Posts Tagged ‘cards’

still life drawing

i always try to follow N’s lead when it comes to the art projects we do around here. her natural inclination lately has been toward the realm of still life drawing.

the other day she picked up a pen and drew on the back of a cardboard notepad, and then came and showed it to me. she said, “these are all of the tummy-symbols of the care bears. it’s so much fun to draw what i’m looking at!”

love-a-lot bear wasn't available for the photo shoot. he might be busy under the couch.

so, of course, the following day momma whipped up a pretty bowl of fruit for N to draw — i mean, why not start out in a classic way? the little one was thrilled!

she wanted to draw a few objects by themselves, as well.

the apple

the tomato

a few tomatoes as a thank you to our neighbors who brought us some from their yard

next, N said she wanted to draw “a different bowl of fruit that i’m thinking of in my head.”

the bowl of fruit N pictured in her head


we had such a fun morning! so sweet and quiet to draw together…


(so quiet that even i got in on the action a wee bit…)


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warming tray + wax = wonderful

there is a day in my graduate training that sticks out for me – it’s the day i went to the studio of one of my most inspiring mentors, mimi farrelly-hansen. she showed me and a few of my colleagues a really relaxing art activity – using a warming tray to draw with crayons.

this process is great for relaxation and stress relief, as the crayons just move so freely and softly across the warming tray as they are melting… it is soooo addictive – (really, i’m warning you!) i recently bought a warming tray just for this purpose, but i got the cheapest one i could find and it does not have a setting for low or high heat. it’s always running on a pretty hot temperature, thus N can’t do this activity with me just yet. i wanted to post it for those of you with children who would be able to understand safety around using a warming tray – use your judgement about your own child, and always supervise children around a warming tray.

there are a couple of ways to engage in this activity. over the years, i’ve found that finger painting paper is my favorite paper to use because of its glossy quality, though other papers work just fine. metallic crayons are fabulous for this exercise, but any old crayons will do. here i used non-metallics primarily, with some silver and gold in there.

you can lay the paper directly onto a warming tray on low heat, and draw on it right there with peeled crayons. it’s luscious.

another thing you can do is line the tray with foil (when cool, before you turn it on) and draw on the foil. then do some print-making my pressing papers onto the design you’ve created.

i dragged this paper through the image on the foil for a smeared effect

the process is highly satisfying and results are always stunning with either method.

if you use the finger painting paper, the light shines through these so beautifully…

hopefully this sparks some ideas for you suncatcher and lantern makers out there

i made a few cards from some of the prints.

these really do make great sun-catchers… i made this butterfly as a gift for N, since she’s quite obsessed with chasing butterflies around our backyard (and has seriously almost gone through our screen door a few times in pursuit of the elusive yellow-swallowtail.)

simple butterfly made by filling a black construction paper cut-out with the pretty paper



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happy dad’s day!

we’ve been having fun preparing for father’s day over here…N made some papa portrait cards for her dad and grandfathers.

here are her portraits. (yep, she essentially has 4 grandfathers. modern families.)

we also turned a really cool magnadoodle image of hers…

(child's name covered for privacy)

into a great travel coffee mug for her dad on! (i love this idea of using your child’s art on everyday products. sure beats logos and advertising for other companies!)

(child's name covered for privacy)

N painted a wooden picture frame for her dad at preschool a couple of weeks ago, complete with a photo taken by her teacher.


we added the frame and the mug to a gift basket with lots of his favorite goodies.

one of N’s traditions is to make mom’s day and dad’s day signs… last year in 2009, her sign looked like this:

but this year, she was able to write and illustrate her own sign – hooray!


happy father’s day to all the dads, granddads, godfathers, uncles, and all of the amazing men who love & support our children!


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in the flow

sometimes we’ve just gotta have free art time… without limits on materials, without “how-to’s,” without specified products. i love these moments when N just asks for watercolors or markers or colored pencils and goes for it. we’ve been doing a lot of really open, unstructured art time in our home these past coupla weeks. it’s good for the soul. we just stuck to the basics and watched the creativity floooow…

in my art therapy training, we talked about a theorist named mihaly csikszentmihalyi (pronounced “chick-sent-me-high”) who coined an idea called “flow theory.” flow is his term for the emotional state opposite frustration. flow is when you are fully, happily absorbed in an activity, completely satisfied, but not taking on more than you can handle. it is often what happens when an artist becomes absorbed in their work, and notions of time and space fall away. i relish in this creative space, and kids organically go there in their imaginal creative play. when observing a child in this state, you can usually hear all sorts of made-up stories, characters, ideas, plots spewing out – like a peek into the unconscious, coming out without a filter. such an honor to witness.



while “in the flow,” N has made plenty of tiny paintings that have become and will become cards for friends and family…

N has also worked on some larger watercolor masterpieces that now adorn her art gallery wall

"duck eating grass" & "N in a beret, about to climb a ladder"

by my nature, i’m more at home with the expressive arts than i am with the crafting. imagination plus pigment yields limitless expression!  so let it flow, let it flow, let it floooow…



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handmade blooming paper

i remember the curious process of making paper when i was a kid — it was always sort of odd to me that we’d take perfectly good paper, shred it up, get it wet, and make it into new lumpy paper. curious, indeed, but making your own paper is a fun and wonderful way to recycle scraps you may have laying around the house into something lovely (and something that blooms – read on!)

i was inspired by a guest post on make & takes and decided that creating plantable paper with flower seeds in it would make for lovely mother’s day cards. so N and i got busy collecting select colors of paper scraps we had around our art studio. (we chose analogous colors so that when they blended, they’d make a color that was not brown. N’s favorite colors are purple and red, so this worked out well. she helped in hunting for the scraps in our art room, and chose to recycle some of her own preschool art work and valentine hearts, too.)

then the ripping process began! little did i know that tearing is a good lesson for little hands! i sometimes forget that these seemingly ordinary tasks are things we learned along the way, so i took the opportunity to teach N about tearing. we tore them up into little bits no bigger than a square inch. next we put the colors into our blender.

we added just enough water to cover the paper shreds, then we blended until it looked like, as N said, “a raspberry smoothie.” after that, N sprinkled flower seeds into the pulp. (we chose zinnias.)

do not blend after the seeds are in – just stir them into the pulp with a spoon.


after that, i strained the pulp through a mesh strainer, pushing the water out with a wooden spoon. (if you don’t have a mesh strainer, just place a thin towel in the bottom of your colander and that should work, too.)

i had prepared a cookie sheet with an art rag/towel on it, then a layer of felt. once i pressed the water out of the pulp, i attempted to spread it out evenly onto the felt sheet. (this is where i realized that it may be really hard for this pulp to dry in such a way as to make a sheet of paper – it seemed really clumpy and separated.) i pressed on it (to squeeze water out) with another towel on top. N even helped with this using her small rolling pin.

i put it aside to dry overnight… and it actually took about a day and a half. once it was dry, i attempted to cut it into cute flower shapes; however, as i suspected, it was crumbly and very little of it was able to be cut. i tried and struggled a bit to get a few good pieces that look like flowers. you could also make hearts, butterflies, or whatever you wish… or whatever you can manage to cut. i get the sense that using cookie cutters when the pulp is almost dry would work better. or even using a stencil after to make a nice, clean shape. i think that next time we do it, we will try for a finer pulp so that it can be spread more thin on the felt, and hopefully stick together enough to make a sheet.

then we chose some colors to make a few cards, and glued the seed paper flowers onto the cards, using buttons for flower centers.

we will write a note inside with the planting instructions for the pastel zinnias in hopes that the recipients will watch these paper flowers bloom into real blossoms… sweet spring, easter, or mother’s day cards.


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oil & water marbling

you may recall that last summer N and i had so much fun marbling paper with shaving cream, and we got beauoootiful results! after recently hearing from a friend that her daughter marbled paper in preschool with oil and water, i decided we should give this method a try.

science: oil and water don't mix

i looked online to figure out how to go about this project, and found this little ditty. so we tried it their way, by mixing one color of paint with water and the other color with oil. however, they used tempera paints and we used liquid watercolors (as i believe my friend’s teacher had.) we got unsuccessful results at first using the instructions because, well, oil and water(colors) don’t mix. see? one of the colors so wasn’t happening.

so then we tried another way. we laid the paper on cookie sheets (the kind with edges) and drizzled oil onto the paper haphazardly. then we poured on pink liquid watercolors (diluted in water) and rolled it around. then some more oil. then blue liquid watercolors (diluted) and rolled the tray around. sometimes we used the eyedropper to drop blotches of undiluted color onto the paper for a vibrant effect, too.

and then we got marbling…

it was fun to see the effects on different colors of papers. the swirls weren’t as defined as the shaving cream method, but random and lovely nonetheless. we hung the sheets to drip dry in the garage overnight.

the next morning, N was pleased with her results…

as was i… the paper made for cute stationery for a little note to a friend.



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cherry blossom prints

it’s march and we have pink, white, and yellow blooms all over our neighborhood here – signs of spring!

tree in our front yard

one of my favorite spring blooms are cherry blossoms. i adore their soft pink petals. with spring in our hearts, we went to a friend’s house yesterday for a playdate. N and i brought along some simple art materials: paper, sharpies, and a pink stamp pad. because the kids were going to make fingerprints, i got the water-based, washable, kid-safe stamp pad, as opposed to the dye-based kind. i have to say that it’s not very washable anyway, and i’m disappointed that the pink my store had was more hot pink than the beautiful pale color of a cherry blossom. oh well, next time.

regardless, the girls went to town making lots of fingerprints on small rectangles of white paper.

we noticed they preferred to use just one pointer finger, so we encouraged them to use several fingers at a time to cluster the pink dots, much like the tree would have clusters of flowers. (they didn’t really care about that though.)

the more random the pink splotches, the more full and fluffy the trees turn out to look. after we had several little sheets of fingerprints, the kids were ready to play and dance, so we mommas sat down with our sharpies. we made branches connecting the little pink poufs on the page to create the cherry blossom trees.

must clarify that my tshirt was a happy matching accident - must have really had cherry blossoms on the brain!

after the playdate (and lunchtime and naptime) we gathered up some materials to glue the little tree pictures to cards, and embellish them with rhinestones, sequins, and glitter glue.

the finished cards would make sweet “happy spring!” cards or even nice mother’s day cards.

an alternative to using fingerprints would be to use a paintbrush and some (pale) pink watercolors, but i figured that when making these into cards for family, they always cherish little paw prints.

happy almost spring!



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many mini painted greetings

this activity was sort of a blog fusion of several other projects we’ve done with watercolors, tape, and cards… it’s nothing new, but hopefully inspirational in its organic cuteness.

we’ve got a lot to celebrate as winter goes out like a lion and spring is welcomed in like a tiny sheep… many birthdays, pregnancies, new babies, and celebrations amongst our friends and family. when those times hit, we go into full-on card-creation mode in my house. on this particular rainy day, i was feeling watercolory, so i put out some watecolors and heavy watercolor paper. i always tear my watercolor paper with a metal-edged wooden ruler instead of cutting it, so that it has those lovely frayed edges.

i divided the paper up into lots of tiny pieces. i taped them down to N’s art board, using artist’s tape around the borders to create white mats or frames later.

then N got busy painting little scenes and fun colorful abstracts, too…

after the paintings were dry, we chose colorful blank cards (love the boxes of blank cards at michaels for cheap) and fun background papers. we glued them down to make some professional-looking kid-made greetings.

momma made a bunch, too!

happy merry celebration time!!! now we just need a book of stamps!



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painted valentines

one year ago, N and i made a bunch of cool valentines to send to all of our friends and family. it was super easy and very cute. thought i’d share this idea with you in time to get yours in the mailbox… (and take a stroll through memory lane with these old photos.)

first (a very tiny!) N had fun painting in reds and purples and pinks all over several sheets of heavy card stock.


then i cut them into heart shapes while she napped (scissors were outta the question. she was just turning 2 then.)

making valentines with toddler

i glued them onto papers that would complement the paint in each one, and cut the backing into heart shapes, too. i wrote little messages on the back of each heart.

making valentines with toddler

we displayed them in our house (awww, our old house) for a few days before stuffing envelopes to send love into the mailboxes and hearts of our friends and family far and wide.

making valentines with toddler


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cookie cutter stamping

one of our favorite holiday cards this year was made by a dear friend and her little artist, and it inspired this project… painting/stamping with cookie cutters!

first we selected some cookie cutters (mostly stars, moons, and hearts… we were working with a few themes) and some construction paper.

we put a pool of paint onto a paper plate. then N just dipped the cookie cutters in the paint and N stamped away!

N stamped some hearts that i’m sure we’ll use for valentine’s day in some way.


we decided to use the stars and moons to wrap the friend’s birthday present, and it made really cute gift wrap!


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little photographer

N received her first digital camera from her aunt kim and uncle john for christmas this year. photography is one of my favorite art forms, and lately N has been following suit by miming a camera when she wants to take a picture of something. thus, her christmas gift.

N's vtech kidizoom camera

N's vtech kidizoom camera

while the resolution isn’t the greatest on these toddler-proof cameras, they make for amazing works of art! i love the abstract ethereal quality of some of N’s very first images, taken over the holidays.

i also love to see through her lens… the choices she makes as to what is important to her in her environment.

the black bear rug at my mom's house fascinates her

the black bear rug at my mom's house fascinates her

her first game - candyland

her first game - candyland

no doubt, we’ll be incorporating N’s photography into many of our future creative endeavors. say cheese!

toddler camera



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you’re invited

while we’re on the topic of personalized cards, i thought i’d share another little idea along those lines. N will be turning three at the end of this month, and together we made the invitations to her birthday party. N is really into fairies, so she wanted a pixie party where all of her friends would wear wings, so of course the invites had to follow suit.

i save all of N’s completed coloring books because they’re full of little gems. she has a fairy coloring book that she completed in the fall, so we pulled this one out and selected a few fairies from it – one for each of her friends. we cut them out and glued them to blank cards with a glue stick.

fairy invitations

i typed up the party details and glued them to the inside. (photo retouched to remove our personal info, of course.)

a super simple idea… but just a reminder that you can repurpose those coloring book pictures into invitations, greeting cards, stationery, wrapping paper, and all sorts of sweet artsy goodies of any theme!


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