I love art.
As a child, I remember spending time outside with finger paints. I remember my fourth grade teacher teaching the class how to draw a tree without leaves by taking us outside to draw. When I was a little older, I took oil painting classes and painted waterfalls.
I took high school art classes and painted mountains and meadows.
I took a watercolor class in college and painted the student across from me (a fun challenge, to paint someone who is also painting you at the same time!)
I think the key to successfully learning to produce art is having good instruction.
After that, of course, it is practice, practice, and more practice.
Over the years, I have been slowly adding art books and supplies to our home. I check out books at the library first whenever possible (usually I have to request them from other libraries in the district). I have purchased those that we think are the best ones (often buying a used copy of the book for pennies, plus shipping, when that is an option).
I recently purchased a new art book on sculpting faces from clay. I knew it would be challenging, but also fun for my children. I especially knew that Ezrom would be interested.
Here is his first sculpture as he made it, following the instructions in the book:
Scultpure and Modeling:
Modeling Clay Animals: Easy-to-Follow Projects in Simple Steps
Van Aaken Modeling Clay 1Lb Flesh (I purchased 4 of these so that Ezrom could start making solid heads, like the one below)
Sculpt Pro 11 Piece Pottery and Sculpting Art Tool Set
Ceramic Sculpture: Making Faces: A Guide to Modeling the Head and Face with Clay
Kreacher, by Ezrom, age 10 (his third sculpture)
Hot Air Balloon by Ezrom, age 10
Good drawing books make all the difference between feeling like you can’t draw and realizing that you can, indeed, draw.
Dover’s How to Draw Series is fantastic. If you think you can’t draw, these books will change your mind.
How to Draw People (Dover How to Draw)
How to Draw Flowers (Dover How to Draw)
You Can Draw Animals (Dover How to Draw)
How to Draw Birds (Dover How to Draw) The cardinal in the picture below is from this book.
Drawing Horses: (That Look Real!) (Quick Starts for Kids!)
Ralph Masiello’s Dragon Drawing Book
Ralph Masiello’s Ancient Egypt Drawing Book
Owl and cardinal by Cyrus, age 11
Lee Ame’s Draw 50 series is fabulous. We have been able to request these from the library and we have bought a few favorites. There is a long list of titles in this series.
Draw 50 Animals: The Step-by-Step Way to Draw Elephants, Tigers, Dogs, Fish, Birds, and Many More…
Draw 50 Birds: The Step-by-Step Way to Draw Chickadees, Peacocks, Toucans, Mallards, and Many More of Our Feathered Friends The owl in the picture above is from this book.
Draw 50 Buildings and Other Structures: The Step-by-Step Way to Draw Castles and Cathedrals, Skyscrapers and Bridges, and So Much More…
Draw 50 Flowers, Trees, and Other Plants: The Step-by-Step Way to Draw Orchids, Weeping Willows, Prickly Pears, Pineapples, and Many More…
Most of the time, we use Crayola washable watercolors on regular computer paper to keep costs low. As my children get older, they use watercolor paper (bought 50% off at Michael’s) for special projects. As they have gotten older, we have found some individual sets for them to use at yard sales. I have also bought a decent watercolor palette and used that with tubes of watercolors for my oldest.
For watercolor instruction for younger ages, see the books in the Mixed Media section below.
Crayola Washable Watercolors, 24 count
Derwent Academy Watercolor Pencils
Loew-Cornell Brush Set Value Pack
US Art Supply® 12ml Watercolor Tube Artist Paint Set (24-Tubes)
Terry Harrison’s Complete Guide to Watercolour Landscapes
The Watercolor Flower Painter’s A to Z: An Illustrated Directory of Techniques for Painting 50 Popular Flowers
Mermaid: Drawn by Winter, age 13; crayon and watercolor by Wren, age 7
These are beginning to middle level projects. Most use drawing, crayon, and watercolor, but some use other items, including cardboard.
Stories about artists:
The Boy Who Loved to Draw: Benjamin West
The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon
Mike Venzia‘s entire series of Getting to Know The World’s Greatest Artists is fantastic. I recommend checking these out from your library. I picked up several recently at the library and my 4 oldest (ages 13 to 8) hurried to read all of them as soon as I brought them in the door.
If I cannot get a book from the local library, I use the “search inside this book” feature on Amazon to preview books. I look for books that give step by step tutorials.
I also have found some great online tutorials via Pinterest. You can find my art board on Pinterest here.
What are your favorite art books?
These are wonderful resources. You are absolutely right that to successfully learn to produce art one needs to have good instructions. I took art classes in grade school and then high school (I loved drawing as well) but the teachers never gave us any instructions. It was more like: “here is a piece of paper, now draw this or that”
In the spirit that it is never too late, I may actually get some of these books and give drawing yet another chance.
Growing up, our area really wasn’t into the arts so there weren’t books to learn from really. Thankfully, my mom is an artist professionally, so she taught us from what she had learned. I used fashion magazines to learn how to sketch people realistically (well super skinny people, thankfully this is before Photoshopping took over). My mom would let us use her left over paints.Gifts would often be/have a nice pencil, color pencils, or basic water color palette. My mom taught us how to draw animals from the plastic animals we played with. My senior year, I took Graphic Design at our vo-tech. Because of that awesome teacher, I had a small business of professional hand lettering before computers really took that over.
Your children are so lucky that you found these resources for them. It warms my heart to see their talent. There is a quote from Einstein, “creativity is just intellengece having fun”
Thank you for sharing!
Thanks for all the art recommendations. Do you have any music ideas, also?
Ezrom does show great promise and skill!! Is the first face his Dad?
Your children are privileged to have such opportunities. You do a wonderful job Brandy.
Have you attempted any water colour paintings of your holiday last year to Alma Mater? The colours of those rocks in the desert were wonderful, and would look great I guess it’a a matter of finding the time for such pursuits for yourself Brandy!
I relish your website and every blog. I check every day for any new additions!
I too love art. Always have. My daughter shows a lot more natural talent than I do. Any talent I have is from practice and more practice, and a love of art of course.
One book I highly recommend is a college textbook (of all things). It’s called, “The Story of Art” and it goes through the history of art from ancient times onward. The best part, however, is it ties periods in history into what is going on in art, so you get an architectural lesson, a history lesson and an art lesson all at the same time. I loved the book so much that even though I was forced to sell it back at the end of the semester, I bought it later when I had the money. Wish I could find the older edition I had for the prints and things I missed with the newer edition, but the book is still worth its weight in gold to me.
Just thought I’d pass along the recommend and thank you for the post. It makes me want to pick up my pad and draw :).
I love how much you have incorporated art into your family’s lives. I really like Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes. I haven’t used it in full yet with my kids, but I used it when I homeschooled other people’s kids overseas and saw very good results with it.
I also really like Art lesson DVD’s. We found a few from our library that are in the series of Art Lessons for Children with Donna Hugh. I am hoping to save up some money to buy the See the Light Art DVD set down the road.
As a former art teacher I read this with great pride!! You are doing a wonderful job. Instruction and practice!! I wanted to add that most art museums are free or have free days each week. There are always free art centers and galleries in most larger towns. Garage sales are full of art supplies that people are gifted but never use. My go to kids birthday party gift is a homemade bag filled with art supplies I get during this time of year during back to school sales. I print out a few how to draw sheets from the Internet and even doodle on a few pages.
That would be a great post! I’ll have to reflect on that for you.
No, it’s just a person, no one specific.
I haven’t done many watercolors of my own for a while. My time is definitely limited for that.
I have definitely added to our art supplies from garage sales!
Great resources. So nice that you encourage your children to express their creativity. I really think that’s missing when kids are showered with so many toys that they don’t learn to create and entertain themselves.
I just wanted to add that the upcoming week has some great deals on art supplies-I’m sure prices vary based on location, but it is worth a look for anyone in need of inexpensive supplies. At Staples the 8 pack of washable Crayola markers will be $0.75, Crayola washable 8 count watercolors palette will be $2, and the 12 pack Crayola colored pencils will be $0.97, the 24 count box of Crayola crayons will be $0.50 (although last year the best price on these was $0.25, but I haven’t seen that price this year). I usually stock up on some things this time of year so during the long winter days my kids have plenty of supplies to keep them busy, as we live in an area with subzero temps and lots of snow, and don’t have the money for vacations at this time.
Yes they are!
Do note that the 24 pack of Crayola washable watercolors is $3.97 (regular price, and I’ve never seen it go lower). It isn’t packaged exactly the same as the 8 color, but it is 3 times the colors for double the price, so I buy that one (and the children love having even more color choices). I haven’t seen one yet this year, but last year there were coupons for $2 off a $10 Crayola purchase that I used to bring the price even lower (I believe it was a Target coupon last year).
Thanks for the tip! I hadn’t really thought about buying the larger palette-sometimes it’s just a matter of I only have $X amount of dollars even if something else is a better deal overall, but I will keep this in mind for the future! 🙂
Art is big in our home as husband is big into art. Here is an idea i did one Christmas as our girls are now grown I kept art work from when they were little i used the exact colors they used on the art work. The little leaf was our daughter’s first presentation for family home evening…http://frugalmeasures.blogspot.com/2012/03/preserving-your-childrens-artwork.html i made us a set shown here for Christmas too that same year. I made toss pillows with same art work too. I used what i had. Hope this gives you an inexpensive but meaningful gift idea. When our grand kids are here my husband gives them an art lesson. I love that you are doing this.
Both my girls love art. I have found that the library is our best source of books. One really loves cartooning Japanese style. She finds great resources on her own and it saves me money to borrow these for a while. We do have many books on our shelves like you do about how to draw basics. I enjoyed this post.
I purchased the 24 count Crayola Crayons this past Friday at Target. They were priced at 49 cents a box, but I used a Pharmacy Rewards 5% off coupon to get them a bit lower.
I’m art-impaired, myself, unfortunately…I think I lack the patience. :p
Love the Kreacher!
Showed my husband and he was very impressed with the perspective on Winter’s mermaid.
My daughter who is 11 is a very gifted artist. She started private lessons at the age of 7. Each year her art teacher enters her students into a national duck competition for our state. 2 yrs ago she won first place for age division for the state of Neb, This year she was honorable mention, Most of the pieces she has done have been all different with all kinds of mixed media. Her goal is to get her teaching degree and have an art studio in her home. Thanks for all the tips.
I love all of the art work. Very creative!!