Books, Travel

NY is for New York

Picture book by Paul Thurlby

September reminds me of New York. A decade ago, hubby and I made a trip to “The Big Apple” to attend a dear friend’s wedding, celebrated his birthday and caught the US Tennis Championship.

I found Paul Thurlby’s NY is for New York while browsing in the library and flipping through the illustrations brought back so much fond memories. Here are my top five from the book!

A is for American Museum of Natural History

One of the many museums we visited in NY and this place is huge! We tried to explore as much as we could. I cannot wait to bring older Gem here since science is her favourite subject!

The iconic blue whale model gets it annual clean up and we were lucky to witness it!

Click here to read more on the blue whale model.

Check out this link ; a science website for kids by AMNH, which has games, videos and other activities to keep your curious kids busy!

B is for Brooklyn Bridge

Manhattan was our base for most part of the trip although we made multiple trips to Brooklyn since our friend lives there. Brooklyn Bridge reminded me of the wonderful time spent there. From dollar cab rides to the purpose of the trip; the wedding!

M is for The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met is one of my favourite museums on planet earth. Yes, I love museums, especially art museums!

The Edgar Degas collection at the Havemeyer Gallery was quite a sight to behold; “The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer” sculpture surrounded by paintings such as “The Dance Class” and “Dancers Practicing at the Barre”.

“The Little Dancer” got herself a new tutu in 2018.

Q is for Queens

We took a long subway ride to Flushing Meadows Park for the US Open Tennis Championships. Caught a few matches with the most memorable between Andy Roddick and David Ferrer. Arthur Ashe for some matches of top seed like Nadal and Djokovic. Was a pity we could not catch Federer in action in the night sessions since we could not fit them into our schedule.

U is for Uptown

We spent a lovely day at Uptown Manhattan covering Central Park and The Guggenheim Museum.

Till the next time!

Art & Craft, Books

Henri Matisse Inspired Activities for Kids

Our Matisse inspired space

My first encounter with Henri Matisse’s art was a visit to the Rosary Chapel located in the South of France. I was 14 then on a school trip to Europe for an art history tour. The facade of the chapel was white and plain looking; a stark contrast to the majestic churches filled with Gothic and Renaissance frescos, which I was used to seeing earlier during the trip. It was a welcome change for me I recalled. 

I remembered sitting inside the chapel and in front of me just behind the altar was a mural of a man drawn in black outlined. I thought to myself “Hey! I think I can do that too!” It was Matisse’s masterpiece of Saint Dominic. What caught my attention was the bold coloured stained glass which stood out against the white interiors. The chapel was designed by Henri Matisse in his final years.

Using resources from the Singapore library, I borrowed two books “Henri’s Scissors” by Jeanette Winter and “How the Snail Found Its Colours: The Art of Matisse ” by Jeong-Yi Kee. These books opened the world of Matisse’s cutouts to younger GEM.

Book I: Henri’s Scissors

The story briefly details the life of Matisse from how a young boy who enjoyed the arts became a lawyer but eventually followed his passion to become an artist.

Matisse’s art in his later years were putting together coloured paper cut outs as he was no longer able to hold a paintbrush due to his ailments. Despite his inability to paint, he didn’t give up but channeled his passion of art to another artform. He formed collages using his colourful cut outs on walls. I am a fan of his collages!   

I planned for younger GEM to create her own coloured paper and make cutouts to decorate the wall and a recycled milk bottle to be used as a vase. 

Materials & Tools:

  • Drawing paper
  • Paints
  • Brushes
  • Scissors
  • Recycled milk bottle
  • Double sided tape

Our Process:

  1. Just like how Henri’s assistants painted the paper for him to cut, younger GEM painted the drawing papers with the colours she chose.
  2. I traced the some of the designs found in the book for us to cut. Both the “birds” were cut by younger GEM while the rest were too challenging for her.
  3. Decorate the milk bottle with the cut outs using double sided tape. A little fine motor skill practise from peeling the tape!
  4. Create a little Matisse inspired space! See image at the beginning of the post!
Painting papers for the cutouts

Practising her cutting skills.

Decorating her vase with cutouts.

Book II: How the Snail Found Its Colours

This is a story of a colourless snail embarking on a journey to find its own colours and along the way met a number of artworks by Matisse. Finally, the snail found its own colours from Matisse; from a colourless sad snail to a colourful fabulous one!    

From this story, younger GEM saw some of Matisse’s art such as “Dance (II)” and “Music”. The highlight was “The Snail”, which we will attempt to replicate. 

Materials & Tools:

  • Picture of “The Snail” by Matisse  
  • Square drawing paper
  • Crepe paper: black, orange, dark blue, dark and light green, yellow, red and pink
  • Scissors
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Tray

Our Process:

  1. I cut out the shapes similar to the original piece using crepe paper.
  2. Display the cut outs and place square drawing paper on tray.
  3. Younger GEM to place them on a blank piece of drawing paper according to the original artwork.
  4. Spray water over the entire piece of artwork and let the crepe paper colours “bleed”.
  5. Wait for a while and remove the crepe papers gently.
  6. Let dry.

The end product looked similar to a water colour painting and it was perfect as a birthday card for grandma!