Anybody with artistic ambitions is always trying to reconnect with the way they saw things as a child.
- Tim Burton
When I was 8 years old I started my first business. J & A's Unique Glitter Items. I remember beaming with pride when I came up with the name. My bestie (the J) and I would decorate generic office labels and paper reinforcements with glitter and puffy paint. We had real business cards and we carefully packaged each purchase with (hand) shredded tissue paper. It was legit. Our best customer was J's uncle. He lived in West Hollywood, drove a Jeep, and had a hoop earring... so we were obviously very, very cool.
I gotta tell you, the fun of decorating white office labels has not waned a bit. I did forgo the puffy paint and glitter, but that was a personal choice... please feel free to get your J & A glam on.
The design concept for these geometric castles was inspired by Mary Blair's It's a Small World and Paul Klee's Castle and the Sun.
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1. Start to decorate your white stickers with color and pattern.
2. Cut out shape details: archways, bridges, skinny lines, and towers.
3. Start to build your castle one sticker at a time.
4. Add final details with colored pencils. We love these ones, the colors are rich and creamy and highly pigmented. They are a bit of an investment but they are so worth it in my opinion. I have had our home set for 8+ years.
"I've been absolutely terrified every minute of my life--and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do."
- Georgia O' Keeffe
AMEN, Georgia. AMEN.
So the other day I was rinsing out an iced tea jug and I turned it upside down to let the water drain out and a cow's skull stared back at me. I blinked and then I noticed that imprinted on the plastic was a Southwestern motif. I then started snapping pictures and texting them furiously to my (dear, loving) mother and (sweet, supportive) P. "Do you see what I see? Does this not look exactly like a Southwestern cow skull? Hello, Georgia O' Keeffe project!" They 'saw it', though I am not sure they shared my level of enthusiasm... but who knows, a lot gets lost in text.
SO it goes without saying that I am extremely excited to share this project with you along with a little peek into the life and work of Ms. Georgia O' Keeffe.
Let us raise a virtual glass to fierce, determined artists everywhere, who feel the fear and show up anyway.
Georgia O' Keeffe was a famous American painter best known for her dream like paintings of giant flowers and Southwestern landscapes.
Georgia was one of six children. She spent her early life in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. She was fascinated and inspired by nature from a very early age. It is said that by the time she was in eighth grade she knew she wanted to be an artist.
She studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago and later at the Art Students League in New York City. Georgia started pursuing a career in art at a time when women were not considered artists. The only way a woman could make a living as an artist was to be an art teacher. Georgia got her first teaching position at a school in Amarillo, Texas. This move West was vital in the development of her work. Georgia taught in Texas and at Columbia College in South Carolina. It was during her time in South Carolina that she created the charcoal drawings that would lead to her first gallery show. From 1917-1923 Georgia started to show her work on a regular basis and people started to notice. In 1924, Georgia began painting her most famous work; paintings of large, colorful flowers. These were the paintings that made her famous and afforded her the ability to set roots out West - her home away from home, which she called "the faraway".
In the summer of 1929 O' Keeffe witnessed a drought in New Mexico that caused the starvation of many animals. Georgia was fascinated by the cow and horse skeletons that were scattered across the Southwestern landscape and began to paint them. "To me they are as beautiful as anything I know... the bones seem to cut sharply to the center of something that is keenly alive on the desert even tho' it is vast and empty and untouchable." In Cow's Skull with Calico Roses, Georgia decorated the cow skull with artificial flowers. The kind of flowers that she saw on the gravestones in New Mexico.
In her later years, O'Keeffe suffered from macular degeneration and began to lose her eyesight. However, her urge to create did not cease. "I can see what I want to paint," she said at the age of 90. "The thing that makes you want to create is still there." Georgia died on March 6, 1986. She was 99 years old.
- empty plastic jug (we used an ice tea container)
- acrylic paint
- two empty paper towel tubes for the horns
- yarn (if you want to make tassels or pom poms to decorate)
- fake flowers - we used store bought but you could also make paper ones
- hot glue gun
- paint palette
- utility knife
- paint brush
- water cup
1. Rinse and dry your plastic jug.
2. Make an 'x' on the back of your jug with a utility knife and then carefully cut out a square section of the plastic backing so you will be able to hang your work of art!
3. Paint your jug with white acrylic paint. It took us 3 coats of paint to get a smooth, opaque cover on our jug. Allow for 20-30 minutes of drying time between coats. If you are doing this with an art class and time is an issue, you could prep the jugs by painting them with spray paint.
4. Paint both of your paper tubes white. We were able to cover ours well with one thick coat of paint.
5. Draw out your horn shapes with pencil or chalk so that you know where to cut.
6. Cut both of your tubes so you have a matching set of horns.
7. Glue around the base of your horns with hot glue and attach them to the side of your cow skull.
9. Our jug came with a Southwestern motif, but if yours does not have one you can still paint one on!
10. Enhance the pattern by using bright paint colors.
11. Time to add some finishing touches. You can dress your "skull" with flowers, yarn, or pom poms.
12. Time to hang! Don't forget to name your jug head. We can't wait to hang "Clive" in our ART CAMPER!
There's times you'll be
a sinking boat
left adrift at sea
and times you'll be
the ocean tide
breaking wild and free
there's times you'll be
and other times a seal
and times you'll be
the great white shark
and times you'll be the meal
there's times you'll feel like giving up
and sinking to the floor
and times you'll float
upon your back
and wash up on the shore
but know these times
will come and go
and just like tides
will ebb and flow
and though you won't
know which you'll be
you're still a part
of that mighty sea.
- Dallas Clayton
fish template (see form below)
skinny wooden dowels
cardboard - two 12" x 12" sheets
nail or skinny push drill bit
1. Cut out your fish (1 big and 1 medium). Subscribe below to receive our free template.
2. Begin to trace your fish shapes onto your cardboard.
We were able to fit 5 large and 6 medium fish on our 12"x12" cardboard square.
3. Cut out your fish shapes with a sharp pair of heavy duty scissors, a utility knife, or a ceramic box blade.
4. Time to paint! We chose a light periwinkle color as our main color and used marigold, coral, and pale pink as our accent colors.
Every school of fish needs that one fish that stands out and doesn't look like the others, like our "Coral".
5. Use a ruler to start to crease your folds for your platform base. We lined our ruler up with the edge of the cardboard, held it down firmly, and bent the sheet. Then we created a second fold line four inches from the first and a third along the opposite side of the ruler. Finally, we formed our cardboard into a rectangular box shape, used a pencil to mark the overlap, and cut off the excess cardboard with a utility knife.
6. Glue a strip of cardboard the width of your ruler to the surface where you created your first fold. This will serve to reinforce the box and give you additional surface area on which to glue.
7. Finish your rectangular box by gluing it down to the cleat that you created in the previous step.
8. Paint your box and the skinny wooden dowels. We used the same periwinkle we used as the base color on our fish to keep it cohesive.
9. Punch holes in the box where you would like your fish to be placed. We laid ours out before making holes and used a push drill bit to puncture the cardboard, but you could also use a nail. Whether you use a drill bit or a nail, make sure that the diameter is smaller than that of your dowels so that they fit snuggly into the holes in the cardboard.
10. Cut your dowels to varying heights to achieve the look that you want. We played around with our layout until we knew how long to cut the dowels. Note: it's better to gradually shorten a dowel until you have the height that you want than to cut off too much.
11. Glue your fish to the dowels.
12. Arrange the fish according to your desired layout and push the dowels through your pre-drilled holes.
Like Dory said, "just keep swimming!"
I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.
-Louisa May Alcott
- milk or juice cardboard carton
- white freezer paper
- masking tape - medium
- drafting tape - skinny
- thin rope cord
- acrylic paint
- foam brush
- skinny paint brush
- utility knife
- permanent marker
- skinny wooden dowel
- hot glue gun
1. Use a ruler to draw a dividing line down the center of your carton.
2. Carefully cut along the dividing line with a utility knife and scissors. Leave the entire bottom section attached to half of your carton.
3. Paint your boat with acrylic craft paint.
4. Decide where you want to put your "mast" (your wooden dowel). Mark a small pencil dot above and below that center point and create a small entry point. We added a little hot glue around the dowel inside the boat and on the underside.
5. Once your acrylic paint has dried you can take your masking tape and add racing stripes to your sailboat! We started with a piece of medium white masking tape.
6. Then we added a thin red pin stripe on top of our thicker white stripe.
7. The girls wanted to add some flags to our rope, so we created them with washi tape. We simply folded the washi tape around our thin rope and cut the ends in a V shape.
8. Then we drew our mainsail (the big one) and our jib (the little one) on a piece of white freezer paper. We have big plans to race our boat so we wanted a paper that was somewhat coated and water proof.
9. Time to add some pizzazz to the sails! We used washi and thin masking tape. Notice that we applied them to our drawings before we cut them out.
10. Carefully cut out your sails with a sharp pair of scissors.
11. Create two small entry points on your mainsail... one near the bottom and one near the top. You will push your dowel over the bottom of the sail and through and then come back out when you reach the opening at the top. We then secured the dowel to the sail with a dab of hot glue on the back side.
12. Create a small hole at the front center of your boat (on the pour spout of the carton). Tie your rope w/flags to the top of the mast and then come down through the pour spout hole. You will tie a knit below the spout to firmly attach your rope. You can add a dab of glue here if necessary. Add a thin line of hot glue along your rope and attach the jib (small sail). Apply pressure with your hand for a few seconds while the glue sets.
Umm... I don't think it gets any better than that! Time to hit the open sea.
Some things have to be believed to be seen.
- Madeleine L'engle
The girls and I have been so happy to see the endless stream of Egg Carton Mermaid Dolls that are being created and shared on the interwebs. Never in our wildest dreams did we expect that the result of our sleepy Saturday morning craft session would become a viral sensation. Wavy, Splash, and Breeze aren't letting the fame go to their tails, though. They are still the humble, playful gals they've always been. They have been such loyal companions to H and R we thought we would surprise them with an island getaway. Breeze has been dreaming of a Maui vacation since she was a tiny little mer-pole so it was not even a question of where they would be heading. We threw them an intimate little bon voyage party and they promised to send postcards. They will be back before the end of summer so they can send the girls off on their first day of school.
We have to admit that it has been a little lonely since the Mers left town. So it probably won't come as a surprise that this morning's family craft session was all about the egg carton doll. Without further adieu, meet our fairy friends: Mags, Blossom, Trudie, and Blue. They are spunky little sprites with BIG SWEET TOOTHS. I found Mags face down in the honey pot sawing Zzzzzzs this afternoon. H pointed out that it is now Mag's personal honey pot because germs are germs... magical fairy or not.
If you'd like to see the video tutorial for this project, check out our YouTube channel. Don't forget to subscribe!
egg carton - you will need two pointed sections for each fairy
paper roll - you will need 1 roll per fairy
acrylic or tempera paint + palette for color mixing
hot glue gun (you can use school glue too but you will have to account for drying time)
small brush and water cup
fine point pen or pencil
1. Deconstruct your egg carton. You want a single row of pointy peeks . 2. Separate the peeks into individual pieces. 3. Trim your sections into a fairy dress shape. 4. Once you have trimmed and shaped your dresses you will begin to paint. We mixed white paint with various shades of purple, blue, greens, pinks, and yellows to achieve our fairy palette (see first photo for a picture of our paint colors).
Print our fairy template or draw your own. If you are using our template, it is the appropriate scale for a paper roll.
Cut your fairy shape out into two parts: torso/head/wings and legs. Your egg carton dresses will connect the two halves of your fairy. Once you have cut your sections out you will trace them onto your paper roll. The paper roll is more durable than paper and it will stand up to small hands and fairy play. Once your shapes are traced onto your cardboard roll you will cut them out. If you are making more than one fairy, repeat these steps until you have all the parts that you will need.
Start to paint your fairy sections. Have fun with your colors!
Wait 30 minutes for your paint to dry and then you can start to assemble. You will cut a slit in the top of the pointy egg carton section (the dress). Add a dab of hot glue to your fairy's chest and pull up her dress, pressing into the hot glue to form a bond. If you are adding a second layer to your fairy's dress (like we did) you will place a dab of hot glue on the top front of your second dress layer and slide it into the first layer, pressing the two together to create a tight glue seal. Add a dab of hot glue to the tops of your fairy legs and attach them to the inside of the dress's bottom hem. You only want a little bit of leg, ankle, and shoe showing (see below).
Once your fairies are fully assembled, take them outside for a garden party!
A brave heart and a courteous tongue.
They shall carry thee far through the jungle, Manling.
- Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book
What is mark making? Each time your brush, pen, pencil, fork, bubble wrap, twig, charcoal, crayon, pastel... hits your "canvas", you are mark making. Mark making is a fundamental element of every type of art work. Making marks is one of the first ways we communicate as children. A pointer finger pulling lines in the sand box. A stubby crayon looping round and round a sheet of construction paper. Colorful chalk scratches making their way across a sunny sidewalk. These basic, primal forms of visual communication are the foundation of early learning. They are springboards for writing and reading and number recognition, so they obviously play a central role in the art experiences for children ages 18 months to 5 years.
But what about older students? I like to introduce them to the work of Cy Twombly. Generally their reaction is something along the lines of, "I used to draw like that in kindergarten... this guy was a famous artist?!"
So I am always trying to incorporate mark making into our lessons. One of our favorites is the Magical Mark Making Forest project. But it really feels more like a fall/winter project, so it was time for something summery, humid, tropical... jungle even. Are you with me? Sssssssstill?
Meet the Mark Making Jungle Snake...
- thick sheet of white paper (we used 11"x14" for ours)
- scrapbook paper square for background
- black acrylic or tempera paint
- bubble wrap
- new pencil with eraser top
- plastic fork
- Kwik Stix, Gelatos, chalk pastels, watercolor, tempera cakes, or marker for coloring
- masking tape - black
- duct tape - silver or gold
- dot stickers
- glitter glue
1. Sketch out your snake shape with pencil.
2. Lay out your mark making station: black paint on a tray or plate, Q-tips, bubble wrap, plastic forks, cardboard scraps, and any other interesting mark making instruments.
3. Start making your marks!
4. Once you have made all your marks you will set your paper aside to dry. Acrylic and tempera paint dry pretty fast but you can speed up the drying process with a fan or hair dryer set on the cool setting.
5. Once your black prints are dry you will add color. We used neon Kwik Stix and Gelatos. Both are nice because they add rich pigment but they are sheer enough so they do not cover up the black snake prints.
6. Once you are finished coloring in your snake skin you will cut your snake shape out.
7. Time for finishing touches. How about adding some stripes of tape or shapes made out of metallic duct tape? Or a little sparkle?
8. Print out our jungle leaves template (see form below) and color them with Kwik Stix and/or tempera cakes.
9. Cut your leaves out and start to arrange them around your snake. When you are satisfied with their placement, attach them with glue!
How amazing would they look hung in a group?
We don't stop playing because we grow old.
We grow old because we stop playing.
- George Bernard Shaw
What was your favorite thing to do when you were little? For me it was dancing, putting on plays in my living room, stretching my imagination as far and wide as it would go, and HORSES. If I couldn't be on the back of a real horse, then please put me on the back of a carousel horse! When I was really little my dad would take me to the carousel in Central Park. We moved from NYC to Santa Monica, CA when I was 5. Luckily, there was a carousel and the Pacific Ocean waiting for me in my new hometown. We lived walking distance from the beach but walking from our house to the pier was a pretty big trek for a kid. I would still walk a thousand miles for a painted pony and an ice cold cherry lemonade.
This project is an 'ode to childhood memories for me. I hope you enjoy!
You can also check out the video tutorial for this project on our YouTube channel.
1. Draw your own small carousel horse or use our free template (you can sign up below to receive the download). 2. Color and add details with fine point markers, watercolors, and colored pencils. 3. Cut out your carousel horse. 4. Start to decorate your carousel base with paint pens, watercolor, and stickers. 5. Cut a small entry point on the top of your carousel base (flip your cup drinking side down). 6. Insert a straw through the slice. Now you have a carousel pole that can drop and rise! 7. Hot glue your horse onto the pole. 8. Fold a toothpick into the center of a 4" piece of washi tape. 9. Cut your ends in a < shape to create a flag. 10. Push the sharp end of your toothpick into the center of a pom pom. 11. Glue your pom pom and flag to the top of your carousel pole. 12. If you want a canopy shape on the top of your carousel horse, swap your flag out for a drink umbrella!
I am always doing that which I cannot do.
In order that I may learn how to do it.
One of the first things that 90% of my adult students say when they sit down at an Art Camp session is, "I cannot ______ (insert draw, craft, paint, write...)". I hear this so often that I have developed a fast-acting response. I usually say some version of, "And I can't shoot a 3 pointer. Ask me how many times I have hit the court to try." I won't go too deep into my psychoanalysis hunch, but... my brother is a phenomenal athlete who won dunk contests and was nicknamed "The Train", which may have colored my desire to try to shoot a basketball more than say... three times in my entire life. Cuz who wants to shoot bricks from The Train's shadow? But I distinctly remember the voice that said, "you cannot play basketball". It is the same voice that says, "you will never be good at math!" (read more on that here). That voice starts to sound a lot like my own when I start to utter things like, "I am not tech savvy". Or "you know... marketing, sales, self-promotion are not really my thing"... and on, and on, and on. What do all of these things have in common? I have very little experience doing them and my fear of the unknown... or heck, I am going to be all the way real, my fear of not being GREAT at something on THE FIRST TRY keeps me from ever trying. That is the truth. Too scared to try was something I lived with for way too long. Fear comes disguised as a self-deprecating, yet totally endearing (not) proclamation, but rip the mask off the sucker and it's that pervasive little weed that will keep us from growing.
We don't expect our children to walk the first time they ever try or to recite the Gettysburg Address on their first birthday, but we have these ridiculous expectations for ourselves. The only way to out grow this kind of fear is to do the thing that our brain tells us we cannot do. Oh, this part is huge... lean in. You don't have to do it alone! Find someone who knows how to do the thing you "cannot" do and ask them for help. Sometimes this might cost a little money and sometimes this might come in incremental stages. Sometimes this might lead you to a step-by-step tutorial, but all of these little actions will take you to the land of "I'm doing it!"
Two weeks ago my wise grasshopper friend offered to help me shoot the video for our Egg Carton Mermaid Dolls. This morning I put the finishing touches on the very first video that I have ever created (outside of an app on my phone) from start to finish. I had a little help from my husband and my *11 year old (I highly recommend getting one of *those for tech projects). When we uploaded our soon to break the internet video (power of intention y'all... ha ha) to our YouTube channel, I turned to my husband and said, "I am so proud of us. We have done so many things that we "could never do" in the past 9 months. Look at all the things we know how to do now!" Ri, (my 11 year old IT girl) cue the heartfelt instrumental.
Guys, take it from me and my boy, Pablo... DO the things that you cannot do so you can learn how to do 'em.
Most of you have seen Pablo Picasso's doves and his famous portraits of lovers, lords, and ladies. His distorted cubist faces, horses, and bulls. Did you also know that he painted on vessels and erected giant sculptures out of stone and steel... and cardboard??? He did and you can make your own version with a few readily available materials. But first let's get inspired by the master works...
- print out our four page face printable on card stock
- or, you can draw your own on 8.5 x 11 cardboard, poster board, or thick mixed media paper
- 1 paper tube (paper towel size)
- small 5" x 5" cardboard square for base
- set of oil pastels
- glue stick
- acrylic or tempera paint (we used black, white, blue, and mint green)
- black marker for details
- scissors for cutting paper
- ceramic blade or utility knife and a grown up for cutting cardboard
- PVC glue or hot glue gun
This post contains affiliate links, which means that we earn a small commission on the products that you buy using our links. Thank you for your support!
Print out our printable (ART CAMP STORE) or draw your own Picasso faces on two sheets of thick, sturdy poster board or cardboard. You want thick, black lines, so if you are drawing this on your own make sure to cover over your pencil lines with black marker or a black oil pastel.
Cut out your faces. Use scissors if you are cutting card stock and a ceramic blade or a utility knife (adults only) if you are using cardboard.
Color your faces with oil pastel and/or paint. If you are making your own faces, remember to draw and color on both sides of your board because this is a 3-D sculpture!
Cut 4 entry points in your paper tube. This is where the faces will rest.
Paint your tube with paint. Think about stripes, dots, dashes, and abstract marks.
If you have used our printable, you want to attach the mirror images (front and back) together with a glue stick.
Cut a 3" notch down the center of your first face and a 4" cut on your other face. You are creating an interlocking system for your faces to connect.
Once your faces are interconnected, you will slide them in to place on the top of your paper tube. Inserting each section into the proper notch.
Reinforce all the connected points with a little bit of hot glue. We want our paper structures to be reinforced!
Add the bottom of your paper tube to the square cardboard base. Attach with a ring of hot glue on the end of your paper tube.
Give me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling.
- Walt Whitman
For the flowers:
1. Start making circles with oil pastel. You will start in the center and build out.
2. Layer different colors and shapes.
3. Start cutting petals out of your washi tape. If you are working with younger kids, you want to stick with the matte paper washi tape because it is easier to rip and cut than the coated plastic kind.
4. Think about adding different colors and shapes when you are creating your petals. Work your way around the circle until you are satisfied.
5. Now you will move on to the outer petals with duct tape. Cut a 10-12" piece and fold it in half. This will eliminate the stick from your tape before you start to cut out the larger petals. It will also ensure that you have color on both sides of the petals.
6. Once your duct tape is folded in half, you will cut the larger petal shapes out.
7. Attach the back row of duct tape blooms behind the coaster with double-sided sticky tape, a dab of hot glue, or a glue dot.
8. Time to add your stem! You can color them or leave them bare. We colored our stems with quick drying tempera sticks but you could also paint them. When they are dry, you can attach them to the back of your flower with hot glue or duct tape.
9. Fold and cut your duct tape to make leaves. Follow the same instructions as step 6, but make them even bigger!
For the sun:
1. Color your sun's face with an oil pastel. We only applied light pressure with our oil pastel to achieve the slightly worn and patchy look. 2. Cut a nose, mouth, and cheeks out of your duct tape. We did the fold over, cut, and glue method here. 3. Cut 4" strips of your washi tape and fold them in half. This is a great opportunity to show off your collection. Don't be scared to mix patterns and colors... the more the merrier!
5. Add double-sided sticky tape to the back of your sun.
6. Attach the sun rays to the sticky tape on the back of the sun. 7. Glue on the beads for eyes.
8. Attach leaves to the stem by adding a bit of glue and folding the leaf around the dowel.
We hope you have fun with this sunny summer craft! xx
"you are not a drop in the ocean, you are the entire ocean in a drop."
1. Dissect your egg carton making individual cups. You want to trim the egg sections into a soft curved "fish scale" shape. The center line of the egg cup should be running down the center of the cup.
When you attach your egg cups you want the center seam to line up (see below).
2. Choose your color palette. We liked the idea of choosing different shades of the same color (pinks, greens, greys, purples). 3. Start painting your cups. Alternate between light, middle, and darker tones. Once your cartons have dried you will stack them and glue them together with hot glue. 4. Slice a horizontal line in the center of your top egg carton with a utility knife blade or a pair of sharp scissors. Your mermaid's torso will fit inside this opening. You might need to trim the waist slightly to get a perfect fit.
5. Print out your mermaid templates on thick card stock. Cut out one of the mermaid shapes. If you do not have card stock simply trim your mermaid shape and trace it onto an empty paper tube. You want the mermaid body to be sturdy so that it can handle rough and tumble play time.
6. Cut out and paint your torso shape and don't forget to cut out and paint a tail fin! You can cut a tail fin out of your egg carton lid (you can see an example of this if you scroll up to the unpainted tail picture) or recycle an old painting (like we did with this red haired siren). 7. Cut a simple bikini top out of printed paper or gift wrap and attach it with glue.
8. Once your mermaid is fully painted, dressed, and dried you will slide her into the opening that you cut earlier. Fully secure her in place with a dab of hot glue on the front and back, closing your egg carton around the waist like a clam shell. 9. Glue your tail inside of the base of your bottom egg carton.
10. String your little jingle bells to thread and fasten the jingle string into the inside of your tail with duct tape or hot glue.
The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts.
- C.S. Lewis
paper tube (paper towel size)
acrylic or tempera paint
Cut two cactus "arms" out of the back of your paper tube. Attach one to each side of your cactus with glue.
Mix a bright desert palette and begin to paint your cactus. When your first layer dries you can add your stripes in a contrasting color or a darker shade of green. Cut simple spiky flower shapes out of recycled paintings or brightly colored paper and add them to the top of each of your cactus arms with glue.
What's better than 1 cactus? 2!
Why stop at 2? The more the merrier! After you make some cacti maybe you want to add a few paper tube desert blooms to the party?
The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.
- Marcus Aurelius
- assorted acrylic craft paint in squeeze bottles (or you will need a dropper to dispense the paint drops)
- paint palette for mixing
- paint brush + water cup
- craft sticks - 1 small and 2 medium
- 1 clothespin
- hot glue gun
- plastic putty knife
Building your plane.
1. Remove the spring from your clothespin and glue the two pieces together. 2. Take your medium size craft stick and glue 1 on top of your clothespin and 1 below. These will become your airplane's wings. 3. Add a small craft stick at the base of your plane for the tale wing. 4. Cut a small piece of craft stick at an angle for your tale fin and attach.
Paint your plane and add duct tape or washi tape stripes to the wings.
The key to a good scrape painting is a plastic putty knife. You can find these at the hardware store on the cheap.
For this rainbow scrape painting we veered away from the typical primary colors you find in most rainbows and opted for some tropical tones... neon pink, bright orange, light blue, turquoise, pale pink, violet, red, and pale yellow.
Place a small dot of color and pull it toward you with your putty knife. You can arch your mark, drag it an angle, add short pull strokes or long. One hand is holding your paper down while your writing hand drags with steady, even pressure. Continue this "drop of color and pull" until you have a layered, full rainbow print.
You probably won't be able to stop at one!
Time to fly the painted sky! You can attach your plane with a drop of hot glue or glue dots.
Like wildflowers; you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would.
This business of growing is hard, important work. Today my growth looks like being (kinda) okay with going S-L-O-W. I am still not feeling 100%... like at all. When my house got hit with this bug there were a million balls in the air and this was not the kind of sick that I could work through. I could barely get myself to the bathroom let alone handle business as usual. So those balls just dropped. The balls dropped and the fear of missing out, of not producing, of being forgotten, of letting people down, of not getting the momentum back, of screwing it all up, of messing with the flow... was WAY up. Why am I sharing this with you? Because maybe this is part of the human condition and you have felt these feelings too? Also, these feelings multiply in isolation so I am going to air them out and let them breathe in this space, here among friends. I am enough. I do enough. It's okay to go slow... and doggone it, people like me! (shout out to Stuart Smalley)
This weekend's family craft session was to put together a smorgasbord of handmade stamps for printmaking. It was a really fun group exercise to think outside of the box. Lots of experimentation. Some things worked really well and others not so much. In the end, we had so much fun printing and cutting and sticking and we think you will too!
1. Gather your scrapbook paper or card stock and start to cut out circles, leaves, and simple flower shapes.
2. Begin to create your stamps. We focused on simple designs that could be printed in the center of our flower shapes and leaves.
3. Create a variety of print textures by using a combination of cut foam, hot glue designs, and textural elements (string, beads, rice, rubber bands...)
4. Ink your "printing plates". If you are using paint you can add color with a brush.
5. We alternated between ink pads and acrylic and tempera paint. This is a great opportunity to sneak in a little color theory.
6. Once you have stamped all your wild flowers you will let them dry. Once they are dry you can go in and add another layer of printing and additional colors. Our final layer was printing little dots in the center of some of our blooms with a pencil eraser.
7. Once your prints have fully dried you will attach them to your wreath. We created this simple wreath form with the outside rim of a paper plate.
8. Hang your wreath!
I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded, to stay out until sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.
- John Muir
If you follow this blog, you already know we are BIG fans of "hunting for nature treasure" also known as foraging (grownup version). If you say "nature walk" in close proximity to my girls they will be out of the door, baskets in hand, before you can finish the thought (you can check out our foraged wreaths, nature walk fairies, and leaf and branch wall hangings below). Well, this time we decided to combine our love of nature treasures + our love of cardboard + our love of collage to create the ultimate mixed media nature scroll. What do you think?
- natural elements: rocks, twigs, seed pods, berries, flowers, leaves, pine cones
- cardboard cut into long rectangular shape
- acrylic paint
- paint brushes, paint palette, and water cup
- hot glue gun
- coated bendy wire
- braided straw
1. Go forage for nature treasure! Take a walk in the woods, your neighborhood, or your back yard. There are beautiful bits everywhere if you look for them. Don't forget to bring your basket!
2. When you get home, start to sort your treasure. My girls also decided to forage around the studio for some textured elements like the braided straw and skinny wooden sticks shown below. Laying all of the elements against a white background really highlights the natural color and form of your materials. We do this before we decide what comes next.
3. After the girls looked at their materials they decided that adding a little paint might be fun. I asked them to pick 3 or 4 colors that would enhance their natural elements. They chose white, pale green, indigo blue, and a blush pink because they were all colors they "saw in their basket".
4. After a little discussion we decided to cut the cardboard background into long cardboard strips like a scroll shape. The girls played around with placement for a good 10-15 minutes before they made final decisions and added glue.
5. Wrapping sticks with bendy wire and/or yarn adds another layer of texture and color to your natural collage materials.
6. Create a hanging loop. You can use thin gauge wire, bendy wire, yarn, or twine. The girls picked a cream color bendy wire. They attached their loop to the back of their cardboard with a thick piece of duct tape. You could also attach with hot glue but the risk of getting glue on little fingers is pretty high with this step. If you have independent artists who want to add their own loop, I would recommend using the duct tape.
H decided that her pine cones had "wiggly teeth" that needed to come out (she's 5). Once she made the necessary extractions she noticed that the pine cone sections had peaks and valleys and natural stripes and designs that she could enhance with a little paint. She left 1 row of pine cone 'teeth', au natural, and 1 row got a Super H paint job. Those pink rocks are actually "unicorn rocks", FYI.
R's painted fern truly set the direction of her collage. She repeated the pop of white with a torn piece of white corrugated cardboard. She decided to put a wire wrapped stick on the top and a yarn wrapped stick on the bottom of her collage "for balance".
"I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do."
- Leonardo Da Vinci
Okay, so a few years ago I was driving down Wilshire Blvd at 6:30 a.m. on a Sunday. They say the city never sleeps and I want to amend that to say 'except early on Sunday mornings' because this is when I drive... while the city sleeps. It has become a ritual for me. One that I have mostly stuck to for the past 5 years. It's my quiet thinking time and on this particular Sunday morning I had a major stop light epiphany.
There I was, paused at a 4 way intersection when it hit me (not in the literal sense, it was just me and my thoughts at this red light): a mobile art studio built inside of a vintage camper! You guys, I have been a traveling visual art teacher for most of my 20+ years of teaching. I have jokingly referred to every car that I have ever owned as my "mobile art studio". I have been running camps, and parties, and workshops, teacher trainings and art shows out of the trunk of my car for eva' but it wasn't until that moment that it occurred to me... maybe I wasn't working toward a brick and mortar location. Maybe the natural evolution of this form of teaching that I had unintentionally fallen into wasn't to graduate to the next thing but to own my thing: The mobile studio.
I am pretty sure I called P right then and I am pretty sure that he was still asleep so he might not have shared my level of enthusiasm at six something on a Sunday morning, but trust that it was only a matter of time. For the next two days I was like Leonardo Da Vinci with his notebooks, drafting plans and downloading ideas onto paper as fast as they were coming to me. I started out going in an obvious direction with the name: Art-2-Go, Art-Van-Go... and by day two the name Art Camp had solidified its place as THE name. There was no second-guessing it.
An actual drawing from Leonardo da Vinci's notebook because A) it looks cooler than my notebook and B) when you are building a business out of your home things tend to go MIA.
The next thing that came to me was a deep sense that this wasn't just going to be an art studio on wheels or simply art classes for kids. ART CAMP was going to fill a void. I kept coming back to this idea that creation and connection are fundamental human needs. That the further we get away from each other, from creating, from making with our own two hands, the more isolated and disconnected we become. The more isolated and disconnected we become, the less fulfilled. The less fulfilled we become... you know what happens next.
This is such an interesting time to be alive. On one hand, our connection to each other is coming through screens and text messages. We can buy everything we need without ever leaving the house. With the touch of a button it will arrive at our door in two days or less. On the other hand, there is this maker renaissance happening. It isn't just the hipsters, it's not just the latest trend. I truly believe that this is our essence calling us back to ourselves. So many times have I heard the grownups in my life say, "Man, I wish I could take your art class." "You should do an Art Camp for adults." "I wish I could sit down and draw." "I have always wanted to get crafty... I just wouldn't even know where to start." "Oh to be a kid again!" When and why did we stop?
How many stories have we read... you know the ones: the Wall Street banker who gives up life in the fast lane, moves into a tiny house, and starts baking bread. The corporate lawyer who is now living on an island in the Pacific NW where she hand dyes garments with vegetable dye made from the crops from her sustainable garden. As fast as we are sprinting into the future, we are also witnessing the people around us opt out at very high rates. The thing is, I don't think it has to be this black and white. You can keep all of your gadgets, you can keep your job, you don't need to go off the grid. You just need to make time to create and connect.
It sounded good in theory... but if I built it, would they come? So The Art Camp "test kitchen" was born. Our formal dining room became the studio. The largest room in our house became our living room/Art Camp room. Our first session was a Valentine's Day Camp. I had seven year olds and adults creating side by side and it totally worked. The next 18 months of experimenting would reveal to me that my creation and connection theory was spot on and I would also learn that the most valuable lessons really suck while you are going through them. The camp sessions that worked the best were the ones where I followed my intuition and stuck close to my teaching approach. The sessions that didn't work as well were the ones where I was trying to guess what would be popular. Word to the wise: follow your gut... it will not lead you astray.
The recipe was ready... but was I?
"It's a great idea. What are you waiting for?", she asked. I took a sip of my iced tea and rattled off 5 things. All totally valid things. Very logical, sensible things and yet she didn't flinch. "You HAVE to do it!", she said. THIS was the message I desperately needed to hear, carried to me by someone I had just met. She was right. What was I waiting for? You guys kind of know the rest...
...Being willing is not enough; we must do.
So I did. November of last year I popped my head up over on my sleepy little Instagram feed and I introduced myself to you. I told you I was going to start this blog in spite of what the "wait until it's just right" committee said. I asked you if you would join me on this new venture and you said "heck yes" and boy have you been with me. I want to do a roll call shout out and list every single name who has cheered me on and tagged me in photos and sent me heart felt messages. You know who you are. Know that you are the wind beneath my wings.
The urgency of doing the next thing followed by the next thing followed by the next thing is the thing that has brought me to today. It turns out that I am really good at keeping secrets, especially the really big ones that I want to scream from the rooftops. You know what else has brought me to today? The unwavering support of my family. They have been by my side every step of the way giving me everything they've got from childcare, to financial support, to manual labor. This was a team effort all of the way. I am so grateful for my tribe. I am also hoping that the friends that have barely heard a peep from me in the last seven months will forgive me for my absence because I have not been able to do all the things very well. I have been so focused on doing this new thing. I love you.
So here she is, my "Holly Gobravely", creative renegade, ART CAMP mobile!
"Imagination is the eye of the soul."
- Joseph Joubert
So I am lying in bed the other night.. have I mentioned that many of my light bulb moments happen just when I am about to drift off to sleep? It's a little strange. So one minute I am lying there, eyes closed drifting off to sleep, and the next thing you know I am staring at a bug smack dab in the eye of my soul. Not just any bug but a beautiful, brightly colored, gilded, ink blot beetle bug. I totally wanted to jump out of bed and bring her to life right then but I showed some restraint and managed to wait until the light of day.
I think most of us have heard of the Rorschach test, a.k.a. "The Ink Blot test". The test was created by Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach during the 1920's. The test uses psychological interpretation and scientific algorithms to examine how an individual perceives a series of ink blots. You will see the ink blot test pop up in period pieces and commercials as a common reference for psychological analysis. So how did we get from that to the ink blot butterflies we all made and loved in preschool? I am not entirely sure but I think we may have Andy Warhol to thank.
In 1984 Warhol created a series of large scale Rorschach's by painting one side of a canvas and then folding it vertically to imprint the other half. Ironically, Andy originally misinterpreted the ink blot test, believing that patients created the ink blots and doctors analyzed them: “I thought that when you went to places like hospitals, they tell you to draw and make the Rorschach Tests. I wish I’d known there was a set.”
Sometimes the best ideas happen by accident and sometimes they wake you up at night.
High five, Andy!
Step 1: Blend your paint colors in the condiment squeeze bottles. If you don't have condiment bottles you can substitute with a paint palette and brush, but squeezing the paint splats straight from the bottle is pretty fun! You could also you paint dabbers or droppers to apply color.
Step 2: Take a colored paper square and fold it in half, forming a crease down the middle.
Step 3: Open your fold and start to add your paint drops. We tried to loosely create one side of an insect shape with our painty drips and drabs. A little paint goes a long way. Remember to leave some negative space so that your background color can peek through.
Step 4: Fold your paper in half again. Apply even pressure across the back of the paper for 20 seconds and then carefully peel back your paper. Voila! You should have a beautiful painty abstract bug shape. Set your bug out to dry for 30 minutes.
If you want to take your blot prints to the next level, add some metallic or opalescent paint! Look at how pretty the gold looks:
Step 5: When your bugs are dry you can leave them as is or you can cut your bug shapes out. To do this we used our ink blot shape as our guide. Where do we see antennae? Where are the legs? Then we used some of the negative space surrounding our beetles to extend these features. We cut one side and then folded our paper in half again and replicated our buggy outline.
"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge."
- Albert Einstein
I had an interesting experience yesterday. One that I am now 100% certain was divinely designed so that we could talk about something in this space. I was chosen to co-host a weekly theme challenge for a popular early childhood education account. Please note that this is something I am really looking forward to doing. I had thrown my hat in the ring along with some suggested themes that I was jazzed about (at the top of my list: FELT... guys, you can make anything with felt). Only the theme that I was paired with on this co-host selection announcement was PROCESS ART. HUH? I was confused because it wasn't one of the themes that I threw out. Then I realized that I had # a post that was promoting a Process Art Webinar that a friend was leading. So it totally looked like an official entry for the theme search. What came after I put 2 & 2 together is what I want to talk about.
Here is what followed: I am not allowed to host a process art theme because some of my projects end in a "product". Some of my projects are crafts, or DIYs, I almost always provide tutorials therefore, this isn't a good fit. Because it's Process or Product and I don't want to ruffle any feathers. There are teachers and studios who identify as Process Based and I am not one of them so I gotta tell them that this probably isn't a good theme fit for me.
Gratefully, at the age of 39 there is a pause that generally comes after this kind of fear-fueled reaction. So I did not send a rash, "there's been a mix-up" email. I took a breath and then I remembered MY TRUTH: I hate labels and I hate rules. Hate is a strong word. Let's say that I am highly allergic to things which define and segregate. It extends far past my teaching approach.
Q: What do you do? My husband can answer: accountant. We all know that that is 1/100th of what he does, but that is a short, acceptable answer. A small, tidy, easily digestible box. What do I do? I am a mother, an educator, a painter, an interior designer, an illustrator, a business owner, a blogger, a collage artist, a mixed media artist, a cook, a photographer, a graphic designer, a writer, a print maker, a crafter, a DIYer, a stylist, a poet, an event planner...I seriously do all of these things but we live in a society where we are supposed to dilute ourselves down to a sound bite. We have to choose a title. Only I'm not willing to play that game. Seriously, I was designing my business card the other day and I was struggling to fit what it is that "I do" into that sweet little space under my name and after 2 days of going back and forth I thought: this struggle is telling me something. This resistance is speaking to me. Why don't I listen? I am a creative being at my core and I have been breaking the rules and veering off "the delineated path" to make my own way since the day I was born. Why don't I just own it? So I did.
This could easily turn into the beginning of my memoir so I am going to try to wrap it up. If you are still reading, thank you. After 20+ years of teaching here is what I know: there is not one approach that is right or better. There is value in open-ended art exploration and there is value in learning technique, method, color theory, and steps. In my "camp" there is room for all of it. I have seen students shine when exploring materials with very little framework and I have seen students soar while learning how to build a project step by step. Both add value and there is process, creativity, and room for individualism in both approaches. Just when I think I have "got it" my students show up and teach me something new. I think the art of a healthy educator, a good parent, is to stay flexible and present to the beings in front of you. I cannot tell you how many times I have gone in with a a plan and ditched it because it wasn't what my students needed on that particular day. All inclusive art making with varied approaches and techniques is where I want to be. Color me that.
We had an art session that turned into a really fun exploration with "loose parts". I gave my little friends a tray and let them hunt through our found objects and supplies for any little bits and pieces that sparked their interest. H really wanted to add some colored pasta into the tray but we were out so this desire for painted pasta took the art experience in a magical direction. Check it out:
Here are some examples of loose parts:
- flower petals
- bits and pieces
- nuts and bolts
- recycled containers
- fabric pieces
Painting the pasta in a new way. We happened to have some pre cut black card stock out from another project. I just grabbed a stack, the girls picked some pretty paint colors, we added a blob to the center of the paper and they started rolling the dried penne noodles through the paint. This created two cool effects: brightly colored painted pasta and the unexpected bonus of abstract shape against the black background that looked really stunning. The ridges of the penne also added some great texture. Lots of messy fun!
We placed the penne on wax paper and let the background and the penne dry for 15 minutes. You could speed up drying time with a hair dryer. We just played mermaids while we waited.
Once our penne was dry we added it into the loose parts tray and started playing with our materials.
We used clear school glue and craft bond sticks to attach the loose parts with the exception of the felt dots which came with sticky backs.
Stacking parts and color was popular with this group
This is a really fun one. I hope you give it a try!
"Adopt the pace of nature,
her secret is patience."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Facebook reminded me that this time last year the girls and I were farm sitting for friends in Helvetia, Oregon. Oh, take me back to wide open spaces, big blue sky, and green as far as the eye can see. Take me back to air so lush and fresh (unless you are standing in the chicken coop) that you get a little heady when you breath it in. Take me back to the place where the green grows green and lichen and moss hang from every tree.
If I can't click my heels and land in the Emerald Forest I am going to "go there" in an art lesson. This week's mixed media project is an homage to the art of primitive pastoral landscapes and a study in color. Are you ready? These little artists made some big, bold art.
Sort your materials in color families. We had 4 tables: blue table, green table, purple table, and red table.
blue table - tempera cakes, oil pastels, craft paper
We started our landscapes by sketching out our underpainting in pencil. For this project our foreground (pastures, rivers, animals) took up most of the page. Our middle ground (houses, trees, shrubs) started 3-4 inches from the top of the paper. Our background (mountain range and sky) was 1-2 inches from the top of the paper. This is not your average landscape composition but we had so much fun with it! After we sketched we explored a monochrome color scheme with tempera paint and water.
Let's talk color. What is a monochrome color scheme? Monochromatic color schemes are derived from a single base hue and extended using shades, tones, and tints. What is a complementary color scheme? Colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel (example: red and green). The high contrast of complementary colors creates a vibrant look, especially when used at full saturation. We achieved this high contrast with cut paper. The student work below is a gorgeous example of both of these color schemes combined.
"And all the colors I am inside have not been invented yet."
- Shel Silverstein
Guys, do you ever look at random objects and think that would make a really great...... WILDEBEEST! I am guessing that if you are on this page your imagination is probably firing on all cylinders so the answer to my question is, TOTALLY yes. Which means that you're in good shape because people who have really active imaginations live longer. It's true, I read it in the I Just Made That Up Britannica. If you don't believe me you can ask my squirrels, R and H. They know everything. I don't always follow the rules I learned in How To Be a Really Great Parent-volume 88. This one time I was trying to make a phone call and my kids were bouncing of the wall so I yelled "Go watch a show!". I have also been known to bribe my kids. I am sorry. It doesn't happen often but when it does it usually works. Don't report me to the elders. So the other day I found myself at a serve yourself fro yo spot ponying up on a bribe when suddenly my eyes fixed on the stack of clear plastic fro yo lids and I saw a school? (googling)..a smack (whaaat? so cool!) of bright floating jelly fish dancing through my head. See? It pays to bribe.
- plastic fro yo lids
- strips of old canvas curtains
- strips of pink and white tissue paper
- metallic tissue paper
- trash liner strips
- pipe cleaners
- hot glue gun
- acrylic paint
- neon tempera cakes
- transparent glitter paint
- opalescent paint
- 1 egg cup from a carton if you want to add a crown
- Sharpie and chalk markers if you want to add details to the face
- dot markers