Goodbye Thailand

Well, it's time to head back to the USA. My month in Chiang Mai is up and I have to say goodbye to everybody. I had an amazing time here. If you get the chance to work with the Cultural Canvas Program or now called Art Relief International, DO IT! And do it for for as long as you can. Time flies here and before you know it you will be boarding the plane again. The staff at CCT are amazing people and have the most interesting stories about their travels. The kids and young adults you get to work with through the different workshops will make you not want to leave. Especially the children at Hope Home. Boomrat, a child with cerebral palsy, was with me every Wednesday for the past month and I will miss him. Some advice? Bring some workshop ideas and lesson plans with you so you can do as many workshops as possible in your time here. And bring art supplies!
I had an amazing time and I'm definitely going to come back someday. So as Susan Gottlieb, my fellow volunteer would say, " Get out of your comfy chair and go travel".

Erika Gates

Flag Workshop At Wat Pa Pao

Hello everyone, it's Michael, Art Director of the Canvas Art Program reporting on another fabulous workshop that we conducted this week at Wat Pa Pao.

Wat Pa Pao is a wonderful school nestled within an ancient Buddhist temple located on the northern border of Chiang Mai's old city.  For this workshop we worked with two groups of children aged from 3-5 years old as well as 7-11 year olds.  The kids were great from the beginning, respectful and attentive during Pat's energetic presentation on symbols and flags which opened up their minds to the potential meanings of images drawn from their eveyday surroundings.

After the kids got started drawing on their own flags, their imagination and skill really took hold, and I happily saw them creating detailed drawings using pens and colored pencils.  In the end they created some beautiful flags which they whirled around much to the envy of their other friends watching outside.

What was most rewarding about this workshop was hearing about what the kids drew on their symbolic flags through a verbal question and answer session. Their flags represent a wide variety of interests from family to hobbies and to get a little glimpse as an outsider into the lives of these dynamic children was certainly a highlight of my time here thus far.

Hope Home goes to the Playground

On Wednesday, I had my last day with Hope Home. I didn't want the day to end before we even arrived. We loaded everyone up in their wheelchairs, and strollers and were off down the road to the playground. It was a nice sunny day and Paradon and Natalie were swinging on the swings while Pancake played with the sand.Pancake especially loved the new sounds and textures. Joy was being rocked back and forth on a swing while Phil and Boomrat were having races around the playground with the help of Michael and I. Everyone was so happy and peaceful. There was no crying while we were there. Phil and Boomrat loved looking at the rabbits in their cages and the chickens running around. Boomrat really liked watching me slide down a slide that I could barely fit on. We walked back after a while and decided to put the finishing touches on our tree that we made last week. The leaves were all up but it was time to put the butterflies up that the kids made. Susan and Natalie put some butterflies up and it was time to say goodbye. We took some photos and we on our way. Goodbye Hope Home, I loved working with you. Maybe I'll come back someday.
Susan and Natalie


Wildflower Home Card Workshop

Shaving cream technique
This past Friday the Canvas Art Program did a workshop with the single mothers of Wildflower Home. The workshop consisted of making cards out of shaving cream and then attaching a print that they would make out of a lino stamp so they could sell them for a profit. Sharah and I each introduced our techniques and then let the women make their cards. They absolutely loved it. They sprayed the shaving cream down, spread it out, added food coloring and swirled it around, then placed their paper in the shaving cream while wondering what design would come up. They lifted their paper out and a huge glob of shaving cream was scraped off, leaving a beautiful, unique design. It looks a little like Tye dye or marbling. Everyone was amazed at how different each card was and how so many different designs could be created. By the end of the workshop they were pros. Sharah showed off her printmaking skills to the women with her lino blocks that she carved. The women learned how to roll the ink out and onto the stamp and print it. They waited for their artwork to dry and then attached the marbled paper from the shaving cream to a blank card. We provided envelopes and blank sleeves so they were ready to be sold.  Everyone was so excited and just wanted to continue making more of them. We left the supplies for them so they can create more in the future and sell them at markets. Success!
Finished Product!
The shaving cream cards



Life in Trees- Hope Home

The Hope Home workshop this week was amazing! Michael came up with a fun collaborative project for the kids there. At Hope Home most of the children have cerebral palsy and other special needs so coming up with projects and accommodating them to suit the needs of all of the children can be challenging. Our workshop was centered around the life that exists high above us in the tree tops. The children created beautiful butterflies and leaves native to Thailand to apply to the tree. They used a tissue paper transfer method to explore color mixing on the butterflies.  Then we used markers and wax crayons to explore different lines and shapes while decorating the leaves. The students had a wonderful time as they worked with the new tissue paper method and had a chance to practise their drawing skills. When they were finished, the tree was hung on the wall in Hope Home and all the children gathered to watch the leaves and butterflies get attached to the branches. They were all so excited to see their work displayed on the wall, Boomrat laughed hysterically as Erica stuck his leaves on the wall.

For the past two weeks I had the opportunity to work with a precious young girl. Her name is Joy and she is about two years old but is very tiny for her age. She has little muscle capacity and for this reason her ability to create artwork is quite limited.  Although she has these limitations, she is so wonderful to work with and seems to approach new challenges with an open mind. I was so excited to see her reaching for the marker and grasping it all by herself today! The children at Hope Home are really special, the littlest things seem to really melt your heart. Even though I was only able to participate in two workshops with Hope Home during my time here, I was able to see how amazing these children really are and how they compensate for their limited physical abilities with their energy, determination and warm spirit.



Connections and Conduits

I am overwhelmed and impressed with Cultural Canvas Thailand and it is only my first day in the office.

Hi everyone I am Susan Gottlieb long long time art teacher and artist from Lancaster, Pennsylvania USA. I will be working with the Canvas Art Program (CAP). And I have been a fan of SE Asia for many years, lured here over a decade ago by the rich art historical tradition. This time rather than scrambling around ancient temples and taking my studies home, to my art students at Lancaster Country Day School, I am eager to teach and do art work right here in Chiang Mai.

Everyone here in the CAP program shares the same passion for art as a means for finding and making connections outwardly as well as inwardly. As volunteers we design art workshops that we take out to other organizations working in Chiang Mai. I have yet to participate but look forward to tomorrow when we will go to Hope Home, an organization the works with children with mental and physical disabilities.

There is so much need on so many levels. And and CCT's work reaches out far and wide in to the Chiang Mai community. From the staff to the volunteers the energy, enthusiasm and level of professionalism is top notch. I am so pleased to be here.



Mask Making at Baan Vieng Ping Orphanage

This morning Michael, Pat, Erica, Ashlie and I headed out to Baan Vieng Ping Orphanage to lead a mask-making workshop. I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive (to say the least) when I heard we would be working with 20 kids under the age of 5. The anxiety immediately diminished when we arrived at Baan Vieng Ping and met the wonderful staff and enthusiastic children who gave us a very warm welcome. The workshop we facilitated gave the children an opportunity to explore both realistic and mythological birds through song, dance and visual art.

We began our workshop by getting the students to identifying various types of birds and exploring the sounds and movements of each bird. The students giggled as Michael and Pat did their best to mimic the sounds of each bird. After the discussion of the birds, we introduced the "Chicken Dance" to the students and encouraged them to follow along. Even though some of the students were reluctant to participate I think they all got a kick out of the staff and volunteers as we performed this silly dance.

 The students then began creating their own mythological bird masks. The students used bright colored crayons to explore different lines, shapes and patterns while creating their bird masks. Once the students were finished applying the color to their masks we sprinkled glitter on each one. As we did this, you could see the excitement in the kid's faces as they waited patiently to try on their bird masks. We finished up the workshop by doing a dance together so they could show off their beautiful masks. We all had an amazing time with the friendly staff and the wonderful kids at Baan Vieng Ping Orphanage and look forward to working with them again! A big thank you to the staff and kids at Baan Vieng Ping Orphanage for your energy and enthusiasm and to the CCT staff for making this workshop a success!



Musical Instruments with Hope Home

This past Wednesday we went to Hope Home with our homemade musical instruments in hand. Tambourines, guitars and flutes made from paper towel rolls and boxes made our musical day fun. While Natalie and Paradon created streamers and danced, waving them through the air, the rest of us were decorating our instruments with markers and paint. Boomrat, Phil, Joy and Pancake had a blast listening to the different sounds each instrument made after they decorated.Phil enjoyed strumming the guitar with his feet and Pancake loved the guitar as well.  I worked with Boomrat who liked painting and drawing on the instruments and was more excited about painting than he was last week but he loved listening to the flute especially. I haven't seen him smile that big before. I would duck down and hide and then jump up playing the flute and he would be laughing so hard. We had a little jam session towards the end with Boomrat on the tambourine. It was such a fun workshop and even though I left a little lightheaded (from playing the flute so much), we had a great time.


Smiling Faces and Warm Hearts

Hello everyone! My name is Sharah Hanson and I have travelled all the way from a city called Saskatoon on the prairies in Canada to Chiang Mai. After arriving in Chiang Mai, one can't help but notice the friendly nature of the people here. Thailand truely lives up to it's nickname, the "land of smiles".   In Canada I work as an art teacher so this placement seemed to be a perfect fit! So far I have had the opportunity to facilitate three very different workshops with the wonderful staff here at CAP (Canvas Art Program).  We've done everything from mask-making to building crafty little musical instruments, as well as a personal flag project which explored the concept of identity. Each group of kids that we work with have very different needs but they are all so sweet and energetic. When you see the excitement in the children's eyes it makes all the hard work worth while!


Personal Flag Workshop at Thai Freedom House

aiThis past Friday we had the opportunity to work with some children and young adults from the Thai Freedom House. We did a workshop where we engaged them in the idea of a personal flag, first letting them see different flags from all over the world. We located the flags' nations on the map and showed where they were in relation to Thailand. The young ones got so excited when they knew where a country was located. We talked about symbols on flags and what they mean. Then we showed everyone the personal flags that we at cultural canvas made. We explained what the symbols on our flags meant and then spread out the art materials and let them create their own personal flags. It is so neat that you can connect with someone through art even though you dont speak the same language as them. They had a blast drawing for symbols in all corners of the flag which represented something important in their lives. They made fringe for the sides and attached a handle. The flags turned out beautifully with many different colors and drawings. Even the volunteers got to join in and add color to their flags.  This workshop was a very fun environment with all their previous art hanging from the walls and celing. Thai Freedom House was great to work with and hopefully we will be back there soon.



Sponge painting workshop with Hope Home

Today we went to Hope Home and worked with the children doing sponge painting and and sensory stimulation and sound workshop. We watched  a cute little cartoon of a singing and dancing elephant and then sponge painted with the kids. The sponges were cut out as leaves, circles, squares and even elephants. Some of us painted with the sponges on our own paper while a few worked on a large outline of elephants in their natural habitat. The elephants and trees were soon covered with paint along with the children's hands and feet. I got to work with Boomrat who was very interested in what Phil and Pancake were doing rather than his own work. Some of the children have Cerebral Palsey, including Boomrat,  and cannot fully grasp the brush without help. He can paint himself with just a little help. All the children seemed really happy getting messy in the paints even though a few of them were a little sick. The paintings turned out beautifully and us Canvas Art people were as happy as the kids were. It was amazing working with them as my first experince here in Thailand. We look forward to seeing all of them next Wednesday.



New in Thailand

Hi everybody! My name is Erika and I arrived in Chiang Mai this past Saturday. Besides the blazing hot weather, I love it here. The food is amazing, the people are really nice and so far everything has been great. Today was my first day at the Canvas Art program's office where I met all the people I will be working with for the next four weeks. I jumped right into drawing out some projects for tomorrow and I'm really excited to be working with all these different groups of people.