Purple Twig- Art Exploration for kids. A mom run small business in Los Angeles. Stop by to see the trials and tribulations.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Cloud Cities

This project is such an incredible combination of both observation and imaginative drawing. We also combine materials, using semi ink and pencil. The kids learn how to begin with the big forms working on the whole drawing then moving on to adding the details that give the drawing a new layer of meaning.

Sumi ink
watercolor paper
cloud images
paint brush

Yes, that is it.

We start with cloud images to look at. We talk about shadows and where the sun is in the picture. We observe the light part of the clouds and the darker part of the clouds.

I give the students a diluted solution of the semi ink and a brush. Sumi ink is so dark that this dilution can be 1 part ink and 10 parts water, but please test it for yourself. You are looking for a light gray.
I ask them to paint at least 4 clouds on the page. They can be big ones or little ones or a combination of both. They can also add more if they want but at least 4 to make the city work.

When finished I give them a darker diluted solution of sumi ink, creating a dark grey. It's best if the lighter ink is still wet on the page, that way the two shades of ink will merge with each other.  I then invite them to really look at the clouds in the picture and to observe the dark areas of each cloud.
I pose questions like 'Where is the sun shining?" "Where is the cloud darker?"

We then let these dry before we start in with the pencil.

When discussing adding the cities to the clouds I ask some questions in order to spark conversation "How will people get from one cloud to the other?" or "what kinds of structures will people live in?" or " Where will people get their food?"

Conversation and drawing is such a wonderful combination. We learn so much about each student and they learn about each other. Each drawing is so unique depending on the kids interests.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Sew a Softie

Look at this little ball of cuteness. It's just a head, no legs or arms. It bounces and rolls from place to place. We use socks when introducing sewing to the children at our studio. It's such a good way for kids to create something for themselves while learning simple stitches. Some kids don't quite get the hang of stitching right away, but it just adds to the personality of these little softies.

plastic needles or metal needles with big eyes
felt- we make our wool felt by getting wool sweaters from thrift stores and wash them. Then cut the up. I cut out round and triangular pieces for them to sew on. 
glue for some of the decorations

With our older kids 7-9, I invite them to thread the needle. I asked them to tie one end of the yarn to the needle and make a knot at the other end.  With the younger students ages 5 and 6, I have the needle threaded for them and ready to go.  

We offer the kids a variety of socks to choose from.  They also choose their felt pieces and buttons for the finishing touches. They stuff them and sew up the bottom using the running stitch or overcast stitch. 

They then sew on the felt shapes, round felt for eyes. triangles for ears, beaks or tails and finally they sew on the buttons. 

Our younger students (ages 5 and 6) glue on their fabrics and ribbon and buttons. They are usually exhausted from working through the frustration of sewing for the first time. Gluing on decorations certainly can revived them.

The variety of soft creatures continuously amazes me. They each begin with a sock, which is basically the same shape and every creation is unique. 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

The ARTful Parent book

When doing research for the curriculum for our Summer Camps, I spent a lot of time reading Jean Van't Hul's book, The ARTful Parent, simple ways to fill your family's life with art and creativity. She just published a revised version of this fantastic book. The first version has been in my library since it came out in 2013. It has been a staple for both curriculum in the studio and for projects at home with my family. The new version has wonderful updated ideas  for creating thoughtful, process oriented projects with your kids, or in my case for my students. It talks about how to set up simple invitations for you child, how to start a play group and lots of recipes to make materials for your kids. It is full of inspiration.

You know how sometimes you look through a book and you see a project that you have known about for years, but something about the way it's presented, it's like a brand new project. This happened to me when looking through the Artful Parent, I came across a recipe for making your own finger paint. Finger painting is mainly thought of an activity for under the age of 4, but what if we presented it to our campers age 5-10? I did! And they loved it.


3 cups water
1 cup cornstarch
food coloring of your choice

1. Place water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. 
2. Whisk in cornstarch until the mixture thickens.
3. Remove from heat and let cool.
4. Divide mixture into individual bowls and add a few drops of desired food coloring.
5. Store paint in airtight containers

An alternative mixture recipe:
Jean also writes about alternative recipes and projects to do with the paint. 

We made ours by adding liquid cornstarch to tempera paint, so that it would have that slick sensory feeling. 

We used some tools with our younger students ages 2-4, bubble wrap on rolling pins, foam brushes for those children who didn't like the feel of the paint. We also offered chopsticks for drawing and corks for drawing and printing. 

I offered finger painting for our campers ages 5-10 and they were so excited.  We lay a big sheet of paper onto the table, covering the entire thing. Knowing that the kids would be interested in mixing all the colors together, working together, we gave them yellow, green and blue paints. They used big movements and facial expressions and laughter to move the paint around the table. Our hands are such important tools. Learning to use them and becoming confident in using them is essential. 

Finger painting is not just for little ones. Please do try this with older children. They need sensory play too.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Spring in a Bowl

This a a project I did with our afternoon hand building ceramic class for age 6-8. Both the kids and I had so much fun making these little garden bowls full of vegetables that I just have to share it with you. I went a bit nuts photographing the project. I just could not get enough of the sculpted vegetables. We used low fire white clay and low fire glazes for this one.

I lay the vegetables out onto a tray for the kids to choose from. They each chose what they would like sculpt. Worked on that vegetable, by looking and feeling as the radish or carrot revealed itself from the clay. 

Each child had their own way of seeing and their own way of working. Here are the examples of the variety of vegetables that were made.

Once the students felt they were finished with the veggies, we made some pinch pots to put our inedible morsels into. Then one student had the idea to make a snail eating the veggies and like most good ideas, that idea spread through out the classroom and snails were crawling all over the bowls.

Once dried, I did a bisque firing. The kids used a variety of bright low-fire glazes for the veggies and bowls and I did a glaze fire. I was giddy waiting for the kiln to cool once fired. As usual opening the kiln was like opening a long awaited present. And I was not disappointed.

Look at these cute little radishes

and mushrooms

 and carrots

The kids were so excited and proud to take them home and I was so sad to see them leave the studio.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Bubble Wrap Printing (again)

I can't believe it has been over 2 months since my last post. I have so many projects to write about for the blog but, to be honest, running the studio has been keeping me from doing so.  We have been getting ready for summer at the Purple Twig, hiring new people, which I am very excited about, writing curriculum, answering a lot of emails about our programing and gathering materials as well as teaching our scheduled classes and workshops. 

That said, I really wanted to update my post on bubble-wrap printing. I first posted this project about 3 years ago. Since then we have used bubble wrap for many different projects and with many ages, from age 2- 9. We have added bubble wrap to collographs to make textural prints. We have printed bubble wrap on cardboard to add pattern to build sculptures. But we come back to this project again and again. 

This sensory project is one of my favorites. It's just so layered. If you have ever taken a class with me then you know there are a lot steps to our art making at the Purple Twig. Especially when we are working with ages 2-5. The kids consistently ponder the question  "What is the next material" When finished exploring the one they are working with.  This is a color exploring project that results in these gorgeous prints.


1. drawing Paper
2. tempera Paints- yellow, pink or red, and blue
3. small squeeze bottles ( I put the paint in the squeeze bottles or get the IKEA ones)
4. brayers ( if you don't have brayers then the hands do just fine)
5. bubble wrap both tiny and large ones

I tape down the different sizes of bubble wrap onto the table, covering the entire surface. Just squeezing the paint onto the table covered with bubble wrap is a joy for the children. The texture of the bubble wrap alone is an enjoyable sensory experience, running their hands on it, popping the little bubbles.

First I give them red or pink tempera paint to roll around. We then make a print from the pink by laying a piece of paper gently onto the now pink bubble wrap. I then give them yellow paint to squeeze onto the pink to mix into orange. We then make a print on the same sheet of paper. We all then move over to a clean patch of big bubble wrap and I give them blue to squeeze onto the table. Make a print and then yellow again to make green. And then print again to make layered prints

Then hands get in there and all the colors start getting mixed together and we just keep taking prints from the colors the kids are mixing.