Category Archives: art together

In Support of Printmaking

Issue 3 button

My kids and I have been having fun with printmaking for a long while now, so I rounded up some older posts with various printmaking activities that could be used to complement those in Art Together Issue Three: Printmaking. First, though, I wanted to make sure to let you know that Jen is giving away a copy this week; she also shares her and her daughter’s experiences as they begin to explore the issue. I also have a guest post at FIMBY, for which I’m really grateful. Renee is wonderful to work with.

Paint Prints: This post from three years ago (!) demonstrates a version of monoprinting using an acrylic box frame and tempera paint. (My daughter was two. Goodness.)

Labeling the Studio: The kids and I used a slide-decal process–making our own using contact paper–to label all those glass jars we use to store pencils, markers, and so on. The directions are found in the book Print Workshop, which I also list in the resources for Issue Three.

Making Prints While the Sun Shines: Sun paper is an easy and striking way to experiment with making prints. (I like to use the prints in collages, too.)

Craft Foam Printmaking: I led this activity with a group of preschoolers in our co-op last year, and the results were fantastic. It’s a form of collagraph, which is one of the activities in Issue Three, except all the pieces are of craft foam.

How To: Freezer Paper Stencils describes the process of making your own stencil for a shirt or bag, and this post from almost three years ago shows how my boys used the process to design and create their own t-shirts.

Another practical application of printmaking: my daughter created her own cards to sell in order to raise money to give a goal through Heifer International.

A couple of months ago I described how I created the title for Issue Three.

And finally, last week I posted a tutorial on a way to use the gelatin plate to mimic intaglio printmaking methods.

{Art Together} Issue Three: Printmaking Available Now

I am so VERY excited to announce that the third issue of Art Together is now available. This issue focuses on printmaking, which has long been a fascination for me and my kids. It’s so fun and magical. You can read all about (and purchase) the third issue right here. Some giveaways are planned as well, and I’ll be sure to let you know where to look for them.

I’ve added some of the artwork we created while preparing this issue to the {Art Together} Flickr Group. If you’ve been creating art together with your children, I’d love to have you join and share it in the group.

And as always, questions, comments, and feedback are always welcome: amyhood at

Making + Listening::6/2014

Dawn is getting ready to drive cross-continent, but I thought I’d share what we’ve been making this week in the usual Thursday format. The biggest thing getting Made right now is Issue Three of Art Together, which is scheduled to be available on Monday. Here’s the cover:

Spring 2014 Cover

My daughter graciously allowed me to use one of her prints as the cover photo. She flipped through all 34 pages that I’d printed out to proofread, telling me about the photos on every page. Because of course she recognizes them all! She seemed absolutely delighted by that, too.

I am making a list of what I’d like to get to once this issue is out in the world. (I give myself a little break before thinking about the next one.) I owe my middle child a pair of jammie pants (pieces cut, but need to be sewn). I want to sew myself a bag with a yard of Japanese cotton I picked up during a sale. I have some art ideas floating in my head, and I want to do a self-led month of writing prompts using Natalie Goldberg’s book on memoir writing, Old Friend From Far Away. So, you know, just a few things…

Our local library invited kids to submit artwork to be displayed during the month of March, and my kids said they’d like to participate. I can’t even tell you how much Art we’ve made over the past month…art for the zine, art for the column, art just because that’s what we do. Yet two out of three kids would like to make something completely new to drop off on Friday. Of course. My daughter decided upon collage.

G collaging

There, she’s going through the expanding file folder of paper organized (more or less) by color. She is usually a Girl with a Plan, and I just make sure she has the materials she needs.

As for listening, it seems I’ve mostly been listening to whining, bickering, and bad attitude. I’m not sure there’s anyone in this household who isn’t at least in a funk, if not outright cranky. I blame February. My, how it’s dragged on. Truth be told, I don’t expect March to be much better, at least not for a while. We are tired of snow. It’s ugly, the way it’s piled up on the side of the road, covered with sand, dingy, disgusting, depressing. We’re tired of cold, of the need for hats and mittens and snow boots, the time-sucking process of simply getting on enough clothes to get out the door, the way waiting for the school bus with my oldest in the morning is often a feat of endurance. There are no signs of spring here except for the lengthening days–which I do appreciate. But. We’re ready for more.

Speaking of which, don’t forget there are two more days to save 25% with the THINKSPRING code in the shop. And here’s to (almost) March.

The Making of a Title

The first thing I make for each Art Together issue is the cover header. If you look on the sidebar, you’ll see that the headers match the theme. Once I decide upon a focus and begin researching (I do love the researching), making the header helps set my direction on the rest of the issue. It gets me into the mood of what the kids and I will be working on and distilling for the next month or two. I thought you might like to see how the header for the third issue, which will be out in March, came together.

The focus of the third issue is printmaking, so I had many possibilities. Art-making is a series of decisions made; I’ve no doubt I could make dozens of satisfying printmaking-based headers. I wanted to use easily accessible techniques, though, so that narrowed it down a bit. I decided I’d use a stencil process to get the letters onto the paper, so first I had to make a stencil. I traced the lettering from Issue Two onto tracing paper and rubbed the back of the paper with a graphite block so I could transfer the lines. This works like carbon paper.

Tracing the letters onto Bristol board.

Tracing the letters onto Bristol board.

I taped the tracing paper onto Bristol board and traced over the lines again, which transferred them onto Bristol board. The next step was to carefully cut on the lines with an x-acto knife.

The cut stencil.

The cut stencil.

I set that aside and found some left-over brown packing paper from some of the pre-Christmas mail orders. I crumpled it up, then flattened it out again. Then I rolled it with blue ink using a brayer.

The first layer of the print: blue ink.

The first layer of the print: blue ink.

After it dried, I rolled it in the opposite direction with yellow ink, using a plastic tube wrapped in twine to create a different print.


The second layer: Yellow ink on a twine-wrapped plastic tube.

The second layer: Yellow ink on a twine-wrapped plastic tube.

For the third layer, I cut triangles out of bubble wrap, painted them with red acrylic, and made prints in a star-burst sort of design.

Third layer: Red prints from bubble wrap triangles.

Third layer: Red prints from bubble wrap triangles.

Finally, when that was dry, it was time to use the stencil. I taped it down, including the floating bits inside letters like “A” and “R.” This isn’t the best method, but it worked. I used black acrylic paint and a sponge brush.

The final title print.

The final title print.

There is just a little bit of paint excess on the left side of the “O,” but that’s okay. One of my goals for this zine is for it to retain a bit of a zine vibe, even though it’s a digital file. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hand-write the entire thing. For practicality’s sake, much of it is typed. But I didn’t want a slick computer-produced header, and I wanted touches of someone’s hand to be found throughout. So you’ll find not just my kids’ and my own artwork, but hand-done headers and, sometimes, borders. Hand-drawn or -colored explanations. The stamp of the people who put it together, in hopes that not just the content but the entire package is inspiring (and also because we have fun doing it!).

This is the final header, cropped in Photoshop, just as you’ll see it on the cover of Issue Three. Now you’ll know how it was created!

Issue 3 Title Sharp

Issue One and Issue Two are available now. You can sign up for my newsletter to be informed when Issue Three is available and to hear about discount codes and the like.

In Support of LINE

Issue Two button

The Winter 2013 issue of Art Together is all about LINE, so I thought I’d round up some older posts that feature line in one way or another and can extend or add to the activities presented in the zine.


tape resistTape Resist uses painter’s tape and paint to create an abstract design. After painting, the tape is peeled off, revealing white lines underneath. This is fun for all ages, and we go back to resist methods again and again here.



DSCN1629Sunflower Study is one of the first posts on this blog. We used permanent markers as our drawing tool, which eliminates the possibility of erasing. That forces us to deal with the lines we’ve made and keep going, rather than get bogged down in perfection.




In Shadow Drawings, we traced the shadows of interesting objects onto our paper to create an abstract design.




DSCN2056Yarn Art was the inspiration for the magazine’s line adventure of using string as line. My then-toddler glued yarn onto sturdy paper to create a design.



DSC01433You don’t need to limit your line exploration to typical media or surfaces, either. In Drawing in Snow, my kids did just that, to amuse themselves while waiting for the bus. Anything that will take a mark can become a drawing surface, even if just temporary. Sand, dirt, snow, the condensation on a window…we’ve all doodled in these places, and it’s fun. Speaking of doodling, I’m including Doodle Rocks in this roundup. We used both paint and permanent markers to decorate rocks, exploring with both color and line.

Finally, a few posts from the {Art Together} series that apply: Scribbling, Doodling, and Exploring Charcoal + Conte Crayon, which is about exploring different drawing media which, of course, can make very different sorts of lines.

Happy line exploration!

{Art Together} Approaching the E-Zine

Issue Two button

I was asked by a reader, What is a good way to approach the current issue, Line? She wasn’t quite sure where to start. It’s true, I don’t give a road map to the e-zine, a suggested order of activities or way to approach it. I don’t know where you all are starting from, to begin with, nor your family’s specific interests, materials on hand, or how your four-year-old is feeling the Tuesday afternoon you decide to dive in.

However, I can make some suggestions! I’d say, start with the activity that looks most interesting to you and your kids and/or most do-able. These activities are more like provocations and less like projects (actually, they are not projects at all, in that the outcome is totally open, with no “right” or “wrong” way to do it). Especially with younger children, just put out, for example, some tape and paper and sit back. Start working on your own tape drawing. There’s no need to say, “We’re doing an art project and we’re learning about line here, so treat your tape as line, okay?” Just see what happens. The information on line is there so you have it in your mind, so you can bring it up as appropriate. You might reflect what your child is doing, bringing in some of the terms. “That thick black tape is a very strong line. Can you see how much stronger it looks than those short pieces of thin tape?” Or maybe your child really doesn’t want you to comment on works in progress; in that case, don’t. You know your child. Maybe you can talk about it afterwards. Or maybe his tape drawing will turn into an exploration of color instead, as he uses the lines of tape to create blocks of color. Go with it.

Maybe you’ll put out some wire and clay, and your child will ask for that tape you used last week, ignore the clay, and do something wild with wire and tape. Don’t tell her no! If there’s one direction I can give that could apply to everybody, it would be, Go with the Yes. The activities are designed to highlight use of line, yes, and the information on line is there for you if you need it, but it’s not supposed to be a limiting factor; consider it all a jumping-off point. As I say in the issue’s note to the reader, “Your child may go off in an unanticipated direction. Leave room for those tangents. They are gold.”

I hope that helps. In my family, we explored the books on line (because we read them all; ones that don’t resonate don’t make it into the zine) and really dove into learning about Piet Mondrian. We happily spent a few weeks reading about, talking about, and looking at art by Mondrian. We did the activities last. But that’s just the result of how I put the issue together. I’d love to hear how your family approaches the e-zine—and it might be helpful to share with other readers.

Later this week I’ll share a roundup of previous blog posts featuring line-related activities–more to explore, if your kids seem inclined.

Announcing Art Together Issue Two: Line

Art Together Issue Two: Line at

It’s a great feeling to let this go into the world. All the last-minute edits and fixes crossed off the list, all the tech taken care of (hopefully correctly–I did the bulk of it well into Monday night because I let the kids stay up late to watch a Christmas special). It’s hard to say, finally, done. Setting my own deadlines helps with that, and I aimed to have this ready the first week of December. So I can say…this one is complete and ready to share, and I hope you like it. All the details are on the Issue Two page. The code HOLIDAY is good for 20% off through December 31, 2013, and Issues One and Two are available as a bundle as well. It’s all right here.

I kind of want to throw confetti into the air, and I just might do that before turning my attention towards Christmas…

Color Round-Up

(I’ve announced the winner on the giveaway post and emailed her. Thanks to all who entered, and if you still want a chance to win a copy, head over to Jen’s…her giveaway is open through Thursday!)

Issue One of the Art Together e-zine is all about color, and I love color. Playing with color makes me very happy! As you might guess, we have plenty of activities on the blog exploring color as well; I wanted to gather some of the best in one place as an extra resource.

Make A Simple Color Wheel from the Art Together series: We do this two ways, using circles of watercolor and using acrylics (shown to the left).

Preschool Color Mixing Using Colored Water: There’s nothing quite like watching colors mix yourself at this age. It’s magical, and the best way to learn about color mixing is doing it.

Preschool Color Mixing Using Tempera Paint: This activity incorporates squeeze bottles, experimentation, and stirring. It’s a winner for preschoolers.

Tints and Shades from the Art Together series: This activity uses one shade of color plus white and black to make monochromatic paintings.

O’Keeffe Leaves: Using Autumn leaves for inspiration, we drew really big leaves and filled them in with color.

colored eggExperiments with Natural Dyes: One Easter we did just that to color our Easter eggs (left), getting some really interesting colors.

Experimenting with Bleeding Tissue Paper: This type of tissue paper “bleeds” out its color when it touches water, which can be an interesting way to play with color blending, make prints, and investigate.

Tissue Paper Painting: Using Eric Carle’s method, we painted tissue paper with brightly colored designs.

Color and Texture: Using primary colored paint and a variety of textured objects, we created our own bright decorative papers.

You don’t need to buy the zine in order to join the Flickr group and share work by you and your kids–New Flickr makes my eyes hurt but I promise to be over there more often; I’d love to see what everybody is working on!

On Process and Goals

Now that the Art Together e-zine is a Real Thing, out in the world, I want to share a bit about how it came to be. (The giveaway is still open, by the way.) Mainly I want to share because I see so many creative people doing really amazing things, and I see probably an equal number of creative people wondering how. Pretty much everybody has these awesome ideas and creative energy, and honestly, I want to see what everyone comes up with. I want everybody’s passion and unique take out in the world, because the more I see of it, the more awed I am. There is all sorts of amazing-ness going on.

So, getting to Monday was a loooong process. I think I first had the idea of publishing “some sort of e-book” while I was taking Stephanie Levy’s Creative Courage class back in January 2012. I’d signed up for the class with the goal of figuring out where I wanted to take my creativity; I ended up diagnosed with Lyme Disease the month before the class began, and my energy was incredibly low. Some of the assignments were hard for me. Take, for instance, the “wish jar.”

Wish jar, early 2012.

I’m not really a “put it out into the universe” type of person. I’m more of a “let’s make a list and a plan” person. But I tried to come up with some things to put on my wish tokens, which, at least, were awfully cute. Before writing this post, I dug them up and took a photo of them.

Wish cards from early 2012.

I cheated a little bit–when I wrote these, I’d already registered for Squam and I’d signed up for a screen printing class. That class was cancelled, so I still don’t know how to screen print, and I haven’t managed the one in the center bottom row, either (“Begin an organization to provide handmade to kids in shelters”), yet, anyway. But all the rest of these…I’ve been working on. But notice, I first thought of something like an e-book over a year and a half ago.

In early 2012, I shot the idea down. I figured I didn’t have enough reach to sell any copies, I was getting frustrated trying to blog about process-oriented art when crafts-for-kids seemed to be what was really wanted, and Lyme and its treatment were sapping all my energy anyway. I had the idea, and I put it away. But it didn’t go away. I started 2013 with a threepart series on why process-oriented art is so important. This was so easy to write; it’s something I’m so passionate about. I still wanted to inspire and encourage open-ended art experiences for kids.

I decided to enroll in Diane‘s online class on e-book production. (It’s not currently offered, but she has an e-book–of course!–on the same subject.) I followed that up with her online class on online classes, and both of those helped me focus some of my ideas. Diane, by the way, is a great teacher, very hands-on and helpful, even once the class is over, and I feel very lucky that I had a chance to take these classes from her. Because of them, I realized I had to upgrade my website from free WordPress if I wanted to sell anything directly. The more I looked into doing anything, the longer the to-do list became.

To be honest, this was all scary. I’d always resisted paying for a blogging platform because I wasn’t making any money! And figuring out how to self-host? And exporting my old blog? It seemed like so much tech to figure out. I broke it all into baby steps (a la Lori Pickert) and tackled it bit by bit. I emailed Diane with questions, because she’d offered to help. I asked questions on Twitter, and people helped. Just asking for help was a huge thing for me, not something I’d historically done. I’d always hesitated to bother people, but you know what? Most people are happy to help. And if you ask someone who is passionate about their own work for some assistance, you’re doubly likely to get not only help but encouragement.

Before wrapping up–because I’m going on a bit–I’ll tell you that before I hit publish on the first {Art Together} post in February I had a staring match with my laptop. Who do you think you are? demanded the voice in my head. I mean really, did I have any authority whatsoever to suggest a certain approach to anything? Me, with my art minor (not a major) and my untidy house and my continued aspirations to be a patient, centered mama–continued, because I often fall short. Who did I think I was? Reader, I hit publish anyway (after a few deep breaths). I told myself, kind of apologetically: I’m really passionate about this. Sorry, I can’t help it. I have to let it out into the world.

There is more, of course. More asking for help, more divvying up tasks into the tiniest chunks possible, more figuring out tech, more asking for help…and along the way, I Got Things Done, sometimes incrementally, but still, forward progress was made. I talked back to the doubting internal voice. I learned a whole heck of a lot. I got so much better at asking for help! But the point is, it wasn’t a quick process, and the whole venture feels very out-on-a-limb still, but the passion for it carried me through. The researching and writing were fun, and I feel like it’s very unique to me, that is, that only I could have created this particular thing. And that’s how it is with most everything–we all have this unique stew of ideas and passions, skills and motivations, and what comes out, in whatever form, can’t be made by anybody else. Which is why, of course, you have to do it, even if it takes a really long time and you have to talk sternly to your inner voice and undoubtedly gain new forehead wrinkles while frowning at the tech to show it who’s boss.

So that’s my pep talk, of a sort. I’m not sure it’s all that peppy, seeing as how the take-home message is that it wasn’t easy but it was do-able. I think it’s important to give a glimpse of the machinery behind the curtain, though, to show that the folks who are putting something out there–knitting patterns, online classes, e-zines, whatever–don’t have some magical quality or scads of self-confidence (who do you think you are??) or anything anybody else doesn’t have, unless perhaps it’s pure stubbornness. I just think we’re all so capable of awesomeness. I love when people dust off their passion, shine it up, and share it with the world.

Announcing Art Together E-Zine and a Giveaway

I’m really excited to announce and share with you the first issue of the Art Together E-Zine. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while now and working on this issue over the summer. My plan is to offer a quarterly magazine, each with a focus; Autumn’s issue investigates color. Each issue will include a Featured Material and an Artist Spotlight, as well as plenty of resources, activities, and ideas. The two book lists–one on color and the other on van Gogh, the subject of this issue’s Artist Spotlight–are annotated, which means I give some information on each book to help you decide if it sounds right for you and your children. You’ll also find plenty of encouragement and, hopefully, inspiration within these pages.

You will not, however, find craft projects. The activities within firmly support my belief in the importance of open-ended, process-oriented art. Because there is no right or wrong way to do these activities, you and the children you’re working with can approach them from wherever you are right now. The only necessary quality is a willingness to explore and experiment. My hope is that artists of all ages will find something within these pages.

My 9yo working on an activity from Issue One.

I wrote this for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, babysitters–anyone looking to explore art with children they care about. The idea of art together–parents and children side by side–is so important to me because, for a long time, that was the only way I could find time in my day for my own creative outlets. If you’ve always thought you couldn’t “do art;” if someone along the way made you feel shamed or less-than when it came to art or creativity; if you’ve always kind of wanted to try something artsy but thought it wasn’t for you; if your child loves art and you’re just not confident in your ability to sit down with him or her–I especially wrote this for you. Playing and experimenting with art is for everybody (yes, you too). Whether or not you buy the zine, I hope you hear me whispering encouragement to you, because I am really passionate about helping people gain confidence in their creativity. (Encouragement is always free of charge. Email me anytime!)

Drawn and painted still life, acrylics, 11-year-old.

You can find all the details about this first issue, including the “buy now” button, here. This issue is 27 pages and $5, but because it’s my birthday on Saturday, you can use the code BIRTHDAY for 20% through the end of September. And because the best way to celebrate is by giving, I’m offering a free copy to a reader. Just leave a comment on this post letting me know you’re interested (make sure to include your email address in that field in the comment form). This giveaway is open to anyone, worldwide–aren’t digital giveaways so easy that way?! Comments will be open until midnight EST on my 40th birthday, Saturday, September 21. And stay tuned–a few other bloggers will be hosting giveaways over the next couple of weeks as well.

I had a great time creating this magazine, and I hope you enjoy it too.

**Drawing results: Random number generator brought up Jen as the winner. Congratulations, Jen!