Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter: Free Printable

Happy Easter this Sunday everyone! I'm so excited for my second favorite holiday of the year.   I drew this from a slightly random piece of inspiration.  I have always been just a tad bit intimidated by drawing or paining Jesus Christ.  But I just decided to go for it.  I was actually happily surprised with how my first try came out.  This version of Christ is just about exactly how I imagine Him.  Calm, peaceful, dignified, and of course -- spending time with children.  I have this print in my kitchen and it brings a special Easter cheer each time we see it.

I was going to go into all my feelings about Easter and the back story on this drawing, but I decided I did not want to let that all get in the way of this simple and sweet artwork.  I just hope it speaks for itself.  I hope you enjoy this free 8x10 printable (no watermark or copyright symbol).  It is also available as a fine art giclee print in my shop.

Download file WITH text here

Download file withOUT text here.

Happy Easter! I hope we can all truly remember the love, and hope this holiday brings.

P.S.  The color looks a little off when viewed in google drive but looks fine when viewed in the PDF format. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

How To Keep Your Teen Interested in Art

I has a friend ask how to help keep her tween interested in his art assignments. I started a lengthy email back and realized it would make a great post for all my readers.

Visual art -- like any of the arts -- can sometimes seem boring and difficult. Especially in our culture filled with interactive screens, and plethora of instant gratification

There are a few common problems I have seen that come up when teaching older kids and teens art. Some of these (and some ideas to combat them) are below.

1.  "I just don't care about art"
Even though this is like a dagger in the heart for me, I can understand why kids feel this way.  I thought football was extremely boring until my husband helped me gain some background in it.  Now I see how it's fun! Here are some ideas to help your child care a bit more. 

--Art museum trips. Now, you have to be thoughtful when you take an art newbie to an art museum. Have a time limit (probably about 45 minutes) and only see the top 5-8 best works of art in the museum. Nothing is more boring to a teen then wandering mindlessly through a museum they don't care about with their mother. So choose really spectacular pieces to see and understand their story before you get there so you can explain really interesting and engaging things about them. Also, LEAVE before the newbie gets tired or bored. Then make a fun date out of it and get brunch, have a picnic, or stop for that child's very favorite treat. This will all help instill great feelings about art. 

--Have good quality art books around. Be sure to choose art books that are engaging to the age your child is. I LOVED the Norman Rockwell books my mom had in her studio and read, looked at and copied from those books for hours as a kid. Did I look at the Rembrandt books? Not really. But now his work is my favorite. Pollock and  Kandinsky probably won't be interesting to your child either (or anyone really for that matter) so don't bore them from the beginning.  Having these available and talking about the stories / artistic choices in the paintings will help spark their interest.

--Have choices and make the art choice seem more interesting. Ok, so your teen is resisting working on their art project? Tell them they can either do the dishes or draw. Let them know that their Shakespeare essay is waiting for them if they don't want to work on their art appreciation lesson. MOST kids will choose art over many things.  I sure started caring more about piano when my choice was piano or cleaning the house.

--Choose works of art for your child to study that could be interesting to them specifically.
If you have a girl who loves romantic or princess things, you might want to share with her the romantic and narrative works of Waterhouse,  or Edwin Austen Abbey.  Don't share David's Napoleon or war paintings. If you have a boy who really likes to figure things out, maybe share some paintings that have great details to understand or stories relevant to boys like works by Norman Rockwell, or J.C. Leyendecker.  Trying to get that boy to really love the color choice that Renoir uses in his ballet paintings isn't going to work so well.   Some kids love the story behind the paintings too.  If your kid like history, choose an artwork that has really interesting stories surrounding it and tell the story while the child works on drawing or painting. Many paintings have historical significance or interesting details about how their were done.  Lots of these stories can be found by just searching the good old internets.  Once they show interest in some aspect of an artist push it! Don't worry about other art for now.  Eventually they will be open to expanding their horizons a bit.  

2. "I just can't draw"
My biggest pet peeve is when people say they can't draw and they can only draw stick figures. It's probably the number one thing people say to me when they hear I'm an artist. Well, of course you can't draw if you have never practiced. Would you expect to pick up a violin with no lessons and spontaneously start playing a Paganini Caprice? No. Drawing is not some special, magical talent some are born with and others are not. It's a skill that needs to be learned, and developed just like any other skill. Some people do tend to pick it up quicker (just like some kids pick up how to kick a soccer ball a little faster then others) but that doesn't mean that others can't keep learning and getting better too. I have seen so many artists improve drastically with correct training and lots of practice. Everyone can draw if they learn how.

3. "Art is boring and has too much detail"
 Some kids rush through their art assignments simply to get through it. Of course this will cause sloppy work. Some ideas to help prevent this are: 

--Set a timer for each step.  Don't allow moving on to the next step until the timer is up and the step is complete. Sitting there staring at their page will get boring if they rush through the step and most kids will learn to slow down a little. 

-- Focus on one skill. Many times a child is overwhelmed by art assignments that are too difficult for their level. Step back and ask "is trying to get my 12 year old to replicate a painting by Matisse just too much?" Yes, it most likely is. There are so many difficult skills that are involved it is helpful to break it down. Focus on brush work -- fill a page with the same brush strikes Mattise used. Or focus on color. Spend the assignment just mixing up the same colors he used. Color matching is fun and surprisingly takes more time and skill then you think. But mainly, I would focus on ONLY drawing with ANY beginner. Asking a beginner artist to do anything else before becoming at least decent at drawing is like asking a horse to jump before it's learned to walk. Not going to be pretty.

-- Add a little competition. 
When teens get bored sometimes they need things to get a little more real. Maybe they won't be so sloppy and uncaring if they have a sibling or a friend who they are competing against for a prize. One of my art teachers awarded a prize to the best sketch done at home each week. We would put all our drawings up on the board for everyone to see and she would grade each drawing in front of everyone and award the prize. Oh man. My every thought throughout the week was how to get my drawing to be chosen as the winning drawing.  Competition is a great motivator sometimes.

4.  "I'm never going to use art--it won't be my career-- so why should I learn about it?"

Well, it is true that there aren't many professions that will expect you to know how to layer oil paints versus watercolors, or expect you to know why the Mona Lisa was significant. But, you can help your teen understand that being an overall cultured person will help them significantly in their quality of life. Being well versed in the arts will help develop friendships, help in having quality conversations with other intelligent and cultured people, and can help determine what significant relationships will happen in your life. What intelligent, high quality, educated person wants to spend their life with someone who can only talk about sports, and daytime television?  I would argue that being an accomplished, well-rounded and cultured person is more important than learning just one single technical skill.  That's the whole idea behind a liberal-arts education.

And my last piece of advice-- Always end on a good note!  If your child seems excited and happy about their work (even if just for a second) stop right there.  Don't let them continue. Ending on good feelings will hold over to your next lesson and is worth much more then a fully finished drawing.  Pushing to the point of frustration and tears means you might have done a bit too much.

Do you have any ideas on how to help your child appreciate art or do better with their artwork? Or any questions?  I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

18 months

Little LouLou is almost 18 months!  Time stands still says no mother ever.  I wanted to commemorate the upcoming event with a little impromptu photo shoot.  I love learning about photography and think I get better each time I shoot.  If I had never picked up a pencil I think I would probably be a photographer.  It's so fun!  I also like how Winifred photo bombed some of the pictures.

LouLou is doing so many new and fun things each day.  Here are some of them:

  • "Finds" whatever toy or object we ask her too
  • Gets Dad's shoes out for him when he gets home
  • Tells Winifred to be quiet (SO funny)
  • Pushes Winifred out of her personal space (this girl already has a copious amount of confidence)
  • Says "Jesus" whenever she sees a painting of him (and also melts her mama's heart)
  • Scribbling with crayons in the studio while her mama draws/works
  • Loves reading "Goodnight Moon" and "God Bless" each night
  • Loves running around our huge backyard -- I knew we bought a house with a big yard for something!  
  • Starting to really love her stuffed animals.  She makes a little neighing noise whenever she holds one
  • Likes to play basketball with her daddy
  • Sleeping through the night and taking two naps (but she does wake up each day at 5:30--she did not get this trait from her mom)
  • Loves story time at the library
  • Likes to do "school time" each day with Mom.  This consists of drawing, reading, fitting shapes into holes, and learning about letters.  
Basically, we are so happy to have her in our family!  LouLou has such a sweet yet confident personality about her.  Happy 18 months my little Lovie!


Monday, March 3, 2014

Little Ones

I'm usually only really interested in drawing and painting children, but I've had a few projects lately that have changed my mind.  I'm now obsessed with drawing all sorts of animals. I also have a dog, which is the inspiration for one of these prints. The quote below seemed to be the best way to describe Winifred.  I also grew up riding horses and ponies. I can't own a horse right now (babies, pregnancies and horses don't mix well) so I often draw them when I'm missing them. Thus, the inspiration for the pony print! I also live in the woods pretty much and totally love it. We have lots of wildlife, but have yet to see a fox. The fox print is inspired by my hope to see a fox in our woods out back -- a favorite animal if mine! 

I actually love these so much I'm thinking of redoing LouLou's room to go around them! Or maybe a future baby boy's room?!!!

How cute are all three of these little ones together! Available in different sizes in my Etsy shop.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Week in Pictures

Date with my Mr. Murdock

Loving bubbles

Sketching birds

Painting ponies

This face



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"By the Seaside": New Children's Nautical Art Series

Okay, I'm so in love with this new nautical art series I have created!  Sailor outfits, seashells, whales, sweet quotes and more are part of this series.  This will go perfect for a nautical themed nursery or kids room.  I love nautical decor because its so classic and will always look great.

Oh, and I also have something new to go with it!  Fabric!!  I will post in a couple days on how and where to get the fabric line to go perfectly with these art prints.  More ships, sailboats, whales and just overall adorableness is coming. 

All high quality, archival giclee prints available at my shop HERE

Let me know which is your favorite!! I love your feedback. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

5 Reasons Picture Books Are Better Than Chapter Books

I was at the library and a child (maybe 7) brought some picture books up to his mother.  His mother dismissed the books and instead was trying to convince him to read an easy reader.  NO!  I wanted to slap the book out of the mother's hand and give her all the reasons I thought she should let her son read the picture books he wanted.  Apparently, there are more then just this woman who think that reading chapter books means their kids are more advanced.  And, I'm a little behind in finding this article in the NY times about this exact topic. Read it here. 

Alas, I controlled myself and am now writing all the reasons here on my blog about why picture books offer many different advantages over chapter books. 

*** This list only pertains to good, high quality picture books.  There are a lot of bad picture books that don't promote this.  So choose wisely!

1.  Picture books encourage more critical thinking.  
Due to the tiny amount of words that are in picture books, many ideas, concepts, characterizations, and morals are implied rather then easily spelled out for the reader.   While chapter books can -- and do -- tell everything to the reader, picture books spend much more time showing the reader things.  This requires the child to use their critical thinking skills to decipher what the book means.  Also, the illustrations show more of the story than is written, which also develops the child's thinking skills.  I love seeing kids look carefully at the illustrations trying to understand the entire depth of the story.  I can almost hear their brains working!

2. Picture books broaden vocabulary better then chapter books.
Because the chapter books children read are written specifically for that young age group, the vocabulary level will be low.  Picture books on the other hand, read by parents have a much broader range of vocabulary that can be used.  Just in my little stack of picture books next to me I see words such as "solemn", "wonderful", "snatched", "purple-headed" and many more.  Children will miss out on a lot of valuable vocabulary learning by skipping picture books and jumping to easy reader chapter books.

3. Picture books stimulate more of the senses
Picture books stimulate more of the senses in our little ones.  Visual senses,  and sense of touch (with touch and feel books, flap books) are all working while reading picture books along.  The sense of hearing (if read by a parent)  is also being used which helps with comprehension development.  The more senses are alert, the more parts of the brain are activated.   Activated brain regions mean brain development. This is a good thing!

4. Picture books help develop a love for the visual arts
 My love of art didn't start when I walked into the Metropolitain Museum of Art in New York for the first time when I was 15.  It started as a little child flipping through my favorite picture books over and over.  Ferdinand was one of my favorites.  The simple line drawings and expressive animals are just lovely.  I was home schooled for much of my elementary years and our long reading time and library time were some of my favorite.  Even when I illustrate today, I'm heavily influenced by the images I saw as a child.  Not only is this a great quality to develop in children (a love for visual arts) but also reminds us that we should be careful what images are in front of our young children as they make big impacts for life.

5. Picture books create better and stronger memories
Picture books have a comfort element that chapter books don't.  Cuddling on the couch with a parent and siblings reading a great picture book, leaning closer to mom to get a better look is unlike any other experience.  This good feelings associated with reading will make a big impact in a child's future love of reading. 

So, even if your child CAN read chapter books doesn't mean that is all they should be reading.  I know sometimes it is easier to hand them a book and tell them to read but picture book reading by a parent has a value like nothing else. Let them be little a while longer and pull out some great picture books.

*** I'm looking to develop my picture book library more as LouLou is getting older.  Any book recommendations?!! Let me know!