• Projects

    Confetti Shakers

    I have to confess, that I wasn’t sure what to call these – they’re not quite sun-catchers, and not really snow-globes, so I decided on Confetti Shakers in the absence of any other ideas. These were born when I accidentally discovered, in one of those ‘Eureka’ moments that you have now and then, that the lid of a Pringles tube, fits exactly onto the lid of a tub of cottage cheese from Tesco (I think other products have the same lids too, mine just happened to be cottage cheese!) My mind of course ran riot with potential ideas of how I could use this discovery (you can see I lead…

  • Features

    Not just for Kids!

    I fell into a love of children’s art accidentally. I’m not an early years educator or an art teacher, and although I’ve always loved creating artwork, it was not until I had kids of my own, that I developed an interest in the artwork children produced. The value of artwork as an activity for children – especially small children, has long been recognised, and while many parents will be happy enough to let school or nursery or kindergarten get on with providing those experiences, there are lots of others who want to do more, even though they may not have been that creative themselves in the past in any conventional…

  • Autumn,  Projects

    Halloween Scanner Art

    As the days grow shorter and the weather gets colder, the shops start to fill up with Halloween related products. In the UK this is a relatively recent phenomenon – when I was a child, although we were aware of Halloween, it wasn’t much ‘celebrated’ as such – there were few parties, and no trick or treating to speak of. All the festivities were reserved more for Bonfire Night on the 5th November. For my Scottish husband though, trick and treating was very much a part of his childhood, so maybe it’s more of a Celtic thing in terms of origin? Who knows. Anyway, the range of products now available…

  • Projects

    Tie-Dyed T-Shirts

    It seems incredible to me that in all my years of exploring arts and crafts, I’ve never actually had a go at tie-dyeing before, but because it looked so easy, I thought it was about time we tried it.  Although this activity may seem a little more craftful than artful, after doing so much playing with watercolour, it felt pretty similar, only this time we were using the T-shirts as our canvas! We tried 2 different techniques – the first to create a random effect, and the second to create horizontal white lines. As for the dye itself, we used Dylon’s range of hand-dyes and followed the instructions for making…

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    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,  Techniques

    Dip-dyed Landscapes

    I love water-colour, I love landscape art, and I also love the dip-dyed effect. However in spite of my love of watercolour, I’ve never really mastered it as a technique – as a medium it can be difficult to control – and perhaps that’s where my problem has always been, I was trying to control it too much. I recently treated myself to some new water-colour inks, and decided to just play with them for a while purely for the sheer pleasure of it. Me and the boys did a lot of this while my computer was broken, and you’ll probably see lots more of it on here in the…

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    Projects

    Collaged Door Sign

    This week we found yet another use for all those old comics and magazines we seem to accumulate – creating a collaged door sign. I’m not going to insult anyone’s intelligence by creating a ‘tutorial’ for this as I think it’s pretty self-explanatory really. The base was a piece of foam-board covered with coloured paper. The letters were cut out and glued a little haphazardly (I think it looks better that way) onto a piece of plain white paper whose edges I tore for decorative effect.  Overall I’m quite pleased with the finished result….     Alternatively you could glue the letters onto pieces of adhesive magnetic sheet to create…

  • 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…

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    Reviews

    Happy Accidents

    ‘By looking attentively at old and smeared walls, or stones and veined marble of various colours, you may fancy that you see in them several compositions, landscapes, battles, figures in quick motion, strange countenances, and dresses, with an infinity of other objects.  By these confused lines, the inventive genius is excited to new exertions’. These are the words of Leonardo da Vinci – from his ‘Treatise on Painting’. As this quote proves, the use of the accidental or incidental to spark imagination is nothing new and has been used by artists for centuries. If it was good enough to help Leonardo spark his creativity, then it’s good enough for me.…

  • 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,…

  • Features

    Valuing Art Education

    Throughout my life and my career, I have found that art is often considered a luxury item – something that’s nice to have, and fun to do, but not to be taken seriously, and certainly not to be regarded as important or challenging in any way.  When it comes to the curriculum at school it is generally not considered to be as important as other subjects, and even while studying art at university I found that students of other subjects often considered it an ‘easy’ degree, one that was less rigorous than scientific subjects, and that a day spent in the studio was a day spent  ‘dossing’ about. Yet art…