UPDATED APRIL 7
We hope these resources help to light the creative spark for individuals and families in addition to helping everyone find ways to relax, unwind, and UNPLUG. Check back every Tuesday for the latest and greatest! We will be adding new projects, art challenges, videos, features, and content for everyone, including teens and adults.
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A great way to start the day or as a segue into the next home school activity is a quick 15 minute sketchbook warm-up activity. Below are several prompts to get those creative juices flowing.
Drawing From Memory
Look out a window for exactly 1 minute. Observe and remember as much as you can. Do you see a bike? What color is out? How many parked cars do you see. Are they big or small and what color? Are there any people? How many trees? What kinds of plants? Are there any flowers? What does the sky look like? Are there any animals outside? After 1 minute, turn away from the window and create a sketch with as much detail as you can possibly remember. Now look back out the window and see how you did! *Bonus points: Draw a 2nd sketch that is from direct observation and compare the two drawings.
Draw a Robot or Droid
Using basic shapes, draw 3 robots or droids. Your first robot should use mostly squares and rectangles. Your second robot should use mostly circles and ovals. Your third robot should use a mix of squares, circles, ovals, rectangles, and triangles.
Design a Theme Park
If you could create your own theme park, what would it be called and what would it look like? What kinds of rides and activities would it have? Draw your vision for the most amazing theme park ever.
Into the Future
Draw how the world will look in the future. The future could be 10, 100, or 1,000 years from now. You choose the date. How will people dress? Will cities still look the same? Will we still be using cars and buses or something else? How will life be different?
Business Logo Design
If you were to open your own business, what kind of business would it be and what would it be called? Design an eye-catching logo for it. What colors should you use for your logo? For eample, if you were designing a logo for a pie company, would you want to use olive green and grey in it? Or would you want to use delicious looking colors you might associate with eating or happiness? How do you make your logo easy to read and interesting to look at?
Tiny Wonder Landscape
Imagine it is a beautiful spring day out and you are lying in the grass where you can see all of the many tiny wonders- ants scurrying around carrying food back to their colony, insects of all shapes and sizes, blossoming flowers, a lost baseball lying in the grass, and more! Draw what this tiny, secret landscape might look like close-up.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Draw yourself as a superhero and what you would do with your newfound superpowers.
Pick two animals that are very different. Now imagine if these two animals were combined to create a completely new animal. Draw what it would look like and the environment it would live in. Be sure to give it a name.
Your Own Private Island
Draw a map of your own private island with as much detail as possible! Does it have mountains, lakes, or rivers? Are there waterfalls or rainforests? Where is your living area? Is it a hut, a treehouse, a cabin, or a cave?
Deep Sea Aquarium or Fish Bowl
Have you ever imagined what lives in the deep seas or at the bottom of the ocean? Draw an aquarium or fish bowl FILLED with seldom-seen aquatic creatures! Your aquarium could include whales, angler fish, colossal squid, rock fish, sting rays, sea cucumbers, dragon fish, goblin sharks, or any of the amazing bioluminescent fish that live near the bottom of the ocean.
Imagine the most delicious meal you could ever possibly have for dinner, including dessert and draw a picture of it that is so real that you will feel full afterwards.
Blind Contour Line Drawing
Pick an object in your home. Put your pencil on the paper, look at the object, and draw it WITHOUT ever looking at your paper and WITHOUT ever picking your pencil up off the paper. This drawing should be one, continuous “Contour” line. If you look at your drawing before you finished it, you have immediately failed the challenge and must begin again!
Character Design Exercise
Draw a random shape. Make 5 random shapes total. Now transform each of these shapes into a unique character with personality.
We will be adding to our list of project ideas every Tuesday- so stay tuned for more! Most of these projects will use materials that can often be found at home. We can guarantee you that “Art Finds A Way!” If you don’t have the exact materials listed, there are often even better as-yet-undiscovered substitutions to be found out there. Work with what you have and you may accidentally come across an even better way of making. “Necessity is the mother of invention!”
Please send pics of your amazing art projects to Artpix@annarborartcenter.org
Zentangle drawings are an easy, meditative project. You can keep things simple or get very elaborate. There are no mistakes. The more patterns you add, the better it looks- okay, there’s a limit, but it’s really hard to surpass it. Even better, add some color. If you are sheltering-in-place with other people, you could each draw one, swap them, and color in the page.
Typography & Illustration
Find a favorite quote or song lyric and use typography to illustrate it. Typography is arranging and styling type to make it appealing to read. You can illustrate your quote using just typography or add images as well. It’s your choice!
RAISED SALT PAINTINGS
Feeling a little salty lately with all this indoor time? Get it all out on paper with this fun painting activity. It calls for liquid watercolors, but you can use watered down food coloring or watered down tempera paint.
Fabric Mache Bowls
Put some of your nicest fabric scraps to work and make a dazzling fabric mache bowl. We tested this out with our youngest group of Art Campers (5-7 year olds) and they made some great pieces. In that case, we had solo cups on-hand and used them instead of bowls to make fabric pencil holder cups. Feel free to experiment with different shapes and vessels beyond bowls. Narrow strips of fabric work well and they shouldn’t be too long- no more than 6 inches. It may take more than one layer of fabric mache. Let each layer of fabric dry before you add another. Thinner, natural fabrics, like cotton work best. If you have old cotton shirts or clothes, this is a great way to repurpose them.
“Taste Buds” Pairings
Designer and Illustrator Philip Tseng created a series of “Taste Buds” Pairings- food characters that have found their better half. His fun kawaii-style characters brightened our day. Some things are just better when they’re together. Try your hand at creating your own favorite food pairings!
MAKE THE LONGEST PAPER CHAIN EVER
This activity is guaranteed to keep going and going and going…
Light up your life with a little color, or a LOT of color! Use up all that scrap paper and junk mail- just make sure the paper is thick enough to hold a little weight. Give it a nice color pattern. Start out with some easy goals. A paper chain that’s 10 feet long, a chain that goes around the entire room, a chain that can go around the entire house… you can really take this as far as you would like it to go. The internet tells us that the Guiness Book of World Records lists the longest paper chain as 54.33 miles. So you should probably get started now.
Moveable Cat or Dog Character
Make some kinetic art today! Use the instructions and template below to create a moveable dog or cat character. You can also use the same premise and construction methods to create an entirely different character that is all your own. Cardstock or posterboard works great for this (if you do print the template out, you can glue it right onto it). Construction paper will work too, but may be more fragile. What are you waiting for? GET “MOVING”!
Sew Your Own Face Mask with a Filter Pocket
Here’s a pretty handy tutorial for anyone with a sewing background or who aspires to take up sewing. The link below has great instructions and a video on how to make a well-crafted mask that will allow you to use a replaceable filter with it.
Torn Paper Collages
Torn paper collages are a great activity for kids, teens and adults. Magazines, newspapers, junk mail ads, paper remnants from craft projects, etc. work well for this project. You can make up your own design or work from a reference photo, but it’s always helpful to first sketch out the image on your paper before starting your collage.Tear up bits of paper by hand or use scissors if you prefer. You may choose pieces of paper that only contain color or you can compose with papers that have both color and writing or patterns on them to give your artwork more texture. This is an easy way to relax, enjoy, and unplug!
Create a stunning visual poem by singling out and visually highlighting words or phrases on a page from an old book or newspaper. These poems can be deep and meaningful or light-hearted and fun. Your illustrations can be literal or abstract, simple or complex. You choose!
Calling All Pancake Artists!
Wondering what to have for breakfast? Dial up your first meal of the day with some color and creativity! Add a little food coloring to your pancake batter. Pouring each color of batter into a squeeze bottle is great if you have them, but you can also use whatever containers you have at home- a liquid measuring cups, empty-clean-and-repurposed condiment squeeze bottles or water bottles, a turkey baster, etc. No food coloring on-hand or prefer not to use it? No problem! The link of examples also features some images of pancake designs made without food coloring. We hope you will share with us your culinary creativity and send pics of your pancake art to email@example.com!
These drawings may start out sweet and innocent, but a terrifying surprise awaits when you unfold the paper! Let loose your creativity and explore how to design your own monstrous creature or character!
Painting with Bubbles
Who doesn’t love bubbles? You might— if you do this indoors, lol! So take this project OUTSIDE and enjoy all that bubble painting has to offer. We did this with our summer camp and the kids had a blast! Word to the wise, tempera paint may be a little less “stainy” on the skin than food coloring (#lifelessons) -unless you’re using red. Red with any type of paint likes to linger. Experiment with using one straw to blow bubbles or even tape a few together. If you don’t have straws, you can always use bubble wands or a water bottle cut off 1/3 of the way down from the top. You can put the bubble mixture in cups or in a muffin tin. For an extra “burst” of creativity, mask the paper with cut-out shapes and blow bubbles around the mask. Explore and experiment!
Mini Golf Course Design: Indoor or Outdoor
As a 16 year veteran of summer camp programs, if you want something that will keep your kids busy and requires relatively little effort on your part (at least for kids ages eight and up)… mini golf course design is a real winner. This can be as artful as your kids want to make it. Cardboard, large cardboard tubes, old pool noodles, and random upcycled materials are your friends. Truly, you can make a mini golf course out of just about anything. The whole effort is a balance of artistic design and engineering. If you don’t have a golf club handy, no worries. You can make one out of found materials or cardboard. If you don’t want to go big, you can go TINY and make a tabletop version that you can play with a marble. For an extra challenge (or strategic advantage!), have them spin around ten times before they golf.
Sculpt with Kinetic Sand
Kinetic sand can be a little messy, so it may be better as an outdoor activity or in some sort of deep container indoors. It is easy to make, holds some form (like beach sand does), and the squish of the sand is strangely satisfying! We found that you will occasionally, over time need to rehydrate this recipe with more of the solution. If you see colored kinetic sand on the web, it was probably made with pre-colored craft sand. Regular, plain brown sand from the sandbox works just fine. So whip up a batch and sculpt away! Note: the recipe is way at the very bottom of the webpage listed below.
Free Youth and Adult Drawing Lessons are made possible by a partnership between the Ann Arbor Art Center and the Ann Arbor District Library.
YOUTH DRAWING LESSONS
INCREDIBLE TREEHOUSE ILLUSTRATIONS
Join Payton and learn how to design and add some dimension to the perfect treehouse of your dreams! All you will need is a sheet of white paper, a pencil, an eraser, and either crayons, markers or colored pencils- your choice! If you have a fine black marker available, that’s helpful too. As always, if you don’t have everything on this list- don’t worry. Feel free to be creative and find substitutions for any supplies you may not have on hand.
YOUTH DRAWING LESSON
SILLY SPRING BUNNIES
Join Payton and learn how to make a fresh, fun, and silly spring bunny drawing! Practice using linework to create texture and use bold, bright scenery in the background to provide contrast with the black and white bunny. All you will need is a sheet of white paper, a pencil, an eraser, a black marker, and either crayons, markers or colored pencils- your choice! As always, if you don’t have everything on this list- don’t worry. Feel free to be creative and find substitutions for any supplies you may not have on hand.
ADULT DRAWING LESSON
Join Payton and learn how to draw a beautiful, artistic, patterned landscape! All you will need is a pencil, eraser, drawing paper, ink pen (you can use one pen or use several with varying line weights if you have them) and colored pencils. As always, if you don’t have everything on this list- don’t worry. Feel free to be creative and find substitutions for any supplies you may not have on hand.
ADULT DRAWING LESSON
Join Payton to learn about Abstract Expressionism and make artwork that is inspired by the artists we discuss in class.You’ll want to have a pencil, drawing paper, ink pens, colored pencils, and oil pastels. As always, if you don’t have everything on this list- don’t worry. Feel free to be creative and find substitutions for any supplies you may not have on hand.
Our INCREDIBLE Art Challenges are for EVERYONE!
This is not just for kids. We encourage all ages; kids, teens, and adults to join in.
This week’s challenge:
“Not All Heroes Wear Capes”
Outdoor Signs and Cards for Essential Service Workers
As many of us shelter-in-place, there are many others who have to go into work every day to perform the essential services needed to keep us all going. Doctors, nurses, grocers, pharmacists, sanitation workers, truckers, critical manufacturing, law enforcement personnel, first responders, farmers, public works and infrastructure personnel, journalists, bankers, communications and information technology employees, community-education-and-government-based employees, and many, many more. Show them how much we appreciate them each and every day by creating an incredible, artistic sign to put in your yard or window or by creating a card for them. The Art Center will post ALL your artwork to share online and to send out some love and support to all of the essenital service workers who are making sacrifices to serve our communities.
Send your Incredible Art Challenge images to Artpix@annarborartcenter.org by Monday, April 13!
Archived Art Challenges
Positive Sidewalk Chalk Messages & Drawings
If the spring weather is amazing and you are able to get some outdoor time while still social distancing, grab some sidewalk chalk and leave positive, inspirational messages or drawings to brighten up the day of those around you. For examples or inspiration on ways to do this with sidewalk chalk, look here. Be sure to check out the artwork of local street artist, David Zinn, and the chalk art surprises he creates for the public to discover and enjoy around Ann Arbor.
Here are a few fun games, including some of our favorite crowd-pleasers that we do with our Summer Art Camps. Stay tuned- we will be posting many more!
Design Your Own Board Game
Have you played about all the games of Uno a normal human being can handle? It could be time to make your own new game. Update and put a new twist on an existing game or come up with something completely new and exciting! One of the best things about board games is the artwork. Who doesn’t have that image of the candyland or clue gameboards burned into their brain, or for the older crowd, Settlers of Catan. Aesthetics count. Draw or sculpt your own game characters or tokens. Make your own spinners or dice. Make your game look just as much fun as it is to play! Note: The layout ideas in the pinterest board are just a way to start brainstorming. The majority of them are not really ideal for printing, nor is it easy to find ones that are actually free and easy to print. Making your own is always better!
This game is a little like a drawing version of Mad-Libs. It is most fun playing with 2 or more people, but you can also play individually. Get ready to create the silliest, most random comic ever! A very BIG thanks to one of our long-time summer camp staff members for sharing this with us. This was always a big hit with his students!
Add a little randomness to your drawings. Roll a die for the first category, the head, and draw the head that you land on. Roll a die for the second category, and add the eyes that you land on to your drawing and so forth. See what crazy creatures you come up with. Check out the link with more dice rolling games and try them all! For more challenge, create your own dice roll game and hand it off to another person in your home to play.
Circle Art Challenge
This is a fun and quick activity! The goal of the game is to fill up as many circles with circular artwork as possible within a set amount of time. It forces young artists to think quickly and sketch fast, without becoming to self-conscious about a sketch. Some of the best ideas come when you don’t have time to overthink things. So print off a few sheets (or draw a bunch of circles if you don’t have access to a printer) and challenge them to sketch in as many circles as possible, or even fill the entire page of circles, within 5, 10, or 15 minutes. Or so several rounds of the same time period and try to outdo oneself each time.
Monster Cootie Catcher Drawings
What child (… or adult) doesn’t (still) love cootie catchers? Here is an extra fun one! View the instructions in the link below for specifics, but players will use the cootie catcher to randomly select characteristics that they must then include in their monster drawing. For extra fun, have multiple family members draw a monster using the same characteristics and compare your drawings. Do your “scared, oozing blob monsters with three eyes look the same or very different? If you are really feeling creative, up the game and design your own monster cootie catcher with different and more challenging characteristics so that you might have to draw a “musically-inclined, middle-aged hipster monster with feathers and wearing a bow-tie”. I mean, this could get crazy.
Surrealist Drawing Game
Always a fan favorite, the Surrealist Drawing Game can keep kids busy for ages- at least a solid 15 minutes. Kidding- it’s usually longer. It can definitely be addictive. For this game you will need 2 or more family members to play. Here’s the short version of instructions: You fold up a piece of paper into 3 or 4 sections. The first person draws a head and extends the neck lines just a little bit into the next panel and then folds over their panel so no one can see it. The next person draws their section of the body, referencing the neck lines left on their panel by the first person and so forth. When everyone is finished, you unfold the paper and a ridiculous random creature is revealed! For full details on how to play the game, click on the link below. To extend the activity, have kids add color to their creation.
Rachel DeRocher- Education Coordinator
This artistic, storytelling blog captures the urban views people see in both everyday life and while traveling, sketches that hinge on what is seen from direct observation. Sketches like these remind me of the intimate moments we can have in seemingly mundane or impersonal places.
Kate Robertson- Director of Education
This is a great resource for any art lover. Interesting articles, reviews and commentary for visual, performance and literary arts. Always on my weekly check-in list.
Alison Franco- Gallery Coordinator
Artists upload their images to the site and patrons can purchase stickers, clothing, journals, etc with real original artwork printed on it. Also good for artists as a means of exposure. Artists get a cut when purchases are made.
Chelsea O’Hayer- Education Coordinator
When I need some inspo for projects I go to the dickblick project page!
Mike Wolf- Exhibitions Coordinator
This is a project by the Chicago based group, Temporary Services. Their work has had a significant influence on the work I’ve done since earning my arts degree. Half Letter Press is a great resource for free and affordable zines that document alternative creative practices.
Jeremy Wheeler- Marketing Manager
A few years back Behance become *the* portfolio site for creatives to share their work. It helps that it’s run by Adobe so integration into their family of programs is seamless. Most importantly, Behance is frequented by professionals all around the world and thus the odds of getting your work seen by the right people is far greater a normal website. For lovers of art, it’s a rabbit hole of great stuff to feed your eyeballs.
Screen reader support enabled.
Marie Klopf- President & CEO
In these challenging times, I think many of us have been comfort snacking to some degree. I think we could all use a five minute break to check out these light-hearted and creative food-based masterpieces.
Andrew Cohen- Content Specialist
Magnum Photos is an artists’ cooperative of some of the best photographers in the world, past and present. One of my go-to’s for inspiration and perspective.
Marc McCay- Ceramics Studio Manager
This website is a great resource for all things Charles and Ray Eames. I use it all the time for research and for inspiration.Here’s a great example from the site https://www.eamesoffice.com/education/chair-camp/
– Development Manager
I regularly watch their videos as a source of inspiration, a glimpse behind-the-scenes, to learn something new, or to take a trip without leaving home.