Monday, September 4, 2017

When the right opportunity comes along...

Last winter, I was running an art class after school at Vancouver Talmud Torah. I was busy with work and studies, and this class offered me a break from all my duties. The group consisted of 21 happy kids and since we were all pleased, I was considering opening a second class after the Spring break. The challenge was finding a space where I could run and grow my art programs. One day, as I was walking by the hallways of the school, I realized that there were a few empty classes in the old wing of the school. I went to have a look and found one class that had a sink and plenty of natural light. I fell in love with the space and envisioned its potential. I quickly wrote a proposal to the leadership team at the school and told them that I would like to run an "Art school-after-school" program. I carefully designed a bunch of different programs for different age groups and planned a business projection for the first year. The school loved the proposal and after a few meetings, I was ready to start the renovations. Eventually I had to wait until the end of the school year to begin painting, changing, moving and renovating used chairs, tables and shelves but meanwhile I opened a second class and enjoyed teaching. By the end of June, I was ready to begin! The classroom was in a bad shape because it has not been used for a long time and things were looking very dull.

This photo was taken the last week of school, last June.

Removing the boards. The walls were filled with holes from many years of teaching.

Through out the summer, I spent hours working on this potential space. I received a donation of old furniture, chairs and tables, that I decided to paint over because they were black, dirty and especially... BORING!

Last July, painting the old furniture.

My vision was to create a place where kids will feel like they are doing art at home. Since the studio is located at a school and the kids come straight from a long day of classes, I thought it will be important to design a space that will help them transition from "school" mode to a "creative" and "happy" mode. The room has plenty of natural light, a big rug with pillows and cushions to sit on the floor, an armchair with a crochet blanket, a low table to sit around and draw, cut and glue and of course there are many dolls, pompons and whimsical objects on shelves and hanging from the ceiling.

Close up of dolls hanging from the ceiling and on the shelves.

Last July, during my trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, I enjoyed buying cute little things to add to the magic of the space such as pompons, tin animals, stuffed animals and fabrics.

Buying strips of colorful pompons on the streets of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Pompons hanging from the big windows at the new art studio.

Once the room was completed, I wanted to check the positive effect of the new space on the kids. On August 28th was the first day of "Yoga & Art" summer camp and when I saw the happy faces of the kids and heard their loud screams of joy, I realized that my vision was achieved. During the week of camp, I stopped for a few minutes each day to look at the kids and to witness their enjoyment. I believe and hope that the positive impact of this program will stay in the kids' hearts for years to come.

A photo of the art studio ready to greet the children!

Now, every time I enter this room, I feel happy right away!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Inspiring children in Oaxaca, Mexico

This July I was lucky to visit Mexico for the first time. My expectations and excitement were very high because I have seen and heard many amazing things about this fascinating country. This year, I was in the need of some time off for myself and was desperately seeking for inspiration. Even though I live in one of the most safe, clean and amazing cities in the world, when it comes to art and inspiration, my artistic soul looks over to other parts of the world...
During the school year, I taught my students about Folk art from other countries. We learned about Russia, Mexico, Israel and much more, all projects were described in my previous blog posts. This exposure made me want to explore México with my real eyes, instead of through the eyes of Google images.

Last April, I decided to book a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, a state I have heard so much from friends and colleagues. They told me that there is so much art and culture in Oaxaca, that I will fall in love with that place! and indeed I did...
This July, my friend Jenn and I packed some summer clothes and off we went to Mexico for 10 days!

A giant Mexican Lily. Its smell was incredible!

Little booths are set over the streets, selling cute pompons and other beautiful crafts

Not only I fell in Love with Oaxaca, I got inspired by this rich in culture, colorful and diverse state but I also got the opportunity to facilitate a workshop for local children at the beautiful CASA in San Agustin Etla, Oaxaca.

CASA was an old factory which went through massive renovations and now it is a beautiful building that offers free classes for children and adults in all areas of the arts (visual & performing).
This is their website:

On a rainy afternoon, we arrived in San Agustin, Etla and met the children. In the beginning, the children looked at me and didn't understand how a lady that comes from Canada, speaks such good Spanish, but her Spanish sounds different from theirs... a bit confusing. I did a short introduction about myself and showed them photos of my work. I also brought them some candies from Canada as an ice breaker. After a while, the children were more comfortable and ready to create!

 Setting up the workshop

Introducing the children to my work

It was challenging to pick an art activity that will engage children for 1 1 /2 hours and that could be packed (lightly) in a suitcase! I didn't have enough information before leaving regarding the number of children and their ages and gender. I decided to take a chance, and prepared necklaces from modeling clay. The activity lasted almost 2 hours, and the children engaged happily in the making of their necklaces.

 2 talented girls working on their pieces

 A young boy needs some help

 With Osiris, one of the friendliest girls I met

 Students engaged in the activity

Children showing their necklaces before leaving

The experience of sharing my knowledge and love for art making with children around the world was very fulfilling. Seeing the students so engaged filled me with pride and joy.

"The stories you believe to be true are the ones your life will become" with love, Jazmin
Visit my website at  Jazmin Sasky

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Children's Whimsy Portrait Painting

In 2006, I developed my whimsy portraits' paintings. In that year, both my father and brother were fighting cancer. I was miles away and while seeking comfort in my art, I painted countless portraits to send money to my family abroad. Families in my community wanted to help us so much that I created a campaign called "Color & Hope".  It was a special time in my life and the style to my portraits remained the same since then.  Whenever I get a new commission, I enjoy getting the photos of the children and learning about their interests and hobby choices. Painting a commission of such nature is like getting to know a family through the creative process. I have gotten to know many of the children portrayed in these paintings and I have seen them grow and become adults. It is a beautiful thing to stay connected to a community that is very supportive and special.
This commissioned was for Carrie,  Riley and Emmy and their beloved pets!

                                                                                 Sketch N.1

Sketch N.2

Final Artwork

                                                             Painting in their family home

I am lucky to have Carrie in my art program after school and get to know her better. She seems to be very proud of having one of my paintings in her home. Thank you Renee Plotkin and family for giving me the chance to portray your beautiful children and to bring color and joy to your home.
"The stories you believe to be true are the ones your life will become" with love, Jazmin
Visit my website at  Jazmin Sasky

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Mixed Media Around The World- Russia

In this term, the art program is exploring new and exciting destinations! In our first class, I introduced the students to the art of the Russian dolls "Matryoshkas". They are so beautiful and inspiring!

The children loved them and they all shouted that they have one at home! The following class I asked parents to send along their Matryoshkas from home to show the other students.

Different approaches to paint Matryoshka Dollls

We have been having fun creating all kinds of dolls, with modelling clay, wood, fabrics and even illustrating a Children's Book using Matryoshkas as the main character.

Wooden Matryoskas by the talented students

 My youngest student, Dana (4 years old) and her sister, modelling their Matryoshka Dolls

Another young student, Rogan (4 years old) and his sister, modelling their dolls.

Some samples of the clay Matryoshka Dolls

Some samples of the fabric Matryoshka Dolls

Students making "houses" for their Matryoshka dolls. They loved this project!

"The stories you believe to be true are the ones your life will become" with love, Jazmin
Visit my website at  Jazmin Sasky

Monday, May 1, 2017

When Art meets Purpose

On April 19th 2017, The YWCA-Vancouver opened the doors of their new housing "Cause We Care House". This innovative housing community will assist many low-income single mothers and their children.

YWCA Cause We Care House Community nə́c̓aʔmat ct Strathcona

In 2014, the YWCA- Vancouver and I partnered with the intention of planning a creative and meaningful project, that will support one of the organization's programs or initiatives. We were not sure which program will be chosen but we were excited to be working together and we knew this project will be something new to them and to me. After looking at many different programs, we decided to support "Cause We Care House". The project was a long time dream and it was slowly becoming a reality. An ambitious initiative that required the support of the City of Vancouver and many donors was taking shape. The idea of supporting the construction of this important housing resonated with me. We decided that the best way of reaching out to donors was by linking the stories of single moms to my art. YWCA was the liaison between the women and me. After an extensive research, interviews and meaningful conversations, I was ready to paint their stories.  

At my studio, painting

At my studio, painting

After a few months and with a lot of support from YWCA Vanessa Wellington and Chantelle Krish,  the project started to show its first images. There were many challenges but we faced them with communication and wisdom.

In February 2016, I attended the Grounding Event at 730 East Hastings St., Vancouver.

First Nations ceremony, Grounding Event, Feb 2015.

With Madeleine McAllister- Westside Grand Gallery, YWCA- Vanessa Wellington and Westside Grand Gallery owner at the Grounding Event, Feb 2015.

With YWCA- Chantelle Krish, Grounding Ceremony, Feb 2015.

After the Grounding Event, we were ready to show donors, staff, family and friends the completion of "Home Is Love" art show. We hosted the opening night reception on February 12th 2015 at the Westside Grand gallery, Vancouver.

YWCA-CEO Janet Austin and Jazmin. Opening Reception Feb 2015

YWCA-Chantelle Krish and Jazmin. Opening Reception, Feb 2015

Jazmin giving a speech to donors, staff and friends. Opening Reception, Feb 2015

On April 2017, the building came to completion. The project – at 720 and 730 East Hastings St. – is a joint initiative that features a branch library, community and family programming, and safe, affordable housing for low-income single mothers and their children. The City of Vancouver made the largest contribution towards a new Vancouver Public Library branch. The City’s financial support includes land value of the site and design and construction of the new library. This housing will accommodate and assist many low-income mothers and their children.

YWCA- Vanessa Wellington and Jazmin, Cause We Care House, Grand Opening April 2017

Donors visiting the new premises with Jazmin, Cause We Care House, Grand Opening April 2017

With the support of the YWCA staff and donors, I was able to be part of this meaningful project.
"The stories you believe to be true are the ones your life will become" with love, Jazmin
Visit my website at  Jazmin Sasky

Friday, March 31, 2017

Mixed Media Around the World- Mexico

In this term, my students and I were “travelling” around the world and learning about different artists and Folk Art. I chose Mexico because of its rich culture and folk art and of course, creating a piñata could be a fun project for the kids!

While "visiting" Mexico, we ate chips, salsa, sour cream & guacamole and watched a fun episode of "Dora The Explorer", the Mexican girl that teaches Spanish to children on T.V. After the episode, we left the room for an adventure around the school. Each child got a "map" like Dora The Explorer and we went looking for a hidden piñata! We had to make a few stops along the way to decide which way to go. We found and guessed hidden riddles as well... until we found our way to the piñata. Each child got a bag with toys to fill up their own project!

Teaching paper-mache is not an easy task and I took the challenge despite all...
In this term, the group was large (21 children), with age ranges of 5 to 11. Paper-mache takes a long time, with a few steps involved and many kids don't like the feeling of dry glue in their hands! Here are some amazing results from this complicated process:

I began collecting recycled materials last January and by March, I had enough shoe boxes, yogurt containers, toilet paper rolls, large and small plastic containers, pizza boxes for all the 21 children.
The assignment was to choose a number of containers and assemble an animal of their choice. Some kids decided to create other objects, such as TVs. Most chose to create animals such as giraffes, elephants, dogs and mice. These photos show some of the various shapes and animals that were created.

When planning my art classes, I try to imagine the impact and the inspiration art projects will make in my students. Once children are presented with materials and a goal, they develop their own interpretations and immerse in their own creative journey. It is a pleasure to witness!

Children displaying their creations with pride and joy!
This is the third and last blog post of the series “Around The World- 2”.
"The stories you believe to be true are the ones your life will become"with love, Jazmin
Visit my website at  Jazmin Sasky