• 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…

  • Projects

    Scanner Art

    Some of us may have fond memories of photocopying parts of our anatomy in the office in days gone by (do people still do that?), but the fun and games don’t end there, as the humble domestic scanner is an important piece of art equipment these days. You’ll often see scanned textures used in children’s book illustrations to give added texture and depth and create a ‘collage’ effect – in fact if you have any suitable books which use the technique,  playing ‘spot the scanned in texture’  is a game that you can play alongside this activity) but even without the additional digital manipulation often involved in mixed media illustrations,…

  • Projects

    Creating Splat Monsters

    This is a really simple, yet fun activity which is a great way for kids to exercise their imagination and can result in some fabulous artwork. There are no doubt numerous different ways in which you might create your monsters, but I chose to create my ‘splat monsters’ by dribbling several different colours of tempera paint onto paper. You can also tilt the paper about if you wish to move the paint and give yourself more ‘control’, but this isn’t really necessary. The ‘splat’ is then created by placing another piece of paper over the paint and pressing down – the amount of pressure you use, and how you move the…

  • Projects

    Doodle Decorated Mugs

    These doodle decorated mugs were created using ceramic pens and plain white ceramic mugs – personally I find the pens are simpler to use than brushes. I came up with the idea while browsing in my local craft shop.  I was in the ceramic painting section, and a sample mug had been placed by the ceramic pens so that customers could try them out.  And try them out they had – the mug was covered in multi-coloured doodles, rather like a piece of graffiti, and I thought actually looked rather good.  I liked the idea of a collaborative project which had developed ‘organically’ and I thought it was an idea…

  • 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…

  • Features,  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…

  • Art Materials,  Projects

    DIY Bath Crayons

    I came across a tutorial for making home-made bath crayons the other day, and was inspired by the photograph accompanying it to try my own.  In the end I used the post more for inspiration rather than anything else, because my bath crayons looked absolutely nothing like the beautiful translucent ones shown in the photograph there – all I can say is that I have my suspicions that those may not have been created with normal soap flakes using the very simple method described.  Still, after a certain amount of trial and error based on the instructions given, I did manage to produce some workable bath crayons.  I should point out…

  • Projects

    Children’s Art Jotters

    I said I’d look at some ideas for home-made gifts for grandmothers over my next couple of posts, so this, somewhat later than anticipated, is my first contribution – though I think the second one may have to wait now until after Mother’s Day! For me, often the most successful gifts are those which are both useful and which also have an added dimension – such as being beautiful or having meaning.  This gift has the potential to have all 3, as well as being yet another way of using children’s artwork.  The jotters allow you to either use some existing artwork, or alternatively create some specially. For the interior…

  • Projects,  Seasonal

    Simple Valentine Cards

    Messing around with paint the other day (as you do) I ‘accidentally’ discovered I could print quite effective hearts with my fingers, and with Valentine’s day coming up I thought it might be an easy and very personal way of making a joint Valentines card together with the kids. All you do is use the top third of your finger to create each side of the heart, laying it on the paper diagonally, first one way and then overlapping diagonally the other way. Make sure that you press the whole of your fingertip down, not just the top, or you won’t get the bottom of the heart, and of course…

  • 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…