Category Archives: Creating Art

Creative Art Activities

Global Collaboration Day: Friends Academy Global Draw

Hello There. You have arrived!

This is the place where you will find art made by artists from all over the world someday, but currently, just the USA.
Do you want to take part in the Friends Academy Global Draw?
If yes, then click on this highlighted link to the Google presentation. It is there where you will find all you need to know about joining the art making fun.
Basically, our idea is based on offering up a simple drawing direction to the world and seeing where people take it. Like how we perceive the prompt and allow our creative minds to work with it. The images below were made based on a simple direction to divide a square into 3 rectangles, color the larger one blue and the two smaller triangles any other colors.We named it “out of the blue, a rainbow is born“. Each group assembled their individual designs into a larger whole while keeping in mind how they would tessellate, or connect, to make a cohesive design. View the phots that were shared below. You may see stripes, diamonds, zig zags. What will you create?


Made by Fifth Grade Truth @ Friends Academy, Locust Valley, NY, USA


Made by Fifth Grade Logic @ Friends Academy, Locust Valley, NY, USA


Heather Stanich
Made by Heather Stanich and Oswego East High School, Oswego, IL, USA. They also sent in process photos of how the final collaboration was born. Being aware of the artistic process helps us understand how our ideas are born. Do you enjoy viewing artists in action? View the process photos below.

Stanich 1

View the assembling in action above. It involves a discussion of ideas and the ability to change and start again.


Shannon Timoney
Made by Shannon Timoney and grades 4, 5, and 6 at Peconic Community School in Aquebogue, NY, USA


Madison Beasley
Made by Madison Beasley and University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA


Donna Tremblay
Made by Donna Tremblay and David R. Cawley Middle School, Hooksett, NH,  USA


Made by Ms. Coopers fourth grade at Friends Academy, Locust Valley, NY, USA


More to come. Stay with us! 

Mary Jo



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Aaaaaand… we’ve got a hashtag! Thanks to Karen Blumberg. She is brilliant!

#FACEYOURSELF. Learn it. Live it. USE IT!

Day Two: An outdoor experience in full sun with music and college students chillin’ on the quad. (I’m so hip like a 20 something, I use the term “chillin'”)

first time portrait for you mythological abstract keepin' it real neutral cubist mythological in blue neutral abstract cubist in red realism

What do YOU see?

I have discovered that each portrait does look a bit like each individual. I’m convinced our brain does it automatically. I believe we are programmed to see what we want to see. Do you?

The interactive dials and switches and pom pom punch holes allow you to program your portrait. The choices are:


Basically, there are a number of different groupings you can create. Is anyone out there eager to take on an Algebraic equation to figure it out? It would be considered Algebra, right? You just let me know.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed your visit. Stay tuned for the next siting of….#FACEYOURSELF.



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FACE YOURSELF: The Programmable Portrait Portal

Have you ever been inspired to do something far beyond your comfort zone? Like taking a wild chance or using your body in a way that is just not common for you?
I have.
Lately, I have been curious about human communication and connectedness and all that stuff that makes up the way we interact and the way we feel about interacting. You know, like our interpersonal intelligence.

I am also deeply intrigued by the idea of the mask. The way a disguise can offer you a special power that your body just can’t fulfill on its own. I am convinced that if we walked around being aware of our best selves, we would all be superheroes. Everyday.

cubist in red

I want to feel more comfortable in my own skin. I want others to see themselves as beautiful. So, I decided to bring myself out of my comfort zone and draw people who are willing to sit with me. This would force me to be myself and talk to strangers. This would allow me to create art that will, hopefully, help you SEE your natural beauty.

My friend, Joy, introduced me to videos of the Face-O-Mat. It was built by artist, Tobias Gutmann as a portrait making machine. Tobias’ machine was created to comment on how we are obsessed with machines. The videos on his website inspired me to do something with my own twist.

photo 4 (1)

With Tobias’ blessing: “Go for it and Go WILD!”, I built one. A programmable portrait portal, that is.
We named it: FACE YOURSELF.

Here are some photos of Day One:

That’s me, drawing with my glasses on so I see everyone’s face with clarity.



Here are a few goddesses who accepted fame on this post. Thank you to all who shared their beauty with me and were open to a new experience.

warm cubist goddess

Are you intrigued about how it works? Well, then you will need to stop by Stony Brook University on Wednesday, August 26. Visit again to find out where FACE YOURSELF with be in the future.

Stay Tuned.

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Wrist Candy

When I began this post last Spring, I was surrounded by a delicious selection of greenery when inside my little bungalow. It warms the soul and keeps my values in check. Thank you, Earth.
And because I am grateful of all that our mother earth has to offer, I try to make beauty from the things I would otherwise throw away. If you have read my previous posts, you know I fancy hand painted papers. I want to share an art experience that I introduced to my third and fourth graders recently.


I wanted to keep the focus on color mixing and less on creating a composition so we used the primary colors and white to create a large selection of color swatches painted on newspaper rectangles.


Then we cut a small selection of color choices into strips and covered paper towel roll slices in blocks of color. Details were collaged over the basic rectangular blocks. Negative shapes were saved and used as well.


Holes were punched on the ends of the cut slice of paper towel roll and ribbon was looped through for an easy tie.

Make your, or someone else’s, wrist smile soon! -MJ

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Prehistoric Beauty

faux fossil1

Have you ever thought about the lifespan of a fern? They first appeared on earth 340 million years ago!

faux fossil

Ferns hold such a beautiful texture, most of which is hidden from the naked eye. Relief prints can be made to help capture and understand the hidden beauty of a fern.

fern press1

Students pressed ferns into clay as well as made fern prints using white ink on blue and black paper. For more information about creating fern prints in clay to produce a faux fossil, view my complete tutorial at ART ENGINE.

fern prints
Look at these lovely ferns covered in white ink.

And bask at the beautiful freshly made prints.
fern print blue

fern print black

Have you printed nature before? What textures tickle your fancy?

Have a LOVELY day!



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DIY: Holiday Stars

Do you have paper? Do you own scissors? How about glue?
Have you caught the holiday spirit? If you answered “tak” to all these questions, then you are familiar with the Polish language and are already prepped for making this stunning paper star. Oh yes, a ruler or a straight edge will help too.
Paper cutting is a decorative art from that is traditionally popular in Poland. During difficult times in the early to mid 20th century, when the production of elaborate glass ornaments was put on hold, people in Poland would save paper scraps and use it to produce holiday decorations. This tradition boosted holiday spirit and also helped everyone to appreciate simplicity.


This paper star was made from just 6 small square sheets of paper. Can you believe it? The versitility of paper fascinates me. I think of paper as such a delicate material, yet it has so much potential for sculptural creations.

Would you like to make one? Here is what you will need:
6 square sheets of any colored paper of any size larger than 7 inches
(I used 9 inch squares for this tutorial)
glue (I like Aleen’s tacky glue)
a ruler
a pencil
and patience



Fold all 6 sheets in half on a diagonal to form a triangle. Fold in half again, to form another triangle. Then rotate each triangle until the hypotenuse (the longest side) is parallel with your belly and grab your ruler and a pencil.


Using your ruler, you will need to draw 5 lines on each triangle. Each line will be parallel with the hypotenuse (the longest side). These lines are guidelines for cutting slits in your triangle, therefore they should be ghost lines, or very lightly drawn. I drew them with black sharpie in the image below because I wanted you to see them easily. Don’t do that. Please.


Notice how the lines are parallel to the hypotenuse. They are also an equal distance apart from one another. Draw your lines beginning on one side of your triangle and ending just before the other side. Be sure to stop your line before the edge of one side because soon you will cut on these guidelines and you must STOP before you reach the edge in order to form slits.


Carefully cut on each guideline, starting on the side where the marker touches the edge and ending about a 1/4 inch before the edge of the other side. Your triangle now has 5 slits. Draw your guidelines and cut slits on all six triangles.

Carefully open your triangle and…

open it again and flatten it into a square with triangular slits.


Now you are ready to transform your flat square into something 3-D. You will do this by connecting the triangular pieces that sit opposite of one another. My hands is reaching for the center two. Always begin in the center.


Put a small amount of tacky glue on one point as shown above. I like to say “a little glue goes a long way. If you use too much you will be waiting ’till next Tuesday”. My students say “not a lot, just a dot”. What I really mean to say is…don’t use a lot of glue. A small amount does the trick.

When connecting two sides, be sure to roll, or wrap the paper over one another. This creates a cylindrical form and is not only what makes the star pop into a 3-D form, but also helps it to stay strong and sturdy.

Do you notice the sculptural form starting to appear? Magical, right?
Once you finish gluing the two center triangles, you will move on to the next two that are closest to the center, BUT you will need to flip the paper over and attach them on the other side. This creates negative space between the parts. Negative space plays an important role in art. In Chinese brush painting it is seen as a resting place and a space to breathe.
Continue connecting the adjacent sides, flipping the piece over with each new connection. Do you notice the flip flop pattern in the image below?

Here is a completed form. A part of the whole.

Look at that sculptural beauty made from just one sheet of square paper!

IMG_0689After you are stunned by your creation,
understand that it is just 1/6 of the whole.
Finish gluing the remaining five triangles
until you have six 3-D diamond pieces.
Just like this gal to the left.

Now take two at a time…

and attach them at the pointed tip.

You must also attach them at the middle, which is the widest part of the diamond piece.

I am holding the middle here. Notice the pointed tip has already been attached.

Now attach the two other sets of two diamond pieces. You will then have three pairs of two. Join these three sets together at the point first, then attach the middles.

CONGRATULATIONS! You have successfully assembled a gorgeous paper star! Some like to call it a snowflake. You may want to call it a mandala. We all call it ART.

Thank you for reading! I hope you found this tutorial helpful. I am a big fan of the written word so if you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to leave a message on the bottom of this post.

May your days (and nights) be merry and bright.


P.S. Continue reading below to learn more about the history behind this paper star.

In the early 1900’s decorations became very popular and were mass produced in Poland. Most popular were mouth-blown glass ornaments. It was a magical time for Christmas in Poland during those thriving years. The production was amazing, the demand was literally world wide, and the country thrived through Christmas ornaments.

Unfortunately, World War II hit the country with devastation. The production of the beautiful ornaments dwindled as the country fought to survive. There were no materials to manufacture the decorations and no way to export them as the War raged. People of Poland found any scrap of paper they could find and began to make intricate paper decorations.


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The Evolved Snowflake

The sun is so generous to share her afternoon beams of joy with me. At the end of the school day, when my teacher work is done, the lighting in my art studio inspires many clever photo shoots of freshly made works of art. Showcased below are images of kirigami snowflakes.

kirigami snowflake

Kirigami is the art cutting paper to create intricate symmetrical designs. Does the term remind you of origami? If so, it is because they both end in “gami” and when translated in Japanese, “kami” means paper. Origami is the art of paper folding. “Ori” means folding + “kami” means paper = folding paper. Can you guess what “kiri” means? That’s right: “kiri” means cutting. Therefore kirigami = cutting paper. Typically, kirigami begins with a folded base, which is then cut and opened offering a magically surprise in the end.


These snowflakes were created using a tri-fold technique which produces a 12-sided snowflake. To read through an informative snowflake tutorial, visit Michele Made Me. And take the time to snoop around her beautiful website, it is one of my favorite places to spend free time!

Have you made your holiday decorations this year?
Or maybe a clever advent calendar?
If so, please share your creations!

Have a lovely first day of December! -MJ


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