The Norton Simon Museum – Pasadena, Ca


The kids and I spent the some time recently at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. This is a wonderful, smaller museum that has many great works of art to see. It is also incredibly affordable for families as all children under 18 get in free every day. Adults pay $12.00 each, seniors are $9.00 each, and parking is free.


The permanent collection at the museum includes an impressive collection of Impressionist pieces by such artists as Degas, Monet, and Renoir works of art that younger children will most likely recognize and enjoy seeing. There is also art work by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Picasso, and many others.





When we visited there was two special exhibitions which we were excited to have the chance to see. The first was A Revolution of the Palette: The First Synthetic Blues and their Impact on French Artists and my youngest was especially taken with this exhibit because of his interest in color. Here is a short podcast on the exhibit for anyone interested in it.

The other temporary exhibit was Fragonard’s Enterprise: The Artist and the Literature of TravelJean-Honoré Fragonard  toured through Italy with his first patron and was tasked with making copies of the art work they visited. Fragonard did this through sketching, and these impressive sketches were on display. The twins were most interested in this exhibit and spent a good deal of time studying them all.



Here is the podcast on this exhibit:

At the end of this exhibit the museum had a place where visitors could sit and sketch pieces of art. This was a great idea that my kids loved. The museum provided paper, pencils, and clipboards to work on. The kids spent a very long time working on their art. How nice it is to just sit, study a piece of work, and draw what you see. It was very calming and reminded me that we need to do this more often.



When you finish sketching you can keep your work or hang it up for others to see. Autry decided to hang her’s up while the boys both wanted to keep theirs.


After exploring inside the museum we went to the sculpture garden outside. Due to the heat we did not stay long. Hopefully we will get back soon to explore it some more as it was very beautiful. We also need to come back to view all the other art we missed including a very impressive asian art collection.



So if you are in the Los Angeles area and you want to visit an affordable museum then I highly recommend the Norton Simon. It surpassed our expectations and was a nice way to spend an afternoon.


India Ink and Rice Paper – Art with Grandma



The twins do art every week with their Grandma at her studio. They love this time of coffee drinking, art talking, and art making. This week they and a few other students had fun working on rice paper. I was going to write a blog post on the topic, but I wasn’t sure exactly what they did, so I decided to have my mom write up a short post. She was happy to oblige.


This week in my teen art class I taught the kids how to let go of control and introduced them to moderately uncontrolled drawing! I had the students pick a a few long sticks from their yard or park or wherever the gardeners haven’t been over zealous and cleaned the yard of fallen branches. They brought them to my studio and I supplied india ink and rice paper. Traditional rice paper is an absorbent, white paper that feels almost like fabric. It happens to be very responsive to ink which is why I choose it. Although other papers do some of the same things but I have always liked the way rice paper feels.

I cut long sheets of it and put it on the floor and showed the kids what to do. Here’s what happened: they stood and dipped their long sticks in a tub of ink and without getting too close to the paper proceeded to create an image that reacted in a way they weren’t expecting. Some of them were very abstract and resembled to me, Joan Miro’s work, some resembled the artist Cy Twombly and others looked like self-portraits but in a whimsical way. They had fun and used up almost all of the roll of rice paper! Some of the surprises:





Sketches from the Girl

The girl has been spending a good deal of time sketching lately. It seems her art class has spurred on a new interest in drawing. I flipped through her sketch book today and wanted to share a few of her drawings.

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 I love seeing her work because they remind me a great deal of my brother’s work when he was young, especially this one of Tru.


I myself have no drawing ability at all. When I was little I thought I was adopted because all of my brothers could draw but I couldn’t. It didn’t quite seem fair to my younger self, but now I can say with 100% certainty that I wasn’t adopted. Looking at my daughter’s drawings proves it to me. 🙂

Art Class for Teens

Today I have a guest post by my mom who is teaching the twins an art class at her studio in Laguna Beach. She is having so much fun with it that she is thinking about offering it to more teens in the future which I think would be a great idea.


I have decided to teach an art class for teens this new year. I have started with my twin 14-year-old grandchildren to see how it goes. One is very creative, loves to draw, and indeed outshines me at her age. Her brother is creative in math and science and CAN NOT DRAW! and has told me so many times. Which is why I have put together a class I think they both will love, at least they get up in the morning without grumbling and that’s always a good sign. Just in case though, we take a short walk to my favorite coffee shop, order some coffee or hot chocolate, and walk back to my studio in Laguna Beach armed with our hot drinks before tackling an hour of art in my studio.

photo 3 (12)My loose schedule for the semester is this: we start each class with line drawings–blind contour, gestural lines, continuous lines. Right now we are doing blind contour sketches which is drawing an object with a continuous line and without looking at your paper. As they have found, it’s hard not to look at your sketch to see where you are and how you are doing. I have found this is a bit more difficult for someone who does a lot of drawing than it is for the one that doesn’t. This exercise loosens them up plus they’re fun; even for the math/science teens out there.

Here are some of their blind contour drawings.

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Autry takes her sketch book wherever she goes and has drawn a sketch of Tru. This is also a blind contour sketch but drawn in the car; a continuous line and I think, a wonderful, fluid pen and ink drawing:

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The next project we are working on is self-portraits (the selfies of the old days). I have shown them self-portraits of artists from the past as well as more modern artists–to show them different painting styles and let them know that there is never a right way or wrong way in doing this:




We’re in the middle of this project. I am having them do one quickly and then spend a little more time with another one. We will use several mediums in completing these.


During each class I try to introduce them briefly to a bit of art history (while they’re drinking their coffee or tea) as it relates to what we are doing at the moment and by showing some of the artists works and perhaps a bit about the artist that they may find interesting; for instance, Henri Matisse. When he couldn’t paint anymore he became successful doing cutouts. He called it scissor art.



We are trying our hand at this process. First we chose colors similar to what Matisse chose and painted heavy paper with these colors.


Next, we will cut pieces out and put them together and see what happens!

I also have planned a trip to the Laguna Art Museum where we will see an exhibit of Wayne Thiebaud. He is a working artist living in California. A sample of his work:



This is just some of the things I have planned. I want them to focus on creativity and invention. What I don’t want is to spend time on laborious projects in this first class. My goal is to have fun, look forward to getting together, and learn a little bit along the way.

This post is part of the February 2014 Let’s Homeschool High School Blog Hop.

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Geometric Art Project

DSCF6702I wanted to work on an art project with the kids this week, but I had no idea of what to do. I was pursuing the internet when I came across this fun geometric project. It seemed fairly simple, and I knew all three kids would enjoy working through it.

I headed off to the art store and purchased the required materials.


Then I found some old paint I had around the house to use as the base coat of the painting.

DSCF6645I set everything up on our table with a plastic tablecloth and then I took a moment to prepare myself for the upcoming art project. I love having the kids work on art, but the actual project seems to stress me out. Of course the twins are no problem now that they are older, but my youngest is still a handful. Anyway, after a moment of self-motivational talking, I called the kids in.

They started by painting a base coat on the canvas.


Lucky for me, my mom was around to help.


We let the base coat dry and then the kids laid down the tape in the pattern they wanted. I tried to help Decca with this step, but he didn’t need any assistance.


We also goofed off a little bit at this step in the project. Goofing off in optional.  🙂



The twins spent a good deal of time planning out this step. Autry took a minimalist approach, while Tru went in the opposite direction.



After this step the kids began painting inside their tape patterns. They mixed their paints to create whatever colors they needed for what they had in mind.


After letting this coat of paint dry the kids pealed the tape off to reveal the finished project.




They were all very happy with the finished painting.




Autry and iPads, part 2

My daughter is having so much fun with the iPad mini she received for Christmas. She especially enjoys Sketchbook Pro‘s new time-lapse feature, and I thought I would share one of her creations:

Also, my daughter declared this week that she is “one of the biggest Lord of the Rings nerds on the planet”, and so she just had to record this song on Garage Band, another of her favorite apps.

She wasn’t very happy with it, saying that her voice was too cracky and flat that day, but I still think it is amazing that she recorded the main part along with all the chords in the background.

iPads are a tool for learning in the 21st century, and for my daughter they are a tool for creating!