hello flowers!

Celebrating the unique joys of each season is a large part of our curriculum.  We like to incorporate the experiences of each season (such as going to the beach = sand and sand art) as well as natural elements linked to each season (pumpkins in fall, for example).  As flowers are such a special part of summer, we have a few projects that make use of them during this warmest, sunniest part of the year.

Painting with flowers:

art class kids nj

art class children new jersey

“Painting with flowers is one of my favorite activities.  We use great big Gerber daisies, dip it in the paint, and make prints.  It’s gorgeous every time,” says Donna Bernstein, CEO and creator of The Messy Artist.

Here are some ways we make this project go smoothly:

  • Use strong flowers (sunflowers, gerbera daisies) so that they can withstand the dipping into paint and pressing onto paper repeatedly by little hands.


  • Use coordinating colors of tempera paint, on paper plates, for dipping the flowers.  Put only a small amount of paint out and spread it around.  For this (or any kind of printmaking), too much ink will result in a “blobby” image.  We like to use paper plates to make the clean up easy and fast.  The colors we select look great together, so that no matter what colors the children choose to use, the finished piece will have a cohesive look.  To that end, we generally use colors that will not make brown when all mixed together (which children love to do – and we encourage).


  • Allow children to make their own choices and complete their own project.  If they want to use all the colors or only one – that is fine!  They are the artists and make the decisions for their canvases.  A caregiver reaching in to add what they think should be done takes away from the child’s sense of ownership and control over their artwork.   The process of expressing their own artistic vision builds children’s self-esteem.





Flowers as inspiration:

We also draw inspiration from flowers – not just use them as artistic tools!

Here are some drawings and paintings from an adult workshop held last week, and our fine art camps for kids grades 1-5 so far this summer.









ImageHope you are stopping to smell the flowers this season!

hello Savannah!

Savannah at Nephcure Fundraiser at Messy Artist
Savannah creating a colllage

This Saturday we hosted a special event at The Messy Artist: a fundraiser for one of our students, Savannah, and Nephcure. Three year old Savannah was diagnosed with Nephrotic Syndrome, a chronic kidney disease, earlier this year.  As a way to help, we opened our studio to families to come in and have fun, create art and raise money for this foundation that supports kidney disease research.




An article featured in the Millburn-Short Hills newspaper The Item explains more about Savannah’s experience with Nephrotic Syndrome:

Millburn Township resident to host fundraiser for NephCure in her art studio

 Thursday, June 27, 2013 Last updated: Thursday June 27, 2013, 2:40 PM



The Item of Millburn and Short Hills

Memorial Day weekend in 2012 was a memorable one for Whippany resident Kimberly Paine and her family but not in a positive way.

Paine remembers almost everything about that weekend. It was Friday, May 25, and she and her family were preparing to spend a weekend at the Jersey shore.

That morning, Paine recalled, her then 2-year-old daughter Savannah had developed swelling in her face. The swelling then worsened and traveled down her daughter’s body to her legs. Paine said she knew something was wrong.

She took her daughter to the hospital where she was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome (NS), a chronic kidney disorder that affects one in every 200,000 children and can affect adults, too. When an individual has nephrotic syndrome, his or her kidneys leak an excessive amount of protein from the blood into the urine. Since being diagnosed, Savannah has been in the hospital twice because her body relapsed when her doctors tried to wean her off of the steroids. Now she is doing well, according to her mother.

“She’s been a real trooper,” Paine said about her daughter.

And since Savannah has been diagnosed with NS, Paine has gotten involved with raising awareness about the disorder through the NephCure Foundation.

She and Savannah will be attending a fundraiser this Saturday, June 29, called “Smiles for Savannah” at The Messy Artist in East Hanover, which is being hosted by Donna Bernstein, a township resident and owner of the art studio. “We’re thrilled to be able to do this. Nephrotic Syndrome is not a well-known disorder,” Bernstein said.

Bernstein described Savannah, now 3, who is a student in her Monets class for children ages 2 1/2 to 4, as a sweet and vivacious girl who loves to paint and play with play dough.

After Savannah was diagnosed with NS, her mother wanted her to be active in activities with other children her age, so she kept her enrolled in the art class. Keeping Savannah around other youngsters can sometimes be a challenge, her mother explained, since she is at a higher risk of catching chicken pox and other similar viruses.

When a person’s blood is leaking protein, it compromises his or her immune system, Paine explained. In Savannah’s case, Paine noted, because her medication is working well it prevents her from catching such illnesses.

They are both looking forward to Saturday’s event.

“Some people have it but they don’t really talk about it. I hope to raise money, raise awareness and get support groups going,” Paine said.

The fundraising event will be held from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., in the art studio at 356 Route 10 West, East Hanover. The event, designed for children ages 18 months to 6-years-old, will have five stations for the children to play on including sensory dough, a bean box, a collage project, easel painting and a mystery messy table.

No pre-registration is necessary and all profits will go to the NephCure Foundation. The event costs $25 for one child, $40 for two children and $50 for three children.

Bernstein said their goal is to raise about $1,200 for nephrotic syndrome.

“It’s quite a terrible disease,” she noted.

For more information about the event, visit www.themessyartist.com. To learn about nephrotic syndrome and NephCure, visit www.nephcure.org.



Shredded paper, goop, a translucent collage, table painting, and easels with chalk all added up to a memorable event, and we were proud to make a nice donation to Nephcure after the fundraiser.  Thank you to all the families who came out to make this a great day!





Our next community service event will be our first ever blood drive, on Sunday July 28 from 10am – 3 pm.  You can find out more or even register to donate blood here: http://goo.gl/VXBRt