Medley’s Creative Ideas focus on a different theme each fortnight and outline ways to engage with music, art and nature on that theme. There are ideas for songs or pieces of music to listen to, play or sing, for art or craft activities to try, and for ways to connect with nature.
Hopefully they could help boost anyone’s mood or wellbeing. They might also specifically engage people who have dementia, or autism, or anxiety, or depression, or a disability.
Follow Medley on Facebook or Twitter and I will post or tweet a link to the latest themed ideas each fortnight. Or find them here!
OLYMPIC GAMES 26 July-9 August 2021
The Olympic Games – finally – are underway, a year late! So they are the theme for Medey’s new Creative Ideas. There are songs and pieces of music to listen to, art and craft ideas and even ways to connect with nature, all on an Olympics theme. It would be great if you’d like to share how you get on with any of the Ideas on Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 Thank you! I hope you enjoy them.
Search for these online and enjoy listening. You could listen to them while you try the art & craft ideas, or turn the sound of the commentary down while you watch the Olympics on TV & listen to these instead…
*The Boxer (Simon & Garfunkel)
*Gold and Silver Waltz (Franz Lehar)
*The theme from the film Chariots Of Fire
*Gold (Spandau Ballet)
*Born To Run (Bruce Springsteen)
ART & CRAFT
*Make a pop-up scene – see main image, above. Use my template outlines (below) of a runner, cyclist, diver and high jumper, or draw your own. Cut the shapes out of paper, leaving long narrow rectangular strips at either side to make tabs. Paint or colour the sportspeople with paints, pens or colouring pencils. Next, fold a piece of card or thick paper in half as if making a card. Now fold each tab in half behind the sportsperson, and glue the back half of each tab to the card, to either side of the card’s central fold. This should make it look as if the sportsperson is running/cycling/diving/jumping out of the card. Decorate the rest of the card with lettering and Olympic symbols.
*Try painting or drawing the athletes or other sportspeople in a photo of the Olympics in a newspaper or magazine or printed from a website. I enjoy drawing and painting sports where there’s a great feeling of movement, so you might like to find a photo of a diver, gymnast or skateboarder in mid-air to try!
*Try scrapbooking on an Olympics theme. Find photos, news headlines and other news cuttings to add as the Games progress. Draw outline figures of sportspeople in action. Make medals to add using gold fabric or paper or paint & ribbons.
These ideas on connecting with nature are inspired by the Olympic motto “faster, higher, stronger”…
*Look online for videos of the world’s fastest animal (the cheetah, which can run as fast as 120 km/h!) and the world’s fastest bird (the peregrine falcon).
*Look at images or videos of the world’s highest mountains, tallest trees, highest waterfalls, and of the animals which jump highest.
*Look for videos of the world’s strongest animals, like elephants or rhinos. But even insects can be very strong for their size.
BASTILLE DAY 12-25 July 2021
Medley’s new Creative Ideas cross the Channel to France to mark July 14th, Bastille Day, France’s national holiday. There are French songs and pieces of music to enjoy, art & craft ideas and ways to connect with nature, all on a French theme. You might like to share how you get on with any of the Ideas on Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 Thank you! I hope you enjoy them.
Search for these songs or pieces of music online, maybe on YouTube, and enjoy listening, sing along, dance or clap.
*La boheme (Charles Aznavour)
*La mer (Charles Trenet)
*La vie en rose
*Bolero (Ravel) (famous as Torvill & Dean’s skating music)
*Beau Soleil (Debussy)
*La nuit est sur la ville (Francoise Hardy)
*Ne me quitte pas (Jacques Brel)
ART & CRAFT
*Make a French themed picture or collage like my main image here. Use the template shapes (below) or make your own. You could make the items for your collage from fabric, colour papers or found items like pictures cut out of magazines. I made the sunflower out of fabric, the Eiffel Tower and the flag out of colour card, the Metro sign out of colour paper. I drew the glass on white paper and stuck red paper cutouts onto it to look like red wine inside the glass. I found the pictures of baguettes and French cheese in an old cookery book and cut them out! There may be other, different symbols of France you’d like to feature as well.
*Try making jewellery on a French theme, by using blue, red and white beads or sequins to make a necklace or brooch. Or make a French scarf by plaiting blue, red and white pieces of material together and tying each end, or by sewing them together.
*Find one of the French Impressionists’ paintings which you like – maybe Monet’s water lilies or Renoir’s Les Parapluies (The Umbrellas) – and try copying it, either as a painting or as a drawing. Or you could paint your own version of the painting’s subject.
*France is so varied a country. Search online, or look in books, for images and videos to enjoy a virtual tour. You could “experience” the River Seine, different parts of France’s coastline, the Pyrenees or other French mountains, or the wild marshes of the Camargue with their white horses and flamingos.
*Look at a map of France and follow the many rivers to see where they flow, notice all the unspoilt, rural areas of France inland where there are quiet villages, and look to see where are the hills and mountain ranges.
*Online or in books, enjoy views of France’s many beautiful gardens: maybe Malmaison (once home to Empress Josephine), which has an amazing collection of roses, or the Palace of Versailles, or the Bois de Boulogne in Paris.
THE FOURTH OF JULY 29 June-11 July
As the USA marks Independence Day on the Fourth of July, Medley’s latest Creative Ideas have gone all-American. There are songs, art & craft ideas and ways to connect with nature, all on a US theme. I hope you will find them enjoyable and helpful in some way. It would be great if you would like to share how you get on with the Ideas on Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 Thank you!
Search for these songs online, maybe on You Tube, and enjoy listening or sing along. You could listen while you try one of the art & craft ideas.
*Star Spangled Banner
*Something’s Coming or America from West Side Story
*Broadway Melody from Singin’ In The Rain
*All Shook Up by Elvis Presley
*The Trolley Song from Meet Me In St Louis
*Memphis, Tennessee by Elvis Presley
*What A Wonderful World by Satchmo Armstrong
ART AND CRAFT
*Make a foldout display like my main image above. Take 3 sheets of paper or card. Fold one of the sheets into 3 and using a glue stick, stick one of the sections onto the left side of the main sheet so it folds outwards like a side panel. Do this again for the right side. Using my template shapes (below) or drawing your own, add the US images – the Statue of Liberty on the left panel, the map and the flag in the middle on the main sheet, and the Disney image on the right panel. Either paint them or colour them. Stick red and blue colour paper to the inner sections of each side panel to make them colourful, or colour them.
*Make fabric Stars and Stripes flags, using sequins or decorative stars on blue material for the “Stars” part, and strips of red and white material for the “Stripes”. You could make a few and display them on sticks made of thick card, maybe in a vase or jug or tied to a door handle.
*Take the USA as your inspiration as you decide what to paint or draw. Look online for images to inspire you. You might like to paint or draw an American footballer or baseball player, or the Golden Gate Bridge, Elvis Presley or an American bird or animal.
*Look online for images of American national parks or nature reserves. The world’s first national parks were in the USA, like Yellowstone.
*Find online videos of American landscapes – you could watch different views or journeys through the USA’s open spaces, or maybe the Great Lakes or Niagara Falls or the Atlantic ocean.
*Look at images of American wildlife, maybe whales, raccoons, bald eagles or the monarch butterfly. Or wonder at the size and scale of the giant redwood and sequoia trees for which the US is famous.
SKY AND CLOUDS 8-21 June
We might easily forget to look up at the sky but watching as it changes through the day and as clouds form is a great way to connect with nature. So the theme for Medley’s new set of Creative Ideas is Sky And Clouds: with songs to enjoy, art and craft ideas and ways to experience nature, all on this one theme. It would be great if you would like to share how you get on with the Ideas on Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 Thank you!
Search for these songs on YouTube and enjoy listening, maybe while watching the sky, outdoors or through a window.
*Mr Blue Sky (Electric Light Orchestra)
*Smile (Nat King Cole – “though there are clouds in the sky/you’ll get by)
*Anywhere You Go, Always Take The Weather With You
*Wind Beneath My Wings (Bette Midler)
*Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (The Beatles)
*Make a papercraft sky scene – see main image above – combining paper cutting and quilling. First cut hot air balloon shapes out of colour paper (you could print out the template shapes below to cut round) and stick these on to a sheet of blue paper or card. You might like to decorate them with patterns. Then cut strips of white paper no wider than about 1 cm each, and use these to make clouds by quilling them: wind each strip around a pencil (or a quilling tool if you have one) so it forms a circle, then ease the circle off the pencil or tool, let it loosen slightly in your hand and then glue the end. Stick these on to the cloud shapes and stick on to the backdrop. You could also add some paper cut clouds for a contrast.
*Try painting or drawing the sky in different weather and at different times of the day. See how shades of colour alter, paint or draw different types of cloud, and try different media – maybe acrylic for bold colours or a pencil drawing to focus on how to shade clouds. You could experiment with painting clouds using acrylic very thickly in an “impasto” style, maybe on blue or other dark paper so it stands out.
*Make a word picture: write or paint words on a sky theme, like sunset, flying or cloud, using different colours and writing or painting them in different sizes and styles. You could illustrate the picture with drawings or cut out lettering from magazines.
*Look in a book or online at the main different types of cloud, like cirrus and stratus clouds. Then see which types you can identify each day. You could record them in a cloud diary, either by noting their names or by photographing them.
*Look at the sky at different times of day, from dawn through midday to dusk and on through the night.
*Try predicting changes in the weather by looking at the sky – for example, notice how clouds grow in size and height before a thunderstorm, how clouds darken before rain, and how a red sunset can forecast bright weather the following day.
THE SEA 24 May-7 June 2021
When the sun is shining and temperatures start to warm up, many of us do like to be beside the seaside, so that’s the theme for Medley’s new set of Creative Ideas. Here are songs and music to enjoy, art and craft ideas to try and ways to observe and connect with nature, all on the theme of the sea. It would be great if you would like to share how you get on with the Ideas on Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 Thank you!
Search for these sea-themed songs and pieces of music online and enjoy listening. You could sing or clap along. You might like to listen while looking at pictures of the sea, or looking at the sea itself if you can get there.
*The Skye Boat Song
*Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay
*Sailor (a 1960s hit for Petula Clark)
*Sea Pictures (Edward Elgar)
*Sailing By (Ronald Binge)
*Fantasia on British Sea Songs (Henry Wood, played at the Last Night Of The Proms every year)
*Or you could listen to some sea shanties, which are very popular again now. One of the most famous is What d’ye do with a drunken sailor? But there are lots out there, some were whaling songs.
*Make a fabric art seaside picture (see my image above). Use as a backdrop a piece of blue, dark blue or turquoise material, cut to the size you want. Then cut anchor, boat and fish shapes out of other materials in contrasting colours – you can print out the shapes here (below) to use for your cutouts. Add buttons or sequins for the fish eyes. You could also add wave shapes in a different shade of turquoise or blue. Attach the shapes to the background using either double-sided sticky tape or glue, or you could sew them on – maybe using bright colour thread to make a feature of your stitching.
*Draw or paint a rockpool. Search online or in a book for the different creatures you might see in a rockpool, and draw or paint them. You could use acrylic paints for a bright, colourful scene, or watercolour pencils or pastels for a paler picture. You might like to label each creature, maybe in colour inks.
*Paint two contrasting sea views: one of a stormy sea with high, dark waves, and the other of a calm, blue sea. You could paint in a line of cliffs on the horizon, a lighthouse or the sail of a boat. Add the sky – overcast for the stormy sea picture but bright and cloudless for the calm sea painting.
*Spend some time listening to whale song (search online), which many people find calming and magical. It’s so other-worldly and an opportunity to experience the deep ocean. Whales can hear each other’s calls underwater when they are hundreds of miles away.
*Look at the patterns in sand or mud left by the tide. If you can’t get to the seaside then watch videos online of tides in different places and of cresting waves.
*Think about the sea’s different moods – the power and drama of a stormy sea as it pounds against a headland, compared to the slow lap of waves against the shore on a still day.
TRAVEL AND TRANSPORT 10-24 May 2021
As travel restrictions ease and as summer nears, Medley’s new set of Creative Ideas focuses on TRAVEL AND TRANSPORT – journeys and how we make them. There are well-known songs on the theme, art and craft activity ideas to try and ways to connect with nature. It would be great if you would like to share any responses or how you get on with the ideas on Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 Thank you!
Search for these songs online, maybe on YouTube, and enjoy listening or singing along:
*Midnight Train To Georgia (Gladys Knight)
*Take The ‘A’ Train (Duke Ellington)
*No Particular Place To Go66 (Chuck Berry – “Riding along in my automobile…”)
*Mystery Train (Elvis Presley)
*Long Black Limousine (Elvis Presley)
*Chattanooga Choo-Choo (Glenn Miller)
*Trains And Boats And Planes (Burt Bacharach)
*Try drawing and/or painting different modes of transport: a car, a train, maybe a racing car or a steam train, an aeroplane or a hot air balloon, or even a pair of walking boots or shoes. You could draw or paint the one subject in different media, to see how different your pictures of, say, a car look in pencil, in colour pen, in acrylic paint and so on.
*Print out the blank outline (below) of a classic car and use this for art or craft, as I’ve done in the main image (above). You could try colouring the car, or use fabric or paper cutouts to make it look more decorative. I’ve used buttons for the wheels and for the headlights.
*Try scrapbooking or making a collage on a travel and transport theme: create a montage of maps, photos and your own drawings or paintings of vehicles, flags from different countries, and signposts. You could draw, colour and make the items yourself or cut some out of catalogues or magazines.
*Think about wildlife which travels long distances, maybe on annual migrations: birds like swifts and swallows, insects like monarch or painted lady butterflies. Whales cover long distances in the oceans. Look out for migratory birds like swifts. Look through an atlas and imagine all these different creatures’ routes across the world.
*When we travel, it opens up opportunities to see nature in different settings. If travelling isn’t possible, try a virtual journey. Watch online videos of journeys and look out for different vistas or views. Or listen to slow radio and podcasts of walks or journeys in different places. Some use lots of great sound effects to conjure up an atmosphere of motion and travel.
*Trees and other plants depend on birds, insects and the wind to pollinate them and to disperse their seeds to grow in different places. Seed from a hazel or hawthorn bush might travel ten miles from the bush and then germinate. So look at trees and bushes and think how they might have grown from the seeds of trees miles away.
RIVERS 26 April-9 May 2021
Rivers and streams can be an important focus in any view or landscape, city or village alike. They might be a quiet haven and a great habitat for wildlife, or a busy, wide waterway. Here are ideas of songs and music inspired by rivers to enjoy, art and craft ideas on the theme and ways to experience nature through rivers as well. It would be great if you would like to share any responses or how you get on with the ideas on Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 Thank you!
Always take care near water.
Search for these songs or pieces of music online and enjoy listening, maybe while looking through pictures of rivers or even walking by one. Maybe sing or play along.
*Deep River (Traditional)
*Ferry Cross The Mersey (Gerry and the Pacemakers)
*Let The River Run (Carly Simon)
*Blue Danube (Johann Strauss)
*Roamin’ In The Gloamin’ “By the bonny banks of Clyde”
*The Swanee River (World War One song)
*Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon and Garfunkel)
*Draw a riverbank with tall trees growing along the bank, some of their roots exposed along the bank. Or try painting a river in watercolour, maybe “wet in wet” where you add different colours before others dry, so the colours run together.
*Make a paper cut collage or use applique (stitching smaller fabric cutouts onto a larger background cloth) on a rivers theme – first cut a wide, wavy strip of blue or grey paper or material to make your river, then create a riverside scene around it as you add tree shapes, reeds and rushes, fish shapes, maybe a bridge or stepping stones.
*Paint, draw or photograph different bridges – maybe large, dramatic bridges like the Clifton Suspension Bridge, or a simple, small wooden bridge over a stream.
*Choose a river and follow its course on a map or in an atlas. See what countryside it flows through – is the land hilly or flat, how long is its course, where is its mouth where it enters the sea? You might find pictures of the river’s course in books or online too: maps reveal a lot, but a scene comes to life in a photo. You might choose a local river or one overseas, one you know or one you’ve never seen.
*Enjoy the sounds of a river or stream – go for a walk by the water if possible or else listen online – just type “sounds of a river” into your browser or search on You Tube. Notice how the river’s flow might sound different if the water’s low or near to flood, and if the riverbed is stony or sandy. Listen out for any waterbirds or insects.
*Look online at images of wildlife which lives in or close to water: like dragonflies, water birds, or fish.
NAMES 12-25 April 2021
We might take names for granted but they are an important part of who we are and of how we connect with other people. So Medley’s new set of Creative Ideas has songs to listen to all featuring names, some art and craft ideas on the theme and some ideas for thinking about names in nature too. You might like to share any responses or how you get on with the ideas on Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 Thank you!
Search for these songs online and enjoy listening to them. You might like to sing or clap along, or to try comparing different versions of them. You could listen outdoors. You could also search online to see if your own name features in any other songs.
*Daniel (Elton John)
*Suzanne (Leonard Cohen)
*I once met a girl named Maria (Leonard Bernstein, from West Side Story)
*Hey Jude (The Beatles)
*The Grand Old Duke Of York
*Jolene (Dolly Parton)
*Daisy, Daisy, Give Me Your Answer, Do
*Make an “initial” card for someone, or an initial picture for yourself. Write the initial as the focus of the picture or card, and them draw or paint around it different items which share that initial – maybe plants, a bird or insect. For example, for the letter L you could paint a lobelia flower, a ladybird, a lapwing (bird) and so on.
*Draw or paint your own or someone else’s name to make a card or picture – in a bold or striking colour, maybe a colour which shares the name’s initial – and then create a decorative border around the name, using pens or paint. The border could be a simple repetitive pattern, or different colours and patterns on each side, or it could feature particular motifs like leaves, ribbons or shapes. The border could be rectangular or circular.
*Make a collage or assemblage of different names using paper cutouts of letters in different fonts and sizes from magazines or catalogues. Or you could draw or paint the names in different styles and colours. You could feature the names of people you know, plants’ names, or famous people’s names.
*So much of our experience of nature is tied up with knowing the names of different species to identify what we see. Think about how some of these names came about. Look at plants (in nature or in a catalogue or online) and think about their names, like black-eyed Susan (rudbeckia) or coneflower. Think about people’s names which can also be plant names, like Holly or Rowan.
*Think what birds’ names might tell us about that species, like a swift (expertly quick at flying) or a chiffchaff (named for its song)or the goldcrest (with its yellow crest).
*Some species names sound quite striking if you stop and think about them – like a dragonfly, a flimsy drifting insect very unlike a fiery dragon!
*On a walk you could look out for place names on signposts, maybe half hidden by a tree or situated at a crossroads.
GARDENS 22 MARCH-5 APRIL
Now that gardens have burst back into life for spring, Medley’s latest set of Creative Ideas has songs and music to listen to on this theme, as well as art and craft ideas to try and ways to connect with nature through gardens. It would be great if you’d like to share any responses or how you get on with the ideas on Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 Thank you!
Search for these songs and pieces of music online, listen and enjoy! Maybe sing and clap along too. You might like to listen outdoors, in a garden, or indoors but with a window open on to a garden if possible.
*Rose Garden (a 70s hit for Lynn Anderson and for New World)
*Down By The Salley Gardens
*Keep Off The Grass (by US composer J P Johnson who also invented the Charleston dance)
*In An English Country Garden (Percy Grainger)
*Victorian Kitchen Garden
*Make a garden-themed mural, mural picture, collage or banner, using a large piece of paper or card, canvas or fabric as your background, or try scrapbooking on the theme. Combine different art styles and media: draw and paint some images, add paper cutouts of others (maybe from seed or bulb packs or catalogues), and make some images out of colour materials, maybe felt, cotton or ribbon. You could feature all kinds of images: tools, plants, sheds, garden seats, sunhats…You could add to this over the months as different plants come into flower, and you could work on it as part of a group, all contributing different images.
*Draw and paint (or photograph) some garden birds, maybe on a bird table or feeder. They can look so acrobatic as they feed so try to focus on this in your picture.
*Draw or cut out shapes of wheelbarrows or garden sheds and decorate them with different colours or patterns, or show what’s in the barrow or shed, like a plant, gloves or tools.
*Make a fantasy flowerbed by drawing, painting or using paper cutouts to show plants which flower at all different times of year or in different countries all out together!
*If you have a garden, try a garden bioblitz – where you see how many species you can find. Search “garden bioblitz” online to find tips and ideas on how to do this.
*Focus on listening to the sounds in a garden at different times of the day: you might hear wind rustling through a bush or tree, birdsong, insects, rain falling on to a shed roof or dripping off plants, or a nearby mower.
*Look at the way light moves across a garden through the day, how sunmight catches plants or casts shadows on to the grass or concrete from trees or nearby buildings.
*Decide to add a different plant to your garden each month this year, and see how each one grows in a particular position. If you don’t have a garden try planting a different plant each month in containers on a windowledge or add a new houseplant each month.
CITIES 1-14 MARCH
Many cities look different than they usually do at the moment, with no crowds and with businesses closed. But they’re still there: waiting! Medley’s new set of Creative Ideas has songs and pieces of music to listen to, art and craft ideas to try and ways to connect with nature, all on a CITIES theme this fortnight. You might like to share how you get on with the ideas on Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002
Search and listen to these songs or pieces of music. You might like to sing along, or play them yourself if you play a musical instrument.
*An American In Paris (George Gershwin)
*An Englishman In New York (Sting)
*Quiet City (Aaron Copland)
*Streets Of London
*New York, New York (from the Leonard Bernstein musical On The Town)
*Try drawing some city skylines in colour pens, pencil, black pen or colouring pencils. You could draw skylines for cities you know, or just famous cities – for example, for London draw the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben and the London Eye. Or you could draw imaginary city skylines.
*Instead of drawing the skylines, you could just draw or colour outlines of the skyline shapes, maybe as silhouettes. Make sure your chosen skyline has some distinctive shapes, like domes or skyscrapers or a construction like the Eiffel Tower.
*Make a fabric city – use a fabric or paper backdrop (either blue for sky or black for a night sky) and cut out and stick on to this different shaped buildings in different materials, colours or patterns. You could sew them on if you use a fabric background.
*Draw or paint a couple of buildings or a street scene in acity you know or like. You could use photographs to work from. Your picture could be atmospheric and impressionistic, or you could draw a more detailed view using a black ink pen or even a biro.
*Cities might seem like hostile place sfor nature & wildlife. But many species do survive and thrive in urban areas. If you live in or near a city, look for street trees, insects, birds. Find out about local projects to help urban wildlife. There migh tbe live webcam feeds to watch or other news to follow. In the UK, your local Wildlife Trust is a good place to start.
*Look at pictures of famous cities across the world and look out for any open spaces, trees or other signs of nature’s presence.
*Think about nature’s own “cities” – very different from our own. I’ve heard seabird colonies on cliffs called “seabird cities”. Some insect species, like ants, gather in large colonies. Think what their “cities” might be like from their perspective. Look at pictures in books or online.
RAIN AND SNOW 18-31 January
While there are clear sunny days as well, in mid to late winter we do see a lot of rain and sometimes snow too. So Medley’s new set of Creative Ideas focuses on RAIN and SNOW, with songs and music to listen to, art & craft ideas and ways to notice rain and snow in nature in new ways. You might like to share how you get on with the Ideas on Medley’s Facebook group
Search and listen, sing along or try playing one or two of the songs or pieces of music. Listen to them while watching rain fall, or looking at a snowy scene if it snows this fortnight where you are.
*Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head
*Singing In The Rain (the musical)
*Rhythm of the Rain (a 1960s hit and again in the 1990s)
*It’s Raining (No 2 in 1978 for Darts)
*Prelude “The Raindrop” Op 28 No 15 (Frederic Chopin)
*Snowy Morning Blues (J P Johnson)
*Sleigh Ride (Leroy Anderson)
*The Skaters Waltz (Waldteufel)
ART & CRAFT
*Draw different animal and bird footprints in black pen on white paper or card, so they look like tracks in the snow (look up different footprints in a book or online).
*Make snowflake patterns by cutting different shaped snowflakes out of white tissue paper or white fabric and sticking them on to black paper or card. Every single snowflake has a unique pattern, so you can let your imagination fly – but they are always six-sided, like a star.
*Paint a snowy scene (maybe a fence and gate covered with snow) or else paint an abstract picture expressing how rain and snow make you feel – maybe a swirling grey pattern.
*Draw or paint a colourful sledge, or someone skating or skiing.
*Draw some umbrellas and decorate them with different designs – patterns or colours – either using pens, paint or collage.
*Notice how snow drains all colour from any view, all becomes bleached white, then notice how all the variety of colour gradually returns as the snow melts and every shade seems brighter than before.
*Think about or listen to the sounds of rain or snow. Snow muffles sound, so that even footsteps going by on the road sound different. Listen to rain falling, maybe pattering on to a roof, dripping or trickling, or pelting on to a window on awindy day. Listen to ice dripping off a tree as it melts in a winter sun.
*Look at reflections in puddles, particularly if it stops raining and the sun comes out. Seeing a tree or wall reflected can make you look at it differently.
*Notice raindrops glistening or gleaming on a tree branch or a spider’s web or on ivy leaves.
8 songs or pieces of music to sing or listen to, 5 art and craft ideas and 4 ways to connect with nature: Medley’s new set of Creative Ideas focuses on the theme of RAIN and SNOW as winter comes to an end. I hope you enjoy them https://medley.live/creative-ideas
DOORS AND ENTRANCES 4-17 January 2021
2021 is here: a new year, maybe a new beginning. So Medley’s new set of Creative Ideas features songs and music, art & craft ideas, and ways to connect with nature, all on the theme of DOORS AND ENTRANCES – opening up a new way ahead.
Search for these songs or pieces of music, listen and sing along, or play them yourself. You could listen while trying one of the art or craft ideas.
*Close Another Door (The Bee Gees)
*Open The Door Homer (Bob Dylan)
Two Doors Down (Dolly Parton)
*Welcome To My World
*On The Steps of the Palace (Stephen Sondheim, from Into The Woods)
*Come Up To My Place (Leonard Bernstein, from On The Town)
*Walls Come Tumbling Down (Paul Weller and The Style Council, played at Live Aid)
*Try painting or drawing doors, gates or other entrances. You could paint doors in different colours, or draw doors open, closed or ajar. You could paint a door framed by trees or other plants, or a window with a colourful windowbox.
*Make different decorations to display on doors. You could use ivy and evergreens to make an outdoor winter wreath or posy. Or you could make an indoor decoration using colourful ribbons or pieces of fabric plaited together to make a ring to suspend from a hook or to tie around a door handle in a bow.
*Try photographing views framed by a doorway or gate. Even just a familiar view of a street could look different seen through an open doorway.
*Make a decorative transparent panel to display in a sunlit window or glass door. Use tissue paper, voile or gauze in bright colours and cut out shapes from it to make a pattern.
*Make a door greetings card. Fold a piece of card, then draw or paint a door on the front of the card. Cut along the top, right hand side and bottom of the door, leaving it attached to the rest of the card down its left hand side. Decorate the inside of the card with a colourful pattern, or a drawing, or a painting or photograph, the size of the door. You could close the card by tying it up with a ribbon.
*Try making a bug hotel, using pieces of wood or recycling all kinds of old containers to construct entrances where insects can shelter. Search online for patterns and instructions.
*Look out for field gates, for stiles, for paths and tracks which open up new ways to go. Look for gaps along a hedge or for trees which form a natural entrance to a field or open space.
*Look down for entrances to animal burrows or setts, or for mole hills. On my walks I sometimes see an old sett and a well-worn path down the slope, but I don’t think it is used anymore. Or look up for holes in tree trunks, where birds might nest or shelter. You could look for all these in pictures in books or online if you can’t see them outdoors.
*Nature could all seem open space to us, but birds and wild animals have a strong sense of territory and will defend their own patch. Look or listen out for birds like robins perched on a branch at the edge of their territory, singing to ward off other birds.
LIGHT AND DARKNESS 14-27 December 2020
Now that darkness falls so early and some days it barely comes fully light at all, I thought I would focus Medley’s latest set of Creative Ideas on LIGHT and DARKNESS. Soon now, slowly, the days will start to draw out once again. You might like to share what you do with the Creative Ideas on Medley’s new Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 Thank you.
You could try listening to the songs in the darkness as well as by day, and see how you respond differently to them. You could sing or clap along, and search for covers of the songs which are instrumental only.
*Shine A Light
*Blinded by the Light (Bruce Springsteen or cover by Manfred Mann)
*Star of wonder, star of night (We 3 Kings of Orient are)
*You’ll Never Walk Alone (“When you walk through a storm/Hold your head up high/And don’t be afraid of the dark…”)
*In The Still Of The Night
*Candle In The Wind (Elton John)
*Light (Michael Kiwanuka)
*Experiment with painting objects and their shadows: maybe a tree and the shadow it casts, or an ornament and its shadow. A shadow will be cast on the side of the object opposite to or away from the light. Or try photographing objects and their shadows, like my photo here of a houseplant and its shadow by lamplight.
*Cut patterns or shapes out of tissue paper or other transparent, see-through paper or gauzy material in different colours, and display them in the window or even on the windowpane, so daylight and sunlight shine through them. They may cast colourful reflections on the windowledge or floor like stained glass might do.
*As soon as I took up drawing, I learned how important it was to shade my drawings to create the illusion of 3D. So try drawing any item you see and shade in the side of the object further away from the light, and it will look more solid and lifelike.
*Try making a glove puppet to use as a shadow puppet. It needs some distinctive features to stand out and make the shadow more dramatic, so you could make an animal puppet with large ears or a shape puppet with circles and triangles at the top.
*Compare a familiar view in daylight, at dusk and at night – on a bright moonlit night or on a darker, overcast or foggy night. Switch on an outside light and see how it changes a familiar scene like your garden so that it looks like a stage set – or look at the light cast by a street light and how this contrasts with the shadows nearby. See how your eyes slowly adjust to the darkness so you can observe more.
*Notice how different colours shine in the raindrops on wet grass or in water droplets on an icy tree, when the sunlight catches them
*See how the Sun’s height in the sky differs through the day or the year by measuring the shadow cast by a tree or other object. In midwinter the Sun is so low.
TREES, WOODS AND FORESTS 30 November-13 December
Marking National Tree Week and a time of year when many new trees will be planted, Medley’s new Creative Ideas focus on trees, woods and forests – such important parts of any landscape. There are songs and pieces of music to play or listen to, art and craft ideas to try and ways to observe and experience trees, planted singly or growing in a wood or forest. You might like to share what you do with the Creative Ideas on Medley’s new Facebook group
Search and listen, sing or clap. If possible, you could listen outdoors in a wood or looking through a window at some trees. You could even listen while you plant a new tree for National Tree Week.
*Moments In The Woods (from Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into The Woods)
*I Talk To The Trees (from Paint Your Wagon)
*Song From The Wood (Jethro Tull)
*A Walk in The Black Forest (Horsl Jankowski)
*Tales From The Vienna Woods (Johann Strauss The Younger)
*The Ash Grove (traditional folk song)
*If you go down to the woods today…
*By Banks of Green Willows (George Butterworth)
*O Christmas Tree
*Try drawing or painting one tree in different media: pencil, charcoal, colouring pencil, pastel, watercolour paint or acrylic – and compare them all.
*Draw tree silhouettes of different tree species which have contrasting shapes, like the squat, broad form of an oak and the tall, narrow poplar. Display them all together.
*Choose a tree you see regularly if possible – maybe a tree in your garden or visible from your window or seen on a walk) and decide to photograph, draw or paint it every month for a year, to record how it changes. Or you could photograph/draw/paint just one branch each month, to focus on how the buds unfurl, leaves open and expand, then tint and fall.
*Cut tree shapes out of different green or brown material, some plain, some patterned. You could stick them on to card to make a fabric forest, or sew them onto white material. Vary the fabric trees’ sizes and shapes.
*Usually we might only cast a fleeting glance at a tree, so try looking more carefully (if you can’t get outside, then look through pictures of trees). Look at the different markings, patterning or colours on their trunks, any ivy on the trees, how high on the trunk the first branches form, the tree’s shape, any early buds and so on.
*If you can find an old tree stump or a log, count the rings. Each ring marks a year of the tree’s growth, so you can work out how old the tree was when it came down.
*Listen to the different sounds trees make on a windy day: the rushing sound of the wind blowing through a conifer or the stirring of bare branches.
*If you can get to a wood or forest, identify as many tree species as you can. As it is winter the tree’s shape will be your main clue, but fallen leaves underfoot might help.
*Take bark rubbings of different trees, or look out for different types of bark. It might be gnarled or fissured, smooth, scaly or patchy.
TIME 16-29 November
Time is the theme for Medley’s latest set of Creative Ideas, at a time of the year when the clocks have changed and day turns to evening earlier and earlier (and when by New Year the days will be drawing out slowly once again). It would be great if you would like to share what you do with the Creative Ideas on Medley’s new Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002 Thank you!
Search and listen, or if you play a musical instrument try playing along, or respond by clapping or dancing. Sing along to the songs, or listen while you try one of the art or nature activities.
*(Thank You For The) Days (The Kinks)
*What a difference a day makes
*Yesterday (The Beatles)
*Clock Symphony (Joseph Haydn)
*4’32” (John Cage) – a famous and controversial piece of silence!
*You can’t hurry love (Phil Collins)
*Draw, paint or photograph one scene or view at different times of the day to see how different it looks. This could be the view through your window or any other scene.
*Create a word picture on the theme of time. Write words on the theme (like midnight or year) in different colours or styles, in upper or lower case letters, or in different sizes. You could create your word picture using a graphic design programme as I have here.
*Design an hour glass or sand timer in different colours.
*Draw clock faces or cut them out of sheets of card or paper in different colours. Then decorate them with patterns or illustrate them with symbols of day and night, like sun or stars. You could draw or cut out 4 or 5 clocks each with the clock hands drawn at different times of day, and illustrate each with pictures of what you connect with that time of day.
*Follow the day’s progress by noticing how the shadow cast by a tree or bush changes angle as the Earth turns and the sun moves across the sky, or how the sun shines into the house at different angles.
*Try planting some vegetable seeds, or some tree seeds (an acorn maybe, or a conker) in a container on a warm windowsill indoors. Notice how long they take to germinate and begin to grow.
*Look at a twig and count the girdle scars along the twig across its width to work out the age of the twig – each scar marks a year as it is the site of a year’s main bud.
*On a walk, in the garden or through an open window, be quiet for one minute or for five minutes and see how many sounds you can hear. I have just done this and heard rooks cawing, the wind gusting through bare trees, and a clock ticking!
COLOURS OF THE RAINBOW 2-15 November 2020
The third theme for Medley’s Creative Ideas is COLOURS OF THE RAINBOW. As the days and nights become colder and darker, I know I like to see some bright colours as a counterbalance. And a rainbow is a sign of hope. Would you like to share how you get on with the Creative Ideas on Medley’s new Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002? Thank you!
Colour’s so important that many song titles or pieces of music feature different colours, as do one or two musicians’ names! Search and listen, or try playing along, or clapping or dancing. Sing along to the songs, or listen while you try one of the art or nature activities.
*Somewhere Over The Rainbow Judy Garland
*The Rainbow Song (“Red and yellow and pink…I can sing a rainbow”)
*Mr Blue Sky ELO
*Blue Suede Shoes Elvis Presley
*Rhapsody In Blue George Gershwin
*The Green, Green Grass of Home
*Greensleeves Henry VIII (attributed)
*Yellow Submarine The Beatles
*Any Dream Will Do (Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat) Lloyd Webber
*Any song by Pink or by Simply Red
*Try drawing with a black pen on different colour papers. Or cut out silhouettes or shapes in bright colour papers and display them on a black sheet.
*Draw a scene or an object (maybe the view from your window, a plant or a chair or ornament) in pencil or black pen, and then try painting the scene or object in colour. Compare the two, see how the pencil or pen drawing needs shading to create the impression of 3D.
*Draw some outlines of balloons or even hot air balloons and decorate them with different colours and patterns.
*Let your imagination fly – paint trees and other plants in colours you would never see in nature!
*Attach some ribbons or long pieces of fabric in different colours to each other at one end and weave them together to make colourful garlands or scarves.
*Look at a colour wheel and experiment with painting in complementary colours or in primary or secondary colours.
*Paint what you see when you look through a kaleidoscope.
*Either go for a colour walk or look at the colours in the garden or use your imagination to think what colours you might still see at this time of year. Even now you could see many different shades of colour.
*Think of one colour and list as many examples of that colour in nature as you can think of, for example for white, a swan or a daisy, or for turquoise, a dragonfly or a kingfisher.
*Plant some later spring bulbs in as many different shades of colour as you can find
*Imagine planting a colour-themed garden bed or windowbox. It might feature plants all of one colour, or in two contrasting colours, or in all colours of the rainbow, or else vegetables grown as much for their colours as for eating.
TREES AND LEAVES 19 Oct-1 November
The second theme for Medley’s Creative Ideas is Trees And Leaves, as leaves tint and fall and trees grow barer.
Trees become so familiar that maybe this is an opportunity to look at them differently.
Search and listen. You might like to sing along to the songs, or clap or mark time. You could listen to the songs and music while looking at a tree or some leaves, either through a window or outside. Or listen while you try one of the art activities. If you play a musical instrument yourself then you might like to find the sheet music and play, or improvise your own version to the music.
Maple Leaf Rag Scott Joplin, the “King” of Ragtime
Autumn Leaves Nat King Cole or Eva Cassidy
Blowing In The Wind Bob Dylan
Falling Leaves of Autumn Debbie Wiseman
- Try drawing outline leaf shapes for different tree species: maybe the large leaves of a sycamore or the narrow leaflets of rowan.
- You could use these outline shapes to make your own leaf stencils from card. Then paint in the stencils, either in traditional autumn leaf colours or else use your imagination and paint fantasy leaves in any colour of the rainbow. Use them to make a mural. Or draw a tree and then place your different leaf shapes on the branches to make a fantasy tree.
- You could also use your leaf shapes to make leaf chains, or cut them out of tissue paper to make a leaf mobile to sway in a breeze.
- Experiment with a themed painting on one tree species: paint or draw the tree’s silhouette shape, a twig, a leaf, the tree’s fruit or seeds (like an acorn) and any flowers or blossom (like a catkin).
- Make a leaf rubbing by laying a piece of paper over a leaf (veins uppermost) and rubbing a crayon over the paper so the leaf’s shape and form are seen. Or try a bark rubbing: hold a piece of paper against a tree trunk and rub over it with a crayon to reproduce the bark’s pattern on the paper.
- Look how colourful autumn leaves stand out against a bright, cloudless sky, but also how they lighten even an overcast day.
- Listen to all the sounds: how the wind whispers or roars through different kinds of tree; how fallen leaves stir, rustle or shiver in the breeze; and how rain patters more loudly onto leaves when they first fall but then silently as they become sodden underfoot.
- See how some trees become bare before others, look out for the last leaves to fall and how they stand out when they are the last leaves left in a hedge.
- As leaves fall and trees become bare, notice what different shapes tree silhouettes of different species have. Notice ivy growing on the tree trunks or amidst a bare hedge, which you might have overlooked before. And notice different bark colours and patterns, like a silver birch’s white bark.
SPACE 4-18 October
The first theme is Space, to mark World Space Week which runs from 4-10 October.
Space conjures up freedom to explore, new perspectives. It is elemental, exciting, awesome.
Search and listen. If you play a musical instrument, you might like to play the pieces or songs yourself, or improvise to the music. You could sing along. You might like to listen, play or sing as you look at the night sky, through the window maybe or in your garden (quietly!)
The Planets (Gustav Holst)
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (The Beatles, later cover by Elton John)
Sing To The Moon (Laura Mvula)
Star Wars film scores (John Williams)
*Cut star shapes out of colourful paper and display on black paper or cloth
*Try making a solar system or space mobile, with planet, star, sun and moon shapes. You could use papers in different colours or in gold and silver. Make holes in the top of each shape to tie string or ribbon through, and tie them somewhere where they will turn in a draft and catch the light.
*Cut star shapes out of felt or other material and embroider them or paint or draw patterns on them with fabric paint or marker pens.
*Experiment by painting the night sky in different media – acrylics for a bold, striking painting, or watercolours for misty atmosphere.
*Try a detailed pen or pencil drawing of the solar system, labelling the planets.
*Make a word picture on a space theme. With colour pens or pencils, write down words which come to mind when you think of outer space, like planet, meteorite or astronaut.
*Try photographing the night sky.
Spend time looking at the night sky. Compare the impenetrable darkness of an overcast night with the bright clarity of moonlight.
Look at the shadows and reflections cast by moonlight.
See how moonlight filters through a tree’s leaves or bare branches.
Look at the moon on a misty night, when hazy clouds half-obscure it or pattern the sky.
Over a month, follow the moon’s cycle.
This year’s World Space Week focuses on satellites. These can actually be seen more easily with the naked eye than with a telescope: look out when dusk falls.