Simple Sketchbook Prompt to Kick off the Day

Circles and Watercolor Paint | A Simple Sketchbook Prompt | TinkerLab

Today I have a fun and simple sketchbook prompt for you. This one is for all of my tinkersketch friends, new and old.

Circles and Watercolor Paint  |  A Simple Sketchbook Prompt  |  TinkerLab

I’ve been trying to make a habit of getting up before the kids so that I can have a little time to breathe before the day begins. A few weeks ago I picked up these new Canson Mixed Media journals (Amazon affiliate link), found on sale at Michael’s,and I was eager to give them a try.

Circles and Watercolor Paint  |  A Simple Sketchbook Prompt  |  TinkerLab

I started with made a random assortment of circles on my paper by tracing the inside of a tape roll. So easy, right? I was inspired by this zentangle post from Tiny Rotten Peanuts. Her photos are gorgeous — go ahead and check it out.

I used my favorite Micron pen for the task. If you like drawing with pen, Microns are the BEST. They’re waterproof, so after all of that drawing you can paint right over them without any fear of smearing the ink. I just noticed that Microns are on sale at Amazon right now (affiliate link) for about $1.50 — such a good deal!

Circles and Watercolor Paint | A Simple Sketchbook Prompt | TinkerLab

After drawing all those circles, I set out to fill them with patterns and paint. I decided to limit my palette to purple and red just to keep it clean and simple. After working on this for a while, I cleared the table and set up an invitation to paint for my family.

Circles and Watercolor Paint | A Simple Sketchbook Prompt | TinkerLab

The sketchbook invitation set-up

  • Sketchbooks
  • Assorted paintbrushes
  • Watercolor Set. We love this set by Prang (affiliate link)
  • Bowl of Water
  • Micron Pen
  • Rag to absorb water

Circles and Watercolor Paint  |  A Simple Sketchbook Prompt  |  TinkerLab

When my kids sat down to it, I started another page. This one was much more loose and fun for me. I used the blank paint from the watercolor set and a super-thin brush from this crazy-cheap set to make those thin inky lines.

Circles and Watercolor Paint  |  A Simple Sketchbook Prompt  |  TinkerLab

My husband and 3-year old got in on the action, and added a few more supplies.

Circles and Watercolor Paint  |  A Simple Sketchbook Prompt  |  TinkerLab

I love how my little one interpreted this prompt.

Circles and Watercolor Paint  |  A Simple Sketchbook Prompt  |  TinkerLab

And then, even better, how she painted whatever she wanted. The whole point of this, after all, is to get some marks on paper.

p.s. The new sketchbooks journals are fantastic! The size of ours (7″ x 10″) was just right: big enough to work freely, but small enough that it’s not an overwhelming amount of space to fill. They absorb water beautifully without curling too much, and they have perforated edges so you can cleanly remove anything worth hanging or sharing with a friend.

More Sketchbook Prompt Ideas

The TinkerSketch Challenge

Instagram sketchbook prompts

Why I carry a Sketchbook

TinkerSketch Sketchbook Ideas

Draw Into Wet Paint

Crushed Flowers in the Sketchbook

 

Reason #1: Why I Carry a Sketchbook

Why I carry a sketchbook

Do you carry a sketchbook around in your bag or purse?

I have one with me almost all the time. I say “almost” because today I found myself without it — left behind in my art studio — and I furiously scrambled for scraps of paper to entertain my 3-year old during an impromptu meeting. Thankfully she was happy with a book I had in my bag and found a way to keep herself busy for close to an hour. If you’re a parent, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. That need to deliver a special magic bullet that your child will swoon over for an endless period of time. Or at least until you finish a conversation or eat a meal. Why I carry a sketchbook The other day, three-year old Rainbow and I were hanging out during her sister’s dance class, and I encouraged her to dance along on the sidelines. This child loves to dance so much that she insists on wearing ballet slippers everywhere. No joke. They’re the dirtiest ballet shoes you’ve ever seen. But on this day, she wasn’t interested. Probably too much dancing in the grocery store aisles. So I brought out my sketchbook and started to draw in it.  Have you experienced the phenomena of drawing in a sketchbook with a child looking on? It can be like bringing out a piece of candy and devouring it in front of them. They can’t resist it, and usually beg to join in. Well, this is the case with my kids anyway, and I encourage you to try it and see what happens. In the spirit of research, please let me know how it goes.  I made a simple line drawing of a tree and some stars. Nothing fancy. It was all for me and she must have sensed the exclusivity of it. Rainbow looked on, chomping at the bit, and asked me for her markers (which I also try to carry with me at all times). I happily passed her the book and she got right to work filling in my drawings and adding her own marks. How the sketchbook saves the day. I gave her some room and ten minutes after the class ended she was still at it. Why I carry a sketchbook We had to coax her her outside with a promise of dinner.

#TinkerSketch on Instagram

If you keep a sketchbook (with or without your child), you’re invited to add the #tinkersketch hashtag to your photos on Instagram or Google+.  You might also like to follow Tinkerlab on Instagram for more creative inspiration.

A Question for You

I’m always eager to find fun things to carry in my bag for my kids. What’s your go-to toy, tool, or piece of entertainment magic?

Tinkersketch Challenge: Draw Into Wet Paint

glue pages together

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.

 

 

 

Crushed Flower Experiment

Crushed Flower Experiment

Now that summer is coming to an end (sniff — I’m kind of in denial — you?), it’s a good time to harvest some of your last blooms for some flower-painting experiments.

Crushed flower experiment

We took a walk around the neighborhood and picked some weeds from wild roadside gardens, and also selected a handful of flowers and leaves from our own yard.

Materials

For this project you’ll need: assorted flowers and leaves and paper

The experiment lies in testing the flowers to see what colors actually emerge from them as they’re crushed and smeared onto paper. We were surprised by the blue hydrangea’s brownish-green hue, but also got some more predictable amazingly brilliant yellows and purples from our roses and dandelions.

Crushed Flower Experiment

More Artsy Science Experiments

If you’re interested in more experiments that lie at the intersection of art and science, you might also enjoy Invisible Ink: A Citrus Painting Experiment and the Egg Geodes Science Experiment.

More Flower Projects

For more with flowers, you’ll have a lot of fun Pounding them into Flower Bookmarks or maybe you want to learn how to press flowers. Zina at Let’s Lasso the Moon has a lovely idea for turning a huge sunflower harvest into back-to-school teacher gifts. And, there are over SIXTY amazing ideas in the Tinkerlab Flower Creative Challenge that will keep you busy with all your harvested flowers.

And similarly, here are some ideas for making vegetable-based egg dyes.

What are your favorite ways to use, preserve, and harvest your end-of-summer flowers?

Do you Keep a Journal or a Sketchbook?

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary

Do you keep a journal?

I’m juggling a bunch of projects at the moment — did I tell you that I’m writing a book?  Gasp. That’s a post for another day! — and I’m trying to keep this blog going without killing myself in the process. One of the things that grounds me, and my kids, are our sketchbooks.

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary

When we have an idea, it goes into the sketchbook. When we buy new markers we test them out in the sketchbook.

I’ve always loved having a visual journal, and as a parent I encourage my children to keep one as well. Not only do journals enable us to capture a moment in time, but they’re witnesses of our past that can fill us in on little secrets, and they’re powerful resources for sourcing new ideas. When I have a block and need some inspiration, I can flip back through my journals in search of a technique or image that recharges my batteries.

Favorite Sketchbook Resources

Check out my Sketchbook Board on Pinterest, updated frequently with new ideas.

Balzer Designs. You’ll want to check out her gorgeous Art Journal Every Day posts.

Keri Smith, genius in every way. She’ll get you to think outside the box and is so good at pushing you outside your comfort zone. I think I want to be her.

Alisa Burke creates beautiful illustrations. Here’s a peek into her sketchbook and some artsy tutorials.

Journal Fodder Junkies shares some good tips and tutorials on attacking the blank page.

If you’re on Instagram and you’d like to join my FREE Sketchbook Challenge, all the details you need are here: Tinkelab’s Double Page Spread Challenge

What about you? Do you keep a written or visual journal?

 

Washi Tape and Found Paper Collage

tape and found book collage process based art with kids

                        “Above all, we are coming to understand that the arts incarnate the creativity of a free people. When the creative impulse cannot flourish, when it cannot freely select its methods and objects, when it is deprived of spontaneity, then society severs”   ~ John F. Kennedy

Do you set up open-ended prompts or invitations for art-making?

Making art, and in turn creative thinking, is rooted in discovery, experimentation, and the free exploration of materials. Projects that foster independent thinking focus on the processes of creation and experimentation rather than  the final product.

 Washi tape and found book collage. A Tinkerlab Art Invitation.

If you spend any time on Pinterest, you know that the internet is full of ideas for creating beautiful kids’ crafts, but I caution you that while these projects may deliver a tidy product, they may not have your child’s best interests in mind. Your best bet for fostering creative growth is to set up open-ended art-making invitations. Not only will your child’s imagination thrive, but you’ll have less to stress over and prepare for.

To get started, choose a few related materials, lay them out on your table, and see what your child (and maybe you!) can come up with.

Our most recent art invitation included these materials:

tape and paper collage

I placed the materials on the table and began by flipping through the book in search of interesting images. My 4-year old paid attention to my curiosity and jumped right in to share which images she wanted me to cut out for her.

tape and paper collage

We built a small collection of favorites. As she glued or taped, I cut. An added surprise is that we talked a little bit about the content of the images along the way (bird houses versus bird feeders, the most colorful birds we could think of — she insists it’s the Scarlet Macaw and I can’t really argue with that!).

tape and paper collage

Washi tape is one of my more recent art material splurges. If you don’t know about washi tape, it’s a decorative Japanese masking tape, It has a bit of a glossy sheen to it, it’s usually somewhat transparent, and it makes everything look adorable.

Before leaving on a recent trip we visited the art supply store for traveling supplies, and two packs of Washi tape begged for us to buy them. Washi is not cheap, but I’ve noticed that a little bit goes a long way. While my 23-month old could use miles of it in 5 seconds flat, my 4-year old used it sparingly.

The plaid rolls come in this set of three: Kikkerland Plaid Washi Masking Tape. I heard that Target carries an inexpensive brand of washi tape (I think the brand is Smash), but they were all out when I visited. Not surprised, really, since washi tape seems to be all the rage in the scrapbooking world at the moment, but I’ll an eye out for it on future trips.

tape and paper collage

The beauty of the art invitation for us parents is that they cut down on our stress. Aside from making sure that you have some materials to work with, these invitations don’t require a lot of fancy preparations or planning. On top of that, there is no expectation to create something with a specific outcome. Keep these words in mind for successful art making with kids: The Journey is the Destination.

More on Invitations

Do you set up art invitations? How does your child respond to them?

Note: Tinkerlab shares affiliate links for products or companies that we think our readers will enjoy knowing about. If you purchase through those links we’ll receive a small percentage of the sale, which help keep our inspiration engine running!