Tag Archives: families

Drawing with Light

If you stopped by the Center for Creative Connections during the October Late Night at the DMA, then perhaps you saw or experienced the wild creations in the Tech Lab.  Visitors of all ages were given 15 seconds to create a drawing with light.  Light Drawing has been around for nearly a century, and yet it remains a fresh, fun, exercise that many photographers experiment with today.  The influx of new light and camera technologies has made this concept more accessible.

First a word about how it works.  All cameras work by controlling light in two ways –through the aperture and the shutter speed.  The aperture or f-stop determines how much light is exposed in each shot. A smaller aperture, like f/2.8 results in more light being let through, while a larger aperture, like f/22 results in less light being let through:

The shutter speed controls how long the shutter is open.  If your shutter speed is 500, that means that the shutter is open for 1/500th of a second.  If your shutter speed is 15, that means your shutter is open for 1/15th of a second, therefore capturing more light (and action) over time:

For drawing with light, it’s best to have the shutter speed set for over 1 second.  When we took our visitors photos during Late Night, we set our shutter speed to 15 seconds.  You are probably best off setting your aperature to a medium setting like around f/8 or f/11.

So, how can you bring the magic of Drawing with Light into your home?  Here are some steps to get you started:

  1. Gather materials: Digital Camera with adjustable shutter speed (all Digital SLRs are capable of this and some point and shoot cameras are as well); a tripod (or other way to stabilize your camera); a few light sources (laser pointers, cell phones, flashlights, Christmas lights, etc.)
  2. Set camera to a manual setting where you can control the shutter speed.
  3. Set the shutter speed to 15 seconds (or as slower if you want more time).
  4. Set the camera on the tripod and position it as desired.
  5. Turn off all the lights in the room.
  6. Hand the kids the flashlights, laser pointers, etc.  and press your shutter button.
  7. Now you have 15 seconds to make a drawing!

The great thing about using a digital camera to capture your Light Drawing is the instant feedback.  Take a few photos where your kids can just play with the lights, with no end product in mind.  After the picture is made, let them look at their creation.

You can keep it simple or get more complicated; work as a team, with one person posing while another draws around them; make words in the air; or dance with the lights and see what happens.  Above all, have fun!

Check out our slideshow for more inspiration.

Posted by: Jessica Fuentes


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Filed under 6 to 12 year olds, Art Projects, Center for Creative Connections, Just for Fun, Late Night

Friday Photo

Arturo’s Art & Me goes to Mexico!

For the entire month of September, Arturo’s Art & Me is exploring the art of ancient Mexico! Families tour The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent exhibition and use the beautiful artwork as inspiration for a hands-on art-making activity in the Center for Creative Connections studio.  The kids create their own version of a codex–a special kind of book that has many folded pages–which tells a story only through pictures (just like the Children of the Plumed Serpent did!)

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Make This: Back-To-School DIY Stickers!

Ah, back to school. I remember doodling all over my notebooks and textbooks, which I thought made them look cool but was certainly not appreciated by my parents when it came time to return the latter. If your kids are anything like I was, help them add some flash to their gear without the hassle by having them create their own stickers using contact paper and sharpies. The best part about it is that they can layer the stickers they create and then peel them off when they get tired of them, without any mess!

What You’ll Need:

  • Contact paper (I used clear, but there’s a wide variety of colors and patterns to choose from)
  • Sharpie markers in different colors
  • A pair of scissors


  • Draw your design in sharpie on your contact paper. If you’re using clear contact paper, you can even trace over an existing drawing or design!
  • Cut out the design with your pair of scissors once it’s dry.
  • Carefully remove the backing from the contact paper and stick your design on a notebook or other surface.
  • When you want to remove the sticker, simply peel it off–it shouldn’t leave any sticky residue. And if your sticker is still intact, you could slap it on something else!

Tools of the trade


Draw your design


Cut it out…


Slap it on!

Other Ideas:

  • Create a collage sticker using images from magazines, decorative paper, etc.–lay your cut outs on top of the surface you want to stick them to, then cut a large enough piece of clear contact paper to cover the entire design. Peel off the backing and lay the contact paper on top of the design.
  • Running for class president? Stick a design onto some blank buttons to hand out for your campaign!
  • Celebrating a friend’s birthday? Decorate the inside of his or her locker with fun (and/or embarrassing) stickers!

Posted by: JC

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Filed under 6 to 12 year olds, Art Projects, Children’s art, Just for Fun, Parents

Happy Trails to You!

Watercolor wonder in the Art Studio

This year I met, worked, taught, and learned with many amazing children & their families, adults with special needs, staff educators, and guest artists who are all the bright shining stars of the Family Experiences programs.  What a meaningful year! As I complete my McDermott Education Internship in Family Experiences and Access Programs this week, here’s a look at a few of the many DMA education experiences I hold close to my heart.

How is it that kids know just what to say?

Here’s a heart-warming keeper that I’ll cherish forever. A young buckaroo wearing a snappy new bandana he had just embellished in the Studio, sporting head-to-toe western flare for July Howdy Texas! First Tuesday, sauntered right up next to me that busy day. He tipped his hat and out of the blue exclaimed, “Happy trails, ma’am”!  I loved it, and I didn’t even mind the “ma’am” part. I don’t remember what I said in response, but I’m absolutely sure it was said with a huge smile. How fitting that this young visitor’s two words would wrap up my internship adventure with endearing style the way Dale and Roy Rogers wrapped up their beloved shows in the 1950’s! And wouldn’t you know we were standing in front of the exhibition of works of art by George Grosz, who painted watercolors scenes of Dallas in 1952. Perhaps he would have approved of this bit of Americana!

Thanks to the ARC for a wonderful year!

The ARC of my heart

Our wonderful partnership group from the ARC of Dallas always showed me how to be in the moment, be a better listener, and to see more than I imagined. The March surrealist gallery program with a focus on the subconscious, began with a “random” poetry activity; it was more than we dreamed! Everyone really got into the intentional yet random action of tossing the paper strips of words in a gesture similar to action painting. They loved creating poems by connecting the words aloud after the words landed on the “canvas” placed on the floor. I had no idea that this expressive action poetry activity would result in so much clapping, laughing, fun, joking, and poetry magic! The activity was repeated during a wide variety of programs including homeschool classes and Meaningful Moments, the access program for individuals with Alzheimer’s. Each experience was very unique. I learned how to focus the experiences on the individual needs of visitors of all ages and abilities. I’m such a fan of the Surrealists now!

Beautiful Gele headwear created during a Meaningful Moments program

An especially Meaningful Moment

Individuals and caregivers challenged by the effects of Alzheimer’s are very dear to me. As we wheeled, shuffled, or held on to each other for support walking through the galleries, I got to know many people individually during monthly Meaningful Moments group visits.  Our time together revealed snippets of amazing life stories of artists, world travelers, and those who helped support and even establish the DMA. Everyone is sweet, funny, and kept me on my toes! One especially meaningful visit was a personal group tour of the Reves Collection from a gentleman who actually worked with Wendy Reves to help secure the collection for the DMA! The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection is featured in a variety of programs and is always a favorite!

Oceans of fun at the Tiffany windows

Miss Mary, Miss Mary!

Little did I know that I would receive such a fancy new name from the young museum visitors! Not only did they give me a cherished teacher name, but they helped me grow as a new educator and as an artist.  I was inspired by all of the children, especially those who participated in the monthly Arturo’s Art & Me, homeschool, and HIPPY programs. We grew in confidence and curiosity together as we explored works of art in the galleries and created our own works of art in the Studio. The unencumbered creativity and fresh ideas of the young visitors who regularly attended Arturo’s Art & Me classes inspired me to look at works of art in new ways through themes of pets, neighborhoods, design, Japan, colors, America, music, and Dallas.

Arturo’s Art & Me printmaking fun!

There are MANY more moments I could share! My special thanks to all of you for making this year so special.

Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?
Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.
Happy trails to you, ’till we meet again.

Happy Trails by Dale Evans Rogers

Posted by: Mary Jordan

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Letters from Camp: An Insider’s Perspective

Each year, the Family Experiences staff has the privilege of working with a wonderful and extremely talented group of summer camp interns. These dynamic individuals truly make up the heart and soul of our camps and are responsible not only for the day-to-day operation of the program but for also helping to make the connection between our campers and works of art something that is both enjoyable and transformative. We could not run our camps without them! This is the fourth in a four-part series written by our summer camp interns and reflecting on their experiences at the Museum.–JC

What the Kids Taught Me

Throughout the summer, we have been teaching young artist from ages 4-12 about art. Portraiture, landscape, abstract art, print making, and color, were just a few of the topics that we explored. While the teachers and interns were busy teaching the children the basics of art, the kids in fact were teaching us about creativity and life. Here are a few things that I have learned from the students:

1)      It’s okay to color outside the lines sometimes.

One of the first rules that children learn when they do art is to color inside the lines. While this may work to be more appeasing for the adult’s trained eye, it also stifles the child’s ability to think in their own unique way. The training to follow the instructions the lines with the rest of the class, changes the child’s creativity from free flowing to uniform. This standardization is then realized in adulthood when adults are then told that they need to “think outside the box” or in more artistic terms, color outside the lines. We should skip the middle phase and allow the creativity to flow no matter what stage of life we may be in. I have seen that the kids have it right from the start – be fearless in creativity and do not always conform to the lines determined for you.

2)      Don’t let ability limit creativity

As most can see, four- year olds do not have the greatest finesse with their art. However, it has never stopped them from creating! After a certain age, people are discouraged from doing things that they are not particularly skilled in which tends to put a lid on some children’s inventiveness and curiosity. What I have seen from the young children is that even when they can’t draw a perfect shape or choose the most realistic colors for their self – portrait, there is still a beauty in the individuality that cannot be replicated. I have learned to appreciate that unique beauty in their art as well as mine and, even further, in life.

3)      Look at things from a new angle

One project that a 9-12 year old class did was to create still life paintings from the objects that were set on their table. When the project was announced, the students immediately got to work knowing automatically how they would create their masterpiece – except for one student. This one student, Antonio, looked at his still life alligator piece from several angles then asked the teacher, “Can I do my still life from a bird’s eye view?” This was a strange and exciting because I had never thought of doing a still life painting from another angle other than straight on.  But when I saw his painting, I found it to be brilliant, unique, and added a new perspective to the alligator piece that I had never really considered. Since then I have begun to look at pieces from different views, noticing the small wonders from weird angles that would normally be ignored. Antonio taught me to never see things strictly as they are and to use different ideas and points of view to make art and life more fascinating.

4)      Abstract art is from the heart

The very first week of camp, I worked with a group of 4 and 5 year olds. While discussing what the class would say for their exhibition on Friday, one child raised their hand and said “Abstract art is from the heart.” This phrase has been my source of inspiration, motivation, and understanding this summer. Art is a blank slate for any concept, feeling, sensation, memory to become realized. With the stresses of everyday life, I forget that I always have art to turn to for relief and rejuvenation. Another reason why I love this phrase so much is because when I don’t understand a piece of contemporary art, I think about this phrase and imagine the emotions that the artist went through while creating the work and I gain a better appreciation for the piece and the artist. This awesome saying has truly transformed the way that I interact with art by giving me more revere and love for free flowing creativity.

In conclusion, these wonderful young artists have taught me that creativity should never stop in the classroom. Art and imagination go hand in hand and are in every aspect of life. I should never stop creating, never stop wondering, and never stop coloring.

Posted by: Lily Ngaruiya

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Filed under 6 to 12 year olds, Art Projects, Center for Creative Connections, Children’s art, DMA Programs

Friday Photo


Summer Art Camps: A happy camper proudly displays her Jackson Pollock-inspired action painting.

Posted by: Karen Parrish

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Filed under Art Projects, Center for Creative Connections, Children’s art, DMA Programs, Parents, Uncategorized

Letters from Camp: An Insiders Perspective

Each year, the Family Experiences staff has the privilege of working with a wonderful and extremely talented group of summer camp interns. These dynamic individuals truly make up the heart and soul of our camps and are responsible not only for the day-to-day operation of the program but for also helping to make the connection between our campers and works of art something that is both enjoyable and transformative. We could not run our camps without them! This is the second in a four-part series written by our summer camp interns and reflecting on their experiences at the Museum.–JC

Over the course of a week, the students in our summer camps amass an impressive collection of their own works of art. At the end of every camp, all the children put together an exhibition to show off their masterpieces to their families.

There’s another subset of work that these children produce that typically goes unseen. They are doodles, happy accidents, free drawing exercises and many other pieces of art that are hard to classify. It’s peripheral art and it’s worth examining a bit closer.

I’ve been fortunate enough to collect some of these oddities from students over the course of the summer and, in my humble opinion, they aesthetically rival some of the more structured projects from camp. They utilize unique mediums like painted paper towels or hole-punched sheets of foil. One of the most quirky and refreshing examples came from an eight year-old named Kate, who gave me a blank book of colored tissue paper called The Book of Nothing; it’s a beautiful minimalist piece that would fit in perfectly with the DMA’s current Variations on Theme exhibition.

Juliette, aged 8, used watercolor paint on paper towels to make this untitled piece.

Ella, aged 8, used the same medium as Juliette. They both called these “abstract paper towels”.

Juliette, once again, utilized a paper towel, but used oil pastels instead of watercolor paint on this one.

Ella, using markers on paper, modeled her leaf after the leaf-like shapes in Henri Matisse’s cutout paper collages.

In a way, though, this art is not peripheral, but rather a fitting product of a child’s imagination and creativity. Teachers and parents rightfully celebrate the excellent works of art that children put forth. We should turn our attention to some of these marginal creations. This kind of output shows us that children have a constant desire to create that should be nurtured. I think it’s a good sign that children have such a voracious appetite for creativity that extends past the standard expectations of a project.

As the summer winds down and the school year starts up again, it’s important for a child to find time to exert their creative energy into miscellaneous works of art. Most of the time, all that involves is giving children the time and supplies to start creating. Encourage them to explore imaginatively without fear of looking silly or wasting their time. So let’s be aware of what is happening in our peripheral vision. You never know what kind of little treasure you’ll find.

Posted by: Andrew Palamara

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Filed under Center for Creative Connections, Children’s art, DMA Programs, Parents, Uncategorized