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Fun Art Professor

Inspiring & Nurturing Creativity in Young Chidren

My Blog


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Doodley Doo / One- Liners

Posted on February 8, 2013 at 9:02 PM Comments comments (86)
“A line is a dot that went for a walk.”
― Paul Klee
Simply defined,
one-liners are drawings in which the artist's pencil, pen, brush or crayon
touches the paper and is not lifted until the drawing is finished.
In her book, DrawingLab, Carla Sonheim recommends this activity as a way of getting your creativity started.
Even though this book is really directed more towards adult drawing projects, she has several ideas that can be fun for the younger set, one-liners being one of them.
This activity is best tried once a child can already write his or her name.
Sonheim's advice when doing this technique is to "Think loops".
The other key point is that your eyes should be able to follow where the one-liner begins and ends. (Think of it as taking your eyes on a roller coaster ride.)
The following are suggested  as art subjects in The Drawing Lab:

Elephant - Vase of Flowers -Cat - Lightbulb -  Horse - Bicycle - Guitar - Human Face - Car - House - Tree -   Horse
Beyond being a fun drawing exercise, this techinque was employed by some very well known artists.
Pablo Picasso did a series of one-liner sketches described on the flap of the aptly named book, Picasso's One Liners,  as "a small but delightful contribution to the artist's great body of drawings".
This particular book is currently out of print, but you can see a series of  the book's featured sketches at:

Picasso's subjects in this book include harlequins, musicians, circus scene and animals, including the dog and camel seen here.
Alexander Calder, the American sculptor, best known as the originator of the mobile, also dabbled with one-liners.
Here you see Calder's unique, one-liner take on the artist's self portrait.
He carried the one-liner idea a step further by creating three dimensional wire drawings.
If you would like to try this one-liner sculpting technique, you can find wire of  differing weight, thickness and resistance at craft stores, or by googling, "jewelry wire".
Another variation on a one-liner  art project  is yarn painting. There are some really cute ideas on Aunt Annie's Crafts at
Now for some really mind blowing one- liner art, check out the video on the following post about artist, Chan Whee Chong.
This is a close up of Chong's one-liner, Girl with a Pearl Earring. Amazing!
Take a try at doing your own one-liner.  Then send it to me.
I would love to do a post of my readers' one-liner creations.
(open to artists of  all ages) 

Color My World

Posted on January 15, 2013 at 11:40 PM Comments comments (66)
Rosanne had given birth to a (how shall I put it?) rather high spirited son, Eddie.
At least one item in our house would get broken, every time, during an “Eddie visit”.
Even though toy guns were not allowed in their house, Eddie would creatively chew cookies, toast and celery stalks into armament shapes.
One day, upon observing a four limbed, floor pounding
outburst at  one of our weekly playgroup get- togethers, Rosanne reflected, “I wish I could do that when I'm not happy about

Of course, that would be socially unacceptable. Your sanity as an adult would also be in question if you escaped into the serene confines of a couch fort.

A Delightful & Respectable Way to Escape Reality for Awhile - Coloring

A meditative activity for youngsters and adults, the coloring theme has  many variations beyond the single,  humble  Crayola.

Check out these  "crayon rocks".
Crayon Rocks  were developed by a special ed teacher and designed to strengthen the tripod grip muscles in young children, preparing fingers and hands for handwriting.
Recent research has confirmed how important developing the tripod grip is for the brain development of young children.

For children, the crayons are just plain fun with their colorful, pebble-like shapes, smooth texture and beautiful colors. You can find them at:
Tape together different crayon color combinations and doodle to your heart's delight.
You can combine them in 3's or 4's, flat or stacked.
These rainbow crayons, always a big hit with my students from ages 2 1/2 - 10, are a colorful addition to any drawing.
They can be purchased at They come in packs of 25, but are only $9.95. You can always put the extras in birthday party goodie bags.
For an extra creative step, you can go to  google for " instructions on how to make your own rainbow crayons".  It's also a good way to use up little cracked crayons.
Chalk coloring on black construction paper  is another fun variation.
IMPORTANT - Dip the dry chalk into water before having toddlers draw with it. 

The chalk dust can be harmful to their developing little lungs.

If your child creates a particular drawing that you want to preserve, use a spray fixative for pastels, available at any art /craft store or online. (pastels is a fancy art term for chalk)


One of my favorite art toys is the watercolor pencil.

I so admire the talent of accomplished watercolor painters. It seems to me to be a very unforgiving art medium. However, when done well, the effects are captivating.  

I am not an accomplished watercolor painter.  But as you can see by my partially completed pretty parrot, watercolor pencils are a tool that can give quite a satisfactory result for  a "fun" artist.
A Few Tips for Watercolor Pencil Coloring

1. Watercolor pencils are best utilized by children who have already learned how to do handwriting.

2. If possible, use watercolor paper for best results.

3. Tape the watercolor paper to heavy cardboard with masking tape around its edges. Leave the paper taped to the cardboard till it dries.

4. Note the unfinished parts of the parrot drawing. That is how the color is first applied....draw darkened, somewhat thick lines of the color around the shapes. Then blend the colors to the center of the shape with a wet paintbrush.
There are good art tutorials with more details on how to color with watercolor pencils at the below links.
"Fun" Art - Advanced Honors Class
Crayon Rainbow
I am intrigued by this art project. It is actual crayons hot glued to a canvas board then heated with a hair dryer to get the colored wax to drip down.
I have not tried it myself yet, but am about to ask a good friend if she would like to make one together with me for the nursery room she is decorating for her first grandchild. This is definately a project that would need adult supervision if done by a child.
Here is the link for the melted crayon tutorial. Let me know if it works for you.
For more inspiration and ideas for this project, go to Google Images and search for "melted crayons on canvas".

Playdough Perfection

Posted on January 8, 2013 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (29)
“What insane person invented glitter play-dough?”
                                   - Me

My older daughter was an angel for Halloween when she was five.

Like most little girls, she couldn't wait to try on the glitter speckled nylon mesh wings as soon as they arrived in the mail.

How cute.

How sweet.
How maddening when that glitter started cloning itself all over the house.
From that point on, glitter was officially banned in our home.

Even Christmas cards we received took a quick trip to the trash can if they were glitter laden.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when my daughter received glitter play-dough as a birthday gift.
(If you can't figure it out, check out the above quote.)

Commercial Play-dough possesses enough annoying qualities of its own without adding glitter to it!  Besides the fact that its smell triggers my gag reflex, I also have a sneaking suspicion that it shares the "clone- ability DNA" with glitter.

But unlike glitter, play-dough was never banned because it has redeeming   creative qualities.

How cool are those fun factories?

And how about discovering very interesting abstract art installations on the bottom of your shoe?

A Perfect Playdough Recipe
Here is a lovely home-made play-dough recipe you can make with your child.

It has no smell and it doesn't seem to dry out when playing with it, leaving  those little chunks all over the place.

Let your child help you mix it up. That's half the fun.
Mix together:

1 cup of flour,
1/3 cup of salt
1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 teaspoons of white vinegar 
1/3 cup of water*

*For color in your dough, add about 1 tablespoon of food color to the water before you add the water to the other ingredients.

You can add more water if needed. Then knead it.
(pun intended)

Store the dough in an airtight container. You can add more water later if the dough dries out.
I have not tested how well this dough dries if you want to save a permanent sculpture. Let me know how it works if you try it out.

Cute Playdough Sculptures from Google Images

The "Fun Art" of Writing

Posted on December 31, 2012 at 3:27 PM Comments comments (44)
"Caleb's handwriting still stinks, so I'm writing the Christmas letter again this year."            - Mia, age 7


It's not too late to send out that holiday newsletter!

On the years when I have not been "on my game", I have been known to send out a "Happy New Year" letter which can be mailed out at any point during the month of January.

And if that seems too ambitious for you at this point, think about this....
who wouldn't be thrilled to receive an informative love letter on Valentine's Day?

My absolute cut off date would be Easter. Beyond that, it does make sense to just hang it up and start taking notes for the next holiday season (and I don't mean the 4th of July).

A Terrific "Fun Artist"!

An entertaining twist on the holiday letter is to have your child do the composing. This is the  quoted artist and writer of the letter above who took the job over from her older brother, Caleb, last year. Note Mia's creative addition of holiday art work.


Even if your child is too young to do the actual writing, you can have him or her "dictate" the letter to you, while you do the transcribing.


Check the after Christmas sales.
Right now is the best time to look for great buys on holiday designed paper stock for your 2013 Christmas or Hanukkah letter.

Other sale items to search for are holiday rubber stamps.  I  have never met a child that didn't enjoy rubber stamping. Stamping provides an "instant gratification" artistic experience for kids as young as 2 1/2. No need for holiday pre-printed stationery when your child can do the designing. The stamps can also be used to make your own wrapping paper. Get inkpads in different holiday colors and do repeated stamping of the same image on a roll of white paper or trimmed brown paper bags.

The Best Reason to Write a Holiday Letter.


I keep a copy of each year's newsletter in a special binder. Before writing my new letter, I always read over the previous year's one to see where I left off.  This year I paged through all the letters in the binder and realized that they had become a beautiful journal of our little nuclear family's history. One day I will make a copy of it for each of my children as a special keepsake gift.

Special holiday decorative binders can be found online at :

My Guidelines when Writing a Holiday Newsletter 

When writing my annual  letter, I generally adhere to the following self imposed guidelines:

1. Never dwell on negatives.

2. Keep the letter length to one page.

3.  Optional - Add a beautiful, loving or humorous quote at the heading of   the letter.  Here are some I have used in years past.

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you."  
- Philippians 1:3

"Reflect on your present blessings, of which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some."
- Charles Dickens

“The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings then endings.”
- Dave Weinbaum

The website, is a great source for finding suitable quotes.

4. Don't brag!

Use the approach of an elevator pitch when describing the events and accomplishments of your family's year. An elevator speech is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service or organization. The name "elevatorpitch" reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes.

Think of it this way. Picture yourself running into an old aquaintence in the grocery store.  You are asked, "How is your family doing?" You wouldn't stand there for an hour regaling about every wonderful detail. You would just give highlights.

In Defense of the Holiday Newsletter

The holiday newsletter has often been maligned over the years.  I have to say that receiving these letters and accompanying photos is one of my favorite things about the holiday season.

My beloved family and friends are spread out over the continental U.S. from New Hampshire down to the southern tip of Florida ---- and from mid- Long Island to the western most tip of California. With all our busy lives, sometimes this is the only time I get updated on their happenings.

So spread some joy!
To quote the famous American singer and actor, Dean Martin, "Keep those cards and letters coming, folks."

The Gift of a Beautiful Thought

Posted on December 22, 2012 at 4:44 PM Comments comments (20)
If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.

- Unknown

I am a quote addict. Not only do I collect quotes in a file and own numerous books of quotes, I am compelled to uncover the identities of the people who make statements that are of particular interest.

(This person named, “Unknown”, is a very prolific philosopher, but is completely off the grid.)

Last Christmas, I gave several close friends the book, Joy,
by Dan Zadra. There was one quote in that book by a person I had never heard of, Fra. Giovanni Giocondo*. I googled the name and found that the quote was actually an excerpt from a longer letter written on Christmas Eve, 1513, to a dear friend.

So giving as the angels give, I am posting his letter below:

I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.
There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take.

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.

Take heaven!
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.

Take peace!

The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.

There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see. And to see, we have only to look.

I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard.
Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power.

Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel's hand that brings it to you.

Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel's hand is there.
The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence.

Your joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.

Courage then to claim it; that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country home.


And so at this Christmas time, I greet you; not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem, and with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.

*Fra Giovanni Giocondo (c.1435–1515) was a Renaissance pioneer, accomplished as an architect, engineer, antiquary, archaeologist,classical scholar, and Franciscan friar. Today we remember him most for his reassuring letter to Countess Allagia Aldobrandeschi onChristmas Eve, 1513.

It's A Wonderful Life

Posted on December 14, 2012 at 1:13 PM Comments comments (22)
“Reflect upon your present blessings-- of which every man has many -- not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”- Charles Dickens


That year, a film came
out that was considered a box office flop due to high production costs and stiff competition at the time of its release.

It was initially a major disappointment and confirmed, at least to the studios, that its famously successful director and producer was no longer capable of turning out the populist features that made his films the must-see, money-making events they once were.
The story centered around a man, George, who had given up his personal dreams in order to help others. Despite all his efforts to always do what he believed to be the right thing, his whole world came crashing down, prompting him to believe that suicide was his only option.

Enter stage left, George's guardian angel, Clarence. This celestial being enlightens George on the all the positive ways he has changed the lives of those he loves and how different life in his community would be had he never been born.

This film, considered a financial flop, was nominated for five Oscars and has been recognized by the American Film Institues as one of the 100 best American films ever made. It also takes the number one spot on its most inspirational American films of all time.
I love stories like this that are gentle reminders that we don't know the whole picture of our lives. So often, we only see the messy back point of view of our life's tapestry, not realizing that there is a beautiful picture on the other side.

So in honor of Clarence and all other guardian angels, here are some angel “fun art” ideas because...... 
A gathering of angels can enlighten the whole world.” - Unknown

Design an Angel #1– Suitable for framing or hanging on the refrigerator.

These angels need their wings. (just like Clarence) Have your little angel draw in the flight apparatus for these cherubs. (The bottom angel could also use some hair styling.) Give them a nice background.  Maybe rainbows or a beautiful night sky complete with shiny star stickers.

Design an Angel #2
- tree or mantle ornament

This is an easy and sweet template. You can simply do a drawing on the    angel, or embellish it with glitter, sequins, cotton hair, or even little google eyes. You can achieve an elegant look by coloring the angel shape all gold. Use a number of them as part of a centerpiece or as name placecards. To assemble the ornament, cut out the shape, wrap it into a cone shape, hook one wing over the other and secure it with glue or tape.

Contact me on the comment section of this blog and I will send you the full size images of these angel projects via email.

For a more detailed angel ornament, check out A Christmas Angel Collection online at:

This book's artist based the design of these angel ornaments on works of art from all over the world, from as far back as the 12th century. You can use felt tip pens, watercolors, colored pencils, or crayons, and add glitter,sequins or anything else that suits your fancy.
For some perplexing reason, Amazon is selling this book for $80.00, but it is only $8.95 from Isabella.

Angels around us, angels beside us, angel within us.

Angels are watching over you when times are good or stressed.

Their wings wrap gently around you,

Whispering you are loved and blessed.

- A Blessing

Christmas Countdown

Posted on December 4, 2012 at 4:22 PM Comments comments (31)
Maybe it was the charming, nostalgic images. Or maybe it was just my natural born curiosity. But as a child, I was completely enchanted by Advent calendars, opening a cut out window each day, revealing some magical little picture.

Plus, as a child, I’m sure you can remember that the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed like an eternity. The Advent calendar was a way of giving a little tyke some perspective of time while awaiting the much anticipated holiday.

I am currently teaching a religious education class to fourteen children that runs from 3:45 - 5:15 pm each Tuesday.

Ten of those fourteen are little boys who are, (how shall I put it?) rather exuberant.

In the arts enrichment after-school classes that I have taught, most of the students embraced the planned activities, thoroughly immersing themselves in the projects. A good number of this current group seem a lot more interested in wrestling and running.
(Last week I actually had to make two separate runs to the nurse station for ice packs to apply to heads that had collided.)
So the creative challenge here, in addition to the religious instruction, is coming up with simple and varied art projects to complement the lesson of the day that will keep the inartistic child happily engaged.
Creating a traditional Advent calendar would be either too difficult for that age group or too time consuming in prep work for myself.
Needless to say, I was thrilled when I received this creative and simple  fingerprint countdown activity from Guildcraft, an online supply site for purchasing art and craft supplies. You can register with Guildcraft and they will send you weekly “Freebie Friday” activities that you can download (
There are two downloads of this Christmas Countdown that you can print out from Guildcraft. In one, the ornaments are already colored, so all you have to add are the fingerprints to create the countdown lights. The second download is one that the child colors, in addition to adding a colorful fingerprint each day.

You can make the fingerprints using either inkpads or paints. Acrylic paints will be long lasting, creating a keepsake. Tempura paints are easily washable, but will flake after time.

If  you have trouble getting the download, this template is easy enough to duplicate. Simply draw out the wavy black string. Then add little black rectangle shapes as the light bulb "holders". Finalize it with the numbers "1 -25", one for each bulb.

Please let me know if  your child enjoyed this activity.  I will be trying it out with my students next week.

Artful Gratitude

Posted on November 25, 2012 at 5:43 PM Comments comments (26)
“Things are never so bad that they couldn’t be worse.”
- my friend Caroline’s mother

While on the surface, that may seem to be a horribly pessimistic view of life, after first hearing my friend recount that statement from her mother, and then pondering on it, that phrase has actually become one of my favorite “attitude adjustment quotes.”   

No matter how bad things may seem, there is always something to be thankful for.

At about the time when my older daughter was 12, I read the book, Simple Abundance. This book’s author reiterated throughout, the importance of being thankful. She highly encouraged the keeping of a gratitude journal, where you would record 5 things, each day, that you were grateful for. I thought that was such a great idea that I trucked right down to the dollar store to buy little spiral notebooks for my children to get them started on their own gratitude journals.

That idea lasted about 3 days.

But I was still sold on the notion of weaving gratitude into the daily lives of our family. Even though, when they were younger, I found Sesame Street, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Swat Cats to be very effective babysitters (to the point of letting them eat their meals in front of that domestic help)*, our family meal time together had since become sacrosanct. But no matter how sacred I believed that time to be, it was not always an angelic setting.

(*Neither are a recommended parenting practice. I gave birth to 3 children in 4 ½ years and was desperate for any kind of help.)

What to do? What to do?
Ah, ha! No need to wait for Thanksgiving. We started a new family tradition.

Before having our evening meal, we would go around the table, each saying one thing we were grateful for. This always proved to be a great conversation starter and set a nice pleasant mood for our repast. They say it takes doing something 21 days in a row for it to become a habit. Happily, this one stuck.

I believe it’s never too early to instill your children with the gift of gratitude. One fun way to do this with them is to make a gratitude collage. (see my posts on gratitude collages under the "Artful Images Category " for ideas)

You can easily gather pictures from catalogs, magazines, Google images search or family photos. You can even include printed words from those sources. Glue them onto poster board with Mod Podge (a special glue for decoupage that you can find in any craft store or craft section of Wal-mart).

You could also take this one step further and cut the collage into the size of a placemat. Cover it with clear contact paper. You can then use it as part of your dinnertime table setting.

And how about a sweet dreams starter? Get some inexpensive plain white pillow cases and fabric paint in assorted colors. On the border edge of the pillow case, have your child paint images that remind him or her of what to be thankful for…..hearts for the love in their life, flowers for beauty, rainbows for hope, stars for light in the dark, etc.

Stencils are a great tool to use for this project. Remember, this is “fun” art, not “fine” art.

If your child is still a little young for this project, you can make him or her the art director, instructing mom or dad what to draw on the pillowcase.

I did this once when my very feminine 2 ½ year old refused to wear her black slip-on sneakers. (They weren’t girly enough for her taste.) She showed me where she wanted bunnies, flowers and hearts.

I whipped out my handy stencils and followed her directions. She then happily complied with my request that she wear her new designer shoes.

I would like to  end these musings on gratitude with this whimsical saying from a sign in the Mayflower Coffee Shop in Chicago that you can share with your children.

 “As you wander on through life, sister/brother, whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole.”

More Gratitude Collages

Posted on November 25, 2012 at 5:12 PM Comments comments (38)
This first image is a child's gratitude collage. A great thing to have your child create to hang in his or her room.  It could also be trimmed down, preserved under clear contact paper  and used as a placement.


The second gratitude collage is from Joyful Arts Studio.

The third image is a Nature Gratitude Collage from Feather Anchor

Check out their website. It is gorgeous.

Gratitude Collages

Posted on November 25, 2012 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (131)
I just wanted to share some beautiful artwork I found when searching Google images for Gratitude collages.  Going from top to bottom, the first collage is titled, Leaping Gratitude from The Artful Umbrella. 
The second collage, Practice Gratitude Everyday is from Nancy Lefko.

The third image is an alterered book from Kareniko.