Friday, December 18, 2020

Christmas-themed Art Ideas!

We have created some magical Christmas-themed artwork at the Blackfoot Art Center over the years, so we decided to post a few of our favorites for you to try at home!

An Old-Fashioned "Christmas Car"

I absolutely love this festive Christmas Car!  So nostalgic and quaint... it reminds me of my childhood - and simpler times.

Take a look at the Christmas Cars our home schoolers created a couple of years ago right here.

Last year, our Friday class student-artists created their own Christmas cars. I've posted their artwork along with complete instructions here.

Santa Folk Art

Who is Santa Claus? Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, St. Nicolas... not only is he known by different names but his appearance has transformed over time and across the world.

This was a fun way to experiment with Santa's appearance as folk art, incorporating Scandinavian-style patterns and designs with a variety of colors. (Santa does not always wear red!)

You'll find more adorable Santa folk art and complete instructions here.

Gingerbread House Art

This fun mixed media art project is fun for any age. This sample is drawn on brown construction paper with construction paper crayons and colored pencils. Then it is glued to light blue paper and thick white paint is added as snow. Here's another example (scroll down the page).

Younger artists might want to make a Ginger Bag house! Made from a brown paper bag and so much fun!!


These nutcrackers can be created in just about any media. Our soldier is oil pastel on black construction paper. Our baker is watercolor with Sharpie outlines. 

Here are some great examples of very unique 4th grade nutcrackers.

There are many how-to-draw a nutcracker tutorials. You can see my favorite (with a step-by-step video) at Deep Space Sparkle.

3-D Christmas Cards

These cute Christmas cards are so much fun! You'll need a variety of materials and a few character ideas (snowmen, elf on-the-shelf, Rudolf, etc.) and then let imaginations run wild!

3-D elements might include pop-ups, googly eyes, pompoms, twigs, or torn paper. Who knows? This is a very open-ended project that is unique to each artists imagination and skill levels. You can see more student samples and how-tos right here.  

Poinsettia in Pastels

This lovely poinsettia is rendered in soft pastels on red construction paper. It really pops off the page, doesn't it? These make great Christmas cards! Just scan your artwork and print. I like to cut the prints out and glue to a blank card.

See more student samples and full instructions right here.

Next up: Our favorite SNOWMAN Art Projects!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Zendoodle Art for Kids!

Do you like sketching and doodling? Do you find yourself drawing patterns and abstract shapes while listening to music or watching TV? Doodling is a way to keep your mind (and hands) active and focused while you concentrate on something totally unrelated. 

Zendoodling is a way to create and organize those doodles more mindfully into something meaningful, unexpected, intuitive, surprising, and beautiful! The act of zendoodling can be incredibly relaxing, satisfying, and fun. And best of all, it inspires hands-on ingenuity and  creativity!

Zendoodling may look complex or difficult. However, the opposite is true. Zendoodling is fun and amazingly easy! You can start by making up your own patterns, or you can try a few patterns using our step-by-step how-tos until you get the hang of it. We've included a printable (pdf) sheet of Zendoodle Pattern Practice Squares for your practice zendoodles. Fill each square in with a different pattern. You'll love some of them, and others not so much. That's okay! Just keep practicing and see what happens.

Now try a zendoodled art project.  
After you have practiced zendoodling a few of your own patterns, try filling in special or seasonal objects with your doodles. For autumn, we used  Pumpkins (above) and these Doodled Autumn Leaves. Draw a simple shape first (like a leaf) on drawing paper, then divide it into sections. You can sketch the shape lightly in pencil first if you like, then go over it with a fine-tipped Sharpie. Then, fill in each section with a different zendoodle pattern, using the same pen as well as an ultra-fine Sharpie. Can you see how each of these pens was used to create the patterns in this leaf?

Here is a zendoodled Easter egg, which was part of a painting of Easter eggs hidden in the grass.

This is a zendoodled St. Patrick's Day shamrock that was cut out and glued to a painted background.

As an option, you can add a bit of watercolor right over the top of your finished zendoodles, such as this leaf. The Sharpie ink is permanent and will not bleed. 

Remember, however, that Sharpie ink can bleed through lightweight paper as you work, so be sure to place another piece of paper under your practice work. You will want to use heavier drawing paper or lightweight watercolor paper when creating your final zendoodle artwork, especially if you will be adding paint to your design. 

Zendoodle your pet!  Another idea is to zendoodle a very simple drawing of a cat or a dog (or any other animal). You can even use a coloring book page, like we did to zendoodle this little dog. Just print out the page and divide the animal's image into sections with your fine-tipped Sharpie. Then, zendoodle each section! If your chosen picture includes a background, you can zendoodle that too.

The simpler the image, the easier it will be to zendoodle. If you would like to zendoodle a pet, here are some printable coloring pages of puppies and coloring pages of kittens to get you started. 

Can you think of anything else you could zendoodle? 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Autumn Art Ideas for Big Kids

Autumn is such an inspiring time of the year for us artists! The amazingly beautiful colors of fall never cease to enthrall me and put new art-making ideas into my head!

This year we went camping at the Palisades in September. Now, we were aware that the Palisades is known for its brilliant fall colors, but oh my goodness!!! It was so gorgeous, we could not take enough pictures! 

I brought home a few colorful fallen leaves as well to use in some sort of art project, and lo and behold, I came up with this one:

Glowing Leaf Bookmarks. For 10 or 12 and up; adults will enjoy making these too. In fact, I made 20 or so and it was great fun! The leaves are laminated with a heat laminator or pressed between two laminating sheets (no heat). The sheet is then cut up into bookmarkers, and the edges are bound with washi tape. I think they look awesome with metallics, so that's what I used for mine. You can also punch a hole and add a bit of yarn at the top. Here are your printable (pdf) step-by-step instructions for this project. IDEA: Try changing the cutout shapes to make glowing suncatchers for your window!

Raccoons! Here's a cute little raccoon for animal lovers, ages 8 and up. This is a mixed media art project that begins with a sketch of the raccoon (we've included a drawing guide) on a large piece of heavy drawing paper. The artist will then fill in the furry texture and add the details with oil pastels. To complete the artwork, paper scraps for the tree and falling leaves will be needed, as well as a glue stick and a set of watercolors. 

Birch Tree Mini-Watercolor Paintings.  These half-sheet watercolors are so much fun! We have done them over and over again. The secret is "masking" the tree shapes (with masking tape) before you paint! Then paint the background, remove the tape, and complete your trees. Your young artist will feel like a pro after completing a few of these! For 2nd grade and up, adults too.

Autumn-Themed Still Life Art.  Autumn is a wonderful theme for still life artwork. In fact, half the fun is collecting autumn-themed objects for your still life and then arranging it just so. Still life objects might include various gourds, miniature pumpkins, aspen/birch tree twigs, colorful fallen leaves, sunflowers, apples, and pinecones.

Here are three different types of autumn still life paintings your young artist (ages 8 and up) can create at home.

Drawing Media with Watercolor Autumn Still Life

Start with a pencil sketch of the arrangement. Next, fill in the colors and details with watercolor pencils and go over your work lightly with a wet paint brush. Then add shadows and a background. Another option is to finish the drawing in oil pastel, then paint over it in watercolor for a resist effect. Click on the link above for details.  

Oil Pastel Autumn Still Life

First create a pencil sketch of your arrangement on black construction paper.  Then fill in the colors and highlights with oil pastels. Notice how the colors 'pop' off the black paper! Now add details, outlines, and shadows in black oil pastel. Use the link above for detailed steps-by-steps. 

Tempera Painting Autumn Still Life

On a large piece of watercolor paper or heavy drawing paper (at least 15 x 18 inches), begin with a pencil sketch of your arrangement. Paint the objects, then add details and highlights. Add the background, foreground and a few shadows. Remember to use large brushes for larger areas like the background, and use detail brushes for smaller areas and details. Use the above link for more examples and directions.

Next: Zendoodle Art for Kids!

Friday, November 20, 2020

Autumn Art Ideas for Kids

Autumn has come to be one of our favorite times of the year for  colorful art-making at the Art Center. The changing seasons and the amazing colors of fall are always so inspiring for our young artists! We've decided to share some of our favorite autumn-themed art projects for you to try at home, starting with your littlest artists.

Lacing Leaves.  This is a fine muscle skill building activity that you can construct for your child. So great for toddlers and young children; I remember playing with lacing cards as a 6-year-old. Alternate uses might include a giant fall necklace (invented by my grandson) or flying partially laced leaves around like a kite!
Create Lacing Leaves with simple supplies found around the house or craft room. Here are the printable (pdf) instructions for Lacing Leaves, which also includes four large leaf templates.

Tissue Twig Trees. Instead of drawing or painting an autumn tree, why not make one? This is a 3-D art project just for little artists! You'll need a packet of brightly colored tissue (a must for the art room), school glue, cheap paint brushes, and a hike, for the purpose of collecting interesting twigs to be turned into little trees. Here are your printable (pdf) instructions for this project.  

Colorful Patterned Leaves. This is a mixed media watercolor resist painting that K-3rd graders really love!  You'll need oil pastels or crayons, a set of watercolors (or liquid watercolors), watercolor paper, and a black Sharpie. 

We've done this project nearly every fall and I have posted the results and how-to's several times. Click here or here to see more about creating these amazing autumn leaves. 

Birch Tree Painted Collage.  This two-step painted collage is one of our absolute favorites! Easy enough for kinders, this project is great for kids up to 8 or 9 years old. C
reated in three steps using watercolors or cake tempera paints. 

You can find the complete instructions on our weblog link above or here or at Deep Space Sparkle.

Beautiful Sunflowers. This is a large sunflower tempera painting that includes plenty of interesting textures, patterns... and a bug!

You'll need a piece of 12" x 18" white sulfite paper or drawing paper, liquid or cake tempera paint, round medium paint brushes, water, and a picture or two of sunflowers. Click on the link above for step-by-step instructions. A great elementary school-age project!

Dogs in Scarves. This sweet pooch is romping in the leaves on a windy autumn day! This is a super cute painting for kids 8 and up (although we've had artists as young as 5 paint a Dog in a Scarf). 

You will need photo (portrait) of your favorite dog or type of dog. We have a resource file (mostly calendar pics) of dogs to look through. Collect your own and search online as well. You'll need a 9" x 12" watercolor paper, liquid tempera paint, a pencil, and a 5" plastic lid. You'll also need construction or colored copy paper and a glue stick for the falling leaves.  Click on the link above for detailed instructions. 

Owl in a Tree. This 3D construction mixed media art project is for 1st through 4th grade or so. I just love it, and had planned it as a fall 2020 art lesson at the Art Center. Best laid plans, right?

No worries! If your child loves owls, he or she can do this one at home. Artists will create the owl first in a favorite medium (such as our oil pastel owl) and cut it out. Then they'll create a 3D tree hallow with construction paper for their owl to live in. They'll need scissors, glue, and colored tissue paper (optional). I have included a link to a step-by-step video that shows how to do it.

Next up: Our favorite autumn-themed art ideas for BIG kids, ages 10 and up.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Thanksgiving Art Ideas for Kids

Here are a few of our favorite Thanksgiving-themed art projects -- for you to do at home!

This adorable Pop-Up Turkey Card is fun to make and requires only a few materials. We made these for Thanksgiving a couple years ago and the kids had so much fun! For ages 7 or 8 and up, even adults. (I had a blast making mine!) You can use them as a pop-up card, or you could embellish them a bit more to make beautiful 3D centerpieces for your Thanksgiving table. 

You'll need construction paper, printed paper (like scrapbook paper, for the napkin), aluminum foil, oil pastels (best for blending, but crayons will work), paint (optional, any kind), scissors, and glue. There is also an optional turkey shape template, which is available in the lesson, or you can make up your own turkey body shape.

Here are your Pop-Up Turkey step-by-step instructions plus the turkey template. 

This Colorful Turkey can be created by kinders through 2nd grade or so.  First your child will draw the turkey, then paint it to create a 'resist' painting. After it dries, they (or an adult) can cut it out, glue it to construction paper, and add some leaves... beautiful! You’ll need a 12" x 18" piece of white sulphite (drawing) paper (or a smaller size works too), oil pastels (or crayons if you press hard), watercolors, craft feathers, glue, and a small plastic container lid (about 3” in diameter)

Here are your complete Turkey Drawing and Painting instructions, including an easy guided drawing lesson, a video, and a printable handout from Deep Space Sparkle. 

This fun Food Collage inspires gratitude and appreciationIt's an easy, open-ended Thanksgiving themed art activity for little ones, ages 3 to 5 or so. You’ll need: a paper plate (or a ‘plate’ cut-out), pictures of food from grocery store ads or magazines, markers or crayons, children’s scissors, and a glue stick. We've also included a printable First Thanksgiving coloring page – for ‘research’ purposes. 😉

1. Search. Look through your grocery ads and/or magazines for pictures of favorite foods. Help your child cut them out and glue them to the plate. It helps to tear out the page or cut around the picture so that the child isn’t dealing with an entire magazine or a giant newspaper page to cut out a desired image. Parents or older siblings could cut out pictures for toddlers.

2. Decorate the plate. Optional of course. Is this a special meal? Serve it on a special plate! Your child can design and decorate the plate with patterns or flowers or anything else!

3. Add the food. Glue the food onto the plate. Fill it up! Make sure the markers or crayons are within reach as well. Preschoolers often want to draw food on the plate too, especially if they couldn’t find all of their favorite foods to cut and paste.

Here's a printable (pdf) version of Foods I Am Thankful For step-by-step instructions.

Next up: Our favorite autumn-themed art project ideas for kids.

Friday, November 06, 2020

The Home Art Studio

Young artists-in residence have certain needs. 

Artists need a space to work. This could be a corner of a bedroom or the kitchen table. 

Maybe you are lucky enough to have a dedicated art space, art room, or home art studio. The art space should include a roomy table and comfy chairs. 

A standing or table easel, or a pony easel, would also be a great addition.  Running water and a washable, uncarpeted floor help make cleanup a breeze.

Artists need plenty of storage space for art supplies, such as bins, shelves, drawers, and cubbies. If everything is kept in its place, materials will be easy to access and put away. 

Artists need art supplies. Most young artists have a few basic art supplies at home. These might include a pan of watercolors, Crayola-type markers, crayons, colored pencils, graphite (drawing) pencils, glue, scissors, and copy paper. Everyone also has recycled materials such as egg cartons, cardboard tubes, corrugated cardboard, old newspapers and/or magazines, fabric scraps, and yarn/lace/ribbon scraps. All of these items make great art supplies and a starting point for assembling a home art studio. My advice is to collect art supplies from around the house and begin by using what you have!

To progress further in their creative endeavors, your young artist(s) will need additional art supplies, such as those found on our printable Art Supply List for Young Artists. These items can be ordered online, and many can be found at local retailers such as Walmart, Michael’s, and Hobby Lobby.

And, yes. Art supplies can be pricey. However, there are ways around that. Young artists love to receive art supplies as gifts when Christmas and birthdays come around. Another option is the dollar store. You'd be surprised at the variety of art materials and supplies you can find for a dollar! Another option might be to make your own art supplies.  This is especially fun, because the process of making the art media can be just as satisfying as using it to make art! Check out the links below to learn how to make a few of your own art supplies.

Paint media:

Tempera paint. Make these nice thick paints for beginners. Best recipe I have found. 

Egg tempera paint. This paint was wildly popular amongst Early Renaissance artists.

Puffy paint. You need few common kitchen ingredients and a microwave oven. We made
this paint at the Art Center for some messy crazy fun and it was a real hit! 

Shiny paint. Sweetened condensed milk is the secret! Perfect for any age, including (and especially) toddlers! 

Liquid watercolors.  Uses dried up Crayola markers, so don't throw them away!

Sculpting media:

Play dough. A favorite with young artists, especially when they can make their own.  

Self-hardening clay. For young artists who are ready for a more permanent sculpting material, this is an air dry, self-hardening modeling clay similar to Model Magic. It dries and hardens at room temperature, then it's ready to be painted.

Drawing media:

Molded crayons. Custom shaped crayons made from small bits of used or excess crayons. 

Sidewalk chalk. For young outdoor artists. Plaster of Paris, tempera paint plus a few easy-to-find supplies from home. The molds are cardboard tubes, so these sticks of chalk are quite chunky. You can probably find (or make) smaller molds if you like. 

Sticky stuff:

School glue. The ingredients are all commonly found at home.  Add glitter and/or make your own glitter glue!

Papier mache'. A big favorite among young artists for making large 3-D sculptures! For more advanced papier mache' artists, try these papier mache' recipes. 


Art paper. Make your own beautiful art papers by recycling paper that gets thrown out. No special equipment required. 

Paper beads. Make their own colorful beads from recycled magazines, wrapping paper, etc. 

Happy ART-making... from our art studio to yours!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Halloween Art Ideas!

Halloween is a 'spooktacular' ART-making time of year! 

At the Art Center, we focus on spooky art projects throughout the entire month of October, so this year we are sharing a few of our favorites for you to make at home!

Halloween Block Heads. These are made from wood scraps! We used 2 x 4 wood scraps with other scraps, like triangles scraps for cat ears and witch's hats. Also craft wood shapes work well for witch's warts and such. Glue together each character, paint (use acrylic craft paint), and glue on embellishments like googly eyes and pipe cleaners. See more ideas here.

Black Cats... lots of them! A great recycling project made from saved up cardboard rolls. Simply cut them to different lengths and paint them black! Then press the tops down a bit to form ears. Glue on googly eyes and draw on the whiskers, nose, and mouth (metallic Sharpies work great!). Glue on a collar and add a cute little pipe cleaner tail. 

Black Cat in oil pastel. You'll need a set of oil pastels, a pencil, and a piece of black construction paper for this one. You'll first want to carefully observe a black cat or pictures of black cats.  Notice the silver and grey colors that define the shape of the cat and the texture of its fur. Select a photo you like, and draw it lightly with pencil, then fill it in with mostly grey colors! Only the darkest areas will be black! Lastly, add details like the pink in the ears, the yellow or green eyes, the claws, and the whiskers.

Folk Art Black Cat. This is one of our favorite "cat art" projects! Folk art is art that is created by untrained adult artists. First, you'll draw the cat step-by-step, then trace it with crayon or oil pastel (press hard!), adding patterns and a border. Then paint over everything with watercolor: your drawing will show through the paint!

Halloween Spider in a Web. First, you will tape a piece of watercolor or very heavy paper to a board or the table to keep it flat (use masking tape). Then cover the paper with yellow and red acrylic craft paint and let it dry. Draw the web right over the dry paint with white oil pastel. Then construct your spider with whatever spider-making materials you have handy. We used black fun foam and pipe cleaners. You can use good old black construction paper to create your spider as well, like this.

Wacky Witch's Legs. Aren't these witch's legs a kick??? This is a mixed media project that we have done with 6-year-olds and up (including adults!) First you'll paint a stripey background. Then you'll cut out her skinny legs, her matching witch shoes, and the bottom portion of her dress. The fun part is adding all sorts of embellishments: stripes, buttons, ribbons, sequins, lace, glitter, or whatever you you can find! Here are the step-by-step directions
This one is a lot of fun!!!

Owl in the Night Sky. This is an easy mixed media project for young artists. You'll need heavy black construction paper or card stock, white and black tempera paint, a white pencil, and an assortment of blue oil pastels. You will also make a round moon template from a piece of cardboard and you will need a sponge to paint it with, as well as a paint brush for the tree and owl. Here is the full lesson on a printable handout  (scroll down when you get there!) as well as an awesome step-by-step video
Spooky Charcoal Jack O' Lantern.  This is a great Halloween project for older kids who are learning to tint and shade with charcoal. All you need are a piece of charcoal, a charcoal pencil, a soft white eraser, and a soft paper towel. You will work on white drawing paper or white construction paper. We have already posted the instructions for this one on our weblog right here.

Owl in Oil Pastels. This is one of our very favorite art projects! All you need is a piece of black construction paper and a set of oil pastels. Some artists also lay in the shapes with a pencil, and some don't. Learn how to create these awesome Hooty Owls in Oil Pastel by checking out our earlier weblog post. Also try We Love Owls! and our home schoolers' Owl Art.

Cosmic Halloween watercolor painting. This is simply a wet-on-wet watercolor painting, using spooky-night colors with a splattering of white tempera. Once it dries, a solid black mixture of watercolor is used to create an eerie silhouette right over it. See how we did it in our previous post about cosmic Halloween watercolors

Spooky Forest Jack. Another big favorite; we do this one every year! It's 11" or 11" square, mounted on a piece of black poster board or mat board one inch larger. You can see several more samples of these on our previous Spooky Forest Jack post. You can also download (and print) a step-by-step handout with full instructions to create this spooky little painting. 

Picasso Monsters. We LOVED this project! Learn about Pablo Picasso and make an awesome Halloween-inspired monster too!

You'll need colored construction paper, scissors, markers, and glue. Also you'll need to look at some of Picasso's abstract portraits. Take a look at our previously published weblog post to learn how to complete your own 'monstrous' art, at If Picasso Made Monsters.

Halloween Inchies.
These "inchies" are very tiny works of Halloween-themed art. Only 3 or 4 inches square, each piece of art is different from the next. You can use collage, pastels, watercolor, or whatever you want for each piece. Use your imagination! They can then be arranged into a square collage using 4 inchies or 9 inchies or even 16 inchies! See some of these collages and directions for making them on our previous post, Halloween Mini-Art Collages. Hint: You can make Fall or Christmas or Valentine or any other themed inchies too!

Next up: some of our favorite Thanksgiving Art Projects you can do at home!

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Circle Weaving!

Weaving is a traditional skill that we have practiced before with a traditional square loom. 

This time, why not change things up and use a triangular loom? 

Why not make our loom from twigs? Or weave in the shape of a circle? 

Why not add feathers? And maybe some pinecones? 

Why not?