Friday, December 22, 2023

Christmas Poinsettias

These bold poinsettias seem to pop right off the page, don't they? 

Our adult class created these with soft pastels and charcoal pencil on red construction paper. 

These beauties would make great Christmas cards, wouldn't they?

Please visit our original post, A Pastel Poinsettia,  to learn how to create your own beautiful poinsettia artwork. 

Suitable for ages 8 through adult. 

Friday, November 17, 2023

Watercolor Mini Landscapes

After learning a few basic watercolor painting techniques, it's time to dive right in and paint a few little landscapes!

That's right. Even if you've never painted before, you can paint a few of these simple little half-page landscapes with just a few basic supplies and your w/c technique resource sheets. 

Each completed mini landscape will show improvement as you practice various w/c techniques and which ones to use when.
Here's what you'll need:

Basic 8-color set of pan watercolors (16 or more colors will work, but I use the basic 8 to encourage color mixing) - we like Prang for bright, bold color!

An additional watercolor palette (optional)

9" x 12" watercolor paper, 90 lb (student grade) 

Soft, natural hair watercolor brushes, various sizes, both flats and rounds

Container of water and paper towels

A watercolor board (ours are plywood) and making tape

A #2 pencil 

Stack of old calendars featuring landscape photos

Small table easel

Your Watercolor Techniques resource sheets

Adjustable viewfinder (you can make one with a piece of cardstock and two paper clips), optional

Scissors (and a paper cutter if you have one)

To start, you will first want to create your viewfinder. Simply cut a piece of cardstock or heavy paper into two "L" shapes. You may be able to make three or even four "L's" out of one sheet of paper. You don't need to measure them. If sides are longer or shorter than others you will be able to adjust them to the size you need to frame a small portion of a picture for your painting. 

Which brings us to the next step. Sift through your stack of landscape photos and choose one that you really like. Whoa! That's a lot of detail for a beginner like me, you're saying. I hear you. That's what the viewfinder is for. You will choose just one small portion of the picture to paint within the small format of a half sheet of paper. 

You can do it!

Find a section of the photo that you particularly like and adjust two sections of the viewfinder to frame it using a couple of paper clips making sure the shape is similar to a half sheet of watercolor paper (as shown in the photo). Fold the calendar in half and place it on your easel with the viewfinder in place. 

Cut a piece of watercolor paper in half and tape it to your watercolor board. Place your watercolors, water, brushes, and paper towels on the table. 

Carefully observe your photo resource and, on your watercolor paper, lightly pencil in the basic shapes. Determine what w/c techniques you will use to paint the scene. Remember to simplify - simplify - simplify. For more about how to paint these mini-landscapes, see our previous weblog post, Tiny Landscapes.

This artist found three completely different scenes to paint in one calendar picture. Two of them were painted very similarly to the original scenes. The artist decided to make some changes to the third scene by removing the mountain in the background and adding a night sky. As artists we have total control over our artwork - we can change whatever we like. Remember, the photo is simply a resource, an idea generator. Ultimately, you will paint something that is uniquely yours!  Have fun!

Clink here for a printable Tiny Landscapes in Watercolor pdf handout.

Friday, November 03, 2023

Watercolor Basics

Our new Art Class for Grownups decided, as a group, to dabble in watercolor. Their goal was to learn enough watercolor basics for a few experimental paintings,  eventually leading to some successful works of art.

Watercolors are a simple, yet complex medium.  Unlike acrylic or oil paints, our earliest painting experience often begins with a set of pan watercolors. We quickly learn to moisten the paint with the accompanying brush and paint the colors all over the page. Just about every child has created a wrinkled watercolor painting of a house, a tree, and a smiling sun. Watercolor is a simple, uninhibited, satisfying medium for young artists. 

So it's no surprise that older artists are often surprised to learn how versatile watercolors can be! I have found that creating watercolor Technique Sheets is a great way to experiment with watercolor. The best way to do this is to divide a sheet of 9" x 12" 90 lb. student grade watercolor paper into eight sections on a watercolor board using masking tape. We use narrow masking tape that extends beyond the paper edges onto the board (to hold it down). Then a different watercolor technique is used to fill in each section. I demonstrate each as we go, until students learn to experiment and create their own. 

Once a Technique Sheet is completed and dried, the technique name(s) can be printed, cut out, and glued to each appropriate section and another sheet started. These sheets can then be saved and used as references for future watercolor painting projects. 

You can download our label sheet to use for your own Watercolor Technique sheets. Note that artists can pick and choose the techniques they want to try, and may use more than one in a given section - such as dry brush and sketching or flat wash and bloom (which often happens simultaneously). 

Click on the image below for a printable version. Then you can make your own Watercolor Technique Sheets!

Saturday, October 28, 2023

A Very Spooky Forest

It's that SPOOKY time of the year again and as always - we made crazy awesome spooky art!

This little Jack o' Lantern in the middle of a Spooky Forest is one of our favorites - especially with our teen and grownup artists!

These spooky scenes were created in our adult art class.

You can see past Spooky Forest Jack artwork right here.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

More Halloween Inchies!

We've made these Halloween Inchies in the past and they were so much fun -- it was definitely time to try them again! 

Inchies are tiny works of art that follow a theme, such as Christmas, fall, or our favorite of all: 


Our inchies were created on 4" x 4" square substrates. (Note: squares can be cut smaller if you wish: 3 x 3 or even 2 x 2 inches can work.) Substrate papers can be watercolor paper, drawing paper, construction paper, patterned paper, or whatever will work for the art media to be used and the vision of the artist.

Each square is an individual piece of artwork. It might be a watercolor painting, a collage, an oil pastel drawing, or multimedia artwork. Your art supplies can be whatever you have on hand. Take a look at That Artist Woman for an excellent supply list and more Halloween Inchies artwork ideas, too. 

Beware, making inchies is messy business! You'll likely work on several at once - as one dries, another is started, and then another. Just let it happen and enjoy the process (and the mess)!

Inchies can be displayed on black poster board in a grid-like fashion. It's fun to let the kids figure out how many inchies they will need to make for a 2 x 2, 3 x 3, or 4 x 4 square grid. How many would you need for a 5 x 5 grid? Wow! 

Shown here are 3 x 3 square grids. In the past we have seen 4 x 4 grids as well - I really love these! The more the better.  Here are a few more that we have made during Halloween open studio time (scroll down a bit to see the inchies.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2023


On the second today of CrAzY ART Camp, we made EXPLODING Art Books!

Yup! This innocent, sweet little book is loaded with an Explosion of ART!!!

Also called Squash Books, this is an exciting project that I have done in the past with older kids - but these kiddos really want to make one - so they did!  

Exploding Art books are created in a series of steps, beginning with a large abstract painting. While it dries, the book itself is assembled, which involves binding the covers and some origami-type paper folding. Then the artwork is cut up and glued into the book.
Of course, I made one too, along with my young artists: 

To learn how we made these or to make your own, see our previous weblog posts, EXPLODING Art Books and An ART Explosion!

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

CrAzY ART Camp!

 This week was all about crazy art at CrAzY Art Camp!  

On the first day we made Crazy Glasses. We needed these glasses to help us see all the craziness and because they made us laugh.
If you want to make your own Crazy glasses, you can find instructions and a fun template at

Now that we were in the right "frame" of mind, 
our next crazy, loony, wacky task was to make: Croco-gators!
These are obviously not alligators nor crocodiles. 
They are something else. They are croco-gators, of course!

These critters were painted on heavy black poster board - cut in half the long way. The basic shapes were painted directly on the surface with white tempera paint, beginning with the rectangular body.

Then a long skinny triangle was added for a tail, and two long very skinny triangles for the mouth with little triangular teeth. And feet with sharp claws.
We added a few more sections within the body and some patterns too.  Then we mixed several color tints by adding the colors to puddles of white tempera paint.  (White plus a color makes a tint; such as white plus red makes pink - a tint!) We filled in the croco-gator's body with color and more patterns. 
Then, after it dried, we used a big black marker to add a few more details and a little outlining.

Day 1 of Summer CrAzY ART Camp was great fun! 

Saturday, June 24, 2023

World Giraffe Day!

We celebrated World Giraffe Day (June 21st) by creating Giraffe Art in mixed media!

We started by looking at photos of giraffes and observing things that make them so unique - such as their long necks (of course), their spots (which fix together like puzzle pieces), their very long legs, their oddly-shaped little horns, and their long eye lashes! 

We chose a piece of colored sulfite paper (9" x 12") and drew the basic shape of a giraffe, starting with the body first, using white chalk - which is easy to see on colored paper, and easy to wipe off for quick changes. 

Our goal was to keep the giraffe large - to fill up the paper - and to leave room for that very looooong neck!

Then, using oil pastels, artists drew as many or as few details as desired. Some added the spot patterns, for example, and others decided to wait and use paint for that. 

Some also added a few background details.

Next, we painted! (Yes, this is truly a mixed media artwork.)

Using liquid tempera paint, we finished filling in our giraffes and completed a background. Some artists went with natural African savannahs and similar environs, while others decided their giraffes lives in a flower garden or among giant sunflowers!

After the paintings were completed and the paint was dry, artists then added more oil pastel details right on top of the paint. Many also decided to add some outlining so that the giraffe would stand out more in the artwork.

Our giraffe artists ranged from five years old to adult. 

Everyone had a great time learning about giraffes and celebrating these magnificent animals through ART!

Monday, June 19, 2023

Art for Father's Day!

 We made these tiny watercolor paintings for Dad, and we framed them in these 3-D frames embellished with natural elements. 

Our artists actually painted two tiny paintings, then picked one out for Dad and one to keep! 

Question: Which was more fun to create, the painting or the frame? 

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Yummy Donuts!

Artist age 8

Have you ever noticed that, besides yummy morsels of sweetness, donuts are actually delightful little pieces of art?

Fancy or simple, iced or filled, it seems as though each donut is so carefully crafted it seems almost a shame to eat it! 

But yet, who can resist? It's a real conundrum.

Artist age 5

To celebrate National Donut Day (June 2) we created donut art! (We probably would have done it anyway.)

Our young artists had lots of exciting ideas about how to design and decorate their own donuts!

Artist age 6

First our artists divided a 12" by 12" piece of sulfite paper into four squares using a ruler. 

They then traced a cardboard circle template, lightly with a pencil, in each square. A hole was added in the center of each one - unless it was destined to be a jelly filled donut, of course.

Now it was time to plan how each donut would be designed.

Any icing slathered on a donut was outlined, and then all pencil lines were traced with black Sharpies (to be more easily seen while painting).

We used cake temperas, which we mixed with white liquid temperas on a palette for pastel tints. 

Donuts were first painted with soft tans and browns around the
outside and inside edges of the donut shape. The icing colors were added next, using light tints here and there to create a little shine. 

After the paint was dry (cake temperas dry fast!) sprinkles and textures were then added using oil pastels, paint, colored Sharpies, and colored pencils.

A background color was then added to each square, and the donuts were outlined once again for a strong visual effect. Sweeet!!

This artist used watercolor colored pencils to create these beauties:
My demo
My sample

        You can learn more about making your own donut art by visiting our previous post, Delicious Donuts!