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Category Archives: Art

Artful Colored Pencils


Maybe you’ve spent some time drawing–nothing much: caricatures, Disney characters, doodles, etc. Perhaps you’ve even gone so far as investing in a drawing pencil. If you did, you found out that a drawing pencil is quite different from a regular pencil. Its lead is soft and creates dark blacks, solid medium grays and ethereal light grays.

Maybe then you began to think of color, wishing your drawing pencil could be colorful as well. It can be! Out there on the market today are good quality colored pencils that respond well to shading, layering of several colors, blocking in solid colors and making sinuous, expressive lines.

The added attraction of colored pencils, beyond their soft, heavily pigmented leads and willing response to the paper, is their price. A tin of twelve, good quality colored pencils and a good quality 9″ x 12″ sketchpad will be well under twenty dollars. And you are on your way to producing beautiful, brilliant, rich colored drawings that will retain their permanency and color integrity for decades.


Now you have sharpened your colored pencils and you have your sketchpad. What’s next? Start with a doodle. On a new sketchbook page, take one color–it doesn’t matter which one) and draw swirls, lines, dots, dashes, whatever comes to mind. Cover the whole sketch book page. Just take a minute to do it.

Now look closely at the doodle you have done. See what you can find. Trees? Birds? Faces? Whatever you find, delineate the image by going over the image lines by making them darker. Good! Now choose another colored pencil color to fill in the image(s). Now think of the surrounding area of the doodle as the background or environment for your images.

You must choose certain areas to fill in with various colors. For example, if you found, in your doodle, a shape that looks like a fish, color the fish in, than color the area surrounding the fish with various colors. Keep in mind that you want to emphasize the image. How can you do this?


To emphasize the doodle image you can do several things. You can make the image very dark and then fill in the surrounding area with light colors. Or you can make the image very light and fill in the surrounding areas with dark colors. Or you can use contrasting colors, for example, red-image, blue-background–look closely to see that the image is standing out from the background. I recommend that you choose the option that will be most fun for you to do!


So you’ve done the doodles and are beginning to learn what your colored pencils can do. If you didn’t experiment with making certain areas solid colors or play around with shading several colors together, now is your chance!

With any colored pencil (color of your choice) draw a circle on a new sketchbook page. You can use a compass or a small plate or other circular object as a template to make the circle. Now imagine that light is coming down on the page from the upper right hand corner. You will want to start shading the circle with a dark color (blue, violet, brown, black) where the light isn’t–that is the left side of the circle. Start slowly, filling in along the left line of the circle. Remember that as you are shading and moving towards the source of illumination (upper right hand corner) your shading will become less. Why? Because your shading, in drawing terms, represents shadow and the white of the sketch book page represent the light.

Arts and Craft Toys

Drawing time

You can supply your child with color pencils, crayons, and washable markers to draw with. There are plenty of options as far as paper goes as well. Give them construction paper, a doodle or scribble pad, white paper from the printer, or stuffing paper from a bag purchase.

Drawing time can be themed. For example, have your child draw family or friends. You can encourage them to draw their favorite animals, or make a picture of what they want to be when they grow up. They can draw a picture of their favorite memory, or try to make an image of an item you place in front of them, like a chair or a fruit basket.

Painting time

There are two options with the kind of paint. You can buy finger paint, so they can use their hands only, or you can get paint that they need a brush for. Getting different sized brushes is a good idea. Thick paper is best for this activity. A large canvas can be exciting for a little one, if you have the space. It is also a good idea for your child to wear old clothes, or a smock so that they don’t ruin their nice things.

Let the children use the imagination. They can paint an abstract artistic piece that may not represent anything particular. They will enjoy playing with the colors and just expressing themselves. This can also be a color lesson. You can show them how to mix colors to make new ones; for example, mixing blue and yellow creates green.

Aqua Doodle

Aqua doodle is a drawing toy especially designed for preschool aged kids. A hydrochromatic ink causes color changes as your kid draw his masterpiece with a water filled pen. The drawings will stay on for several minutes and dramatically fade into mystical fun.

The Aqua Doodle set comes in a fun activity set composed of two pieces. It includes a large doodle mat which serves as the canvass of the masterpieces of your little one. It is also equipped with a magic water pen which he uses to doodle to his heart’s content.

The mat is designed with attractive borders. It also features the letters of the alphabet around its edges so children will remember their basic learning. Wide expanse of the mat will encourage the imagination and creativity of children to draw fun images, create stories, and practice their writing skills.

Once filled up with water, the magic pen leaves traces of blue which will disappear. Not to worry though because your kids will have plenty of time to admire their handiwork as the ink fades very gradually. This fun design will spark up the imagination of kids. Children love the idea of magic that is why they will get hooked with Aqua Doodle.

Because the alphabet is printed around the borders, children will also have an easier time to practice their writing. This would also make retention more effective. The excitement that this magical drawing mat sets off will move kids to spend hours doodling and writing. Eventually, repetition will make them more skillful to master the arts of letters and drawing.

Drawing images effectively hones eye-hand coordination. As they work to draw out the curves and lines of the images in their mind, their hands and eyes harmonize to produce their desired picture.

Achieve Great Art

Form is really the edges of a subject within the space that’s used; the paper or within the scene. With a clear form, even the very silhouette of that subject is clearly readable apart from anything else. Overworked forms include putting lines for form where there are no edges of shape – one example would be the human nose or ear. Too many lines indicating form can make things “busy” or complicated and draw attention away from a larger theme. Often, artists use lines for form on noses or ears where they mean to convey a contour but smart texture work would be more effective.

Texture is an important consideration once a readable form is finalized. With a strong outline of form, it’s time to deliver a sense of what the subject “feels” like. Is it a shiny surface or rough like concrete or does the form outline distant trees full of leaves; the treetops being thoughtfully formed with line, the leaves within the form being thoroughly textured to deliver a leafy feel. There are short cuts for different tools to create complicated textures without, for example, drawing every leaf or brick or pore of skin and it’s worth researching those different methods. Knowing in advance where light is coming from helps too and that final consideration flows to the Volume of a scene or subject.

Presenting Volume is everyone’s favorite past time. In school, we doodled a little and then shaded things in and graded surfaces dark to light to give the impression of depth, or Volume. It’s delightfully satisfying but often done too early in the process. Laying shadows down and considering highlights should come after we present what the surface is (its texture). Art that has been shaded before textured can appear “muddy” and overworked and most mediums don’t layer well to allow texture after volume work. Think of the leafy tree line in the previous paragraph – if all the canopies were shaded before leaves were impressed as textures, bright spots and random highlighted leaves would not appear in a convincing way. They would seem scratched in with strength over the Volume instead of the volume shading enhancing the texture. If a face had a scar texture, it’s certain that Form and Texture would occur before the light and shadow present the Volume of that feature; so work in that order: Form, Texture, Volume.

Our perception of what we see includes two very easily understood concepts that are both two good points to bear in mind when making art: Full Scale and Full Range. Our brains not only white balance what we see in reality but make believe a total blackest black and whitest white. If an all black and brightest available white exist, that art piece is said to have Full Scale: The darkest and brightest values that are possible to convey. Values of light and dark in between the darkest and lightest values makes up Range. Capturing Full Range is even difficult for the human eye. Moving from a snowy outdoors to indoors can result in ‘snow blindness.’ Our eyes and brain adjusted to receive the high values of the snow; heading inside quickly reveals just how much time it takes to adapt to the new lighting conditions but once acclimated, anyone would swear the indoors were just as Full Scale and Full Range as the outdoors. This is just untrue in the global reality of things/light. If art is of a dark cabin with a window to a snowy outdoor day strongly lit by sun, the reality is that few technologies could capture the Full Range of lighting in that scene. A piece of art is expected to display a Full Range of values and in recent years, High Dynamic Range photography has evolved to combine multiple exposure values to present the best compressed range of values in just such a situation. Without calling it HDR, artists have been doing that for centuries allowing the viewer to focus on both dark values and brighter values clearly.

Face Painting

As with full face painting, you still follow standard protocol:

– Check if the child has any rashes, open cuts, pimples (not many of these in a child, but just in case), soreness or redness of the skin. Inform parents of the child if you find any of these and do not do any face (not even cheek) paintings on them. If you see rashes in other parts of the body aside from the face and neck area, tell parents to have their child be checked for any possible allergies.

– Use water-based, FDA-approved paints. Never use acrylic or craft paints, as these are usually used on paper, wood and cloths and not really advised for skin use. Acrylics are known to have side effects such as rashes and skin allergies so it’s best to use just face paints that are approved for cosmetic use.

– Have cleaning materials with you (baby wipes, hand sanitizer, towels to drape over the child to eliminate unnecessary paint droplets, soap and water).

– You would need cleaning materials for your brushes and sponges as well, to make cleaning easier and for fast usage.

You can choose to apply (or not apply) base paint, since you are only going to do cheek art. (It is recommended to put a skin-tone color on the whole face though, for easier cleaning.)

You can do any design on the cheek. You can doodle curls and shapes as many as you want, as much as you want. Or you can try these tried-and-tested-but-simple designs for the little ones:

– Hearts.

– Spider webs.

– Flowers.

– Stars.

– A spider.

– Scars. (A perfect complement for a Halloween costume.)

– Mustache and/or beard. (If a little boy wants to be a pirate.)

– A starfish.

– Butterflies.

– Dolphins.

– Ladybugs.

– A smiley face.

– A coffee cup, complete with steam on top.

– Snake.

– Shark.

Art Desk As Versatile

When first introducing your child to a world of artistic flair, you will need to make sure your child is older and not willing to put everything in their mouth. You can start them by drawing basic shapes, squares, circles and triangles. Your young child’s attention span will be short and he may not be willing to stay, initially, for any length of time at his desk. Continue encouraging your child and before you know it, your child will look forward to this creative activity daily.

What child doesn’t like stories being told? You can encourage your child to draw and tell a story. Already seated at their art desk, you can provide a box of crayons and coloring books. Even blank paper will allow an art project to be initiated from the beginning.

As your child grows older, you can encourage him to broaden his use of pencils and crayons. There are plenty of items around the home that can be used in a creative way. From fingers, to cotton balls, to cookie makers, the list is endless. All it takes is an imagination that has no limits.

Another means to tap into your child’s creativity is to purchase books that require lines to be drawn following designated numbers. Usually a picture is created just waiting to be colored.

An art desk for your child is available in most places that sell furniture. Placing this work space where most of the family entertains will enable you to oversee your budding artist. The younger the child is the more supervision that will be needed.Your child should have a clean and safe area to practice their artistic skills.

When your child is young, you can start with the basics. An age appropriate art table with paper and crayons that are “safe to eat.” Of course, you will want your child to be past the age of putting everything in their mouths. It will take a lot of time supervising, but well worth it as creativity is explored.

Doodle Decides Your Mood

Primarily, it is the size of the doodles. If you draw large doodles that take most of your page, you are likely to be attracted to nature. Moreover, you might also have a reserved personality, but would want to socialize.

Small doodles on a corner of the paper suggest that the person is neat and organized in his/her ways. Because the drawing is placed on a side of the page, it shows that a person does not like wastage and prefers everything in its proper place.

Drawing flowers as your doodles suggest femininity. This is the reason why usually girls are observed to draw flowers while they doodle. Moreover, drawing flowers also suggest that you might be becoming aware of your own personality and waiting to bloom.

As for doodles that present masculinity, they consist of boxes, squares and other three- dimensional objects. Moreover, if you draw boxes, you are likely to have a practical, organized and methodical approach towards different things.

A lot of people also draw trees in their scribbles. A tree symbolizes a person or a thing from the past that you do not happen to forget. Moreover, you might fear insecurity and would want to be protected.

This might be your feeling if your tree is standing alone. If surrounded by flowers, it indicates happiness and love for family.

Some people just draw lines. If these are drawn with a lot of pressure, they represent aggression and apprehension. The pressure is basically that decides your mood. The lighter the pressure, the more peace you have in your mind.

Houses in your drawings symbolize many things. If you draw a plain house that has no doors, windows, curtains or smoke coming out of the chimney, you are very likely to be gloomy about something in your life. You might feel lonely and would want to talk to someone at the moment.

On the other hand, if you have drawn a big house, with flowers and a garden around it, you are likely to be happy. Moreover, you might be materialistic; and like big houses, extravaganza and luxuries.

Rock Art

Generally, there are four basic types of rock art: Pictographs, which are painted on the rock surface; petroglyphs, which are pecked or incised into the rock; geoglyphs, designs made of rocks arranged on the ground, typically on a very large scale; and also cupules, small holes, often found in clusters. Petroglyphs seem to be the most common type in the Southwest. There, rocks are often covered by a veneer known as ‘desert varnish’. Mineral deposits such as iron oxide adhere to rock surfaces over time and eventually stain the rock. This natural varnish ranges from a rust color to a brown so dark that at first it appears to be black. Almost invariably, it covers a lighter colored rock such as sandstone, which is found throughout the Southwest. By scratching, incising or pecking away at the desert varnish, perhaps with an antler chisel, the artist would reveal the lighter sandstone beneath, thus creating a negative image.

The designs themselves vary, but there are a few general types that are repeatedly found. Aside from the geometric designs, there are typically two others: anthropomorphs, or human images; and zoomorphs, depictions of animals. Sometimes these two motifs are combined, such as humans with animal heads or perhaps vise versa. Also, two different animals may sometimes be combined in a similar manner.

Some scholars now prefer the term ‘rock imagery’ as opposed to rock art to refer to these designs, since they don’t know for certain if it was really intended to be art, per se. However, it is still commonly known as ‘rock art’ to most people. Rock art is sometimes referred to as hieroglyphics, which is actually a form of writing, but the vast majority of researchers agree that the images are not a written language at all.

But if not writing, the question remains as to what their meaning might be. It seems doubtful that people with such an intimate knowledge of the landscape would need rock art maps, as some have speculated, not even outsiders such as traders. Also, considering the amount of effort required to create even the simplest motifs, idle ‘doodling’ seems like a doubtful interpretation too; imagine the difficulty of creating one petroglyph, much less a whole panel. Academic research has revealed evidence that many images are very likely the recording of individuals’ visions, probably most often those of shamans, or medicine men (which in some groups would traditionally be women). But, while this may often be the meaning, some seem to be clan symbols and other designs, left on the rocks as markings made during adulthood initiation ceremonies or as markers to guide the spirits of the deceased back to the underworld. The cupules mentioned above may have also been left as a part of an adulthood ceremony, at least in some cases. Sometimes the images clearly depict historical events, such as the arrival of the Spaniards in the Southwest. Whatever the meaning, the art is sacred to some people, while enriching the lives of many others.

Information about Abstract Art

Would you believe that it’s hard for some artists to create non-objective abstract art because they can’t free their minds enough. Even for myself, my mind naturally wants to take shapes and patterns and begin to put them together to create subject matter. I may start out with an abstract piece but I end up turning it into a landscape. So I end up with something in between. But other times I get a bit lost in the moment and formations unravel themselves naturally. When I am done I look back at what I created to find a very abstract piece of art.

Creating abstract art is really a practice in meditation where you have to free yourself from the distractions of the mind. Have you ever been on the phone and involved in a conversation where hadn’t realize you were doodling the whole time? It sounds silly, but If you ever take a look at people’s doodles you’ll see some very interesting art. It is almost always abstract, sometimes childish, with natural formations that seems to unfold one into another. Doodling is intuitive. It seems to be connected with the subconscious, very similar to dreaming. And it is this same sort of caught in the moment way of not thinking that creates beautiful abstract art.

I believe that creating abstract art is just another way of freeing the mind and feeling good. Like a dream world, things don’t have to make sense with abstract art. People will always find their own little ways of meditating and the action of painting is another one of those ways. Let’s face it, a little escape from the chaos of this world is a good thing. It’s good for all of us.

Create Art Journal

a sheet of grungeboard(you know you have some, we all got it when it came out and then said – “now what?”)

a sheet of watercolour paper – I’ve used Windsor & Newton Bockingford 14×10 inch – 300gsm. The size is the most important part, any watercolour paper will do, or you could substitute with a heavy weight cardstock. Check places like The Range or The Works.

Claudine Hellmuth Studio Paints

Brushes and plastic palette knife

Ranger Craft Mat

Liquitex Acrylic Inks

Jenni Bowlin Paint Dabbers

Liquitex Gel Medium & Gesso

Stencilof choice

Waxed Threadand a charm

Stampotique stamps

and lastly – an old gift card.

Start by applying a thin coat of gesso to both sides of your watercolour paper and grunge board. Using an old gift card will help you get a thin coat. Let it dry on one side before you do the other.

Once the gesso is dry, apply some gel medium through a stencil with a palette knife (easier to get the gel out of the pot that way as well) in patches to create some texture for your backgrounds. I used the Crafters Worskhop small circle grid, a big favourite of mine at the moment. You’ll notice that the dots left on one side were a bit black as lazy me hadn’t cleaned off the black paint from the last time I used it. Again, you’ll need to let it dry before you do the second side.

While you’re waiting for everything to dry, select the colours you want to use to create your backgrounds. Add a little water to a small amount of paint and create a colour wash over both sides of the water colour paper and the grungeboard. You’ll notice that the dry gel medium will create a resist. If you want the resist to stand out more, then you can dab the still wet paint off, or if it’s started to dry, use a baby wipe or a slightly damp cloth to lift the excess paint off. Keep applying the paint until you are happy with what you have. Tip – use complimentary colours to avoid a muddy outcome.

The next on the page is created by drawing circles with the Liquitex Acrylic Inks, if you are worried about getting round circles then you can always use one of the basic circle stencils as a guide to help you. Acrylic Inks come in dropper bottles so I just used the dropper to draw with.

This is the point where the size of the watercolour paper is perfect for working with the grundgeboard. Fold the watercolour paper in half – lengthways, and then cut it in half.

Next, score and fold each half at 3 1/4 inch intervals. You’ll have a small excess at the end, cut this off ONE of the lengths. The stick the two pieces together with gel medium, using one of the short lengths to overlap them. This will then make one long accordion piece.

I’ve cut window in some of my pages, so if you want to do the same, this is the time to do it as it’s easier than when it’s stuck on to the cover.

The grungeboard is to form the cover for your book. Lay it down lengthways and find the centre, then mark half and score across the short side a half an inch either side, giving you a one inch wide spine for your book.

Before you adhere your pages into your book, using a 1/16th inch punch, punch two holes in the back cover for the wax thread to go through and create your closure.