hello murals!

This summer we introduced a new fine art weekly camp theme: mural making. We selected a variety of projects that let the kids work with many different mediums, as well as projects that offered the opportunity to work together as well as on their own.

Here are some of the individual landscape murals that were done early in the week.

the messy artist murals by kids nj summer art camp nj art classThe culmination of the session was this collaborative mural, done on the last day of camp. Our 1st-2nd grade section kids all worked on it as a team.

the messy artist mural campFirst they had to brainstorm to come up with a theme. Outer space won out, and the challenge was on.fine art classes for kids nj

This project was a great lesson in procedural thinking, with the kids needing to figure out how to build the image from the background out.

They decided to paint the background first, and then glue on images they created and cut from colorful construction paper.

new jersey art class for kids nj art class camp and party new jersey art campOnce again they brainstormed, coming up with images that would work for the mural’s theme.

mural camp in nj kids mural project by childrenThe kids had to determine what colors and designs would be used to give the mural a cohesive outer-spacey look. A big discussion centered on how many rocket ships would be appropriate to have. Answer: 2.


This mural will remain at The Messy Artist until we need the wall space, a lasting reminder of summer, and kids creating art together!

the messy artist mural camp


Artist Harvest update – August 2015

art class camp and workshops for kids njIn May we were part of Livingston Family Fun Day, a fantastic town wide event. Our Artist Harvest large-scale installation project was part of the Food Day area, encouraging the appreciation of healthy fruits and vegetables – and art.   Thanks to Stacey Rubinstein, Alan Karpas and the Livingston DPW for making everything happen and run so smoothly.the messy artist artist harvest

the artist harvest sculptures new jersey art classes for kidsThe DPW helped us get our giant fruit and vegetable sculptures to the event in the Livingston Oval, and treated our cargo preciously!

fine art class camp amd parties new jersey large fruit and vegetable sculptures the artist harvestOver 100 children stopped by our booth that day to help us paint our giant pepper, “Peppered Pollock,” inspired by Jackson Pollock’s Number 8 painting. Splattering many colors of paint on the pepper on a perfect spring day brought smiles to everyone who did it. We were overjoyed at how receptive the town and families were to our project.

livingston at 200Livingston is continuing to show the love for the Artist Harvest: we’ve recently received confirmation that the sculptures will be on long-term public exhibition in front of three Livingston Town Buildings. Starting in September, Livingston Town Hall, Livingston Library, and Livingston Community Center will be the display locations.

sculpture of fruits and vegetablesMeanwhile – when we are not holding camp or class sessions this summer – we are finishing up work on the remaining 3 sculptures: the Pear-casso (inspired by Pablo Picasso), Georgia OʼPeach (inspired by Georgia OʼKeeffe) and Vincent Van Gogh Bananas (inspired by Vincent Van Gogh). Vincent Van Gogh Bananas is almost finished, and the peach and pear are up next. Stay tuned for more updates and information on the exhibition!nj best kids art class nj kids art class art classes for children new jersey

hello water beads!

water bead sensory playWhat are water beads? They are small pellets, made of a super absorbent polymer. After soaking them in water for 6-8 hours, they are about 30x bigger than their original size, and are squishy, wet fun. Although they look like bubbles, they are a solid gel all the way through, and crumble if they are smashed. Eventually the beads release the water again, which is why florists use them for flowers and plants. In fact, polymer is what is used in diapers for absorbency. It is also non-toxic.

best art classes for children njItʼs always fun to try something for the first time, and we were curious how these would work out. Using one full bag of the beads (we got ours from Amazon) seemed like a good way to start, so we enlisted several large bowls to start the experiment. We added a layer of beads and covered them with lots of water.

water beadsThe one bag made enough beads to use in our 2ʼ x 3ʼ water play sensory bin! When we introduced them to the children, they were an immediate hit. The children enjoyed running their hands through them, collecting different colors and scooping them up in cups and bowls we had added to the mix.

art classes for kids nj the messy artist fine art class for kids njWe brought them out during a staff meeting to introduce everyone to them, and couldnʼt keep our hands out of them. The adults appreciated the soothing feel, a calming experience.

The next question was how to store them, and for how long. After a few different attempts, we ended up keeping them in large plastic storage bins, loosely covered. They lasted for 4-5 days, then started dissolving. We let them dry out and then disposed of them.

imgresWe are definitely going to add them to our sensory bin and birthday party activity rotation, and are looking forward to trying some fun activities with them. Two in particular that are simple and fit in well with what we already do are:

  • Adding them to shaving cream
  • Freezing them

There are also completely natural and edible versions of water beads, created by using different types of seeds or tapioca pearls. They also absorb water, and can be colored with food color for a more homemade version. Here are links toarticles about using them:

Have you tried any of these types of water beads – manufactured or natural? Which are your favorites?nj art class and camp for kids

Hello butterfly paintings!

the messy artist kids art studioSomething as simple as tweaking the scale of a project creates excitement about it for the students. Working very large or very small intrigues the children, and encourages them to use a new perspective. With its large size paper and method of painting without using brushes, this symmetry painting captures kidsʼ attention from the start. They learn about primary colors, secondary colors, and symmetry by creating a big and bold butterfly shaped painting.

Age Level: 3 – 5 years


  • Learning about symmetry
  • Learning about primary colors
  • Learning about and creating secondary colors


  • 18” x 24” white paper (2-3 per student, and one for the teacher to demonstrate with)
  • tempera paint in primary colors
  • small containers for paint – we use condiment sized plastic cups (set of 3 for every 2 students)
  • plastic trays or lids to keep the paints together – we use takeout container lids
  • wooden craft sticks (set of 3 for every student)

art classes for kids new jerseyTeacher Preparation:

  • Cut out butterfly shape from 18” x 24” papers by folding in half, and using a prepared template to cut around. Make 2-3 per student, and one for the teacher to demonstrate with.
  • Fill containers with paint, one set of primary colors per every 2 students to share. Place in plastic tray for easier carrying and use by the students
  • Put 2 sticks in each dish so each student has their own.
  • Create sample artwork.


Show students the sample artwork and tell them they will be creating this painting, but they wonʼt be using any brushes.

Bring out the paints and sticks, and talk to them about primary colors (red, yellow, and blue). Primary colors are colors that cannot be made by mixing any colors, but they are the basis for all other colors: by mixing the primaries, all the colors can be created. Red, yellow and blue are the primary colors.

In todayʼs project, they will be creating secondary colors by mixing primary colors.

kids butterfly projectHave the students start at the top of their butterfly and using a stick, pick up some yellow paint. Tap it onto the upper part of the butterflyʼs wing. Now do the same with red, putting it on or right beside the yellow. Encourage the students to use a lot of paint.

Have them fold the wings together and vigorously rub the paper. Open it up again – the colors have mixed together! They have created a secondary color – without using a paintbrush!

art party for children new jerseyNext have them do blue and red in the middle of the butterfly, and finally blue and yellow at the bottom.

painting project for kidsWhen they have finished creating all 3 secondary colors, have them look at their paintings. Show them that they are symmetrical – the same on each side.

teaching primary colors to childrenStudents can do more mixing on the same butterfly papers, or start another if they wish. These always turn out great, and kids are so proud of them!

art classes for kids njThey take a while to dry and can go home the next session.kids art

Hello 3D paper cities!

3d paper sculptureWe love open-ended process-oriented art projects here at The Messy Artist, and this 3D paper sculpture project gets high marks on both counts. We often read a Dr Seuss book before we start to get the kids imaginations inspired and fired up. Oh The places You’ll Go has lots of interesting scenes, as do many other Seuss books.

Age Level: 3- 5 and up


  • Building 3D paper sculptures
  • Encouraging children to build up and not flat
  • Working on folding, cutting and gluing skills
  • Encouraging experimentation in buildingfun process art


  • 12” x 18” sheet of black construction paper, one per child
  • strips of many colors of construction paper in varying lengths and thicknesses
  • glue sticks
  • scissors
  • labels

Teacher Preparation:

  • Cut construction paper into strips, ¼’ – 1” thick, at least 6 inches long
  • Write children’s names on stickers (to be put on projects)
  • Prepare sample project


If you wish, read aloud to the children the book Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss.

Show the children the sample project. Explain to them that they will be building their own fantastic creation out of paper today.

open ended art projectDemonstrate some of the trickier elements, such as folding the paper to make stairs, and how to glue a strip so it makes a loop.art project 3-5 year old paper cities

Let the children get started, and walk around to help if any is needed. Encourage them to create as crazy a structure as they wish. This project can take up as much time as the children have interest in it.

art studio east hanoverWe ask the children to describe what they are making and hear some fantastic responses. We’ve heard circus, playground, beach, airport – we love their imagination and creativity!kids art class camp and party north nj morris county nh art classes for children

Hello shredded paper!

the messy artist art studio for kidsOne of the children’s favorite materials in our custom-built sensory box is shredded paper. For us, it is a perfect material: it has a unique texture and lightness, and it allows us to re-use paper. We are always looking for ways to repurpose anything we don’t need, and shredding unused flyers and brochures to use in our box gives them a new life.

We also customize the paper colors for certain occasions. For example, in the fall, around Halloween, we use orange paper. We coordinate with other events going on in our studios, especially when we are focusing on certain colors in our curriculum.

shredded paper sensory play sensory play for kids
With most of the materials in our sensory box, we incorporate tools and toys, such as buckets and shovels in the rice or small plastic animals in the beans.process oriented art class

With the shredded paper, all the kids need is their bodies. They love to put it on their heads, bury each other in it, hide their feet, pretend to be birds – all kinds of exploratory and imaginative play. Often the children get swept up in the joy of throwing the shredded paper up in the air, and onto the other children. Some kids may not enjoy this, and we help them express that to the thrower.best art class for children new jersey fine art class camp and party north new jerseyart camp for kids morris county nj

We emphasize the sensory aspects of every material we use in the sensory box, and encourage the children to really explore the paper. What does it sound like when you rub handfuls of it together? Does it sounds like rain? How about when I drop some one your hand? Is it wet like rain? What happens if we pull on it? Does is break or rip into pieces? We lead them to use their senses to experience all aspects of the paper.

Our sensory box is 4 feet square, with a nice wide edge for sitting. It also has a fitted lid that we use to close the box when playtime with the sensory box is over. This helps children who have a difficult time transitioning move on to something else since the sensory box is not accessible.new jersey art class camp and parties

Before we had this custom built box made, we used a plastic sand pit with a lid, which could easily be used at home.


To prepare the shredded paper, we use an office paper shredder.   We make enough to fill the box, along with some extra. Some paper inevitably gets tossed out of the box and dirty and we need to replenish throughout the week. The shredded paper is kept in a large clean garbage bag and hung on a wall in our storeroom until we need it.

Clean-up after playing with shredded paper is very easy if you have smooth floors, as we do. We simply sweep it up and recycle any paper that is too dirty to use. To use it in a location with carpeting, we suggest putting down a tarp or blanket you can shake out so you will not have to vacuum or pick it out of the carpet.

This is an absolute hit with kids and we love shredded paper weeks! Have you ever tried it?art class for kids north nj

hello AFI Art Show!

best art class for kids north jerseyWe had another very successful session of Art Foundations Intensives here at The Messy Artist, with an expansion of the program, now in its second year. This year, we grew to four levels of students who completed the comprehensive course, up from three last year. Our Art Foundations Intensive is an invite-only full-year course for the serious art student, with a prerequisite of taking our Art Foundations Class. The AFI students work for 35 weeks on drawings, paintings, and sculptures, in addition to learning the philosophies behind great art.

To augment their class, this year students also took a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Messy Artist instructors accompanied the students and discussed pieces of art on display, and students sketched in the galleries.

The students presented final pieces in an art show on Sunday, June 14th in our studios. On display were final projects, as well as a site-specific art piece created by the students before the show. The site-specific piece consisted of life size tape body sculptures lit by glowing paint in a darkened room.childrens art show nj the messy artist art studio for kids

There was also a participatory mural created at the show, where guests were given slips of paper with ideas on what to draw on the mural.art class camp and party new jersey

The students are justifiably proud of their artworks, and we are impressed with all the hard work they put in. We can’t wait to see what they do next year!