore and play.

I wanted to do some studies around my son, Kingsley. I felt that his strong, strange personality would be the perfect type of energy to try and capture in some basic pencil sketches, so I have been following him around for a week, sketching his gestures in very quick, messy sketches (live) and taking a zillion pictures of him.

I knew that I wanted to stylize him, too. I wanted to apply a picture book character “look” that might fit in with the approach I have been honing over the past year. I decided to start by actually drawing him from this photo, in a realistic way:

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I drew him as close to this as I could in a short time frame (I gave myself about 10 minutes, and my focus was on pulling out major characteristics in his looks). Then, I played around with a character version of him. I moved the eyes around a lot, and replaced them about seven times with various approaches. I went back in my sketchbook to refer to some other sketches I had done a week ago that used an eye style I liked.

The results of the primary study:

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Then, I sketched a number of poses. I used photographs in order to get the gestures correct, and played with eye shape, sizing, space and location, as well as line work in the mouth, nose and eyebrows in order to specify his expressions. I am so pleased with the general full layout that I put together. It was so much fun to create in this way, and using references, and filtering his general features through a realistic drawing first, really helped.

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If you are a teacher, or if you have a creative kid, then try having them do something like this, too. Take some photos, and give them just enough time to sketch them down quickly before moving on. The “just enough time” for me tended to be the length of time that was provided before my iPhone went dark, though truth be told there were certain cases where I needed to zoom and move around the screen, so really, it was likely much longer than the minute or two provided by the phone.

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EdPost: Debilitating Creativity by Offering Creativity

It’s ridiculously important to respect that the creative process, cycle and experience is different for every single person who engages in it. This includes both children and adults, both experienced and newcomers.

For myself, I can’t just DRAW you something. It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of studying, exploring, and trying. I often hear at workshops, when the presenter suggests, “You can DRAW what you think!”, which is supposed to engage the creative people in the room, that it’s perfect for someone like me. In fact, I should be the person to draw and design the ideas that the group is working on! People sometimes argue over having me in their group.

And then … disappointment!

Because – I can’t draw on command.

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There are major issues with assigning roles like this. I think it is time we start asking ourselves what our intentions are. If the intention is just classroom management, it’s time to dig deeper and consider why the students aren’t engaging.

I wish I could, but I can’t.

And, just like I can’t draw on command, I also can’t draw every single thing in the known universe. Kids? I’m getting there. Animals? Depends on which one. Houses? I can do them in a variety of very whimsical approaches.

There tends to be this myth tagged to creativity and creative, artistic people, and it can be debilitating. This is something we need to remember with our own children and students.

It is important to push (and be pushed) outside of comfort zones, but it is not okay – in my mind – to label someone as creative and expect them to create on command. Sometimes, it won’t come. Sometimes, it takes hours. And sometimes, it comes in a flash.

chalk-girl-1432392.jpgThis is an issue with many of … no, most of … our art classes. We give the kids 30 minutes to do a predetermined project on a Friday afternoon, we pray they will behave appropriately, and we threaten the art period. Conversely, we might offer an “open ended” project, but then add a timeline, and for some kids, this just won’t work. So they get a C, and they stop loving art, and they’ve lost one of the most powerful tools to express themselves. This isn’t really okay, is it?

I think we need to build a greater culture of respect around creativity. It isn’t some kitschy thing that we can pick up at the dollar store or on Pinterest. My artwork shouldn’t be created from a menu: you pick the style, the medium, the colours, etc. That’s not me being creative. That’s me filling an order.

The pressure to perform on command can be a terrifying, stressful, disengaging experience for students and for our own kids. We need to keep this in mind when we present them with creative opportunities.