november’s artist: norman rockwell

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~Norman Rockwell was a prolific artist, producing over 4,000 original works in his lifetime.
~Norman Rockwell was born on February 3, 1894, in New York City to Jarvis Waring Rockwell and Anne Mary "Nancy" Rockwell
~In 1912, at age 18, Norman Rockwell was hired as a staff artist for Boys' Life magazine (which was published by the Boy Scouts of America). He received fifty dollars compensation each month for one completed cover and a set of story illustrations. It is said to have been his first paying job as an artist.
~He sold his first successful cover painting to the Saturday Evening Post in May of 1916, Mother's Day Off
~Norman Rockwell published a total of 323 original covers for The Post over 47 years. He also did work for several other magazines, such as The Literary Digest, The Country Gentleman, and Life Magazine.
~He enlisted during World War I and was given the post of a military artist.
~In 1943, during World War II, Rockwell was inspired by a speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt, in which he described four principles for universal rights: Freedom from Want, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of
Worship, and Freedom from Fear. This lead to a series of paintings that were published in 1943 by The Saturday Evening Post and later displayed around the country to sell war bonds. Some feel that this series was the masterpiece of his work. He felt Freedom of Speech was his best.
~For "vivid and affectionate portraits of our country," Rockwell received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States of America's highest civilian honor, in 1977.
~Rockwell died November 8, 1978, of emphysema at age 84 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
~Rockwell's work was dismissed by serious art critics in his lifetime. Many of his works appear overly sweet in modern critics' eyes, especially the Saturday Evening Post covers, which tend toward idealistic or sentimentalized portrayals of American life – this has led to adjective "Rockwellesque"
~However in later years, he was given more critical praise for the more serious pieces he painted. Such as his paintings dealing with segregation and civil rights in the 1950-60s.
~Whatever your view on Norman Rockwell's subjects, he is clearly one of the most widely know and influential artists of the 20th century. This may be because he illustrated American life in its most idealistic form.
~Rockwell is an artist that is popularly enjoyed because people can
relate to his pictures. They find stories and experiences that they have
had in his detailed scenes.

>>Look at and discuss the pictures with students. Make sure to point out the rich detail; ask how the pictures make them feel and if they can see a story in them.
Today we are going to create our own pictures that tell a story. Remind them that it is important to visualize what story they want to tell, then include details that will help the view put the story together. Go back to the pictures, if necessary and point out little details that give the view clues into what Rockwell wanted to show.
Excuse students to their desks and let them get started. We will be working in crayon, they can use their own or share one of the boxes on the cart (There should be enough to have partners share.)
As you walk around and observe them working, stop to ask questions that will help them to flesh out their stories or provide more detail. Fast finishers can draw another picture. Encourage them by asking what could happen next in their story or what is another view they could try, etc.

october’s artist: botticelli

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>> a brief history on Botticelli:

Sandro Botticelli, who lived from 1445-1510, was an important painter during the early Renaissance. He lived in Italy and was initially an apprentice to a goldsmith as a boy, but found his true talent was in painting and became the apprentice of the master Filippo Lippi.

The Renaissance was a period of time from the 14th to the 17th century in Europe. This era bridged the time between the Middle Ages and modern times. The word “Renaissance” means “rebirth”. It was a rebirth of education, science, art, literature, music, and a better life for people in general.

The Greek and Roman Empires where times filled with art and enlightened thinking. When those empires fell, Europe was left in the Middle Ages or what we often call the Dark Ages because these advances were lost.

The Renaissance started in Italy, where powerful and wealthy people were willing to support artists (as well as other types of geniuses.) The Medicis were a very wealthy family that were the Patrons of our artist, Sandro Botticelli.

This is important because before the Renaissance, art was sponsored by the church and always depicted religious subjects. Now, artist were able to explore other topics. Greek and Roman mythology were popular during this time, religious art was still very popular, portraits of nobles were also common.

>>Show and discuss the aspects of the paintings with the kids. Ask them what they notice, what they like, dislike. Here some possible points:

Botticelli is known for the dreamy look of the people (and gods, goddess, and angels) in his paintings.

Look at the serene faces and balanced proportions of the pictures. How do they make you feel?

Do you think think Botticelli placed more importance on the people or the setting in his paintings?


*Display round paintings

These are call Tondo which comes from the Italian word rotondo or round.

Botticelli was a leading master of this style of painting, which was popular during the renaissance.

Notice how there is much less detail to the background, (if there is one at all).

See how the composition or where the people and other items in the picture are placed a little differently so that it flows with the circular shape.


*Show the large tondo (The Virgin and Child) and picture 698 (Adoration of the Magi)

What do you notice about this tondo compared to a rectangular painting?

>>Now to the activity:

We will create our own tondi (plural for tondo) the rim of the plate can make a frame.

Ask the kids to stop and think about a subject they would like to draw (Feel free to briefly discuss).

Remind them to keep it simple, do not try to fit too much in or make a complex background.

Show Madonna the Magnificent (in the I Spy book) and point out the way the youth and Madonna mirror the circular shape, how the arch above them frames and completes the circle. The background forms an interesting contrast to everything else.

Ask the kids to think how they can make their subject compliment the circular frame.

Show them how to lightly sketch in (or rough in) their picture then fill in with the pastels.

Artists always work from the background to foreground (The things in the back to the main subject in the front).

Show them how pastels can be used (Always press lightly! They break easily) and blended with their fingers. Pastels are not crayons. Tell them they will feel that they are oily. They are kind of like oil paint poured into a stick. The can give a lot of vibrant color if you press more firmly or very soft color that can be blended together if you press lightly.

>>Excuse them to sit and go to work.

new explorers class starting in october

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I am super excited to be starting class again. You can find all of the information on the art class page.

cool whip painting1

art day camps are back


Fine Art Day Camps

Each camp will run from 11:00am to 3:00pm and will Include

lunch. (Please specify if your child has a food allergy.) All supplies will be included. Cost is $45.00 per child per class.

A $5.00 discount will be given for enrollment in multiple classes.

Class sizes are limited.

 ~An online registration form will be available soon~

Observers (ages 6-10)

Sculpture June 26th

Jewelry July 17th

Color Theory July 30th

Intro. to the Masters Aug. 13thMasters (ages 11+)

Sculpture June 28th

Jewelry July 18th

Color Theory Aug. 1st

Intro. to the Masters Aug. 15th



We will explore the basics of using clay as well as discover tricks used by masters to create a sculpture. We will study the works of several great sculptors throughout history from Michelangelo to Alexander Calder. Then we will look into the work of artists like Vic Muniz, Harry Anderson, and Lina Fry to understand what it takes to make Found Object Art and then create a Found composition. If you have interestingly shaped objects we can use, please send them along!


Color Theory

We will work with several different mediums to explore the color wheel and how to mix and tint different colors. We will explore how color is used to set the tone and emotion of a painting by the work of color masters such as Caravagio and Van Gogh. We will then compose our own painting on Gesso board and finish the day with a fun (and delicious) project.


Introduction to the Masters

In this art history class, your child will discover the techniques that the masters used in their own works. We will explore the Greek painters, up through the Renaissance, Impressionism and beyond to understand the skill and nuance in great painting. Then students will put this knowledge to work creating their own canvass en plein air.



We will explore the different methods used to make jewelry and create our own pieces; working with wire, clay, leather, and beads.

*Classes subject to cancellation for lack of enrollment.

Bridge and Tayt

*An online registration form will be available soon!

susanna’s sea shell cake


Just for you, Juli (because I would do anything for ya!); here’s a look at the Susanna’s wedding cake. It was a white cake with strawberry filling. I will share the recipe for the filling below, as it is my favorite way to do fruit fillings in cake. I also used white chocolate frosting (side note, it is not good for piping!) and marshmallow fondant. The shells are also fondant, which held up in the high heat and humidity better than white chocolate. It was pretty tasty, if I do say so myself. C:


easy fruit filling for layer cakes

~ 6oz. jam (I like to use homemade freezer jam, it has such a fresh flavor, but store bought works just fine too. I usually go with Polener’s)

1 small box Jello in same flavor

Heat jam in the microwave for about 30-60 seconds. It should be fairly hot. Quickly stir in Jello and mix thoroughly; let cool for a few minutes. Pipe a frosting “dam” around the edge of the cake and spread filling in the center. Let sit for a few minutes in the fridge to set then place he next layer on top.

quick 4th of july wreath


I know I have pretty much abandoned my blog, but I thought I’d take a minute to share this project. It was so fast and easy to put together and I think it turned out pretty smart. I saw something similar, but couldn’t find it to look back to later, I think it was a Halloween wreath, which would also be darling. (I know, how hard is it to pin it?? Sorry awesome blogger!) Anyway, if you want to make your own, here is what you will need:

1/3 yard white cotton

1/3 yard navy cotton

1/4 yard red cotton

3 circles of felt-or whatever heavy fabric you have in your scraps

Styrofoam wreath form

I cut the navy and white fabric into 2 1/2 or 3 inch strips (seriously-quick and dirty works well here, no need to measure.) Wrap the foam wreath with the white fabric so that it is completely covered and secure with hot glue or pins. Next, wrap the navy fabric, leaving room for the white to show through and secure.

Cut 1 inch strips of the red cotton and tie a loose knot in one end. Glue to the middle of the felt circle. Now loosely twist and glue the fabric in concentric circles until your flower is as large as you want. Glue or pin to the wreath and repeat for remaining flowers. That’s it! So easy, you might feel you have to make something else because it isn’t past bedtime yet. :D (Am I the only one who crafts after the kiddos are asleep??)

a little peek at our-ahem-routine


So “our Juli” mentioned to me recently that she’d like to see-well, anything-on my blog. Haha, I guess it is time I did something. I have lots of project info. to share soon, but just can’t seem to get around to blogging about it before I am entrenched in the next project. In the meantime, I took this video the other morning at Megan’s insistence. It shows one of the main (and most pleasant) contributors to our long and inefficient morning routine. Enjoy my crazy cute girlies:

check this…


I know I have been MIA lately. I’ll figure something out soon. :D In the meantime, head to to enter for some serious summer fun! Check out what they are offering two winners:and

candy cane playdough


So, I am really lagging behind on Christmas prep; but I figured I’d share just in case you are looking for a last-minute friend gift for your kids or even just a fun activity. We made four batches of the recipe below, 2 red and 2 white and layered them into 9 pint mason jars.


  • 3 1/2-4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tarter (found with the spices on the baking isle)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups of water
  • food coloring (1-2oz. bottle for red batch)
  • 1-2oz. peppermint extract


1. Heat water to boiling in a medium saucepan.

2. Measure a generous 3 1/2 cups flour into a medium-large mixing bowl (one that holds at least 8 cups.) Reserve extra to add if the dough is too sticky. Mix in the salt and cream of tartar.

3. Once the water is boiling, whisk in the oil and food coloring. Remove from heat and add peppermint extract. Remember that it will smell strong now, but will be diluted greatly once mixed with the flour.

4. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the water mixture in. Stir with a spoon until flour is incorporated, then turn it onto the counter or a cutting board and knead until smooth.

5. Layer each color in mason jar, pressing down gently (You don’t want to smash them together too much, so they are easy to separate and play with.)

6. Print tags below and attach with twine, yarn, or ribbon.

Here is a pdf: candy cane tag 2

Merry Christmas you guys! I wish you a quick finish on your projects and to get to bed before midnight on Saturday! Keers

gingerbread houses


While I have been slaving away like a crazy little elf; we have also been up to a lot of fun things in these past few weeks. I figured I’d share some pics of the gingerbread houses we made last night. (Actually, there were requests to share for Grandma Lu and Harrison–2 very important people. :D) So without further ado:

Meg’s masterpiece: full of things that she didn’t really want on there. (She says as she eats them.)

Emily’s house: winner in the heavy- weight division.

Amanda’s decor was a little more spartan. She stopped decorating as soon as she realized she could eat the candy.

Mom and Dad had fun too. Check Mike’s creative roof and frosting trees. Mmmm, delicious Christmas fun.