Gail Bartel is a happily married 43 year old mother of three kids aged 11, 9, and 6. These little people are the core of her being, and her first and best test subjects for new kids art projects. Gail’s blog details her gardening, cooking, love of art history, and her miniatures and dioramas. But besides all this good stuff, it has become famous for sharing unique art project recipes for kids. Gail lives in Calgary and teaches art to children.
That Artist Woman is the work of teacher, and a mother. This is a mini instruction manual that reminds parents how much some paper and glue can excite youthful imaginations and engender creativity. “My passion is to create art and to share this process with kids. I find young kids to be so self-confident when it comes to creating art…no limits, no self-doubt, which is so refreshing. When I teach adults or older kids I spend a lot of time working on that confidence level. This in turn has pushed me to be more experimental in my own work and made me more willing to take creative risks.”
Gail Bartel only started blogging July 8th, 2008 and she chose the name “That Artist Lady” because when she set up her blogspot, her real name was already taken. While pondering names and how to appeal to woman over 50 she remembered how parents of students would say “oh there goes that artist woman”, or “we need to ask you know…that artist woman”, so this unusual blog handle was familiar to her, and strangely compelling.
Artistic and prolific, fueled by her success, Mrs Bartel has already posted over 100 articles, including more than fifty clear and easy to follow tutorials. How to do Batik with Kids was the first post to get serious attention from other arts and crafts sites, and it continues to be Gail’s all-time most popular post in terms of traffic. “The technique is foolproof and has sparked a lot of creative projects from readers. One Mom made a quilt out of squares she and her kids ‘glue batiked’ one for every month of the year.” This author also recommends Glue Resist Dinosaur and How To Make A city Skyline art recipes.
What’s really fascinating is Gail’s own growth as an artist.
That Artist Woman is currently exploring and developing her own skills and abilities as a watercolour artist that clearly favours landscapes, street scenes and houses. “I love the unpredictability of watercolour as well as its ease. I can paint anywhere”.
Gail recently acquired the complete set of The Family Creative Workshop, a reference book series from the 1970s. “I’m looking forward to a summer of reading and creating projects from this source material.”
When I asked her about contentious posts she remarked that, “I don’t tend to do anything to controversial. [But,] I do work at a Catholic school and I find any posts that have an art project with a religious theme don’t get picked up by the usual ‘high traffic’ blogs. The one thing I don’t do is show any faces of my kids or the students I work with. It just doesn’t feel right to me. I have had parents request that their kid be shown on the blog for different projects but it’s just a line I won’t cross.” And so Gail Bartel’s blog will never be accused of exploiting children to market her goods and services, which she gives away for free anyway.
Because children best understand conservation, Gail provides kid (classroom) tested art and craft projects that are unique, as well as use recycled materials and few if any purchased supplies. Art intimidates a lot of people because anything is possible but yet kids get bored with the usual projects. Gail’s art project tasks children to imagine things they have seen and things they cannot see, but only imagine to exist in the real world.
Like most successful new bloggers Gail is very surprised by how supportive everyone has been, and so far she hasn’t received any negative comments. Quite the opposite, she’s formed amazing friendships with other artists. “I did not expect that I would get picked up from other sites and that the blog would be acknowledged outside my immediate community.” But because she is dispensing rare (and beautiful) data, Gail’s blog has become a hunting ground for a growing number of online arts and craft mavens.
Gail’s blog is a free resource for teachers and parents at school. Now when people write to her and ask for samples or advice on techniques and projects done throughout the year, she tells them to ‘go to the blog’ where it’s all laid out in a picture tutorials.
On so many levels That Artist Woman’s blog is a big success. This digital portal has become her dynamic resume, but more than that, it’s a functional index of her creative work, a useful portfolio of unique content. If anyone wants to know what this woman can do, they merely have to peruse the archives, or click on her tags to find wicked cool examples of her excellence.