Crazy Hair



One more project for you as school is about to begin…

I don’t know how much the parents appreciated this project, but since I’m still 89% kid at heart, this project made me laugh my head off!

While the kids were busy working on another project, I asked to take their pics.  I told them to look at me as if their finger was stuck in a light socket.  They had no idea what they’d be doing with the photos, but like all good kids, they simply did what they were told!

I took the pics with my phone and at home converted them to black and white. I printed out a full page image of each kid and then carefully cut everything away from their faces -hair and all. I then glued each kid to the center of a poster board 3-4 times the size of their heads -a blank slate.

When I unveiled what we’d be doing for the day, for an extra laugh, I gathered the kids around and said “let’s take a look at what everyone in the class looks like bald”.  Oh their were some red faces and some really loud laughs… all good sports though!

So it wasn’t hard to get them to want to fill in the posters.  1-make yourself not bald 2-have fun creating something out of this world!

I think it’s a great thing about camp.  Sometimes teaching people to not take themselves so seriously can be just as useful as seriousness.  It’s a great lesson in releasing control.

I find the 7 year olds draw with reckless abandon while the 11-14 year olds sketch with pencil, then erase, then erase, then erase…. the session is done and they never got past sketching.  Which reminds me.  I gave the kids a black sharpie, not a pencil.

Such an early age and everyone is already worried about being perfect.

If I can leave the kids with anything from Art Camp, it’s this.  Laugh –period!  Don’t take yourself so seriously –it will ruin your creativity!  And finally, KEEP ART FUN. If you can manage to do that, art will be your friend for life.  You have to work at this though, society has a way of wanting to suck the joy and spontaneity out of one’s creativity.

Laughing is the key!




Think Outside The Box

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In the summer, my own art-making gets put on hold because I’m home with my kids for school break.  I always manage to teach a few weeks of camp to help pay for my own kids camps and thus it works out – all kids are happy and busy :)

So, here are some pics from what I called the “Think Outside the Box Challenge”.

The kids were given some plain old brown boxes I found at a recycling center.  Then they were shown a world of materials that they could use to transform their boxes into something else.  When they were done, their teacher shouldn’t be able recognize their creation as a “box”.

I had a black hefty garbage big filled to the brim with fabrics.  I had yarn, scrapbook paper, wall paper, 1980’s colorful buttons, feathers,basket fill, paint, markers, card board thread bobbins , glue, old jewelry components and a giant lump of polymer clay for each kid. I also had old clear transparency paper for the kids to use for windows… The sky was the limit on odds and ends that could be used to CREATE.

Here were some of the Think Outside the Boxes…


When the kids were done, one of them said “Ya know, I could actually play with this at home.  I have little dolls I could put in there”.

Yes dear.

In the olden days, that’s what we used to do.  We’d create something to play with!

It’s a great skill to be able to think outside the box.  It’s a life skill that if started early will show up in everything you do later in life.

I promise!

Art Camp 2016 D.O.D.


By far the most favorite project of camp – Oversized Day-of-the-Dead Skulls!

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Because time was limited, I cut out the outer skull.  The rest was up to them.  Ready…Set…Grab your glue guns!!!!

I showed them the trick to making the facial features 3-D.

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We dowsed them in white paint to give ourselves a blank canvas…

And then the fun began!


I’m pretty sure many a tween bedroom will now be adorned in sugar skulls!

Best of Art Camp 2016




I’m wrapping up my second session of Art Camp and thought I’d share some amazing child creativity. The kids ranged in age from 7-14 and were both girls and boys.

I gave each kid a 2ft x 4ft piece of black poster board, a close up of a symmetrical sarcophagus face, the exterior shape of a sarcophagus and many, many library books with real images as reference.

The kids were overwhelmed.  “How can we create something so massive and complex???”  I knew they could do it by breaking the sarcophagus’ into quadrants.  Focusing on symetry, each kid simply had to create one half of the image and then replicate it on the other side.

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Dare I say it went from a scary venture to something really fun.  On hand, I had 4 different shades of gold paint, black and gold washi tape, gold paper and gold pens.

The results were amazing!

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  These kids were maticulous and really taking their time, but I think it was well worth it.  I alotted two hours for the project but many were still plugging away on hour four.  The finished pieces sparkle and the detail is simply amazing.  I’m very proud of them!

Let it snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!


Check out this fun idea for an impromptu children’s art class.

I was asked to create an hour long project for 30 kids ranging in age from 5 years to age 12. What do kindergarteners and sixth graders have in common??? Yikes!

Oh and next, there’s no existing art room, so if I didn’t mind, could I cart everything I needed for the project?


One hour, 30 kids all different ages and bring everything….yeah ok. Got it!

piece of cake ;)


I don’t know why, perhaps because I watch too many Food Network challenges, but the idea hit me to give each kid a filled up paper bag of materials and challenge each kid to use them. This made sense too, because I had to haul a lot of materials quickly.


The ideas started flowing from there. I made a pit stop at the Rhode Island Recovery Center. This is a place where all RI businesses can recycle anything from their businesses that people may be able to repurpose for education. You never know what strange materials you’ll find and its like 40 cents a pound. I chose the items with a certain theme in mind, divided up all the loot and filled up 30 lunch bags.

I decided to make the entire event a challenge. The bags would be stapled up tight and there would be about 10 secret ingredients within. The kids were also given a piece of light blue mat board and a chunk of self-hardening white clay.

They couldn’t touch a thing until I said “GO!” This created excitement like a race. I finally told them the theme was winter. I got their minds going…  What colors come to mind when I say winter? What would you find in a winter environment? What types of animals? Ect….  I handed each kid some wet glue and a glue stick and said “On your mark, get set, GO!!!” And they went at this project like they were on a mission!





In all the mayhem, I think I only photographed the younger kids snowmen, but there was definitely more diversity. There were birds in nests, a narwhale, polar bears and penguins. I scored a bunch of jewelry boxes which were perfect building blocks for dioramas. I also found this 4 foot long silver tinsel at the recycling center which was perfect for icicles.

The moral of this very long story is if your ever stuck in a jam, turn the project into a challenge! The kids were so proud of their ingenuity, they had a great time building and they even enjoyed walking around to see what their peers came up with.

I can see the potential for this in my summer camps. The organizational aspect felt wonderful. All of the chaos was contained and I even challenged them to use the bags!

You’ll have to try this one… We’ll call it The secret bag challenge!


(pardon the grammar and writing – I totally struggled to write this on my phone!)



Is it just me or does it feel absolutely horrible putting on your nice warm coat or settling in to your nice warm bed?  Watching the Syrian Conflict unfold has been heartbreaking.

My 9 year old was given the task at school of finding a community service project somewhere in the community to participate in.  Each kid in the class was on there own.  I told my son to try to give what ever he deemed to be one of his strengths.  He loves to cook so we started there.

A woman in my pottery studio had read in the paper that a local woman was volunteering at The Nour Education Program in Lebanon and how it was a school set up for Syrian refugee children.  It was decided that our pottery studio would host a fundraiser for this school.

My son and I decided this was the perfect community service project to invest in.  The studio needs potters to donate their ceramic creations to the event so that each person who makes a financial donation can take home a hand-crafted bowl.  They need homemade soup to feed the guests of the event and homemade bread. Make bowls and cook?  We got this!

I also volunteered to make the flyer for the event and I have to say, I am so proud of myself!  That’s my bowl! (ok and my husbands curry too!) But, I made that!!!  I photographed it and designed the flyer too.  I’m so thrilled with how it came out!  I can’t believe I made something in pottery that looks so darn cool on a flyer (yes, yes and my husbands curry too!)

Pardon me for gushing on myself.  I don’t do it that often, but once in a while I can recognize I done pretty darn good!

Now where was I….


Oh yeah… Time to make some bowls!  My son decided to invite a bunch of his friends to come to the pottery studio to create a ceramic bowl to donate to the event.

They did an amazing job.  Without any prompts, the most beautiful things were etched into their bowls.  Words like “Pay it forward”, “Be the Inspirer”, “Know the Fun” &  “Joy, Joy, Joy!”  Kids are awesome.  They really are.  I love that my kid’s school has them thinking about the world at large and people in their community.  What can you do to help?  How can you be helpful?  I tell ya, I know I wasn’t doing community service in 3rd grade. I think I was drooling on an eraser and drawing on my desk!  Huh.

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I was not prepared for the turn-out of kids.  We made 19 bowls in total!

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This was my son’s bowl.

OMG. I will be the first patron in line to get that bowl –grandparents, don’t even think about it!!!

 So we are off to a great start.  I glazed all 19 bowls today.  I can’t wait to see how they turn out.  My son has decided he is going to cook up a batch of loaded baked potato soup and Dad is going to teach his son how to bake bread.  We are hoping for a good turn out and have started the process for a second fundraiser for the same refugee school.



These photos were taken by Katie Jones at the Nour School.

It’s my hope that my son learns a valuable lesson.  You can’t save the world. You just can’t.  -but you can pick a spot and start making it better! 

That’s how us humans get things done!

For Kicks

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Thank you Lord for the shoes I’ve just received!

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Nothing like new shoes. Nothing like the rainbow!

I spent my morning teaching another generation how to make Gods-eyes.

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25 kids and you could have heard a pin drop.

So many parents and teachers forget this one… I think the kids enjoy the rhythm as soon as they find it. Their concentration is unbelievable.

The group ranged from 5 yrs-14 yrs.  That is a large disparity and yet it interested all of them.

You should have seen me out in the woods hunting for all those sticks!

yeah. way better than popsicle sticks.

Way better!

Making Waves

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I’m so lucky to have a 10-year-old child because she asks me the best questions and demands answers.  This weeks question was – How do you paint waves? And thus started my lesson plan for my 9-14yr old acrylic painting class.

Gosh, painting waves is a struggle for adults and you want me to teach this to a kid? So I set out to figure out the best and most fun way which brought me to The Great Wave Off Shore of Kanagawa.

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Popularly known as “The Great Wave”, it is a famous woodcut print by artist Katsushika Hokusai.

Now I did spend time showing the kids other forms of waves.

Frozen waves are photographed on Nantucket, Massachusetts. Photo by Jonathan Nimerfroh used by permission

Check this link to frozen waves:

And another fabulous tutorial on drawing waves by illustrator Bob Penuelas:

But ultimately the “Great Wave” by Hokusai won out.  It’s color, pattern and graphic style is hard to resist.

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I set out with a blank slate trying to figure out how on earth I could break this down into something teachable, when it came to me…

The waves in Hokusai’s woodcut were created in three layers.  Ahh, break it down into three layers and everyone could actually create a wave painting.

Now if you’ve been following my little class I’m teaching, you’d know we did woods in three layers:

Teaching Depth & Shading

So with that understanding, we were simply changing the subject matter.  Who knew these concepts would tie together? So the kids set out creating three separate layers of waves:

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and as usual, the results were amazing!

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That is not an easy task and if Katsushika Hokusai were alive, I’d thank him for this image which allows many of us to deconstruct the chaos of the sea. So cool!

Which brings me to the uncompleted paintings from the week before (check out last week’s blog: Inspiring Kids to Let Loose and Have Fun with Color) :

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We worked on completing these paintings this week…

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…and had the added bonus of sharing our love for our animals!


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Which brings me to the incredibly slow pace of my own personal project…my bird painting…I got a little bit further this week, but not far enough! A little further to go… I guess you’d call it birdy-baby-steps!

And so I leave you with the hopes that you all have a very

GOOD FRIDAY! -take care!

Ode to Heather Galler. Inspiring kids to let loose and go crazy with color!

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Art class show n’ tell again!

This class begins with inspiration from a New York artist named Heather Galler.

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Her work is crazy colorful and adds everything but the kitchen sink.  I love it!

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I asked the kids to bring in a picture of their pet this week.  You should have seen their eyes when they realized they were somehow going to reinterpret their brown, grey and white pets into color-scapes.  They were freaked! …but of course we could break it down into steps and make it do-able.

Now this is where it sort of went wrong, I didn’t really consider how long the pencil sketches were going to take.  Long story short, they took up 2/3 of the class.  Another miserable thing – I brought in my good camera and took some awesome shots of the kids working on their paintings.  When I plugged my camera in this morning, I realized there wasn’t a memory card in the camera the entire class…UGHHHH! That is the worst experience!

So in a nutshell, we sketched, we loosely sectioned off the pets into areas and started color blocking.  No patterns at this point, you simply fill in the animal with colors that are visually appealing.  We did talk about when you might want to add tints and shades, we decided pastels and full on color would give us the same effect.


This is as far as we got before time ran out.  Still color blocking…

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Next week we will accomplish the final step.  Pattern.  I compiled a sheet of all different fabric patterns.  We talked about some of the names of patterns like hounds tooth and chevrons.  It would be great if some of the names sink in…the patterns are timeless and are great design principles.

pet painting tutorialMy portrait is going to some best friends who recently lost their family member, Honey, to Lyme Disease.  Heartbreaking stuff.  Heather Galler outlines her pets in black, but something about a Golden Retriever prevented me from doing so.  They are just so soft and furry, I thought the black paint would be too harsh.  We will see what my friends think, I could always add it if they thought they’d like it.  I also didn’t add pattern to the background.  If I was painting my cat, I think I’d go wild, but for a tribute to Honey, our quite friend who always followed, I didn’t want anything in the back to compete.  Again will see if my friends want stars and stripes.  I can always add more, but taking away is a bear!

All in all, I have to tip my hat to Miss Galler because this exercise was way more difficult than I anticipated.  Bouncing colors off each other is no easy task,  I changed some sections quite a few times until I was happy with the color harmonies.

Next week is the final class of the acrylic session.  I have another lesson planned, so we will have to figure out how to finish this project and still be able to start & finish another…WILL DO IT! I’m sure!


Alas my giant bird painting hanging unfinished over my mantle is coming along at a snail’s pace.  I get so frustrated because there just isn’t enough time in the day.  I need to go back to watercolors.  They are quick and finite.  Acrylic allows me to repaint an area I don’t like twenty times.  It’s the definition of insanity!  I spend hours on an area only to cover it up and try something else.  Not fittin’ for my personality.  I need to be forced to hand over the painting… I hope to get this done soon!

My Day-of-the-Dead skulls are finished from the pottery studio.  I hope to take some pictures at the beginning of next week.  They are awesomely fun!

‘Til next time…keep on creatin’

Translucent vs Opaque

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HAPPY SPRING!!! I say as we await 4 more inches of snow today in Rhode Island!

I wanted to share my weekly kids art class with you.  Their work is stunning!


In 2013, when I was undergoing my daily 365 challenge, I created this painting.  I always loved it for its spontaneity and happy colors.  It came to mind recently when I started teaching as I thought this technique has quite a few teachable moments.

Translucent vs. Opaque

Each week I try the project and create notes before I have the kids do it.  This way I can make sure I can conceive of all of the teaching points.  This project teaches the difference between translucent paints (commonly watercolors) and opaque paints (commonly oils and acrylics).  The dark opaque background makes the light flowers pop.  I encouraged the kids to use loads of water to keep the watercolors transparent.

The Second lesson in this project is the concept of NEGATIVE SPACE.  All good artists consider their subject matter, but they also think about the background, the shapes on the paper where the subject matter is NOT.  With the black paint, the kids have to go in and really think about what they want their flowers and fauna to look like.  Are the black spaces around your flowers equally as interesting as the flowers?  It’s important to think about this in a composition.  I also pointed out that the watercolor painting in itself, is sort of sloppy and all one tone.  Your eye can’t really decipher where one thing begins and another thing ends.  But with intense contrast, like the difference between paint that is see through and paint you cannot see through, you can distinctly manipulate your image.

…and of course, THEY GOT IT!!! These are my students work ranging from ages 9-14.

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The last two paintings are interesting…  The two students had a VERY HARD time adding black opaque paint to their light watercolor paintings.  It freaked them out!!!  They DID NOT WANT TO EDIT ANY SPACES FROM THEIR PAINTINGS.  At first as a traditional adult, I thought “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!!!” but then the teacher in me came out and thought “who am I to tell you what your art is supposed to look like!” and then I thanked the two students for opening my eyes to a different way which was equally VERY INTERESTING!

So, all in all, another great week.  It’s been an awesome experience (even if I am terrified of going in and teaching every single time!)

Please teachers out there… Please tell me this feeling goes away!!!

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and thank you to my mother-in-law for driving from far away to take part in one of my classes. That was pretty cool!

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