Wild Art Program

explorative art, science and wilderness program for all ages

designed and led by Emily van Lidth de Jeude

The Wild Art program espouses life-learning values, allowing participants to discover and share a vast myriad of ideas and activities in the studio and wilderness. Wild Art fosters confidence, critical thinking and communication skills, as well as a deeper understanding of local ecology.

After December, 2022, Emily will no longer be teaching in-person Wild Art programs, due to health challenges.

Wild Art Activity Book: 
This hand-drawn activity book is a creative, explorative journey through a year on the north west coast of North America. Each month begins with some suggestions of what to look for in the wild, and then follows with a tree in season for colouring, a puzzle, and sometimes also a recipe highlighting a seasonal wild food. Please use this book as an inspiration to get out and explore! Available at Phoenix on Bowen, and online:
Outdoor Exploration video series: 
Filmed by my son, Taliesin, this series takes us to various locations around Bowen Island/Nex̱wlélex̱m to explore the many varied ecosystems, plants (edible and poisonous), fauna and interesting landscapes. The series went for one year, from April 2020 to April 2021: 

Link to video series here on YouTube.

Wild Art Program: 

Looking for crayfish in a local creek.
I have been teaching art for 30 years, and maintain a philosophy that art is fully integrated with sciences, maths, history, policy and life, and therefore everything done in the studio informs and is informed by the rest of our activities and experiences. I work with and mentor in many disciplines and media, including drawing, colour theory, the art of seeing, painting, printmaking, mixed-media sculpture, costume and mask-making, bookmaking, poetry, and various wilderness and intuitive-expressive arts. Wild Art activities are always focused on explorative, self-directed learning!

There is ample research pointing to the benefits of self-directed learning. Researchers Todd Gureckis and Douglas Markant of New York University have found that "...self-directed learning helps us optimize our educational experience, allowing us to focus effort on useful information that we don’t already possess and exposing us to information that we don’t have access to through passive observation. The active nature of self-directed learning also helps us in encoding information and retaining it over time." (Anna Mikulak, Association for Psychological Science Article, 2012: What Makes Self-Directed Learning Effective?)
Rock-balancing, physical awareness, anatomy, and gesture.
Self-directed learning is, of course, one of the main tenets of unschooling, but my journey towards creating the Wild Art program began long before I had heard of unschooling. My mother was a preschool teacher, a music therapist, and an infant development consultant. She was and still is a wonderful musician and singer. She knows from many perspectives about the importance of allowing people to learn on their own terms. I spent many years learning from her as her daughter, her volunteer at preschool and summer programs, and eventually through seeking her advice as I began teaching, myself. Her philosophy of open-ended explorative learning, within a framework of ideas and materials that lend themselves to experimentation, has informed everything I do in life. Whether I work with adults, teens, or very young children, I take an approach that stretches boundaries by offering new and interesting ideas and materials, while setting only minimal "rules", so that people I work with are able to explore openly.

Lunch in an area we call the Enchanted Forest.
At Wild Art, education happens in the matrix that exists between the wilderness, creative exploration, and the social environment of the group. My role as a leader is firstly to benevolently support participants, and secondly to guide them in a way that does not assume any moral or intellectual superiority on my part. I observe and engage with the group's activities, and encourage and support participants in their exploration and problem-solving. Direction and outcome are always left to the group, and often involve quite a bit of democratic engagement.

Art in the forest!
I believe that there is an infinity of discovery to be made through indulging our creative and inquisitive minds, and as long as I provide a rich environment for exploration, and an open ear and mind for the conversations that ensue, wonderful things will happen. 

Wild Art in short:
Play, explore, communicate, and see what happens!

*All Wild Art programs are unplugged.
Although technology is an integral and valuable part of our daily lives, unplugging for the duration of our time together allows for deeper social, creative, and ecological engagement.

"My daughter has had a most wonderful time with you, she told me that you are a really good art teacher because you have no rules about art!! I think she finds any art done at school to be too predetermined and structured. So thank you for giving her the experience of free art and showing her another side of teachers!"

~Parent of a Wild Art participant.

Newspaper article about the Wild Art program, by Charmaine Heffelfinger: Bowen Island Undercurrent

Performance of the play conceived, written, costumed and performed by the 2013/2014 school-year group.

Short clip of a group of kids building in and artfully, cautiously damming a creek on Bowen Island. You'll hear them reminding each other of the importance of not taking the moss away from a tree's roots.

Next video: After clearing out a few hundred pounds of garbage from the old Bonanza mine adits, kids in grades 4-9 decided to go one step further and drain the mines of their deep puddles, as well, making it possible for more people to visit the sites.

All three of the following videos are from a 2013 Wild Art Summer Camp, where participants explored mathematical sequences, wave dynamics and bioelectric fields as they relate to form, colour, sound, movement, water- and ecosystems, and biology.

After finding crayfish and freshwater sponges in a local stream, the kids spontaneously began singing in the culvert, experimenting with their own sound-wave dynamics:

On another day, working with patterns in language, sound and colour, they spontaneously created something they called a "Singing Ball", where they vocalized towards a central point and held their hands out to feel the differences in air pressure caused by their own sound waves.
After the "Singing Ball", above, the kids chose colours of paint and expressed emotions they perceived as related to the colours they were using in movement and sound, on a large piece of fabric:
Selection of Past Events:
If you are interested in something I am not currently offering, please let me know - I am always willing to take input towards future programming!    
Wild Art for Educators, Parents and Families (professional development)    
Fresh Air Learning Forest School Training Module (professional development)    
Wild Writing Series    
Wild Printmaking  
Pro-D Mountainside Adventures  
Wild Art Intensives for Adults and Teens    
Week-long Spring and Summer Camps    
Weekly School Year Programs  
Non-Coerced Learning Workshops for Parents and Teachers
Family Tie-Dye Workshops  
Printmaking Workshops
Maskmaking Workshops
Bookmaking Workshops

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