Posts Tagged Art books

Embrace Your Secret Artist

Some time ago, a friend from grade school texted me a photo of an old news clipping he had found among his grandfather’s papers. It was a group photo of my friend and I and a couple of other kids who had won our fourth grade art contest. I was surprised at how clearly I remembered that day and the days the leading up to it when we worked on our pieces. All the time spent deciding what to make, trying to get the lines right, choosing the colors, and my own surprise that it was shaping up to be a pretty decent picture. I also remember that winning was a total shock, since I never thought of myself as particularly good at art. I even remember the prize – a Nestle Crunch bar – my very first, and how I doled it out to myself, eating little pieces of it for days to prolong the joy.

What I don’t remember is why I quit drawing and coloring and making art after that. Why I don’t have a single memory of art making after that day other than a vague sense of being really miserable in a middle school drawing class years later.

Which is why I’m a little surprised to find myself now, after all of these years, picking up pens and colored pencils, and even watercolors again. Mostly, I’m doodling. Drawing funny little cartoon animals, trees, and swirls of watercolor that sometimes look like something you’d see in the world, but mostly look like a blend of colors.  Safe, small snippets of artish somethings that are (dare I say it?) kind of fun.

Which got me thinking that there must be some other kid (or adult) out there who might be looking for a kind of fun, totally safe way to play around with those pens and crayons and paints again. So, I decided to take a look at some fun art books for kids. Books that might help you or someone you know embrace the secret artist inside.


Art Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Adventures in Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Paper, and Mixed Media-For Budding Artists of All Ages by Susan Schwake (Author) Rainer Schwake (Photographer)

Art Lab for Kids is a refreshing source of wonderful ideas for creating fine art with children. This step-by-step book offers 52 fun and creative art projects set into weekly lessons, beginning with drawing, moving through painting and printmaking, and then building to paper collage and mixed media.

Each lesson features and relates to the work and style of a contemporary artist and their unique style. The labs can be used as singular projects or to build up to a year of hands-on fine art experiences. Grouped by medium, the labs are set up loosely to build skills upon the previous ones; however, you can begin anywhere.

Have fun exploring:

  • drawing by creating a whimsical scene on a handmade crayon scratchboard.
  • painting by using watercolors and salt to create a textured landscape.
  • printmaking by using lemons, celery, mushrooms, and other produce to make colorful prints.
  • paper by creating an expressive self-portrait using pieces of colored tissue paper.
  • mixed media by making insects from patterned contact paper and watercolor pencils.

Art Lab for Kids: Express Yourself: 52 Creative Adventures to Find Your Voice Through Drawing, Painting, Mixed Media, and Sculpture by Susan Schwake 

Art Lab for Kids: Express Yourself contains 52 brand new original art projects that will draw out each young artist as they discover their style, document their thoughts, and build confidence in their unique perspective. Each lesson asks questions and offers personal choices while encouraging diverse approaches and creative thinking.

One of the most important gifts we can give children is to nurture their creativity and allow them to express themselves freely. There’s no better way to express yourself than through creative art projects. This is especially true for children because it gives them an outlet to explore their developing interests and strengths.

The Colorful Beasts project, which incorporates discussion of endangered animals with the Blue Rider art movement, asks children to use torn colored tissue paper and glue to create an expressive representation of a favorite vulnerable animal. In I Built This City, children imagine and build their own cityscape using columns of newspaper text to make buildings on top of a watercolor painted background, and detailed with marker.

Many projects include varying examples and executions of the activity to illustrate and reinforce the open-ended nature of the labs, inspiring children to embrace and share their own voice.

Give children the great gift of creative self-exploration with Art Lab for Kids: Express Yourself.



All the Things: How to Draw Books for Kids by Alli Koch

Fun 5-minute drawing lessons for kids ages 6-12

Perfect for budding artists and kids who have never drawn before, this beginner drawing book will teach your kid how to draw cool things in no time! Author and professional artist Alli Koch’s kid friendly, mini drawing lessons will help your child practice their basic art skills and teach them how to draw with confidence. This book is perfect for kids 8-12, but kids as young as 5 will be able to easily follow along as well. From cupcakes, to unicorns, to cars, and cats, your kid will be drawing all sorts of things that they’ll want to show off to their friends, or color afterward and hang on their room! No experience required!

  • Easy-to-Follow Instructions: Simple steps and diagrams from start to finish
  • 42 Cool Projects: Learn how to draw an ice cream cone, fruit, castle, spaceship, cactus, airplane, animals, and so many more cute and cool things!
  • Layflat Binding: Making it easier for kids to keep the book open as they follow along
  • Perforated Pages and Premium Paper: Easily removable pages that are thick and sturdy
  • 9 x 9 Size: Big pages so your kid has no problem seeing each step


Scavenger Art: Creative challenges for curious kids by Lexi Rees (Author) Molly O’Donoghue (Illustrator)

Scavenger hunts are fun.

Drawing is fun.

Put them together for SCAVENGER ART!

This unique art-based activity book includes 52 scavenger hunts designed to

  • encourage curious minds
  • spark creativity
  • practice mindfulness
  • develop drawing skills


Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell 

A stunning and timely creative call-to-arms combining four extraordinary written pieces by Neil Gaiman illustrated with the striking four-color artwork of Chris Riddell.

“The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.”–Neil Gaiman

Drawn from Gaiman’s trove of published speeches, poems, and creative manifestos, Art Matters is an embodiment of this remarkable multi-media artist’s vision–an exploration of how reading, imagining, and creating can transform the world and our lives.

Art Matters bring together four of Gaiman’s most beloved writings on creativity and artistry:

  • “Credo,” his remarkably concise and relevant manifesto on free expression, first delivered in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings
  • “Make Good Art,” his famous 2012 commencement address delivered at the Philadelphia University of the Arts
  • “Making a Chair,” a poem about the joys of creating something, even when words won’t come
  • “On Libraries,” an impassioned argument for libraries that illuminates their importance to our future and celebrates how they foster readers and daydreamers

Featuring original illustrations by Gaiman’s longtime illustrator, Chris Riddell, Art Matters is a stirring testament to the freedom of ideas that inspires us to make art in the face of adversity, and dares us to choose to be bold.


I hope you feel inspired to grab some supplies and make some art. If you have any great resources or books to help all of us embrace our secret artist, please share in the comments.