Tinkersketch Challenge: Draw Into Wet Paint

Tinkersketch Challenge: Draw into wet paintIt’s been a while since I’ve posted a Tinkersketch challenge on our blog, and since we’ve been getting some great tinkersketch feedback on Instagram I thought I’d share a favorite low-stress way to get some paint and marks on paper.

I’m all about low-threshold art-making, and don’t want anyone to walk away because they’re overwhelmed, so I’ll always try to offer easy ways to get your hand moving. If things get a bit more challenging I’ll offer alternative ideas to keep things simple. I realize that you don’t have a lot of time, but you want to create, and I’ve got your schedule in my mind. I’m busy too, so this also works for me.

If you’re not familiar with the Tinkersketch Challenge, you can read about how it started and what you can expect over here. In a nutshell, I’m a huge proponent of making something every day, and this challenge will get you started on an easy sketchbook journey. All it takes is about 10 minutes a day, but of course once you get started it can be hard to walk away after just 10 minutes!

Draw Into Wet Paint

sketchbook gesso drawing

This is what we’ll be doing today: Draw directly into wet paint. My three-year old and I had a lot of fun working on this page together.

Find a sketchbook

If you have a sketchbook with heavy-weight pages, you’re ready to go. I’ve owned a lot of journals and I’ve been enjoying Strathmore’s Visual Journal series for wet media (paint, collage, glue, etc.). It’s not featured in this post since we were working with an upcycled notebook (more on how to make one of this soon), but I usually have a Visual Journal in my bag when I run around town.

My best tip for finding the right journal is to visit the art store and handle all the journals. What size do you like? Big to spread out on a table? Small to carry in a bag? What weight do you like? If you paint a lot, you’ll want something with thick paper. If you prefer dry media, thin paper is a more economical solution.

And if you prefer to skip the sketchbook altogether, just work from a pile of paper. I like to keep a stack of card stock on hand for such times.

sketchbook gesso

Paint the page

Buy a bottle of gesso like this. Acrylic gesso is a polymer emulsion paint that’s used to paint over stretched canvases. You can think of it as a base coat upon which you can paint with watercolors, acrylics, and oils. You can also draw on top of gesso. Today we’ll draw on it (or into it) with a pencil.

Cover your page completely with gesso.

I placed a piece of wax paper (from the grocery store) under each of the pages to keep the paint off the table and off of the other pages in the sketchobook.

Alternative: Cover your page with white acrylic paint or thick white tempera paint. Tempera tends to flake off over time, but it should work if you’re interested more in the process than the product.

Draw into wet paint: Tinkersketch Challenge

Draw onto the page

With a pencil, makes some marks directly into the paint. Don’t worry too much about what you’re drawing. This is about the process of discovering a new technique and it helps to simply pay attention to what happens as you pull paint across the paper with the pencil, and notice how the pencil marks through the paint and onto the paper.

For the picture above, I drew some lines and ovals onto the paint and then handed the book over to my three-year old who added her own ideas.

Play with us on Instagram

Instgrammers often share their tinkersketches on Instagram, and it’s a fun way to get ideas from fellow sketchbookers. Just search for the hashtag #tinkersketch for more.

If you’d like to share you own sketches, either inspired by these posts or of your own creation, add #tinkersketch to your photo and we’ll find you. It’s a fun way to get to know other inspiring and aspiring artists.

And on that note, I should say that this is for beginners and professionals alike — no level of experience is too small or too big to play. All are welcome.




Make a Sketch: A sketch a day keeps the dullness away

Three simple steps for keeping a daily sketching practice (at least a little bit) alive.

Do you draw? If so, how do you create time to make a sketch?

I try to make a habit of sketching something every day. When I get really busy, which seems like a lot lately, I’m terrible at keeping this promise to myself. If you know my blog, you might remember that I started the Tinkersketch challenge last summer. Basically, it’s a simple challenge to make a drawing every day. And to motivate us to play, you were invited to share your sketches on Instagram. Sound familiar?

Like some of you, I began this challenge with a lot of energy, but then, like I said, I got busy. And maybe you did too. But even though I haven’t been good at sharing my sketches with you, I do make an effort to jot notes or images down every day.

Here’s how…

Three simple steps for keeping a daily sketching practice (at least a little bit) alive.

How to keep a sketching practice (at least a little bit) alive

  • I carry at least one of my favorite felt tip markers in my bag at all times. Unless one of my children finds it before I do, having the right tool makes me want to draw more.
  • I carry a notebook, sketchbook, journal, stack of index cards, napkins — whatever — in my bag at all times.
  • Pull out this notebook when waiting in line or when I have an extra minute to spare. All it takes is five minutes and I’m done! More time would obviously be better, but I think it’s more important to focus on workable rather than idealized goals.

Three simple steps for keeping a daily sketching practice (at least a little bit) alive.

A sketching story

Yesterday I was waiting, by myself (this is a rare treat), at a deli for some take-out sandwiches. In moments like this I usually pull out my phone and scan it for email updates. But it was also a great opportunity to get in a few moments of drawing. So instead of trolling Facebook, I pulled out my sketchbook and started to doodle.

My order was ready about ten minutes later, and as he handed me my bag, the owner asked me if I was an artist. I kind of stuttered over myself, not really sure how to label my current life path. At one point in my past I would have said, “yes,” but now I’m so many other things.

So my answer was, “well, I make drawings.” And then he asked me if I’d like to show my work in his cafe. Isn’t that lovely? I had no idea it was going there.

But that, my friends, is all from sitting down for a few minutes of doodling.

Three simple steps for keeping a daily sketching practice (at least a little bit) alive.

You may have noticed that I’m sprucing things up around here. I’m interested in carrying on with more posts that take a look at what it means to be a creative adult. Not to worry, the child-focused posts will still be around, but it seems like it’s high time to expand the world of Tinkerlab.

My plan, and please forgive me for it’s a tenuous one right now, is to make this space your home for all things creative. I’m still rather busy, and trying to catch up on sleep while also dropping coffee from my diet, but you can count on weekly updates full of ideas, tips, resources, and interviews in the space of creativity and making.

A question for you…

Do you draw? If so, when do you do it and what tools do you use? And if not, is something holding you back or is it just not your thing?

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Tinkersketch Art Ideas

Tinkersketch Art Ideas :: Tinkerlab.com

Are you a creative parent or teacher who’s looking for some art ideas?

Do you know about the ongoing #Tinkersketch art journal challenge that’s brewing over on Instagram? Every day, people just like you and me show up to snap and share photos of their sketchbook art ideas. 

The idea behind this challenge is to make a little bit of room in our busy parenting lives to create via glueing, painting, collaging, and experimenting in a sketchbook everyday, or as often as we can.

When I first introduced this challenge I had a lot more time on my hands (check back tomorrow for an announcement about where my time went!), and I made time to create a tinkersketch every day. I now experiment in my sketchbook when I can, usually alongside my children when we’re all at the art table, and I never regret the time I spend doing this. I share this to say that if you feel strapped for time, create something when you have the time and your efforts will not go unnoticed by you or your child.

Tinkersketch Art Ideas: Highlights from Instagram

There’s a lovely crew of dedicated tinkersketchers who continue to inspire me and each other with their quick sketches, material explorations, and collaborative art journaling with kids. Chelsey, one of my Tinkersketch buddies, wrote this inspiring post about her Tinkersketch journey. She says in the post, “I thought hard about doing it, but was really nervous. I don’t think I’ve ever even owned a sketchbook in my life. I am NOT an artist and do not feel creative in any way.” And then she tackled the project with so much gusto that I’ve considered asking her to take it over!

Here’s a peek at a few of my favorite images from this month…

art ideas

Altered book image@emog

“Ella cus” (She sews) is a beautiful and delicate song from #laiaia@angaleta who blogs at Encenentlaimaginacio 

art ideas

Sometimes the tinkersketch moves off the page like this Pumpkin Painting, @supershortcake,

Nutmeg, Curry, and Paprika painting, @angaleta who blogs at Encenentlaimaginacio 

art ideas

Painting with Chocolate, @angaleta who blogs at Encenentlaimaginacio 

Child’s Tinkersketch, @aneverydaystory (Kate) who blogs at An Everyday Story

art ideas

Child’s Tinkersketch: “Lucy is inside a robot and controlling it on the left. On the right is Lucy and theo. theo is sad because he wants to be in the robot., @cmarashian who blogs at Buggy and Buddy.

Mixed Media Weaving, @emog


When I first shared this challenge I posted prompts, and it’s been a while since I’ve picked up on this. Will you tell me if this is useful?

Feel free to use the art prompts if they work for you or ignore them completely and forge your own sketchbook path. Sketches can happen in a traditional sketchbook or on just about anywhere you can dream up. Remember, this past week @Supershortcake made her tinkersketch on a pumpkin, so go on and think outside the box. The objective is to make a little time to experiment with new art ideas in a supportive environment.

  • Fill the page with Jack-O-Lanterns
  • Draw with a hot glue gun
  • Combine skinny strips of tape and leaves in a collage
  • Make (and use) paper stencils like these
  • Paint an abstract picture of the colors of the weather
  • Write a poem about the place you live, and illustrate it
  • Document a song that you can’t get out of your head

How to SHARE your tinkersketch

  • Instagram: Upload a photo of your DPS with the hashtag #tinkersketch. My username is tinkerlab, in case you’d like to follow me
  • Facebook: Upload a photo of your DPS directly to the Tinkerlab Facebook page
  • Google+: Upload your DPS photo to your own page. Tag me @rachelle doorley  and/or @tinkerlab. Add the hashtag #tinkersketch
  • Twitter: Add the hashtag #tinkersketch
  • If you’re a Blogger, write a post about your tinkersketch adventures and share it with me! Feel free to snag the button up there if you’d like.

If you want to read more about the Tinkersketch project hop over here for the introduction and more info on how you can join.

Follow us on Facebook for more kids’ activities and ideas, and sign up for our newsletter.

Double Page Spread: Week 4 {Inspiration + Art Prompts}

The Double Page Spread Challenge started just one month ago on May 7, and as of today 105 photos have been uploaded to Instagram with the hashtag #tinkersketch. I’m so grateful for this fun and supportive little (growing) community and look forward to sharing updates and prompts with you each week.

Although I started the DPS Challenge with adults in mind, the challenge is open to anyone who’s inspired to open a notebook and make something happen inside. If you’d like to infuse your life with more creativity, you’re invited to join the DPS challenge at any time.

The drawings don’t have to be gallery-worthy (although some of them certainly are), they just have to happen. One idea fuels another, and no drawing/sketch/painting/collage is too insignificant to be included.

Special thanks to my power team, @angaleta and @cmarashian (Chelsey and her co-pilot Lucy) for showing up almost every day to make this happen! More fabulous contributors from week 4: @sarahholst @jlbee @sisterbeats @supershortcake


Afsaneh Tajvidi sketchbook

Follow my Double Page Spread Challenge Pin Board over on Pinterest for more inspiration. (Sketchbook by Afsaneh Tajvidi, courtesy of Anthology Magazine via Pinterest)

Art Journaling Techniques and Inspiration Pin Board from The Mad Pinner, on Pinterest.

quick and easy art journal backgrounds

A Weekly Plan for 5 Different Types of Art Journalers, from Balzer Designs (above)

No More Blank Pages: How to make quick and easy backgrounds for your Art Journal, from Balzer Designs

alisa burke sketchbook

Alisa Burke’s Sketchbooks (above) are to-die-for.

This week’s DPS Prompts

I’ll post prompts on my site at the beginning of each week. Some of you requested them, others did not. Feel free to use them if they work for you, or ignore them completely.

  • Crumple up a piece from a paper bag, smooth it down, glue it into your sketchbook, and embellish it with at least two different materials
  • Fill a page with curved doodles. No straight lines allowed.
  • Take a close up photo graph of an object; so close that the image abstracts the original shape. Make a drawing from this photograph to make an abstract drawing.
  • Print with leaves or flowers
  • Pound flowers onto your sketchbook until the color transfers to your paper
  • Write a letter to a character from a children’s book
  • Drip paint all over the page.
  • Find some kids’ crayons and draw a childhood memory, with your non-dominant hand
  • Find two pictures that inspire you and copy something from each of them into one drawing of your own


  • Facebook: Upload a photo of your DPS directly to the Tinkerlab Facebook page
  • Instagram: Upload a photo of your DPS with the hashtag #tinkersketch. My username is tinkerlab, in case you’d like to follow me
  • Google+: Upload your DPS photo to your own page. Tag me @rachelle doorley  and/or @tinkerlab. Add the hashtag #tinkersketch
  • Twitter: Add the hashtag #tinkersketch


Double Page Spread: Create Some Distance

“Distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.”  -Jonah Lehrer

Hey there. Yesterday was the bi-monthly Creative Challenge, so I’m a day late with my Double Page Spread (DPS) sketchbook challenge prompts and whatnot. If you’re new to this, click here or on the DPS tab in the navigation bar (above). Click on any of the links up there for all the background information you’ll need.

Can I tell you how much I’m enjoying the DPS Challenge? It’s inspired me to get back on the creativity horse and I love the community that’s building around this project. Those of you who are participating are so creative. And different from each other. And brave. Here, I’ll show you what I mean…

This Week in Review. A Sampling.

Anna from The Imagination Tree created this DPS in honor of the Jubilee.

Chelsey and her daughter always create their DPS’s together, and designed princess castles.

Angaleta created this DPS with post-its and washi tape

This is Jalarah’s first DPS, made with white crayons and water color


If you’re not already on Instagram, please consider joining. First of all, it’s totally free. I love free. And it’s one of my very favorite aps and social media outlets, and I cannot recommend it enough. Once you’re on board, you can tag your DPS with #tinkersketch and you’ll see a beautiful stream of images from all the tinkersketchers. Woah, inspiration!

If you want to take a peak inside the Instagram/tinkersketch machine, you can click onto Followgram and see the whole stream.

Related to this, I just added my Tinkerlab stream to the sidebar over there on the right side of the page. Not only can you follow my creative kookiness and pursuits, but you can see what my kids look like when they’re napping and catch what I’m eating for lunch. Now if that’s not gonna pull you in, I’m not sure what will!

I wanted to pull in the whole #tinkersketch stream but it would only pull in my DPS images. If you have any advice for me, I’m all ears.


You can also add your DPS images to Facebook. Just add them to my wall or tag me @tinkerlab


I started a DPS pin board, chock full of all kinds of DPS goodies like drawing prompts, sketchbook inspiration, doodling ideas, and examples of your tinkersketches. Oh, if you write a post about a DPS, let me know and I’ll add it to the board.

Prompts: Distance

And finally, here are this week’s prompts. This week I’d like to encourage you to create some space, distance, or movement in your life. Get out of your comfort zone (whatever that means to you) and look for inspiration in places you wouldn’t normally look.

  • Collect paper from random places and use it in your DPS (junk mail, magazines, kids’ drawings, etc.)
  • Leave home. Go for a walk, sketch in the post office while you’re waiting in line, doodle while your kids are at soccer practice. Inspiration often strikes when our minds get distance from our comfort zone.
  • Just doodle. Doodle for two minutes. Copy that doodle and change one thing about it: doodle for two more minutes. Keep this going until the pages are filled.
  • Write your favorite words in gigantic letters. Experiment with fonts.
  • Pour a bit of watercolor paint on a wet rag and experiment with blotting, rubbing, dabbing your papChoer. Use this as an underpainting, or stop with the watercolor.
  • Go to the library and pick out three books with illustrations that you love (fine artists, kids’ books, etc….it’s up to you). Copy elements from these illustrations.
  • Glue a page from a book or magazine into your sketchbook. With a black Sharpie or paint, block out words that you don’t care for. What remains uncovered is what matters the most.
  • Make a list of things that make you happy. Decorate the list with doodles.
  • Make a list of things you would never do. Circle two that you might try. Add some color to it. Try it on for size.

Look forward to seeing your #tinkersketches this week. And see you next week for more prompts and such.