Author Archives: artworks

How To Nurture Creativity


Recently I watched one of my favorite TED talks of all time, entitled “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” by Ken Robinson. In it, he refers to children exuding creativity and how schools kill it. He says, “every child is born an artist” a famous Picasso quote, in which I whole-heartedly agree. The trick to remaining creative is not being afraid of being wrong, in fact, to expect it. Teaching for the past 16 years, ages 2 to 90, I cannot agree more. I see the change from childhood to adult and the fear that encroaches as we age. We fear expressing ourselves through our work and being “judged” for what we produce.


He goes on to argue that as children we are steered towards subjects and learning that is geared towards getting a job as an adult, and away from subjects such as drama, art, music, and dance. In his words, this is “profoundly mistaken”.


His solution is interaction. Creativity is built through interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things, such as movement, art, communication, science, etc. Everyone’s intelligence is distinctive, we all think differently and need to approach learning and creativity with our strengths.


In Ken’s words, as parents, “our task is to educate their whole being”. So ask yourself, what are your child’s strength’s? How can you support them and boost their individual creative intelligence? To help in this endeavor, I have included some helpful hints below:


Ways to Nurture Creativity


Creativity is a skill that can be built and encouraged. Creative people are better problem solvers. Creativity isn’t confined to the arts, it can be found in math and science as well.

  1. Space, give children a place and time to create. Provide a place in your home with markers, crayon, paper, and random “stuff” where they are free to explore and create.
  2. Unplug, have downtime, that means no kindles, iPads, iPods, TV, Wii, etc. let them be “bored” for a little while. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they find a creative outlet.
  3. Be Silly, have fun.
  4. Explore, get out of the house, visit a museum, parks, and a garden, anything, just get moving. A change in your environment, provides a different outlook.
  5. Keep a Journal. Capture all your creative thoughts.
  6. Learn a new skill, such as a language, cooking, art, sports, etc.
  7. Help someone else, see the world through a different lens.



July 4th Crafts and Activities

We hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday, below is a list of some easy crafts/activities to celebrate, enjoy!

1. Kids would get such a kick out of this, just be ready to get wet!

2. Who doesn’t enjoy a good old fashion scavenger hunt?

3. Healthy, easy, and spectacular! Get the kids and adults to eat some antioxidants.

All images link to sources.

Summer Activities To Do With Kids In The DMV

Summer always seems to sneak up on me and grab me unprepared. Lately I have been left without childcare, or camp (I know this is weird considering I run a camp, but we were full and I forgot to sign up my own children, it happens to the best of us!). In this case, I seem to develop a brain freeze and cannot, for the life of me, come up with a fun outing with the kids. So, for my own benefit, and yours, here is a compilation of all my favorite kids activities/outings in the DMV:

Great Falls
Homestead Farm
Kids Museum
Natural History Museum
Building Museum
Botanical Gardens
Brookside Gardens
National Zoo
Local Pool
Skate Park
All Fired Up
Bike Ride
National Monuments
Six Flags
Climbing Park
Local Beaches
Jammin Java
Barnes and Noble
Horseback Riding
Wheaton Regional Park/Cabin John Regional Park
Mount Vernon
Torpedo Factory

And of course, Artworks Fine Art Studio (apologies for the shameless plug). We hope everyone is enjoying their summer!

Classic Summer Art Projects

Who doesn’t love sidewalk chalk?  Have you been to the craft store lately and seen the array of chalks available? They have paint, stamps, stencils, glow in the dark, and so much more. Personally, I prefer the good old fashion sticks, but this summer staple is a must for bored kids (and adults).  I had so much fun lining the sidewalk with my kids the other night. Here are some of the results:

Or, go bananas with some of these ideas:


For more ideas, take a look at our page filled with fun projects for the kids, or don’t worry about any of this and register at Artworks Summer Camp and leave all the planning to us!

Valentines Cards

Valentines Day is only 4 days away….yikes! If you’re anything like my family, we are always trying to finish up our class Valentines at the last minute. Instead of scrambling to CVS the night before and buying up any leftover box of premade cards, here are a few simple Valentines sure to please. They may take a little longer, but they are definitely worth it.

First is a puzzle Valentine, it reads “I Love you to pieces”. This is probably the easiest, in terms of supplies needed. I used an old pink manila folder and traced the shape of a puzzle piece along the edge, so it would open like a card. We then printed the slogan, but instead of using the word love, we put a heart.

puzzle valentine

puzzle valentine





Next up.. this Valentine reads, “You’re A GEM”(due to the ring pop theme). For this project I used stamps because I wanted my 5 year old to do all 18 herself and I knew if I asked her to sign that many cards, it wouldn’t get done till next month. However, if you don’t have letter stamps readily available (aka not many parents), a print out would work just as well. To make the “bling” show better, we unwrapped the store packaging and put the rings in clear plastic bags, along with the card. We then sealed the bag with a sticker.

Last, is a Valentine I did a few years ago. I had found a bag of chocolate “Luscious Lips” and thought it would be cute to attach to a photo of my daughter to make it look like she was blowing a kiss. This is easier than it looks. I had her decorate a card, while I cut out an image of her and hot glued the envelope with the kiss (get it… SWAK). Maybe a little corny, but it is for Valentines Day. DSC_0926 DSC_0922 DSC_0923 DSC_0927

Happy Valentines!! SWAK, Erin

Holiday Gift Ideas

I don’t know about your kids, after one clean up I feel my kids have more than enough “stuff”. This year, in an attempt to corral the focus on toys and things, we have decided to gift experiences instead. This movement has been building momentum in the past couple of years and I think our family is ready to jump on board. Examples of different experiences include, but are not limited to classes (ahem… Artworks), ice skating, sporting events, movies, theatre tickets, concerts, restaurants (last year we gifted an American girl doll tea at Tyson’s Corner), vacations, you name it, I bet there is a gift card available. A great source of inspiration is Groupon, Living Social, and Certifikid.

What to do about gifts under the tree or Menorah? We all love the feeling of watching the joy on our children’s face as they see all the goodies about to be devoured. Instead of more plastic “made in China stuff”, how about books, art supplies, games for the Xbox or Wii, or even clothing?

Still not ready to convert? How about giving some hand-made gifts? One of my personal favorites is paper white bulbs in a beautiful vase, this might not fly with the kiddos but it is a fantastic party gift.


paper whites xmas giftHowever your family decides to give this season, we wish you health, happiness, and joy. Happy Holidays!

Congratulations To Our Grads

Meredith Holmes, Age 8

Meredith Holmes, Age 8

In the past 12 years I have seen my fair share of students leave for college. However, this year is different, two of our oldest students will be leaving for their respective Universities and it is very hard to say goodbye. I would like to thank and congratulate both Meredith Holmes and Nikki Mills for their outstanding dedication and joy they have brought to me and the whole Artworks Team for the past decade. Not only have these two young women been students, but they have also worked with us and helped teach either at camp or class.

In the past 12 years, these two have produced a multitude of amazing work, but I found these two pieces by Meredith, one from her first class ever and the other just a couple of years ago. It is astonishing to see the change from child to adult.

Meredith Holmes, Age 16

Meredith Holmes, Age 16

It is an amazing experience to watch a child grow and become an adult that you respect and enjoy. These two are simply remarkable and we will miss them more than I can express.  Good luck to you both, although I know you will not need it.

Spring Break Project Idea

Day Camp Sun

In honor of springing ahead, here are some sunny creations from our day campers.

This multimedia project is fun and easy. We used canvas board, acrylic paints, paper, and glue. First have students paint their canvas, either painting a full sun, or partial, using whichever colors they prefer. We decided to use blue and orange because we wanted to review complimentary colors.

While the paint is drying, students cut out decorative paper of their choice. These pieces of paper will be used for the rays of the sun. Once paint is dry adhere the paper cut outs with glue. It is a good idea to paint a coat of glue over the top of the entire canvas. The glue not only secures the paper, but also gives a nice shiny surface.



Spring Into Art


Now that we have more daylight and warmer weather, it is time to start thinking about getting outside and painting! If you have never tried en plein air painting, or in other words, painting outdoors, now is the time. Some great places around the DC metro area include, but are not limited to,

  1.  Tidal Basin (especially when the cherry blossoms are in bloom)
  2.  Any of the monuments, but I am partial to the Jefferson and Lincoln (my husband and I were married at the Jefferson).
  3. Georgetown
  4. The National Zoo
  5. C & O Canal
  6. Old Anglers Inn, Potomac
  7. Old Town Alexandria
  8. Antique Row Kensington
  9. Fletcher’s Boat House
  10. National Cathedral
  11. Farmer’s Markets
  12. Glen Echo Park
  13. Brookside Gardens

When spending a day painting outside, it is important to make sure you have everything you need. There is nothing more frustrating than driving to your location, setting up shop, and then realizing you forgot something important. The day should be spent focusing on your painting, not ruined by forgetting to pack something. I have made a list of tools and materials that are helpful.

  1. A French Easel
  2. Paints i.e. watercolors, oils, acrylics etc. and any painting materials
  3. Painting surface i.e. paper, canvas, board, etc.
  4. Sunblock, hat, and/or umbrella to protect from the sun.
  5. Water, both for drinking and watercolors if needed
  6. Portable Stool (if you prefer to sit)
  7. Phone/Headphones. These are for multiple purposes, I like to listen to music or podcasts when painting and the camera feature is helpful if you want to capture a certain light and/or want to continue working once you leave. Lastly, it can be helpful to tune out passersby. I find it fun to talk with people sometimes, but if it is a crowded place, it can start to get hard to concentrate.
  8. Drop cloth if you need to make sure the ground stays clean (depends on location)
  9. Plastic bag for trash

A few more helpful tips when en plein air painting include finding a good composition, dealing with the changing light, and inquisitive spectators. When given such a vast amount of information in a landscape, it is important to keep it simple. Remember, you don’t have to paint everything you see. This is especially important if you only have one day to complete the painting. Pick and choose what you want to focus on, and stick with that.
Dealing with changing light is one of the hardest aspects of painting outdoors. It is important to get your basic shapes in first. Light and shadows will go in towards the end of the painting, followed by details.
Typically when people stop and take a look at your work, they are gracious. However, occasionally you will get someone who wants to talk, or even worse, a critic. Either way, be courteous, but curt, saying something along the lines of “sorry, I can’t talk right now, I don’t have much time left and this ___ takes all my attention” gets the point across. If not, refer to the headphones in the list above.