Layering creates different textures, depth, and dimensions to works of art. Kids are generally quite quick to move on to new projects, and layering doesn’t necessarily come naturally to them. So I thought it would be a good project to stretch and challenge these young artists’ creative muscles. So for 4 weeks, we all went a little cuckoo at the studio… and it was great.

Isla took to this process quite naturally. She applied the tissue paper with wild abandon and when it came time to paint, she showed the very same enthusiasm. Isla used sponges and her fingers to add the paint, creating prints and dots all over. She happily dove into each step, uninhibited and carefree. This playful approach was exactly what the project needed, and look at the amazing results!

Lainey was very thoughtful as she applied her layers, developing her cuckoo-vision with a back-story about the cuckoo bird family who lived there. She thought about the meaning of cuckoo, and translated that craziness into her work, cutting out men’s heads from an old newspaper, painting a yellow bird sister chatting on the phone and watching TV, and bold colourful painted wallpaper inside.

Lainey: Can I make a family of cuckoos? Ooooh! Cuckoo family! Oh look, this is his grandpa and this is his grandma. Cuckoo cuckoo!

Lainey: Oh, I got the best idea ever! I’m gonna draw the whole family inside, so when you open it up, it’s like the family is everywhere!

Miya was meticulous with the tissue paper, carefully covering her whole clock-house. She picked bright bold patterns of tissue paper, and framed her door in pretty red buttons. Her clock had cuckoo crazy numbers too!


Max and Hugo found the first layer with the tissue paper challenging and not all that inspiring. Even so, they were very successful at creating some wonderful texture. It was a great first layer.

H: It’s easier to do one colour.
Rachel: But we don’t just making decisions based on how easy it is! It’s called art work for a reason!
H: Because it’s hard?
Rachel: No…
H: Not everything’s hard.
Rachel: Right, but doing amazing things and challenging yourself is a part of art. Doing things you never thought you could do.
H: Yah, but that’ll take me a long long time.

Okay, so they’ll get there when they’re ready. Hopefully all the little challenges they encounter slowly make them realize that hard work and a strong effort is always, always worth it.

H and M were much more excited when it came time to add paint to the cuckoo clocks. M went out of his comfort zone when choosing a colour for his piece. Everything he had painted that term had been the same shade of purple that he mixed himself, and for this project, he chose yellow. What is interesting is that yellow and purple are complementary colours!!!

M has gotten into the habit of wearing rubber gloves while he paints, so that he doesn’t have to go to the trouble of washing his hands when he’s done. An efficient mind, that one! But he noticed something with the gloves. They made a very interesting texture in the paint, and he was pleased with the effect.
M: I find it easier to use my fingers and besides, it makes a cool pattern. It kind of looks like snake skin.
M finished off his painting with a few sloshes of colour from the splatter paint bottles. He was really happy with the uniqueness of his piece. I think what he should be most proud of is that he tried something new, and ended up with an amazingly cool creation!

Colin and Michael both got into the project and embraced the cuckoo crazy theme. Colin used lots of colour and texture. He used paint, glitter, and felt pens. He also had fun with the glue gun, carefully squirting the hot glue, and sticking things on quickly before the glue dried.
Michael was able to think outside the box, literally. He found a paper towel roll, and got the idea of the bird perching on it, and then found another, so he could have one on both sides of his house. He found wood pieces in the wood bin, and made three cuckoo birds! Michael really had a good time with the creative freedom, and the fun open-ended cuckoo theme.
Colin also decided to make a branch for his cuckoo bird. Colin used a small Arbutus branch, and made 2 birds. One he crafted from a pinecone, and the other he made with big white shells. He then added drawings of a bathroom, and other house details inside, for his bird. He was very creative!
Colin: That’s a crazy cuckoo bird.

Making the cuckoo birds

M and H were very happy to hear that the shells they brought in a few weeks ago were perfect for creating cuckoo birds and that some of the other students had been inspired to use them for their projects.
H was inspired by the shells and the box of beach treasures for his bird, and M decided to make his out of wood.
H: What do you think of my crazy cuckoo bird?...Now where might I find something to make something really cookey for my bird’s house…I know something that would make it really cookey! Googley eyes!
Rachel: You could even fit another cuckoo bird in there, if you wanted to….
H: No. I think one’s good. Because he’s quite cuckoo. Ahhhh! Too cuckoo-ey. My cuckoo bird is really cookey. Puts googly eyes all over his doors… Got a compass for a clock. Really cuckoo. Kind of terrifying if you ask me. Having eyeballs all over your house.

Miya and Lainey used corks to make their birds. Having had the practice earlier in the term when they made the fairies, they girls felt comfortable with the process of turning corks into characters.

Lainey made a whole family of birds. She was careful to consider the traits that the mother and father passed down to the young birds.
Lainey: This family’s symbol is a feather on top of their head. This is the baby with the golden beak! People will be talking about her!… Oh, the mother is going to have a golden beak too! That’s where she gets it from.

Isla used shells and paint to make her bird. There was no holding back with this one! What started with the intention of painting a beak, turned into green and purple polka-dots all over the birds body!

Michael: The cuckoo birds wants to rule the house. The other two are trying to stop him. That’s why I put the strings around there. That makes him evil…. Evil cuckoo house. They’ll say “That’s a very scary cuckoo house”.