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REFLECTIONS The Creative Process of Children Mirrored into the Works of Paul Frank Wagner

REFLECTIONS The Creative Process of Children Mirrored into the Works of Paul Frank Wagner


1970 Born in Paris, Feb. 27, 1970 2005 NYU Broadway Windows Show, NY. USA 2005 “30 Ways to make a Painting”, Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati OH. USA 2009 Scope Art Basel Miami Beach FL. USA 2010 “Boteco Lights” Installation, Miami Beach, FL. USA
 2013 “35 Knots to the East”, Istanbul, Turkey 2014 “Intersections” Installation, Cloitres des Billettes, Paris, France 1st. Prize Winner – Art Slant Award “For the animals of the forest”, Sologne, France 2014

”Baliwood” Installation, Alila Manggis / Artist in Residency, Bali, Indonesia

“Organically Grown” Installation, Artist in Residency, Oman, UAE

2015 “Soleminis” Installation, Sardinia, Italy 2016 “Gumballs” Art Residency at the Six Senses Zyl Pasyon - Seychelles 2018 “Creative Freedom” at Farley’s, San Francisco, USA

Reflections Art has been a part of my life since I was a boy, introduced to me by my grandmother, who was an artist. Recently, I co-founded Hoopla Education in the pursuit of propagating creativity in education through sustainable means. As an artist, I’ve always been interested in showing unity and expressing my truth through beauty. The ropes in my work represent the things that connect us to one another, and the metal frame captures it all. Growing up in New York City in the late 70’s and 80’s, I was exposed to a lot of Modern and Contemporary Art giving me a deep appreciation for Visual Arts. By the time I was sixteen, I had developed a real passion for Conceptual Art and American Minimalism, which paved the path to my first art show of my Rope Paintings at NYU’s Broadway Windows in 2005. In 2013, with the birth of my youngest son, I turned my attention to Arts Education, running creative workshops for teachers and activities with children, as I embarked on a journey around the world with my family. During this time, I’ve focused my artistic practice on ink drawings and process-driven works that are more freeform, mirroring our nomadic lifestyle. I wrote Sticks & Stones Art Curriculum during our stay in Sardinia, to nurture in children an appreciation of the simple things using natural materials to make visual art. These activities are strongly influenced by Land Art, Conceptual Art, American Minimalism, and Arte Povera art movements, and were carefully curated to create unique projects that are more concerned with the process than the outputs. Reflections documents the children’s creative processes proposed in Sticks & Stones and highlights the way their creative freedom is reflected and in my most recent work. We are all reflections of one another, linked by invisible ropes. Just as it’s hard to discern where Andy Goldsworthy’s arches of stone reflected in water begin or end, it’s hard to tell where one artist’s work ends and another begins: I like to think that my artwork has influenced the children’s creative expression, however Reflections is an acknowledgment of how the children’s creative process has great influence on me.

Full Circle

Exploring Circles, Sardegna, Italy

Circles Round, circular, circles: symbols of infinity and one of the first shapes children explore. Children are taken on an exploration of round, circular shapes on paper, from natural less perfect circular shapes to perfectly shaped circles found in industrial materials.

“I am personally fascinated by circles, from the shape of the sun to the wheel. It represents progress, the future. It’s the geometric shape that best represents unity to me.”

“Painting Tire”, Up School, Cagliari, Sardegna, Italy

Circle of stones, French American School, San Francisco, CA

Building a Stick Circle, Shu Ren International School, Berkeley, CA

Circle of Stones In the further elaboration of circles, children work individually and then collaboratively, to create circles using natural materials such as sticks, stones and pebbles. They develop their visual skills by using materials that they see in their everyday life. “For me, the collaborative component is key to learning how to share those materials with their peers.�

Air Life begins with our first breath of air filling our lungs. Yet air is rarely explored when creating art, and nothing is done without it. In this series of activities, air is manipulated to make works of art. Children are encouraged to find ways in which they can paint without having direct contact with the ink. In this picture, Marco is using a straw to blow air and move ink drops on paper to create free flowing works of art which taken one step further, resulted in shooting stars. “I enjoy the firecracker explosions of ink on paper, it reminds me of fireworks and celebrations in the sky. It represents a pleasant moment in time.�

Marco, Centro Hoopla, Sardegna, 2016

Stars, 2015 Ink Drawing by Paul Frank Wagner

Light: Painting Shadows using Pinecones In this series, children explore shadows while painting pinecones in the sun and casting its shadows on paper. By painting the shadow children are acknowledging where the light is coming from and increases awareness of the sun and of light.

Painting shadows and Pinecones

Earth: Mud Drawings Children are introduced to the Land Art works of Richard Long and then re-create his techniques with fingerprints and handprints. Children discover how to create mud and mix soil and water to create textured materials to draw with, which are both fun and messy!

“I love the aboriginal and primal feel of touching and creating with mud, and clay. I have a sense of traveling back in time to when mammoths and saber tooth lions roamed the earth and we recorded our adventures on walls: true Minimalism in its rawest form.�

Mud hand Prints done by students at East Bay German International School, Emeryville, California, USA

Painting on Stones This activity takes children back in time to their primal instinct of leaving a mark by exploring texture while painting on rough and smooth surfaces. Children work together to create a group work, painting all the stones in blue to give them a new identity.

Painting on stones, Cultural Centre of Tinos, Greece 2015

Marking the Passage of Time This activity marks the passage of time. Children place stones and trace their positions on paper, painting, coloring, marking their presence during the activity, while leaving their trace in the future.

Stones in Time

“I often think about time and its influence on past, present and future. How will the children remember the position of the stones without documenting them with photography?�

Ink Drawing’ Paul Frank Wagner, 2018

Smiley Stone Faces at East Bay German International School

Smiley Stone Faces The juxtaposition of stones with emotions jolts children into seeing life into these seemingly inanimate materials transforming this activity into a satire, rendering the old expression of “having a heart of stone� meaningless. Children are encouraged to explore the subtleties of emotions from moving the eyebrows up or down to make an angry face or a surprised face to changing the shape of the mouth.

Emotional Stone Faces

Speechless, Paul Frank Wagner, 2016

“Creating faces with stones, feels very primitive to me, indigenous, lacking formal structure. This naive style of art is appreciated for its childlike simplicity and frankness.�

Thinking Between the Lines

The Invisible Line, La Scuola International, San Francisco, CA

The Invisible Line This activity is all about breaking society’s established ways of thinking, after all, an artist’s job is to help others think differently! How do you teach to think outside the box? First, you have to think and see the world differently. “I teach children that in Art, 1+1 = 3: a third invisible line is created between two other lines when you create 2 parallel lines.”

Stick Animals Using photographs of animals as a guide, children position found sticks to re-create the shapes of what they see, exploring form further. Positioning sticks to draw the outlines of animals demands interpretation and eye to hand coordination.

Stick Animals

Tinkering Thinking outside the box should also serve a bigger purpose. I like to take waste and turn it into something beautiful. In this series, children are creating sculptures and expanding on their art exploration while up-cycling unwanted materials.



Stencils Stencils are an effective way to communicate ideas or words. Traditionally used with spray cans, this series applies them in a completely different context: to represent the natural materials used. Leaves, wood and/or sand are finely ground and glued within the stencils. Children have to place a steady hand to keep the letters in place whilst doing the work, as they slowly lift the stencil, to successfully complete the work.

Wood Stencil, Paul Frank Wagner, 2018

Tree Layering This activity is an open dialogue to an image that I created and the children’s interpretation. Children are given a series of stick-collage images representing a tree. They are then encouraged to think about seasonality and colors to dress and layer the work on top of my tree.

Tree Layering

The Y Tree I love to combine disciplines and enhance the learning by presenting it in a different context. When looking at a tree you may notice that every intersection created by a break or twigs forms a “Y” shape (or intersection). By repeating the shape of the letter Y, children are able to position sticks to make a tree. The use of bamboo and walnut ink is used to trace Y Trees to remind children that we can paint with anything, such as with sticks and inks from organic matter: the touch of nature at your fingertips. “I too started using bamboo, as I like the unpredictability of the lines it creates on paper.”

The Y tree Bamboo Drawing

Leaf Printing

Leaf Prints The investigation of form continues with the use of leaves to create leaf prints. I enjoy the simple way of exploring form and using a minimalist approach to creating art. Something easy turns into something beautiful. Children use paint or ink stamps to create visual outputs. Children talk about colors and seasons. Children are introduced to stencils with dried painted leaves, and glue crushed leaves to create works of art. The stencils are used to render a work less messy and more minimalistic /clean.

Peeling Away the Layers Food plays a vital role in our lives. Cultures center their most important rituals around food, its preparation and its consumption and most importantly its sharing... Yet we are seeing a growing disconnect between food, its source and children. This leads to the exploration of food in Art: from observing its shapes to its colors and its patters. What better way than to stimulate children’s creativity through print-making of seasonal vegetables.

Vegetable Printing, Little Academy Doha, Qatar, UAE

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Reflections - The Creative Process of Children Mirrored into the Works of Paul Frank Wagner