• 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…

  • botanical-writing-paper
    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

    This project uses a humble office scanner and foraged natural materials to produce simple decorative papers with a wide range of uses. As regular readers of Artful Adventures will know, one of my favourite creative tools is our home 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…

  • leaf-frottage
    Materials & Techniques,  Nature,  Techniques

    Fun with Frottage

    One of the things I most love about art is its sensual qualities. Art can be many things, but for me it’s the visual and tactile elements of art that I especially enjoy, and which I think are also particularly fun for children to explore. I’ve always had a particular attraction to texture especially – as an art student, I spent a lot of time seeking out ruined dilapidated buildings to paint because of the wonderful subtle colour combinations and textures you found there – not to mention their evocative atmosphere. A great way to achieve texture on paint is by using the technique of ‘frottage’. This is basically the…

  • Freebies,  Nature,  Projects

    Flower Fairy Fashions

    Warning – if you don’t like fairies, then look away now, as this is an unashamedly girly post. As the mother of boys, I don’t often have the opportunity to indulge my well hidden girly side, but today I’m going to do it. I confess that I’ve always had a soft spot for flower fairies, though it’s not something I indulge very often. It probably started with the set of Flower Fairy books I had as a child, and still have somewhere, much battered, and full of my childish scribbling. The illustrations are beautifully delicate, and so sharply observed. Apparently the author, Cicely Mary Barker’s  sister owned and ran a small…

  • watercolour-sprays-with-leaf-masks
    Art Materials,  Materials & Techniques,  Nature

    Watercolour Spray Inks

    Ever since I first heard about watercolour sprays, I’ve been wanting to try them out. The ones you can buy ready-made are I discovered quite expensive, so I decided to create my own using the new powdered water-colour inks I’ve recently treated myself to. That way I can control the dilution I want, mix the colours, and be much more extravagant with them as they are so economical to use. So, I mixed up my inks, and bought some travel sized spray bottles to put them in. There are quite a lot of  posts around the internet at the moment for using spray paints with kids, more particularly using trigger…

  • Art Materials,  Materials & Techniques,  Nature

    The Art of Mud

    Mud is a versatile and under-rated material, and lets face it there’s a lot of it about.  It has (and still is in some parts of the world) been used for a huge variety of purposes by mankind for millennia, for building, medicinal and beauty purposes, and making pots to name just a few, and of course as a material for making art.   Mud art has lots of advantages, it’s cheap, it gets you outdoors, and it also has an ancient lineage. Some of the very earliest artworks were created with mud – using it not only as a sculptural medium, but also as a pigment, because the colour…

  • 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…

  • spring-picture
    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…

  • 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…