Auction Art—oh what fun! ;)


Oh my gosh, you won’t even believe what I am doing right now…copying outlines of umbrellas.  And it’s not working quite right with my printer.  I am having to print one at a time, and then flip the odd sized paper over and reprint and… ugh! It’s such a PAIN!!!  I just keep telling myself, IT’S FOR THE KIDS!  (breath…breath)

What am I doing, you ask?  Auction Art.  A love and ha… uuummm…. more like frustrating relationship, I suppose.  (I don’t like that “H” word.) I really do LOVE creating art with the kids.  It is so fun and inspiring and I would encourage anyone and everyone to do it!  The outcomes are breathtaking and the kids are over-the-moon excited to see a framed piece that they helped create go up for auction to raise money for their school.  I am so honored to be a part of making this fundraiser happen, for the kids and for our community.



(Photo Source: Simone Shubuck)

Before I moved to Portland, I had never heard of an auction before. Truly.  I didn’t grow up where my family went to auctions, galas, or fundraisers. My parents were teachers.  Teachers are the ones that galas and auctions are made for—to help raise money for schools!

Now that my kids are in elementary school, I see and understand first-hand the need for more funds for education.  By having an auction we are able to come together as a community and raise money for all needs of our school!  With the money, our PTO is able to provide books, computers, ipads, overhead projectors, and art supplies for the classrooms.  They are able to help fund field trips, science school and so many other enrichment programs.  Truly the needs are endless.

In 2014 our school hosted our first auction and I was on the committee.  We were pumped!  I recall the first planning meeting, so many eager faces were gathered around a kitchen table at a neighbor’s home.  No one wanted to be lead but many had talents they could offer.  So we designed a lead team and all took rolls.  Having a design background, I naturally fell into helping with the art part of the auction.


auction sample3

(Photo Source: wall sticker)

Figuring out what to make with the kids to sell at the auction is not easy.  For one, it’s not like I’m just creating a piece on my own to sell.  It’s thinking thru some complex questions:

  • Do you have an inspiration? (This could be something that already exists!  This could be something that you saw in a magazine, in a book or even on Pinterest!  Pinterest is a great place to start.)
  • What can a 1st grader create that isn’t going to look like C-R-A-P? (Pardon my potty mouth, but it’s true.)
  • How will all 100* pieces that the 1st graders create come together to look like art? (We combined the whole grade level, 4 classrooms, into one art piece)
  • What products do I use to create this? (Paint? Sharpies? Watercolor paper?  Balsa wood? Copper plating?)
  • How will I finish off the piece?  (Frame? Decoupage on a pre-made canvas? Attach to wood planks?)

All these things have to be thought out before you can even start.


auction sample1

(Photo Source: Feather Collage)

This year, I am working with the 2nd graders!  Because of my ideas, I have decided to split the 4 classes into 2, creating two separate projects but the medium we create our art with is the same.

QUICK TIP: start with an inspiration piece!

I always find an inspiration piece.  It’s the Type A in me that wants to know what it is going to look like after the piece is finished.  If you like your inspiration piece, most likely you are going to like the outcome of your auction piece.

Here are my two inspiration pieces this year:

Project A: Umbrellas

Inspiration source: Rie Nakajima

This has been in my inspiration binder for years.  (Yes, I have a binder…just like I had a binder for my wedding! *blush*)  What I love about this piece is the fact is 1. there is potential for many like pieces (the umbrellas).  Second, you can have multiple colors and patterns that come together to create one final piece.  Some umbrellas can be simple stripes and others can go crazy with the texture and color.  Finally, I love the personal connection to the symbol of the umbrella. We live in Portland, Oregon.  It kinda rains here… 🙂  The umbrella sits near and dear to all our hearts! (Actually…if you use an umbrella, you are more likely to be considered NOT from Portland! ha!  It is still a pretty symbol for rain. 🙂 )

Project B: Birds on a Tree

If you know anything about Portlandia, you will know the phrase “Put a bird on it!”  🙂 Again, such a fun(ny) symbol of our area.  This inspiration photo is actually from my girlfriend, Tania’s home.  Before I visited her a few weeks ago, I was just going to have the whole 2nd grade do umbrellas.  But then I saw this gorgeous piece and said, “Oh man!  We have to do this!!!”

The original has approximately 25 birds and 25 nests.  So I am going to have each child in 2 classes (approx. 27 students per classroom) draw a bird and a nest and I will pick either a bird or a nest from each child’s paper to be featured in the final compiled piece.  I think it’s gonna be really beautiful.

So that’s it for now!

Back to copying umbrella outlines and swearing at my printer!  Damn paper!  #@!$&^#!!!!!!

xo, Melissa





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