Art Journal Show for my 2010-2011 Students!


As many of you know, I volunteer-teach art journaling to at-risk elementary school children.  And though I’m not a non-profit (yet) and the project is grassroots and on a smaller scale, it makes a big difference in the lives of my students.  There is absolutely no money for art supplies (the class didn’t even have scissors to use before my first visit to the classroom) so this supplemental program made a huge difference in the educational and artistic experience of over 32 children.

A Brief Overview

I gather donations and supplies in the fall, and provide each student with a blank journal and a packet of art supplies when I first visit the class.  I teach the children art journaling in the early part of their school year, and then return to the class during the last month of school for an art journal show – to see what they’ve created and to celebrate their artistic accomplishments.


A FANTASTIC Art Journal Show!

As with past years, this year’s art journal show was a huge success.  The kids were so proud and excited to share, and they’d all done wonderful work in their journals! Parents, other classes, teachers, and school administrators attended the show, and at the end of the day I awarded each student a Certificate of Achievement for their participation in the art journaling program.

I’m including some photos from our May 13th art show in this post, but never share photos that show the children’s faces for their privacy and safety, so please imagine a class full of happy and excited 10 and 11 year-olds!





I’d like to send out an enormous thanks to all those who donated supplies and funds for this year’s class.  I thank you, the classroom teacher I worked with thanks you, and the children thank you.  In fact, I heard dozens and dozens of thank you’s from the children – both in person and in thank you letters.  Here are a few excerpts from letters I received from my students:

“Thank you for donating the art journal.  I think it is lots of fun.  I can spill my feelings into it.  I like all the art supplies.  I like the art journal because I can be creative and passionate.”

Kianha R.

“Can you tell every person who donated thank you?”

Alyssa M.

“Thanks for showing us how to do real art!  I thought art was only drawing but you showed us all another type of art.  I have never thought a book can help that much.”

Bryan B.

“I enjoyed the art experience and the art journals and I would like to thank the people that made it happen.”

Kia G.

“I will do art journaling for the rest of my life.”

Trayvon D.


Why I Do This…

My mission is to provide as many children as I can with art journaling instruction and supplies.  Not only does this program nurture their creativity and provide art instruction that would otherwise be missing because of curriculum and budget constraints, art journaling also helps get the children excited about their overall educational experience.

And, perhaps most importantly, art journaling gives the children a constructive way to express themselves and process the world around them.  This is particularly important to at-risk students, who are often facing the effects of poverty, abuse, neglect, exposure to gangs and drugs, and absent parents.

I, too, faced many challenges when I was a child, including poverty and abuse, and know from experience that creative self-expression can be a lifesaver.  I know that a trustworthy adult taking a special interest in you can make a big impression, and that a proverbial pat on the back can really boost one’s self-esteem.  I know that art and writing have the power to strengthen, nourish, and heal, and hope to plant a love for art journaling and creative self-expression in the lives of as many children as I can.


What’s Next?

I’m already planning my 2011-2012 class, and would love to expand my program to teach two classrooms full of students: one at my existing school in San Bernardino County, and one closer to home – preferably in Santa Ana, CA.  If you’d like to help these at-risk elementary students, please consider donating funds, gift cards, or supplies.  Gift cards to places like Michaels, Office Max, and Target are most helpful.

You may also donate physical supplies in quantities of 45 (like scissors, glue sticks, 8-color packs of crayons, etc.) or items from your art supply stash that can go into a “mush pot”.  Please email me via this website’s contact page if you have questions and/or would like to donate.  Even a $5 donation makes a big difference in the lives of these children, and I thank you for your consideration.

In closing, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the artistic accomplishments of this year’s students.  They did great work, and everyone gets an “A” for effort and enthusiasm!

Warm regards,

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  1. Posted June 7, 2011 at 8:13 am by Doreen | Permalink

    Kudos to you dear Melody 🙂
    I know how important it is.

  2. Posted June 7, 2011 at 8:39 am by Ellen | Permalink

    Your gift is wonderful to plant and instill hope and dreams! I love this post; thanks for sharing~
    It is so important to spread the magic of creating and you have~xXx

  3. Posted June 7, 2011 at 10:48 am by Terry | Permalink

    This is, I think, my favorite post of yours to date. Simply inspirational. Thank you for such thoughtful and warmhearted service to these kids – the world needs more people with artist’s hearts, and you surely helped nurture some of them with this project. Congratulations and well done!!

  4. Posted June 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm by Debbie Metti | Permalink

    Kudos to you, my dear Melody…you can tell your students have gained something extremely important in their llives…a creative means of self expression & pride in what they have learned. Well done!

  5. Posted June 7, 2011 at 12:17 pm by Michelle | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing this story. It made my day.

  6. Posted June 7, 2011 at 2:14 pm by Beth Nielsen | Permalink

    So awesome! I didn’t realize and was SO happy to read that some parents attend the show; what a great show of support to their kids. Count me in again for a donation this year!

  7. Posted June 7, 2011 at 2:59 pm by Jenny Doh | Permalink

    Great job, Mel.

  8. Posted June 7, 2011 at 7:21 pm by Mary Craft | Permalink

    Wow! There are such beautiful journals. You are to be commended for making art and learning so much fun.

  9. Posted June 7, 2011 at 7:32 pm by Karan Simoni | Permalink

    Love it Mel…. I miss teaching kids and look forward to doing it again soon. It was fun to see the work the kids did. I know what a satisfying and rewarding thing it is… High five to you for giving so generously of your time and talent! Big hugs. Karan

  10. Posted June 7, 2011 at 9:52 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you for your feedback and shared enthusiasm. I hope you’ll be back to teaching soon – you’re a natural!

  11. Posted June 7, 2011 at 9:53 pm by Melody | Permalink

    On behalf of the kids, thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed seeing their work. I’m happy to expand their horizons a bit and encourage them…

  12. Posted June 7, 2011 at 9:55 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you for your kind words, and for playing such a big part in the art supply acquisition! I can’t thank you enough!

  13. Posted June 7, 2011 at 9:57 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Yes, it was great to see some of the parents supporting their children. Thank you for your willingness to donate again – I’ll definitely take you up on that, and appreciate your generosity!

  14. Posted June 7, 2011 at 9:58 pm by Melody | Permalink

    My pleasure – so glad to have made your day! Thank you for your support…

  15. Posted June 7, 2011 at 9:59 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you for your feedback and kind words. It brings me great joy to share this form of self-expression with the children – the hours and days spent are well worth it!

  16. Posted June 7, 2011 at 10:01 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you! It’s my pleasure – so glad to help…

  17. Posted June 7, 2011 at 10:08 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you for your positive feedback. Thank you, too, for your support!

  18. Posted June 7, 2011 at 10:08 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you! I appreciate your kind words…

  19. Posted June 8, 2011 at 6:01 am by Becky Shander | Permalink

    I so admire and respect your caring, giving spirit…way to make a difference!

  20. Posted June 8, 2011 at 7:51 am by Melody | Permalink

    I appreciate your positive feedback. Thank you for your kindness, and for your generous spirit!

  21. Posted June 10, 2011 at 12:18 pm by Trece | Permalink

    Melody, I was struck in the heart by your last photo, one one with “Free Your Mind”. I cannot tell you why, either. But I will return again and again to it. It stirred something deep in me. God bless you and your work.

  22. Posted June 10, 2011 at 6:36 pm by Melody | Permalink

    It’s so sweet that you were touched by the artwork of one of my students. Their art fills my heart with joy, so I know just what you mean! Thank you for reading about my project, and for commenting…

  23. Posted June 11, 2011 at 11:14 am by QuinnCreative | Permalink

    Melody–You are walking a wonderful path, and filling it with joy and healing. You are creating a change in these lives that will always be available to them to help when they are confused, frustrated and lonely. You are saving lives.
    Art-making doesn’t require illustration skills. In my book, Raw Art Journaling, my ideas is that we don’t FIND meaning, we MAKE meaning. And we do it through art.

    My book on art journaling comes out in July. If you think the book is useful to your class, let me know and I’ll send you one.

    Perhaps one of the projects will help in your work. They might like the chapter on Keeping Secrets, or even the one on Playing With Words.

    Blessings on your work! –Quinn McDonald

  24. Posted June 12, 2011 at 12:38 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you so much for your kind words and positive feedback. I’m happy to do what I can to help! Thank you, too, for your generous offer. I’ll contact you, and wish you all the best with your new book!

  25. Posted July 20, 2011 at 6:23 pm by Tammy | Permalink

    It warms my heart to know that you are spreading the wonder of art and art journaling to kids, especially those in dark or sad circumstances. May your creative guidance make a difference in their lives. Thank you.

  26. Posted July 20, 2011 at 7:31 pm by Melody | Permalink

    It’s my pleasure. Thank you for your kind words…