The Art of Character Building

My 10 year old is a naturally smart and bright kid. He’s blitzing through his maths, languages, reading, sports with ease… and he’s naturally very confident, which helps him a lot. He likes to aim towards 100% and he’ll work hard to get there.

My 8 year old is also good at school, but he has a different inner drive. He’s naturally creative, he’s an observer, a dreamer, he enjoys and studies the moment, in fact, he puts his everything into the moment. He’s superb at lateral thinking, he thinks outside of the box and comes up with the most amazing (and weird) ideas.

However, this kind of intelligence is not as *tangible* as say, a test result… and we can often see that he gets a little gloomy whenever he compares himself with his big brother’s “high achievements”.

Sigh. It makes me feel so sad and powerless. As a mum, I can only tell him “You’re smart as well, but in a different way!” a couple of hundred times… until it goes in through one ear and out the other.

So I thought I would nurture his creative side a bit… and put my own 5 YEARS OF ART SCHOOL + 3 YEARS OF DESIGN SCHOOL to good use haha!

This is what I came up with.

Art Lessons!

Week 1 – Line drawings and composition, using rule of thirds.

Week 2 – Shading and gradient. Use different materials, like graphite pencils, charcoal sticks, soft pastel, oil pastels.

Today’s Lesson is Week 3 – Doing a still life using soft pastels.

Drawing and Shading 101

In our backyard, we set up a still life composition, using random objects that my son found.

Drawing and Shading 101

We sat side by side and I – kind of – coached him without being too bossy:

Don’t draw a definite line. Draw a feathered line, until you get the right shape. Change your line weight to show where the light falls on the object. Thin lines for the light bits, thick lines for the dark bits. Squint your eyes to find the dark parts of the composition.

He didn’t listen to any of it haha!

Drawing and Shading 101

If my 10yo was doing this drawing project with me, he would draw a line, then rub it out. Draw another line, then rub it out. He would try again and again until he made it PERFECT. He would make himself terribly frustrated and angry that his drawing “looked bad” and he’d be on the brink of giving up.

But my 8yo… just sat there for an hour with me, as happy as could be. Drawing. Doodling. Playing with the lines. Enjoying the shapes. Laughing at his wonky objects. He would occasionally look over at my drawing and say, “That’s cool!” and go right on with his own drawing, in his own style. He was so so content.

Drawing and Shading 101

I opened up my old box of soft pastels (which I won as an art prize in Year 11!!)

And I showed him how to SEE COLOURS within colours:

Your brain says that the wheelbarrow is ”orange”, but if you squint and look veeeeeery closely, you’ll notice that it’s actually red in the shadow and pinkish in the light. The rust is brown with a bit of blue in it too.

I was sooo channelling my inner Monet, and I was COMPLETELY LOVING IT :D

Drawing and Shading 101

I showed him how to shade objects so they looked 3 dimensional.

And how to actually SEE shadows and light as blocks of colour.

Drawing and Shading 101

I also told him that the background is just as important as the foreground. So we have to colour in bits of the background, so the objects don’t look like they are floating in space.

As we approached the end, I kept saying that art is not meant to look perfect. If you want something to look perfect and exact, then you can just take a photo. Art is interpreting what something looks like to YOU.

I told him – So really, you can draw any way you want. There’s not right or wrong way.

Drawing and Shading 101

When he announced that he was finished, there was no shyness, or regret, or apology, or disappointment or anger… just happiness and real pride in his work.

I have to admit that I was quite surprised by his end reaction/emotion.

Because, I felt a bit bad that mine looked quite realistic and “good”. Maybe I should have made mine look a bit more crap?? I was afraid that he would compare our work and hate his own work, and decide that “art” was not for him because he couldn’t make his drawing look like his mum’s drawing. But phew. Thankfully, that kind of thinking wasn’t part of his personality. I was so proud of him!

I told him that I was impressed with his first effort. And more importantly, that he had an excellent attitude towards experimenting, learning new things and he didn’t judge and criticise his own work. He worked hard and he enjoyed himself.

Anyway, it’s been a few weeks after our little “Art Lessons”… and it now seems like this nurturing of his creative side has given him A LOT more confidence in the rest of his school work – he’s been getting some excellent results! Funny how it all works.

So proud of you little buddy!

Have you shopped at Modcloth before?

I’ve never actually shopped at ModCloth before, but I know LOTS of people who have and they are always really happy with their items.

Also, whenever I go to weddings or afternoon tea party functions, I’ll usually see a woman in a pretty, eye-catching dress… and I will always go up to her and ask where she got it from… more often than not, the woman says “ModCloth!”

Soooo… the other day I decided to try it out for myself.

Here are some dresses that really caught my eye. They have lots of styles for parties, special occasions, casual, floral, prints, maxi, minis and more.

Dresses from ModCloth

From left to right: Rose Bubbly Dress, Bubble Your Luck Dress, Palm Springs into Action

These full circle skirt dresses have been influenced from the 50s style. They look feminine, pretty and ladylike. They also create and accentuate an hourglass figure.

Dresses from ModCloth

From left to right: Lady Love Dress, Shadow of a Dot Dress, Magenta Saved by the Bow

If you’re new to ModCloth and you’d like to sign up as a new member and make a purchase over $50, you can get $15 off by using my referral link here.


Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.

Callum’s 10th Birthday Party

My biggest boy turned 10 years old (eeek!) and we recently celebrated the occasion with 8 of his best friends from school.

Callum Turns 10

My husband and I made a Minecraft Cake and it was exactly the same as the one we made last month, for my 8 year old boy haha!

We had planned to correct all the problems of the first cake and perhaps experiment on our techniques to make it look better… but um, we were busy (lazy) and there was a bit of miscommunication (we had an argument) and… so, nope the cake turned out EXACTLY the same.

Callum Turns 10

The party was in our backyard again. The weather was glorious and sunny.

The boys played a whole bunch of games and had a water balloon fight. They had loads of fun.

I filled over 200 water balloons and put them in an huge 50L plastic tub…

Callum Turns 10

But after the water balloon throwing, I made the boys pick up all the balloon bits…

And I was surprised that we couldn’t fill a 500mL Chinese food takeaway container :P

Callum Turns 10

For dinner, I made homemade pizzas for the 8 boys, plus my 3 boys. I was a little shocked by how much food growing boys can eat!

This here was the grand finale – the chocolate pizza. It had a Nutella base, chocolate frogs, shaved chocolate topping and milo sprinkled on top. It was a hit.

As for how I feel about my oldest child turning 10 years old…? Gosh, that is definitely for another post :)

3 Ways to Wear – Spots and Stripes

One of the big trends this new season is to wear black and white, especially in a big, bold prints like spots and stripes.

It’s an easy trend to wear – just wear one print item in your everyday outfit. But if you want to have a bit more fun and combine prints, here are a few things you might like to try.

3 Ways to Wear - Spots and Stripes

Big spots and small spots.
Ok this blouse actually has STARS on it – but from far, it looks pretty spotty.

And the skirt is actually a dress with blobs on it.

But hey, the craziness that ensues from putting them together is such fun.

Star Print Shirt – YesStyle
Sass and Bide Spot Dress – The Iconic
Nude Heels – ASOS
Neon earrings – Etsy

3 Ways to Wear - Spots and Stripes

White on White spots (Or black on black spots)
Most dotty prints are black on white (or white on black). So try finding tops or bottoms with white dots on a sheer white fabric. Or vice versa. Or maybe the dots are embossed on the fabric?

It will create a kind of cool texture (and not clash TOO much) when paired with another bold print.

Spotty top – AL&ALICIA
Stripe jeans – from YesStyle (nice and affordable jeans at $40!!)
Yellow Heels – ASOS

3 Ways to Wear - Spots and Stripes

Classic Breton Stripe Top with anything spotty
This one is nice and simple. There’s a good chance that you have a classic stripe top in your wardrobe. Why not try it with some spotty bottoms. A spot pencil skirt. A circle skirt with stars on it.

Or in my case, some silk shorts with palm trees on it – random enough?


Stripe top – from Big W
Palm tree shorts – ASOS
Marc Jacobs yellow crossbody bag – Shopbop
Suede heels – Betts

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.