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!

hello sensory box!

nj art class for kidsOur sensory box is one of five activity stations in our “blue room”, a bright and spacious studio where we hold classes for 18 month – 5 year olds. Each week, the children are introduced to a new sensory experience in the box, as we rotate through our selection of carefully tested materials.

kids art studio njOriginally our sensory box was a simple children’s plastic pool, turtle shaped and with a lid to close off when needed – very helpful in “closing” the station when it is time for the students to transition to a new project or the end of class.


With our move to a bigger and custom designed space in 2013, we had the new sensory box hand-made for us. Not only is it larger, it has a nice wide edge for children to sit on as they play. When there are a large number of children playing in the sensory box, we can move them all to sit on the edge, allowing more room for children to play than if they were all sitting inside it.kids art class new jersey

The sensory items we swap in the box are:

Squishy balls. The animal shapes get kids imaginations fired up, and the springy texture is often novel for the students. Sometimes we introduce tongs and buckets for a unique challenge.the messy artist new jersey kids art class

the messy artist studio for kidsShredded paper. Earth friendly and fun, this inspires active play. We incorporate different colors every time we use it.new jersey art class camp and parties

art classes new jerseyRice. We have lots of tools to introduce throughout the session to use with the colorful rice: plastic eggs, funnels made from gallon containers, shovels and buckets, small cups, plastic animals. These can all also be used with beans.process oriented art classkids art party new jersey

Beans. We use many types of beans, so there are many different shapes, sizes and colors of beans in the box. With shovels and buckets, the students fill and empty the containers.

sensory play nj art class for kidsWhat are your favorite materials to use for sensory play?

Hello again Charley!

“My favorite thing about the class is the students because they make me laugh, and Miss Viviana because she is a great role model, teacher and artist.”

new jersy art class for kidsIt’s been two years since we last met up with AFI student Charley in October 2013. Watching her grow as an artist and a student has been a rewarding experience, and is especially meaningful to us as she is part of the very first class of Art Foundations Intensive students to go through The Messy Artist.

Here is a follow up interview with Charley, catching up with her latest news:

advanced fine art classes for kids new jerseyWhat grade are you in now?

I am in 5th grade now.

How has your art changed over the past 2 years?

My art has become more meaningful. I now have a reason for each piece, they are about my life or I try to tell a story.

Charley’s final project last year, displayed in the AFI Art Show: “Bucket List”, Paper/String. (Please click on photos above to open a larger slideshow)

I made a box with papers that has everything I want to achieve written on them and everything I want when I get older in life. There are papers everywhere and I had to make room for the more important things by hanging them up. It looks like there is a lot going on and it can be stressful. This is the feeling I want people to relate to when they look at my art. It tells a story.

What have you learned about recently at The Messy Artist that you found exciting?

My favorite recent thing I’ve learned was special effects makeup. I loved it because we’ve never learned anything like it before and I used it in my Halloween costume.

special effects make up for kidsIs your life much different from 2 years ago?

I have joined cheerleading and take swimming stroke lessons this year too.

What is your favorite part of AFI art class?

My favorite thing about the class is the students because they make me laugh, and Miss Viviana because she is a great role model, teacher and artist.art student feature kids art class north nj

Just for fun: don’t peek at your previous interview answers! It will be interesting to see if they have changed.

What is your favorite color? Perrywinkle (2013: light blue)

What is the favorite place you’ve been? Whistler, Canada because I love skiing with my family there. (2013: Puerto Rico)

What are your favorite things to do in your free time? I like to write stories, draw and invent things. (2013: When I am not making art, I love to play outside, swimming and diving is what I love the most in summer. I also like acting, I have been in a few plays and taken acting classes. I really like to make silly videos on the ipad with my brother.)

What advice do you have for adults?  I really like the song /quote “Live forever young” by Bob Dylan. I listen to him with my dad a lot. (2013: It’s okay to get dirty.)

Thank you, Charley. We look forward to seeing what you create next!nj art class for kids

Hello winter cards!

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 someone special this winter.

winter card projectThis project goes hand-in-hand with last week’s project, stamped boxes. Winter themed cards can be used in conjunction with the box to give a gift to for the December holidays or to send New Year’s greetings.   When we make these cards, there is glitter everywhere in the studios and everything is festive!

Age Level: 2.5 years and up


  • Work on stamping skills
  • Fine motor control, especially in sprinkling glitter


  • Black construction paper (8.5 x 10”)
  • Silver and white paint (gold and/or blue can also be used)
  • Cookie cutters in snowflake shapes, various sizes, one per child
  • Small sponge pouncers (sometimes called “spouncers”), or q tips if you can’t find them, one per child1257559861635_RL1636-1
  • Condiment cups
  • Paper plates
  • labels

Teacher Preparation:

  • Fold paper in half to make cards
  • Place thin layer of paint on paper plates, one per every two students. A thin layer works best for successful stamping – too much paint will result in blobby stamps.
  • Arrange cookie cutters and round paintbrushes on trays
  • Put glitter in condiment sized cups, again one per every two students. Use a small amount – a little goes a long way, and you can always refill them if needed.
  • Write each student’s name on a label so you can easily label their artwork during class time.
  • Make sample project.


Show students a sample card and explain they will be making winter themed cards by stamping snowflakes onto black paper. (We often have a stamping station with ink and stampers during the earlier part of the class so the children get the concept of stamping and some practice before we start this project.) Demonstrate dipping a cookie cutter into the silver paint and pressing it onto the paper to create a shape. Also show them how to use a pouncer to create a circle print on their card. Finally demonstrate sprinkling glitter onto the card, and how it sticks to the wet paint.the messy artist

Place the trays with the cookie cutter and pouncers on the supply table, and direct the students to walk over and select one of each.art class for kids nj

While they are doing this, hand out the black paper cards (unfolded and placed so that the children will be stamping on the outside). Then deliver the palettes to the table, placing one between every two children.

nj kids art class kids winter card projectHave them start stamping, walking around and helping if needed. This is usually done in one of our caregiver and me classes, so the students can get help from them as well if needed.

Once some children have completed stamping, hand out the cups of glitter and remind them to sprinkle it over the wet paint.

new jersey art classes for kidsWhile the students are working, place a nametag on their project.

gift project for kids to makeThese cards take time to dry. When dry, fold, and save to give back during the next class session. The kids and parents alike love these projects!toddler art project fun cards for kids to make