Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Giving the Gift of Art

Did you know children's artwork can make great gifts for family and friends? You can mat and frame it, or scan it and turn it into notecards, coffee mugs, or various other things.

Here are some past and present pieces of art that we have given as gifts:

My son won best of show at the county fair for this photo (see below). We matted it in lime green, and framed it in black, and it was given as a Christmas gift to his half-brother. (We found this little guy on our mailbox--he's sitting on my fingertip)

I won second place at the county fair with this photo. I matted it in maroon, then gave it to my grandmother for Christmas, who would sit and look at it for hours. It was so sweet!

After our first time attending Barry Stebbing's awesome 3-Day Art Class, we came home and painted this. My daughter was seven when she painted this with acrylic paints, blending all her own colors from the primaries, practicing some of the brush strokes and layering techniques.  See that "Best of Show" prize. That was for the entire paintings category--about 200 paintings. There was no children's category. She beat the adults.  This was given to my husband's mother as a Christmas gift, and it is hanging in her living room. My  version  and my son's version were also given as gifts... don't remember to whom. Seriously, folks. Watch for his art class in your area, and GO!

 Here are our three paintings:  Mine, my son who was 11 at the time, and my daughter who was 7 at the time:

My son took this photo while salmon fishing on Lake Michigan with his Dad and Grandpa. It won first place at the fair. It was framed and given to my grandmother. When she passed away, we "inherited" it back, and now it is hanging in my son's room (see below).

My daughter snapped this photo when she was eight years old. This is my husband's mother. We were at a museum, and she is standing in front of a lighted picture from the Hubble telescope.  This photo won first place at the fair.  We gave it to my husband's sister as a gift (since this is her mother, too!)
I took this on Daytona Beach in 2004. That is my daughter and her cousin, seeing the ocean for the first time. This was given to my brother as a gift (his daughter in the photo). It also won second place at the fair!

This is an acrylic painting of a blue whale, done by Oli last year when he was three (again, we mixed our own colors). We all did this painting. The one my 7yo did was framed and sent to my husband's father as a gift--he lives on the beach in Mexico. An appropriate place for a whale painting, don't you think?  Haven't found a home for this one, yet. Maybe a bathroom?
My daughter and I did this watercolor and acrylic painting last year. I made this one (above) for my dad and his wife for their anniversary. My daughter's version (below), is still waiting to be given to the right friend or relative.

We all did a set of these cute cat abstracts last year (5x7) in oil pastels.  These are mine... I'm thinking of scanning them to make notecards. My daughter's set were given to my stepmother for Christmas--they are hanging in her bedroom. My son's set (he was 3), were sent to an aunt.

This cute oil pastel abstract was my "teaching" work as my 3yo son followed along and made his own.  His turned out AWESOME--better than mine. It is framed and hanging at his grandpa and grandma's house.
Yesterday's art project--in anticipation of this Christmas. This was done by my 8yo. With oil pastels.

This one was done by the 4yo. I framed it to hang over our manger this year for Christmas, adding to our family Christmas decorations.

This is my daughter's more "delicate" version.

This was my "teaching" version... the one I created as the kids followed along.

This one was done by the 5yo.
I'm bummed I couldn't find the photo of my daughter's beautiful nativity painting, that now hangs in my dad's house. I'll snap a photo of it when we are visiting there for Thanksgiving next week!

We're not artists here--just your average homeschooling family. We don't have a special art area or even massive hoards of art supplies.  We have five colors of acrylic paint: Red, blue, yellow, white, and black; and one large cup of various sized paint brushes with different tips. We have one big set of 8 watercolor cakes. We have Prang colored pencils (just the basic 12 colors). And we have crayola markers. The little kids each have a set of Crayola Oil Pastels, and the older kids each have a set of Pentel oil pastel.

We make ALL of our art with that--blending the paints into custom colors, blending the colored pencils and markers.

We took Barry Stebbing's 3-Day Art class twice. It was amazing. It got us blending paints, and using different brush strokes. He also taught us how to blend using basic colors of colored pencils and markers.

We get our ideas by looking up paintings and artwork on the internet, or from an illustration we see in a book or on a card. We would never SELL these things--we're just artists appreciating good art, except we can't go to a famous museum to sit and paint. We find something pretty, then we just "go for it."  Oil pastels are so easy. We watched one tutorial on Youtube, and then realized we didn't really need more.  They color and blend beautifully. 

Here is an oil pastel done out of one of our favorite children's books, "Seals on Wheels."  This one was done by my 4yo in his art journal.  It would make a nice note card, or framed for a baby gift with a matching  blanket!

Anyone can be an artist!  I know it. Because if we can, you can!  Need some great gift ideas? Start painting! Or shooting. Or drawing. Or coloring.


  1. This is a fantastic idea for gift giving! I would say that your family is definitely gifted on the ART side!!!

    Great and inspiring post!

  2. Thanks, Debbie--but I was hoping to convey in my post that I don't think we are talented or gifted artists here! I was hoping to say--anyone can do this stuff! I did think of you because your kids take GREAT photos!