hello wild things!

Here’s a very fun project made in our storybook art class – life size “wild things”, inspired by the book Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

new jersey art studio for kids children

In our storybook art class for kindergarten and first grade students, a new story is featured each week.  Class starts with the teacher reading the week’s special book to the students, paying special attention to the illustrations.  The children then create art inspired by the plot and/or illustrations. The students learn new art techniques and discover how stories can provide inspiration for art. Beginner reading and comprehension skills are also conveyed as we move through each session.

where the wild things are project

Teacher Fran Saliani has enjoyed leading this class for many years, and has come up with some great projects based on the wonderful world of children’s literature.

Here is what Fran had to say about this project that involved lots of cutting, gluing, and hole punching.

“For our “wild thing” project, we read Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. In this classic picture book, Max makes mischief in his wolf suit and gets sent to his room without supper. As he continues his rowdy adventures a forest grows in his room. The raucous really gets going when he encounters the wild things on a remote island.

storybook art class the messy artist

The children created their own symmetrical Wild Things, using cut-paper collaging. They talked about what symmetry is and discussed that it means “same on both sides.”

We used cut paper construction to create our large-sized monsters, folding our paper in half and then cutting.   The children work on their cutting skills, and get to use symmetry in action when folding and cutting shapes so that they are the same on each side.

nj fine art class children fine art class morris county nj first grade project

Starting with the heads & bodies, we then added movable arms and legs with brass fasteners.

kindergarten art project based on book childrens art class new jersy

Finally the children added “wild” details such as horns, big teeth, hair and claws, all while keeping symmetry in mind.”

We appreciate the way this project embraces our philosophy of open-ended projects, where kids can be the decision makers as artists.  They can turn their wild thing into a cyclops, a three-eyed monster, a monster with horns – or any other way they want to use their imagination to construct their vision.  They experiment with the materials and tools and develop new skills while flexing their creativity.

new jersey nj fine art class party for kids best art class and party north nj fine art classes and parties favorite new jersey the messy artist fine art classes for kids

Everyone always has a great time making large scale “wild things” in this project!

hello resist painting!

Resist paintings are something we do in a few different styles here at The Messy Artist; we appreciate not only the results of these techniques, but the way it gets kids to think a few steps ahead.

kids art class and parties new jersey

A resist is where one material is used to repel or block (i.e. resist) another. For instance, drawing on paper with wax crayons and then painting over with watercolors creates a resist when the wax repels the paint and remains visible.

Resist paintings open the possibility to lots of layering and interesting effects. This post will focus on using masking tape as a resist, and we will look in depth in future posts at some of our other favorite resist methods.

In this project, students use masking tape to shield parts of a mounted canvas, which they then paint over. Once the tape is removed, clean canvas is revealed, creating white stripes. We had samples of two different types of painting style – color block and blended rainbow.

kids art class nj best best art classes and parites north jersey

We first go over all the steps to the project and show the kids some samples. The students then get a mounted canvas and some masking tape and create their design.

We encourage the children to plan out ahead of time how they want to lay out their tape so this part goes more smoothly. Younger children have trouble managing the tape; it is easy to get tangled. For that reason, we have found that 1st grade is the youngest age that can handle the full project (this group was 1st and 2nd graders).

For a 9” x 12” piece of canvas we have found that 4 or 5 pieces work best per project. We use pieces that stretch across the entire canvas, and try to get the kids to put the tape on angles, so itʼs not too symmetrical and grid-like.

Once the tape is in place, rub it so that it sticks well. If it’s not stuck tightly, the paint will seep under the tape and ruin the effect. An alternative to using canvas is to use card stock – if you do this, use drafting tape instead, as masking tape will rip the paper.

art studio for kids morris county nj

new jersey art class and party for kids

Once the taping is all done, we then collect the canvases and put them aside before the next step: color mixing. We do this to make sure they kids spend the time mixing the colors they need- they are eager to get painting.

Each child gets a palette (in this case a paper plate) with the primary colors of tempera paint, and a palette knife for mixing. They mix up the colors needed for their project and then we return the canvases.

fine art class and great parties messy artist resist paint kids project nj art studio art project for kids fun first second grade fine art class for kids nj


They get to work painting in the style they have chosen (color areas or blended colors) and cover the entire canvas.

reisit painting art studio for kids fine art class for children new jersey


Tape removal is always exciting to see how the resist has worked. Sometimes if the students are careful with the tape removal, they can create a new piece of art with the painted tape strips.


fine art class toddlers elementary school new jersey


kids resist painting project steps


creative fun art class party north new jersey

What do you think – are these kids proud of their art? What are your favorite resist projects for kids?

hello pointillism!

Pointillism is always a fun concept and style of painting to introduce to all level classes in our programs. We recently did this giant fruit painting project with an older class of students and love how it turned out.

kids fine art class new jersey project

First we explained that pointillism is creating a painting with small dots of pure color next to each other to create the illusion of new colors. No mixing and no brush strokes – just dots! We then showed students works made in that style, with Georges Seurat “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of la Grande Jatte” being perhaps the most famous example.

art class nj best

For our class project, we decided to go with a fruit theme, and each student picked one that appealed to them.

The first order of business was to get the kids to think big as they sketched their fruit in pencil.Often times they put a small drawing in the middle of a large piece of paper. For this project – and all pointillism – it really works best to work large. First we had them create their sketch on an 8”x 11” piece of paper, then expand it up to the painting size of 18” x 24”. We made sure their pencil sketches filled the entire piece of paper.

fine art class children new jersey art class and party for kids new jersey

We gave the kids plastic takeout container lids as palettes (we are always trying to reduce/reuse/recycle) and small brushes to get started. As they progressed, they also used cotton swabs to go in for smaller dots. When we do this in our younger classes, we only use the cotton swabs.

best kids art class new jersey teach pointillism children

We love the way that pointillism gets the kids to think about color. Since no color mixing is involved – the creation of the colors is done by placing the colors next to each other – the kids really have to figure out how to get the color they want.For example, for orange, they will use red dots next to yellow dots – but by using bigger red next to smaller yellow dots, they create a darker orange than if they use bigger yellow and smaller red. We like working on the wall like this so the kids can easily step back and get that “aha!” moment when the colors come together.

art classes and parties morrics county nj tween fine art class nj kids pointillism lesson

Painting in this style takes longer than many other methods, but the kids really enjoyed the process – and the results!

north jersy childrens are class strawberry pointillism childrens art pointillism kids art

hello shapes!

In our beginning classes we cover a different introductory theme each session, such as
texture or color. By introducing these elements into our projects and station play each
week, the idea is reinforced through various means. For example, if our color of the
week is green, we might have green play dough, use green paint on the easels, and create
a green themed project.
In our recent 10-week session we took on the idea of “shapes” and incorporated it in
various ways around the studio. We had fun coming up with ideas to reinforce the
unique shapes and after a few weeks, kids would come in to class and eagerly seek out
the shape of the week.

triangle art project
We had a collage project for our youngest students (1.5 – 2.5 years) featuring rectangle
shaped paper with smaller rectangles to glue on to it. The paper is labeled with the word
“Rectangle” on top to further immerse the children in the concept of the shape.

For this project we used small brushes (perfectly sized for little hands) and let them apply
the glue as they wished, then stick on the paper rectangles.

childrens art class nort jersey
Our older students (2.5 to 4 years) had a two-step project. First, we gave them strips of
colorful paper, and instruct them in using scissors to cut rectangles from it. We tell the
children to keep their “thumbs up” so they can get their thumb and fingers oriented
correctly. We also provided them with thin strips of paper so that they just had to make
one cut to be successful in creating a rectangle. Scissors can take a while to master, so
caregivers helped out as the kids got the hang of it.

cicrle art project for kids
Next we gave the kids these fun silicone brushed and let them paint on the colorful glue.
Finally they added the rectangles they had cut all by themselves.

orange stamping kids art fun rectangle project special glue

new jersey art studio for kids
Our triangle project was a collage of triangle shaped paper on a larger triangle shaped
piece. Again, we labeled the larger, base piece with the shape name: “Triangle”. For this
project we had the children use glue sticks for their collaging. Our lesson includes
information about what makes a triangle a triangle: three corners and three sides.

kids art class and party nj nj kids art class and party best
Sometimes we vary this project by using foil on the triangle base, which creates a novel
surface. We’ll also challenge the students to glue their triangle pieces on with the sides all
touching; it makes an interesting design.

traingle by Donna wht bg

toddler elementary school shape projects
For the younger kids, we do a stamping project with various round shaped objects to
create circles, on round paper labeled with the word “Circles”. For this type of project,
we use a thin layer of paint on a paper plate to create clean non-blobby stamps and for
ease of clean up.

This is a great way to use recycled objects to create art: we use tape rolls, dowels, bottle caps, old film canisters, etc. We keep a supply box going throughout the year and add to it when we find something that looks good.

shape project for young kids the messy artist fine art classes new jersey art classes north jersey childrens
The project for older kids is a favorite for both students and teachers: making circle prints
from oranges. We cut the oranges well in advance of class and then blot them, so they
are not too juicy to make a good print once dipped in paint.

We again use round paper labeled with the word “Circles” to stamp on, and coordinating colors of paint, thinly spread on paper plates. The kids are instructed to blot the oranges again after dipping them in paint for crisp prints. At this age (2.5 – 4 years old) they can follow these multistep directions.

fine art classes for kids new jersey fine art class art parties morris county nj north jersey kids art class project
Do you have any favorite shape-related projects? We’d love to see them!