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
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