Category Archives: art

Driveway Art

Driveway Art whatever inspires

Do your children pretty up your driveway with art? I just love it when I walk out, or am backing out of the drive, and see it all cheerful and colorful. Lots of bright images and plenty of things to make me smile.

It brings a smile to my face when I see artwork that welcomes daddy home from work.

It makes me grin to see a funny drawing.

Driveway Art How Wonderful

It makes me proud to see an image about something related to their belief and understanding of God. Especially when that is directed at sharing about him to passersby.Driveway Art Christ

Driveway art just makes me smile.

Driveway Art

May these pictures of our driveway art make you smile today.

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Creating a Creative Habit – Middle School Monday

Creating a Creative Habit MSM

How do you encourage creativity in your students? If we don’t encourage creativity, it is so easy for students to not become creative.

“I just don’t know what to do.”

“I can’t do it.”

“I’m not good at that.”

These excuses and more are often closing doors. But if we encourage them and create opportunities, the creativity will blossom.

I want to share with you 5 ways in which we try to encourage our girls to be creative.

1 – Give them the needed materials. Whether it is needles and thread and fabric for sewing or glue and paper and tape, even glitter (I know some of you are cringing) – we give the girls the materials they need to create whatever it is that their brains are dreaming up. Cross-stitch, sewing, crafts, legos, paper, tape, glitter, sequins, beads, string, googly eyes, and more make up many, many spaces in our home.

2 – Step away. Once they have the materials, let them use them. Let them experiment. Let them read or dream and create. Without interference, who knows where their ideas will take them. At the same time . . .

3 – Provide instruction. After the experimentation, art classes or fiber arts classes or field trips to learn about the materials and how they are used can all help provide instruction and inspire further creativity. Whether it is taking a child to a specific class or teaching them at home, instruction will give direction to their ideas.

4 – Allow them time. Don’t structure their time so closely that they have no time to just create. I fail at this one quite often. I plan to work on a project with them – getting out the paints or coloring materials – and let it go right by without a second thought. Time is a critical factor in creating and seeing ideas to fruition.

5 – Remind them that no one is good at everything and sometimes, it takes a while to find out where their own strengths lie. So try things. Be willing to make and learn from failures. Because in those failures, learning occurs.
Creating a Creative Habit

These are just some thoughts that have been running through my head today as I watch my girls work with their hands on various things – Lego creations, crochet, creating projects from an American Girl book, finger printing with inks, drawing, and more. All of it is a joy to see, even when I end up with 33,000 bookmarks made by one who just learned to braid and another who loves creating with duct tape. Add to it all the drawings and finger printing – well, family just better be looking for some packages in the mail. 🙂

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Thin Stix ~ a Crew review

Thin Stix review banner

Love to paint, color, and create all things artsy? Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors is a product you need to add to your collection. Created by The Pencil Grip, Inc., these Thin Stix are a solid tempera paint appropriate for any number of amazing, fun uses. Thin Stix classic colors

Thin Stix are tempera paint in a solid, stick form. Solid tempera paint is bright, vibrant colors. In just a matter of seconds, the paint is so dry it will not smear or get on hands, arms, or anything that rubs over it. A while back we reviewed Kwik Stix and loved how easy they were to use. Thin Stix does the same thing, only they are a bit smaller.

We have truly enjoyed using this paint without having to get out the brushes and water. We have found that we can do some more detailed work than with the original Kwik Stix since the tip is smaller. I still wish they would make some that were even smaller. The vibrancy of the color makes me want to use them for everything!

working on the pirate rainbow

Ease of use with these is amazingly simple. You uncap like a marker. Roll it up like a glue stick. Use it. Roll it back down. Put the cap back on. That’s it. None of the fuss, muss, or mess. Paper, cardboard, wood, and more – it works on just about everything, it seems!

We have used these quite a bit on regular printer paper. They work great but we have experienced the pages curling up as they would with regular paints so a bit heavier paper is a better choice, though not necessary. You can see the coverage on regular paper and paint-like finish in these tessellation images.


One of the fun aspects of these is that because of the way they cover, you can use a textured paper and get a textured look from it. That was lots of fun. In this image of a Dala horse, you can sort of see that texture a little bit.

Mom's Dala Horse

Looking for the vibrancy of color? Take a look at this image of a mermaid looking at a sunset. The color is so bright! If you didn’t know this was done with a tempera paint stick that dries quickly, you would think it was regular liquid paint that is messy.

mermaid sunset

Placemats? Yes, those are easily created with Thin Stix.


Get well cards with pirates are easily made, too. Rainbows, battleships, and more. All are fun and easy. Though, if you don’t have a student who can control their paint stick easily, you might want to put something under their paper or project so that it doesn’t get on something you don’t want it to. We do have a couple of permanent marks on a tablecloth, though it is not a big deal since it almost matches the cloth!

pirate rainbow

various Kwik Stix available

When you realize all that can be done with these Thin Stix, you quickly wonder what all the company makes. Well, take a look at their website. Thin Stix and Kwik Stix both come in tons of colors, from the classic colors that we are reviewing here to metallic colors to neon colors. I would absolutely love to see just how bright the neon colors are!

nighttime flower

The company has these available for purchase on their website and Amazon but you can also pick them up at Toys R Us. These make wonderful gifts and parents and kids alike love them!

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Want to see more projects completed using Thin Stix? Check out other reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew.

No Mess Art with Thin Stix Classic Colors {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}Find The Pencil Grip, Inc. and Thin Stix on social media:




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ArtAchieve ~ a Crew review

Art classes with ArtAchieve

Art curriculum always gives me problems – will it be detailed enough for the girls to follow or will it be so detailed that they feel they have no personal work in it? ArtAchieve is a nice balance of the two extremes, in my opinion. We have been reviewing the Entire Level II program from ArtAchieve and all three of the girls have used it.

There are a total of five levels that can be purchased, though each level works much the same way. After gaining access to your level or individual lesson, it is easy to just jump right in. In Level II, we were able to used mostly things that we had on hand and, if we didn’t, it was very easy to just adapt to whatever we did have (or wanted to use). For example, on the Hiding Butterflies lesson, we were instructed to paint the finished drawing. Miss L did not want to because she felt that using colored pencils would give her the effect she wanted. So, that is what she did. It did not change the purpose or product of the lesson but allowed her to personalize it easily.

THE LESSONS –warm up for mermaid

When you begin a lesson, you login to your account and then click on the lesson you want to begin. Each lesson has instruction links as well as links to printable portions for the lesson. For the printable portions, there is a warm-up to print off that helps focus on various shapes that will be used in the art piece. There is also often a printable of the image. I can see these being really helpful if you have a younger set of student who want to do the lesson with you but are not able to actually manage the drawing. These could work as coloring pages. These printables open in a PDF viewer and can be printed from there.

When you are ready to begin the lesson, there are normally two options: a PowerPoint slide lesson and a video version of the lesson. We used both and each one has its own benefits. The PowerPoint slides were really beneficial for working at your own pace. You could fly through the things you didn’t need to wait through and you could take as much time as needed on the drawing portions that were taking you a while. They were straight-forward, no extra words to confuse or frustrate. The simplicity of the step-by-step drawing really kept things moving and the girls really preferred this method.

butterfly lessonWe did try the video a couple of times but it was not a favorite. The need to wait through the things you could quickly read on your own is a point that the girls really did not care for. They also felt rushed often when using the video. It was more difficult to pause and it often paused with a hand over the part you were trying to draw, thus your example was obscured. There was a huge benefit in the video, though – it was very easy to use their example and add personal touches, personalizing the artwork the way you wanted yours to be. An example was the Sri Lankan elephant was so easy to see HOW to add the foreground and background, to put the trees and bushes where you wanted them, on the video. The slides for this one did not give any option for this.

The lessons, whether slides or video, do a really good job of helping teach the student to visualize what they want and move to that image in their head. I love that there is a common statement that not every line will be exactly what you want so you keep going to change it to what you do want. This is the type of positive environment created throughout all of the lessons.

CROSS-CURRICULAR CONNECTIONScross-curricular activities from Dala Horse lesson

Another exciting feature of this program is the inclusion of cross-curricular connections, right in the slides and on the website. Depending on the lesson, there are various connections that help the students really grasp the background of art. Art does not exist in a vacuum and these activities do a fantastic job of highlighting this fact. Each lesson is based on a real-life artifact from some country. The background of the artifact is discussed and then various additional explorations are given.

Some examples include:

  • video of Dala horses being made
  • history of the country of origin – some through videos and some through articles
  • books and stories that complement the artifact or main image in the artwork
  • research – example: research myths related to cats
  • poetry
  • recipes from the country of origin
  • and much, much more.

Our favorite was probably the tessellations. We watched several videos and did a lot of looking at images by M.C.Escher. What fun that lesson was!

We used these for every one of the lessons we attempted. It was always interesting and made for a much richer lesson. I will caution that many of the videos are from YouTube so be prepared for that sidebar that can pop up with unwanted images and videos. Additionally, we did run across several links that appeared to be broken. Some of them resolved the next time we came to them but some of them did not. So, keep checking.

This cross-curriculum portion really adds depth to the experience and is a wonderful part of the lessons. Don’t neglect it!

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I really like this program. It wasn’t for each of us and different lessons worked well for different children.

Miss E's tessellationMiss E was able to take the mermaid lesson and apply it to a number of different outlets (she created a gorgeous chalk drawing on our driveway!). She loved the tessellation lesson, as well. But she didn’t really enjoy working on some of the others. She is looking forward to trying the shading lesson (which is one you can access without cost if you sign up for a free account).

Miss L absolutely adored the Hiding Butterflies and enjoyed doing the Dala Horse, as well. She liked the ease with which she could follow the slides (this was really important to her) and she was proud of her finished products. She also enjoyed watching some of the videos and working through some of the historical cross-curricular connections. She particularly enjoyed this with the butterflies.

Miss L's butterfly

Miss J? Well, she enjoyed sitting down to do the tessellations, as well, though the Miss J with tessellationinstructions were difficult for her to follow. At 8 years old, it worked much better for her when I took the part she cut off of her square and added it back on to the other side, taping it in place. She then could just copy the entire image instead of having to fit the partial tessellation inside the correct part of a box. (I don’t even know if that made sense!) Artwork is always a joy with this young lady but this program just did not fit her free spirit towards art very well. She is an out-of-the-box thinker and she did best when she just created her own thing after going through the cross-curricular activities.

Overall, we have really enjoyed this program and will continue to work through it.

At Home.

Art Lessons Inspired From Around the World {ArtAchieve Reviews}

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Creating A Masterpiece ~ a Crew review

Creating a Masterpiece
Art is a beloved past time in our house. When we were given a subscription to review the Monthly Plan for the company Creating a Masterpiece, I was pretty excited. The girls all had input on the interest level in this company and they all wanted to participate.

Creating a Masterpiece
Creating a Masterpiece is a website with video instruction in creating artwork masterpieces using various media. Sharon Hofer is the instructor in the videos and she walks the students through the steps to create the artwork. She believes that, no matter the age of the student, everyone can create a masterpiece. The instruction is given clearly and is demonstrated at the same time. Since the instruction is on video, it can be paused and reviewed as many times as needed to understand. This combination makes it fairly easy to follow and recreate the steps given, resulting in artwork the student can be proud of.

The projects vary in difficulty and time required for completion. There are six levels of instruction (Beginners to Level 5), plus a series of Art In History lessons. The beginner level project can almost all be completed in one or two sittings. The Level 5 projects all seem to have 5 or more lessons. Each lesson can have several video segments.

The medium options are quite varied and can be run the gamut on cost. If you have an advanced art student, this would be well worth the cost of materials. Options for media include watercolors, watercolor pencils, acrylics, charcoal, woodburning, ink, carving, soft pastel, oil pastel, and more. The variety of media choices is extensive.

Candle Light Project

We started off with a mixed media project titled Candlelight. It was a Beginners level project and we were able to complete it in two lessons, though it would be easy enough to have done in a single session. All four of us (me and the three girls) worked on this. In this project, I appreciate the clear instruction with the ability to change what we were doing enough to have a finished product that was distinctly ours. It could have looked just like the one on the video but we all added our own touches to make it personal.

Sailing Adventure

Miss J and I tackled the charcoal project titled Sailing Adventure, which is a Beginners level project. We followed the video and were able to complete the project in a single session. I would have appreciated a bit more information on how to use the kneadable eraser because that caused me a bit of an issue and Miss J got very frustrated. We did eventually figure it out though and were able to use it with reasonable success. We were very pleased with our final products, which we were able to personalize a bit and make our own.

Puppy Love

Another project that we tackled was the Level 4 Puppy Love. This adorable puppy is done with watercolor pencils. We have found this one a lot more difficult. We have done three sessions with it so far and still have some more work to do to finish the projects. Miss E, Miss J, and I have been working on the puppy.

With  Puppy Love, there have been several bits and pieces that have given us difficulty. Probably the hardest has been the difference in watercolor pencils themselves. Early in the instruction, it is stated that the brand of pencil doesn’t matter too much and the girls have decent sets. However, we found that shading “lightly” with the instructor’s pencils still gave a good color when she added water but with ours, it washed the color away when we painted it. We had to let the projects dry and then recolor them and try again. My suggestion for anyone trying a watercolor pencil project: play with your pencils and find out how much color you get when you shade lightly all the way through to shading darkly. Learn what yours do before beginning your watercolor project. It will avoid some frustration with it not working when following the shading instructions.

In the instructions, it is not unusual for the student to be given the opportunity to change it a bit, or to modify it in some way, to make the project personal. This is all well and good. However, you have to be able to ignore the things she says that you don’t want to do or don’t apply to your project. This caused some issues for us in Puppy Love.

After having drawn in the dog’s nose, the instructor chose to move it during the refining process. But she said, if you don’t want to move it, then don’t. So none of us did. But a lot of the way she described other parts of doing the face were dependent on you having moved it like she did! If you don’t have the ability to modify her instructions related to that change and fit what you do have, it can be hard. So, I hand-held a lot for this one.

clown fish

I did a couple of the projects on my own, since I was interested in them but the girls were not. My favorite was probably the Level 1 Clown Fish. This was a 3 session project. I did not take three sessions; instead, I sat up late one night and just did it all. I really enjoyed it and was pleased with the result. I think it would have been a bit difficult for the girls to do because our colored pencils were not as soft as the ones recommended. Better colored pencils would definitely have resulted in a brighter finished project and would make it more enjoyable for the girls to do.

If you have a student who tries to follow every instruction to the tee and is fairly perfection oriented, this might not be a good program for them. We cannot get the results that the instructor does and this was really hard for one of the girls. She does much better with written instructions, where she can imagine and draw what she is thinking. Having the video before her made her feel like she had to copy exactly. She started two projects that never got very far because they were “too difficult” when her paper didn’t match the instructor’s.

We will continue to do some of the projects throughout the remainder of our subscription. I am looking forward to trying out some of the acrylic projects. The video instruction is clear and easy to follow most of the time. For an older student or an adult, there is no difficulty in figuring out what is required and how to follow the instructions. For the younger students, I think it was good that I was doing the projects alongside the girls. All in all, we have enjoyed Creating a Masterpiece quite a bit.

Creating a Masterpiece

This image was provided by Creating a Masterpiece as an example of how anyone, of any age, can be an artist!

Head over to Creating a Masterpiece and sign up to try the sample lesson or to take a look at all of the projects available.

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Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to take a look at projects created by other families who have been using Creating a Masterpiece.

Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews} 

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Origami Paper Dolls


As Miss L continues in her exploration of all things Asian, especially with an origin in China, she has experienced some new and different things. Recently, she was given this origami kit and she LOVES it.


She works diligently on each paper doll until she has folded and fitted and decorated each doll just right.


The results are stunning and absolutely beautiful.


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D – Degas books


Since we had visited the Degas exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston in late December, I have kept a few books on the artist in our book basket. I have often noticed the girls reading through them or thumbing through and looking at the pictures. Both indicate learning is going on and that they were interested, at least a little bit.

The books that I have had are the following three:

  • Dancing with Degas by Julie Merberg
  • Degas and the Dance: the painter and the petits rats, perfecting their art by Susan Goldman Rubin
  • Degas and the Little Dancer: a story about Edgar Degas by Laurence Anholt

All three of the books are interesting, and while not all are non-fiction, the information is well researched so that the fictional story still imparts a large amount of knowledge to the reader.d-dancing-with-degas

Dancing with Degas by Julie Merberg

This board book has the lovely paintings of Degas couple with rhyming text for little ones. This is a simple introduction to the world of art and the world where Degas went to get inspiration for his art.

d-degas-and-the-danceDegas and the Dance: the painter and the petits rats, perfecting their art by Susan Goldman Rubin

This is an interesting book that focuses on Degas and his inspiration for the dance paintings and statues he created. This picture book biography of Degas includes about 30 of his works from the early stages of a ballerina’s training to the final curtain call. Showcasing the ballerinas that so many have come to love in Degas’ work, this book teaches us much about Degas’ himself and the works of beauty he created.

d-degas-and-the-little-dancerDegas and the Little Dancer: a story about Edgar Degas by Laurence Anholt

This is a picture book story based on true life. Focusing on the story of the young lady who posed for Degas’ famous statue “The Little Dancer”, Marie is touching as a young woman who comes to know so much about the artist who sculpts her image. This biography of Degas teaches us about the artist through the eyes of a young girl whose greatest desire is to be a famous ballerina.

All three of these books are interesting and have lovely pictures. They all share some about the artist, who is a very interesting man. Having seen the paintings and sculptures and sketches in person makes these books even more alive. And isn’t that what learning is all about?

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