The Laughing Zebra

art supplies

My Bag of Tricks!

What is in my art bag these days….

These are my go to supplies these days that I grab when I am going out and feel inspired to create. Since I teach art and am surrounded by lots of artist supplies both at home and school it is nice to have some supplies that are just for me and feel like play instead of work. And they are small and lightweight so I can actually justify carrying them around even if I don’t have a chance to use them (which happened a lot in Europe by the way!)

I especially love the koi watercolors and the uni-ball signo white pens. And I love the ease of the aqua brushes. I found the Artist’s Loft bag at Michaels and it holds most of these supplies. The rest go in a small backpack that I throw the Loft bag in. 

What are some of your favorite supplies for when you are out and about? Let me know in the comments below!

I put together this handy list where you can find some of these supplies online:

These are affiliate links and I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you) for purchases made through these links. Everything on this page I LOVE and heartily recommend!

Famous art heists, expensive paintings, and eight top ten lists of interesting art facts!

You might be surprised by this list (probably not the first one thought!)

This is one person’s list and has some great ones on here. I think fame means something different to everyone.

Women artists have been shortchanged in history. I like these lists that give us a peek into artists we may not have heard of but have been important in the history of art.

Again this is one person’s list and these are definitely some of the most famous ones!

You might be surprised about this list as well.

I didn’t know about some of these museums. Interesting to read why they are considered famous.

Ah! I got to see the David statue in Florence last Spring. It was amazing!

It is kind of hard to get your mind around how amazing these artists are.

Kids love learning about this kind of thing. Did you hear that last Sunday a VanGogh was stolen from a museum in the Netherlands?

This list shines some light on some American artists that have been important in the history of art in our country.

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These lists are lots of fun! What’s your favorite bit of random art info?

These ten videos are sure to leave you inspired! If you want to be an artist, learn from the best!

1. Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt is one of my favorite artists! She was the only American of the original Impressionist group of artists. I love her softly rendered children and women portraits. I have seen some of them in person and am in awe!

2. Vincent VanGogh

I love his vibrant colors and intensity. Learn more about the artist behind the famous Starry Night painting.

3. Leonardo da Vinci

He was a true Renaissance man! He had so many talents and was and is considered a genius. Learn more about this multi talented artist in this video.

4. Claude Monet

One of the leading artists in the Impressionist movement, Monet is one of the most beloved artists in history.

5. Glass Artist Dale Chihuly

I am from the Seattle area where Dale Chihuly has his studio and home. (and glass museum). Learn about this pioneer in blown glass. His work is amazing!

6. Michelangelo

The David statue and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel are his claim to fame. Find out more about this incredible artist!

7. Andy Warhol

He was a trend setter, with a personality and style that changed the art world!

8. Wayne Thiebaud

He is a favorite of mine with his beautifully rendered paintings of cakes to his landscapes, portraits and still lifes. I love them all!

9. Georgia O’Keeffe

The queen of the flower! Her use of color and flowing style are a trademark of her work. She was a strong woman who ran in her own lane and left a lasting mark on the art world.

10. Henri Rousseau

Known for his jungle pictures and flat folk art style he carved out a life for himself as an artist. Watch this video to learn more about this interesting artist.

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Who is your favorite artist?

These are some books I have on my shelf and enjoy looking through and getting ideas from. They are also a great resource to get the creative juices flowing….

This page contains affiliate links and I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Everything on this page I have used and heartily recommend for teaching art.

Flow books are awesome! This book has tons of drawing prompts. I have used it to generate ideas. Great for an older child (maybe 12 and up ) or an adult.

I love the style and layout of this book. Her 60 interactive writing prompts and art how-tos help you to expand your imagination and stimulate your creativity. Fun illustrations and ideas! Written for kids but good for all ages.

This is a fun interactive book with lots of ideas and information about some famous artists.

This is a popular book and has fun projects.

This is a fun kids art book that combines some moral lessons with art.

This book has ideas for all different kinds of art projects and some really fun cartoon illustrations.

I love the drawing style of this artist. He has several drawing books. This book is like a walk outside with a sketchbook. For the older child or adult.

This has a whimsical and creative layout with projects good for all ages and fun for parents to do with their child.

This book is geared towards adults and helps you find a more childlike way to approach art.

This is a clever book with lots of open pages and drawing prompts to let your creativity soar! No real rules in this drawing guide just open ended fun!

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What are your favorite art books? Let me know below!

I'm writing a book!

I am excited to announce my latest project!  My daughter and I are working on a big, beautiful, creatively designed book on artist related lessons (similar to the ones on this website but with more details, step by step instructions and photos). The book will be for anyone who wants concise, detailed, well laid out lessons that are ready to teach, in a format that is fun to look at as well.

Book Info

Even the most prepared parent runs out of ideas sometimes! Here’s ten great activities for when the boredom hits and some good old fashioned fun is needed.

This would be fun for the whole family. We have also made random newspaper tube sculptures for a competition at a party (see who can build the tallest one that stands for at least 3 minutes etc).

Here is a list of 40 riddles for an amazing scavenger hunt. This is a great way to get kids up and moving!

This neat science experiment is low cost and super cool and can be done even with young children.

These little gardens are a great way to introduce your kids to gardening (who knows, they might have a green thumb!) Use materials you already have and watch those plants grow! (This is a great way to teach about responsibility)

Marshmallows work great for building and creating. See who can make the tallest tower!

This is a great outdoor activity! Round up whatever odds and ends you have laying around to create a magical destination.

This makes some great playdough that lasts for a really long time. My husband and I just had a playdate with a friend’s 2 year old. We made 7 different colors. She was getting really good at the mixing and measuring by the end. Cream of tartar and gel food coloring are two things called for in this recipe besides the flour, salt and vegetable oil.

Card games are a great way to teach math and thinking skills and such a fun way to pass the time.

We love paper airplanes in our family. This is fun for all ages. (lots of sites out there for patterns). Have the kids decorate them with markers or crayons and have a fly off.

Have you ever played Minute to Win It  games? So fun for a family game night! In addition to these 30 here there are so many more of these games out on the Internet.

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Do you have a favorite out-of-the-ordinary activity for kids? Let me know in the comments below!

Check out some inspiration from these amazing young artists (and maybe your child will join their ranks!)

1. Akiane Kramarik

Akiane Kramarik began painting at the age of four and never looked back. Check out this video of her at 9 years old with Oprah.

2. Aelita Andre

Now 13, She first began to paint professionally from nine months old when her amazing acrylic on canvas paintings were included in her solo exhibition in Australia at age two. Here, she opens a solo exhibit at age 9.

3. Autumn de Forest

Art prodigy Autumn de Forest has been a professional artist for most of her life. Since age 4, she has been creating masterpieces. Check out this video about her by CitizenKid.

4. Kieron Williamson

Kieron Williamson became famous at the age of 6 for his impressionist art work and has garnered massive attention since then for his beautiful works. This video likens him to Monet.

5. Evan Sharma

Now 16, Evan Sharma gained attention in the art world at the age of 12. His works have been compared to Picasso and Matisse.

6. Lola June

This 3 year old is taking the art world by storm. An artist friend of her mother’s discovered her talent and she took off from there.

7. Wang Yani

She first began painting at the age of 2 and had her first exhibit in china at 4. Her early artwork was largely made up of animals.

8. Josh Tiessen

Josh Tiessen is from Ontario, Canada, and started painting realism at a young age. His grasp of nature realism is stunning.

9. Cameron Sky Villa

He started painting when he was 1 1/2 years old and quickly became a known figure in the Sacramento art scene.

10. Kareem Waris

He is a young Nigerian artist who began painting at the age of six. He does incredible hyperrealism pieces of art and even did a portrait of French President Emmanuel Macron.

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Who knows, your little one could be the next Picasso!

Every artist needs their fuel! I don’t normally share recipes but food is an art form itself and can be a fun and educational learning opportunity for kids!

I love love love pretzels (and so do my kids) and there are so many great recipes out there but I really like this fun bite-sized twist on it. These are a great midday snack and always satisfy that carb craving! Try out different sauces to see which one you and your kids like best!

Mmmhhhh. Looking for a good way to sneak some fresh fruit into your kids diets? I won’t claim this is super healthy, but it’s a great little treat for everyone. We used to make a big one of these for summer guests. The little ones work well for a snack or even a tea party!

For a healthier alternative to a bag of chips, try creating these homemade potato chips! I love making my own chips because they are so much fun to make! You might not want to let your kids actually fry the chips (always be careful around hot oil) but they are sure to love coming up with unique chip flavor combinations (I love adding a little bit of garlic salt and paprika to mine).

These Italian sodas have always been a favorite with my kids. It’s one of the most simple and fun drinks to make! Customize them with whatever flavor (or flavor combinations) you love best and watch as the syrup colors mix with the soda water and cream! Hint hint.. This is a great alternative to canned soda and keeps kids wanting more! 

Check out this delicious take on the classic Monte Cristo sandwich. Kids love the simple ingredients (cheese, deli meat, and jam) and they can help out with layering the ingredients. These are seriously so easy to make and definitely kid-approved.

Looking for dessert? In a cup? Get the kid-friendly dessert proportions right with these peanut butter cup cupcakes (I’m so in love with Reeses, so why not have a cupcake version?) Just don’t forget to hide one away for yourself before they are all gone!

This easy and fun dessert puts funnel cakes on a whole new level – think deliciously golden apple fries. Be careful around the hot oil and have fun making these yummy desserts!

We have made these a lot over the years for parties and snacks. Something magical happens to the marshmallows when you dip them in the warm chocolate. These are even better than S’mores, in my opinion!

These are easy to make with just two ingredients! I love how the sugar brings out the flavor of the grapes. Kids love eating these frozen little grape pops and they are a great addition to any tea party!

Pull-apart breads are always a win with people of all ages! This deliciously gooey bread gives pizza a run for its money. Try this as an appetizer or midday snack. 

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What’s your go-to recipe for cooking with kids? Let me know if the comments below!

Supplies are so important when creating those masterpieces! Here are ten of my favorite supplies (and a few examples of lessons I use them in).

This page contains affiliate links and I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Everything on this page I have used and heartily recommend for teaching art.

This is a fun way to create bleeding color that is natural looking. Kind of a magic process for kids. See it in action here on my Jim Dine Heart Art lesson!

I love these and use them A LOT! They are so much easier to use than regular watercolors as the water is already mixed in! It allows the kids to paint faster and with more satisfaction. Also these are bright and vibrant colors when you use them at full strength (which I almost always do!).

These are the best brand of liquid watercolors out there that I have found. Some of the other brands have switched to a thicker gel formula that does not bleed the way these do and they also leave brush stroke marks when you paint. Check out how bright and colorful they are in my Jim Dine Brush lesson and the Paul Gauguin Palm Tree lesson.

This is the only watercolor paper I use. Right size and nice quality for student work.

A fun texture for chalk pastel work.

These write and doodle a nice bright white and are easy to use.

These are VERY forgiving brushes. I use the round green handled ones in 3 sizes and also the flat red handled ones in 3 sizes. I’ve used these for years. Here is a link to the big set I use for classes and a smaller set to start off with!

Most black construction paper looks kind of faded gray but not this one! It is a deep black color and by far the best black construction paper I have come across.

These are soft and lovely. A little pricey for a large group but worth the extra money in my mind. All chalk pastels are NOT created equal. You will be disappointed if you get a lesser quality as they don’t blend and smudge as well. Check out the #5 Demuth project to see how I used the black for outlining. This smaller size stick here is more cost efficient for big classes.

These are the best student grade oil pastels out there. Good coverage and they blend well for layering.

These are a harder soft pastel for doing lines when you want color that stays and is sharp. 

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Let me know if you use any of these in the comments below (or if you have other favorite art supplies for kids)!

Sennelier Shop in Paris

When we were in Paris in June we stopped into the Sennelier shop. Don’t you just love an art supply store? This one is full of history and character. It is easy to imagine Cezzane, Degas and Gauguin squeezing their way through the tiny shop in pursuit of their cherished supplies. It was opened in 1887, amidst hundreds of other color merchants. (In 1885, there were 600 listed), and is still run by the Sennelier family. One of their claims to fame is that they created  a special oil pastel for Picasso who came into the shop in 1948 with a request. He wanted to know if they could make a medium that could be used on any surface, without requiring a special coating. It took them a year to create the sticks of pigment that were waxy rather than chalky, and which could be used in thick, dense strokes. Picasso bought 40 of each of the 48 colors. They quickly became a sensation in the store and are still made today. Even though I know you can order these pastels online, I wanted to buy a few to take home from this amazing store. I also bought a few chalk pastels, imagining Degas himself using these. In fact he came into the store once and requested soft pastels in a range of browns, which they ended up developing a series of 700 shades in the medium, 30 of which became Degas’s own browns. And this is one of the things I so loved about Paris. Literally everywhere I went I felt caught in a moment in history and could really feel the sense of creativity and inspiration that must have been just thick in the air, as all of these artists, on the cusp of great discoveries were living and breathing in this space.