“I dream my paintings, then I paint my dreams” – Vincent Van Gogh
Van Gogh’s popular oil painting, Starry Night, is one of his most dream-like paintings – Gogh said himself, “Looking at the stars always makes me dream”. The movement and turbulence of his brushstrokes reflect the fascination he had with the night, which he described as being “much more alive and richly colored than the day.”¹ These elements also make it an interesting painting to recreate for young artists, even toddlers! Continue reading “Van Gogh recreations”→
When you love food and you love art, it doesn’t get much better than creating artful meals and having a cheeky nibble along the way. Finding inventive ways to present healthy meals and snacks can also help with encouraging a fussy eater to expand their palate.
Fortunately, I do not have particularly fussy eaters – quite the opposite! But it is still fun to inject some creativity into meal times. I thought i’d share some examples of my recent (amateur) attempts at sandwich art, but I will also share ideas from two outstanding professional food artists. Prepare to be blown away by what some lucky kids are being presented with!
My book-inspired characters
Food artistry at its best
I first came across the idea of fun food presentation when a friend introduced me to the culinary artworks of fellow Melbournian, Laleh Mohmedi of Jacob’s Food Diaries. This creative mum started sharing her son’s meal designs in June 2015 and within weeks her Instagram account had gone viral. It is not hard to see why – the characters she plates up are incredibly close to the real deal, and yet she mainly uses natural produce and is all about avoiding sugar, salt and anything nasty.
For more of Laleh’s incredible creations, check out her Instagram account here.
Cute character bento boxes
Another creative supermum, Tomomi Maruo from Japan, has mastered the intricate art of character bento boxes, also known as charaben (character + bento). Tomomi’s elaborately decorated rice balls end up as “kawaii” animals, Pokemon characters, Hello Kitty, pop stars, even the US President! It seems as though anything is possible for this artistic mother of two, who is now also sharing her tricks with other Japanese mums as well as running YouTube tutorials – you can visit her channel here.
Social video network, Great Big Story, featured Tomomi in a short video which gives you an appreciation for the talent and patience clearly required to pursue this art form – take a look:
If I ever found myself with enough time and patience to create something as impressive as what these ladies plate up, I’m not sure I could watch it being eaten, especially by a messy toddler!
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
Tomorrow is Anzac Day, the anniversary of Australian and New Zealand forces landing on Gallipoli to face their first serious battle of the First World War. While the concepts of sacrifice, courage, and war are a bit much for my little Australians, the poppy as a symbol of remembrance seems a nice place to start. Here are a couple of ways we explored Anzac Day poppy art this week. Continue reading “Lest we forget”→
Seasonal art and craft is such a fun way to learn about weather patterns, explore the outdoors and use new and different materials. From handcrafted flower bouquets in spring to snowflake cutouts in winter, each change in season inspires new ideas.
With Autumn now well and truly here, we’ve been having a lot of fun collecting fallen leaves in all those beautiful Autumn hues. Here is some of the Autumn-inspired crafting we’ve been up to so far this season. But the leaves are only just starting to fall so plenty more to come! Continue reading “Falling for Autumn”→
A few days ago, we tried our hand at splatter painting to create a speckled effect on some Easter eggs we cut from paper. We had a lot of fun channelling our inner Jackson Pollock, although we went for a more subtle (and cleaner) approach. Using watercolours, we simply wet our brushes with paint, then ran our fingers along the bristles so that the paint flicked onto the eggs. It took us a little while to master the technique so we ended up a little speckled ourselves, but that was half the fun. Continue reading “Easter wreath”→
We were recently given a little rubber stamp and a challenge to create some artwork with it. When the rubber stamp mysteriously went missing, the challenge became a little trickier! However, “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations,” so we decided to try our hand at making our own unique stamps and see what we could create with them. Continue reading “Put your own stamp on it”→
For a kid that frequently requests to wash her hands (and her “sweaty feet”!) and flips out at the tiniest speck of dirt on her clothes, I wasn’t sure if finger painting would be a treat or a nightmare. Luckily, her first experience was a happy one.
Setting up outside and wearing a smock were the only precautionary measures we took to avoid a mess. And with washable, non-toxic finger paint, that’s all that’s really needed. We kept it simple and just worked on paper at Miss M’s little table but you could also set up an easel, paint on a glass window, or use a plastic tray (e.g. old container lids or serving platters). The plastic tray is a good one for making patterns in the paint and then placing a piece of paper on top to create a print.
The finger paint we used was particularly thick and gooey – perfect consistency for creating tiny handprints, squelching through chubby fingers, and blending colours with minimal spillage. Finger painting is certainly an activity that ticks a lot of boxes, as it:
is a sensory experience for toddlers,
promotes development of hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills,
helps with learning primary and secondary colours,
focuses on the process and experimentation rather than the end result,
produces vibrant, colourful masterpieces to be proud of with minimal fuss, effort, or time, but most importantly
is a lot of fun for little Picassos!
Next time we’ll explore more creative designs using finger paint. Until then…
It was my birthday yesterday and we needed something to distract Miss M from the excitement of the impending candle blowing and sugar high. Having little interest in creating a big crafty mess to clean up on my birthday, I thought i’d introduce minimal-fuss watercolour pencils. While liquid watercolours might normally be the preferance for more established artists, “emerging artists” (i.e. toddlers) can find pencils a little less delicate and fiddly. And, there is something magical about watching ordinary pencil scribble transform into that fluid, washed out watercolour effect.
While there are a few more complicated methods out there, the simplest way to use watercolour pencils (especially with kids) is just to draw and colour using the pencils, then paint over the drawing with water. Easy! Remember to use thick (300gsm) watercolour or artists paper.
When painting the water on, try to follow the lines and contours of the drawing to control the effect and minimise unintentional blending of colours. Also, try to avoid your little one brushing too hard or for too long, as the wet paper will damage. Having said that, if your little one is under 3, nothing will be very intentional or careful, so let them scribble away and go nuts with the water. It will still turn out prettier than a regular pencil drawing, in my humble opinion.
Finally, i’ll leave you with a birthday happy snap. Clearly, it isn’t a birthday without pink party hats!
Welcome to The Strong Collection! This space is dedicated to inspiring an enduring love of art in children by filling their homes with creativity – from the art that hangs on their walls and the illustrations in their books, to the artistic presentation of food and all the wonderful mess they make doing arts and crafts. Continue reading “The Strong Collection”→