hello Charley!

We are always inspired by the ways our students take what they have learned in class and incorporate it into their art.  As a new feature we are spotlighting individual student artists –  to share not only the art they create, but the personalities behind the pieces.

best art class for kids nj
hello Charley!

We chose 8 year-old Charley to kick off the series because she was so expressive in both her painting and her explanation of its meaning and the creation process. She has been coming to classes at The Messy Artist for over a year, and is currently a student in our full year Art Foundations Intensive Level 3, a class for advanced students by teacher recommendation.

So without further ado – meet Charley!

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Tell us about your painting “Feelings War”,  made earlier this year.

charleys dream painting art class new jersey

I thought of the idea the night before class when I couldn’t sleep, I wanted to make art about feelings. It means a “feelings war” and the positives trying to beat the negatives.

The red is angry, the black is unhappy/darkness, the blue is joy and the yellow is happiness. The angry colors are rough and sharp and the yellow is smooth and pleasant.

I drew it in pencil first on a canvas and started with the red flames, then I did the yellow swirls at the bottoms. Then I filled in the top and bottom with the colors and blended the black and blue to make a gradual change from the anger to happiness feelings.

When I look at it now, I am really proud of myself. I think it looks really good and I actually can’t believe I made it!

It is not exactly what I had envisioned, but it came out even better than that.

What is your first memory of making art?

My first memory of art is when I was little and I made stick figure people, sometimes I forgot the arms or the hair.

What does art mean to you?

Art is just fun for me, I love making new things and seeing how it turns out.

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What are your favorite things to do when you are not making art?

When I am not making art, I love to play outside, swimming and diving is what I love the most in summer. I also like acting, I have been in a few plays and taken acting classes. I really like to make silly videos on the ipad with my brother.

How do you feel when you are creating art?

When I am creating art I feel very happy, it takes my mind off of everything else and makes me feel like there is nothing else in the world but art when I am working on a project.

What would you say to someone who says they aren’t good at art?

I would say keep trying, there isn’t a wrong way to do art, everybody is different.

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What advice do you have for adults?

It’s okay to get dirty.

What is your favorite thing to have for dinner?

Noodles with butter.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?

The first thing I do in the morning is make my bed.

Do you have a favorite color?

My favorite color is light blue

What is your favorite place that you have been?

My favorite place I have been would be Puerto Rico.

Charley volunteering her time to help sort books during our recent children's book drive.
Charley volunteering her time to help sort books during our recent children’s book drive.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your art with us, Charley!

hello autumn!


Once again the change in seasons is an inspiration for our art projects here at The Messy Artist.  With the first day of autumn recently upon us, we turn to the pumpkins, leaves, corn and apples that are so wonderful this time of year.  We not only use these as subject matter, but as artistic tools!  Here are three of our best-loved fall art projects.

Pumpkin Stained Glass Window Project

fallartprojectkidsNJThese pumpkins are an all-time favorite because even the youngest artist can create a lovely piece.  This project does require a bit of prep work ahead of time, although once prepped it is clean, easy and fun.

Materials:  Clear contact paper (you can buy this in a hardware store or craft store)

9 x 12 Orange construction paper

One or all three of the following:

Orange tissue paper

Orange cellophane

Orange crepe paper


Prepping Procedures:

  1. Cut a pumpkin out of your 9 x 12 construction paper, making it as large as you can.
  2. Cut out the inside of your pumpkin shape so that you have about a 1 1/2 inch wide pumpkin frame.   artcclasschildrenNJpumpkin
  3. Cut a 9 x 12 piece of contact paper.
  4. Carefully, peel off the backing of the contact paper, but don’t throw it away!
  5. Very gingerly, stick your pumpkin frame on the contact paper.
  6. Place the contact paper backing back on the contact paper.
  7. Trim the edges of the contact paper to follow the shape of the pumpkin.
  8. Cut assorted small (1-2″) shapes out of your tissue paper, cellophane and crepe paper.

You are ready to go!   kidsartNJpumpkin

  1. Peel the backing off of the contact paper.
  2. Stick the assorted shapes on the sticky contact paper.
  3. Hang in a sun drenched window.
Beautiful shades of orange glow when the sun shines in!

Printing with Apples

In this fall favorite we use apples to print onto paper.  We use red paint and red apples and learn a bit about color, too. We like to use Delicious apples (in this case Red Delicious) as they have the most interesting shape.


  1. Cut apples in half, making sure to cut some lengthwise and some width-wise for a variety of shapes.  Using a sharp knife and cutting as straight across as you can will result in the best prints.  If you can cut the apple right through the seed area, you will get a star shape in the middle of the apple.  To do this, lay the apple on its side with the stem horizontal, and cut through the core.    Stick forks into the apples for the kids to hold onto.  bestartclasskidsnj
  1. Place thin layers of different colors paint on paper plates; less paint makes for a better print.  Too much will muddy up the print.  We used different shades of red, and some that had glitter in it.  toddlerartclassnjmosrriscounty
  1. Have the kids dip the apple into the paint, then press it onto the paper.  They can usually get more than one print from the painted apple.  livingstonartclasskidsbestnj

We have the kids using only a few plates of paint in order to encourage sharing.  The children love discovering what shape print is revealed on their paper when they lift their apple.  autumnartkidsnjartclassapplefineartclasskidsnj

Pumpkins at the Messy Station

Station play is an integral part of our program for our youngest artists; the Messy Station is where children use their senses to gather information about their surroundings. Varied materials facilitate exploration of color, texture, temperature, density, and fluidity. Children experiment with our stretchy goop, drippy slime, icy frozen paint, airy shaving cream, and in the autumn – pumpkin guts.


This is the easiest of the activities to prepare – just cut the top off of a pumpkin or two and let the kids explore.  For easier clean up, you can put the pumpkin on a tray or use a disposable tablecloth.  If the weather is like this gorgeous fall we have been having on the east coast, you could even do it outside.


If your child has an aversion to getting messy, try providing a fork or popsicle sticks for them to approach the pumpkins.  After they get comfortable with poking at it with a tool, they may just stick their hands in and have fun with the stringy guts and seeds inside.njkidsartclass

Kids get to experience the feel and smell of the pumpkin and many get involved in trying to pull out all the strings and seeds.  And maybe you can roast some pumpkin seeds when the fun is all over.kidsfineartmorriscounty


We’d love to know which project is your favorite –  happy autumn!