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Fun Art Professor

Inspiring & Nurturing Creativity in Young Chidren

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Posted on January 16, 2018 at 5:58 PM Comments comments (7701)

“Loren, your art is beautiful. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t be an artist.”

- Loren Long's mother

Loren had an eye exam after having trouble seeing the chalkboard at school.

It was then, at age 14, that he was diagnosed as being color blind.

The optometrist said to Loren's mom that it was no big deal unless he wanted to be an electrician or a dermatologist or an artist.

The problem was...Loren's dream WAS to be an artist.

Loren did not give up on his dream because of his mother's encouraging and immediate response.

And now, Loren Long is a best-selling children’s book illustrator.

I had the pleasure of seeing him, along with the award winning author Matt de la Pena, speak at a bookstore in Maplewood, New Jersey promoting the release of their newest book, Love.

Loren did a quick sketch of the book cover while de la Pena spoke about their collaboration. Here are some photos of Loren creating the sketch.



You can read more about the book, Love, at this link:

You can read more about Loren Long at this link:

You can watch a video about their collaboration at this link:


The illustrations in the book were done by a process called printmaking. This was the first attempt at printmaking for Loren. He then enhanced the prints with other various mediums such as paints and colored pencils.

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Make Your Own Happy

Posted on February 10, 2017 at 4:52 PM Comments comments (255)

Give yourself a little visual sunshine today by checking out  Joanne Sharpe's Whimsical Wednesdays.

Joanne is an artist who lives in Western New York.......a land known for its lack of sunshine and lake effect snow.

She counteracts the location's dreariness by donning color splashed leggings and house shoes while creating upbeat treats for the eyes, spouting the mantra of "Make your own happy".

I was inspired by her concept of "MINI MOMENTS" PAPER JOURNALS where she encourages her followers to, "Make a little bit of art every day, in a little bitty size".

Since I am a fun artist, not a fine artist, I found this to be a quite doable endeavor.  Here is what I've done so far.

I cut a sheet of 9 x 12 watercolor paper in  half,  folding each half into fourths. Then I played on only 1 of the 4ths each day.

I used Tombow markers to "frame" each 4th section, a butterfly stamp and some collaging from a seasonal missalette.

Here's my current work in progress.

Thank you Joanne Sharpe for the inspiration and upbeat advice. 

Here' s a link to another fun artist trying out Joanne's idea.:
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Botanical Printing - Part 2 - Capturing the Autumn Colors

Posted on October 4, 2015 at 4:54 PM Comments comments (151)

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."
            - Albert Camus

Once you've learned the simple technique of botanical printing, you can move on to some experimentation.

Look to the post, Botanical Printing  - Part 1, in the category, 
Mini Masterpieces, for the detailed directions of botanical printing.

To celebrate Autumn, squeeze out a bit of acrylic paint in the season's colors onto a coated paper plate.

You can use any number of shades. I applied brown, orange, red, yellow and green.


With a small sponge, dab the colors onto the vein side of the leaf, in  a random order.

Make sure to cover the whole leaf, but do not apply the paint heavily. 


As explained in Part 1, gently place the leaf, paint side down onto a sheet of white paper. Cover with a catalog page. Press and smooth over the entire leaf.   
Lift the page and leaf . You then have........

The Finished Product - A beautiful fall leaf botanical print!

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Botanical Printing - Part 1 - Before the Leaves Are Gone

Posted on October 2, 2015 at 6:02 PM Comments comments (178)
"Nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small it takes time - we haven't time - and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time." - Georgia O'Keeffe

In all my experiences of teaching arts enrichment classes, this art project has to be one of my all time, absolute favorites.

Look closely at all the varied leaf shapes in your yard or in a local park. You will see a cornucopia of inspiration for botanical printing.

Botanical printing  is so simple that it can be done with children as young as 
2 1/2, but provides such beautiful results, that it is a much satisfying creative activity for adults as well.

So before all the leaves are gone for readers up north, here are the super easy instructions and supplies needed:

- old catalogs or magazines
- plain white paper
- coated paper plate to use as a palette
- green acrylic/craft paint
- an old sponge
- assorted fresh leaves



Squeeze a little bit of green paint onto the coated paper plate.



Lay one leaf, vein side up, onto a page from an old catalog or magazine.

Apply paint evenly with the sponge to cover the entire leaf.

NOTE - Don't apply too heavily or the image won't print well.



Gently place leaf, vein/paint side down onto white paper.



Place another, clean catalog page over the leaf.

Press and smooth your finger over the page so that you feel every bit of the leaf.

(This is an interesting sensory activity for young children.)


Carefully lift up the catalog page and then, the leaf by its stem.


You now have a beautiful botanical print.


So go out and explore today! 

See how many different leaf shapes you can find. You needn't be confined to tree leaves. Many  herbs and weeds have interesting shapes and printing potential. 

I found all of these in my yard, which I will be using in a future post titled, "Building a Jungle".

Parsley & some crazy vine that I don't know the name of.

The Crazy Vine

The Parsley

Assorted weeds make interesting prints.


WARNING !!!!!!!

Leaves of three, 
let them be!

This is what poison ivy looks like. Do not pick any leafy plant that has 
"leaves of three".

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The Great Gołąbki Gastronomical Challenge

Posted on July 25, 2015 at 5:17 PM Comments comments (253)

We recently had the pleasure of dinner hosting Father Maciej, a visiting priest to our parish in New York for the month of July. Fr. Maciej is from the Polish city area where my husband and I taught English as a Second Language many, many years ago.

Fr. Maciej, while originally from Poland, is currently studying and serving the church in Spain, far from his homeland and his favorite Polish food, gołąbki. (pronounced: go- wump - key) In my usual unthinking exuberance, I offered to cook the dish for Father, even though I had never made gołąbki before.

I searched the internet for something that sounded familiar to what my mother used to prepare, but found so many variations, I had to make an emergency call to my sister. She graciously gave me our Aunt Florence's recipe which I will share at the end of this post.

Steaming the Cabbage.

A tip from my sister, use Napa cabbage. You will need 3 heads.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Brown Rice

I unintentionally created a heart shape in the pot after scooping out the rice. My cousin, Christine Lajewski always sees that as a sign from above that, "You are loved." 

       A Turkey Variation*

I don't eat beef and am careful about my carbohydrate intake, so I tried a variation for myself at the same time with ground turkey, less rice and added veggies.

Rolled and Almost Ready

Covered with the 
"Secret Sauce"

Yes.  This is the secret sauce topping. 

I wasn't quite sure how this western New York version would measure up to what Fr. Maciej was fondly remembering from home.
(Do they use Campbell's soup in Poland?)

My Photographic Homage to 
Andy Warhol

Campbell's Soup Cans, which is sometimes referred to as 32 Campbell's Soup Cans, is a work of art produced in 1962 by Andy  Warhol. 

Final Layer - BACON!

Jim Gaffigan would be pleased. To quote my favorite comedian, " Do you want to know how good bacon is? To improve other food, they wrap it in bacon!"


Props to my Aunt Florence's recipe. 

Fr. Maciej loved the gołąbki, took the remaining ones back to the rectory and polished them all off the next day!

Our Family's Gołąbki Recipe:

Mix together:
2 pounds of ground beef 
2 eggs
1 can of Campbell's French Onion soup
2 cups of rice
a small amount of bread crumbs
a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper to taste

Steam the cabbage for about 5 - 10 minutes until pliable. 
Line the bottom of a baking dish with a few cabbage leaves.
Scoop about 1/4 cup of  the meat filling into each cabbage leaf and wrap.
Cover each cabbage bundle with about a teaspsoon of  undiluted 
Campbell's tomato soup (one can is enough for the recipe)
Cover the bundles with raw bacon strips.

Add a little bit of water to the bottom of the baking dish. Bake, covered with foil for 2 hours at 350 degrees. Remove foil for the last 20 minutes of baking.

Smacznego! (Polish for Bon appetit!)

*My Beef-less Version: I simply replaced the ground beef  with ground turkey, used a little less rice,  eliminated the bread crumbs, used dried onion in place of the french onion soup and added some diced carrots, celery and a few pinches of poultry seasoning. 


To see an assembling video, check out the following link for Martha Stewart's Golumpki. (This is the English spelling of the dish and Martha, as such, pronounces it that way.) :

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On Hiatus

Posted on June 10, 2015 at 10:44 AM Comments comments (88)
The Fun Art Professor has been on an extended hiatus from blogging, but has been continuing to gather information and inspiration to share.

Will be back soon!

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A Leaf Can Be

Posted on June 26, 2013 at 11:29 PM Comments comments (273)

All of the month of May and the beginning of June kept me busy with preparations for attending my first book conference.

The 21st Century Children Nonfiction Book Conference was an amazing experience. I was able to attend workshops, panel discussions and social networking events with numerous engaging authors and publishers. 

I highly recommend the book written by one of the conference presenters, Laurie Salas Purdie, for your little ones. 

Her book,  A Leaf Can Be,  is incredibly enchanting and a great inspiration piece to use with the fun art projects I wrote about in my last two Spring posts, Spring Trees Part 2 & Spring, Where Are You? , in the Art Project category of this blog.

These pages show how a leaf can be a "shade spiller" or a "mouth filler".....just a few of the entertaining roles that leaves can play.

The artwork in this beautifully rhyming picture book is done by Violet Dabija, who lives in Chisinau, Moldova. (Moldova is a small sliver of a country located between Romania and Ukraine.)

More fun art projects are on the way soon.  In the meantime, below is a very cute hand-print & fingerprint idea that can easily be done when exploring what a leaf can be.

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Adventures in Color - Spring Trees Part 2

Posted on April 25, 2013 at 11:16 AM Comments comments (68)
“The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most. ”  - John Ruskin


A character on a short lived television comedy titled, Welcome to New York, remarked on that city's clothing style saying, “We wear black. And that's only until they invent something darker”. 

I lived near Miami for 3 years. When we first moved there from New York, my wardrobe truly did consist of mostly black, brown and tan. (and that was my summer wardrobe)  My husband looked at me one day and said, “You need to get some colorful clothes."

He was right.

After that point, I began to revel in the myriad of color in South Florida, not only in the peoples' wardrobes, but also in the almost endless blue skies and the colorful flora & fauna.

Our yard was a sanctuary to butterflies that were attracted to the nearly year long blooming, hot pink Bougainvillea bushes and the deep purple Mexican Petunias.

Flocks of wild green parrots regularly flew over our house.

When we moved back to New York in January 2012, I felt starved for color. I found myself rifling through the racks at Target, looking for winter scarves that would afford me the opportunity to layer, at least a hint of brightness, on top of my “back in New York” black winter jacket.

Color Excites
Remember that feeling as a child, when breaking open a brand new box of crayons?

I had that same inner gasp as I spied our first spring flowers valiantly braving the cold, popping out against the dull brown dirt and bark.

It is a worthy goal to work at bringing more color into your child's life.

Spring Cleaning for the Imagination

I came upon this beautiful watercolor by Robin Meade soon after writing my last blog post about coaxing spring along. 

You can find this  mixed media collage with acrylic, hand painted papers and ink on Etsy.

Inspired by Robin's patterned leaves, I realized you could get a similar effect by cutting leaf shapes out of colorful catalog images and glue-sticking them onto the bare winter branches.

(see instructions on how to create the tree branches in the previous post, "Spring, Where Are You ?")

You can also incorporate “shape” lessons for a younger child by cutting out squares, triangles or circles to apply to the branches for an abstract tree.

Catalogs are blooming with bright spring shades right now!

Bring more color into your creative time with your child by cutting out colorful images from catalogs and magazines for future use in collaging projects.

(Hint - if you do this, store the cut outs in a designated box so they don't make a clutter mess of your house.)

See if your child can spot which pillow patterns I cut out to make the leaves on the trees.

A Variation

Karen Wojcinski, an elementary art teacher passed along this idea.

Karen shared, "I do a similar project with my kindergarten. I show them a picture of Van Gogh's beautiful apple tree, and a bit more of Van Gogh's work. We then do the finger paint dipped technique using white and a little magenta paint." 

Beautiful!  Thanks, Karen, for the great idea. 

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Spring, Where Are You?

Posted on April 3, 2013 at 6:39 PM Comments comments (135)
Spring came slowly to the Northeast in 2013.
Wanted posters starting circulating on Facebook for Punxsutawney Phil – the crime – FRAUD.
Mother Nature's April Fool's joke was a night time low of 32 degrees with a wind chill in the teens.
Bare black branches of the trees still stood out against white skies that promised some form of precipitation.
Two days before Easter Sunday, I excitedly exclaimed that I saw little green leaves beginning to sprout on a bush next to the front of our house.
Then, I realized that it wasn't new growth. It was the remains of a near total stripping of our holly bush by a family of deer that had been coaxed in that direction by a bag of salt on our porch, meant for de-icing the sidewalk.
An Artful Activity to Encourage Spring Along
Let's pretend we can take an active part in helping speed Spring's arrival. Even if it doesn't work, at least we will have distracted ourselves away from the feelings of cabin fever for a little while.
The winter tree image on this post is done by a technique known as
straw painting”.  This technique is super easy & super fun for anyone,
 age 2 and above. 
1. Mix a few drops of black acrylic paint, also known as craft paint,
    with 2-3 tablespoons of water.
2. Cut a piece of watercolor paper in half or into fourths.
 (The cutting is merely for economy sake. You can do straw painting on regular white paper or construction paper, but the effects are not as nice.)
3. Drip a few drops of the blackened water at the bottom of the paper. This will form the trunk of the tree.
4. With a straw, blow upwards towards the top of the paper to create the bigger branches.
5. To make wispier branches, blow on the bigger branches from the left & right sides of the paper.
You now have winter trees.
Spring Variations on the Winter Trees
TREE # 1
The buds haven't come out yet, but the birds are back. These little birdie images were cut out of a catalog and glue sticked onto the bare branches. You could also use bird stickers, rubber stamp bird images or your own drawings to achieve this look.
TREE # 2
Finally, we are beginning to see some green. Hooray!
To achieve this effect, put a bit of green, yellow & white acrylic paint onto a coated paper plate.
Dab a small sponge into the paint, slighlty mixing the colors on your sponge. Now lightly dab the sponge onto the bare branches.
You have now created Spring!   Congratulations.
In the Fall, you can do this same project, but use paint colors of  brown, redyellow & orange.
TREE # 3
This tree technique is for those who prefer their artwork to be a little more abstract.
Using the same colors of paint, print different size dots on the bare tree branches with pencil erasers,
Qtips, ear plugs, wine corks......anything round. You could even do this with your fingertips.
Let me know if you come up with other creative things to add to the bare winter branches!
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Found Objects

Posted on March 1, 2013 at 11:32 AM Comments comments (157)
One man's trash is another man's treasure.
I believe this old adage best explains the artistic moniker, "found object".
The term, found object, actually comes from the French objet trouvé, meaning art created from objects that are not normally considered art, often because they already have a non-art function.
When I look at this sculpture, which I found on the blog site, The Crafty Crow  -  
I am transported back to my play group days when one of the moms confessed the secret thought she had every time she heard a little "ding" noise clinking up her vacuum hose......
"That's one less little toy piece I'll ever have to pick up again."
She never realized the veritable treasure trove of art inspiration she was amassing inside that utilitarian dust bag.
Pablo Picasso  was the first to publicly display the found object concept in 1912, when he pasted a printed oil cloth image of chair caning onto his painting and surrounded it with real roping in Still Life with Chair Caning. 
Pint-Sized Picassos
Let's explore some found object inspiration for your pint-sized Picasso.
(Note the look of deep concentration on the face of this little artist as she's using a squeeze bottle of school glue to attach scrap pieces of paper to a styrofoam base for her found object art creation.)
First of all, here are a few "Fun Art Professor" glue tips:
- Put a little glue in a small disposable cup and have little ones use an art paintbrush to apply glue. It's easier for the tiny fingers then squeezing that big bottle. Plus, it gives them a little bit more control over how much glue is being applied.
-  Rinse & save the dispensing cups from cold medicines to use as glue cups. Perfect size. 
-Set aside some inexpensive art brushes that are used only for glue because they won't be useful for painting after glue usage.
- Typical school glue, like Elmer's, is fine for affixing paper, but you are going to want to use something a little stronger to attach objects that are heavier then paper.
The basic craft adhesive, Tacky Glue, found at craft stores,  is a good product to have on hand.  The "Fast Grab" type of  Tacky Glue is truly fast grab. It is good for even heavier objects, but can be a little more difficult to pour.
Yes! Glue  is something you may have never heard about before, but is the best for even heavier objects. It is a great alternative to the hot glue gun, having the same stickability without the risk of a burn. You need to apply it with a small spatula, a popsicle stick or an old butter knife.  It has a very thick consistency.
Yes! Glue Warning ---  Buy the smallest size available. I am still using glue from the pint size that I bought about 15 years ago!  A little goes a long way.
Now for the inspiration..........
I found this happy face at Environment - ( Go to this site with your child to see a colorful variety of faces assembled out of found objects. 
These  were done on tin can lids, but you could easily replicate this art work on a paper plate.
My favorite brand to use for projects like these are the plain white, non-coated Chinet plates. They are sturdy and allow for a greater glue grip.
To further get the creative juices flowing, check out the following sites with your child. These projects are a bit too ambitious for a young artist, but they can spark the imagination.
Have your child point out the different found objects used to create these pieces of art.
This fish is from
A Patchy Place,  a site dedicated to fun, recycling, art, craft & music.
I found this patriotic recycling project at, a site subtitled, "for a new generation of parents".
This link features "12 super cool recycled art pieces" .
One Final Warning !
If you are already a pack rat, thinking about found object art is going to worsen your condition. Things that you would normally have no problem chucking into the garbage will have you thinking...."Hmmm, wonder what project we could work this into?"
My advice.... start setting up a designated place to collect all these treasures, either a box, drawer or an art cupboard.
(posts on art cupboards to follow in the near future)
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