Painting with Crayons & Water Colors

Painting with Crayons and Water Colors 1

This was one of those super-simple craft projects that’s nearly free.  You may already have all of the supplies on hand, but this changes things up from a normal painting or coloring project because it mixes the mediums.

It’s also a lot of fun.

What we did was create a drawing with crayons, and then color it in with watercolor paints.  We did some regular pictures (butterflies and flowers) and some that were patterns of lines and shapes.

And don’t mind the ancient crayon box full of mixed crayon types…. this is a “rediscovered” conglomerate of art supplies from my own youth. We use what we can here… it’s part of what makes this craft free, or nearly-free (the water colors are new).   We keep a craft drawer of leftover supplies from other projects, too, and sometimes we have a free-for-all craft with whatever we can find.

The kids love it.

Painting with Crayons and Water Colors 2

We discovered that the crayon looks much better if you draw thicker lines to help it stand out against the paint.  It also creates a neat, smooth texture.

And we experimented with the paint as well.

My older daughter tried painting with her fingers, instead of the brush, and she also would tilt the paper in different directions to see what happened when the excess paint dripped across her picture.

Painting with Crayons and Water Colors 3

My youngest daughter tried different things, like using multiple paintbrushes at one time.  This project gave them both the freedom to be creative in their own ways.

This project was cheap (free if you already have the crayons, paint, and paper) and easy to set up.  It gave them a creative outlet, and it kept them busy for a long time.  It had a lot of benefits on top of the fun-factor.

Plus, I had some beautiful fridge-worthy artwork at the end of it.

Here are a few of the finished products, including one of mine:

Painting with Crayons and Water Colors 4

Happy Crafting!

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Coffee Is My Boyfriend, But Books Are My Lovers

Coffee is my Boyfriend but Books are my Lovers art wood prints and wrapped canvases at RoamingRosie.com

Coffee is my boyfriend, but books are my lovers.

Because we all need priorities in life.

:)

Check out my newest art here:

Coffee is my Boyfriend Wood Print

Books are my Lovers Wood Print

Coffee is my Boyfriend Wrapped Canvas

Books are my Lovers Wrapped Canvas

And I hope you enjoy the art as much as your coffee and your books!

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The Garden of Empress Cassia {a book review}

The Garden of Empress Cassia by Gabrielle Wang: a Book Review at RoamingRosie.com

As soon as I finished reading The Garden of Empress Cassia by Gabrielle Wang, I was seriously tempted to turn back to the first page and read it all over again.

I liked it that much.

But I had appointments to keep and a review to write, so my rereading will have to wait.

Before delving into the story, let’s get the basic description out of the way:  it’s a chapter book of 112 pages that’s suggested for elementary to middle school children between the ages of 8 and 12.  Of course, I’m in my thirties and really enjoyed it, so I’d say you could push that age limit out a bit, even if it is targeted to kids.

The story is about a Chinese-Australian named Mimi Lu.  Her parents own an herbal shop and insist that Mimi be proud of her Chinese heritage, but Mimi just wishes she could blend in with everyone else.  Wishes she could be “normal.”  To make matters worse, her father doesn’t want her to pursue her love of art, and she’s being bullied at school.

Another prominent character is Mimi’s art teacher, Miss O’Dell.  Miss O’Dell is an Irish-Australian that is a kind, calming, and somewhat enlightening presence throughout the story.  She’s also the one who gives Mimi the gift of the magical pastels.

These pastels allow Mimi to draw the ancient garden of Empress Cassia, and the magic in them transports people into her drawings, much like the chalk drawings in Mary Poppins.  The garden is a place of healing and inspiration, and it’s beautiful.

The reason we know the garden is so beautiful is because the imagery in the story is so vivid and alive.  It’s really one of my favorite things about the book.  The writing is so fluid and transportive that the scenes come to life in a natural way that leaves the reader feeling as though they’re experiencing what Mimi is experiencing.

But just in case you can’t quite imagine it for yourself without any help, there’s also a gorgeous illustration of a map of the garden in the back of the book.

My other favorite thing about this book is the strong moral story.  It’s not shoved at you or anything, but it’s potent.  First of all, Mimi is truly goodhearted.  Even when the bully steals Mimi’s cherished gift, Mimi truly worries for the other girl’s safety.  And when Mimi questions whether or not she’s actually a good person and deserving of the pastels, the wise old man in the tale helps her distinguish between someone who’s good but occasionally acts naughty and someone who is actually a bad person.

It even ends with showing that Mimi doesn’t really need the magic pastels to make magical pictures.  As an artist, she already has this vibrant magic in her heart.  And kind of like Dumbo learning he doesn’t need his feather to fly, it allows kids to see that maybe – just maybe – they already are special.

Overall, I feel Mimi is an excellent roll model, and I not only feel comfortable offering this book to my own children when they’re older (they’re in preschool now), I want to encourage it.

This tale is about following your dreams and passions, about being strong and confident in the face of meanness and adversity, and about embracing who you are.

The Garden of Empress Cassia is a story you shouldn’t miss.

Awards for The Garden of Empress Cassia

  •  CBCA Notable Children’s Book of the Year
  • Aurealis Award Winner
  • Shortlist, Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards
  • USBBY Outstanding International Booklist

Click here for a sneak peak of the first 2 chapters! 

Unfortunately, you can no longer purchase the U.S. edition from my Usborne Books & More website, but you can still (yay!) find copies of the book on Amazon.

Similar books, with recommended ages ranging from 8 to 12:

Andie's Moon by Linda Newbery Hannah's Winter by Kierin Meehan Noodle Pie by Ruth Starke

Darius Bell and the Glitter Pool by Odo Hirsch I Lost My Mobile at the Mall by Wendy Harmer Butterflies by usanne Gervay

Happy Reading!

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Words of Wisdom Art

Awhile back I came across this picture on Pinterest:

i am made of shattered stars

I followed to a page selling art (get it here) and discovered that it was a quote from Alexandra Franzen.

Curious, I visited her blog, and have been following her ever since.

She has a way with words that I find to be continually inspiring.

And today I just wanted to share some Franzen-inspired artwork by Kent Youngstrom.  He has a whole series based on the way Alexandra puts words together.  These are my favorites:

less talking more ing

what are you building

let's do something stupid

You can find the rest of the Words of Wisdom art at Gilt.

Now, go build something.  :)

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Painting With Chalk

Painting with Chalk

A bit of a warm streak hit us here in Florida while most of the rest of the country was freezing.  It’s a strange December when it’s 80 degrees outside.

Anyway, it does mean we’ve been spending plenty of time outdoors.  In shorts, too, but that’s not the point.

One of the things I showed my girls today was that chalk wasn’t just great for drawing – it was great for “painting,” too.

This is a method of drawing where you simply dip your chalk into a cup of water before drawing with it.  (Kind of like watercolor pencils.)

I let the chalk soak for a few seconds before drawing, and I repeatedly dipped it back into the water while drawing.  The wetter it was, the smoother the finished product.

Painting with Chalk

You can see that I made some different shapes to show my girls how the colors would look when the chalk was wet.  It was brilliant against the brick and smooth to the touch. My oldest daughter liked to blend the colors.

You could, obviously, also do this on concrete, but we have brick in the backyard.  Whatever surface you usually use for chalk drawings should work.

We also used the blocks from the chalkboard storage box and blocks set I made.

And my girls also drew all over themselves with the wet chalk.  My 21-month-old especially.  She covered her legs in the wet chalk, and thought it was hysterical.  Luckily, one of the reasons I love chalk so much is it’s very, very easy to wash off.

Have you tried this?  I’d love to know if your kids enjoyed it, too!

My BuzzFeed Adventure and The (Disturbingly) Popular Ants

I recently decided to join BuzzFeed.

I read their stuff all the time – why not try my hand at writing a few posts?  (As it mentions in my About page, this blog isn’t my first foray into the online world.)

So… why not?

I started with food, something with which I am intimately familiar:

25 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Cook On A Waffle Iron

That’s actually something I’ve been wanting to write about for awhile.  Instead, I turned it into a visual post for BuzzFeed.

Then, I did a couple of posts about cute animals.  Mostly because the pics all make me happy:

The 25 Cutest Animal Kisses

15 Animals That Are More Excited About The Snow Than You

I wasn’t really sure what to write about next.

Then this video popped up in my Facebook feed.  What is this thing about ants and anthills and art?  I watched the video.

DUDE.

Dude:  they were pouring molten aluminum into ant hills, digging it up, and calling it art.

Art has long been controversial.  I get that.  I’m an artist, but I’ve still found myself disgusted by what some people will try to pass off as artistic expression.

But I couldn’t take my eyes off of these sculptures.

They were disturbing.  A little nauseating.  But… striking and organic and fluid and mystifying.

And disturbing.  Did I mention disturbing?  Just in case, let me mention it again:  disturbing.

I had to share these images.  They were amazing, astounding, filled with the beauty of the earth.  (And disturbing.)  I thought people should see them.  So I wrote a picture-heavy post on BuzzFeed.

And then I was surprised, because BuzzFeed featured my post.  Within eight hours of its publication, it had 20,000 views.  The next day:  79,000.

Seventy-nine THOUSAND.  In just over 24 hours.

That’s not exactly the amount of traffic I’m accustomed to with my other blogs, Squidoo lenses, etc.

Some of the comments were not terribly happy.  There was talk of ecosystem destruction and all those “poor” ants.  Of course, I’m a Floridian, and I’ve been bitten by fire ants before.

It’s a traumatic experience.

So I have very little sympathy for what appears to be an abandoned colony.  Besides, as one commenter pointed out, tons of chemicals are poured into the earth in an attempt to kill ants, so, really, how bad is a little aluminum in a probably-abandoned hole?  Not great, but not as bad as buckets of pesticides.  And waaaaaaaaaaay better than ants.

Anyway, check out the video and artwork at 6 Anthill Art Sculptures That Will Blow Your Mind and let me know what you think.  Is it art?  Is it disturbing?

Is it both?

Writing at Night

 

lovecraft writing at night quote

Well, I guess that means I’m officially a writer.

I mean, really, I write best at night.

Maybe because it’s so quiet.  There are no distractions.  The world is silent, which allows me to slip more thoroughly into my own universe of thought.

The night is more magical.  I am more alive at night.

My writing is more alive at night.

Hell, most of my blogs are written after midnight, even if I don’t post them until the next morning.

The night is for dreamers.  The night is for writers.

The night is my time to dream, to write.  The night is mine and I am the night’s.

And mornings suck.

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