The Artist Within

Paper Projects

Today’s trash can be tomorrow’s art. Start by collecting junk mail, scrap letters and other mixed paper that’s on its way to the recycling bin.

Paper snowflakes are my favorite way to brighten up a gray winter day. They are easy to create for most ages; all you need is a square sheet of paper and safety scissors (for the little ones). In nature, no two snowflakes are alike, and the same goes for those you make.

If you prefer snowflake templates, my online kids project go-to is onelittleproject
. In addition to snowflake templates, the site is filled with great kid and parent projects.

Once your snowflakes are cut, you can either tape them to walls or attach string and hang them from banisters, lights or ceilings for a snowfall effect.

Take things a step further and have the kids paint the snowflakes or create some sparkle with a little glitter and glue. Or fold craft paper and glue snowflakes to the outside and you have stationary that will be treasured by any grandparent. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, heart-shaped snowflakes are a perfect accent.

Yes, You Can Draw and Paint

Most of us do not claim to be a natural freehand artist, but given step-by-step guidance, you and even small children can draw. Available online and at most major booksellers is I Can Draw line books from Usborne Books. These simple sketchbooks are geared for children but are just as enjoyable for adults.

I Can Draw Animals and I Can Draw People demonstrate how with a few circles and shapes, anyone can quickly fashion their own animal or person.

Want to take it a step further? How to Draw Almost Every Animal; An Illustrated Sourcebook by Chika Miyata will have you and your family creating everything from peacocks to hedgehogs.

If you want to add painting to your repertoire, you’ve got options. The Watercolor with Me book series—In The Forest, In The Ocean and In The Jungle—is printed on thick premium art paper and features sketches of subjects with instructions, such as what watercolors to use, how to mix and apply watercolors and how to finish with details and outlining.

Watercolor directly on the pages in the book or use the image as inspiration to create your own sketch and watercolor. Throughout the book there are examples of painting techniques like wet on wet, wet on dry, and line and wash.

For a complete paint project that comes straight to your door every month, try Let’s Make Art ( The subscription kits offer seasonal themes and come with easy-to-follow instructions, paint and project paper. The website also offers additional brushes, palettes and trays as well as instructional tutorials to accompany each kit. Simply flip open your laptop and follow along.

If you already have drawers full of paints and brushes, consider the Digital Art Box, focusing on four breeds of dogs to download and start painting today. The site also offers Art Journaling kits that come with all you need to make creating art a relaxing ritual in a journal using watercolor and acrylic paints, Gelly Roll Pens and collage paper. 

From Snapshot to Masterpiece

I do not profess to be a great photographer, but I have photo apps that can turn my snapshots into works of art. The results can be dazzling, but it’s the creative process that’s the fun part.

My favorite photo app, Prisma Photo Editor, offers a free limited version and a paid expanded version with more art filters and photo effects for $29.99
a year.

Prisma allows me to upload my photos and play with them, using over 700 styles.

I can take a simple backyard photo and turn it into anything from a black and white pencil sketch to an anime-style portrait or something out of Picasso’s cubist period.

The creative journey is seeing how one picture can be rendered so completely different with each filter.nThe entire mood and look can be changed with a click.

Try Prisma for free for three days to see if you like it and remember, if you buy the app, most family sharing plans allow up to six members of your family to use an app.

Get the family involved by holding weekly contests posting an unedited photo to your family group chat, encouraging everyone to try their hand at photo editing and selecting a family favorite. 

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