hello Victoria!

This week we have another post in our “Meet the Staff” series, with Victoria Plummer. You’ve seen her photos on our Facebook pages, read her blog posts here, and perhaps gotten an email created by her. As our Marketing Associate, she does all that and more to help spread the word about The Messy Artist. She’s been part of The Messy Artist Staff for over 6 years.

victoria plummer the messy artistWhat are the first art experiences you remember as a child?

My Dad was always doing some kind of art when I was growing up: pen and ink when I was young, and blacksmithing later. I always liked to draw and paint when I was a kid.

What is your background in art?

My background is in filmmaking: I got my undergrad and graduate degrees from Temple University in Philadelphia. I made a bunch of student films and worked as an editor before starting a family.

How long have you worked at the Messy Artist?

I started working at The Messy Artist as an assistant teacher in 2009. After a while I became a head teacher, and transitioned over to marketing associate in April 2012. I enjoy coming around to different classes each week to take photos. It’s always fun to see what projects kids are up to and capture their energy.

the messy artist art studio for kids best art class camp and party north nj childrens art classes new jersey art classes for kids NJDonna originally asked me if I was interested in teaching because I had been taking classes with my daughters at The Messy Artist for a few years. We live in the same neighborhood, and she knew both my kids went to the Millburn Co-op, where the parents spend a lot of time in the classroom and are used to being around a lot of kids. I enjoy teaching art and love to see kids experiencing the power of creativity.

What sort of art do you do on your own time?

I started printmaking about 10 years ago through classes at the Visual Art Center in Summit. There was a class I used to take on Thursdays nights which got me really enamored with it. I eventually started going to the open printmaking studio on Fridays and did that for a few years. I’ve been working too much to do much printmaking recently, but am looking forward to getting back to it. You can see my works on my website, victoriaplummer.com. Some of my photographic work is also on there; I’m self-taught but learned a lot through cinematography classes while in school that applies.

Printmaking is definitely one of my favorite things to teach when I am teaching art to kids.

What advice do you have for kids who say they are not good artists?

I always try to emphasize the uniqueness of each person’s creation: they are the only person in the whole world who can make the piece of art that they just made. That is something special! Anyone can learn to be good with enough practice; they should celebrate what they can do and their own personal style.

What advice do you have for parents to help them to encourage their children in art?

Just having art supplies around that kids can get to easily is a wonderful encouragement.

Do you have a favorite food?

I have a terrible sweet tooth, so pretty much any candy, baked good, or ice cream would be a favorite food.

Favorite museum/gallery/online place to look at art?

I think MOMa is my favorite museum. I love living so close to NYC so that it is easy to get in and see often. But I really enjoy seeing art anywhere, especially when I travel. And of course, I love to see all the wonderful artwork created by the students at The Messy Artist!

hello feet painting!

art studio for kids new jerseyFeet Painting has become a tradition for the last Monets (ages 2.5 – 4 years) class of our Spring session. We tape paper down on the floor, remove the children’s shoes, add trays of paint, and away they go!sensory art project feet painting

process oriented art classThis is a fun event, but takes a lot of organization. Since we’ve done it a bunch of times, we learned some tips we’d like to share if you want to try this.

We ask caregivers to hold the children’s hands as they circle the room since their feet can be slippery from the paint. Teachers and assistants are available to help any children that need it, as some caregivers have more than one child in the class.

nj art class for kids the messy artist art studio for kidsSuper fun, super sensory, and super messy!

Sometimes we provide extra, separate sheets of paper alongside the path, so kids can make a print of their feet to take home. We have parents guide them in stepping onto the paper to make the footprints, and then write their names on in sharpie. We set them aside to dry and they are usually done by the time the kids are cleaned up and we do our story time.

fine art classes nj best art class and camps morris countyWe provide basins of water for washing up afterwards, but we suggest the kids (and caregivers) wear shorts and sandals, preferably ones that can get messy.

When setting up for this project, we get three areas with clean-up supplies ready in separate parts of the room: bins of water, absorbent bath mats, and towels. We also put the two chairs in place, facing each other as you see below, with room for the bin between them. We keep the supplies out of the way (otherwise the kids want to play in the water) but easily accessible. This preparation makes clean up go smoothly.

art class camp and parties njThe foot-painted paper is a temporary artwork, removed before class is over. It’s a memorable process-oriented project that signifies the arrival of warm weather at The Messy Artist.  Welcome, summer!the messy artist feet painting

hello bird feeders!

cora hartshorn arboretum projectMuch like artists inspire each other, so do teachers. This bird feeder project was introduced to us by the Cora Hartshorrn Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary many years ago when our CEO Donnaʼs son was a toddler in their nature program (heʼs in college now)! Since we incorporate seasonal elements into many of our projects, this idea was a great fit for us. Weʼve tweaked it a bit to make it work better for our students, but we tip our hat to the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum for the inspiration.

Should you find yourself in North Jersey, the Arboretum is a wonderful environmental center on 16 acres in Short Hills, and well worth a visit any time of the year. Its old stone house is the home to live animals on display (including snakes and chinchillas) while the modern addition has lots of educational exhibits and information to explore before or after walking the nature trails.

arboretumAge Level: 2 – any age


  • Following sequential directions
  • Beading skills
  • Learn about patterns
  • Learning about birds/nature


  • Ice cream cones
  • Fruit o cereal
  • Wire
  • Apple butter
  • Large wooden craft sticks
  • Paper plates
  • Birdseed
  • Large tin (9×13)
  • Plastic bags
  • Labels
  • Plastic containers

art camp class and party the messy artst childrens bird feederTeacher Preparation:

  • Push one end of wire through top of cone and twist to affix for handle, one per child
  • Place fruit o cereal in plastic containers, one per child (we use condiment containers with lids so we can prepare ahead of time)
  • Place approx 2-3 tbs of apple butter in plastic containers, one per child (again, we use condiment containers with lids so we can prepare ahead of time)
  • Fill 9 x 13 tins with approx 2 inches of birdseed
  • Prepare labels with studentsʼ names to go on plastic bags for finished projects


Show the students an example of a finished project and explain that they will be making bird feeders today, projects that will give food to our friends the birds. They can hang their project in a tree when they get home and it will be a snack for the birds outdoors.

bird feeder for kidsThe first step is beading the fruit o cereal onto the wires. Show the children how they can do a pattern (repeating colors) or random colors on their wire.

Encourage them to leave some room at the end of the wire so it can be hooked onto the cone to form a handle to hang from a tree.

Have the children walk to the supply table and pick out their cone that has already been prepped with a wire.

Once back at the table, hand out the fruit o cereal containers to the kids and have them start beading the wires. Encourage the caregivers to let the children attempt the beading on their own – the eye-hand coordination works best when the kids hold their own wires, not have the caregiver hold it.

toddler art projectWhen the wires have a few inches left uncovered, have the caregivers help out by pushing the wire through the opposite side of the cone and twisting it to secure. The handle is now complete.north jersey kids art

Next hand out paper plates, apple butter containers, and wooden craft sticks. Show the kids how to scoop up the apple butter and spread it on the bottom of the cones. The plates are to help control the mess from the apple butter and make clean up easier.

Make sure the kids cover the entire bottom of the cone so there will be more surface area for the birdseed to affix to.

art class camp and parties new jerseyOnce the apple butter is on the cones, the kids can come over to roll them in the birdseed tins. We like to set these up on our supply table, where they had previously gotten the cones. Have them roll the cones around in the birdseed, covering the entire bottom of the cone.

art pary children morris county nj fine art classes for kids njWhen they are finished, put the bird feeders into a plastic bag and add the name label. This makes getting them home much neater for the parents. Encourage the students to hang them in a tree when they get home and see what kind of birds come to feast on them!best kids art class nj the messy artist art studio for kids

hello rolling pin paintings!

sensory projectHere kids use a familiar tool in a novel way, utilizing a rolling pin typically found in the kitchen in a new place: in the studio to create. We have a few types of special rolling pins we use for painting: one set has varied textures on a plastic roller, while the other has a fabric – almost mop-like – covering, sopping up the paint and redistributing it onto the paper. The kids are intrigued by the textures and love to swap and share rolling pins during this project.

rolling pin painting with kidsUnfortunately the place where we got our rolling pins no longer sells them, but lots of craft stores such as Michael’s sell fondant/textured rolling pins that can also be used, and Etsy has many sites that let you personalize your own pins.

There are also many great and cheap DIY versions. Stock up on a few old rolling pins from a thrift store and then you can:

  • Tape bubble wrap onto them
  • Create textures with a hot glue gun on a paper towel roll, then slip it over a rolling pin when cool and roll
  • Put rubber bands around a rolling pin, in lines or criss-crossing
  • Stick puffy stickers on a rolling pin

 Click here for a PDF of rolling pin paintings 

Age Level:  2- 5


  • Following multi-step directions
  • Reinforcing ideas about round shapes and rolling
  • Encouraging sharing and taking turns
  • Using large and small motor skills to roll the rolling pins

art parties njMaterials:

  • Watercolor paper (8.5 x 11, or at least wider than the largest rolling pins)
  • Rolling pins with textures
  • Water sprayers
  • Trays
  • Tempera paint

Teacher Preparation:

Put 3 coordinating colors of paint on trays, one tray per 2 children (we used purple, green and blue)

Write children’s names on the back of watercolor paper, or create labels to stick onto the back of their projects. Children many do more than one painting.


 Tell the students they will be painting with a new tool today – rolling pins. See if any kids have used a rolling pin before, maybe baking with their parents or grandparents. Explain that rolling only happens with round things, like rolling pins or balls – or bodies! Demonstrate how to roll the rolling pin, just on the table without any paint.

process art for kidsNext spray the paper with water as it makes the paint go on better. Now show the students how to roll the rolling pin though the paint on the tray, picking paint up on the pin. Finally roll the pin onto the paper so they can see how it looks.

new jersey art classes for kidsAt this point we have the students get up and head to the supply table, where they can select a rolling pin. Once they sit back down, have them practice rolling the rolling pins on the table, enlisting caregivers to help out if they are struggling. Mastering rolling before getting the rest of the supplies will ensure they are successful with their painting project.

summer art program new jerseyWhile the students are practicing rolling, hand out the paper with their names already on the back. Spray the papers, and then place one tray with paint in between every two students. Let the painting begin!

best art parties north jersey best fine art class new jerseyAfter the students have been painting for a while, we encourage them to trade rollers to try other textures. They can get new paper for this or add to their existing painting.

best art camp north jerseyAs these take at least a few hours to dry, the rolling pin paintings go home the next class session.new jersey art class for kids art class new jersey for children best art class new jersey