May 30

See Yourself on TV
Mixed media fiber art by Angela Flicker
Available for sale at Etsy

Angela Flicker of The Artists’ House made a series of super-cute  mixed media art pieces that feature midcentury furniture, and clever little in-art frames you can use to put your own pictures in. She was inspired by the April Stash Bust to work with stuff she had on hand, and came up with these little beauties! I love ‘em!

See more of Angela’s series here.

Speaking of Etsy, you can get all 11 issues of CROQzine together for less than $40 in our Etsy shop.

Jun 17

Here’s a fun idea for a summer activity: Bring your art supplies outside and paint rocks!

This project is versatile. Art can be temporary or permanent,
depending on your desire. If you use washable paint to decorate rocks
(or sticks, planters, bricks, etc.), the art can be washed off of
things that you might not want permanently decorated (for me, most
notably, my children!). You can just allow painted rocks to sit out in
the elements and take their chances, or if you want to preserve the
art, you can seal it with an acrylic clearcoat spray.

For my children, who are under 3, the fun was all in just applying
paintbrush to rocks, but older kids will enjoy painting specific
pictures on rocks, or entirely covering rocks with colorful designs. If
you get a good collection of rocks going, painted rocks are great for
stacking and playing with.
This is even an activity you can join in on. I know it’s simple, but
rock painting is something I can imagine whiling a whole afternoon away
on!

Paint Palettes: I used to-go coffee lids for our palettes (if
you go this route, put a small piece of tape over the hole BEFORE you
pour paint!). Yogurt lids, plastic or paper plates, or even cardboard
squares will also make great palettes.

Paint: Use washable acrylic paint (or if you don’t have
washable, mix a bit of dish soap in with each color of paint to make it
washable!) or if you have older kids, regular acrylic paint is fine,
too.

Choosing Rocks: Really, anything you can find will work. If
you want to keep these rocks around as works of art, it’s a good idea
to wash them with dish soap and water first to remove dirt. Washing
rocks can be its own activity for little kids! Do it the day before, or
in the morning. Be sure to let your kids know if any rocks are off
limits (flagstones, big rock features in your yard, etc.).

If desired, when the paint is dry, seal it with a clear acrylic spray.

If kids want more instruction than “Hey, go paint rocks!” you can give them a jumping off point like:

  • Paint your favorite animal
  • Paint the first letter of your name
  • Paint Daddy’s face on this rock
  • Paint this whole rock pink, and don’t leave any spots uncovered!
  • Paint three rocks blue and two rocks yellow*
  • Any other silly/fun/serious/learning cue you can think of

*You can use this activity as an opportunity for learning (in the
starred example, numbers and colors), but I think there is also value
in just letting your child paint the rocks for fun with no other
agenda. You decide for yourself!

Other Ideas:

  • Use sidewalk chalk to completely cover rocks (instead of paint) – this is really pretty!
  • Paint pieces of wood or terra cotta pots, other assorted stuff from your yard
  • At the beach? Paint driftwood or shells
  • Go on a nature walk first and pick fun stuff up, then come home and paint it
May 26

Here’s a way to mix art time with playtime: use a (washable) toy to apply paint to paper. We used some old toy cars to roll in paint and then make a fun painting. My sons enjoyed using this unusual paint brush to make unique paintings.

Project Materials:
  • A car, or other washable toy
  • Washable paint
  • Paper
  • Paint brush (optional)
  • Palette of some sort (we used a plate)

To do:

Apply paint (or let child do it! My 2 year old loves this part) to palette. Roll, dip, or otherwise put toy in paint. Let kid use toy on paper!

Mar 2

evander-berrypainting-209-small

Have you painted with your kid lately? Maybe he or she doesn’t enjoy painting with a brush (or even with fingers), but there are lots of other ways to apply strokes to paper! You don’t even have to use paint.

My 14 month-old made this awesome painting while eating blueberries! I just put some cardstock on his high chair tray while he was eating, and the juice of the berries combined with his little fingers made this beautiful painting. It reminds me of ink on parchment.

Edible “paint” is a great item for really small kids because then you don’t have to stress out about whether or not they get it into their mouths (in fact, it might just be better that way!). You can even combine craft time with snack time! Painting yogurt on grapes is a fun snack, for example.

Paint Alternatives:

I’m sure you can come up with a lot more good ideas for paint alternatives.

lewis-cottonballs-209-small

Instead of brushes, try other kinds of applicators. My 2 year old son rolled cotton balls in some paint and made this pretty painting. The width of the cotton balls made it possible to get a lot more color on the paper much quicker than a paint brush, which seemed to keep my son interested. Try to vary the tactile experience from using a brush. For example, get away from something that is attached to the end of a stick like a paint brush! Try something that you pinch with your fingers.

Paintbrush alternatives:

  • Cotton balls
  • Toothbrush
  • Sponge (kitchen, cosmetic, etc.)
  • Tissue
  • Flowers or leaves
  • Veggies (try lettuce, broccoli, or even carrots)
  • Popsicle sticks
paint-kernal

This painting was made with popcorn kernels. It reminds me of a Pollock!

Barrel Painting

potatopainting

This painting was made with a potato.

We also tried this fun activity found on A Bit of This and A Bit of That: Barrel Painting. You take a cylinder of some sort (oatmeal container, as in the instructions, or we used a big plastic ice cream bucket), add paper, paint, and some sort of tumbling material. We tried cotton balls, goldfish crackers, unpopped popcorn kernels, and a potato (all separately, of course). Each item made a different type of pattern on the paper. My son enjoyed adding the tumbling material and the paint to the cylinder.

paint-goldfishcrackers

This painting was made with goldfish crackers.

This is a fun activity for kids who are more interested in moving around than in sitting still and painting. You can shake, dance, and jiggle the barrel, or make it into a game. My son and I tossed it, rolled it, and kicked it to each other. He couldn’t get enough of it, and I lost interest in the activity before he did!

This painting was made with cotton balls.

This painting was made with cotton balls.

Dec 31

Alma Stoller just announced her newest zine project, soulcraft. Alma is an artist who makes beautiful zines full of handmade details. You can just tell from this cover how much time, care, and soul went into the creation of this zine!

Alma describes the zine this way: soulcraft is a mixture of zine, journal and workbook made of recycled and original materials. Take in all the little bits and pieces included in this zine and see the hidden potential. Inside you will find collage items, images, original rubber stamp designs, fabrics and inspiration.

Check her blog entry to see more photos and read more description of this zine. She’s going to list 20 for pre-order on her etsy shop.

I have been the lucky recipient of one of Alma’s zines and I can’t tell you how amazing they are!

Nov 16

Kids of all sizes will enjoy making a pretty fall tree art project using a tracing of their hands as a tree trunk and branches, and finger painting the fall leaves. This is a quick and simple toddler art project, but older kids will also enjoy finger painting again! Use washable paint for easy clean up.

Materials:

  • Paper
  • Crayon or marker
  • Paint

Instructions:

1. Trace the hand using a crayon or marker

2. Allow child to dip fingers in paint and smear, smudge, or dot in some fall leaves.

3. Admire!

Jun 17

I stumbled across a couple fun and creative ways to waste five or ten minutes today.

Jackson Pollock Simulator

This is so easy a toddler can do it (I actually found it via a toddler games website for my son!) – drag your mouse across the screen to drip and splatter virtual paint, click to change to a random color. So easy, yet so addicting. You’ll have to spend more than five minutes to get your virtual art to resemble Jackson Pollock’s heavily layered pieces, though!

Speaking of Jackson Pollock, have you seen the documentary called “Who the $&@!* is Jackson Pollock?“? It’s a super-interesting tale of a woman who bought an art piece at a garage sale for $5 that she found out strongly resembled a Pollock, and her sojourn to prove that it is authentic (the evidence–forensic!–is compelling) and the art critics’ society who refuse to accept it as a legitimate Pollock piece. You can watch it instantly on Netflix if you are a subscriber.

Notessimo – A Music Composing “Game”

I found this super easy and fun little online music composer and spent probably more than ten minutes “composing” a couple bars of a song online. You just drag and drop to create music. Fun!

You can check my 18-bar song here!

Jun 15

Heather in the style of Vincent Van Gogh, ATC 2004

I was just bemoaning the lack of art in my life currently (in any form), and practically the moment I posted about it on Facebook, I received an invitation from Milla to join Miss Stacey’s Summer Art School. Sounds like just what the headmistress ordered!

The class, based online and to take place right in your own space, is now registering new students. Assignments will be rigorous, yet forgiving. You can do what you have time to do, and don’t worry about what you can’t do. Class runs from June 22-Sept 7 (with a possible extension if the summer session proves successful). There is a pre-assignment going on currently, that includes two parts:

1. get out your paints and play around, experiment with painting on different textures, using different tools to paint

2. paint (and only paint) a self-portrait

Here’s a self portrait ATC I did back in like 2004 or something…

I’m gonna get out in my garage and start painting! Come join us!

Feb 7

Toddler Edible Yogurt Finger Paint

I am so excited that Lewis is getting old enough to start doing crafty stuff with me! Today I decided to start him on his journey of finger painting, edible-style!

What you need:
Plain yogurt
Food coloring (I used gel food coloring)

Choose your painting location–preferably in a contained space. We used the high chair. Easy to clean up, and the finger paint can’t run away and paint the wall.

Just mix up some colored yogurt (a small amount of food coloring in the yogurt), give the kid some paper, and let them go! You don’t need that much food coloring because when the yogurt dries, the color is actually darker on the paper than it is when it’s wet. Also, you don’t want the paint to be so dark that it stains the kid and whatever he touches.

Alternatively, give them the yogurt and stick them in the bathtub with no water and let them paint the walls. When they’re done, just let them have a bath. They’ll probably love washing the walls afterward, too, so this is double the activity.

This was Lewis’s first time finger painting, but he got the idea really quickly. Of course, plenty of the paint got into his mouth, but the beauty of this paint is that it’s okay to eat it! We used plain, unsweetened, unflavored yogurt, so it’s not so tasty on its own that the kid wants to eat it all and not paint with it.

Of course, you can adapt this activity to use what you have on hand. If you have pudding, use that. If you don’t have food coloring, use some cocoa powder to make brownish paint.

Cleanup is easy. Just use a washcloth/sponge, and soapy water. For the kid, depending on how messy he or she is, you might be able to wipe them down, or you might prefer to toss the kid into the bathtub. Because yogurt is a dairy product (and already sour-smelling to begin with), I advocate the bath afterward.

Lewis had fun painting (yes, he even said “painting”). It gave us about twenty minutes of fun, but this was our first foray into painting, and he’s only 18 months old. For his age, he paid attention for quite a long time. Older kids might last longer.

I was thinking of buying finger paints before I tried this, but I like this more because it’s free (as long as we already have the supplies on hand), and because it’s edible and washable. The paintings look nice when they’re dry, too!