• Autumn,  Nature

    Doodled & Decorative Autumn Leaves

    It’s been a while since I last used autumn leaves for a project – a few years ago I did a project here in which I laminated them to use as suncatchers, and since then I have seen people using leaves for drawing on, and always thought they looked beautiful. However I was never sure what you would do with them afterwards – it seemed the most ephemeral of activities. So this project basically combines the 2 ideas to create something a little more lasting: greetings cards and Christmas tree ornaments. I used gold marker pen to draw the designs onto the leaves – as you can see, the effect…

  • Nature,  Outdoor,  Summer

    Creating Fairy Homes at the Beach

    With the Autumn fast approaching, we’ve been busy making the most of the last of the warm summer weather to spend time getting creative on the beach again. It’s always fun to make sandcastles, but this time we decided to create miniature fairy-sized homes instead, using only the materials we could find available to hand. Instead of using full sized buckets to make the buildings, we used plastic cups and bottle lids (I found the clear ones were the best as you could see the sand through the sides).   First we created a miniature village or castle with conical shell roofs…   Then we created a miniature scene with…

  • Nature,  Outdoor

    Arty Activities at the Beach

    The seaside is a wonderful place for creative activities of all kinds, whether it be games, imaginary play or art. My own favourite activity is scavenging – I find it a physical impossibility to go for a walk along the beach without coming home with a collection of stones, shells, sea-glass and driftwood. All beautiful and inspiring materials that I can’t resist, and always think I will create something with. The collection grows ever larger now we live close by and the opportunities for collecting are greater! I first wrote about Beach Art a few years ago, including various ideas for artistic activities, but my younger son has now developed his own…

  • Nature,  Projects

    Botanical Papers – Part 2

    So, you’ve scanned in your plant material and created your botanical wrapping paper and tags, but what else can you do with those scanned images? If you have access to some digital photography software it’s really easy to use those images to create some special writing paper. To create the wrapping paper below, I cropped a detail from the original scanned image, and enlarged it to A4 size (you could just as easily make it A5 if you wanted smaller paper). I then made the image semi-transparent by reducing the opacity to about 40% of the original (the actual level varied for each image).     To accompany the writing…

  • Nature,  Projects

    Botanical Papers – Part 1

    As regular readers of Artful Adventures will know, one of my favourite creative tools is our humble office scanner. I love the way it is simple to use, and creates images which are somehow both 3-dimensional and 2-dimensional at the same time. This project is one of those which started off with us all experimenting with the effects we could get using natural materials on the scanner, as indeed we have in the past, but ended up with me continuing alone, to push some of those ideas further. This is a familiar pattern for me, and I’ve written before how I find the sheer fun and experimentation of ‘children’s’ art…

  • Nature,  Projects

    Forest Critters

    We were inspired to create some artwork which celebrates the forest.  I love trees, and miss them hugely when they’re not around. (I once lived somewhere with very few!) I am now lucky to live somewhere with lots of mature trees around, and find them a constant inspiration as they change through the seasons.  And of course I also like to use the materials they provide to create artwork with, so for this post we decided to continue with the scanner art we did last week, but this time using leaves and twigs as our starting point. Of course much of this artwork could just as easily have been created as…

  • Nature,  Outdoor,  Projects,  Seasonal

    Land Art in the Spring

    With all the fine weather we’ve been having recently, I’ve been keen to spend more time outdoors with the kids, so following on from my earlier seasonal posts on a natural theme, I thought I would complete the series by taking a look at some land art for the Spring.  This is the time when there are lots of flowers and plants available to inject some colour into your artwork and the weather is also better, so spending some time outdoors creating artwork is much more tempting. As with my other land art posts, this is a cheap activity which requires absolutely no materials whatsoever other than what is available…

  • Features,  Nature,  Outdoor

    Treasures of the Sea

    We’ve just got back from having a few days by the seaside.  We were staying with a friend who has recently moved to live by the sea, and when I say by the sea, I mean within 100 yards of the beach, so it was a fantastic opportunity to spend lots of time there.     I especially liked being able to bob back and forth as the whim took us. The wide expanse of beach was largely sandy, with patches of pebbles, and occasional shells, driftwood, seaglass and other less identifiable objects.  While the kids played in the sand, I ended up spending a lot of time with my…

  • Nature,  Outdoor,  Projects,  Seasonal,  Winter

    Ice Lanterns

    For the last of my ‘icy’ posts I thought I would include the ice lantern which we made over Christmas.  Ice lanterns and ice bowls have been around for quite a while, and it seems the lanterns are even ‘traditional’ in some parts of the world.  A few years ago I even had a commercially made, star-shaped mould for making one, until it unaccountably got distorted so that it was impossible to remove the ice, and had to be binned. Nowadays with freezers, you can make these at any season of the year, using whatever natural materials are available: flowers in  the spring and summer, colourful autumn leaves, or in…

  • Features,  Nature,  Outdoor,  Seasonal,  Winter

    Icy Artwork

    Following on from my summer and autumn posts about Land Art, it seemed appropriate to continue with a post about Winter Land Art. This is the time to create those snow sculptures – to go beyond the usual snowmen, and create snow castles and palaces, snow animals, or even abstract forms. Or how about some ice installations. Those beautiful cold clear winter days when the sun glitters on the frost, and turns ice into diamonds, and red berries stand out like drops of blood, are particularly inspirational, and if you and the kids are wrapped up warm they provide the perfect opportunity to get out there and be creative. I…

  • Autumn,  Nature,  Outdoor,  Projects,  Seasonal

    Last of the Autumn Leaves

    They say the Autumn colours have been better than ever this year.  I live in an area with lots of tree-lined avenues, and the sight of the gorgeous colours, particularly when the sun is on them, has found me collecting stacks of leaves with the kids.  Having got them all home I then had to decide what we were going to do with them all, so here’s what we did with some of them.  You do need a laminator for these activities I’m afraid, but if you don’t have one, they’re not expensive and come in very useful for all kinds of things – not to mention art and craft…

  • Materials & Techniques,  Nature

    Experimenting with Natural Paints

    This time of year is good for experimenting with natural paints and pigments.  It’s easy to forget that in the not too distant past, all dyes and paints had to be obtained from the natural world, directly from animals, minerals and plants. The resulting colours may not always have been as bright as those obtained from chemical sources, but they have a beauty and subtlety of their own.  As a teenager I got heavily into experimenting with natural dyes – I think I was not only an unusual teenager in this respect, but had remarkably tolerant parents who were willing to put up with the foul smells from pots of…