Goodbye Summer and Hello Fall!

As our summer session draws to a close here at The Messy Artist, we wanted to take a look back over the season and peek ahead to fall.

We had a wonderful time making art with our students all summer long in our caregiver and me classes (ages 18 months-5 years), drop off Mini-camps (age 3-5 years) and Fine Art camps (grades 1-8).

Some of the projects from the summer that we featured on our blog were: salt painting, bean mosaics, pool painting, plaster sculptures, and spherical paintings. Next week we will be featuring Claymation, which always caps off our summer session. The students are working hard on their videos, and we will post links to them next week! Throughout the summer (and all year) we also feature lots of photos on our facebook page of daily activities.

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Looking ahead to Fall, we have lots of exciting new projects as well as our well-loved favorite classes. Some of our classes are already filled, and we have added new opportunities for both kids and adult students.

  • home schooling class options for students age 3 years up to middle school
  • evening class option for our Picassos class
  • a new section of Art Foundations for 6th-8th graders
  • adult workshops on select Friday nights
  • two weeks of Mini-camp and Drop-in and Play in early September

In some other news, as we are growing here at The Messy Artist, we are creating a special program for our older students. Called “Studio 356”, this branch will focus exclusively on fine art for older kids and will feature specialized, in-depth instruction and open studio time. More details about this will be coming soon, and we are very excited about it.

Finally, we are looking forward to some off site opportunities this Fall. We are leading corporate events in NYC and even doing a pumpkin carving workshop the weekend before Halloween. We are also in the process of working out details for coming into local schools and offering enrichment classes; we still have some room in our schedule so please reach out to us if you would be interested in this for your pre-k or up students.

Thank you all for a wonderful summer and we look forward to seeing you in September!

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hello plaster sculptures!

Plaster Sculptures Lesson Plan: Hand Casts and Modigliani Inspired Combonorth jersey art classes for children

This is a project that combines two very different methods and styles of creating plaster sculptures and joining them together in the final piece. Students first make casts of their hands, and then make plaster coated pipe cleaner sculptures, long and lean in the style of Modigliani. Finally, they fuse these two pieces together. Download the lesson plan: Plaster Sculptures Lesson Plan

Age Level: 3rd – 6th grade


  • Learn about and create different plaster sculptures
  • Learn about the artwork of Modigliani
  • Think in the moment, be flexible about their creations
  • Teamwork


  • Vaseline
  • Plaster, cut in approx 4” strips (can have kids do this)
  • Scissors
  • Pipe cleaners (1 of one color and 2 of another color for each student)
  • Foil (one approx 2’ piece per student, and one 6” piece per student)
  • Plastic containers of water
  • Teacher Prep:
  • Cut plaster strips


Hand casts

  1. One partner should coat their hand in Vaseline so that the plaster will not sick to it.fine art class for kids north jersey
  2. Have the other partner start by dipping a plaster strip in water, brushing off the excess and placing it on the hand. Repeat until entire hand is covered. Do not go too far up the wrist or the plaster will be more difficult to remove.plaster hand casting for kids Grace and Iris plaster hand casting
  3. Let dry for about 5-10 minutes, until it is mostly stiff and feels firm.
  4. Cut slit in bottom, near wrist to allow student enough room to wriggle hand out. Depending on age of students, you may want to have the instructor do this.
  5. Set aside to dry.plaster hand cast

Modigliani-inspired Pipe Cleaner Sculptures

  1. Show the students some images of Modigliani’s sculptures.
  2. Give each student 3 pipe cleaners (one of one color and two of another) and the pieces of foil.
  3. Have students crumple the foil to make a ball, affixing it to the single pipe cleaner of one color. This will be the head of their figurative sculpture.the messy artist east hanover
  4. Take one of the other pipe cleaners and twist it around the pipe cleaner with the head on it, about ½ of the way down. This will make the art class party camp new jersey
  5. Take the final pipe cleaner and attach it to the bottom of the body pipe cleaner by twisting it up from the bottom. This will make the studio for kids new jersey
  6. Have the students lay the pipe cleaner body figures on top of the larger foil piece.
  7. Have them rip between the legs, and around each arm.  They will then mold the foil around each arm and leg and the class for kids north new jersey
  8. When finished, have them take their hand sculpture and play around with their figure sculpture to figure out a way they can work together. Bend it into the appropriate pose and then set the hand sculpture aside again.childrens art class camp and party north new jersey
  9. Now the students will add plaster to the foil sculptures, using the same process as they did for the hands: dipping the plaster strips in water and placing them on the figure.morris county new jersey best art class for kids
  10. When finished, set aside to dry.lesson plan for plast art project for kids
  11. The next class session, have students use plaster strips to join the two pieces together into their final finished piece.north jersey art classes for children
  12. As an additional step, the students can then paint the sculptures once they are dry. Oil or tempera paint work well on the plaster.

hello slime!

the messy artistThis unique textural experience keeps kids enthralled as they discover its special properties. Sometimes acting like a liquid, sometimes like a solid, this mixture of cornstarch and colored water is easy to make and provides open-ended experimentation.

Here is the recipe we use in class at The Messy Artist, and as we note – the mixing requires some elbow grease so it’s best for the adults to do that part. The kids can still help out by measuring, and mixing the food coloring into the water. If you choose to color your slime, you’ll want to do it by coloring the water first, before you add in the cornstarch. If you wait until the cornstarch and water are mixed to add the food coloring, you are in for a lot more of stiff mixing. It does however create a more streaky effect if you do it that way. You can also omit the food coloring and your slime will be the color of cornstarch: white.the messy artist slime recipe

We like to do this activity on trays so kids can enjoy it and keep it contained. It makes the cleanup much easier – we just whisk the whole tray away when it is time to move on to another activity.

slime from cornstarchWe either spoon out some slime onto the tray or put it into small plastic cups before class starts.

Accessories we provide children with include popsicle sticks, plastic spoons, little cups, plastic animals, toy people and/or characters to put in the slime. However, we don’t use all of these at once; maybe just one or two at a time.

messy fun projectWe do always use popsicle sticks, however, as these allow children who are a little tentative about the slime to play with it without having to touch it and get messy. Children love to cover the objects with slime and let it drip.

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Eventually the water slowly evaporates and the slime becomes cornstarch again.  Just add more water to get it back to the consistency you want.

art studio for kids njTo store, first pour off extra water, then keep in an uncovered container.  It will dry out, but you can just add warm colored water and mix, and you’re good to go again.

Happy sliming!





hello pool painting!

Summertime means enjoying outdoor activities such as going hiking or heading to the pool. Here at The Messy Artist, we’ve brought the pool INSIDE to do a fun art project with our younger students. It is a great physical art activity that gets the kids thinking about creating art in a non-traditional way – and to inspire them to look around them for other ways to create art from things they haven’t considered before.

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This was such a hit last year that we brought it back again this summer.  Click here to download a PDF lesson plan:  Pool Painting Lesson Plan

Age Level: 3- 6 years


  • To learn about primary colors and color mixing.
  • Gravity and texture are also concepts that can be discussed.
  • To get kids to think creatively about making art.
  • To use large muscle groups in creation.
  • To foster teamwork in making their paintings.


  • Kids or dog swimming pool (ours is a dog pool)
  • Tempera paint in squeezable containers (two primary colors, and white)
  • Golf balls – ideally, one per child
  • Plastic containers to hold golf balls (we use take round take-out containers)
  • 8×10 sheets of white paper (2 -3 per child)
  • small sponges (one per child)
  • bucket of soapy water
  • spray bottle with water

You will need an assistant for this project. You will also need an open space, large enough for the children to be circled around the pool.

Teacher Preparation:

  • Write each child’s name on the back of the a few blank pieces of paper before starting class so that they will each have some paintings to take home.
  • Make sure pool is clean.
  • Get a bucket with soapy water prepared for cleaning the pool afterwards.


  1. While sitting at a classroom table, tell the students about the project – they are going to be making art today with something they usually do something very different with! Show them some samples of previous paintings, and talk a little bit about primary colors. Explain how new colors can be made my mixing primary colors together and see if they can guess what new color will be created by the colors they are using. We chose blue and red on the day we did this project.the messy artist fine art classes for kids
  2. Have the kids walk over to an open area and hold hands to make a circle, then step back to make the circle even larger. Have the children sit jersey art studio for kids
  3. Put pool in center of circle.
  4. Place sheets of paper down to cover bottom of pool.pool painting project with golf balls
  5. Have teacher or assistant squirt paint around the edges of pool.
  6. Ask each child to select a ball from the plastic container and drop it into the art class camp and parties new jersey
  7. Now ask the kids to stand up and start trying to roll the ball through the paint and across the paper by tilting the pool.
  8. Have the kids work together to send the balls rolling to each child – say “Let’s send the ball to Micah”, and give each child a turn. Talk about gravity pulling the balls down. The texture of the golf balls creates bumpy tracks on the paper.process oriented art for children
  9. If needed, add more paint.
  10. Once papers on bottom of pool are painted, remove them and add more.
  11. Continue a few times depending upon the age of the students and the number of papers you will need to each child can take one home.
  12. When finished, have the children again sit down and place the golf balls back in the plastic container.
  13. Next let them each pick out a sponge from another container and have them start cleaning, scrubbing the sides and bottom that have paint. Use a spray bottle to squirt waters on areas where the paint needs to be loosened up a bit art class for children north jersey
  14. When sponges get paint filled, rinse them out and squeeze them in a container of soapy water. Hand back to the children so they can continue cleaning.
  15. The golf ball pool paintings dry quickly and can often be taken home the same day. We like to bring the parents into the classroom so they can see the completed artwork and how it was jersey childrens art class party and camp

hello spherical paintings!

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We taught this lesson in our painting camp last month and were reminded what a great project it is. Kids learn about perspective, shadowing, color blending and more.  Download a PDF lesson plan here:  Spherical Paintings Lesson Plan

Spherical paintings

Age Group: 3rd – 5th grade


  1. Techniques: Learning about mixing paint colors
  2. Concepts: Learning about light sources, highlights, midtones, perspective and shadows


  1. 18 x 24” paper
  2. pencils
  3. paintbrushes
  4. tempera paint
  5. round containers to trace for circles
  6. water containers
  7. paper towels
  8. paper plates to use as palettes

(A note about paper plates: we like to use the coated ones, so they do not absorb the paint and leave less for the students to use. Also each size plate has its own advantages, and we choose which size to use based on the class’ age group and level.

Smaller plates allow for less area for the children to spread the paint around, and keeps it in more controlled areas. This is good for younger kids so they don’t end up using all their paint to cover the plates.

Larger plates provide more area for mixing colors and are ideal for older/more advanced students who need that freedom.)

Teacher Prep:

Organize materials: nothing to set up ahead of time


  1. Give each student a piece of paper and a pencil and have them write their name on the back.
  2. Show students an example of the project and talk about light sources, highlights, midtones and shadows. We find a diagram like this is helpful:new jersey art class for kids
  3. Hand out plastic containers for the students to trace overlapping circles onto their papers. the messy artist fine art classes camps and parties
  4. Before starting to paint, have children select the colors they will use. For this project, the spheres will be a primary color and the background will be a contrasting color (across the color wheel from the spheres’ color).
  5. Give each child a paper plate with their selected sphere color paint on it, plus white and black.
  6. Have the students determine their light source, then first paint the highlighted area of their spheres white. Show them how to follow the curve of the sphere with the paint.
  7. Next have them paint the midtone of their spheres with the pure primary color. They will next blend the paints right on the paper to create a graduated effect. best art parties classes camps Morris County NJ
  8. The final step for the spheres will be to have them use black along the shadow edge of their spheres. Again, they will blend the paint on their paper to create the shadow effect.
  9. Painting the background will complete these projects. Have the children mix up their contrasting color and paint the background of their paintings.  how to paint spheres with kids
  10. These painting generally dry rather quickly and can often be taken home the same day. messy artist art studio for kids process oriented art painting lesson plan for elementary aged kids