Thursday, February 27, 2020

"The Art of Curiosity" - Photos in Review

The Senior Adult Club at the Jewish Community Center in Harrisburg embraced each of the creative projects of my "creative aging" artist residency called "The Art of Curiosity". 

It was inspired by resources such as:

"How to Think Like Leonardo DaVinci" by Michael Gelb
* "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert
* Ted Talk, "How frustration can make us more creative" by Tim Harford, and using Oblique Strategies cards
* "The Art Forger" by B.A. Shapiro
* "Creative Dyeing for Fabric Arts" by Suzanne McNeill
* Caitlin's Smiles "bags of smiles" program

3 Words
Students were asked to write 3 single words that describe their experience from this class. Their answers include: creativity, expression, companionship, happiness, excitement, motivating, inspiring, stimulating, enlightening, joyful, entertaining, enjoyable, relaxing, challenging, innovative, cooperative, communicating with others, creative outlet, freedom to experiment without judgement, new friends, met nice people, an escape from ordinary life, growth, satisfaction, appreciation, and fun, really fun, fun, fun, fun! 

In response to "one thing I learned was"... let my eyes and hands take over and not to think too much about what to do.
...its good to be curious.
...keep trying. stop trying for perfection. Just do it.
...everyone has artistic ability.
...all art is creative excellence.
...relax to let the creativity flow.
...diversity, new art forms.

Students gave reviews, such as:

"I really loved going from conventional portraits to the single line drawing and simplifying it further to create my wire portrait of my grandson. It's the best thing I've done so far."

"Being creative and expressing it helps keep your mind from turning to mush. It keeps you young!"

"Learning that 'leaving perfection go' is okay -- to just experiment without expecting a masterpiece."

"Nothing is unfixable -- one need not be an artist to enjoy participating in an artist residency."

"I made numerous bags - got me thinking about how fortunate I am to have my health."

The residency was an Arts In Education program of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts; and funded in part by The Foundation for Enhancing Communities.


This group even ended up on TV with a visit from ABC27 News. Watch it here:

And, they got to show their creative prowess to state leaders when the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA), Robert Torres, and the executive director of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Karl Blischke visited the class.  

A statewide promotional video about taking "creative aging" classes at PA senior centers was created by PDA during their visit starring this talented class. Watch it here:

Wait, there's more! The Community Review ran this story about the wire art class. Read it here:

And, 50 Plus Life ran this story about the visit from State leaders:

Really Fun Photos

Here are colorful and fun, really fun, fun, fun, fun, fun photos from The Art of Curiosity"...

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A Year of Bag Art Benefits Caitlin's Smiles

A year long personal art challenge to draw a weekly sketch on a white bag has led to a bundle of colorfully illustrated bags being delivered to Cailin's Smiles for their "bags of smiles" program. The bags are sure to be smile makers for the children who will receive them.

Cheryl Kugler, artist, and Cheryl Hornung, founder of Caitlin's Smiles.

A menagerie of colorfully, illustrated bags by Cheryl Kugler.

I came up with my own personal art challenge to get myself back at my studio art desk. I made a New Year's commitment, um 'er resolution, to build a creative habit.

My plan: From January to December 2019, draw a sketch each week on a white craft bag for Caitlin's Smiles "bags of smiles" program. I also planned to recreate every drawing into my own personal sketchbook. Shouldn't be too daunting, right?

Mission Accomplished: On January 10, I delivered 53 illustrated bags to Caitlin's Smiles.  And, my sketchbook is full.

The Creative Habit.
*Whew*...It wasn't easy to keep to task. Some weeks I'd have an immediate idea and I could knock out the sketch just like that. Other weeks, six days would go by and come Saturday evening, I'd be struggling for a creative idea. My not-so hard deadline became a soft deadline and I found myself extending the creative process into Sunday, and eventually it became Monday evening. I fell behind a few weeks, then had double-duty to catch up and keep to task. In the end, my sketchbook is full and 53 artsy bags are now in the hands of Caitlin's Smiles.

About Caitlin's Smiles.
Caitlin's Smiles is an amazing organization based in Harrisburg, PA that fills their "bags of smiles" with arts and crafts items and delivers them to children in hospitals. The organization's service imprint is commendable, to say the least. They not only serve south central Pennsylvania, but several east coast states, as well as southern states grappling with hurricane devastation.

The service footprints of Caitlin's Smiles extends beyond Pennsylvania.
Why Did I Need This Art Challenge?
Yes, I truly needed it. For four previous years my creativity was directed at retraining myself as a "creative aging" teaching artist and building lesson plans for "creative aging" art classes that I teach at Pennsylvania senior centers and continuing care retirement communities. My own output of art was waning. Well, actually, I was barely sketching, drawing, or painting at all. My creative well was empty, as they say. My canvases, blank.

An artist's inspiration needs fueled by day to day things, sights and sounds that inspire, and to make time for artist dates as the great Julia Cameron of "The Artist's Way" writes. Otherwise, there is nothing experienced or internalized to spark the imagination. Small steps to break the dry spell can be daily or in my case weekly sketches. That small step begins to build an artist's creative bank and provides ideas that are ready to draw upon for future paintings.

Why Caitlin's Smiles"?
1. It is an amazing organization. Pssst!...Donations for the arts and crafts items that go into the bags can be made through their website.
2. Bag art for Caitlin's Smiles is a project I've had my students do during artist residencies. Yet, I had not taken the time to do any bags myself. Their enthusiasm and beautiful art served as my creative spark. 

Pass The Baton.
Any artist interested in taking on the challenge for 2020? I'd love to pass along the baton. Guidelines as far as appropriate messaging content for on the bags can be found on their website. The blank white craft bags can be purchased through

Snapshots of Bags:
There are two full postings recapping all of the bags over on my Facebook Art Page:

Post 1: Weeks 1-25

Post 2: Weeks 26-53

A Few Favs of Inspiration.
Anticipating Spring. Artist, Cheryl Kugler.

Tree cutting day. Artist, Cheryl Kugler.

A NYC kitty. Artist, Cheryl Kugler.

A guest's delectible dessert. Artist, Cheryl Kugler.

A July 4th kitty. Artist, Cheryl Kugler.

Brrrr...chilly winter day. Artist, Cheryl Kugler.
Snails at Phipps Conservatory. Artist, Cheryl Kugler.

A resident at Speranza Animal Rescue. Artist, Cheryl Kugler.

Sunflower fields in bloom. Artist, Cheryl Kugler.

Delivery day to Caitlin's Smiles. Artist, Cheryl Kugler.

A bitter cold but sunny day. Artist, Cheryl Kugler.

Inspired by a wall mural at the beach. Artist, Cheryl Kugler.

A beach day. Artist, Cheryl Kugler.

After watching "A Dolphin's Tale". Artist, Cheryl Kugler.

Pennsylvania Leaders Visit "Creative Aging" Art Class in Harrisburg.

Thrilled to have a visit from Karl Blischke the executive director of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and Robert Torres the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging at my "creative aging" artist residency with the Senior Adult Club at the Jewish Community Center in Harrisburg.

As the art-making began they joined in with pastels and paper, then talked with class participants and heard their stories of artistic experiences during the grant-funded art residencies.

They also created this amazing video to promote the benefits of taking art classes at senior centers statewide:

Left to right:
Jamie Dunlap, program director of Arts in Education
Karl Blischke, executive director of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts
Cheryl Kuger, "creative aging" teaching artist
Robert Torres, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging

The artist residency is through the arts in education program of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and The Foundation for Enhancing Communities.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Meaningful Messages in Self Portraits

TRUTH! "Just because I'm a senior citizen doesn't mean I am not young at heart and enjoy laughing and having a very good time."

TRUTH! "Friends bring me great joy."

TRUTH! "Just because I'm a senior doesn't mean I don't like to try new things."

TRUTH! "Still like to have fun 65."

These are statements made on self portraits of older artists at the Upper Adams Senior Center. They created the thoughtful and expressive self portraits after a writing exercise that prompted the messages in their artworks.
Meaningful messages in self portraits by older artists.
This was the last session of a 10-week artist residency through the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Adams County Office for Aging, Inc., Startsomething Arts In Education / Cultural Alliance of York County. As a teaching artist I learned as much from them (probably more!) as they did from me.

Creating a self portrait inspired by a writing exercise.
An art class participant "trying something new".

Self portraits created by senior citizens filled with messages.

The artist appreciates friends and family in this self portrait.
Details of a self portrait.

The self-portrait project is inspired by a similar class by TA Lisa Hazinag that I participated in as a student of Lincoln Center Education Summer Forum this past July.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Colorful Yukon-inspired Art by Senior Adult Club

Would you like to create art in the Canadian Yukon?

This week the artists from the Senior Adult Club in my 10-week artist residency at the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg learned about the colorful and charming yet sophisticated art of Canadian artist Ted Harrison. They also learned about 1-3 month art residency opportunities at Ted's beloved cabin at Crag Lake in the Yukon.

Inspired by his colorful work the class then got busy creating their own oil pastels on black paper using photo references of the Yukon as guides. The outcomes are beautiful!

The artist residency is an Arts in Education program of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Jump Street, and The Foundation for Enhancing Communities.