goodbye summer, hello fall!

Since Labor Day is upon us this weekend, it’s a perfect time to celebrate the last joys of summer and get ready for fall. Every season, we like to look back on what has happened here at The Messy Artist, commemorating all that has gone on and all the wonderful art that has been created!

  1. AFI art show. Summer kicked off with our Art Foundations Intensives art show, an art extravaganza showcasing our advanced art students. For the entire school year, the Art Foundations Intensives Students study artists, art theory, and work on their techniques. One Saturday in June, we exhibit all their artworks for a gala event.
  1. Summer Camps and Classes: The main portion of our summer is filled with art camp. We always look forward to being able to spend a whole week on one art form, as we do in our fine art camps. This year our intensive topics were: drawing, clay, painting, cartooning, crafts, papermaking and printmaking, and textile and fibers. We also introduced new themes: mural making and 3D storyboarding camps.  We also had mini camp all summer, and caregiver and me classes.
  1. The Artist Harvest: Our large-scale fruit and vegetable sculpture series will be debuting on September 15th, on display in front of three public buildings in Livingston NJ (Town Hall, the Library and Community Center). Staff and students have worked on getting the sculptures ready for exhibitiion: building, painting, and mounting on bases. We can’t wait to show them off!
  1. New Location: This summer we expanded our classes to a new location: the JCC MetroWest in West Orange, NJ. We taught 3 classes and had a great time meeting new students. So great in fact, that we’ll be holding classes there again this fall.
  1. Good bye: The end of summer always means saying goodbye to our college student employees who return to school, and this summer two of our other staff are moving on. It’s hard to say goodbye, but we wish all the best for Anthony, Jay and Adrianna.
  1. Looking ahead: We’ve got a few weeks of our Drop-In and Play and Mini Camp coming up, and then our Fall 2015 Session starts September 28. We’re preparing our lesson plans and ordering all the art supplies, always an exciting time.

cropped-img_7380.jpgThank you all for a fantastic summer!

hello murals!

This summer we introduced a new fine art weekly camp theme: mural making. We selected a variety of projects that let the kids work with many different mediums, as well as projects that offered the opportunity to work together as well as on their own.

Here are some of the individual landscape murals that were done early in the week.

the messy artist murals by kids nj summer art camp nj art classThe culmination of the session was this collaborative mural, done on the last day of camp. Our 1st-2nd grade section kids all worked on it as a team.

the messy artist mural campFirst they had to brainstorm to come up with a theme. Outer space won out, and the challenge was on.fine art classes for kids nj

This project was a great lesson in procedural thinking, with the kids needing to figure out how to build the image from the background out.

They decided to paint the background first, and then glue on images they created and cut from colorful construction paper.

new jersey art class for kids nj art class camp and party new jersey art campOnce again they brainstormed, coming up with images that would work for the mural’s theme.

mural camp in nj kids mural project by childrenThe kids had to determine what colors and designs would be used to give the mural a cohesive outer-spacey look. A big discussion centered on how many rocket ships would be appropriate to have. Answer: 2.


This mural will remain at The Messy Artist until we need the wall space, a lasting reminder of summer, and kids creating art together!

the messy artist mural camp


Artist Harvest update – August 2015

art class camp and workshops for kids njIn May we were part of Livingston Family Fun Day, a fantastic town wide event. Our Artist Harvest large-scale installation project was part of the Food Day area, encouraging the appreciation of healthy fruits and vegetables – and art.   Thanks to Stacey Rubinstein, Alan Karpas and the Livingston DPW for making everything happen and run so smoothly.the messy artist artist harvest

the artist harvest sculptures new jersey art classes for kidsThe DPW helped us get our giant fruit and vegetable sculptures to the event in the Livingston Oval, and treated our cargo preciously!

fine art class camp amd parties new jersey large fruit and vegetable sculptures the artist harvestOver 100 children stopped by our booth that day to help us paint our giant pepper, “Peppered Pollock,” inspired by Jackson Pollock’s Number 8 painting. Splattering many colors of paint on the pepper on a perfect spring day brought smiles to everyone who did it. We were overjoyed at how receptive the town and families were to our project.

livingston at 200Livingston is continuing to show the love for the Artist Harvest: we’ve recently received confirmation that the sculptures will be on long-term public exhibition in front of three Livingston Town Buildings. Starting in September, Livingston Town Hall, Livingston Library, and Livingston Community Center will be the display locations.

sculpture of fruits and vegetablesMeanwhile – when we are not holding camp or class sessions this summer – we are finishing up work on the remaining 3 sculptures: the Pear-casso (inspired by Pablo Picasso), Georgia OʼPeach (inspired by Georgia OʼKeeffe) and Vincent Van Gogh Bananas (inspired by Vincent Van Gogh). Vincent Van Gogh Bananas is almost finished, and the peach and pear are up next. Stay tuned for more updates and information on the exhibition!nj best kids art class nj kids art class art classes for children new jersey

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