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Creating Memories and Magic Moments. Summer Art Camp 2023

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Michelle Austen's Calgary Summer Art Camp.  Week long art classes.
Calgary summer art camp

10 years ago, I had an idea to gather groups of budding artists and host a summer art camp to do all the things I loved to do as a child. Hula hoop, make art and new friends.

This year was no different, except the little artists are almost taller than me now. Blooming not only in height, but in creativity. I am blessed to watch the wonder unfold before my eyes as these creative youth blossom with confidence and courage.

We pack a lot into this week. 8 hours a day for 5 days straight, working towards an art show for our family and friends at the end of the week.

We have amazing guest artists that share their particular medium of choice with the group.

Encaustic painting, indigenous beading, puppetry, pastels, acrylic paint, cupcake decorating and more. We begin each day with yoga, body movement and/or a mediation and usually end with a fun snack. (Special thanks to my Mom for the art show palette cookies, they have become a definite favorite over the years.)

This year, a few weeks before camp started, I added in a special guest artist, Amber. She was my art student when she was around 8-10 years old and is now all grown up and heading to University this fall. I saw her croqueting an adorable octopus at the Leighton Art Centre and my childhood love of croqueting flooded back to me.

My grandmother taught me to croquet a granny square around the same age as the kids in my camp. It was very satisfying to watch right before my eyes; a single granny square grows in size with a little effort and a lot of time. I was able to make a lot of decisions in this simple art of croqueting. I was able to choose colors, yarn, patterns, croquet hooks. I learned simple math. More squares equalled a larger blanket. This was very satisfying in the 70’s. Almost as good as Barbie;) I loved to make gifts to give away and it was also a good way to not bite my nails as I watched TV. Of course, I wanted to share this love…however, it was a little harder than I remember to hold yarn and a croquet hook in small hands.

The hardest things are often the ones that are most satisfying when completed and this project was no different. It was a hot afternoon on my deck and with croquet hooks in hand and bright colored chenille yarn, we listened to Ambers instructions attentively and learned. It was frustrating, hard and we had to be disciplined and let go of our perfection. Remembering that the beauty of art is in the practice of creating. Big, small, loose, tight, we worked hard to focus. The frustration brought up conversation on our ability to pivot, which came in handy with unexpected rain storms.

We came up with lots of “P” words to change our state of mind.






“Progress over perfection,” the kids shouted out.

Next thing I knew, putting all our skills to work, we all had created an adorable octopus to take home. The smiles and sense of accomplishment was one of the best magical moments. Amber did a great job and I have no doubt will make an amazing teacher.

I am so grateful to all my wonderful artist friends that are willing to share their love of art with my art camp students. All week these artists worked with yarn, thread, beads, fabric, beeswax, paint, color, shapes and line. The conversations that connected us and created a safe space to make art was undeniable.

Decades did not differentiate us from our common thread of creating art.

We can do hard things, we can learn, grow, share and support each other. We can pivot when it rains.

I am so grateful to my assistant, Kate, parents and the budding artists for all the magical moments created in this years summer art camp.

In creative spirit,


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