Friday Photo

This past weekend was the FREE Ancient Mexico Family Celebration at the Dallas Museum of Art, and it was a great success! Families had the chance to actually become a work of art!  We were lucky enough to have local artists Isaac, Jerod and Joshua from Three of One Arts to paint some beautiful–and sometimes scary!–artworks on the faces of visitors.


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Artsy Pumpkins

Halloween is just three days away—is your pumpkin ready? Carving pumpkins was always one of my favorite family traditions. It usually took us an entire evening to choose the pumpkin, scoop out the inside slimy bits (yuck!), roast up the pumpkin seeds (yum!), and then decide what kind of face our jack-o-lantern would have. I had a tendency to stick to the traditional triangle-eyed, jaggedy-tooth smiley face.

If you have yet to decorate your own pumpkin, why not take an artistic approach this year? Think of your favorite artist and imagine how his/her style would look if the artist had worked on a pumpkin rather than a canvas.

Here are a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing:

Action painting pumpkin

Channel your inner Jackson Pollock by dripping and flinging paint onto your pumpkin to create a Jack{son}-o-Lantern. For a darker, spookier effect, draw your color inspiration from the Cathedral painting currently on view at the museum. Or try a rainbow of color by following Kathy Barbro’s tutorial on her blog Art Projects for Kids.

“Cathedral,” Jackson Pollock, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard J. Reis

Pollock Pumpkin from Art Projects for Kids

Color Field pumpkin

In a preschool class I taught last week, the children decided that the orange featured prominently in Mark Rothko’s Orange, Red and Red was “pumpkin orange,” so it seems fitting that Rothko becomes the inspiration for another artsy pumpkin. Create floating fields of color on your pumpkin-canvas with spray or craft paint. Sibylle at the Funkytime blog used bright neon colors, but you could also create a pumpkin using different shades of just one color.

“Orange, Red, and Red,” by Mark Rothko, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated

Ombre pumpkin from the Funkytime blog

Lines and shapes pumpkin

For an even simpler pumpkin project, just use washi tape or scrapbooking tape to create criss-crossing lines of pattern across the pumpkin in the style of Piet Mondrian. Get the how-to at Real Simple here. Or use painter’s tape to section off areas for blocks of color like Bronwyn did on the Queen B Creative Me blog.

“Place de la Concorde,” Piet Mondrian, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the James H. and Lillian Clark Foundation

Tape pumpkins from Real Simple

Mondrian-inspired pumpkin at Queen B Creative Me

If carving is more your style, check out this amazing slide show of art-inspired pumpkins at The Huffington Post.

Happy Halloween!

Posted by: Leah

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Filed under 6 to 12 year olds, Art Projects, Just for Fun

Friday Photo

Three Poster Studio artists posing with their completed posters!

During the run of Posters of Paris: Toulouse Lautrec and His Contemporaries (October 14, 2012–January 20, 2013), the Museum is offering a drop-in art-making activity within the exhibition gallery space. For the activity, visitors will create their own poster using text and images from the exhibition. Visitors will keep a copy of their poster, while another copy will be attached to the Poster Studio wall.  Come join the fun and add your artwork to the Poster wall!

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El Dia de los Muertos

October is mostly known for the American holiday of Halloween, where people of all ages dress up in costume and trick or treat for candy and other goodies in their neighborhoods.  This holiday has its own traditions, such as carving pumpkins, bobbing for apples, trading candy, visiting spooky houses, and so on.

However, there is another Fall holiday that the Dallas Museum of Art is celebrating : El Dia de Los Muertos–or Day of the Dead! 

The Day of the Dead is a time of celebration and remembrance of loved ones who have passed away, much like Memorial Day in the United States.  Many Latin American and Mexican cultures celebrate Dia de Los Muertos on November 1st and 2nd.  The Dallas Museum of Art will be celebrating this cultural holiday as part of its Family Celebration: Ancient Mexico, on Sunday, October 28th from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Ofrendas, or offerings.

Dia de los Muertos is a joyous occasion where loved ones are honored and remembered through the creation of fantastic art and delicious treats.  Inside households, families create special altars, called ofrendas (offerings), which are decorated with breads, candies, food, drinks, and flowers, all of which are meant to celebrate the lost loved ones.

Perhaps the most iconic image related to The Day of the Dead celebration is the skull!

Sugar skulls are probably the most common candies made this time of year.  They can be made with plain sugar or chocolate, and are often decorated with sequins, pieces of metallic paper and colored sugar paste.  There will be a sugar skull demonstration from artist Maggie Wolters during the Family Celebration, and families will be able to decorate their own skull masterpiece.  Additionally, local master chocolatiers, CocoAndre, will be on hand during the afternoon to teach the Art of Chocolate to families, as well as lead them in the creation of a chocolate skeleton.

Artist Diego Rivera was also attracted to using skulls/skeletons in his art, portraying a skeleton lady (or La Catrina) in his famous mural, Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda (dream of a Sunday afternoon in the Alameda park)

Detail from central section of Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda (dream of a Sunday afternoon in the Alameda park) Fresco 1947-1948, 50 ft long x 13 ft high

Skulls and skeletons are reproduced as Day of the Dead art in almost every available material, including wood, papier mache, plaster and bread dough.  The repetition of these images in many locations and in a variety of materials , allows the subject matter to seem less scary and intimidating.  Remember El Dia de los Muertos is a day of celebration!

Here is a quick art project utilizing the skull theme that families can do to prepare for the upcoming Family Celebration: Ancient Mexico at the DMA.  All you need is:

  • paper plates
  • markers (or crayons)
  • scissors
  • glue (or tape)
  • popsicle stick (or pencil)


Flip the paper plate over, and draw your skull outline on the bottom of the plate.  The outer edge will act as the bottom of the skull.  Cut out the shape with scissors once your skull shape is complete.

Use markers or crayons to decorate your skull.  Be as imaginative as possible!  Sugar skulls often have floral motifs, hearts, and spiderwebs patterns.

Once your skull is fully decorated, attach it to a popsicle stick or pencil with either glue or tape.  And voila!  You have your very own Dia de los Muertos mask!  Make sure to bring your decorations to this weekend’s Ancient Mexico Family Celebration.  Click here for a full list of the festivities!




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Friday Photo

Arturo’s Art & Me in the contemporary galleries

This month’s Arturo’s Art & Me classes centered around the five senses and were held in the contemporary art galleries. While looking closely at abstract works of art by Hans Hoffman (pictured right), Mark Rothko, and Clyfford Still (pictured left), the children imagined what each color would smell or even taste like!

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Growing Up Blind

Our guest blogger today is artist Leslie Ligon. Leslie creates jewelry using Brailled letters for At First Sight, her jewlery line that won the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt People’s Choice Award in 2010. Last year for Art Beyond Sight Month Leslie brought her son, Ethan, who is blind, and he showed families how to translate words into Braille using a Braille machine. Children used a Brailled word of their name or favorite hobby and incorporated it into art to wear – either a pin or a hair barrette. In honor of Art Beyond Sight Month, we invited Leslie to be our guest blogger for the day. Leslie, thank you for sharing your story!

Leslie’s family portrait taken in July by Michael Clements at the University of North Texas.

When our oldest son, Ethan, was born, my husband (a visual artist) and I were thrilled to be parents; we loved learning about all of the things our new baby would be doing in his first year, and tracking his advances. Our traditional expectations came to a sudden stop when we took our two month old baby for a scheduled exam. We were laughing one minute about how much weight he’d gained in a month, and reeling the next, when the pediatrician told us, “Brace yourselves; I don’t think Ethan can see.”

At some point around six to eight weeks, Ethan’s retinas had detached for no known reason – probably just a fluke – and because babies in their first few months don’t see any better than an extremely near-sighted person (and they can’t exactly tell you things look funny), we didn’t know there was anything wrong. After a surgical attempt to reattach his retinas failed, I got to work finding resources to turn to. Several months later, we began going through the emotional stages people normally go through when there’s a loss of any kind: denial, depression, anger – finally acceptance. Then, something unexpected happened: my husband’s visual arts profession and my background dancing and teaching ballet, came front and center for our baby who was totally blind.

My comfort moving through space led me to push Ethan first to roll like a modern dancer, then crawl, and finally walk without any preconceived ideas. (In fact, when he was about two years old, he would fairly frequently bang his head into table tops and chairs and after he did, he would stop, get his bearings, and then shake his head. We used to believe he probably thought that’s what everyone went through when they went walking!) In the early days of his life, we would sing, dance and play to lots of musical theater shows – he really did know the entire book for Gypsy when he was only 22 months old! He loved the word play, rhymes, rhythm, and story involved in musical theater, and I firmly believe that propelled his language skills. We also did different things with fabrics and paint. A friend made a Quilt of Many Fabrics for Ethan to explore, and I tied noise-making toys to strings, attaching them to an innertube he could sit in before he could sit completely independently. When he pulled on one of the strings, he would hear a toy, and then have to reel it in to get it.

My husband and I both have always enjoyed going to fabric stores and buying different fabrics, so we’d take Ethan and let him run his hands over the different textures. When I took Ethan shopping, he’d be in his stroller, and I’d walk him directly under and through some of the women’s dresses hanging on racks, talking the whole time about whether it was velvet (snuggly) or chiffon (light and floating) or taffeta (lightweight, but crinkly), and whether it was long or short. Those experiences were explored further when we began watching Project Runway. I’d sit next to him (I still often do even though he’s a teenager) and I’d describe things designers were making, but the real challenge came as the models went down the runway. As quickly as possible, I’d describe pieces as the models walked, drawing on his body in front or back to help him understand the cut of a piece.  I often talk about how a model or two walks, as well, because he knows from living with a former dancer, people move differently – and not everyone is graceful about it!

Ethan certainly had opportunities painting and coloring, and has done that similarly to how John Bramblitt teaches his workshops, using sand and other textures mixed into paints for a better idea of where on a page he’s painting. And we do try giving him plenty of opportunities to talk about art and classic works. Ethan gets them in his own way, but I believe it’s imposing and presumptuous to believe he’ll ‘see’ things the traditional way. Rather, we try leading him to art and design, talking a lot about how they affect peoples’ lives and change the lives, minds and moods of sighted people, and that he can just know about art and design, and keep that relationship in mind as he goes through life.

We joke a lot about blindness, and more often than not, fly in the face of what many people think is one of the worst disabilities to have …

Come to the edge.
But we’re afraid.
Come to the edge.
But we’ll fall.
So they came and he pushed …
And they flew.

~Christopher Logue

Posted by Amanda


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Friday Photo

Families sketching in the galleries.

Last weekend was a bit chilly, but families braved the cold to attend the Autism Awareness Family Celebration at the Museum.  Children with Autism and their family members had the C3 studios all to themselves last Saturday before the Museum opened its doors.  Visitors were able to sketch in the galleries, explore various textured objects in a sensory room designed by Texas Women’s University students, create sculptures using scented play dough, paint masterpieces that were both pleasant to the eyes and the nose (created with scented paint), and sing and dance along with Diane, the DMA’s resident Music Therapist.  Keep an eye out early next year for the next Autism Awareness Family Celebration!

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