Using a grid to draw

In our Art Appreciation lessons we love to copy great art works and images.  An easy way to accurately copy pictures is by using a grid.  Here are some of our Peerneef artworks we painted using a grid ~

Instead of drawing the grid from scratch each time, I created transparent grid lines on MSWord in several sizes which you can lay over any image.  Here’s your free download ~ Transparent grid

To create your own grid over a picture  do the following ~

  1. Download and save the Transparent Grid to your computer.
  2. Open a new Word document.
  3. Insert the image you want to use for your art work.  You need to click”Wrap Text” on the top menu and select “In Front of Text” so that you can freely move and position your image.
  4. Open the Transparent Grid doc and select and copy the grid size best suited for your image. (Use the very small blocks for very detailed pictures, or the large grid blocks for larger shaped images)
  5. Paste the grid over your image and position as needed.
  6. Save.
  7. You can work directly from your computer screen onto your own art paper or print out your image with the grid.

Here’s an important CHEAT ~ You can create a pencil sketch of your image using the free photo editing package “Picasa“.

Open the image in Picasa, select the blue icon “Even more fun and useful image processing” button, click the “Pencil Sketch” option, and “Save as”.  Now insert this outline image in your grid for even easier copying!

Prepare your own art page and create a grid to match your printout, in the same ratio of blocks across in rows and down the side, but these blocks can be larger than your printout if you want to enlarge your image.  In other words, if your grid image has 4 blocks across and 5 blocks down, then your art page should also have 4 across and 5 down.  If the printout grid lines are 2 x 2 cm, you can create your art page grid lines 4 x 4 cm (or larger) so that your new image is larger and fills your art page.

Now you are ready to sketch the image on your grid printout or on your computer screen.

  • Work block by block, copying the lines, angles and shapes in that block.
  • Use where the shapes intersect the grid lines as your measure.
  • Work with the large shapes first and then add the details.
  • Once you have your outline, gently erase the grid lines and you are ready to paint!

But there is an easier way! Art Tutor has an excellent Grid Tool that does this all for you ~   Simply follow the step-by-step tutor and download and save your grid image to your computer.

So now you can recreate any image or picture on your page using the grid lines as guides to make your own art!  Enjoy!

Blessings, Nadene

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,

Leonardo Pastel Portraits

Leonardo’s da Vinci’s portraits are beautiful.

Leonardo Pastel Portraits

Something about his unfinished sketches draws the viewer’s eye to the glorious shading and luminescence of these faces.

We used an extract picture from “The Virgin of the Rock” (because it was on the font cover of my Leonardo art appreciation book – just using what we have 😉 )


I made a simple outline drawing ~

Leonardo portrait 001

Free download ~ Leonardo da Vinci portrait

We all started our own “incomplete version” of a Leonardo portrait.

  1. Cover the entire page with orange, yellows and browns and ‘fist it in’ or blend it well.
  2. Do all the hair with dark browns and even black areas and cover the areas around her face with dark browns and blacks.
  3. Add shadows to the face – under the chin, the neck folds, the  lower cheek, the creases in the eyes, the bags under the eyes, the nose and lips – and blend lightly.
  4. Then add skin color or light beige or cream for highlights and blend slightly.
  5. Now it is time for details – dark, dark brown or black on the upper eyelid and the pupil of the eyes and the nostril.
  6. Add shading to the eyelids, the nose and the lips.
  7. Emphasize what is really dark and those areas that are light.
  8. Add light yellow swirls to the hair.
  9. Maybe add some white to her collar.
    Leonardo Pastel Portraits1

There were moments of frustration … add in “wanting to give up” … when fuzzy pictures were difficult to ‘pull out’.  We also all struggled  for a moment when the picture was ‘almost done’ and it became fuzzy again and we ‘lost it’.  (It is best not to “over-work” this type of   pastel art.)

But pastels are wonderfully forgiving and you can just layer on top of the colors or textures you need to change.Leonardo Pastel Portraits2

It is phenomenally difficult to capture the pristine beauty and luminescence of the original … but we all felt quite happy about our efforts.

A spritz of fixative and our portraits were done.


Buy Big Art Sets & Share

We recently did one of Tricia of Hodgepodge’s chalk pastel tutorials  (see all her tutorials here)

A Waterfall

Miss.L's Waterfall

We loved her simple tutorial and enjoyed the layering of colors, smudging and blending, and the overall result.

Nadene's Waterfall

But we were limited … our chalk pastel set was fairly small, old, and some important colors were used up …

I need to buy a nice new chalk pastel set  …

the widest range that I can afford,

with some extras of the popular colors too,

if they sell them loose.

And we will all share.

It works well with all our stationery sets,


except our paint sets, we each have our own.


Rather than buying sets for each child,

I believe that you can buy 1 good quality set for the family ~

felt-tipped pens (with at least 24 colors)
gel and glitter pens
the largest range of good quality colored pencil crayons (their color is clear, wood doesn’t splinter and lead doesn’t break)
a massive range of wax crayons (go for 24 or more colors)

& place them each in separate containers.(How do I organize the stationary?)


We pull the container out and put it in the middle of the table and share.

We seldom have squabbles.

The young kids learn quickly to close pen lids properly and not to drop the pencils.

P1160658All our art supplies are available – all the time.

When we use new or messy art supplies, I usually give brief instructions on how to work with and how to clean up the materials.

A short tutorial or demonstration also helps.

Thereafter my kids can experiment and “play” with new supplies.

How do you organize and inspire your children’s art?  Please share in the comments.


Make a Bag for Nature Study

Just recently, I bought the girls some new quality paintbrushes and blank notebooks for nature journalling.

I only bought some new B and 2 B pencils, and 3 different quality paintbrushes each ~ a medium pointed brush no.7, a thinner no.3 and a fine pointed brush no.0.  The spiral notebook is new too, but the rest of these art supplies are our existing stock.

If you need to know what to buy for your children’s art supplies, check out Barb’s excellent Art Supplies for kids Squidoo lens.

I always recommend moms to buy a few quality things now and then.  Before long, your art supplies will be quite established and it should not cost too much.

What do we  take on our nature journal outings?

    • B or 2 B pencil and soft, good eraser
    • Notebook or journal or a clipboard with blank paper
    • A black fineliner pen
    • Watercolours, brushes and bottle of water
    • OR water-colour pencils
    • Some toilet paper to dab messes or clean brushes
    • Sun hat, sunscreen and smiles!
    • Mom sneaks in some small reference books – a bird book, flower or veld grass, insect reference books

As we carry our art stuff around the garden and farm, we needed dedicated bags for our outdoor studies.

I was inspired by  Suzanne of Just Another Hang Up‘s beautiful lined  Lil’ Girl Springtime Tote and the zipper pouch from Stephanie at The Crimson Owl and I adapted their tutorials to make each of us a nature study bag.

I lined each bag and made several customized pockets to hold water bottles, paint boxes and our nature journals.

I decided to add a fold-over-top so that we can store extra things we find on our nature study.

I even experimented and made pocket dividers, elasticized water bottle pockets.

For a pretty finishing touch I created several gorgeous fabric flowers to decorate the bags..

Click to my project pages or click here for the step-by-step tutorial.


This post is part of the upcoming South African Carnival of Homeschooling.

Dress Up ~ How to make a “boned” girl’s corset

We all know how young girls love to dress up!

For many years my girls have dressed up for “Olden Days” games with long skirts, calico pinafores and bonnets.

This year I made them some “boned” corsets to wear over their blouses or dresses.

To read the sewing tutorial click pop over to my Projectspage~ Boned” Girl Corset

Blessings, Nadene