hello yarnbombing!

We are excited about our latest upcoming public art project: yarnbombing the pole in front of our studios.the messy artist yarnbombing art class nj

What is yarnbombing? It’s a type of street art, using yarn to decorate fences, benches, poles – you name it! Knitters have been covering all sorts of objects with their artistry.imgres-1 images

Donna came up with the idea to decorate the pole in colorful crocheted circles, based on our logo’s colors: orange and blue, as well as purple.07-18-2012 final logo

However, this is a big project, and to do it, she drew inspiration from a local Friday night knitting/crocheting/spinning circle she has been involved with. Now she and Marie, the owner of the yarn store KnitKnack, have joined together to set up sessions for the yarnbombing: one for crochet instruction, two to crochet the circles, and one to bomb.  knitknack and the messy artist yarnbomb

We have room for a few more in these sessions, so if you want to join in these creative and collaborative art events, let us know! You can even teach yourself to crochet pretty easily if you don’t know how already – there are some great videos on youtube such as this or this to get you set up.

Here’s the schedule – RSVPs are necessary so we know how much yarn, pizza, wine etc to have on hand.  Please contact donna@themessyartist.com to reserve a space. These are all adult only events.

  • Instruction session: The Messy Artist. 356 Route 10 West, East Hanover. Tuesday February 3, 7 – 9pm.  (Sorry, this session is full.)
  • Crochet session: KnitKnack.  1914 Springfield Avenue, Maplewood. Sunday February 8, 2-4 pm.  Pizza will be served.
  • Crochet session: The Messy Artist. Sunday February 22. 6:30 – 8:30pm.  Pizza and wine will be served.
  • The final session – the bombing! The Messy Artist. March 8, 6:30 8:30 pm.  Pizza and wine will be served.

We’ll post more photos as the project evolves.

Hello triangle collages!

art class camp and party north njAs we focus on shapes in our winter session, we lead the students in open-ended art projects emphasizing each one. We never use pre-made materials or kits; thus no two finished projects are alike. Each projectʼs look is decided by the young artists themselves, and we encourage caregivers to let the children make the decisions and do the project all on their own.

For triangle week, we create large shiny triangles and let the students collage smaller multi textured and colored triangles onto them.  Click here to download a PDF of  Triangle Collages lesson plan.

Age Level: 2.5 – 4


  • To learn about triangles: 3 sides and 3 corners
  • To work on glue stick skills


  • Cardstock
  • Foil
  • Glue sticks (one per child)
  • Trays
  • Masking or clear tape
  • a large variety of materials: construction paper, ribbon, fabric, bubble wrap, etc.
  • Trays to hold cut trianglescollage project for kids

Teacher Preparation:

  • Cut cardstock into large triangles (ours are about 12” on the longest side)
  • Wrap in foil and tape down on back
  • Write each studentʼs name on back
  • Write the word “Triangle” on front in large letters
  • Cut materials into triangles of different sizes and place in trays

Procedures:new jersey art class and pary

  • Show students an example of a finished project and explain that they will be working with triangles today. All triangles have 3 sides and 3 corners.
  • Demonstrate putting a lot of glue onto the foil triangle and then placing a smaller triangle onto it. “Tap, tap, tap it” (kids love this repetition) to put it into place and to get it to stick.
  • Have the children pick up a glue stick from a nearby supply table, and hand out the triangles back at the work table while they are doing so.young kids triangle art project
  • Give them a few minutes to get some glue onto the triangles before handing out the trays with the collage supplies.the messy artist classes for kids
  • Encourage the students to leave a little space between their triangles if they want the silver to shine through.the messy artist new jersey best art class for kids morris county nj
  • This project can be taken home at the end of the class period as it dries quickly.process oriented art new jersey

Shaving cream: four fun sensory rich play ideas

nj fine art classes The Messy ArtistAs one of our favorite sensory activities, shaving cream is always in heavy rotation at The Messy Artist. Kids love the squishy foamy consistency and it encourages investigation into texture.

Besides its fantastic texture, shaving cream has the added advantages of being easy to set up and easy to clean up. It also brings out a playful and silly side in most of our students and parents, which we love.shaving cream bday party

Here are 4 ways to enjoy sensory exploration with shaving cream:

1. Tray play: We spray it onto a tray to keep the shaving cream contained, and add liquid watercolor paint. This lets the kids experiment with mixing the colorful paint and the white shaving cream together, priming them for color mixing in other lessons. We like to use watercolor paints instead of food coloring as that can stain little hands.

As with all activities at our messy table, we include wooden craft sticks so that children who are tentative about getting their hands dirty can still experience it. Very often, these kids will progress quickly into covering their hands (and arms, too) with it.sensory play with shaving cream

For added interest, cups, animals and other small objects are added to the mix. Children love covering and uncovering the animals with the shaving cream and drawing in it with their fingers.The Messy Artist shaving cream sensory play

2. Mirror magic: Use non-breakable mirrors instead of trays for a base for the shaving cream. You can then add all the toys and paint like we do on the plastic tray.four shaving cream fun ideas

3. Take home art: After the shaving cream is nice and marbled with the watercolor paint, we have the kids spread it on absorbent paper. After letting the shaving cream and paint mixture soak in for a few minutes, we scrape it off with a wooden craft stick. Once dry, the students can take it home.art party class and camp morris county new jersey process oriented art the messy artist

4. Take it outside: On warm days, you can spread shaving cream on a slip and slide, spray it on tummies and legs, fill a bucket for the kids to scoop, cover a sliding board – there is no limit to the fun you can have! And when you are done, just grab a hose to wash it all away.

How do you like to enjoy sensory play with shaving cream? Let us know!best art class party and camp north jersey

Welcome Alidis Vicente and Violet!

Alidis Vicente Messy Artist copyWe are thrilled to be hosting a special event with local author – and long time Messy Artist mom – Alidis Vicente. She is bringing her recently published book Violet to The Messy Artist on Wednesday February 18 from 4 – 5:15 pm, joining us for a creative afternoon. First Ms. Vicente will read and sign her book, then The Messy Artist staff will lead the students in a related art project. Each family will go home with a signed book and their art projects. You can sign up for this event here: http://themessyartist.com/alidis/

Violet tells the tale of a young bird of the same name, the only Purple-Footed Booby living on the Galapagos Islands with her parents. Her unique appearance creates dissension among both the Blue-Footed Boobies of her father’s side and the Red-Footed Boobies of her mother’s side. Violet’s path to acceptance is an entertaining and thoughtful story of learning to see and embrace similarities rather than differences.Violet by Alidis Vicente

We love the story, artwork and message in this book, and reached out to Alidis to learn more.

Interview with Alidis Vicente

  1. Tell us about Violet.  Where did you get the idea?

The origins of the story are two fold and pretty random.  I was a Sociology major in college and was very familiar with the work Charles Darwin did while at the Galapagos Islands.  The blue footed and red footed boobies always interested me, particularly because the blue footed booby bird had such a wonderful dance.  One day, my son saw a drawing of a small giraffe on the back cover of a picture book.  He said to me, “Mom, look!  This giraffe has no spots, but it’s still a giraffe even though it’s different”.  At that moment a light bulb went on in my head.  I envisioned a character who was different from its peers yet had to show it still belonged in some ways.  For some reason, the booby birds from the Galapagos Islands came to mind and.. poof!  Violet was born.Violet at The Messy Artist

  1. I know many of our readers are curious about the process of writing and getting a children’s book published.  Could you tell us what happens once the writing is finished?

The hard part!  Writing an initial manuscript is fun because it’s a product of one’s creativity in its organic, raw form.  Once a book contract is made (which is a long, rocky road in and of itself most times), the revision process begins.  Editors and publishers ask authors to change their work several times over.  For example, my book title was different for this story & there was no moment of preface for the reader.  It’s not always easy to digest, but in hindsight it is usually a helpful learning process.

  1. Do you have an idea for the illustrations as you are writing, or does the illustrator come up with those?

When writing I envision general idea for illustrations I think might compliment my work.  However, illustrators come up with their artwork on their own.  I am able to see the work before it is published during which time I can make suggestions, but all in all the illustrations are out of my hands.The Messy Artist Book event with Alidis Vicente

  1. How long did it take you to create Violet?

Writing the initial manuscript took me a couple of weeks.  Finding a publisher was particularly difficult because, as my agent explained, contracts for books written in rhyme are not trending in the publishing world.  I was fortunate enough to be offered publication by Operation Outreach USA who published my first book.  Once they took the story on and editing was completed, it was published within a year.

  1. Violet‘s theme is one that is very much in the news these days, and your book contains a wonderful message of inclusion for children (and their families). Do you have other plans to spread its message besides the book signing at The Messy Artist?

Absolutely!  Aside from school visits, I’d love to do something at a dance studio to compliment the birds’ dances and perhaps join with an organization that helps spread diversity awareness of any and all kinds.

  1. How did you get started writing children’s books?

I was a Child Protective Services Investigator prior to writing books.  I was working with children and families in a totally different way, obviously.  Once I had my children, I decided to stay home with them.  As much as I loved my “job” as a stay at home mom, I missed interacting and helping needy kids.  Writing has always been my strength and passion.  It has kept me balanced since my youth.  So, when I found myself exhausted and emotional as a new mom, I did the only thing I knew how to do… I wrote.  One night I was falling asleep and got an idea for a children’s book.  I jumped from the bed, grabbed the first writing utensils available to me (construction paper and crayons) and allowed ideas to flow.  I have been writing children’s literature every since.  I have traded crayons for pens and keyboards, however.

  1. How did you get involved with The Messy Artist?

We are a Messy Artist Veteran Family.  My six year old son began taking classes at their former location in  South Orange when he was 18 months old.  I also hosted a book signing for my first picture book at their studio.  It was such fun to see the art work kids created after reading the story that I knew I had to do it again for Violet.

Ms. Vicente at The Messy Artist with her sons
Ms. Vicente at The Messy Artist with her sons
  1. What have been your family’s favorite classes at The Messy Artist?

I can’t pick just one.  We love them all!  I can say they throw the best birthday parties ever.  That’s technically not a class, but it’s my personal favorite activity offered.  My youngest son, on the other hand, might say he likes his Picassos class best because he is obsessed with Messy Artist slime. Violet book and art at The Messy Artist 2Alidis Vicente and sons The Messy Artist copy

  1.   Anything else you would like to share about the book, yourself, or art!

As a parent, I know it can be difficult to get young children to find pleasure in leisurely writing and/or writing assignments. Kids love to color, draw & paint.  Picking up a pencil to write a journal entry or story is not always met with the same enthusiasm.  My best tip is to convey to your children that writing IS art!  Words are paintbrushes.  They allow readers to envision the most expressive, beautiful worlds simply by ingesting thoughts colored by our stories.  Encourage reading and writing by modeling the behavior individually or together.  Understanding the power of words, both written and verbal, is a vital asset.

If you’d like more information on my writing journey, events, bookings and/or my other award winning titles, feel free to check out my website:  www.alidisvicente.com.

You can also follow me on Twitter @alidisvicente & Facebook (same name).

Alidis Vicente book signing Violet The Messy Artist 2Thank you, Alidis! We are looking forward to having you back in our studios on February 18 for a wonderful afternoon!

hello initial collages!

the messy artist fine art studio for kidsWe do this project toward the end of the session, after the children have been with us for many weeks. At this point, they are used to following directions to create projects and are familiar with the materials we use.

A big goal of this project is to get the children more comfortable with their cutting skills. This is a difficult skill to master, but by making strips of paper thin enough to cut easily, and clearly describing to the caregivers how to help, the children are often successful.

Click here to download Hello Initial Collages!.

Age Level: 3-5 years

Gain cutting skills
Learn letter recognition
Work on gluing technique

Patterned paper (such as scrapbooking paper)
Marker or grease pencil
Glue sticks
9” x 12” sheets of construction paper

Teacher Preparation:
Cut patterned paper into ½” strips
Create large open initial on construction paper for each childthe messy artist a journey in art kids initial art projectProcedures:

  1. Show the children a completed project and explain they will do it in a couple of steps.
  2. Demonstrate to the children how they will first be cutting long strips of paper into small squares.
  3. Have them select two (“one for each hand”) strips of paper from a supply table set up nearby.
  4. Go through step-by-step instruction of using the scissors
    1. “Thumbs up” to properly place their fingers
    2. Have a caregiver hold the strip so that the child only has to concentrate on cutting
    3. Ask them to cut small pieces off to make squaresbest art class north njart class party and camp east hanover nj 5. Once the children have created a pile of squares (roughly 20 or so), hand out each child’s initial to him or her. We often enhance the pre-reading/letter recognition aspect by holding up each letter and asking the children to yell out each one.  Then we ask whose name starts with each letter and get everyone involved.

6. Once all the kids have their initial, the teacher can pass out glue sticks, or have students pick them up from the supply table.fine art class for kids new jersey7. Demonstrate gluing the squares onto their letter, talking about interior and exterior spaces of each initial.process oriented art studio for kids8. This project dries quickly and can be taken home at the end of the class session.initial project collage for kids