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Reach to Teach

Volunteers do not necessarily have the time but with heart, large impacts can be made. Community outreach is a major component of The Arts Conservatory and our school participates in many of the initiatives that our sister school organizes.

Linda’s passion: the power of art A life in the arts

For Linda Shirley, the arts have always been a part of her life. She’s been fortunate that way. Her parents valued the importance of an arts education and made many sacrifices to provide her with opportunities for artistic development. She began the journey at the tender age of three, tap dancing at the famous Evelyn Ward studio, then went on to study ballet at the Vincent and Hazel Studios.

At age six, she studied violin but switched to piano when she was 11. After spending her junior years studying with May German, Linda went on to study with Lloyd Powell, a famous Canadian teacher. Throughout high school, she dabbled in theatre and choir, performing in large-scale musical productions. And even when she became an adult, the arts kept finding her and she fell in love with a painter. 

As a fervent champion of the arts, Linda hopes to pass her love of the fine arts to future generations so that the knowledge may be safe guarded and the spark kept alive. It is her steadfast belief that :

Art is the power that brings people together, that bridges differences and binds our hearts.

Art is the power to transform, to inspire, to explore, to ignite and to unite. Individuals standing in the spotlight, trained to become a part of the whole. To overcome isolation and digital alienation, heal our brokenness and restore our communities.

You can help pass the flame of creativity to students by donating to the Reach to the Teach program, thereby creating possibilities through opportunities.

  • 2011-2012  The Beginning of Reach to Teach

    After reading, an article regarding the lack of supplies for Admiral Seymour, a school in the downtown Eastside of Vancouver, Linda Shirley took action by dropping off a van full of school supplies for the students. Linda was saddened that the school her father attended was struggling to provide basic supplies that every student should have access to.

    As a fervent champion of the arts, Linda approached the Community Arts Council of Richmond (CACR) with a unique and novel idea to provide free art classes to students in underserved communities. With some supplemental funding from the CACR, Linda designed the Reach to Teach program with the purpose of using the fine arts to bring communities together, bridging the social gap. She believes that art can instill a lifelong love of creativity and learning, opening doors to a world of possibilities. It is Linda’s vision that every student should have this opportunity.

  • 2012-2013  Bird Project

    This project was inspired by our instructor’s art practice and a body of work created by her as an artist, Jess-Jade Trestain, at the time of the program. Jessica Trestain has always been inspired by the natural world and the juxtaposition of her country of birth (Australia) and her new home in Canada. Both countries are vast and brimming with natural life, and the artist has a particular interest in the world of birds, being a “bird watcher”. The artist uses ink in a lot of her bird illustrations and was inspired by this medium for the RTT project.

    Students were asked to research and pick an exotic bird from around the globe as their subject for this project. They transferred their bird outline onto Vellum paper, which is a translucent material often used by architectural drawing. Once the bird was traced onto the vellum paper, each student used small paint brushes and high quality ink to colour decorate each of their birds. Finally a large tree was traced using rectangle pieces of Vellum paper to piece together like a puzzle, students were then asked to colour a part of the tree. This tree was installed as an added transparency behind the individual birds, and each bird was glued into a wooden frame and the frames along with the tree layer, were displayed as three collaborative pieces. The pieces were auctioned off at the celebration luncheon.

  • 2013-2014  Hula Hoop and Large Frame Weaving Project

    Sheila Hicks is an American artist. She is known for her innovative and experimental weavings and sculptural textile art that incorporate distinctive colours, natural materials, and personal narratives. Since 1964, she has lived and worked in Paris, France. Sheila often tells stories with her textile weavings and uses many different textures and colours to give the impression of a place in time. 

    During the Spring term of Reach to Teach, Britannia and Dixon students were asked to imagine a scene or landscape place and were split into smaller (mixed school) groups to collaborate on the project together. Some students received one Hula hoop with mesh to work on and one of the larger groups was asked to collaborate on a large frame with mesh. The students first brainstormed where their place or landscape would be, and made sketches and game plans on how to achieve their desired effects. They chose their yarn with the colours and textures as a priority, and often used hot glue and other fabric items to achieve their goal. The result is very different scenes and emotions evoked from these abstract and textual pieces. 

  • 2014-2015  3D Picasso Portrait

    Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and theatre designer who spent most of his adult life in France. He is one of the most influential artists of the 20th century and is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. As a young man Picasso went through several important phases in his creative development, in which some of his most celebrated and well-known works were born.

    Pablo moved to Paris in 1901, where his living conditions were quite poor and times were tough after the death of his best friend. Picasso’s work at this time is characterised by blue and green tones, with mournful and “gloomy” subject matter. After several years in a deep depression, things began to look up for the young artist: he moved into a new neighbourhood in Paris where many poets and bohemians lived, and fell in love with a woman named Fernande. Thus began his Rose Period, where he used blush tones and joyful subject matter such as circus performers and harlequins. This period lasted for several years, but like any great artist Picasso aimed to push the boundaries of art and reinvent his style once more. With his friend Georges Braque, Picasso began painting in a way never seen before- a style that is now known as Cubism. With Cubism, Pablo aimed to deconstruct images and reconstruct them as if seeing from several viewpoints.

    These three main creative periods in Picasso’s life inspired the students of Lord Seymour and Westwind Elementary as they embarked on their latest art projects. The class was split up into three groups and assigned either the Blue Period, Rose Period or the Cubism Movement and then tasked to recreate a painting from their respective category. The students got started by cutting shapes out of cardboard to make the basic outline of the paintings, and then gradually added more and more details with paint and other 3D materials. The large scale pieces were made almost entirely from recycled material, and as a collection they are a beautiful homage to the late Spanish artist.

  • 2015-2016  Louise Nevelson

    Louise Nevelson was an American artist best known for her monumental, monochromatic sculptures made from found wood objects. Nevelson is known for her signature style of assembling and painting wooden boxes, crates, and other found objects into complex, abstract compositions that often appear to be one solid piece. Her sculptures are typically painted in monochromatic black or white, with deep shadows and dramatic contrasts, creating a sense of mystery and depth.

    Our Reach to Teach students were each given a cardboard frame to work within, and used recycled materials to create interesting compositions. Then, they chose between copper, gold and black, coating their piece with paint. All boxes were then combined to create a monumental collaborative piece paying homage to Nevelson’s style.   


  • 2016-2017  Wings

    Street art is becoming very popular in the art world. What we love about it is that it is accessible to everyone. Kelsey Mongtague has taken her street art to the next level by making it interactive. She’s also inspired folks to think about #whatliftsyou. We love everything about Kelsey’s murals: the beauty, the message and the interaction.

    In this project RTT students were asked to create their own individual feather cut out of watercolour paper to decorate with colourful patterns and designs. Sometimes, the kids have a pattern or shape they’d like to repeat, and then they go for it. Other times, we talk about and look at pattern examples for them, to get the creativity flowing. Students often used markers to go over their patterns and designs, adding an extra element of layering to each individual feather!

    The instructor had already cut and assembled the wings prior to class to make sure that the installation would be successful, there were different sections to the wings including smaller sections that made up the spine and extra feathery wings that are bigger and make up the very ends of the wings. At the end the feathers were reconstructed into the end result onto the wall of our art studio. Once up a high resolution photo was taken of the wings to be used for our outdoor installation that remained on the school property forever!

  • 2017-2018  Thankyou

    This project It’s inspired by a street artist named Thank You X. 

    Each student decorated their own 3D cube and were introduced to several paint application techniques to choose from to add to their cubes. The cubes were created with a large scale 3D template and the students cut out the outside of their template, they were then tasked with creating patterns and colour combinations with pencil and markers to 5 of the 6 sides of their 3D cubes. They took inspiration from many bright bold street art designs. Once the decorating was complete each student carefully folded along the pre cut template to turn their cube from 2D to 3D. 

  • 2018-2019  Escher Tessellation

    Students were introduced to the art of Maurits Cornelis Escher and received a canvas to work on their Tessellation. A tessellation or tiling of a flat surface, is the covering of a plane using one or more geometric shapes, called tiles, with no overlaps and no gaps.


    This project was a great way for our students to create a beautiful piece without having to be a strong drawer or painter. Students were asked to consider the relationship of space, repetition and especially design principles like unity, emphasis and contrast. Students had the opportunity through this artwork, to further understand that many interdisciplinary subjects interact with Visual Arts, like Math and Architecture. Escher’s work asks the viewer to look beyond just what they see, and imagine the impossible!

  • 2019-2020  Takashi Murakami

    Takashi Murakami is one of the most visible and important Japanese artists working today. Murakami’s influence on Japan rivals Andy Warhol’s on the United States, and he is known for disseminating and promoting pop art strategies in ways unforeseen by American critics and artists.

    In this hands-on interactive and complex project, students were asked to build a 3D paper mache half sphere inspired by the art of Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. This class was taught entirely online and wouldn’t have been possible without the help of classroom teachers and assistants. 

    Students started the project by hot glueing the structure of the half sphere together using string cardboard, they then stuffed the structure with balled up newspaper and taped over it creating the base of the structure. Using newspaper strips, water and glue, they then paper mache over the structure creating a half sphere with a flat back. They painted a based colour on their spheres, and set them aside to dry. They then worked on a Takashi inspired flower design to repeat with lines on their backing for the half sphere, using templates and original designs. Finally they decorated their spheres using the same templates fo characters, markers and paints, the final step was to attach the sphere to their decorated backing. The result is an interesting semi 3D artwork with great detail and bright designs!

  • 2020-2021  Klimt

    Gustav Klimt was an Austrian artist and one of the leading figures of the Art Nouveau movement. He is best known for his decorative and highly stylized paintings that often feature gold leaf and intricate patterns. Klimt’s paintings are characterized by their sensuality, symbolism, and elaborate ornamentation, often featuring  female figures.

    Students in two different sessions were asked to recreate three famous Klimt paintings one of them being his most famous work “The Kiss”. Using ornate vintage frames to frame as the final touch there were many intricate steps to this art piece.  First the instructor had to draw the entire scene onto three large poster boards that were cut perfectly to size for the vintage frames. Then the scenes were cut into small squares and numbered at the back of each square according to their place in the painting from left to right. Students were asked to decorate each square at a time, first creating texture with hot glue guns, then using metallic paints to colour the backgrounds and gold for the hot glue lines. Finally the students could collage little flowers and many metallic details onto each square. Once they were all finished the class was asked to participate as a group to arrange all of the numbers back together like a numbered puzzle, glueing them onto foam boards cut to the vintage frame size. Finally the figures were painted and added as the finishing touch to the scene. Students were also asked to paint and refurbish the vintage frames with black paint. The result is a gorgeous and elaborate piece with individual participation.  

  • 2021-2022  Jen Stark Drip Project

    Jen Stark is an American artist who is best known for her vibrant and colorful sculptures and installations. Her work often features intricate, kaleidoscopic patterns and is inspired by nature, physics, and mathematics. Her use of bold colors and geometric shapes creates a mesmerizing visual experience for the viewer.

    The class was asked to look at the psychedelic artwork of American Contemporary artist Jen Stark. Students focused on her drip artworks and started by creating a drip shape with pencil on poster board. They were then asked to imagine colourful and monochromatic line patterns to fill and colour each of these personalised drips (two per student). Using many colourful sharpies students carefully blocked in line shapes and colours, intricate weaving together a melty trippy pattern that was as individual as the artist.

    In the final step students cut their drips out being careful to recreate the dripping design. The end result was one huge dripping wall installed vertically and using each monochromatic and colourful piece created by each student.


  • 2022-2023  Dale Chihuly

    Dale Chihuly is a Pacific Northwest artist and was born in Tacoma Washington. His work is greatly inspired by glass itself where the idea of blowing human air down a blowpipe can create many different forms. He also draws inspiration from nature, his love of color, architecture, beautiful objects, cars, great films and books.

    The students received shrink plastic that they were able to create designs on using permanent markers. Once they were satisfied with their designs, they used a hair dryer or oven to shrink the plastic so that it would shrivel, mimicking Chihuly’s glass designs. Afterwards, they hot glued their designs onto a hoop creating a version of Chihuly’s “Persians” in a wreath arrangement.

  • 2023-2024  Tomoaki Murayama

    Tomoaki Murayama utilizes monochromatic pens to intricately depict the natural world in unique black-and-white art, rich with grayscale gradients. His work is greatly inspired by growing up on a mountain village and his work intertwines animals and plants, embodying a profound sense of communion with the natural world.

    Students embark on a journey through the natural world by employing fine markers and white oil pastel to craft detailed 2D drawings. Utilizing cut paper, styrofoam animals, branches and stones, these 3D objects collide with the flatness of 2D imagery to offer viewers a multi-dimensional experience.