Saturday, October 31, 2009

Birthday cake

Birthday cake, made by Kindergartners

You need:
  1. salt dough
  2. brushes
  3. paint
  4. birthday candles


  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 1 cup of table salt
  • 1 cup of water
Mix table salt and flour in a large bowl. Gradually add 1/2 cup of water and mix to desired consistency. Knead the dough on a flat surface, adding a few more drops of water as needed (but not making it too moist). If possible it is best to let the dough stand for approximately twenty minutes before beginning a project. Unused dough can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container or cling film, for up to a week.

Instead of allowing the dough shapes to air dry, you can bake them in the oven at 100 degrees C / 200 degrees F until hard. Baking times varies depending on oven and dough thickness. Make sure the dough is completely baked. You can cover the dough with aluminum foil if it starts to darken before completely baked through.

What does a birthday cake look like? What form do we get, when we cut a round cake into pieces? Each child makes his own piece of a birthday cake out of salt dough. Make a little hole on top of the cake before baking; this is for the candle.
After baking the top and backside of the cake pieces have to be painted. Put the candles in the pieces and lay all pieces together on a pie shell.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Leaves pattern

You need:

  1. white drawing sheet 21 by 25 cm
  2. markers
Draw lines around your sheet a half centimeter from the edges. Divide the remaining square in 16 compartments from 5 cm by 6 cm. Draw a leave on construction paper and cut it out. Trace the leave in the 16 rectangles. Draw patterns in the leaves: take a pair for each pattern. Colour them alternately with two colours. Outline all leaves with a black fineliner. Draw a square in two colours around your work.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Neon advertising

You need:
  1. Black paper
  2. White pencil
  3. Coloured chalk

Neon light tubes form coloured lines with which a text can be written or a picture drawn, including various decorations. Neon is often used in advertising and commercial signage. Show some neon advertising or ask children if they know some. Discuss the features of neon light and the restrictions you have to deal with when you use neon lights.

Draw a picture onto a dark paper using a white pencil. Do it lightly and with not too much detail. Keep it simple, big and bold. Pick a colour and carefully go over all of the lines in your picture. Make nice thick lines that follow the original. Then carefully go over all the lines with your finger. Just follow the direction of the lines rubbing backwards and forwards. Try not to smudge the lines outwards!
Now to turn the neon lights on: take a white chalk and go over all the lines again with the sharp edge. Use the sharp edge just to create a thin bright white line down the middle of the existing lines. You could even leave little gaps between the white lines to make them look even more like an electric neon striplight. Lettering looks good too, especially if you do it in a different colour. When you've finished, you'll have a brilliant electric neon drawing.

A lesson from Art Attack.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In the style of René Magritte

Made by Nikki, 11 years old

Rene Magritte is born in 1898 in Belgium. When Magritte is 13 years old, his mother commits suicide. She jumps in the river Samber and is found with her dress covering her face. This image has been suggested as the source of several paintings from Magritte: people hiding their faces with several objects.

In 1924 Magritte became friends with members of a surrealism group in Brussels: André Breton, Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí. These artists influence Magritte's work. In the end Magritte became famous with surrealistic paintings.

Magritte gave his paintings a realistic effect of surrealism. He painted simple objects, like a shoe, an apple, a pipe or a tree. Magritte took these things out of their ordinary environment and placed them in a special surrounding.

One of Magritte's most famous works is "La Trahison des Images" (The Treachery of Images). This is a very realistic painting from a pipe, with the text: Ceci n'est pas une pipe (This is not a pipe). The painting is not a pipe, but rather an image of a pipe. As Magritte himself commented: "The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it's just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture 'This is a pipe,' I'd have been lying!"

By putting us constantly on the wrong track, Magritte forces us to think about art. Magritte thought it the task of an artist to place reality in a different context.

Nikki working on her version of Magritte

You need:

  1. drawing sheets A3 size
  2. brushes and water containers
  3. old newspapers
  4. tempera paint
  5. (black markers)
Show Magritte's work and talk about surrealism. Ask children to tell what they see in those surrealistic paintings. Talk about realism and show realistic paintings. What are the differences between these two styles? How do you recognize surrealistic art?
Show the painting The son of man and tell about the covered faces we'll see in a lot of Magritte's paintings.

Made by Kiki, 11 years old

Children sketch a portrait, just like Magritte did. It doesn't have to be someone special, just a person. Instead of an apple, they choose a present-day object to cover the face. This object has to be about as large as a face, so a piano or a coin can't be used! Options: an Ipod, cell phone, candy or something. When sketching is finished, the drawing has to be painted. When necessary, students can outline the covering object with a fineliner.

Made by Jetse, 12 years old

Happy Halloween

You need:
  1. orange construction paper
  2. black construction paper
  3. black fineliner
  4. black marker
  5. correction fluid
  6. scissors and glue
Children are drawing a Halloween party at night. They work with black marker on orange paper.
Brainstorm what things make you think of Halloween: spiders, skeletons, witchas, bats, black cats, dark, cemetary, pumpkins etc. Vandaag worden alleen contouren getekend. Wat zijn contouren en hoe teken je die?
Every child gets an orange construction paper. Draw the width of a ruler on the top and bottom of the sheet. Draw a halloween party, using markers in various sizes. Use correction fluid to make eyes. Glue a strip of black construction paper on top and bottom of your drawing.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Group art

You need:

  1. MDF board one square meter
  2. tempera paint
  3. brushes
  4. black marker
This is a group work for about 24 kids. Kids work in turn on it.
Buy a MDF board from one square meter. Choose another size if your class has more students, or if you want to make a rectangle instead of a square. Divide it in 25 squares from 20 centimeters (or less or more rectangles if you want to).
Every student gets one square to fill with simple forms. Colour them in blue and green (or other colours if these fit better in your classroom). You may have overlaps. Outline all figures with a black marker. Write the names of all artists in an empty square.

Thanks to Willem Wienholts

elisabeth dunker : artists who blog

Elisabeth's blog:
Elisabeth's websites:,
Elisabeth's shops:,

Why did you decide to start a blog?

I liked the thought of building a mini universe on a webpage. From the beginning I was so thrilled just to see a photo I'd taken appearing on the web by pushing a 'publish button.' I was also intrested in knowing if what I made could be interesting for somebody else.

How did you come up with the name of your blog?

I like the poetry in awkward word order sentences. I had a Swedish sentence that had followed me for a while "lilla mina barn." When I started the blog, I wanted to use that sentence but when translated (I wanted the blog to be in English) it didn't sound so good: "little my kids." "Fine little day" sounded better to my ears.

How has blogging affected your work as an artist/designer?

Very much I think. Before I started blogging, I was a book and magazine addict, and I had subscriptions to at least five magazines going on at the same time continuously. But the amount of pictures I consumed then was nothing compared to what I consumed after I discoverd the big treasure of pictures on the Internet. When I started blogging, I also started to produce a larger amount of pictures/photos myself. I believe that this consuming and making have had a large affect on my 'seeing.' In what way exactly it shows in my work is not easy to say, but I'm sure that it has had a big effect.

What are your favorite artist/designer blogs? Why?

Favorite artist today: Claire Loder
She's incredible, I love her playfulness and aesthetics as a whole. Not only her ceramics but her web identity too.

Favorite blog today:
They have such good taste!

Do you have any advice for artists/designers who are starting a blog?

For me the main focus is to have fun. It sounds like a cliché, it is a cliché, but if you have fun it will be good anyhow.

What has been the most positive and inspirational aspect of having a blog for you?

The communication with other people + the confirmation and the feedback. I really appreciate that people take the time to comment.

What do you find the most difficult/most rewarding part of having a creative profession?

The worst part is that you work too much, and if you are a freelancer like me, you never know if you will have enough money for the next month. The best part is that you work doing something that you really love.

Other than your blog, what has been the most effective way for you to promote your art/design?

Oh, I can't think of anything else I've done to promote myself... But I have a website, and that is promoting too of course. I've also, or my work has been in magazines and books, but that is nothing. I've been active in other ways that said "yes" and mailed my files.

How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?

I don't. I'm often unbalanced. Sleep too little, eat unhealthy in periods, don't work out as much as I should. I can be quite manic and work way too much. My balance is depending on how good my economy is and how much time I have to do nothing, as for anyone else I guess.

What would you like to accomplish by the end of 2009?

Better economy. That sounds boring but it's true. But also, I would like to make something for me, using my own name again. The last time was was quite a while ago. What, I'm not sure of yet.

Thanks Elisabeth for sharing your thoughts with us! (Doesn't she have a lovely studio!)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Puzzle trees

You need:

  1. black paper A4 size

  2. black paper 23 by 32 cm

  3. oilpastel crayons

  4. scissors and glue

Students draw with a pencil on a black A4 sheet a simple mountain landscape under the moon. Colour it with oilpastel crayons and outline the mountains and moon with black crayon. Show the students that the colour of the air around the moon is lighter. Use white and yellow to brighten up blue colours, or black to darken them. Make sure your colours in the air will blend.

When colouring is finished, turn around the sheet. Draw a tree on the back, with five branches: one tho the right, one to the right edge of the paper, one to the middle above, one to the left edge of the sheet and one to the left. Branches have to be small at the end and wide near to the trunk. You've got six puzzlepieces now. Cut them out and place them on the larger black sheet. Use the cut tree to check if your pieces lie well. Pate all parts on the black sheet, exept the tree of course. Maybe you can do something fun with it?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Spider web

You need:

  1. white drawing paper from 20 by 20 cm
  2. oil pastel crayons
  3. black paint
  4. brushes
  5. toothpicks
  6. coloured construction paper
In fall you will find beautiful spider webs in the garden and around the school. Especially when the morning dew is glistening on the wires in the sun, a web seems a work of art. In this lesson the students scretch a spider web with a spider, after they first have looked carefully at those webs. How is the web built? How many basic threads do you see? What does a spider look like? How many legs has he? How do they look?

Colour a drawing sheet with oilpastels. Choose autumn colours, like orange, yellow and brown. Paint the entire sheet black and let it dry.

Scratch a spider web with a toothpick. Of course you may add the spider! Paste the artwork on a coloured background.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Haunted houses

You need:
  1. white drawing paper A4 size
  2. tissue paper in two colours
  3. brush and water
  4. black markers
  5. white chalk pastel
  6. hairspray
  7. black construction paper for background
Haunted houses…. there are many exciting stories in the internet to start this lesson!
Discuss the characteristics of a haunted house: partly collapsed, on a quiet place, spider webs, torture tools, graves, bats, black cats, ghosts etc.

The background is made with tissuepaper. Kids have to wet their white drawing sheet with a brush and water. Strips of torn tissue paper are put on this - the torn edges must be on the paper, not the straight ones. Make sure the tissue papers overlap a little, so no white paper is to be seen. When ready, wet the whole sheet again. Take a look under one of the tissue strips to see if the bleeding is ready. If so, take of the strips. Then wait till the sheet is completely dry.

With a pencil, kids sketch a haunted house on their coloured sheet. They have to thing about the fact that everything has to be coloured in black, so they have to draw just contours. When sketching is ready, the drawing has to be traced with a black fineliner. Then everything has to be coloured with a black marker. Ghosts are drawn in and around the house using white chalk pastel. Fix the ghosts with hairspray and glue the artwork on a black background.

Made by students of 10-11 years old

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wacky witches

You need:
  1. charcoal
  2. chalk pastels
  3. white drawing paper A4 size
  4. black construction paper for background
  5. hairspray

How do you recognize a withc? What animals or things do you associate with a witch? What does an angry witch look like? Think of characteristis like mouth, eyes and eyebrows.

Tell children to practice first in drawing with charcoal. Explain how differences in colours have to be made. Tell them to use an eraser to erase the charcoal lines, and a tissue or your fingers to sweep out the colour.

The instruction is: draw an angry witch with charcoal and use a cold colour for the face. Draw the contours of the face first with charcoal. Then colour the face with chalk pastel. After this mouth, eyes and nose can be drawn with charcoal. Finish the drawing with charcoal. Make sure you add some typical witchy things like a cat, a bat, a spiderweb etc.

Friday, October 16, 2009

lisa leonard : artists who blog

Lisa's blog:
Lisa's website:

Why did you decide to start a blog?

Years ago, I followed a couple blogs and felt so connected with the writers. And inspired by their photos and creativity. Eventually, I began my own blog as a creative outlet and a way to connect with family and friends. I hadn’t intended to use the blog for my business but it’s become not only a daily journal, but also a connection point for my customers.

How did you come up with the name of your blog?

My oldest son was born with a disability and at the time I sincerely thought my life would hold no more joy. Over time, I began to see that it’s the little things that give us joy every day. So I named my blog, “It’s the Little Things’.

How has blogging affected your work as an artist/designer?

Blogging has definitely helped to stretch and grow me as a designer. I appreciate the feedback and input I get from my readers—they are so encouraging!

Name a few of your favorite artist/designer blogs:

Tara Whitney
Smile and Wave
Sarah Markley

Do you have any advice for artists/designers who are starting a blog?

*Blog consistently until you find your voice.
*Be genuine and share a bit of yourself.
*Always include pictures-the more the better.
*Network with other bloggers.
*Be unique-no one likes a copycat!

What has been the most positive and inspirational aspect of having a blog for you?

Definitely the community of blogger-what an amazing group of women I have met.

What do you find the most difficult/most rewarding part of having a creative profession?

I really struggle with setting boundaries between work and family. Sometimes I feel like my computer is calling me—but I need to focus on my boys and get housework done. When you work for yourself, especially if you are in a creative business, there is always more to be done.

Other than your blog, what has been the most effective way for you to promote your art/design?

I love networking with other bloggers. They are the number one thing that has grown my business from a hobby to a career.

How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?

Yeah, this is really difficult and something I struggle with. Often, we just have to get out of the house and go to the beach and play. I love to snuggle with my boys, play games, create with them, but the house and laundry really suffer. And I don’t cook much.

What would you like to accomplish by the end of 2009?

This is a great question. Some of what needs to be accomplished is very ‘behind the scenes’ with paperwork and website function. Not my favorite stuff, but so important. I’d love to get featured in a couple holiday gift guides this winter—so we are working on that now!

Thanks for sharing with us Lisa!

Thank you, Stephanie! It is such an honor to be included among these amazing artists!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Take a walk with a line

You need:

  1. white drawing sheet A4 size
  2. markers
  3. fineliner

Start with a thick black marker and draw an interesting line horizontally across the paper. Repeat your line with rainbow colors to show emphasis and repetition. Fill your paper up with interesting line patterns in the background. Use a black fineliner. When ready it seems the coloured line looks like jumping off the page.

This could also be a nice group project. Children have to discuss with eachother about the places their lines will come together and continuing the patterns.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Autumn prints

You need:

  1. pieces of linoleum from 15 x 15 cm

  2. lino knife

  3. mat

  4. block printing ink

  5. flat piece of plexiglass

  6. linoleum roller

  7. construction paper

  8. lino press

After searching autumn leaves and taking them in the classroom, we take a careful look. What can you tell about the form, the veins, the colour etc.

Draw a leave or mushroom on your linoleum. Remember what you cut away will not print. It is not important to carve deeply into linoleum, just enough so that carved area is lower than the linoleum surface. Always carve away from your hand, always keep your hand behind the back edge of linoleum. When you want to check your printing block, place a piece of paper on the linoleum and rub over the paper with a crayon. This will create a “rubbing” and will give you an idea of what the final print will look like. Squeeze out “toothpaste” amount of ink on plexiglass. Roll ink out. Ink is ready when lines appear. Ink should look wet. If ink starts to look velvety/dry, sprinkle a little bit of water over the ink and add more ink. Put your linoleum block on a newspaper. Roll ink onto linoleum printing block, working quickly to cover all areas. Lay the block on a sheet in the printing press and press. Take away the block and your print is ready.

To make a group work, all kids have to cut out their prints. Ask some students to make a collage of all autumn leaves.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Polka dots from Staphorst, Holland

Table cloth, group work

Staphorst is a a town in the eastern Netherlands. The town is famous for about 600 women who are still wearing traditional dress. Until now, utensils and cloths are designed with characteristic 'Staphorster Stipwerk', translated: Staphorst polka dots.
Staphorster stipwerk is made by nails stuck in corks and then tipped in paint. The stipwerk is mostly done on a dark surface.


  1. black fabric
  2. textile paint
  3. nails in different sizes
Show some examples of Staphorster Stipwerk (Google image searcher). Discuss what you see: colour use, size of the dots, motives, patterns etc. Let children practice first in making patterns. Use a scratch paper and colour pencils for this. If they understand the principle of making flowers out of polka dots, they can start stamping with the nails.

This lesson can be done individually, but making a group table cloth is maybe much more fun!
And: in stead of stamping on cotton, it is also possible to stamp on wooden utensils, like a small chipboard box or a wooden plate. Before stamping, the box has to be painted black of course. And, don't use textile paint but use tempera. Lacquer with vernish for shiny result.

Part of the table cloth