Monthly Archives: March 2020

Learning to Draw: First Lessons for Children

Learning to Draw really means learning to look more carefully at your subject. So artists from every time period have used special activities to help people of all ages truly “see” and draw more accurately.

The following activity is a helpful beginning for all ages and where we start with young children. It helps everyone look carefully to identify and draw different types of lines and shapes. With what we might call “Guided Looking,” everyone catches on and begins to draw much more accurately.

“Guided looking” also carries over into academic subjects—helping children learn to distinguish differences in numbers, letters, letter combinations, and words. They’ll also learn to look more carefully at photos and charts that support the text in their books.


  • Paper (any type)
  • Crayons or markers (so children don’t get bogged down erasing. Also see helpful hints)

Helpful Hints:

  1. Take the time to read through this lesson first, and I think you’ll enjoy teaching and doing these activities with your young children.
  2. As you point out various lines and shapes, have children follow along by drawing the lines and shapes on their papers. It’s helpful to have them change colors for different types of lines and shapes.
  3. There are no mistakes in this process. If they think a line or shape isn’t quite the way they think it should be, that’s actually good—it shows they’re learning to look!
  4. Encourage children to draw large and use all of their paper, including both sides. If they want to group types of lines or shapes in one area, that’s fine but they don’t have to.
  5. Spread today’s lesson over several days. Keep each section short and fun. Maybe have them turn some of their lines into funny creations as in the Oodles of Doodles post!
  6. Do a little review as a warm up before starting a new type of line or shape. Learning to look is a process that takes focus and practice and shouldn’t be rushed!
  7. I begin the first lesson by explaining God has given each of us 2 amazing parts of our bodies to help us draw:  1st —  artist eyes to see and  2nd  —  artist hands to hold and use pencils, crayons, markers, etc., and when we start a new drawing lesson, I remind children we’re going to first use our artist eyes, then our artist hands!

Drawing Activity:   We’ll start with straight lines, and repeat the same process with each new type of line or shape.

Straight Lines–The basic steps

1. Give each child paper and crayons or markers.

2. Point out things around them such as the edge of a table, or window, etc, and ask what kind of line these edges make, which is straight, of course.

3. Next ask children to find and point out more of these straight lines, which may bring up that straight lines can lie down, stand up, or lean, and can be thick or thin. (Introduce the terms horizontal, vertical, and diagonal whenever children seem ready or if it’s already been introduced in their math).

4. If they’re learning letters and numbers ask which of these have straight lines.

5. Have children choose a color and draw all types of straight lines on their papers.

Don’t hurry! Enjoy the process! I love seeing their unique personalities come out as they draw. I often learn their favorite colors, and see if they like to draw large or small, and that some will just do one or two lines or shapes, while others will fill their papers!

Break Time!

Shapes Formed by Straight Lines:

1. Point out that sometimes straight lines turn corners to make zig zags, squares, rectangles, and triangles, etc.—shapes such as windows or the top of a table or the letters and numbers  M,N, K, W, 4, etc. and ask children to find some shapes formed by straight lines turning corners.

2. Have children choose a different color and draw shapes formed by straight lines.

Break Time!

Curved Lines

1. Point out curved lines, such as the edge of a curtain or leaf, a curve in a design on a magazine cover or on a piece of furniture, a spiral on a sea shell, etc.

2. Ask children to look for curved lines around them and in letters and numbers, such as S, C, 2, 3 etc.

3. Ask children to choose a new color and draw curvy lines on their papers.

Break Time!

Shapes Formed by Curved Lines

1. Show children that curved lines can also form shapes such as circles and ovals, kidney shapes and cloud shapes, etc. This is a good time to point out that sometimes these shapes are colored in, and if very small we often call them dots.

2. Have children find and point out some of these shapes and tell some letters and numbers that have circles and ovals, such as O, P, Q, 6, 9, etc.

3. Ask children to draw shapes formed by curved lines.

Have fun! Over this week complete the basic parts of the lesson. Try going outside to find different types of lines and shapes to draw out there. Have children look for and find different types of lines and shapes in the illustrations of their books as you read to them.

AND next week we’ll use these lines and shapes to draw fun and easy objects and creatures!

PS. Molly wants you to know she uses her nose to explore the world around her so when we go on walks she wants to me to stop sometimes so she can smell the flowers! Then she’s willing to sit quietly while I study a tree or a bird with my eyes!

On Friday I’ll post a drawing lesson for older children, using some techniques that artists have used for a long time to help them look more carefully!


Fun and Easy Art Activities to Make and Learn from a Color Wheel

Here are 3 fun activities to make a color wheel and then use it to help understand how artists use color. At the end you’ll see a funny photo of Molly in a French beret!

Activity 1. Making a Color Wheel


  • paper
  • pencil
  • crayons, markers, or tempera or watercolor paints
  • compass or plate to help draw a circle

 Step 1. Draw a large circle on paper. Use a compass or draw around a plate or bowl. Place 3 X’s evenly spaced around the circle. (see picture)

Step 2.  Color or paint a blob each of the primary colors, red, blue and yellow around the outside of your circle, one color one each X. (see how they are evenly spaced around the circle in the picture) Primary colors can’t be made from any other color

Step 3.  Next add orange, green, and violet (purple) to your wheel. But WAIT! Don’t just put them anywhere. These secondary colors  are made by mixing 2 primaries. So we place them on the outer circle between the 2 colors they’re made from.Follow the picture to see what to do.

If you are using paint, you can mix the secondaries yourself, but markers or crayons will give you the idea.

Variation 1

Try drawing something special inside your color wheel and color it in all 6 colors. (I chose a hot air balloon and used crayon to color it). Remember these are the 6 colors God uses in a rainbow!

Jazz up your color wheel by drawing your circle as a wavy or jagged line. You can also draw and color rockets or dogs, etc. instead of making blobs.

My wavy circle reminded me of a sand dollar, so I chose fish that are blowing colored bubbles at each other! (I drew and cut out one fish and traced around this pattern so my fish looked the same, but you don’t have to do that. Try drawing something different for each color)

Activity 2. Using Your Color Wheel to Learn More about Color.


This is a painting called  A Young Girl Reading, by Jean-Honore Fragonard, a French artist who lived in the 1700s. Notice that the ribbons and parts of the cushion are violet, and her dress is yellow.

A Young Girl Reading wikimedia commons

Where are yellow and violet on your color wheel? Right, they are opposite each other.

We call colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel complementary colors. When they are next to each other, as in this painting, the resulting high contrast is eye-catching.

Red/green and blue/orange are the other complementary pairs. When you look at other paintings, notice how often artists use these complementary colors to get your attention.

photo taken in Monet’s garden at Giverny

But God thought of it first!! He used complementary colors when He created flowers because that shimmery high contrast attracts insects and birds to help cross pollination. Look at pictures of flowers or the real thing if you can, to see how many flowers with complementary colors you can find. (violet and yellow pansies and blue crocuses with orange centers are two)

Activity 3 Using your knowledge of color

Write out or (print with a fancy font on your computer) Matthew 6:28-30, where Jesus says that God has clothed the lilies of the field with more splendor than Solomon’s robes. Leave space between lines and decorate the words with flowers that God robes in complementary colors!

Molly hopes you have fun doing these activities and that you’ll come back next week for some drawing lessons. While you wait she wanted you to see a funny photo of her in a French beret. See you soon!


Our Hearts Long for Home

Last week we all saw the pictures: crowded airports with long lines and no social distancing. Stark white face masks poked out over the noses and mouths of some. A few wiped down the handles of luggage with drippy disinfecting wipes. Many clutched cell phones tightly against their ears. And stress and fear darkened the eyes of everyone as they tried to stay calm in the face of an invisible enemy.

As more and more countries closed their borders due to the spreading coronavirus, flights were cancelled, and students, tourists, and business people found themselves stranded. And everyone in those crowded airports, whether they were in London or Morocco or Peru all wanted just one thing—they wanted to get home.

 We understood their fear. Even if we weren’t stranded in some airport, home is where our hearts long to be when we’re afraid. Home is cuddling and sharing a story with our children or grandchildren; it’s the smells of our favorite foods coming from the kitchen and then the laughter as family or friends gather to eat. It’s digging in our gardens and seeing new shoots popping up out of the mulch.

     Most of all, right now, home is safety.

But it’s become even more, as so many are making it a special place of love and care. You’re dusting off cookbooks and dragging out old board games. You’re finding creative ways to help your children continue learning.

Some of you are tackling projects, such as organizing family photos, and others are spending more time in Bible reading and prayer. You’re writing thank you notes to medical workers, police and grocery store and pharmacy employees—all those who can’t be home.

You’re helping neighbors with shopping, and some children in my neighborhood have found a creative way to lift the spirits of their neighbors. They’re writing encouraging messages on the sidewalks with chalk, bringing a smile to the faces of all who walk by. And we’re all stepping up efforts to connect online and even with snail mail!

We see these as blessings in disguise that God has given us in a difficult time and perhaps as reminders about what’s really important! And we pray our efforts will slow the spread of coronavirus.

But doctors and government officials warn us it may get worse before it’s over. So we’re still fearful and anxious—we know no one and no place, not even home, can guarantee we or our family, friends, and neighbors can be completely safe.  

That’s when we need to take a deep breath and remember those who belong to Christ have another home. Psalm 23 tells us it’s in heaven, and there we’ll be forever safe, with no more fear. There will be no need for social distancing, and God, Himself, will welcome us home with loving arms, and we will dwell in His house forever.





Fun Painting/Printing Activity for Children and Parents Stuck at Home

This fun  painting activity is called monoprinting!  In monoprinting you paint a design, a creature, or a landscape on a reusable surface, print it, and wipe the surface clean to paint and print something new!

Monoprinting can be as easy as finger painting or more challenging, as you’ll see from my examples. So it’s an activity for all ages and abilities.

These one-of-a-kind prints can be mounted on colored paper and hung up or sent to your friends! Yes, snail mail still exists, and everyone enjoys getting something besides bills or ads!

Here’s what you need:

  • Paper (copy paper, heavier white or colored papers—almost any kind works. Experiment!
  • Cut or tear paper to various sizes
  • A flat, cleanable surface for painting on (cookie sheets , foil-covered cardboard, etc.)
  • Liquid tempera paint and small containers to hold paint as you work
  • Water and paper towels or rags for clean up. Old rags may be best as you can rinse and reuse them
  • Big brushes to spread paint
  • Tools such as plastic forks, small paintbrushes, small piece of cardboard, fingers!!
  • This is messy so old clothes or paint shirts and a covered or washable table inside or outside is good

Here’s the basic how to:

  1. Choose a color and with a large brush paint across an area of your cookie sheet. (Older children can do this or do it for a younger child)
  2. Experiment with how much paint to apply (A thinner layer produces better prints but if your child really just enjoys playing in the paint put on a thicker layer)
  3. Use brushes, fingers, or other tools to make designs, creatures, or anything you like.
  4. Before the paint dries, lay a piece of paper on top of your creation and press down lightly, then carefully peel back and put aside to dry. Younger children may need help with this.    Once prints are dry, flatten them under some books.
  5. Take a damp rag and wipe your painting surface clean.
  6. Repeat with a new idea!

The subjects and variations are endless. I found it hard to stop, and even when I finally tore myself away to completely clean up, more ideas! So I got everything out again!!  

Here are a few things I tried:

  • Blend a couple colors for your base coat. But don’t mix completely, Let the separate colors show.
  • Try just colors with few or no marks, as if making a sunset or a rainbow.
  • Try painting something right on the surface with brushes. This really must be done pretty fast as the paint is thinner and dries quickly. I did a little more smoothing for the print and lost the individual petals, but I kind of like it!

Molly just popped out to say,

“Be creative!


Have Fun!

But don’t forget to eventually clean up!!”

And Molly and I both want you to remember one last VERY IMPORTANT thing while making your amazing monoprints:

Remember YOU are an amazing, one-of-a-kind creation, designed by GOD and painted and printed in His image!

Make a Stand Up Flower Garden Card to Cheer a Special Loved One

This Flower Garden Card is fun to make and can become a bright card to send to grandparents or other special people who may need cheering up at this time!

It uses an easy crayon resist and watercolor technique. You can paint right over the waxy crayon.  It resists the watercolor paints and so stills shines through.

The post looks long, but it’s mostly pictures with simple directions


  • a square piece of sturdy white paper. It can be 9X9, 11 X11, etc. The ruler and pencil are only needed if you need to measure and cut your paper into a square.
  • You’ll also need crayons, scissors and a simple watercolor set.
  • Add a little container of water and some paper towels and you’re ready to go!

Step 1 Fold your square paper into fourths.

Step 2  Cut along one fold line just to the center. This will allow the paper to stand up at the end, but you will want to work on it on the flat.

When it comes time to stand your garden up, you will re-crease the folds and slide one of the cut sections over the other.

Step 3  With crayons draw dirt, stems and leaves. Add roots with white and light pink crayons.


Step 4  With crayons, draw different shaped flower outlines. Don’t color them in. You’ll do that with paint!  You don’t have to be very exact. Think Impressionistic!


Step 5  Use watercolor paints to color the flowers.

(To mix watercolors so they are bright: Using your brush, place a little water on the cover of your water color set and then with a not-too-wet brush, keep adding pigment until you have enough bright paint to paint all the flowers of that color. When changing to a new color, rinse your brush and repeat the mixing process with your new color)The crayon lines will help contain the paint, but it’s okay to go outside the lines!

Step 6  Now you can add beneficial insects to your garden. Bees and butterflies help cross pollinate flowers. Lady bugs kill off harmful pests. Ants and worms (which I forgot!) help keep soil healthy. Caterpillars aren’t so great since they eat leaves, but they turn into butterflies, so I couldn’t resist adding a couple! I’m sure you can think of other creatures to add!

Each insect just takes a few easy steps, which I’ve illustrated. Use paint or markers for the blobby parts.

One round yellow or red blob for bees or lady bugs.

Three small black blobs for ants. Several any-color-you-want blobs for caterpillars.

A black or brown long slender shape for butterflies.












Step 7  Add the spots, stripes, legs, antennae, etc. with a pen or thin marker. You may want to use paint for the butterfly wings. I did plain wings, but I’m sure you can be lots more creative! Let everything dry.

Step 8  Stand your garden up and color some more brown for the underground you just created and add more ants and worms, etc..

Step 9 To turn your garden into a stand up card to cheer up your grandparents or other special people, follow these steps: 

Don’t use paint or marker for this part. Marker  and paint would seep through onto your garden. I used crayon, but colored pencils would also work.

  •      Re-crease and fold your garden up.
  •      On the front write Happy Spring or some other cheerful greeting.
  •      On the left flap draw another picture of your choice and sign your name.
  •     On the right flap (which will be covered when the garden stands up) write a note that explains how to make the garden stand up.
  • When your garden stands up the bottom will still show your name!



Molly loves flowers and hopes you’ll find working on this art project fun and relaxing, and if you send it to someone special you’ll be cheering them up too!


Molly would love to hear who you will send your card to!



Art Activities for Children and Parents Stuck at Home

Are you and your children stuck at home because of the corona virus? Are you feeling a little desperate because your children are already bored?

If so, this blog’s for you! I’m changing things up to provide a little help to you during this difficult time. 

First the Activity, Get your children going on this first simple activity, then I’ll explain some info on materials you might want to get and when I’ll post.

Activity. I call it Oodles of Doodles and it can be done alone or with others as a game. If you prefer or you’re playing with very young children, give them starting dots or doodles and prepare to be surprised!!

Supplies: paper and pencils, markers, or crayons

Place a dot on your paper, now imagine things that have dots, like the middle of a creature’s eye and draw the creature

or make many bigger dots on a chocolate chip cookie

Or the buttons on a snowman

You come up with your own pictures and then color with markers or crayons

Next try doodling a curvy or zig zaggy line and use it to create a fun design or creature.















If you have several people playing here are some suggestions for playing Oodles of Doodles with others:

  • Decide ahead of time how many times you will will pass the paper around for others to add a line. Each person may only make one line or dot per turn.
  • Each person doodles one line of some kind on their paper and passes it to another person. (You can go in a circle if you have several people playing)
  • Once you’ve reached the number of doodles you decided either the paper stays with the last person or goes back to the original person and everyone tries to make something from their doodles!


Parents: Enjoy these activities with your children. As an art teacher, I can promise you it’ll help you all relax a little. Activities like these encourage sharing and lots of giggles!

God has made each of you creative! Have Fun!

Here are the particulars:

  1. On Mondays I’ll post an easy, fun art project (with photos and directions) that even young children can do.
  2. On Fridays I’ll repost some of the art activities I’ve described for older children.

The materials you’ll need are mostly things you already have such as pencils, markers, crayons, paper, glue, and found objects such as old plastic containers, and buttons, etc. This is a good chance to clean out all those plastic lids that don’t fit anything anymore!

One thing that you may not have, which would be helpful for some activities is 2 or 3 colors of tempera paint and a few large and small brushes. If you can, I suggest getting the primary colors, red, yellow, and blue, plus white. From those four you can mix almost any other colors you’d want and it’s fun to mix colors!!







If you can’t get paint, don’t worry, I’ll mix in projects that don’t need it.

Last but not least, Sign up to receive these posts in your inbox and Molly, the corgi who loves art, and I will keep you and your children art-happy during the next month or so!








Do You Recognize the Structures of Gothic Churches? Take this First Challenge!

Take the challenge! Using the following terms, see if you can fill in the blanks in these descriptions of Gothic structures, and then match them to the correct photo. Choose the photo that best fits the description.

stained glass               crossing                           ambulatory

towers                          cross shape                     pointed arch

gargoyles                      sculptures                      rose windows

flying buttresses         relics                               clerestory windows

tall, thin columns

  1. An outside structure that supports and allows thinner walls_________________
  2. An innovation to the arch contributing to support and the feeling of great height _______
  3. Inside supports that soar up to the vault or ceiling _____________
  4. An open walkway called an _____________________ that allows pilgrims to visit radiating chapels containing _________  (2 blanks in this description)
  5. Many stone_________________________of biblical figures and of saints and kings decorate the inside and outside of Gothic cathedrals.
  6. These scary-looking creatures are often downspouts for rain water______________
  7. Large sections of colored glass telling the story of the Bible from creation and fall to Christ’s death, resurrection and return____________________________________
  8. High windows that let in lots of light ______________________________________
  9. Large round windows are called ______________________________________
  10. the shape of most Gothic churches, often most obvious from the outside____________________
  11. the space where the transepts meet and above which is usually a spire______________
  12. Gothic churches usually have two of these, not always matched______________________














































Answers and a 2nd  Gothic Cathedral challenge coming in the next Picturelady post!

These photos were all taken by the author and come from various Gothic cathedrals in Europe.

Have you seen any of these Gothic structures in modern churches?