hello Blue Collages!

gavin gouing objects onEach session, we have a specific theme for our youngest classes. This gives them a sense of pattern and lets them know what to look forward to each week. This Fall’s theme is color; these collage projects are a great way to delve into the color blue.

Click here to download a PDF lesson plan of Blue Collages

Age Level: 1.5 – 4 years


  • Focus on the primary color blue
  • Learn color mixing
  • Learn the properties of glue
  • Discussion of the different tones of blue, and textures of collage materials


  • 8×10 paper with the word “BLUE” written on it (capital letters are easier for these pre-readers to recognize)
  • white glue
  • blue food coloring
  • small plastic cups for glue
  • popsicle sticks for mixing glue
  • an assortment of collage items: we used blue corrugated paper, pasta wheels dyed blue, foam pieces of varying shades of blue, cut into different shapes
  • flat plastic containers to hold collage items
  • small stiff brushes for brushing gluecollage supplies

Teacher Prep:

  • Write the word “BLUE” on the paper, one per child (capital letters are easier for these pre-readers to recognize)
  • Fill plastic cups 2/3 full with white glue and add a few drops of blue food coloring
  • Add popsicle sticks for mixing glue
  • Arrange collage items in plastic containers, 1 per every 2 kids


  1. Teacher should demonstrate the project, starting by showing the children how to mix the glue so the blue food coloring mixes completely into the white glue, turning it blue.
  2. Show the students how to brush glue onto the paper, advising them to use a lot so that the collage items will stick to it.
  3. Demonstrate placing items into the glue and then tapping them so they affix to the paper.
  4. Hand out glue and have the students start mixing.misxing glue from above
  5. Once some students are finished mixing, have the children walk to the supply table and select a paper.michelle and jordanna picking up papaers
  6. Hand out brushes and instruct them to start brushing glue on the paper.jordanna brhsing glue on paper
  7. While the students are doing this, distribute the containers with collage supplies, placing one between every two students.
  8. Encourage the children to create the collage with the materials they choose.michelle gluing
  9. These projects will take time to dry and can go home the next class session.finished collage more collages



hello new decorations!

With the start of a new season – and session of classes – it was time for a fresh look for our studios. We are fortunate to have a giant wall of windows in our front classroom, which is great for letting light in to make art, and for showing our personality. We always like to have something eye-catching up front.the messy artist new jersey

This is our third look for our windows since we opened up in this location in 2012. The first was an array of paper lanterns.kids art class camp parties new jersey

The second was colorful ribbons.fine art class for children nj

But this one is the first one where me made the whole thing ourselves with these string balls.front of MA with string balls copy

Here’s how we did it:

  1. We wrapped string covered in white glue around different sized balloons. Finding places for them all to dry was sometimes a challenge, but we used all of our space.best art class for kids nj morris county new jersey kids art class
  2. We popped the balloons to remove them from the string – this part was fun. (well, all of it was fun – but this part especially so).ball vid
  3. Next we trimmed off any lumps and bumps from the glue.east hanover art class for children
  4. White spray paint was used to even out the color.process oriented art class
  5. The final step: attaching the strings and hanging.art studio for kids new jersey art studio for kids classes parties and camp njviv hanging string balls copy

We couldn’t be happier with the way our project came out, and customers are telling us they love the new look.

Do you have any fall redecorating plans? Let us know!

art class for childreb morris county nj



Lemon Juice Paintings

art studio for kids njThese multi-step paintings create a dreamy effect by using lemon juice to dilute and bleach the watercolor paints. Our mini-camp students had a great time making these during our summer session. Click here to download a lesson plan of Lemon Juice Paintings

Age Group: 3-6 years


  • To learn about painting with watercolors
  • To follow directions
  • To learn about the bleaching effects of lemon juice
  • Developing fine motor skills with the use of eye droppers


  • Water color paper – we used 6”x9”
  • Liquid watercolor – at least one set per 2 kids
  • Paint Brushes – one per every color pot of paint
  • Lemon juice – we like “Italia Garden” brandchildrens art studio north new jersey
  • Eyedroppers
  • Small cups for lemon juice, like condiment serving size

Teacher Prep

  • Put names on backs of watercolor paper. We find it is always easier to do ahead of time when we are doing anything that could drip or get smudged if we try to write the names on afterward.
  • Put one paint brush in each color of the watercolor sets. We do this so the students do not use a brush for more than one color and accidentally mix them in the pots. If they do mix colors, however, that’s okay too if it happens. It’s a balancing act of teaching the idea of not mixing brushes, yet also giving the children the freedom to explore.nj fine art class for kids
  • Put small amount of lemon juice into cups.


    1. Explain to the students that they will be creating a watercolor painting, and then creating a special effect by dropping a small amount of lemon juice onto them. The lemon juice will slightly dilute the paint as well as slightly bleach (“remove color”) from the watercolor paints.
    2. Hand out the watercolor paper with the kids’ names on the back.art class parties and camps morris county new jersey
    3. Distribute the watercolor paint sets. Putting one per every two children promotes sharing.
    4. Instruct the children to paint, covering their entire piece of watercolor paper.best kids art class north jersey
    5. Once they have finished painting, demonstrate how they will use the eyedroppers to put small drops of lemon juice on their paintings. Too much will mean they won’t be able to see its effects.childrens art class party and camp east hanover nj
    6. Distribute the lemon juice and eyedroppers, and have the children drip the lemon juice on their paintings.  Keep an eye on them so they do not add too much.art class for toddler elementary tweens teens new jersey lemon juice painting the messy artist
    7. These projects tend to be quite wet and take overnight to dry.art studio for kids new jersey



hello Claymation!

It is always hard to say good bye to summer and our summer camp programs here at The Messy Artist. One of the ways we make it easier is to schedule one of our favorite  – and most challenging – weeks of camp as our final one.claymation dinorsaurs

We started offering claymation about 6 years ago as a summer camp session, and we also teach claymation off site, in special workshops. Claymation is quite simply clay animation – creating a video with clay characters, with the illusion of motion achieved by making tiny movements frame by frame and videotaping them. The kids learn a lot from the step by step process and tediousness of creating a claymation video.fine art class for kids toddler through middle school

We start by having the kids brainstorm all together as a class to come up with a unifying idea. For this summer’s camp video, “Finding Deeno”, it was dinosaurs. Then the class breaks into pairs and creates storyboards for their snippet of the video. Next, they create their clay characters and the backgrounds.new jersey art class party and camp creative fun art camp video kids clay animation

Finally, the animation process is ready to start – they move their clay characters a minuscule amount each time before taking each photo. It takes patience and precision. For these stop motion videos, 10 photos for every second of video are needed. That’s 600 photos for just one minute! In today’s world of instant gratification it’s great for kids to work so hard on something so tedious.claymation for kids

Each team takes turns using the animation set up. One of the skills they learn – and that the kids really enjoy – is to create the illusion of something either growing or shrinking. They do this by first creating the clay character, fully formed. To make it appear to get smaller, they cut off a small piece, take a picture, cut off another small piece, take a picture, etc. To make something appear to grow, the students once again create a clay character. Then they use a string to slice it into horizontal segments. They then add one slice, take a picture, add another slice, take a picture, etc until the piece is fully together again. You can see this a couple of times in “Finding Deeno”.
claymation camp for children stop motion clay animation for kids

The students also make the titles for their individual chapters and their names for the credits. They get a lot of clay sculpting done in one week!claymation camp

To complete the process, they created posters to advertise their film.best nj art class camp and party fine art camp for kids nj the messy artist claymation

It’s impressive to see how quickly the kids learn this new skill, and how competent they are with the technology part. The excitement when we first load the pictures up to the software and see the images come together into a video is always a magical time in the classroom.

This year’s group of students worked hard on their claymation video, and we are proud to present it here:

Finding Deeno

We also have two claymation videos created in an offsite workshop this summer at Arts N Minds in Chatham, NJ. In this workshop, the class was arranged slightly differently. Each of the two groups was given the same topic to animate – caterpillars turning into a butterfly. The students followed all of the same techniques as in our summer camp (storyboarding, creating the characters, making backgrounds, etc) and made their videos. It’s interesting to see the difference in how they interpreted the same idea.


Epic Catipillar Transformation