Christian Smith grew up in the coastal town of Cushing, Maine. As a child she was fascinated by the region’s folklore. She was also blessed with a creative family that read to her every night and provided lots of crayons to encourage her art. She learned early in life how much she loved to draw and tell stories through her artwork. Christian is a painter, illustrator, puppeteer and is involved in various projects throughout the community that mix art and people. She studied illustration at Parson’s School of Design in New York City and has a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Arts from Western Washington University. She is a member of the Waterfront Artists’ Collective.
Christian has taught art in schools and for community organizations since 2001. She has taught kindergarten through adult age levels. Among the organizations she has worked with are: Allied Arts Education Project, Handprint Arts, Seamar Visions, Nooksak Middle School Clubs, Catholic Community Services, Animals as Natural Therapy and The Willows.
My teaching philosophy is pretty simple. I believe in building a child’s creative self-confidence and giving them a positive association with the creative process, all under the guise of fun! I believe that once you light that fire, a hunger to learn art techniques naturally follows. I encourage a child to see multiple options for each artistic decision and then have them make their own choices, asking the question, “You are the artist, how would you like it to be?” As a working artist, I find my ability to think outside the box and my confidence to keep going are my most treasured assets and I really enjoy drawing these qualities out in others. Art, if taught with a healthy attitude, can teach a child to be an innovative and flexible person in all aspects of life which becomes a tool for accepting the diverse weather that life presents and provides the bravado to leap right in and get involved!
3 Hour Lesson Plans (For grades 1-5)
Animals in People Clothes: A Silly and Fanciful Painting Workshop: Students learn classical art and design techniques with a fun and playful twist in this workshop. Students create characters from the initial line drawing to the full-color finished painting. Young artists invent their own original colors from red, yellow, blue, and white, a very empowering skill that teaches color theory, too. We share how our color choices describe who our characters are and how our animals are extensions of who we are. The workshop includes a fun creature interview that allows the students to describe in a story the character they have created. Any unit of study can be incorporated into this workshop by request.
Popular variation: Imaginary Ocean Creatures Painting Workshop, Zany Northwest Mountain School Animals, Paint Yourself as an Animal.
Imaginary Science: Flip Flap Book Workshop: In this workshop, students pretend they are scientists or inventors, (depending on the unit focus) who have discovered a new species or invented a new robot, etc.
Session One: Students brainstorm about what makes a bird a bird or a robot a robot, then create a line drawing of the “new” species or invention. Students then complete a “scientist interview”; a writing exercise that introduces their discovery to the world, with a lot of room for imagination allowed.
Session Two: Students create Flip Flap books. First they transform their line drawings from session one into mixed media masterpieces, these works of art become the front cover of the books. The “scientist interviews” become the back cover of the books. Photocopied line drawings from the entire class are stapled and cut into thirds to become an amazing flip flap book with dozens of creature or invention combinations. Students will be invited to share their creature discoveries in character if they wish. A great workshop for combining art, science, writing and fun! Some past and popular themes: Imaginary Ocean Creatures, Imaginary Insects, Imaginary Birds, Imaginary Mammals.
Imaginary Worlds Watercolor Workshop: In this workshop, students learn basic watercolor and pen and ink technique while creating an imaginary realm of their own design. The day will start with a “Meet the Artist” session where I will share my own fanciful paintings and illustrations, followed by an
“Imaginary World” brainstorming sketch session. Students learn to create a loose pencil sketch with back ground and characters. This will be followed by a color mixing lesson, and light background color wash. After a short break, we “ink” our creations, using sharpies. (In special circumstance, we may use nib pens, if requested) We will continue by experimenting with other watercolor technique, such as line work, drybrush, layers of wash while getting to know our characters and adding detail to our amazing imaginary worlds! There is an emphasis on letting happy accidents occur and on positive self-talks while making your art. An optional “Character Interview” and writing exercise will be left with teacher to further develop the world that the student has created. A story to go with the beautiful illustration!
Papier Mache Puppet Adventure Workshop: Create totally unique, colorful and fanciful puppets for your classroom lessons. This workshop places an emphasis on creative problem solving and working with simple materials that are cheap or free and in the child’s everyday environment, while having a whole lot of creative fun!
Session One: We start with a “Meet the Puppets” brainstorm and story session. Puppet creation begins and we transform paper, tape and random junk from our recycling bins into puppets. After a short break, students apply papier mache. The puppets will need to dry over the course of the week and be painted with a base color before session two.
Session Two: We start with more of her puppet stories. Students will work with piles of fabric to create a puppet body and parent volunteers will assist at the hot glue gun table. Adults are encouraged to be “Glue Gun Robots” who only attach exactly what the young artists ask them to. After a short break, the “Treasure Chest” table of random decorations is unveiled and each child is allowed up to five amazing treasures to help bring out the character of the puppets. We finish with a short “Puppet Parade” and/or “Sharing Circle”. Christian will leave behind an optional “Puppet Interview” writing exercise.
Imaginary Birds Watercolor Painting: We will learn basic sketching and watercolor painting technique while creating our very own birds, as if we are scientists who are just discovering them! We will take a look at different kinds of bird feet, beaks, eyes and wings and what these adaptions are used for. Then we will sketch and paint our very own invented birds. We will finish with an “About My Bird” writing exercise, and a mock “symposium” where the kids can name and introduce their bird to the world, as a scientist would. A playful and fun way to learn to paint, while connecting it to science. (In the past, we have adapted the subject to Imaginary Mammals and Imaginary Flying Insects).
12 Hour Lesson Plans (For 5th Grades Only)
Christian Anne Smith and Andy Koch
Cultural Folktales Adventure and Paper Måché Puppets: This dynamic duo will bring the following experiences to your students: Sketching, Sculpting, Papier Mache, Painting, Mixed Media, Character Development, Puppeteering and Performance, Exposure to Ancient Cultural Tales, as well as opportunities for reflective writing at the end.
Session 1: Andy meets with class, reads scripts, casts kids, and introduces history of puppetry. Leaves character sketch exercise behind.
Session 2: Papier Mache Day with Christian: Meet The Puppets, Paper and Tape Build and Papier Mache Day. Puppets Dry one week and get a base coat of paint.
Session 3: Day Two, Decorate with Christian: More Puppet Stories, Fabric Fun and Decoration with Found Object Treasures. Finishing up with a Puppet Parade, often to younger students’ classrooms.
Session 4-5: Work in the Puppet Tent with Andy, learning all about Puppetry.
Session 6: Puppet Performance! For younger grades or parents.
Imaginary Science Flip Flap Book:
Animals in People Clothes: