Tag: nature


Campers are having a blast in wildly fun and safe art camps, this summer! Check out some of the action…

Tween Sewing


As we reflect on the past week, we share your feelings of heartbreak, anger, sadness, sorrow, and desire to change the injustices that Black communities continue to endure. We must do more to support social change, anti-racism, and the fight against the ongoing struggles of Black people for equality on a local and national level; this work is unfinished and ongoing.

We commit to furthering racial equality. We will uphold the values of welcoming and embracing all members of our community. We pledge to not just offer this as a statement. We believe that art is instrumental in the fight for equality. Our curriculum and student resources focus on art and artists from beyond the traditional European and white American canon, inclusive of Black voices, with sensitivity to appropriation. At the core of our work is our responsibility to represent and amplify these diverse voices, broadening the traditional framework.

There is more work yet to do. Creating and implementing curriculum only goes so far if we are not doing everything we can to create a space that is welcoming to all students and uplifts all voices. We are committed to professional development that ensures ongoing attention to anti-bias training so that our studios are spaces where everyone feels safe, seen, and valued. As we move into our 17th summer we reaffirm our commitment to listen and to grow with perpetual awareness. We are committed to the Black Lives Matter movement and all voices working for racial justice.

With Love & Kindness,
Philly Art Center

Tin Foil Printing

Ages 2+


  • Sheets of tin foil: about 6”x 6” (size can be adjusted!!)
  • Tape
  • Markers 
  • Damp paper towels or rags
  • Water
  • Paper

Fact: Monoprinting is a type of printmaking where the artist creates a plate that will be printed and create a one of a kind print: no repeats! 


  1. Tape your tinfoil down to secure it. This is your printing plate. 
  2. Using markers, draw right onto your tin foil: the marker may not show up perfectly. That is okay and it’s all part of the process!
  3. Take your damp paper towel and gently wet your piece of paper so that the paper is damp but not dripping wet 

Helpful Hint: have water nearby so you can re-wet your paper towel or rag as needed 

  1. Press your paper onto your tin foil plate and gently rub it down
  2. Lift paper up: voila! You have created a monoprint!!!

To repeat this process and make multiple prints, wipe down your tin foil plate and draw again! 

Worry Dolls

Ages 3+

Inspired by tiny, handmade Guatemalan worry dolls, we’ll create our own dolls using materials from home.

Fun Fact: Worry Dolls, according to legend, help ease worries and fears. A child tells the doll their worries, places the dolls under their pillow, and wakes up with wisdom to conquer their concerns!


  • For the base of doll, lots of creative options: an old fashioned clothespin, a wooden dowel, a wooden spoon, plastic utensils, a marker, empty travel-sized toiletry bottles, scrunched up tin foil 
  • Scissors
  • Strips of paper (about 1” x 5”)
  • Markers and other coloring materials 
  • Glue
  • Tape 
  • Thread
  • Wire 
  • Yarn
  • Pipe cleaners 
  • Fabric scraps (old t-shirts, etc.)

Choose Your Base + Your Character

  1. The base/body of your doll should be a simple, cylindrical-esque, sturdy material that you don’t mind taping and gluing onto! These dolls aren’t “realistic” so keep that in mind!
  2. Something like a wooden dowel, a clothespin, or small wooden spoon is great since it can have paper and materials wrapped around it!
  3. WHO is your doll? Maybe they have superpowers to keep you safe! Will you make a doll that represents each member of your family? A group of friends? 

Dress Your Doll (Hint: Teacher Teal’s photos are a great reference for this!)

  1. The following materials can be cut into strips: any kind of paper (magazine paper is fun too!), foil, even paper towels! 
  2. Start with your first strip: tape or glue one end down onto your doll’s base and wrap your strip around! Adhere the other end. 
    —>Remember: leave a blank area for the doll’s face! 
  3. This wrapping can be done with multiple strips of many widths: have fun with it!
  4. Wrap yarn or a soft material around as well to give your doll’s clothing some extra security (some materials may be able to be knotted with the help of experienced hands).

Add Details:

  1. Draw a face onto your doll using markers or paint!
  2. Have wire or pipe cleaners? Wrap one piece around the doll’s midsection to create arms! (Toothpicks work too!)
  3. Yarn or thread can but cut up and glued down to create hair

Surrealist Family Photo Shoot

All ages!

FUN FACT: Surrealism was an artistic (and literary) movement in which artists created art that was both illogical and surprising. Take Magritte’s “Son of Man”, 1964 as an example. The artist painted  a realistic man with a granny smith apple covering his face. What do YOU think it could mean? 


  • Camera: your phone camera will do!
  • Yourself + your family! 
  • Kooky objects you have around your house 

Inspired by Magritte, let’s get SURREAL! Pose with objects around you that perhaps make no sense at all. 

  1. Search around your home for a variety of objects that stand out to you
  2. Work with your family to pose in different ways (you could be sitting, standing, holding a crazy pose!) 
  3. Hold and/or place your chosen objects in ways that seem strange or even make you laugh
  4. Designate one person as your photographer! 
  5. Pose in different ways, switch out different objects
  6. Are you trying to tell a story with your objects or are you happy with your photoshoot making no sense at all?
  7. The Surrealists were great at letting go and allowing the random to happen! 

Take it a step further (Ages 5 +) :

  1. Use your photos as inspiration for your own surrealist drawing or painting
  2. Get out those drawing materials and, using your photos as a reference, draw a scene! 

Funky Wrapped Letters

4+ (young kiddos will need help with cutting)


  • Marker, Pen, or Pencil
  • Cardboard : ANY kind! Could be from a delivery or even an empty food box → Note that thinner cardboard will be easier to cut with scissors. BUT thicker cardboard can work! If you have an exacto knife, grownups can really have fun cutting out letters!  → The size is up to you! Older artists may be able to focus on creating a larger letter while your littler artists may want to scale down! 
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Yarn


  • Thread
  • T-Shirt Strips 
  • Glitter
  • Paint
  • Glue 

Cut Out Your Letter

  1. Choose a letter– any letter! Will it be the first letter in your name? The first letter in your dog or cat’s name? A letter that you think looks cool?
  2. Using a drawing tool, draw this letter nice and big on your cardboard in block or bubble letter style (see photo for reference!) 
  3. Cut out your letter along the lines: perfection not necessary!

Wrap It Up! 

  1. Take your yarn and cut a LONG piece: at least 24”
  2. Tape one end of your yarn to your letter: this will secure it in place so you can wrap your yarn easily
  3. Start wrapping your yarn around your letter: almost as though you’re making a sweater for it! 
  4. Wrap around and around so eventually you can’t even see the cardboard underneath
  5. Run out of yarn? No problem: cut yourself another piece and repeat

HELPFUL HINT: Embroidery thread also works! Got an old t-shirt? Cut it into long, skinny strips and try that too! 

Extra Fun: 

  • Spread glue on top of your yarn or on your cardboard and sprinkle glitter on top
  • Add paint! Paint on your cardboard or right on your yarn!

Silky Smooth DIY Play Dough


  • 2 cups of corn starch (or flour, but cornstarch is ideal)
  • 1 cup lotion: any kind you and your family love!
  • Big bowl
  • Measuring cups


  • Glitter
  • Food Coloring

Mix It Up 

  • Pour cornstarch into your bowl
  • Pour lotion and mix, mix, mix it up with your hands (you can use a spoon or spatula for any artists that don’t like the feel of the mixture in this state!) 
  • Your mixture may be either too dry or to lotiony: no problem. Have extra cornstarch and lotion on hand to add in as needed
  • You want this to be soft and smushy yet able to hold a shape! 

Extra Fun

  • Sprinkle in some glitter and/or a couple drops of food coloring to really jazz up your dough
  • What will you create with your dough? Can you mix colors together to create new colors?
  • Check out how Teacher Teal created a whole scene with her dough!

Plastic Wrap Stained “Glass”

Ages 3+ 

Fun Fact: Stained glass may go back as far as 2700 BCE! Human-made colored glass beads were discovered amongst Ancient Egyptian artifacts!

Tom Fruin, a contemporary stained glass artist, brings a modern twist to stained glass. 
Watertower, 2012, photo by Robert Banat


  • 12” x 16” piece of plastic wrap: size can be adjusted to your liking! 
  • Tape: painters or scotch
  • Glue
  • Food Coloring
  • Paint Brush and/or qtips 

Create Your Base

  • Tape your plastic wrap to a flat surface: the tape will ensure your plastic wrap doesn’t wrinkle and move around as you work
  • Make it as flat as you can but some bumps are no big deal! Remember: artmaking doesn’t have to be perfect! 
  • Gather your glue, food coloring, and your painting tools 


  • There are many ways to set up your paints but we suggest using a few small containers!
  • Pour a cherry sized glob of glue into your separate containers
  • Drip a couple drops of your food coloring onto your glue, creating different colors in each container! Stir ‘em up!
  • Paint paint paint right on your plastic wrap! Painting blobs and getting messy can be encouraged, just remember the thicker the glue, the longer the dry time.
  • The fun of this is that it can appeal to all ages: little ones can make marks and lines while your older artists can really think about color mixing, pattern creating, and/or imagery! 

Dry Time:

  • This may take a day or two to dry. If you can set it out in the sun to dry, even better.
  • When dry, hang your stained glass creation up and watch the colors glisten! 

Extra Fun!

Cut up strips of construction paper: tape to the edges of your masterpiece to make a frame

Make Your Own Sidewalk Chalk Paint!

Ages 2+ 


  • Cornstarch 
  • Water
  • Food Coloring
  • Cupcake tray or other small containers 
  • Paintbrushes 

Make The Paint:

  • In a bowl, mix your cornstarch and water in a 1:1 ratio (having at least 1 cup of this mixture will allow for you to create many colors!) 
  • Pour your mixture into a container of your choosing: a cupcake tray is a great option since you can evenly pour your mixture right into the separate compartments (Teacher Teal used an ice cube tray!) 
  •  Add in food coloring to create your color palette

Helpful Hint: Remember that red, blue, and yellow are primary colors. If you mix red + yellow you will get orange. Yellow + blue = green. Red + blue = Purple

  • Have a blast mixing up your own special colors : stir it up well so the cornstarch and color is evenly distributed within the mixture! 
  • This paint is ready to use RIGHT AWAY so head outside and color the world! 

NOTE: As your paint dries, the color will brighten!

Abstract Shadow Designs

Ages 3+

What You’ll Need:

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Coloring material of your choice: markers or paint!
  • Crayons (optional) to do watercolor techniques
  • Your best shadow finding eyeballs!

Creating Your Design: Let in The Sunshine!

  • Search around your house, your garden, your sidewalk
  • Look for areas where the sun is shining down and casting the shadows of various objects in interesting ways on the sidewalk or your floor: maybe you see shapes or lines or cool blobs!
  • Take your paper and place it down right on those shadows and TRACE them.
  • When you remove your paper: what do you see?
  • The shadows you’ve traced have created abstract shapes or maybe even some recognizable shapes
  • Let’s add COLOR: choose markers, crayons, paint, WHATEVER YA GOT! Color in your shadow design.

Extra Challenge: can you find shadows that look like letter(s) in your name?

Toilet Paper Roll Portraits

In light of everything going on, we were feeling inspired by Junior Fritz Jacquet

Fun Fact: Fritz Jacquet uses toilet paper rolls only to create his expressive portraits!!! He then covers them with shellac, a type of resin, to give them their finish! 

Work by Junior Fritz Jacquet and photography by Matthieu Gauchet


  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Drawing materials that will show well on cardboard: markers, paint, food coloring 
  • Water in medium sized bowl
  • Tin foil pieces
  • Construction paper pieces
  • Scissors 
  • Tape or Glue 
  • Small bowls for paints/food coloring 
  • Brushes (if using wet color materials)

If you have no TP rolls:

  • Stapler
  • Cardstock or construction paper (about 7” x 7” : size can be adjusted!) 

Cardstock/Construction Paper Tube:

  • No TP roll? NO PROBLEM!
  • Take your cardstock or construction paper, roll it up into tube shape, and staple along the seam  

Make it Malleable! 

  • Our cardboard toilet paper rolls (or cardstock rolls if you’ve gone that route!) need to be softened so we can really pinch, poke, and form them to our liking. 
    NOTE: If you’ve made your tube out of construction paper, it will not need to be soaked, just do a QUICK dunk, as the paper is thinner! 
  • Fill up your bowl or container with water and soak your roll for at least one minute! 
  • Your roll should feel soft, a BIT squishy, but not so wet that it is falling apart 

Pinch and Poke

  • Pinch and poke your roll so you can start to see wrinkles, creases, and funky shapes that look like a crooked nose or a stern brow line! 
  • Have fun with this: let the materials surprise you with the outcome! 
  • Can you see a mouth forming? Eye sockets? 

Helpful Hint: Once formed, let your cardboard character dry out for a bit so it will take the glue and tape better. Got a hair dryer? Use that to expedite the drying process! 

Finishing Touches

  • Cut tinfoil (and/or construction paper!)  to add funky hair, glimmering eyeballs, or clothing
  • Glue or tape into place!
  • Add color to your character using watered down food coloring, paint, or markers
  • See Teacher Teal’s photos and videos for step by step imagery! 

Thaumatrope: An Optical Illusion at Your Fingertips!

Ages 4+ (Littler artists will need help stapling!)

Fun Fact: Thaumatrope literally translates to “wonder turner.” These thrilling devices have been around since the mid 1800s. 

What You’ll Need:

  • Paper: cardstock, construction, or thicker paper works best but regular ol’ paper will be fine too
  • Scissors 
  • Straws or skewers (or anything sturdy that can be held vertically) – popsicle sticks work, too, but are harder to spin since they’re flat
  • Drawing materials: pencils, colored pencils, markers (pick your favorite!)
  • Stapler
  • Tape
  • Jar, cup or mug to trace

So what is a thaumatrope? It is a spinning optical illusion toy! As seen in the image from 1825 (wow!) the artist drew a bird on one side of the circular paper and the bird’s cage on the other side. Hold the thaumatrope by the horizontal strings from each side and spin it quickly. This action makes it appear that the bird is IN its cage!! 
For our thaumatropes, we’ll use two circles attached back to back on a straw or pop stick (see example pics) but you can try the other way, too! 

Create The Parts of Your Thaumatrope:

  1. Pick your paper and trace two circles of the same size: about the size of a coffee mug
  2. Cut out both of your circles and get ready for the fun 

Create your Drawings:

  1. Think of a PAIR of drawings! A bird in its cage? A spider and its web? A hatless wizard and its hat? A goldfish in its bowl?
  2. Draw, for example, a spider on one of your circles. Draw the web on the other circle. 
    —->Any drawing material will do! Markers, crayons, pencils, even paint if you have it!
  3. For older artists, it’s fun to consider the placement of your drawings! Where will the spider be on its web once the thaumatrope is spinning?


  1. Tape your skewer/straw onto the BACK of one of your circles: remember you need to be able to hold it to spin so make sure most of it is exposed
  2. Place the OTHER circle on top of the taped down skewer/straw: drawing side OUT! 
  3. Staple both circles together: make sure that the straw/skewer feels very secure
  4. SPIN SPIN SPIN and watch the illusion unfold!!! 

Food Art: Create A Face Inspired by Arcimboldo

Ages 3+

Fun Fact: Arcimboldo’s The Four Seasons (painted in the late 1500s WOW) shows four portraits (in profile). Each portrait is made up of (painted) objects that represent that season! Can you spot all the different objects?

Four Seasons, by Giuseppe Arcimboldo


  • Uncooked pasta: penne, rotini, wheels, elbows are ideal but linguine can make for awesome hair!
  • Uncooked Rice
  • Flowers, sticks, petals, etc
  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • 9”x 12” piece of cardboard for base (if you have it/size can be adjusted) Paper will work, too! 
  • Glue 


  • Sprinkles
  • Pieces of paper for collage
  • Scissors

Gather Your Art Making “Ingredients”

  • For a project with this many loose materials, it’s easiest to put each different food item in bowls. That way you and your family can pick and choose and pinch and sprinkle onto your base cardboard or piece of paper. 

Play and Lay:

  • Start by laying out your materials to make a basic face shape! No glue yet. 
    Consider: face SHAPE, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, eye brows
    Consider: Facial EXPRESSION! Is your person happy? Sad? Scared? Excited? 
  • Once you have your face laid out in a way that you LOVE, get that glue going 
    Fun tip: to fill in larger areas of the face, spread your glue and “pinch and sprinkle” your rice or other tiny food matter onto that glue
  • This is where those optional materials can also come to play: cut up paper to add in details like hair and clothes! 

Finishing Touches:

  • Use markers and/or crayons to add final details: wavy hair, glasses, earrings: it’s up to you!

Nature Fun: Symmetrical Pressed Flower and Leaf Designs

Ages 5+ (Adult needed for help with ironing!)

Symmetry is the quality of being made up of exactly similar parts facing each other or around an axis.Think butterfly wings! For today’s project, you and your family will collect nature items and use them as shapes to create a symmetrical design. 
Then you can draw in your own shapes to add fun details!

Materials Needed:

  • Fresh leaves, wild flowers, nature items of your choice (no sticks though!)
  • Iron 
  • Absorbent paper: parchment paper is ideal!
  • Wax paper also works but will need a piece of fabric between it and the iron so the wax doesn’t melt onto your iron (use fabric that is ok if it gets wax on it, too)
  • Glue
  • Sheet of Construction paper/any paper 
  • Drawing materials

Collect Your Nature Items:

  • Larger leaves and flowers make for extra fun but tiny leaves create a fun (and intricate) experience too!
  • Make sure you have a collection of at least a dozen nature items so you can really explore SYMMETRICAL design making: many of them should be the same or similar

Dry ‘em out:

  • Heat up your iron to medium heat
  • Lay out your nature items on parchment paper
  • Place another piece of parchment paper on top
  • When your iron is warm, press it down onto your materials and hold for about 15 seconds (it will smell a bit like you are cooking vegetables)
  • Lift up your iron and check on your plants: if they still look somewhat normal, keep pressing down your iron in 15 second intervals
  • You’ll be able to tell when they are ready: things like veins become clear and they will be completely flat! You will also see the moisture on the parchment paper

Think Symmetrically:

  • Your nature materials are ready! 
  • Gather your construction paper and glue
    –>Helpful Suggestions: Choose a stem or long leaf to be your midline. This will help guide your symmetrical shape placement.
    Example: if I place a small purple flower on the left of my stem I have to place a purple flower on the right side of it too! 
  • Have FUN with this: where will you place all of your flowers and leaves? Will you create patterns too? 
  • Glue your materials down as you go 

Additional Details:

  • Get out those drawing materials: add in your own loops, shapes, and marks to further enhance your image!
  • Poke holes on the top and string a ribbon through: you can hang up your masterpiece! 

Art at Home: Build a Buddy -Robots using Recycled Items!

Ages 3+

Artist: Mike Rivamonte, “Roosevelt”
Rivamonte uses antiques and “rare objects” to create many of his amazing sculptures.

Roosevelt,” by Rivamonte

What you’ll need:

  • Recyclables: cans, boxes, jugs, anything you’ve got!
  • Cardboard boxes (small or large)
  • Paper towel tubes
  • Toilet Paper tubes
  • Tape (lots of pieces!!): masking tape is ideal but duct tape and scotch tape can work!
  • Drawing materials

For Creating Your Robotic Bud:

*Just a thought: give those cans and other metal objects a nice soak so they are clean and ready to use as art materials! 

  1. Start with the body: look for larger recyclables that can make the head and torso
  2. Attach them together using tape pieces: make sure these parts feel sturdy as they will be supporting the other parts!
  3. Use paper towel and/or toilet paper rolls to create arms, legs, antennae! 
  4. Bottle caps can be buttons or eyes
  5. Will you draw on details to create your Robot Buddy’s face? 
  6. Can you make it tall enough and sturdy enough to stand? Will your robot be LIFE-SIZED?!
Fun Fact: The name of the robot in the photo is Roosevelt! The artist has also created other robots who have names that are equally as awesome. 

Tag us on Instagram or Facebook to show us your creations!

Art at Home: Toothpick Geodomes

Ages 4+ (A great team activity that can be fun for all ages!)

What you’ll need:

  • Toothpicks (tons!)
  • Marshmallows or any gumdrop type of candy

Create Your 3D Geodome: 

  1. Which 3D shape will you create? A classic geodome or maybe a cube? A pyramid?
  2. Start by arranging your base shape so that it is flat against your work surface: keep your shape by sticking toothpicks into your marshmallows or gumdrop candies
  3. Once your base is created, continue to stick toothpicks into the candies so they stick right up and out
  4. Add candy pieces as you go to help toothpicks stay together and to keep your structure secure! 
  5. How tall can you make your structure? How many panels will it have?

EXTRA STEPS/Family Prompts:

  • Can you create a mini model of a piece of furniture that you have in your house using this technique?
  • Do a TALL challenge with your family: who can create the tallest 3D structure?
  • Will you create a home for your toy figurines? 
  • Can you place an object on TOP of your structure without it breaking: especially if you chose to make a dome?

Art at Home: Bubble Printing

Ages 2+

What you’ll need:

  • Dish Soap
  • Straws
  • Color-adding medium: food coloring (careful of stains) or watercolor is best
  • Multiple pieces of paper 
  • Small/medium sized bowl or tupperware container
  • Spoon/other mixing tool 

Create Your Colorful Soap Mix:

  1. Pour water into your bowl: about ½ cup 
  2. Squeeze in dime size amount of dish soap 
  3. Add color medium: about 1 tablespoon (you may need more: your mixture should be dark in color!)
  4. Swirl your mix together so you start to see some bubbles forming!

→ ADD MORE FUN: create more than one bubble mixture using a different color of paint in each bowl! 

Create Bubble Prints:

  1. Place your straw into your bubble mixture bowl and slowly blow OUTward.
  2. Watch bubbles form: let them grow out of your bowl.
  3. Once bubbles are overflowing (but not pouring down the sides of your bowl), place your paper on top.
  4. Bubbles will POP onto your paper and create bubble shaped images on your paper!
  5. Have you mixed multiple bubble colors? Overlap your colors as you go!

Art at Home: Calder-Inspired Found Material Mobiles!

Ages 4+ (toddlers may have trouble with the cutting parts)

Alexander Calder was a sculptor who has very strong roots in Philadelphia! If you’ve ever been to the Philadelphia Museum of Art you may have seen one of his large mobiles hanging there.

What you’ll need:

  • A hanger
  • Pipe cleaners (if you got ‘em!)
  • Wire: any kind but should be somewhat flexible!
  • Scissors
  • Glue (Optional)
  • Paper: printer paper, magazine paper, and/or construction
  • Drawing materials
  • Fun 3D materials: think tiny objects you may floating around: a marker cap, a small container, an old pencil!

For Hanging Shapes:

  1. Cut paper pieces into shapes: about the size of your kiddo’s hand. Any shape will do! Think outside the box. Blobs? Animal faces? 
  2. Punch holes into each shape
  3. Color on your shapes with the drawing materials you have
  4. The more shapes you create, the more creative fun to be had!

For Creating Hanging Armature:

  1. The hanger will be your main structure from which to hang your shapes!
  2. Twist pieces of wire along the horizontal bar of the hanger. 
  3. Twist the other ends of these wire pieces into the holes of the shapes you’ve created. (No hole puncher? No problem. Poke the wire right through the paper and twist it!)
  4. Once you’ve started hanging shapes from wire, see if you can hang shapes from other shapes! Check out the image above to see just one way these mobiles can turn out!

Collage onto your shapes by cutting up pieces of paper and gluing them to your shapes.
Add 3D objects to your mobile: twist a wire around them and hang them from your hanger or from a paper shape: this can create a fun conversation about balance!

Mobile, 1932
Fun Fact: Calder’s grandfather, Alexander Milne Calder, sculpted the giant statue of William Penn that stands on top of Philadelphia’s City Hall!

Art at Home: Play with Paper- Quilling Fun!

Ages 4+

What you’ll need:

  • Paper: any kind, any color — as long as it’s easy to cut! 
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pen/Pencil
  • Glue or tape
  • Any kind of container: cardboard box, tupperware, etc

Create Paper Strips:

  1. Use a ruler and pencil to draw straight lines about 1”-2” apart across your whole paper
  2. Cut paper along lines to create strips
    → Fun Trick: Stack 2 or 3 papers on top of each other and cut all at once to create tons of paper strips !
  3. The more colors the more fun 
  4. Strips should be at least 6” long!


  1. Take one paper strip and wrap it tightly around a pen, pencil, or marker: use those hand muscles to wrap!!
  2. Remove your chosen drawing tool and see how the paper has maintained its cylindrical shape!
  3. Repeat to create a collection of coiled paper pieces.
  4. Loose ends of papers can either be glued or taped down to hold shape.

Creating Your Masterpiece:

  1. Your quilled paper strips can be kept to their cylindrical shape but can also be altered!
  2. Pinch ends to create different shapes (see reference image!)
  3. Begin to place your quilled paper strips next to each other within your container- position them so they nestle together.
  4. Think of each quilled piece as a puzzle piece: work together to make your colorful paper design within the container.
  5. Individual pieces can be taped together to really keep your paper sculpture in tact.
reference of quilling shapes, littlecircles.net

Melanie Rothschild

Art at Home: Giacometti-Inspired Foil Sculptures

Ages 5+ (toddlers can try the foil sculpting – working those hand muscles to twist, pinch & build!)

Let out your inner artist with materials you can find right in your home!

What you’ll need:

  • tin foil pieces (about 8″ x 12″)
  • paper
  • drawing tools – pencils, pens, markers, crayons

How to Warm up with a Gesture Drawing:

  1. Check out the strong stance of the figure in Giacometti’s sculpture
  2. Choose a family member to strike a pose of their own!
  3. Set the time for 10 seconds: one person poses while the others draw the posing person quickly as they can –looking mostly at limb placement–with pencil on paper.
  4. Repeat 2, 3, 4, 5 times! (As many as you want!) Choose different poses!

Create Your Tin Foil Sculpture:

  1. Gather pieces of tin foil: about the size of a piece of printer paper
  2. Inspired by the poses of your family, sculpt figures out of foil
  3. It may help to break your sculpting down by body part
  4. Start by scrunching at the top to create the head, move your way down to create arms, a torso, legs, and even feet
NOTE: This activity is fun for your toddlers, too! Scrunching and twisting foil can really work those hand muscles! Put less emphasis on creating a figure and more on playing with the foil to see what it can do!

Once your figures are posed, how will you arrange them? Who are they? A team of super heroes or maybe each one is a member of your family.

Can they hang from your counter or even from a light fixture?

Will you put on a show?

Art Project at Home: Coffee or Tea Dyed Paper Collage!

Let out your inner artist with materials you can find right in your home!

What you’ll need:

  • strong coffee or tea
  • paper towels, qtips, cotton balls
  • paper
  • drawing tools – pencils, pens, markers, crayons
  • scissors
  • glue or tape
  • old magazines or flyers, optional

For Dyed Background Paper:
1. Prepare an overly strong pot of coffee (nice and dark!), or a super strong pot of tea (any kind of black or berry tea – great colors!).
2. Let cool.
3. Artists can use paper towels, qtips and cotton balls to explore adding color to papers with the DIY coffee/tea dye. There is no wrong way to do it! Just dip and dot, drag or draw!
4. Set paper aside to dry.

For Characters + Details:
1. On small pieces of paper, artists can use pencils, pens or markers to draw characters and other environment inhabitants like rocks and lizards!
2. Once finished, artists can use scissors to cut them out.

Put it all together:
1. Get your DIY dyed paper back in front of you – it should be mostly dry!
2. Arrange characters and environment elements on one of your DIY dyed papers, and secure them with glue or tape!
3. Add additional drawn details with any drawing tools you have – pencils, pens, markers, and crayons!

Have any old magazines or flyers hangin’ around? Artists can look through them and find any fun details they want to cut out and add to their artwork!

Is My Child A Good Artist?

As art educators, we often get asked by parents and caregivers to comment on the artistic capability of their child. Time and time again, we hear questions like, ‘how are my child’s drawings compared to the other kids’? ‘Why won’t my child draw more realistically?’ ‘Is my child a good artist?

You may think we’re about to lay down some tell-tale signs to determining whether your little one is an artistic prodigy, but we’re going to help you discover so much more.


If your children show an interest in some form of art—which, let’s be honest, all children do—the most important thing you can do is nurture their development by equipping them with a toolbox of skills so they can test what works for them. Some great ways to develop those interests and skills include art classes, museums visits and plenty of blank sheets of paper! Additionally, supporting open-ended thinking and freedom of expression is critical, so it’s helpful to remind children, and sometimes even yourself, that there is no right or wrong when it comes to art.

For instance, urging children to draw a perfect circle or the most proportionate face tells them that there is only one right way, inhibiting them from finding creative solutions to express a range of ways. This creates anxious, in-the-box thinkers, but we believe in helping children to think outside the box! We want them to ask questions, find answers, then ask more question, and to feel comfortable and confident on the sometimes scary road to self-expression and imagination!


Can I help my child by drawing something the right way on his/her artwork?

First, in order to allow them to feel ownership over their artwork, don’t make marks on their canvas; instead, use your own! Second, the way in which you help kids with their art should depend on their developmental stage. They may be ready to learn certain “rules” of art (i.e. perspective, realism, etc), or they may just want to move their arms around and scribble!

Shouldn’t my child know his colors/shapes by now?

A child’s ability to recognize colors and shapes often happens sooner than his/her ability to communicate. Just because they use the blue paint when you suggest the yellow doesn’t mean they don’t know the difference between the two. Remember, art is a great outlet to practice language skills, but isn’t always the right place to test objective knowledge!

If I praise my kids when they makes good art, won’t it motivate them to create more?

Possibly, but extrinsic motivation drives kids to seek more praise and approval, rather than explore their innate creativity and curiosity.

and lastly…

What qualifies as good art? Is my child a good artist?

We think that’s a qualitative question! Who gets to say what “good” is, anyway?? The real question should be, is my child a creative thinker and does he/she have a big tool box filled with age appropriate skills?

At Philly Art Center, our interest lies in the fundamental skills that specialized art education provides, and our aim is to develop thinkers, problem solvers, and creative members of the community through age-appropriate challenges and an emersion in the arts.

We also support each kiddo socially, cognitively, physically, and emotionally throughout the journey, because art has its benefits on every aspect of development—from communication and motor skills to conceptual analysis and self-expression. Through creative studio practice, artists gain confidence in their abilities to solve their own way over, through, or around a problem!

On the Road: 3 Kids crafts that are good for travel

Whether you’re driving to the shore or going on a cross-country vacation, if you’re traveling with kids, you’re going to need some help keeping them busy. Here are a few analog art projects to make traveling fun, creative, and engaging for kids. Plus, you get to keep your sanity!

1. Treasure Map

Create an awesome treasure map of your journey by printing out your route from Google maps. Highlight the starting point and the destination for them, plus any stops or significant landmarks you might pass to help them along in navigating. They can use washable markers, stickers, and other fabric-safe materials to add to the map—fun things they’ve seen or heard along the way, imaginative play, etc. Not only are they learning map skills, which develops spatial thinking and visual literacy, and  they’re also building anticipation of the destination, and will likely stop asking “are we there yet?”

2. Exquisite corpse

A drawing game that everybody can participate in (minus the driver!), exquisite corpse is a fun and relaxed way to work together in creating a surrealist work of art. The idea is that one person starts out by drawing something, anything, on one end of the paper, then folds it over hiding about 90% of the illustration. The next person then uses the bits and pieces of the first drawing that haven’t been hidden to inspire another, unrelated drawing. Pass the paper around until there isn’t any space left, then open it up to reveal the composite drawing. It’s usually quite hilarious, and will certainly be strange, especially with the added obstacle of drawing in a moving vehicle!

3. Pipe Cleaners and Hot Loops

This good old stand by can keep the kids busy for hours with endless bright and colorful opportunities. There are tons of great hot loop tutorials out there for finger weaving bracelets, headbands and more, plus pipe cleaners can be made into pretty much anything—mini sculptures, jewelry, etc.. If they’re old enough, you can throw a variety of large beads into the mix and challenge them to create a pattern!

7 Photos that Show off our Summer Camp

7. The detail and prep that goes into each and every project…

Our amazing and dedicated curriculum team, are seen here working on developing exciting projects and studio explorations! These aren’t cookie-cutter arts-and-crafts and every project will be as unique as the child who created it!

6. Our dedicated teachers, staff, and volunteers…

Philly Art Center teachers are experienced educators who inspire creativity as well as support social and emotional growth!

5. We listen and learn from our kiddos as much as they do from us…

The results of a collected survey asking artists what they’d like to do more of at art camp. Building structures, working with our hands, field trips and (of course) glitter. We’re experts on kids and know that they are people with thoughts, ideas, and feelings too, so we still listen to what they have to say!

4. Curriculum that is age-appropriate and always engaging…

We take age-appropriate learning seriously! Kids are grouped by age and curriculum is developed to meet the needs of these varying ages groups. While a 10 year old and a 5 year old might both focus on building observational skills in portrait drawing, the approach and skills taught are different. This is essential to developing confident, creative thinkers.

3. Inspiration comes from everywhere…

Every summer, our art camps feature tons of exiting projects that pull inspiration from art history, diverse cultures, mathematics and engineering, music and performing arts, the great outdoors, our immediate environments, communities, and so much more.

2. Playtime, visiting artists, and field trips balance our days…

We know kids and we know that in addition to their time in the studio, they need to get out and move and groove! Daily outdoor playtime is a cornerstone of our camp schedule as well as a weekly special event, trip or visiting artist. City campers get to explore community connections that enhance the weekly camp theme.

1. Kids just wanna have FUN… and we make sure they do!

Ask any summer camper what the most important Philly Art Center rule is and they’ll likely shout in unison: “HAVE FUN!” Boys and girls ages 4-14 will not soon forget their experiences at Philly Art Center.

11 Ways to Reinvent Your Child’s Artwork

You can find dozens of ways to display your child’s artwork on Pinterest, but what if you only have a limited amount of wall space? Here are some other ways to transform your child’s art into something new, while also cutting down on the clutter of the ever-increasing collection.

A lot of these options involve recycling artwork, rather than preserving it, so if your child has trouble getting rid of something he or she has worked hard on, that’s totally understandable. Now is a good time to remind yourself and your child about how special the process of art-making is, rather than the product itself. Creating is all about having fun, learning new skills, and developing out-of-the-box thinking. If they’d still rather hold on to the originals, don’t sweat it. You can do a lot of these things using digital copies of the artwork.

Wrapping Paper

Double the gift with half the effort. Using your child’s own artwork as wrapping paper will definitely make any present extra special.


Messes are a simple part of life, especially when you’ve got a child. Instead of trying to prevent it, just prepare for it. Laminated artwork (especially larger pieces) act as a great placemat for protecting furniture from meals and also new art projects! Don’t have a laminator? A roll of clear contact paper works too!

Print-On Products

Purchase special iron-on fabric paper to print your child’s art on, then you can slap it on T-shirts, tote bags, pillows, and more. You can also look into Society6 for printing on a range of items, like mugs, rugs, and iPhone cases.

Art Swap

Trading art can be a fun way for kids and their friends to practice sharing, inspire each other, and get some fresh art on the walls.

Transfer Onto Products

This can be another art project in and of itself. You can scan and print your child’s artwork, then use Mod Podge to transfer the image onto various surfaces, including but not limited to flower pots, tiles, and canvas. Kids will love seeing the image being “printed” onto another object, and they’ll likely want to transfer their favorite work on everything around the house.

Make a Card

Some old paintings and drawings could make great stationary for greeting cards, thank you notes, or simple “thinking of you” reminders. This could require trimming, folding, and writing on top of the art, but sometimes transforming old work into something new is part of the fun.

Make a Puzzle

Turn any 2D artwork into a fun activity by transforming it into a puzzle. You can make a DIY puzzle at home, or upload your artwork and order a 60- or 252-piece puzzle from Shutterfly. To DIY, glue your piece of paper to a flattened cereal box to make it stiff and thick, then use a pen or pencil to draw wiggly lines, about 2 to 3 inches apart, horizontally and vertically across your paper. Follow the lines with scissors, and you’ve got yourself a puzzle.

Fashion a Lantern

Simply roll up the artwork and glue the edges together to create a cylinder. Poke a few holes around the top, then use string to hang it from the ceiling. If you feel up for an extra DIY project, you can jimmy-rig an actual lamp by tying wire or rope through the holes and around a cord set from IKEA or Home Depot. (This is especially cool if your child is willing to put a few holes all around the artwork, or if the artwork was created on translucent paper).

Book Covers

Tis the season for textbooks and folders. Why not use some old artwork to cover those books and make your own folders? Could be a cool gift for older kids in the house—if they’re not already in the too-cool-for-school phase.

Save a Stack

Save a stack of 2D artwork to reuse as “scrap paper” later. Layers upon layers of paint, chalk, crayon, markers, stickers and so on result in some pretty cool looking projects. It’s also a good exercise in revisiting artwork with a fresh perspective. Maybe something that felt finished today could use a little love tomorrow.

Donate It / Gift It

Let’s face it. You just can’t keep everything. I’ve seen plenty of handmade items at thrift stores, like ceramic bowls and beaded jewelry, that have more character than anything you’d find at a chain retailer. If giving your kid’s artwork away to a stranger feels weird, think about gifting it to grandparents, aunts and uncles, or cousins.

Originally posted in Philly Mag. See the original article here.

The Importance of Process Driven Art for Children

At the Philly Art Center we talk a lot about process driven art. What this means is that we believe there are no right or wrong answers in art, but that the experience of creative engagement is first and foremost.

We believe children have a natural curiosity and drive to explore and create and we want to encourage their natural instincts by giving them developmentally appropriate materials, techniques, space, and time, to follow their own instincts as they enhance their artistic skills.

We think about what young artists will do, what skills they will learn, and what materials they will use, not what their final piece should look like. We welcome deviation and exploration because if a child is making her own decision about what to do with the material, she will learn a lot more than if we just tell her what to do.

While teaching students specific art skills, like how to scratch and attach as they sculpt with clay, or how to mix colors in paint, or use scissors correctly, is important and something we do in every class, we believe it is equally important to give students a chance to apply those skills in a way that engages their imagination and creativity.

If we show them an example and proceed to teach them exactly how to make their project the same as ours, we have only given students one answer to one question and both came from us. But if we instead give them materials and demonstrate the many ways they can use that material, we are posing questions and teaching them to find their own solutions in a world of possibility.

It is our hope that the process will help develop their curiosity because great art always starts with a question and great artists find their own answers.

10 Reasons to Focus on Process Instead of Product

  1. Process driven art is child centered and about how they experience the materials
  2. It encourages open-ended thinking and creative problem solving
  3. It helps us understand a child’s preferences and provides insight into why they might make a certain choice, validating and encouraging their own personality
  4. Focusing on process allows children to be in control and make choices and decisions–something they may not be able to do often
  5. Material exploration can lead to results you never predicted and promote an open-ness to possibility
  6. Process driven art helps children see that everyone has a unique approach and diversity can be celebrated
  7. Process driven art allows for all skill levels to be successful
  8. If children are given choice and encouraged to “see what happens” they will learn more because they are directing their own learning trajectory
  9. Process driven art encourages independence and accountability
  10. Exploration can lead to trial and error and perseverance as children try to work through their ideas and accomplish their own artistic goals

Messy Moments, and Why They’re Helping Your Child Grow

For over a decade, it’s fair to say that Philly Art Center has dealt with more than a few messy moments.

Oil pastels have been crushed under chair legs, marker tips have gone off the edge of the mirror board (this is so easy to clean!) and onto the floor board (this is not!), india ink and glue have been spilled and cups of paint water have been tipped.

Through it all, we smile, we accept the “mistakes” as part of the job, we clean up and we move on! But before all that, we try capturing the creative process at its finest.

Here are just a few of our favorite messes caught on camera, and some reminders about why we don’t stress the mess.



First and foremost, we’re an Art Center! We’re introducing kids to new materials and developing creative thinkers. Our #1 rule is to have fun, and what’s more fun than having the freedom to explore and express yourself in an environment that accepts and expects messes and “mistakes”?



“What happens if…” is a question best answered by experimenting. Whether children are curious about digging a tunnel to the opposite end of the Earth through your backyard, or want to challenge themselves by mixing every color of the rainbow just using primaries, they’re bound to get messy on the joyous road of exploration. But trust us, a few extra minutes during bathtime is worth the learning experience!



If you’ve heard of the Color Run, an un-timed marathon where runners start in white and finish doused in what looks like an exploded box of crayons, you might already know that wearing color (aside from the fabric of your clothes) is truly a sensory spectacle. It can set you apart from the crowd and show others that you’re not afraid of a little mess. How you get there matters too — by focusing on the experience, and not the end result, you’ll be rewarded just for your participation! It’s fun, it feels good, and it looks pretty cool, too!



This might hurt your ears, but hear us out. Sometimes getting messy is just more efficient! When you’re in the middle of cutting and collaging, painting, or throwing clay, pausing to clean up after yourself can really throw a wrench in your groove. It’s better to finish out the task at hand and worry about the clean-up when you’re feeling finished!



Finger painting helps strengthen those tiny hand muscles, you know, the ones they’ll use to tie a knot, button their shirts, and write their names. Art making helps develop fine motor skills and also improves hand eye control and coordination!



There are learning benefits to getting messy, like self exploration and imagination. Studies show that a little mess can promote new ideas and stimulate creative thinking, even in toddlers and babies. These are vital traits in growing artists and creative development.



Children should wear their messes like a badge of honor, because we all know how satisfying it is to accomplish something using your own two hands. Yet there’s a time and a place where being caught red-handed (literally) is a good thing, so it’s okay to set up boundaries for messes.

At Philly Art Center, we work with (mostly) washable materials, we wear aprons, we have giant sink and really cool, textured soap, and all the kiddos work together in a huge clean up to get everything back in order. We don’t even call it “getting messy”, we simply refer to it as “getting arty”, because a little mess really is part of the essence being an artists!

Teacher Spotlight: Hannah Pipkin

Philly Art Center is staffed with an incredibly awesome team of educators and artists. This week, meet Teacher Hannah.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in good olde Lancaster County, where I drew on every surface I could, played tennis on every single court, and ate all the local desserts. I have been playing tennis ever since I could hold a racket and started teaching tennis at age 16. I received my Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree from Kutztown University with a concentration in painting and a minor in art history. I spent the next four years growing as a person, as well as an athlete, and I eventually evolved into an Artist

When did you know you wanted to be an artist / art teacher?

Art has always been the biggest a part of me. I have been drawing and creating for as long as I can remember. I had a teacher in high school who really focused in on my love for art and helped me to find my passion for painting, so when it came time for college, all I knew was that I needed to study painting and play tennis.

What’s your favorite thing about working at Philly Art Center?

Their philosophy, “process over product”. As an artist, my work is about little moments, as well as just the action of making and responding to each mark. Nothing is planned, everything is in the process, so it is really the perfect fit for me.

Describe a typical day at Philly Art Center in three words:

Impeccable! Wonderful. Unique.

What’s one thing YOU get to learn from teaching?

The young artists that I am surrounded by each day push me to limits I did not know I had, but more importantly, they drive me artistically, because I am still growing as an artist just like them.

Teacher Spotlight: Caitlin Finnegan

Philly Art Center is staffed with an incredibly awesome team of educators and artists.


I grew up in the suburbs of Philly and have found that both the suburbs and the city hold a pretty special place in my heart. I gravitated towards art at a young age and by middle school, I down right loved it. It was always that thing in my life that just felt right.

When she’s not at the Art Center, Teacher Cait can be found relaxing with her dogs, enjoying iced coffee, hanging out with friends and family, or even going for a jog.

I went to Penn State where I received my Bachelor’s in Studio Art (specializing in drawing and painting). Despite my love for art, something was missing and I honestly had no idea what that something was. I knew that having art in my life was a gift but it felt to me like I needed to do something bigger with this gift. I wanted to do something to help make the world a little better but I was baffled as to what my path would be.

About 6 months after graduating college I landed an education internship at a local art center near my home and I think thats really when fate intervened. Something clicked…I fell in love with working with kids of all ages in such a special, creative setting. I saw how happy art made the kids. I learned quickly that art has a pretty special power in helping artists of all ages learn LIFE skills such as confidence, problem solving, and thinking outside of the box. The fact that I could guide children of all ages through this process—even make their lives a bit happier— was that missing piece that I had been looking for.

I went to my two mentors from my internship and told them that about my revelation: I wanted be an art teacher. How had I not known before? I had always felt completely at ease around children (having grown up with over a dozen nieces and nephews of all ages). This “aha!” moment also led me to assistant teach at a preschool for a year.

Favorite project at PAC:
Mixed media portraits with the Kindergarteners!
Typical day at PAC in THREE words:
Non-Stop, Vibrant, (Beautifully) Messy, and HANDS-ON! (Okay, that’s more than three. I tried!)

My mentors’, as well as my family’s support and guidance led me to Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, where I received my Master of Arts in Teaching this past Spring.

Working at Philly Art Center has been one of this biggest and most exciting steps in my life thus far. I’m learning to better trust in myself as a teacher and to really revel in those small but magical moments of discovery and creativity with the kiddos. I love that this setting gives me the opportunity to really, really get to know these young artists: they tell me stories, they are unbelievably creative, not to mention they are extremely funny.

Teacher Caitlin

Wee Wander: Most robust programs in the city

Wee Wander recently posted their 15 favorite Fall Classes for kids in the city. Philly Art Center was ranked on the list amongst other awesome programs, and what they had to say about our classes was sweet and simple. Check it out below:

Philly Art Center
What: The crew here runs one of the most robust, varied and well-organized class programs in the city. From after-school pick-ups (they just added Chester Arthur to the list!) to drop-in play groups, you’ll find music, art and creative classes for infants all the way up to teens. (See more detailed info about the fall session and after school programs here.)
Where: Fairmount, Queen Village and Cherry Hill
When: The fall session starts September 12th; they’ve got classes all days (except Sundays) and all times.

See the entire list here!

Expert Contributor: It’s Not Just Scribble Scrabble!

A gallery wall at Philly Art Center features works created by 1-2 year olds in our Art Start Parent/Child Class

Scribbling is a fascinating phenomenon in children’s artistic development. New firsts and discoveries are being made with each mark! As children scribble, they learn cause and effect, develop artistic expressiveness, practice hand/eye coordination, and cultivate imagination. Before a child is even able to draw a recognizable image, they progress through three stages of scribbling development.


Imagine a child holding a black crayon. Examining it, he hits it against the table. It makes a sound! He does it again…another sound, but wait, there’s a dot! Now, he starts swinging his arm. He’s making marks, but some are off the paper. This child is beginning to explore a world of mark making. He’s engaged in disordered scribbling. At this point, children make marks based on kinesthetic pleasure. They’re movers and shakers! Children often grasp their drawing tool with their whole hand and make large arm movements. Many times, they’ll look away and scribble beyond the paper. In disordered scribbling, children are experiencing their movements and how it may result in lines and dots appearing on their papers.


As children start to understand the cause and effect of their artistic movements, they begin to experiment with controlled scribbling. When children enter this stage of creative development, they become more attentive. Here, we can imagine another child. She’s holding that same black crayon. Rather than simply swinging her arm, this child watches her scribbles, using more of her wrist than her arm, and concentrates on areas of the paper. Her scribbles may have small marks, repeated patterns, and often circles, lines, and loops!


With continued practice, children spend more time on their images, and begin telling stories about their scribbles. Appropriately, this final stage of scribbling is known as named scribbling. Imagine one last child. Again, he’s holding a black crayon, but this time, between his fingers. With his crayon, he purposefully creates a scribble and relates it to the world around him. His association of this image does not stay the same…his scribble is named a dog, then a horse…but that’s okay! At this point, it’s about figuring out ways to connect the sights, sounds, and stories!

Scribbling is a fun and dynamic way for children to learn and develop. At the Philly Art Center, we embrace scribbling in our parent child classes, starting each hour with our little artists making marks with thick black crayon nubs on large paper sketchbooks. It’s exciting for both parents and teachers to watch and wait for these amazing milestones in creative development! So, next time someone dismisses art as “just scribbles”, let them know…it’s so much more!


At-home Art Project: Paper Marbling Prints

This is a super fun process-driven art project that can definitely be disguised as a learning activity. It’s an opportunity to talk about the relationship between water and oil (hint: they are not friends), color mixing, counting (for the little ones), and abstract imagery. There’s so much room for experimenting and each outcome is bound to look completely uniquie from the last, it ends up being super fun for parents and kids! From the first drop to the end result, the entire process is actually really fascinating.

Get ready for some woahs!


First, put about 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in each small container. We used some old, empty Blick watercolor bottles for the mixtures. The opening is just big enough to allow for easy pouring, and it seals perfectly for a safe shake! Add about 5 drops of food color or liquid watercolor in each container with the oil. Let the little ones help with this, and remind them to go veeerry slooowly, otherwise they might add too much!


Experiment with mixing colors! If your little artist is learning about primary colors (red, blue, yellow) you could experiment and mix up the secondary colors (orange, green, purple). Or make a blue green, reddish purple, or canary yellow. We also included a metalic silver to give our prints an extra bit of shimmer. Seal up the containers tightly and shake until they’re mixed well.


Now, for the fun part! Fill a pan or two with about a centimeter of water (you’ll have to ignore all the paint on our tray—it’s impossible to find supplies around here that haven’t been used for an art project at some point)! Slowly sprinkle the colored oil over the pans of water. To keep the colors from getting too muddy, it’s a good idea (especially with the little ones) to use one pan for warm colors and one for cool. Using the forks and/or tooth picks, swirl the oil around the surface of the water until you have an interesting pattern covering all of the water.


Lay your paper over the pan and let it float for a moment–don’t let it sink! Can your kiddo count to 30? Now’s a good time to count with them! Gently life it off and–drumroll please–check out that print!

“It looks like the galaxy,” one artist remarked in awe.

If the surface of the water still looks cool, make another print on another sheet! You can always add more oil and/or change out the water if the water is looking a little muddy or the colors have faded too much.


Once dry, you can use your prints as a background for drawing, as stationary for letters, or just as is! Admire the shapes and swirls as abstract art!! Check out some of the prints we made (still wet here), and feel free to post your own prints on our Facebook page!


Tips and Tricks to Teaching Kids How to Use a Sewing Machine

If your child is showing interest in sewing, chances are that they love the idea of making something that they can wear and use! Inspire their inner fashionista! I normally recommend that kids can start sewing with adult supervision around age 6 and begin without supervision around age 8. Here are some ways to start!


  • It is important for them to understand how a machine functions and to keep fingers clear of the fast moving needle. Have them practice “steering” with the pedal. Let the kids get a feel for how fast or slow the machine can go with the machine. Guide them by telling them when to start and stop.


  • Teaching kids how to thread the sewing machine and thread a bobbin properly will come in handy later. They can practice this over and over. Understanding how to do these things will help them troubleshoot issues themselves in the future and keep the machine in excellent condition.


  • When the kids are young, draw a stitching line directly onto the fabric for kids to sew onto using chalk or a fabric marker. This way, kids can learn how to be a pro at sewing straight lines.


  • Trust that they can do things by themselves! They will be so proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish.


  • Let them experiment and have fun. Lay out different fabrics and allow them to work with various stitches to be self-expressive.

There are so many benefits for kiddos who learn to sew. It can be an excellent opportunity for kids to be creative, develop confidence and learn practical life skills. They can seek independence and create personal style through projects and garment construction. It can be extremely satisfying to get noticed for what we wear and use and to say, “I made this!”

You can register for Tween Sewing Camps and Sewing Classes for ages 9-14 at the Art Center! Use the navigation tab above to view classes and camps for kids.

Photos: Try This! No-Sew T-Shirt Tote Bag

Go get those old baggy t-shirts that you’ve long since turned into pajamas, and turn them into something you can actually wear outside! This project would also work with a shirt that maybe doesn’t fit well, but has a great pattern or attractive color. This step-by-step project is so easy, even a 4 year old could do it! Got a great big tank top you think would work well? Cut out the first step and start from #3!


unworn T-shirt
scissors (the thicker the T-shirt, the stronger the bag will be)

1) Start by cutting the sleeves off the shirt


2) Cut the neck out of the shirt. Cut lower than the stitching line so that the tote is large enough to get things inside.


3) Begin to cut fringe at the bottom. Decide how long you want to bag to be. The longer you cut the fringe, the shorter your bag will be. Make sure your fringes are about ¾” wide and that you are cutting through the top and bottom layers of the t-shirt as you go.


4) Then start tying your fringes together. As you tie them together the fringes will help close up the bottom of the bag, but there will be holes between each set of tied fringes.


5) To fix this, just lay out your tied fringes as shown in the photo (one fringe going up and out of the knot and one fringe going down and out of the knot), then tie the “top” fringe from one pair to the “bottom” fringe from the pair next to it. This will close up those gaps between the pairs of fringes.


6) It should look something like this when you have closed the gaps.


7) Just keep tying pairs of fringes together, then tying the top fringe from one pair to the bottom fringe of the next pair to close the gaps. Once all your fringes are tied and all your gaps are closed, you’re done!


Q&A with Young Artists

We conducted a little Q&A with Summer Campers, whose ages range from 4-12, to find out what they love about coming to Philly Art Center. Just as we hypothesized, the list was endless and varied. From learning real skills and techniques to the teachers who make learning fun, there are so many reasons kiddos (and parents) love our Summer Camp.

Here’s what we got!


5 year old: Ummmmmmmmm… (It was her first time)
7 year old: I come every summer for a few weeks of art camp!
11 year old: Well, this is my first year here and this is my second week of camp.


5yr: ::nods head::
6yr: YES!
9yr: Yep!



5yr: Scissors. I’m not allowed to use scissors at home.
6yr: I LOVE TAPE! 
 Model magic and india ink.
12yr: Paper. Definitely paper.


6yr: BIG paintings!
7yr: Painting. I got paint all over this (point to her shirt). But whatever! Now it’s art.
11yr: I like to make models of things.



4yr: I know how to make ponies and Elsa and bunnies.
6yr: This computer!
7yr: (2 minute pause) I don’t know. Everything!
12yr: The goblin city over there that I invented from paper.


5yr: The Green Studio.
7yr: Art art art art art art!
11yr: Making friends.

Courier Post: A Creative Place Closer to Home

Courier Post recently featured a press release to inform South Jersey of our Grand Opening Party at our new Cherry Hill location. Read the full story below, or head over to CourierPostOnline.com for more.

Megan Dorris, a Chesterfield resident and Philly Art Center’s Cherry Hill site director, shows the studio space in the 1,000-square foot facility.

Even though it’s called Philly Art Center, it’s coming to Cherry Hill.

With two locations in the city — the original in Fairmount and another in Queen Village — Philly Art Center was so successful, many asked when they might open on this side of the river.

Jill Markovitz, the center’s founder and director, decided to meet the demand she heard from South Jersey residents who wanted a creative place for themselves and their children closer to home.

Philly Art Center will open Sunday at 1721 Springdale Road (at the Jewish Federation’s Annex, though it’s not affiliated with the federation). To celebrate, the center will offer art stations with screen printing, painting, pottery demonstrations, music and food trucks from 2 to 5 p.m.

“All our teachers are highly trained, either as artists or educators or both,” said Markovitz, a Philadelphia native who studied art at the universities of New Mexico and Massachusetts.

Philly Art Center opened its first location in 2004 and offers a wide arrange of classes, camps and after-school sessions for all ages, from creative play for babies and toddlers to pottery and painting for adults.

“It was always a dream of mine since college to open” an art center, Markovitz said. “After relocating back to Philadelphia after school, it just felt like the right move.”

Markovitz employs about about 15 to 20 full-time teachers among the three locations, depending on the season.

For more information, call (215) 765-2787 (ARTS) or visit www.phillyartcenter.com

NJ.com: Classes for everyone!

Director of Philly Art Center, Jill Markovitz, was interviewed a week before the Grand Opening of our 3rd location in Cherry Hill. Alex Young over at NJ.com wrote an excellent article highlighting all that we do in the city and all that we plan to do in South Jersey! Read the full article below or head over to NJ.com for more!

CHERRY HILL TWP.  – A Philadelphia business hoping to teach local kids and adults about art and creativity is coming across the bridge to set up shop at a new location on Springdale Road.

The Philly Art Center has actually already started holding classes at their new location but they are planning a huge grand opening party for the Chery Hill location at the end of the month.

“When we throw parties, we throw them big,” Director Jill Markovitz said.

As a teacher and an artist, Markovitz started the Philly Art Center in the city’s Fairmont section in 2004. She started small, but the Springdale Road location will be the center’s second expansion.

“It was always a dream of mine to start an art center,” Markovitz said. “We slowly built up our programming and offerings from a one room studio.”

The center has classes for everyone. Markovitz said there really isn’t any kind of age limit for their classes, which include things for infants all the way up to adults.

They also have music classes for babies and toddlers, art classes for ages 2 and up, as well as summer camps and after-school programs.

A look inside the Philly Art Center’s first New Jersey location in Cherry Hill, which opens next week. (Photo provided by the Philly Art Center)

Markovitz said it the perfect time to open a location in New Jersey.

“We had a lot of customers and students coming to us from New Jersey. It just finally felt like the right time,” she said. “It felt like there was a real need in the community for arts programming for kids and adults.”

The grand opening will be on Sunday, May 31, from 2 to 5 p.m. include face painting, food trucks and even a Mummers band.

Markovitz said the new facility has plenty of bright, natural light and plenty of outside space to eland their art programs. She said they were very excited to start working in a new neighborhood.

“It’s an awesome community over there,” she said. “There are people who are really excited to provide these extra creative enrichment opportunities for kids.”

3 Cool Art Projects for Hot Summer Days

Don’t let the dog days of summer bring you down. Beat the heat by transforming basic household objects into fun creative adventures with these at-home art projects! Paint the town with liquid sidewalk chalk, cool down with ice paint, and spray stencils your walls (temporarily)! Here are some of Philly Art Center’s favorite art projects recipes for kids of all ages. They’re simple, safe, and you probably already have everything you need in stock. And if you don’t, you can pick up some supplies at our art store.


While regular sidewalk chalk comes in a pack of various colors, this liquid version allows kids to mix endless colors!

  • 1 part baking soda
  • 1 part water
  • food coloring
  • paint brushes
  • small containers to mix in

Have your kids help measure the ingredients (about 2 tablespoons of baking soda and water to start) and allow them to use their pinching fingers to add food coloring, one drop at a time. In a small container, mix all three ingredients with a paintbrush, then paint away! What starts as a liquid dries into a chalky solid minutes after painting it on the ground… it’s like MAGIC!

Make sure to have more containers on hand for mixing new colors, children love watching as they transform yellow paint with a dab of blue. If you’re outside on a windy day, you’ll want to make sure the containers are on the heavier side (like a plastic bowl, not a paper cup) so they don’t get blown away.

And remember to take lots of pictures, because it’s definitely not a permanent medium!


A fun exploration that could last longer than it takes an ice cube to melt!

  • an ice cube tray
  • paint
  • popsicle sticks + aluminum foil (optional)
  • a freezer
  • thick paper or watercolor paper

Add a little bit of paint to each cube, fill with water, and mix them well. You could also leave a few cubes empty and allow kids to mix their own colors (perfect if you’ve got primary colors on hand). After each cube is full, cover the entire tray with aluminum foil then carefully poke a popsicle stick into each cube. This part is completely optional—you could just freeze the paint without sticks and let them use their hands to move the cubes! (This feels really good in the summer, and they’re most likely going to end up using their hands anyway!)

Allow the tray to freeze overnight, then bring out some paper and let the fun begin! Pop them out of the tray just like you would regular ice cubes, and they’re ready to use as soon as they start melting.


What you’ll need:

  • empty spray bottles
  • washable liquid watercolor
  • large sticker shapes
  • or thick paper + scissors

Start by filling the spray bottles with water, then add a bit (about 1/5th) of the liquid water color. The more watercolor you use, the higher the pigment will be, but it still works when it’s diluted. Kids can draw and cut out their own shapes and stencils, or use stickers! Bring them outdoors and let them stick their shapes to the wall or the ground. If they cut their own shapes, you can hold it in place for them as they spray the watercolor around and on top of it. Once they’ve sprayed the surrounding area with color, remove the stencil and voila! You’ve created an image using negative space!

This can be even more fun if you mix it up with a bit of imaginative play. Talk about street artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairy, and how most art that we find outside isn’t supposed to be there! These artists had to sneak around and make sure they didn’t get caught. Can you spray paint your image without making a peep?? Don’t let your neighbors spot you!

PAC: Highlights from our Grand Opening

A crew of dedicated art teachers manned a dozen art-making stations, the Mummers were geared up in their bold, infamous costumes, and our new studios were stocked with more art supplies than you’d know what to do with!

At the end of the day, we couldn’t have been more pleased with how the Grand Opening of Philly Art Center’s new Cherry Hill location turned out — an afternoon of art-making, face-painting, machine sewing, drawing, and dancing under clear skies and bright rays of sun! We were truly thrilled to see so many friends, old and new!

We got so many questions at our opening, we decided to share a few of them with you all here.

Q. When do you open??
A. We already are!

Q. What type of programs will you run here in Cherry Hill?
A. All of them! And the list is long… Summer Camps, After School Art, Vacation Camps (for when school is closed), art classes for kids, tweens, and adults (!!), music classes for babies and toddlers, birthday parties, and so much more. Pretty much every program you can find using our site’s navigation is offered at all three locations.

Q. Can I still sign up for summer camps?
A. Yes! Registration is still open, but spaces fill pretty fast. You can sign up for just one week at a time, or save on multiple weeks, with multiple kiddos! Click here to view the schedule and register.

Q. I’m not really an artist. Can I still try this?
A. Well, that depends. Do you like fun? Do you like to try new things and learn new skills? If you answered yes, then check out our class listing and don’t wait any longer to sign up!

In case you missed out on the party, check out some of the most memorable moments:


Adorable, bedazzled and airbrushed faces every where you turned!


Our still life circle was visited by artists big and small.


Thanks to the Greater Overbrook String Band for the magical performance and for getting our feet moving!


Party-goers flexed their art muscles to pull ink through our silkscreens and walked away with some awesome one-of-a-kind prints.


Our toddler music zone was a big hit with the little ones.


Kiddos created lots of wearable art, including super cute headbands using a mix of colorful fabrics.


We all got a little messy in the pottery corner! But that’s a-okay, we like messes.


And of course, what Grand Opening party would be complete without a ribbon cutting? We had the help of a dozen very excited kiddos to make our opening in Cherry Hill official!

We couldn’t be more excited about expanding to South Jersey! We’re looking forward to building more bridges and growing with the community through the creative journey ahead!

Your friends at Philly Art Center

The Benefits and Pleasures of Early Music Classes are Endless!

Having taught early music classes to young children and babies for over ten years, I can attest to the amazing joys and value in each lesson. Children light up with happiness and learn important social and cognitive skills earlier than they would have otherwise.

According to a 2012 study conducted by McMaster University, in Ontario, “babies from the interactive classes showed better early communication skills, like pointing at objects that are out of reach, or waving goodbye. Socially, these babies also smiled more, were easier to soothe, and showed less distress when things were unfamiliar or didn’t go their way.”

Music Class is fun for grownups too!

As adults, we often feel shy about making music, and in particular, about singing. In music class, grownups reconnect with their natural musicality and lose their inhibitions. Adults feel energized by the joy of singing to their little ones and learn a ton of great songs and activities that they can enjoy with their children independently, anytime or anyplace.

Try this while Changing the diapers!

Infants learn to experience the world through touch and the more loving and playful physical contact we give them while engaging them with music, the more they enjoy it and the more they learn. While your baby is lying on the changing table pat one foot at a time, in rhythm, and while maintaining eye contact, chant one of these little songs from my class:

There’s a cobbler down the street
mending shoes for little feet
with a bang and a bang and a bang, bang, bang
with a bang and a bang and a bang, bang, bang

Mending shoes the whole day long
mending shoes to make them strong
with a bang and a bang and a bang, bang, bang
with a bang and a bang and a bang, bang, bang

Or this one..

Shoe a little horse, Shoe a little mare
But the little colt go bare, bare, bare

Click here to learn about the different Music Classes at Philly Art Center. Offered at convenient times in all three of our locations, you can register with your little one today and start jamming tomorrow!

Babies Can be Artists, Too!

If you’ve ever thought your infant or toddler was too young to be interested in art… think again! By the time they’re able to move those tiny fingers and get a good grip on your fingers, they’re curious about all types of sensory stimulation. They’re curious about the way things feel, on the palms of their hands to the tips of their fingers. They’re curious about the noises things make. They’re curious about the world around them.

Babies are also capable. They’re capable of mixing blobs of paint and spreading color across a sheet of paper; of holding a brush or a glue stick and meeting new cold, wet, sticky sensations. They’re capable of surprising you with the artist inside them.

If you want to introduce your baby to the world of art and you aren’t sure where to start, Philly Art Center welcomes you!

Playgroup and Open Studio invites parents, grandparents, and caregivers to explore, learn and play in our bright and happy studios! Each week involves a fun new theme with a range of different activities, so you’ll never tire of dropping in. During this two hour session, you’re able to move through studios full of various age-appropriate activities for babies and toddlers ages 0-3. Mid-way through, we’ll break for story time, read aloud by one of our caring art educators. Then it’s back to developing those fine motor skills for another hour. It’s back to art!

We also offer a variety of Parent + Child art classes for the little ones. These classes range from 5-week to 9-week sessions and run all year long!

Now, we know that introducing babies to art might seem like a messy undertaking—they teethe, they throw, they splash and they spill—but rest assured, all of the materials they use are water-based and washable! After they’ve dabbed or smeared paint on every reachable inch of paper, they’ll want to continue to color the tables, the walls, the floors, and maybe even you. Relax! We think getting messy in art is a good thing! Just bring the little one over to our giant sinks for another exciting sensory experience: hand washing! We’ll take care of the rest.

Before you know it, your baby will grow to LOVE the creative expression that goes along with art, and you’ll be ready to sign up for one of our 6-9 week-long art classes for toddlers!

Here are some examples of what goes on at Open Studio and Playgroup:


Caregivers are welcome to join their little ones in making art, or simply stand by and offer support!


A world of possibilities opens up when you give a baby some paint!


Some little ones like to investigate every square foot of the studios (while caregivers try keeping up with them), and some like to stick close by a comfortable side. Both are perfectly a-okay!


Check out our drop-in page to see when a Playgroup and Open Studio are happening near you!

Books and Art Supplies You’ll Find at Our Store

This past week, as one of our After School kids was heading home, he stopped at my desk and looked me in the eye, pointing to our shelf of art supplies for sale. He said very seriously, “Does anyone even know we have a store??!”

Good point, Matthew. Hey, everybody, Philly Art Center has a store!! And not just any store. Our director and staff have lovingly chosen both foundational art supplies for a range of ages, as well as a few of those special materials used in classes with great success.

It’s no secret that kids love glue. We spend time in our classes working on the skill of using glue sticks and the big task of squeeeeezing glue out of big bottles. Along with those two basics, we’ve also got an even more challenging, and rewarding, method of toddler art adhesion– a screw-top bottle of brush glue (it may bring a bit of a flashback for some of us to the old bottles of paste from elementary school). Opening the lid, brushing on the glue, going back for more, it’s all a valuable lesson in fine motor skills and patience for little artists.

Beading is another amazing fine motor builder and a much-loved activity for artists of all ages in our studios. Alongside beads of various sizes, shapes and colors in the store, we stock the fabulous beading wire Twisteez. Using wire instead of floppy yarn or string sets up youngest beaders for success, allowing them to easily “pinch it at the top and let it drop!”

In addition to art supplies, we carry a few of our most beloved kids books including the board book, “Beautiful Oops” by Barney Saltzberg. This book expresses the heart of the Art Center’s vision to nurture out-of-the-box thinkers and creative problem solvers!

Each page of the book shows a “mistake” — a ripped paper, a spilled paint cup — then shows us the beautiful transformation of each of these “oops.” The Art Center seeks to teach artists to pause and withhold judgment at that moment when one realizes that what was imagined is not what was created.

Just like this simple children’s book, we love each time an artist approaches an “oops” with an open mind and as an opportunity for something different and maybe even better! We hope some of the materials and books in our store will inspire more of this discovery outside of our studios.

Tweens and Art: Transformative Talents!

They’re not little ones. They’re not teens. Kids from about nine years old to the edge of their freshman year of high school find themselves “in between”. They’ve got the exuberance of childhood still bubbling, and over that comes the new found smarts and dawning ability, the feeling that they can know and do more. Add to this mix the development of interests. They know what they like. They’re building their passions. If you’ve got a tween, you know: you’ve got something special.


As they navigate the waters between childhood and full-on teenagerdom, their independence strengthens. They see that rules are shorthand for judgment, that the black and white is a range of color. They live in the shades and tints. Tweens learn that a question may have many answers, or better yet, a question may open deeper questions. By the nature of their age, they are opening up to the world and the world is opening up to them. It’s a thrilling and important time.


The mindset described above happens to be a great mindset for art. It’s open and energized. With art, that new independence can be strengthened with confidence born from new skills. The desire to splash color across the page can now meet with the desire to capture the shadow of a leaf. When it’s done, when the tween artist can take their kid’s urge and match it with their new powers of persistence and control, the result can be magic.

With art, tweens learn to wrestle with materials, and to let materials speak to them. They turn the abstract or imaginary into reality. They problem solve. They read and create subtlety, like the touch of blue that makes a shadow beneath the chin. Art’s a place to take the world head on, to learn, explore and express in ever more complex ways.

What we can do:

Tweens are ready to focus. When they take a painting class, for example, they want to paint. When they study clay, they know that over in the corner sits the potters wheel, and they are itching to see if they can handle it.

Understanding a tweens increasing capacity and desire for focus, we have built a range of summer camps sure to engage them. From classics like portrait drawing and still life painting to exciting camps in graphic novels and tween sewing, the tween artists of Philly Art Center are never short of great ways to discover, tinker, render, test, and experiment. They can machine sew, create comics, screen print, throw clay on the potters wheel, paint, draw and so much more.

Our curriculum introduces history, contemporary art, cultures around the globe, and imaginative exercise to get their minds buzzing, to see the possibilities. With this inspiration in hand, the tween artists are ready to tackle the materials, be it wood, wire, paper, fibers, metals, plaster, clay, foam, or even the strange and wonderful junk found everywhere around us. Through a focused approach with specialty camps focused on particular media, our tween camps go deep.


Still riding the rush of younger years and yet sensing the know how and ideas to come, tweens are ready explore the world. They are ready to forge passions. For this, Philly Art Center is just place.


What Can Preschoolers Learn Through Art Classes?

A toddler in art class will amaze you.

They will amaze you with what they make. Imagine, a paint splattered sheet as a planet, marked by a fleck of red, a rocket’s landing pad. But the art is just the beginning.

They will amaze you in how they made it: working with focus, mixing colors (colors that they shared with other kids), holding thin brushes, dabbing glue and more.

Finally, they will amaze you in what art does for them. The rewards of an art class for young ones are deep and varied. The bibliography of studies is endless. Motor skills, self confidence, language growth, are just a few of the benefits. At the Philly Art Center thousands of toddlers have marched into our classes to take their place as artists.

There’s more than numbers and words.

As toddlers grow, they learn the value of describing themselves and the world around them through numbers and words. But we know there’s more. We know and experience beyond what can be said or counted. Art invites kids to feel, to discover and to express themselves in new ways. They can feel that pink, glopped on paper and smeared with an elbow, says something fun. Something fun like what your stomach says at the top of the slide.

Little things make big changes.

A drop of dark purple in the yellow changes a sun into an eyeball. A dab of glue transforms the bendy straw into a chimney. With art, toddlers learn subtlety.

Imagination and reality can be friends.

In art, toddlers learn how to think — wonder, explore, experiment — through materials. By beginning with a swirl of glossy blue paint, a toddler may find to their surprise that they’ve made a cloud and wind, which then encourages a swipe of green below for the grass, and as the green paint dries, darker where it’s thick and lighter where it’s thin, they suddenly see homes for elves and caterpillars.

Paint, glue, paper, clay, and more have their own suggestions to offer, and through art making, toddlers learn to work with them, to follow the interplay between the stuff of imagination and the stuff of stuff.

In many ways, toddlers already know these lessons. Much of it belongs to the “lateral thinking”, the nimble and imaginative ways of knowing that kids have in spades but that often, through a check-the-box education, lose as they grow up. Art gives little ones a place to keep that imagination alive, to strengthen it, and make it part of the world.

And there’s more…

In a practical sense, an art class teaches listening and sharing. It teaches a kid to transition from one activity to another, to say goodbye to the crayons and hello to the clay. It teaches kids to clean up in cooperation with each other. It teaches focus, to dig into an idea, a problem, a material. It teaches them to explore, and sometimes to start over and try again.

Toddlers in an art class, simply by holding a brush or pinching the clay, are refining motor skills. By building a house of cardboard, they are engineering, problem solving, coming to grips with physics. The squiggles, spirals, circles and lines that travel around their drawings are the precursors of numerals and letters. They are the beginning of literacy itself.

In a big sense, an art class teaches a toddler about their own capacities. They will create. Where there was clay, there will be a cup. Where there was paper and paint, there will be… well… anything! And they will have made it! They’ll swell with surprise and pride and the urge to create more.


You’re Invited to our Grand Opening in Cherry Hill!

The grand opening celebration at the Philly Art Center in Cherry Hill, at 1721 Springdale Rd., will be held on Sunday May 31st, beginning at 2pm and running until 5. The official ribbon cutting will be at 3pm.

We’ve gone over the bridge!

On the very last day of May, that’s Sunday the 31st, Philly Art Center scissors will be cutting the ribbon on our new studio in Cherry Hill.

There will be art-making a plenty for all ages! Our award winning teachers will man stations for screen printing, painting, pottery, and much more. To give a further idea of what Philly Art Center students can do, we’ll be sharing some of our very first Cherry Hill students work in a Student Art Show. We’ve even got a baby zone for the very littlest among us to enjoy music and creative play.

It’s facepainting season, of course. Every block party has one, but what kind of face painter lands feature spots on Martha Stewart and Fresh Air with Terry Gross? The greatest face painter of all, that’s who… Peanutbutter!

(By the way, Peanutbutter the face painter will be there)

There will be birdsong in breeze and a rustle in the trees, and, yet better, a genuine Mummers’ string band to pick and strut, rep to the fullest, and move your feet. Finally, our caravan from over the bridge will include food trucks. Bring your appetite. The curb shall be a bistro.

So, why all the fuss? Why drum up Peanutbutter, food trucks, Mummers, and arts galore?

First, there are the facilities. Oh, the facilities.

Step inside our gorgeous new Cherry Hill studios and behold sewing machines, easels, enormous sinks, long stretches of countertop, expansive gallery walls, shelves lined with paint, and all the materials you could wish for. Here our student artists will have the opportunity to sculpt, paint, throw and fire (clay), build and more. They’ll bring to life all manner of creations. Spurred by our innovative, adventurous curriculum and our outstanding teaching artists, the kids at Cherry Hill, from toddlers to tweens, as well as classes for adults, will wonder, explore, experiment, and create to their hearts’ content, all in our ample studio, bathed in the natural light pouring from oversized windows.

Which brings us to what’s outside.

Beyond the studio walls are flowering trees, evergreens, playing fields, and a broad blue sky. The Art Center at Cherry Hill will afford us the chance to incorporate outdoor activities into our art making. We’ll set easels in the fields. We’ll draw in the fresh air. Our paintings will dry in the sun. Not to mention the grand possibilities of outdoor art games. It’ll be great.

You can RSVP to this event here.

Spring classes begin May 4th. Followed by Vacation Camps in June and by-the-week Summer Camps for kids and tweens, all summer long! Come along!

Summer Camps for Kids + Tweens

Think back to those last moments of the school year. The classroom falls silent, the second hand climbs, and at long last, the bell rings. The kids, as if spring-loaded, rush out into the summer.

They’re in the yard, on the stoop, in the kitchen. They are looking for something to do. Well? What are you, the parent, going to do?

Summer has got to be fun, but you want those growing brains engaged. You want to keep that potential flowering. That mix of joy and challenge, of smarts and senses, is precisely what art can bring. And it’s precisely what Summer Camp at the Philly Art Center has in store for you and yours.

We are “whole child” centered, meaning that our Summer Camp is built to engage kids from all angles.

We engage their senses, hands, and brains. 

Your kids will meet the smell of paint, the crisp feel of cut paper, the tacky pull of glue, the sight of swirling colors and bold lines. The little ones will develop their motor skills and the bigger kids will push their mastery as they brush, twist, sketch, cut, rip, and piece together. They’ll back up, regard their creations, and come in for more. Their brains will stretch as they build bridges from paper, press their own prints, or follow an accidental glop of color. Here there’s no canned crafts, no paint by numbers or tape-backed googly eyes. Kids at the Art Center make their own little worlds.

We engage the child socially and emotionally.

Through their own creativity, kids grow in confidence and pride. They’ll surprise themselves (and you!) with what they can do, with what they can create when an imagination fully turned on gets into the stuff of art. And as much as they develop this sense of self, group projects will further develop cooperation and communication. The kids make friends.

So, in building our programs for kids, we tailor it to their needs. Attention spans are fed, but not overloaded. Snacks and lunch come at just the right time. And when itchiness arrives, we head out to the playground for a face full of sun, a breath of fresh air, and a race or two.

Meanwhile, through the tactile, sensory, and conceptual exploration, the budding friendships and sense of self, big learning is going on. Each week our camps dig into a theme. Whether it’s the Art of India, Summer Surrealism, or EcoArt Adventures, kids learn about the world here. They learn about it not only through their own creations — the paint, glue, and more — but also through field trips, scavenger hunts, gallery tours, and visits from our city’s artists.

Whether you sign up for a single week or a three month run all the way to September, Summer Camp at the Philly Art Center is more than an art class. It’s an opportunity for kids to challenge themselves, make friends, grow in skills and confidence, enliven their curiosity, learn about their city and world, and, most importantly, have a blast.

Check out a gallery of past Summer Camps!

Philly Family: Philly Art Center Expanding With New Cherry Hill Space

The following article was originally posted here at PhillyFamily.com.

They’ve got the city core covered with hands-on, creativity-packed classes in Fairmount and Queen Village, but the folks behind Philly Art Center have been inspired, and they have a new masterpiece in the works: a new center to open in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, this Spring.

The new space was inspired by the current outposts we know and love, so expect huge stainless steel art sinks, work space for miles, and open architecture so that you can see and hear your kids as they create. The space will also have large windows overlooking lovely open fields — a feature the staff plan to take full advantage of (art en plein air, anyone?). Oh, and free parking. We city folk love the sound of that.

Come April, the new space will welcome toddlers, kids, teens, and adults into the new space with a line-up of arts programming. New offerings at Cherry Hill will include an afternoon session of the popular Mini Masters class, as well as tween specialty camps that include sewing, painting + drawing, comics, crafts, and ceramics.

Can’t wait until April? To get the NJ ‘burbs all excited, Philly Art Center is offering a five-week mini session of some of their most popular offerings at the Katz JCC in Cherry Hill starting March 15. You can see the class list here, and register by searching for the class you want. Summer camp registration for the Cherry Hill branch is also now open; spring classes will follow shortly.

Philly Mag: Philly Art Center Expands to Cherry Hill

The following article was originally posted here at PhillyMag.com.

Starting in late-April the Philly Art Center will open a third location in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Located at 1721 Springdale Road in the new JFed Annex building, the new digs will feature “open studios with stainless steel art sinks, work space for miles, natural light streaming through oversized windows and Philly Art Center’s vibrant trademark colors. The open architecture will invite all to be inspired and allow parents to observe as their kids engage in the creative process.”

Like its parent locations in Fairmount and Queen Village, the Cherry Hill Center will host classes for everyone from babies to grownups. For the younger end of that spectrum, there will be music classes and playgroups. Toddlers and adults can enjoy a range of art classes—from drawing and painting to machine sewing and ceramics. The Center will also host one-day vacation art camps, birthday parties, tween camp and an after-school program complete with transportation.

Can’t wait till it opens? The Philly Art Center will host a five-week sneak-peek session of classes at the Katz JCC starting March 15th, while the Cherry Hill location is still under construction.

For more information on classes, visit phillyartcenter.com.

Philly.com: Build Confidence With Liquid Courage

Leave the kids at home, grab a bottle of your favorite wine, or a few of your favorite beers, and head on over to Queen Village every 2nd Thursday for our Drop-in BYOB Figure Drawing. During this 3 hour class, Philly Art Center supplies all of the materials—including a live, clothed model—and the atmosphere for some fun, relaxing, camaraderie. No registration or commitment required! Just show up ready to drink and to draw.

Featured here on Philly.com.

Cooking up Art at Home: Recipes for Homemade Art Projects

As an art educator, I use a pretty awesome variety of materials. Paint sure, glue, but I often get the most enjoyment from making something brand new with the kids; mixing, pouring and experimenting with a variety of ingredients. It always takes me back to some of the favorite things I would do as a kid, and connects me to my love for cooking.

For me, visual arts and cooking are very similar. Each medium takes creativity, passion, trial, error, and love. A person uses materials in innovative ways to express themselves, whether it’s with sugar and butter or water and ink, I find a great deal of joy in both.

Young children mimic so much of what they see us do and say, that a natural interest in cooking (a common activity in most homes) makes sense. At this young age, children also love to help and it sets them up for a sense of accomplishment when they are part of the team. They can directly see how their motions are changing something, similar to how a child may view mixing paint to change the colors or making marks on paper. In a world that is so new to them and which they don’t have much direct control of, these little accomplishments go a long way.

One thing I often hear families say about the Philly Art Center is they appreciate it’s a safe space to try things, experiment with process, and to get “arty” … I totally agree! There are a lot of fun recipes you can make with your child at home, both as a sensory activity and a cooking activity – an art activity! Here are some of my favorites.

Salt Dough

This is an old standby. It’s simple, non-toxic, edible (though not so yummy), and uses common household ingredients.

  • 1 cup Flour, plus extra
  • 1 cup Salt
  • ½ cup Warm water, plus extra
  • Hawaiian Punch powdered drink packet
  • Various tools for cutting, pressing and drawing

Have kids help you measure each ingredient. In a large bowl, have them mix the salt and warm water. They should stir it well to help dissolve the salt (it makes for a smoother dough, if you want more grit, use cold water and mix dry ingredients first).

Slowly pour in the flour, adding a little at a time to make mixing easier and to gauge the sticky-ness. If it is too sticky, add more flour. If it is not sticky enough, add more water. This is such a great sensory exploration, and a chance to communicate with your child about different textures: sticky, pasty, dry, gritty … I usually just dump it onto a table with a little flour sprinkled on the surface to knead it and get right into playing with it.

Adding food coloring can happen with the salt and water, or after all ingredients are mixed together, it can be a good motor skill to encourage kids to mix the color evenly in the dough. If you have cookie cutters, bottle caps, paper towel tubes, they can be fun to explore with and will encourage younger children to identify the shapes they are making.

Salt dough will keep for about a week in an airtight container. If you want to bake these to keep as whatever sculpture your artist has created, simply bake them in the oven at 200*F for about an hour. Don’t foget to paint them after they’ve cooled!

Cinnamon Applesauce Sculptures

These smell amazing and are a great homemade holiday ornament project.

  • 2 Cups Applesauce
  • 2 Cups Cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon Glue (optional)
  • Cookie Cutters
  • Household Objects for Stamping and Cutting

Have children help you measure – this is a great opportunity to develop math language as well as measure and think critically as they compare each ingredient. Pour ingredients together in a large bowl and mix away! Be a careful the cinnamon doesn’t take flight; it can irritate some kid’s noses. If it’s too sticky, add more cinnamon, add more applesauce for a more gooey consistency.

Note: This is a great sensory art activity and smells terrific, but like our salt dough, doesn’t taste so great!

These can be rolled out like regular dough, and feel free to use cookie cutters or other household stamping objects. If you’re planning on hanging these, poke a hole (not too close to the edge) and, since these will shrink a bit, make the hole a little larger than your yarn/string.

Bake your final project for about 2 hours at 200*F. The trick is to keep the heat low and dry for a long time, if you do this in warm weather and have a sunny space to leave them for a day, they can also air dry.

Happy Home Art Cooking!

What to Do With All That Artwork Your Child Brings Home From Art Class

All of us teachers have seen the look on parents’ faces, when at the end of a long camp/class day (or week, or session!) your young blooming artist proudly hands you a HUGE bag of their artwork. Of course you’re proud, but you’re also thinking, “what am I going to do with all this art?!” It’s is a very fair question to ask; and we’ve got some strategies for you!

Let’s start with another question, probably the next one that comes to your mind after seeing that bag overflowing with artwork … is it okay to throw some of it away? The answer is YES! It’s completely fine to throw away some of your child’s art work. And you don’t even have to feel bad about it.

A lot of the artwork that we make at the Philly Art Center is about the process more than it is about the outcome. We encourage our students to try new materials and new techniques. And like when you try anything for the first time, the outcome isn’t always perfect. So chances are, your child may not want to keep everything they made either.

If your child is older (6+), include them in the conversation about which artwork they’d like to keep and which art to toss. It’s good for kids to know that not everything that they make is precious. Understanding that might even encourage them to make more art because it relieves the pressure to make something that would “make mommy/daddy proud,” and encourages them to create from an intrinsic place simply because they’re curious.

If your child is young (5 and younger), it’s still fine to throw some of their artwork away, but if they see you do so, it might confuse and upset them. It’s best to wait a few days and then throw it out without them seeing you.

What do you do with the artwork that you decide to keep?

First off, there are some functional uses for recycling your kids artwork:

  • Use old paintings and drawings as wrapping paper.
  • Cut up old artwork and use the pieces as gift tags or turn them into cards. How cool to give Grandmom a handmade piece of art, wrapped in art, with an art card!
  • Turn 2D works of art into placemats. Simply get paintings and drawings laminated and they’re ready to decorate your table!

Now, let’s get to the artwork that you definitely want to display. There is the old standard of framing the piece and hanging it on the wall, but framing can get expensive. Another great option to consider is a wire hanging system. IKEA sells a great one, called the Dignitet curtain wire system.

A wire hanging system is like a neat and professional looking clothesline in your home. You can easily hang art work to it using clothespins or more chic metal clips. Then it’s super easy to switch work out when you need a change or your child comes home with a fresh bag of art!

Lastly, whether you throw the work out, recycle it in the form of something functional, or put it up for display, consider taking a picture of it first. Digital files take up much less space than the originals and they’re easier to keep forever.

You can also use digital pictures of your kids work to easily have calendars or note cards printed through companies such as Vistaprint. You could even take those digital pictures, size them down, collage them together in Photoshop, and have a poster printed. That way you’ll have a year’s worth of artwork all displayed within and 18″ x 24″ frame.

Ready to bring home some art? Check out our schedule of kids art classes!

How To Talk To Kids About Their Art

After a class at Philly Art Center, your child has done a whole lot of creating! Now is the time to chat about their art and art-making process. It can often be difficult to figure out how to start or continue a conversation with your child about their art. While some children may need little encouragement to share and explain their artwork, others may need more. Here are some open-ended suggestions to get the conversation going:

Point Our Something You Notice About the Artwork

  • I noticed that…you used a lot of tape on your sculpture, you left the paper white there, you used a lot of blue paint, etc.”

Ask about the Creative Process

  • How did you…mix that color, learn to do this, attach these pieces together, etc.”
  • Can you tell me about your artwork?”
  • “Do you have a favorite part of the project?”
  • “What was the most challenging part of your creation?

Comment on the Act of Creating

  • Wow! That must have taken a lot of practice!
  • “You’ve been working really hard on that sculpture!”
  • “I bet that wasn’t easy!”

Having conversations with our young artists is one of the best parts of my day as an art teacher. What may just be squiggles and shapes on a page to our eyes could in fact be characters in the most elaborate story. All you have to do is ask!

Development of Fine Motor Skills Through Art

Each time you pick up your child from Philly Art Center, you’ve probably observed us getting “down and dirty” and having a lot of fun. It might appear like that’s all we’re doing (which is a good thing), however, everything that we plan for your child(ren) has a much greater purpose.

Every art lesson is created keeping the development of the whole child in mind … social, cognitive, emotional, and physical. Although the art project is itself is important, the skills developed during the process of creating art will enable your child to meet with future success in school and life.

One of the most important skills that are developed through art is fine motor development. During art lessons, your child’s small muscles in the fingers, hands, and wrists are exercised and strengthened, helping to make learning to write easier.

You may not realize it, but the control over finger movements used for clay modeling and finger painting is the same control the child needs to be able to grasp a pencil and write. Without well-developed fine motor skills, a child may have difficulty learning to write or performing other critical tasks required in school, such as turning pages of books, cutting, drawing, and squeezing glue from a bottle.

At Philly Art Center, students gain dexterity, hand-eye coordination, strength and flexibility as they use their hands and fingers to work with all kinds of objects and materials.

Tearing and scrunching paper, rolling, squeezing, and twisting model magic, opening and closing glue jars, threading pipe cleaners into holes, pinching clay into pots, gaining dexterity by using different size paint brushes, threading beads, building three dimensional creations…these all are ways we encourage your children to exercise their fingers, hands and wrists.

10 Suggestions for Fine Motor Development Activities at Home:

  1. Homemade playdough or real cookie dough for twisting, rolling, and squeezing
  2. Serve finger foods like raisins that young children have to pick up carefully
  3. String beads or noodles with thread or wires to make necklaces
  4. Allow children to open and close containers with lids
  5. Practice with scissors
  6. Play with puppets
  7. Build with small blocks
  8. Pour liquid into cups
  9. Wipe the table with a sponge and squeeze it out when done
  10. Teach finger play type songs like “Where is Thumbkin” (or sign up for our baby and toddler music classes with Teacher Frank!)

When it Comes to Art, Messy is Good!

The tables are covered, the smocks are on, and the brush is loaded and ready to go. What happens next? Even with all the precautions, within seconds there is more paint on the ground than on the paper. We’ve all been there!

Our instincts are to clean up the mess before continuing, and to bring attention to the fact that paint is for the paper, not our hands. Yet many studies have shown that allowing children to be messy is more beneficial than we realize, and it is perhaps more important to hold off on the order while creativity is at play.

Studies from the NAEA (National Art Education Association) show that the development of skills for problem solving, sensory and spatial awareness are built when we allow messes to be made.

When a child is at artistic play, they have the opportunity to explore textures and shapes in a free environment that benefits their understanding of everyday objects. The comprehension of solids vs. liquids, for example, can become easier when materials are not contained.

To see how much a blob of paint can move, you must be able to push it around without borders. The next time the child squeezes out some toothpaste, they may have an easier time understanding how the little bit on the toothbrush can do so much!

In the same realm, being messy can be helpful in understanding physical capabilities, when you see first hand how long your arm can stretch and how hard can you actually press that crayon, and the possibilities in between.

Using modeling clay can be a wonderful way to find out how something can be both solid and malleable, and further direct understanding of weight, fragility, and other factors of real world objects.

When the mess hits the wall, it reinforces the understanding of the environments we’re surrounded by. Although it may take some restraint, watching the paint drip down from a table can show how liquids operate, etc.

In addition to the benefits of being messy during creating, having a bigger clean up can actually be more valuable than cleaning as you go, because problem solving skills are at play!

When surrounded by one big mess rather than constant small messes being cleaned up, it is easy to see how things can go back in their place.

Searching for the correct marker caps, wiping down surfaces, figuring out how to organize materials in a bin or drawer are all ways to develop fine motor skills, while reinforcing the importance of a big clean up.

Parents and teachers are always determined to show children the importance of taking risks, and reinforcing the benefits of exploration. Through being messy during creative play, positive habits are formed, and there is more time for parent and child to explore together.

Besides, what’s more exciting than bath time?

Our Tween Summer Sewing Camp Featured on FOX 29 News!

Two of our tween seamstresses braved the summer heat to share their talent on FOX 29! As you’ll see in the piece, our campers are taught how to create rompers, slingback totes, dresses, and more. We provide all the materials needed, and discounts are available for families that book multiple weeks.

Check out their creations, and then head over to our tween programming page for upcoming classes!

FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Our Director Jill Markovitz on the Radio

In this 10-minute”What’s Going On” radio interview, Philly Art Center Founder and Director Jill Markovitz talks about the importance of having art in our lives.


Philadelphia Magazine: Best Philly Summer Camps

Philadelphia Magazine honored us recently as one of the Best Philly Summer Camps for Kids and Teens!

Philly Art Center (PAC), winner of “Best of Philly 2012,” is the ultimate playground for burgeoning Picassos. PAC offers summer camps for kids of skill levels ranging from ages 4-12 from June 23rd to August 29th. Each theme-based week treats kids to a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities led by brilliant and thoughtful teaching artists. Treat your kids to a summer vacation in the land of imagination. Registration is open, but space is limited.

Check out our summer camp page for more information on our award winning program!

Named Top Kids Art Classes in Philadelphia by CBS Local

Thank you to CBS Local for selecting Philly Art Center as one of the Top Kids Art Classes in Philadelphia!

The Philly Art Center has ongoing classes and a summer camp program that runs all summer long. The main teaching style is based on a balance of creative problem solving with age-appropriate development/skills and concept development.

Classes involve both indoor and outdoor activities, and there are themed weeks. There are two programs for different ages: ages four to 12 for general art and tween courses for ages nine to 12. The latter focuses on sewing, drawing, painting and the art in graphic novels. The Fairmount Art Center has been in business for 10 years. It opened its second location in 2011 after prosperous growth.

Now that you know you’re in good hands, why not check out our kids programming?

10th Anniversary Celebration: A Parent’s Perspective

Remarks from a parent, during our 10th Birthday Bash April 6, 2014:

Every time I drop my son off at Fairmount Art Center I know that the teachers will have something new for him to do that has been well thought-out before he arrives. They are pro-spontaneity – it is Art after all – but they are never “winging it”, it’s not just talk – it’s putting ideas into activity in a safe environment with energetic and engaged teachers. And, not only do they have a plan, in my opinion their plans include EXACTLY what you want your kids to be doing. The kids are the focus. They make decisions  – about the blank spaces and whether to fill them – what colors go where – what amount of pressure to use, what materials.  And it’s not about supplies or size of space – because really – how do they do it all in there? I have no idea! It’s about valuing the kids enough to have a PLAN for them, and to let them run with it.

Here’s what else I have learned: every time I drop my son off he will return a mess. But that’s OK. They paint with trucks and shaving cream – whatever it is, they are TRYING it because it’s safe and free from expectation. Thanks to the Art Center, Malcolm has produced artwork based on famous works, but more importantly, he now has an understanding of what it takes to truly explore art. When you feel the freedom to create, you do.

There are a lot of places in this city for kids to go – places that will happily take your money. But they won’t learn your kid’s name. And they won’t welcome him with a real PLAN every time he walks in the door. For this I am grateful – and I wish the Art Center many MANY more years to come!

Philadelphia Magazine Crowns Philly Art Center 2014 “Best Classes for Grownups”

We’re so honored to have been chosen as Philadelphia Magazine’s 2014 “Best Classes for Grownups“! Below is their very generous write-up, and you can go here to browse our adult class lineup!

The dual outposts of Philly Art Center are best known for their awesome kids’ classes, but the beginner art classes for grown-ups — seven-week sessions that average eight to 12 students — offer the same pressure-free, joyful artistic release that the kids enjoy, with instructors who will actually elevate your skill level. Go for drawing, pottery, painting, collaging and more.

Best Kids Classes in Philly – 2012

Philadelphia Magazine named us a “Best of Philly” winner!  Fairmount & Queen Village Art Center won “Best Kids Classes in the City”, 2012!  We are honored and humbled!  Thank you for your support in Fairmount over the past eight years and for welcoming us to Queen Village, last year!  In addition to our stellar kids classes, we rock outstanding classes for adults with expert teaching artist’s!  http://www.phillymag.com/philly/best-of/kids-classes-city-2012/

Philly Art Center Receives the Merchant’s Grant

We are so grateful and proud to have been awarded a grant from the Merchants Fund!  They are a rooted organization, with Patricia Blakely at helm, supporting small businesses in Philadelphia for over 100 years.  We’ve been granted two shinny, beautiful kilns and 12 large wooden painting easels.  Thank you Merchants Fund!!  www.merchantsfund.org.