Hello Artists Everywhere!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about careers in art, mainly because the curriculum of our AFI IV class centers around learning the practical applications of art. I hear a lot from people that their conception of art is more of the finer arts. When they think about it (imagine clouds of thought bubbles emerging from people’s faces please), they see galleries, museums, paintings, drawings, sculptures, and maybe even the stereotypical artist with the beret painting landscapes on the rue de la blah blah blah. Very few people truly see all the areas that art seeps into. Sometimes, I think those thoughts are imparted onto kids as well, and they don’t always see that the possibilities truly are endless. They have to learn to see non-traditional artists (chefs, plastic surgeons, architects, civil engineers, tattoo artists, interior designers, special effects artists, photographers, party planners, marketing consultants… dude, the list continues, and we’d all be reading for the next few years if I listed them all) as real artists too.

So far, my AFI kids have already delved into the world of architecture. They built these fabulous treehouse models based off of some sketches and floor plans. They even worked with special effects makeup for Halloween to apply realistic gashes and wounds (we already blogged about it and the creations came out amazing). One of our more recent projects is one in which the students were asked to create a logo for a fictitious business that they have, and then use the pen tool in adobe illustrator to draw their logos.

We’re about 4 classes into this project, maybe even more, because sometimes the days all swirl together, but they’ve already come out with some astounding material. I’m really impressed with all of their work, and even more taken aback by how quickly they grasped the concepts. I didn’t even know what illustrator was until I was maybe 21, and it took me a while to get a firm grasp on its functionality. The students are creating images, switching colors, making gradients, and moving anchor points with ease, and only after 4 (or so) classes! Seriously, WHAT?!

I’ve included some images below, and there will be some more to follow (some of the artwork is on my laptop at home), so you can all stand beside me and see for yourself. I hope you enjoy, and I encourage you all to think about the wealth of art that is around you every day. Mayhaps (thanks b for granting me permission to use this word) you’ll list some more types of artists below!

Hello Fruit Prints!

The thing I love about working at TMA is how amazing our projects are. We pride ourselves in the fact that all activities are open ended, and that everyone can scale the project up or down to their level and feel successful. Some of the projects are so stellar, that it makes me want to try them!  When all the artists here find ourselves wishing we could do the projects, we know TMA is doing something right.

One of my favorite projects here is the circle paintings we do with the Monet classes. Instead of being super traditional and painting with paintbrushes, we paint with fruit! Yea, you heard me. FRUIT! (Should I say that louder? And they’re clementines to be exact). I’ve been told that other schools do similar projects, and I experience this project every year, but I don’t care. It never gets old, and I’m constantly amazed. I always look at the finished projects like I’ve never seen it or heard about it before in my life. My already large eyes widen like I’m staring into the magical world of Narnia.

Like I said, the best part of the project is that anyone can do it, and it looks great. I watch the little munchkins do the projects and they feel so proud that they’re creating this mini masterpiece with something so unique and different. The project can even translate into our adult years, and we can indulge in the fun too! Whether you’re reading this to discover a fun project for your child, or you secretly really want to do this yourself, you’ll be happy to know this project is low maintenance. All you need is fruit (or veggies), a knife to slice and dice (for adult use only please!), paper, paint, and paper plates.

We spread thin layers of paint onto paper plates (the paper plate helps to absorb some moisture, and hey, you can throw it away, so get excited, less cleanup for you!), and dip the cut fruit (flat side down of course) into the paint. Then we press firmly onto a piece of paper, in a new place every time. It’s really that simple. Older children or even adults can kick it up a notch. Try super bright neon colors, or keep the palette neutral. Maybe try creating new shapes and patterns using the shape of the prints. Practice writing skills, cursive, and even other languages by labeling the fruit with a thin marker when it’s dry. You could even color in the white spaces around and/or inside the fruit with sharpies when dry (homemade coloring book anyone?) And of course, it’s okay to snack on the fruit while you print. Just avoid the painted fruit, it’s gross.

All of the prints, no matter the artist, would look clean and inviting in a white frame in your kitchen or other dining area. I don’t know about you, but after writing this, I’m super psyched to try this at home. And I’m also hungry. As always, don’t be shy to share thoughts and ideas with me!

images courtesy of TMA and the wonderful world of Google

Hello Inspiration!

Check this out. TMA is trying something a little new, a little raw, and a little more personal with the blog. From time to time, I’ll share my thoughts with you, dear reader. I call these overly verbose stretches of text MUSINGS. Muse along with me, won’t you? I hope you enjoy, but really, I hope you think it rocks!

My best ideas often come to me while I’m driving. The endless stretches of road out there before me sort of allow my mind to wander (of course I keep my eyes focused on the brake lights and incoming cars as I sing as loudly as humanly possible at my steering wheel). Lately, I’ve been thinking about how I get inspired to create. That thought led me to thinking about what inspires other people, and I began to wonder how others see things in the world.

We live in this world where technology has taken over our lives (Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE to text my friends, send them photos, and keep myself inserted into their daily lives. Sometimes the phone is definitely one with my hand). So, we’re often viewing the world through a tiny 4.5” screen. While I was out with some friends in NYC celebrating a birthday, I noticed this group of girls to my left. This enormous dessert came out to their table, complete with sparklers, sugary sprinkles, candy treats, and tasty sauces all carefully designed around ice cream. The dessert was a masterpiece, but every girl was staring at the treat through their iPhone. They took pictures galore, and I wondered if any of them looked up long enough to see the sparklers and the twinkling dance they were performing for them. That isn’t something you see with your camera. It’s something you see with your eyes (now if we’re really getting technical here, you see with your brain, not your eyes, but whatever. I digress…)

This world that is meant to be experienced in three dimensions is often flattened and dulled into two, just for the sake of a pretty picture. My hope is that everyone stops to appreciate the beautiful phenomenon that lies before them before they snap, snap, and snap away. I think there is an artist inside us all that relishes the subtleties and nuances in the everyday. I am reminded of this every day working with children. They can get excited over the smallest detail, and be inspired to create great things because of it.

My musing for the week ends with a suggestion. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to look at your surroundings. Maybe not just look, but actually see, and appreciate something completely random and ridiculous. Look at the way bubbles form on your bar of soap in the morning, or the way the milk turns your coffee marbleized the instant before you stir it. Look into someone’s eyes and notice how they reflect the entire room behind you. Admire the clouds as they travel in whispers across the moonlight. Be inspired by these everyday occurrences. Maybe it will inspire you to do something creative or encourage someone else to do something wonderful.

Here are some images I snapped with my iPhone. Yes, I stopped to look  before I took a lense to them. And yes, it’s okay. You can share your thoughts too. Talk to me. I promise I like to listen as much as I like to write.


photos courtesy of viviana

hello 2016! and looking back on 2015

As we approach the end of the year, we want to thank you all for coming along with us on this journey in art and education.  Like last year, we are taking this opportunity to look back over our year of blog posts  – one each and every Friday – so 51 so far in 2015!

Here is our countdown of our 5 most popular posts of 2015:

  1. Welcome Alidis Vicente and Violet! January 9Alidis Vicente Messy Artist copy

Author Alidis Vicente premiered her newest book Violet at The Messy Artist with a special event. Ms. Vicente did a spirited book reading, after which we led the children in an art project related to the book.

  1. Hello winter trees resist project! April 3

A gorgeous project, with a step-by-step lesson plan and lots of photographs.process oriented art for children

  1. Hello Kelly! September 18

A lively interview with Kelly Heinze of Music and More with Kelly, where we learn about Kelly, music, and more!kellyheinze_1338337822_140

  1. Hello winter cards! December 4

Kids and parents alike love this project, created by stamping with sliver and white paint and using lots of glitter. These festive cards are perfect for winter.kids winter card project

  1. hello bird feeders!  June 2

This post features an edible project for our feathered friends made from fun materials. A special thank you to our local friends at the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum for originally introducing us to a version of this idea years ago.north jersey kids art

Tell us what your favorite posts were – we’d love to know!

Best wishes for a wonderful 2016!  Keep checking back every Friday for posts about art, education, and more.

hello Lilly!

advanced art classes for kidsThis week, we continue with our feature interviews with our AFI 5 students, the first class of Art Foundations Intensive students to go through our program. We are happy to introduce you to energetic 8th grader Lilly; read on to learn more about this fun-loving art student.

body painting lily finished2What is your first memory of making art?
Pictures of me covered in blue paint making baby hand and footprints.

What does art mean to you?
A very special way to express yourself. It’s calming and relaxing for me.

nj art class for kidsDo you have a favorite medium (painting, pencil, clay)?

Is there something that you like to draw/paint again and again?

art studio for kids new jewseyHow long have you been coming to The Messy Artist?
3-4 years

 What is your favorite piece of art that you made at The Messy Artist?
Too hard to decide!

What do you love about The Messy Artist?
Everyone is so nice and the classes are more us just working together to learn and have fun. It feels very free and you learn interesting things you wouldn’t learn in a regular art class.tween art

What are your favorite things to do when you are not making art?
Play with animals.

What would you say to someone who says they aren’t good at art?
Everybody has their own way of doing art.

What is your favorite food?
Fruit.nj kids art class

What is your favorite piece of art in your house?
An abstract/landscape oil painting

Do you have a favorite color?
Any bright color.

the messy artistThank you, Lilly! We can’t wait to see what you create next!