• ice-tryptych

    Nature Art Project Round-Up

    Working with art and nature is a popular combination, and one that I find I return to again and again, yet it occurred to me that I have never brought these posts together into a single location which can be used as a resource for parents and educators. The activities and resources listed below offer a wide variety of cross curricular activities, suitable for a range of ages and circumstances, from outdoor education to activities which combine art with science. I have also listed a few inspirational books on this theme which may be helpful too. Projects Beautiful Nature Art Books to Inspire & Inform The books listed below are…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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-Leaf-Suncatcher
    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…

  • 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…

  • Nature,  Outdoor,  Projects,  Summer

    Beach Art

    There’s no reason for kids to stop being creative if you go away on holiday.  Even if you stay at home the (hopefully) long sunny summer days, and extra time that the summer holidays bring, provide the perfect opportunity to experiment with a bit of land art. Land art is the name given to the practice of creating artwork outdoors using only the natural materials you find around you. For me, land art not only comes from the landscape but also forms part of it, so is never intrusive.  At its best, it is both influenced by and gives something back to its environment in a never-ending virtuous circle.  It…