• Art Materials,  Materials & Techniques

    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…

  • 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…

  • Materials & Techniques

    Decorative Paste Papers & Cards

    I came across this technique over at Art for Small Hands where there is a detailed tutorial for undertaking this as a classroom activity.  It’s a traditional technique, which, like marbling, was often used in the 18th and 19th centuries for decorating the endpapers of books.  As an activity it’s cheap, easy and a lot of fun, but (be warned) it is potentially very messy!  It’s also something that is suitable for all ages, with even the youngest of children able to get ‘hands on’. The paste is prepared in advance using rice and wheat flours, water and small drops of glycerine and washing-up liquid.  The mixture is cooked and…

  • 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…

  • Nature,  Outdoor,  Techniques

    Experimenting with Sun Prints

    For this post I decided to have a go at Sun Prints with the kids.  The proper name for these is Cyanotypes, and it is a technique first developed in the early days of photography by Sir John Herschel in 1842.  In fact they are the original ‘blue-prints’. They’re really simple to do if you buy the prepared paper, and the effect is almost ‘magical’ for children.  They are particularly effective using leaves, flowers, plants, feathers etc., but you can use cut out shapes, or any flat household objects which will leave a distinctive silhouette.  I love the resulting ethereal, almost ghostly quality that you get with them.  It’s a…

  • Art Materials

    Exploring Wax Crayons

    It’s been a little while since I started this series off with Canvas, and I thought it was about time I continued it.  This time I’m going to look at that staple tool of any self-respecting budding artist – wax crayons.  Traditional, cheap, practical, easy to use, these are so ubiquitous that their creative potential is perhaps sometimes a little overlooked.  Personally I have found that all wax crayons are not alike.  They differ amazingly – you can get short fat stubby, chunky crayons, or long, thin ones.  Some are hard and plasticky, others (perhaps unsurprisingly) soft and waxy.  Some will produce a dense, bright colour, others a pale washed-out…

  • Art Materials

    Art Materials – Kicking off with Canvas

    I am introducing a new regular informative series to Artful Adventures on the subject of Art materials – I’m not sure yet quite how regular this will be, but there are lots of art materials out there, with new ones being introduced all the time so there’s plenty of material to go at (no pun intended).  I thought I’d kick off with canvas, the most traditional ground for painting, which has undergone such a surge of popularity in recent years. Canvas, when used as a support for painting, is usually stretched tightly across a wooden stretcher.  Traditionally, these canvases were then framed, though the fashion today is usually to leave…