Painting the pepper!

This week we’ve been finishing up the final details for this Saturday’s event – an unveiling of 3 of our Artist Harvest sculptures, with an invitation to the public to help us paint our “Peppered like Pollack.” We’ll be splattering our specially prepared 6 foot pepper Jackson Pollack style and want everyone to join us!peppered like pollack artist harvest

It’s all happening at the Livingston Oval, in Livingston NJ, from 10am – 1pm on Saturday May 23. The Oval is on South Livingston Avenue, behind the Livingston Library.

We are thrilled to be part of Livingston’s Family Festival Day, a special event during the town’s 18th annual Youth Appreciation Week.  The Family Festival Day is a community-wide celebration, from 10am-3pm, offering many family friendly activities.

We’ll be with the Food Day festivities, a perfect match for the Artist’s Harvest message of healthy eating. Donna Bernstein, owner and COO of the The Messy Artist was inspired to create The Artist Harvest from other large-scale sculptures projects such as “The Cow Parade” and “The Great Light Way”  (the West Orange light bulb sculptures). “I decided to create fruits and vegetables to instill healthy eating for children and to paint the sculptures in the style of famous artist to promote awareness of art history,” said Bernstein.   She added, “Another wonderful part of the process has been to watch the students work cooperatively to create community art.  I had never created large-scale sculptures, so it has been a learning process. We are thrilled with the end results and look forward to sharing them with the Livingston community.”munch room artist harvest straw dali artist harvest sculpture with kids the messy artist harvest large sculpture with kids the messy artist

Our “Straw-Dali” (a strawberry painted in the style of Salvador Dali) and Munch-Room (a mushroom painted in the style of Edvard Munch) are completed and will be on display. The Peppered like Pollack will be awaiting its painting in the style of Jackson Pollack, splattered by the public. We can’t wait to see how it turns out!

To learn more about Food Day go to or like the Livingston Food Day Facebook page at To learn more about the Messy Artist go to And to see the display, be sure to come out on Saturday for the Family Festival.

exciting Artist Harvest update!

All the hard work on the Artist Harvest is coming to FRUITion! (sorry, we couldn’t resist). We will be presenting 3 of our sculptures at the Livingston Oval on May 23 from 10-1 pm. Artist Harvest w Web

We are proud to announce that the Messy Artist will be featured at Livingston’s Family Festival Day, a featured event during the town’s 18th annual Youth Appreciation Week.  The Family Festival Day, scheduled for Saturday May 23, 2015, is a community-wide celebration, from 10am-3pm, offering many family friendly activities including pony rides, a petting zoo, craft tents, face painters, a giant blow-up obstacle course and slides, a chalk walk, and others.

The Messy Artist will be displaying half of the Artist Harvest collection in the Food Day tent.   Food Day is a nationwide celebration focused on access to healthy foods and it was created to inspire positive changes in our diets and our food policies.  Livingston is an active participant in this real food movement and has hosted food day events for the past three years.  Our Artist Harvest collection, a concept conceived by Donna, excites children and adults alike about fruits and vegetables while also honoring the style of a famous artist.

On display at the Food Day tent will be 3 pieces out of the 6-piece collection:

  • Munch-Room- a mushroom painted in the style of Edvard Munchsummer art camp nj
  • Straw-Dali – a strawberry painted in the style of Salvador Dalifine art class nj
  • Peppered like Pollack- a pepper painted in the style of Jackson Pollackartist harvest the messy artist

Here is where you come in! Because we want to get even our youngest artists involved in this public art project, children will be invited to help us complete the Peppered like Pollack.  The display will start at 10am with the pepper in plaster ready for paint and we will end our display at 1pm with a work of art thanks to our many visitors who will pick up a brush and splatter away.   Please consider joining us, and dress for the mess!

Here’s a slideshow of The Artist Harvest Project as it has progressed. Students and staff have been working together to create the giant fruits and vegetables:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To learn more about Livingston’s Youth Appreciation Week go to

To learn more about Food Day go to and to learn more about Livingston’s efforts, email Stacey Rubinstein at or like the Livingston Food Day Facebook page at

hello sand on sandpaper!

the messy artist new jerseyAs we move though our session exploring texture, our sand on sandpaper artworks get the kids immersed in sand’s gritty characteristics. This project is lots of fun and turns out beautifully; sometimes the sand has an almost dreamy screen-print appearance.

Age Level: 2.5 – 6


  • Exploring the texture of sand
  • Following directions
  • Learning about glue

art lesson plan with sandMaterials:

  • Sandpaper – we use 60 -100 grit (coarse to medium so the texture is readily felt)
  • Glue in squeeze bottles
  • Colored sand, 2 or more colors
  • Salt shakers   (Note: We spent a lot of time finding just the right shakers to use for the sand. We learned through trial and error that some have holes that are too big, while others we tried have a shaker half and a pour half that kids like to open and dump. Good old-fashioned salt shakers are just right on all accounts: they’re the perfect size for little hands, are easy to fill, and the holes allow the sand to sprinkle out in the correct amount. At first we were a concerned because they are glass, but the glass is so thick that it’s not a problem.)
  • Trays with edges
  • Labels

Teacher Preparation:

  • Cut sandpaper to 5 x 7 “ if not already that size
  • Put sand into shakers
  • Write each child’s name on a label and put on back of piece of sandpaper, then place in tray. This makes it easy to hand out the pre-labeled sandpaper to each child, and keeping the project confined to a tray makes for quicker cleanup.

art project 4 year oldProcedures:

Talk to the children about sand – where they may have seen it before (beach, sandbox) and then discuss its texture. Ask them for words to describe it.

Explain that the sandpaper already has sand on it, but they are going to be adding more, in a special design that they create.

art studio for kidsDemonstrate squeezing the glue onto the sandpaper by holding the bottle close to the sandpaper, not high in the air.

art party for kids njThen they will sprinkle sand onto the sandpaper by using the sand shakers, mixing the colors if they want.

best art class for kids new jerseyNext they will pick up the sandpaper with both hands, shake it back and forth so the sand covers all the glue, and then finally tip the sand off onto the tray. The only sand left will be stuck to the sandpaper.

fine art classes for children nj art class and camp njIf the students want, they can add more glue and shake sand again onto their artworks.

art lesson planThese artworks take overnight to dry and we send them home the next time the class meets.

Hello JCC MetroWest!


jcc logoWeʼre growing! Starting this summer, we are expanding our class locations to include the JCC MetroWest in West Orange. Weʼre thrilled about this partnership that will allow us to bring our early art education classes to a wider audience. Our 7 week classes this summer will be Picasso (age 18 month – 3 year with caregiver) and Chagalls (3 -5 year olds, drop off).

To kick things off, we will be hosting a free open house at the JCC on Wednesday May 6. This will give families a chance to check out the classroom, see our unique station play set up, and meet the staff. Donna Bernstein, owner and creator of The Messy Artist, will be leading the open house and happy to provide information about the program. Please RSVP so we know to expect you!5 and under strip

Wednesday May 6
10 am – 12 pm
 * Free *
ages 18 months – 5 years
JCC MetroWest
760 Northfield Ave
West Orange, NJ 07052
Please RSVP to Katy Strulson, or 973-530-3915


What can we expect at the open house and Messy Artist classes at the JCC?

The same things we bring to our classes at our regular studios! For the open house, children and parents will experience our program first hand and enjoy creative play time together. Students can explore different activities, including our sensory box full of colorful beans, our messy station featuring our stretchy, sticky and gooey goop, painting with odd objects, and a collage project.the messy artist fine art classes for kids

What should my child wear?

We will provide smocks , but sometimes things can get messy, so it’s best to wear clothes that can get dirty.flower ptg 3 chagalls logo

Do we have to be Jewish to attend?

No – all are welcome to attend the Messy Artist open house – as well as any activities – at the JCC.

fine art class childrenHow do I register?

Please RSVP to Katy Strulson, or call 973-530-3915.

Hello string and straw paintings!

art class camp and parties for children morris county njPainting with strings and straws is a great way for students to experience process-oriented art and creating with non-typical tools. The children enjoy seeing how the paintings evolve with each step; the looks of pride they have with their completed artworks says it all!

Click here for a PDF to download or print of Hello string and straw paintings

Age Level: 4-6


  • Following multi-step directions
  • Expanding childrenʼs ideas of how and what you can use to create art
  • Learning about symmetry


  • Tempera paint
  • String
  • Straws
  • Thick White Paper (doesnʼt have to be watercolor paper, but thicker than construction paper )
  • Large wooden craft sticks
  • Small condiment containers with lids for paint
  • trays to organize materialskids art project

Teacher Preparation:

  • Cut string into approximately 2 foot lengths and arrange on a tray (one per child, plus a few extras just in case)
  • Prepare 2 sets of tempera paint in cups. We used red and blue, and had one per child for the blue and one per every 2 kids for the red.  We also watered down the red to make it thinner and easier for the kids to blow with the straws. (Placing lids on the containers keeps the paint from drying out so we can prepare ahead of time. We also reuse the paint containers if they havenʼt gotten too messy by snapping a lid on them for later use.)
  • Fold paper in half, one per child
  • Write each childʼs name on a label to put onto their artwork laterbest art class new jersey


Tell the children that today they will be creating a painting, but they wonʼt be using, brushes, or their fingers, or their feet, or anything that they have used in class before. What will they be using? Two things that they may have used in other ways, but today are using to make art. If you open your mind to new ideas, you might come up with a way to create art out of almost anything.

Todayʼs paintings will be made by using two different materials. The first is string.the messy artist

Show the children how they will be holding the string in one hand and then dipping the other end into the cup of paint. Using the craft stick, they will push the string into the paint until all except for about a 6 inch tail is covered in paint.nj art parties for kids

Then they will take it out, place it on one side of their paper, leaving the unpainted tail sticking out over the edge. Next theyʼll fold the paper in half and rub it. What do you think will happen? (see what they predict) Open the folded paper up to reveal the design the string has made. By folding and rubbing the paper they have created a symmetrical project lesson plan

Have the kids move all their chairs back and away from the work table before sending them to the supply table to pick out a piece of string and a craft stick. It is easier for them to push all the string into the paint if they are standing. While they are getting their supplies from the table, pass out the cups with the first color of paint, one to each child.

Once they have covered their strings in paint, give them a piece of paper. Make sure the strings are really covered in paint so that they will get a good fine art class for children new jersey art studio for kids new jersey

Have a tray or paper plates out on the table so that the children can easily discard the paint covered fine art class for kids new jersey

Next, the instructor will demonstrate the second part of the project – painting with straws. To do this, dip the straw into the new color of paint, and then tap it onto the paper. Blow through the straw to disperse the paint drops. The papers can then again be folded and rubbed to create symmetry if the students wish.

Before the students start with this step, we like to make sure that all students know how to blow through the straws (we donʼt want anyone sucking up any paint). We pass out all the straws (or have them get them from the supply table) and have them practice blowing through them before handing out any paint.birthday party art new jersey

We encourage the children to use lots of drips of paint to create a layered painting, and they enjoy doing so. This project is always a messy favorite in our studios!art class toddlers nj new jersey art camp summer art camp new jersey

hello stampers!

art project for kidsStamping, part of the printmaking family, always fascinates children. There’s something magical and mysterious about the process, never being sure of the result until the stamp is lifted. Moving beyond the simple rubber stamps and inkpads students may have experienced before to new materials opens a world of opportunities for them to explore.

Tip – it is always best to use a very thin layer of paint for dipping the stamper in. Too thick a layer will gum up the stamper and make a muddy/blurry print. This is true for all stamping, no matter the type of stamper being used.

Texture stamping.  For our youngest stampers, we’ve found these great stampers that allow children to have fun with the unpredictable and satisfying effects of printmaking, as well as introduce the idea of texture.

best kids art class camp party new jersey

Each child selects one stamper from our “supply table” and then stamps with it.   After a few minutes, we have them trade with their neighbor to try another design. While they are stamping, we discuss the shapes made by the different textures on the stamps.the messy artistApple stamping. We do this in the fall, when apples are in season.

kids art class new jersey

There are a few ways for the kids to hold onto the apples and dip them into paint, but we’ve found that cutting notches into the back of the apples is the best.the messy artist fine art classes for kids apple stamping

Other ways are to just leave them in complete halves, or use forks.

best party for kids njWhen preparing the apples for stamping, cut some in half horizontally and some vertically so that there are different shapes. A horizontal cut makes a rounder shape, with a star design in the center from the seed holes. Vertical is a more oblong shape, and is hit or miss with any seed hole art studio new jerseyKids love to create with any type of food!

Create your own stamper. For kids K and up, this is a great multi-step project. They get to create their own stamper and then stamp with it.

art party camp and class nj

The stampers are made from a few layers of cardboard, wrapped in rubber bands.stamping projects for kids

As with all of our stamping, we like to use paper plates for the dipping paint. It’s easy to create thin layers of paint on them, and the cleanup is simple. We also like to use a few different coordinating colors on these plates, so the children get to see color mixing in action as they stamping project

hello beading!

the messy artist art studio for kidsBeading is a great project to do when you want to limit the mess and/or have a project that can go home with the students at the end of a single class period. We often do this as a first or last project of a session. Itʼs a favorite first project so that the kids can take something home from their very initial class and show it off. Oftentimes our projects need to dry or are multi-step artworks that donʼt come home for a few weeks.

In our programs, we like to figure out ways for our students to have unique opportunities, and in this case, it’s doing beading with 2 year olds. We make it age appropriate for this young age group by using pipe cleaners and really large beads.  The stiff yet bendable pipe cleaners and large foam beads and buttons make it much easier for little hands to be successful at  beading.

beads for 2 year olds

kids beading projectAge Level: 2 – 5 years


  • Eye hand coordination
  • Following directions


  • Pipe cleaners
  • Beads of different shapes and sizes, buttons, cut straws, pasta, bells – anything with holes
  • Stickers for name tags
  • Containers for the beads

Teacher Preparation:

  • Twist one bead onto the end of pipe cleaners (figure 2 per child, depending on classtime) to keep beads on pipe cleaner.
  • Write each studentʼs name onto a label.
  • Place sorted beads into containers for children to access – we usually do one container per every two students.

process oriented art for kidsProcedures:

Demonstrate for the students how they will be beading today. Show them how they will fit the bead over the pipe cleaner and push it down to the end. They can choose any colors or materials they like, and even make a pattern (repeating objects) if they wish. They should leave room at the end so it can be twisted together so the beads wonʼt fall off.

art lesson plan for kidsWe lay out the prepared pipe cleaners on our supply table so the children can walk over and select their own. As they are doing this, we place the containers with the beads on the tables.

As the children are beading, we also offer tips to the parents. Although it’s often the parents’ inclination to hold the pipe cleaner for their children,  we advise them not to.  It’s actually harder to bead if someone else is holding the pipe cleaner: eye-hand coordination is thrown off if someone else’s hands are in the mix!  We also advise the parents to encourage the children to hold the pipe cleaner near the top.  Everyone’s always surprised to see how well their 2 year old does when they follow these suggestions.

fine art classes for kids nj

When the children finish, twist the ends together so it makes a bracelet. Put their name tag sticker onto it if they choose not to wear it as a bracelet, or are moving onto other activities in the party kids new jerseymessy art and play