Julia Anastasopoulos Contemporary Artist – Murals

Julia Anastasopoulos Knolc

Julia Anastasopoulos art website ~ Knolc

We enjoy discovering contemporary artists.  They inspire and motivate us!

We recently discovered Julia Anastasopoulos, a South African illustrator, designer and artist.  You can find her art on her website knolc.  Julia’s famous works include  her illustrated murals from the Cape Town Myciti Bus stations, and her playful line-drawings on the walls of the Book Lounge in Cape Town.   Julia’s art consists of whimsical concepts, light lines and tiny detail.   She has illustrated children’s books and my kids loved her art!

She is also famous for creating a South African persona “Suzelle”, featuring her unique humour and DIY “tips and tricks” in her popular SuzelleDIY YouTube videos which have gone viral!

We used her cityscapes as our inspiration and created large murals on sheets of paper.   Kate and I decided to work collaboratively, taking turns to work the cityscape in layers on each other’s pages.  After the third layer, we added all the tiny people and fun details.  We especially loved creating the whimsical ideas!

Kate's cityscape

Art Julia Anastasopoulos murals2Some tips for collaborative art ~

  • Work according to an agreed scale and size.  Kate’s pictures were much larger than mine and so I drew my details bigger to fit hers.
  • Adapt to the style of the drawing there and yet be creative and add your own ideas!  It was amusing to come to “your” picture and find completely unusual ideas on the page!
  • Leave some spaces open in your layer for overlapping or unusual aspects to be added later.

Lara created her cityscape on her own.

Art Julia Anastasopoulos muralsAnd here are our final pictures ~

Lara's cityscape

Lara’s cityscape

Kate's cityscape

Kate’s cityscape

Nadene's cityscape

Nadene’s cityscape

We displayed our murals on our passage walls!  We love to look at them every time we come out our rooms!

20151007_163922-1 wall 2 20151007_163932-1 wall 3Art appreciation is easy and fun!

Pop over to my art page for more art plans, projects and art appreciation lessons.

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Bouquet Art Alisa Burke-style

We have done loads of Alisa Burkeinspired art, as seen here .   She is a prolific artist, creating art and posting her sketchbook pages, her art processes and designs, studio updates, tips, fabulous tutorials and art ideas on her blog almost daily.

Her ideas often spark a creative art ideas for us, and this week we were inspired by her post “a peek inside my sketchbook – one bouquet 3 ways“.

I used a glorious bouquet of pincushion proteas and king proteas, now sadly fading, as  my bouquet inspiration. 20150923_112308


Lara and Kate created their own bouquets with loose watercolors on their page and black pen details ~20150923_105126

20150923_105137Find a contemporary artist for new ideas, new techniques or approaches to art.

Pop over to my Art Page for all my art inspiration lessons and downloads.


Street Art Appreciation Lesson

Using Charlotte Mason’s approach of art appreciation we studied street art, and focused on two famous British contemprorary street artists ~ 

Bansky and Stik

Bansky is a British graffiti artist,  a political activist, film director, and painter, and he likes to be anonymous.  His satirical street art depict a dark humour and his works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world. To avoid arrest, Banksy’s developed his stencil technique which enabled him to create large, detailed paintings in just a few moments.


Stik is also a London-based street artist who was homeless and lived on the streets of London for many years.  His works are recognizable for his cheerful humanoids which reflect universal themes such as jealousy, anger, love, friendship etc.  Stik’s stick figures,  despite their simplicity,  convey compassion and emotion.  He uses very simple stylistic color, painting his figures in white with black outlines on a flat, colored background. Untitled picture 1.jpg

Now, why teach about street art, you may ask?  And what is the difference between graffiti and street art?   

College & Research Libraries News defines –

The differences between graffiti and street art can be found in authorial intent, intended audience, and form. The most common form of graffiti is a tag or a graffiti artist’s signature. Tags are text-based and largely indecipherable by those outside the graffiti community. The intention behind a tag is the rebellious proliferation of the artist’s signature, akin to brand name advertising. Street art is a sub-genre of graffiti. While graffiti operates within a closed community, street art is an open invitation for anyone to interact, consider, and discuss. Furthermore, street art is drawn with a pictorial focus rather than textual, and it is rebellious but not purposefully destructive as there is intent to beautify the urban environment.” (Emphasis mine)

Should this art be banned?  Why are graffiti artists arrested?  Why are some street artists’ works protected while others are cleaned off walls?  We watched an excellent 4-part YouTube series – Graffiti – Wars: Banksy vs. Robbo  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 which addressed some of these questions.

Our art activity was to use Stik or Banksy’s style and create a poster to protest or make a statement on a problem, a theme, an issue, a war, or social problems.

I went into a creative flow and quickly produced 3 large A3 posters.  I used brown paper to represent an urban feel of street art.  I photocopied my Banksy-styled images in black and white on some brown paper and then added Stik-inspired characters.  I enjoyed word-play to name my posters.20150902_140752The timing of my “Migrant Waves” painting was quite amazing because the same day that I painted the poster, world news featured distressing photos of a drowned Syrian boy found washed up on sea-shore.  This photo is now iconic with the Syrian refugee crisis that has flooded Europe for the past 2 years.  

20150902_155541Lara drew our family in Stik style –20150903_110845 - CopyLara then created another beautiful art work.  Although it is not the in the style of the contemporary artists we studied, she wanted to express her thoughts in a creative way. 20150908_113844Kate created a dramatic Ebola  poster.  You will notice her graffiti splatters and lettering and Banksy’s rat symbol.20150902_155905

We thoroughly enjoyed our contemporary art lessons!  Give it a try with your middle school or high school children!

A few more links and references:

Pop over to my Art page for more art appreciation lessons and pages.

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Paul Klee Landscapes

In my previous post, I shared our Charlotte Mason approach of studying one great artist and his works for a month,  we have really enjoyed the colorful world of

Paul Klee!

This week we both tried a Paul Klee-inspired landscape.

Lara chose a watercolor landscape “Oriental Landscape


and she created this amazing art work ~


She worked with pencil and watercolors, diluting and blending her colors beautifully.  I especially love the light lines over her moon!

I chose Klee’s iconic “Castle” landscape


and created my “Church in the City” painting ~


I outlined my landscape with oil pastels and painted the spaces in watercolors.  Adding little details, dots and lines was just so pleasant and relaxing, and I loved my end result!  It would make an incredible quilt pattern, don’t you think?

Pop over to my Art page for more art appreciation lessons and pages and free lesson download.

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Paul Klee Art Appreciation

Following our Charlotte Mason approach of studying one great artist and his works for a month,  we have discovered the colorful world of

Paul Klee!

Paul Klee was a Swiss-born abstract painter castlewhose work noted for his colorful and  fantasy-style of art depicting a world of semi-abstract, dreamlike images. His style was always highly imaginative, often strange, and sometimes playful.  Klee himself defined his art as “taking a line for a walk”.

I prepared a Wall Chart page, a biography page and three art appreciation lessons, along with extra Paul Klee art examples.

Paul Klee wall chart page

Paul Klee wall chart page

Paul Klee word grid art lesson

Paul Klee Word Grid art lesson

Here are our Paul Klee “Word Art” art works ~

Paul Klee Poems 001

Miss. L 13’s Paul Klee-inspired word art

Paul Klee Poems 002

my Paul Klee-inspired word art









Paul Klee landscape grid lesson

Paul Klee Landscape Grid lesson

Paul Klee colour blocks art lesson

Paul Klee Color Blocks art lesson

(Please note that I have updated the grid size since taking these images )

Here is your free download ~ Paul Klee bio & gallery & art lessons

Pop over to my Art page for more art appreciation lessons and pages.

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Travel Art Set

Since I love sketching regularly, I wanted a nice, simple watercolor art travel set.Collages4

Using a Bible Cover, I made inserts to hold my water brushes, pens, pencils and normal brushes, and another to hold my set of watercolor pencils.

I have seen dozens of Altoids tin water sets and homemade sets on Pinterest.  Someone suggested using a cheap cosmetic set.  Here’s a little tutorial of how I used a little eye-shadow set one of my daughters no longer wanted.

Min watercolor set

  1. Clean the cosmetic holder well.
  2. Fill  with 9 watercolors. (I had to select from my set of 12 watercolors.)20150803_203436
  3. Use a toothpick to swirl the paints and fill the corners.
  4. Leave open to dry overnight.
  5. Cut a piece of highly absorbent cloth or sponge to fit in the brush space .20150805_104440
  6. Because the lid has little convex (wish it was concave) spaces (which works well to mix small amounts of paints) I added an extra mixing tray with a piece of plastic lid duct-taped to the box.  An elastic band holds it tucked under when stored.

Brush, pen and pencil holders

  1. I recycled old flexi-plastic cutting boards I had previously used cut to fit into the side fold of the Bible cover.
  2. Trace around the plastic on some black fabric.  Cut 2 for each holder.
  3. Laying the pens, pencils and brushes on the fabric, mark the spacing with a white tailors’ pencil.
  4. To sew the elastic with custom spacing,  measure each pen or brush under the elastic to fit snug before sewing the second side down.  Continue measuring each pen and brush to the end.20150805_104504
  5. To create an elastic net pocket to hold a sharpener, eraser and small sponge cloth, use a piece of netting slightly wider than the fabric width and pleat the bottom.  Cut the top elastic a few centimeters shorter than the fabric width to hold the pocket snug.  Sew the elastic onto the netting.  Sew a few catch stitches to hold the elastic to the seam allowance on each side.
  6. To join the water pencil holder together with the brush and pen holder,  use a narrow strip of velcro.  Sew this along the one side of the each of the backing fabric.20150805_104529
  7. With right sides facing together, sew the 2 fabrics around, leaving the top open to insert the plastic.
  8. Clip the corners.  Turn the fabric right sides out and push all the seams and corners firmly.  Insert the plastic, turn the top raw edges in and top stitch closed.

It works wonderfully!  It makes being spontaneously creative so much better!  Have you got your art set ready on hand?

With blessings,

Summer Art ~ Mondrian

Barb’s Summer Art plans for this week’s Sketch Tuesday covers ~



His art is so utterly ‘simple’!  Simple black vertical and horizontal lines and red, blue and yellow blocks of color.

Even very young kids can do this!  Here is a very simple YouTube video lesson.


But if you read the evolution of Mondrian’s art, you’ll understand how his abstraction developed.


The Summer Art focus art piece “Broadway Boogie Woogie” is a very interesting artwork to discuss:


  • No black lines
  • Balance of white space
  • Lines of color interspersed with color
  • Does this look like an aerial image of Broadway?
  • Do the little blocks of color remind you of the neon lights of Broadway?

So, maybe because his art is so simple, so easy to copy, it is no wonder that designers use Mondrian’s art style in countless objects, clothes and architecture!

Maybe high schoolers could paint some sneakers, or a T-shirt, or design a piece of furniture, or decorate and fire ceramics in Mondrian-style?

Here’s our Mondrian art:

Mondrian 001

Mondrian 002

I encourage you to join you child and do a Mondrian-inspired art work today!


Summer Art ~ Miro

Barb has created Summer Art plans for Sketch Tuesday covering several famous artists.

She explains on Harmony Fine Arts,

“Each week I will be posting a sketch idea based on a great piece of artwork from a famous artist. I will give you a link to look at the painting online, a link to a biography or video, and a simple idea for your family to complete and then send in for the art show.”

We joined this week’s artist ~


Barb suggested,

Create your own Miro inspired artwork by either copying the painting in this week’s lesson 


Figures and dog in front of the sun – Wikiart

or using the Roll a Miro activity in this pin on Pinterest: Roll a Miro

Summer Art Miro 002

We both enjoyed the Roll-a-Miro dice fun!  Our outlines were completely unplanned and spontaneous.  But, when Lara completed coloring her picture, she came to my table quite unimpressed,

“It looks a 3-year-old did this, mom.”Summer Art Miro 001

When I completed my coloring in, I must admit that also felt a disappointment in how it looked.  Well, at least the art process was fun!  And sometimes the end-product is nothing like we expect.

Well, I think sometimes surrealistic, abstract, or modern art is like that.  I remember similar thoughts when I stood looking at original Picasso drawings hanging in a famous art museum!  How childish!  How can this be real art?

“Be silent, you inner critic!”

Join us in these Summer Art Plans!


New Music and Art Timeline

I created a new Music and Art Timeline.  Music & Art Timeline Cover This is a helpful Fine Arts tool, identifying both famous musicians and their music styles, as well as famous artists and their masterpieces displayed in parallel.

How to use the timeline:

  • Print out and bind as is, or add to a Book of Centuries.
  • Cut and paste the pages side-by-side/ under each other as a visual Fine Arts timeline.
  • Add art work thumbnails to a timeline on a wall.
  • Cut the art works and paste them on cards and let children match the artists to the eras.

You will find your free download on my Free Page ~ Art Era Timeline, fresh and newly updated!

Recently Homeschool Freebies of the Day featured my Art Era Timelines to email subscribers.  Subscribers often get links to special freebies that you will not find openly on Internet, so it is worth joining their subscription list!




Organizing Art Stuff

My kids have enjoyed arts and crafts since they were little, and as they have become teens, our art and craft materials has grown in quantity.

Here are some practical tips of how we organize and store our art stuff conveniently on our little arts and crafts bookshelf.

Practical Tip 1   Everything has its place and a place for everything

Homeschool 20154

Our stationary tray filled with little boxes has worked excellently over the years.  Each little square box stores the different types of pens, crayons, fiber-tipped pens, and colored pencils.

Practical Tip 2  Buy quality art materials & let everyone share

When someone needs, say, the gel pens, they simply take out the box out of the tray and use them at their table.  Once finished, they quickly pop the box back in the tray.  We all share the same pencils and pens.

Very little kids may need their own chubby art crayons and basic paint sets, but as soon as they are able to correctly use the basic stationary, I train them and let them share with the older kids.

Here are some of my most important rules:

  1. Clean your paint brush and tray before it dries.
  2. Pack your things away where it belongs.
  3. Work with a little and add more later, rather than pour too much and waste.
  4. Do NOT drop the pencils!

I like to purchase lovely, big sets of art materials, 24 colors or more, and we all enjoy the full range.  Rather than spending money on each child’s own set, one really large quality set shared by all is just as economical.

Practical Tip 3   Store all the paints, brushes and mixing trays in a “painting box”Art Supplies

When we paint, we take out the painting box and everything is on hand.  Before, I had paints in one box, trays in another and brushes in another, but, with a little re-organization, we fitted everything into a large, shallow box.

I painted the lids of all the acrylic paint bottles so that we can easily find the color we need.

The brushes are all stored bristlesup in the bottle and they dry perfectly.

Practical Tip 4  Plastic suitcases to store craft supplies 1-P1160658-001

We have used these small plastic suitcases to store our craft supplies for years. These suitcases have lasted for over 15 years!  Standing upright on the bottom shelf, we can easily pull out the case we need for our craft activity.

We store craft items in Ziplock bags.  If we purchase or receive craft materials in boxes, I cut the box lid flat, leaving off the sides, and store it inside the Ziplock bag, along with any instruction pamphlet, for slim, space-saving storage.

Each child has their own little suitcase for their own stickers, craft papers, and bits and bobs.  We tie labels on the suitcase handle.

Practical Tip 5  Store paper and cardstock in clear shelving 1-P1160657

We have used these clear, plastic drawers for years, too.  A simple plan makes habit training simple.

Once again, Ziplock bags save us from chaos!  Any paper or card that has a piece cut off must go into a large Ziplock bag in the drawer.  This keeps full paper or card sheets separate from any slightly used sheets.  Kids waste less if they know that they must find some bits or smaller pieces in a Ziplock bag, rather than cut off a small section from a full-page.

With a little training and some gentle reminders, my children have learnt to use, enjoy, clean up & pack away after their art and craft activities and creative endeavors, and our art stuff is ready for the next lesson.

What practical tips do you find works in your home?  Please share with us in the comments.