march’s artist: paul cézanne

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Hello, fantastic art parents!
I am so excited for our project this month. I think the students will really enjoy painting their own small canvas. One thing that is great about canvas board is that it fits well into standard frames and can be something special to take home and hang for years to come. Here is our lesson on the incomparable Cézanne:

Paul Cézanne was an influential French painter who lived from 1839–1906. He was a Post-Impressionist, meaning his work transitioned the art world from the Impressionists, such as Degas, Monet, Manet, and Renoir to the cubists, like Picasso, Brach and Gris. (Cubism is considered to be the first of the truly modern art movements.) Cézanne is often said to form the bridge between late 19th-century art and the early 20th century. Both Matisse and Picasso are said to have remarked that Cézanne “is the father of us all.”

Paul Cézanne was born on 19 January 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, in the South of France. His father, Louis-Auguste Cézanne (1798–1886), was a prosperous banker, which gave Cézanne financial security that was unavailable to most of his contemporaries. Initially, his father did not support his choice to pursue art and he left Aix for Paris in 1861 against his father’s wishes. Eventually though, his father reconciled with Cézanne and supported his choice of career.

Later in his career, he became more interested in working from direct observation and gradually developed a light, airy painting style. Nevertheless, in Cézanne’s mature work there is the development of a solidified, almost architectural style of painting. Throughout his life he struggled to authentically observe and represent his subjects. This lead to highly structured style which simplified naturally occurring forms to their geometric essentials: he wanted to “treat nature by the cylinder, the sphere, the cone”

The Paris Salon rejected Cézanne’s submissions every year from 1864 to 1869. He continued to submit works until 1882. The Salon was the major art exhibition at the time—essentially we could say he was shunned by the critics for much of his career. However, Cézanne was considered a master by younger artists who visited his studio in Aix.

Cézanne concentrated on a few subjects and was equally proficient in still lifes, portraits, landscapes and studies of bathers. He gave up classic artistic elements such as pictorial arrangements, single view perspectives, and outlines that enclosed color in an attempt to get a “lived perspective” by capturing all the complexities that an eye observes. This created pictures that did more than merely copy what the artist saw, but recreated it in a more sculptural dimension, taking into consideration more than one angle. This greatly influence the younger generation of artists and was carried further by the cubists who distinctly showed those differing viewpoints in their works. This is why he is often said to be “one of the greatest of those who changed the course of art history.”

Today we will closely observe some everyday objects, break them down into their basic shapes and recreate them on our canvases.

1. Place a few items on each bank of desks or tables. (If a student wants to change seats for a better view of a particular object, allow it.)

2. Guide the students through looking at the items. Talk about the shapes, colors, textures you see. Point out the highlights and shadows that show the dimension.

3. Pass out canvases, have the students write their names on the back. Show them how to “rough in” where they want the objects on their canvas. Remind them to press very lightly with their pencils. So that they can barely see the marks. They don’t want the pencil to show through on their final paints.

4. Pass out paint wells and add small dots of color. Remind them that the paint goes a long way, they can have more if they need it, but you are only going to give a small amount to start so we don’t waste it.

5. Before you get started remind students how to properly treat their brushes. (We only dip the tip in the paint, that is the only part that can apply it; try not to get paint up into the barrel. Use gentle strokes, going in one direction (vs. scribbling back and forth) Gently rinse the brush when changing colors by lightly scrubbing the brush back and forth on the bottom of the water cup.)

6. Please wash the brushes after you are finished and leave them on the paper towels on the cart to dry for the next class to use. Students may want more than one size of brush, that is totally fine!

december’s artist: vermeer


Today, we are learning about Johannes Vermeer. He was a painter in the Dutch Golden Age. Let’s talk a little about this to understand his art.


The Dutch region (Which is approximately where the Netherlands are today) was in a unique position for an art revolution. This came to be called the Dutch Golden Age or Dutch Renaissance. It was the North’s answer to the art changes of the Renaissance that we talked about with Botticelli (Who lived about 100 years earlier).
Because the area was already protestant, there wasn’t the strong church influence that we saw in other European art. The area was a new leader in trade and industry, making a much a bigger and more wealthy middle class. These people commissioned art for their homes and to decorate local businesses. The art of this period was very realistic. It was also a time that the many painters started to specialize in genres: (These genres were ranked in order of prestige. History painting was thought to be the highest subject, but was also the hardest to sell, there was much more demand for genre painting. Still life was thought to be the easiest or lowest subject.)

-history painting, including allegories and popular religious subjects.
-Portrait painting, (individuals and groups)
-“genre painting” or scenes of everyday life
-landscape, including seascapes, battle scenes, cityscapes, and ruins.
-still life
Vermeer was a genre painter. He painted many detailed and realistic scenes from everyday life. He was moderately successful during his lifetime, and received recognition from critics and the art world. However, because art was so plentiful during this time, he was never financially comfortable. (For older grades, mention supply and demand.)

Vermeer was born on Oct. 31, 1632 in Delft, Denmark. Not much is known about his personal life. He never left Delft and was thought to have devoted a great deal of his time to his work. He was later called the Sphinx of Delft because his work became popular again in the 1900s, but there isn’t much information to tell us about the painter.

His father was an art dealer and inn owner, and Johannes inherited this business when he died. He married Catharina Bolenes and converted to Catholicism, which influenced his art. (For older: as mentioned before, the Netherlands were protestant. Religiously, Catholicism had much more symbolism and pomp. Think back to Botticelli.) They had 15 children, 11 surviving past childhood. None of them were artists.


Due to the Dutch Revolution, economic crisis hit his city of Delft. Over 5 years passed before circumstances improved. Vermeer died in December 1675. His wife, Catharina blamed his death, the war with France, not being able sell any paintings and being in debt. “He had fallen into a frenzy, in a day and a half he went from being healthy to being dead.” Modern scholars believe he had a stroke.

Vermeer did not have formal training that we know of. (This is a subject of debate for experts, but no one has definitively traced his style to another master in the area.) There is limited evidence that Vermeer used preparatory sketches or tracings in his paintings. Vermeer is known for his use of light, his paintings have direct light sources and intricately detailed shadows. He was very interested in the camera obscura that had recently been invented. And his interest in photography influenced his work.

He is also known for his preference for using the colors Lapis Lazuli and Indian yellow. Painters could not buy colors in tubes at the art store. They had to make the colors by blending pigments with oils. The most easy to blend and least expensive were the earth derived colors, making them far more common. (Which is why many older paintings tend to be dark and have less color.) The bright pigments Vermeer used, were much harder to come by. (Indian yellow pigment is claimed to have been originally manufactured in rural India from the urine of cattle fed only on mango leaves and water. The urine would be collected and dried, producing smelly hard dirty yellow balls of the raw pigment. This would have been purchased, crushed and added to a medium, such as linseed oil. Lapis Lazuli comes from a deep blue semi-precious stone. That is ground and added to medium. It is the most expensive pigment. Even today, quality oil paints vary greatly in price based on the pigment. Some of the expensive pigments cost hundreds of dollars for a tube. However, they are worth it. They give a color that synthetics can’t duplicate.)

These details are what make Vermeer’s work as compelling today as it was in his time. Take a look at the detail of his paintings and the expressions of his models.<Look at paintings> Girl with a pearl earring has inspired a handful of fictional stories and novels, it is interesting to imagine what she was thinking. The model in woman holding a balance is Catharina; Vermeer used his wife and children in many of his paintings. What do you think about these scenes? What do they tell you about life in the Netherlands in the 1600s? Would you like to be in one of these scenes? Etc.


Today we will work on tag board. This has more texture to it, which shows through and changes the look of your art a little. Like Vermeer, we will do a genre painting. However, think back to Norman Rockwell and compare his detailed illustrations to these paintings. We will want to keep our scenes more simple. When you are painting, often simpler is better. Here are a few tips about how artists use paints.

>First you will lightly sketch your subject. Do not put all of the details. We are “roughing it in” like we did on our Botticelli tando.

>These are acrylics. They are very versatile, they can look like watercolors or more opaque, like oils. Today, we will “paint dry” which means we will be using less water. This will let the texture of the tag board show through a bit.

>Dip your brush in the water, then gently wipe the excess water on the rim.

>Dip the brush into the paint, but only on the tip! Brushes are meant to be used softly on the page, if you get paint up on the top of the brush or the barrel, it won’t be usable and can make the brushes loose their shape.

>When you are ready to change colors, lightly scribble on the bottom of the cup to clean the brush. (If needed, you can wipe the brush on your napkin and then clean again.)

>As always, work from the background up. Remind them that this lets you build up the details. Put in the sky, then your trees, then people, then faces etc.

*We are limited on tag board so please encourage kids to keep working on their piece instead of starting again.

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.

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 cooking 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

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