Art Blast! Fun Lessons for Kids and Aliens #4

The Hand from the 3rd  Dimension


Drawings are two-dimensional (2-D, or flat). But you probably want most things you draw to look 3-D, like they do in life (people, objects, planets and orange swirl ice pops – Beep’s favorite – all have height, width and depth). Are there tips for making things you draw look three-dimensional? Of course! We’re going to draw hands today, and we’re going to make them look like they’re popping out of the paper! Here are some examples by awesome 3rd graders:

Ready to try one yourself? Step one is to trace your hand lightly with a pencil. (note: there may be a bump where your wedding ring is, haha.)


Step Two, using a marker or crayon or pen, start at the bottom and draw a straight line in the background (you can use a ruler if you want) until you touch the hand outline; then you draw a curved line from one wrist to another; and then straight again in the background. Repeat.


Guess what Step Three is? That’s right, keep repeating, using straight lines for anything in the background and curved lines for the hand. You do not have to use black, as shown. You can use any colors to make any pattern (see Beep’s example at the end).


Tip: You can do all the straight lines first, or all the curved. Sometimes that makes it easier.


Keep going and going and soon:


Pretty cool, huh? Of course, you don’t just have to do your hand. If you have a flipper-style arm, you can make that look 3-D, too!


Beep likes a cool color pattern.


Just remember: straight lines make things look flat, and curved lines make things look round.


Always Be Creative and Have a Blast!

Beep Says Yay to You!


Another lesson soon!

Art Blast! Fun Lessons for Kids and Aliens #3

Drawing Elmer!


Beep loves showing mini-Beep how to draw his favorite characters! Beep enjoys Elmer the Elephant because he can get creative with the patchwork decorations (plus it teaches mini-Beep some fancy words like vertical and horizontal).


Elmer is an elephant who is not ordinary elephant color, but patchwork. Though he wants to be like other elephants, in the end the other elephants show they want to celebrate Elmer by all decorating themselves and having a parade. (If you don’t know the book, you can find a read aloud on YouTube.) To draw your own awesomely decorated elephant, start by sketching a small c and a big C:

Next add a face, trunk, tail and legs.



Now it’s time to make a patchwork grid. First draw lines going across Elmer. These lines are horizontal.



Then draw lines up and down. These lines are vertical. See how they make a grid (or chessboard or intersecting parallel lines or patchwork).


Finally, time to start adding some color! You can use markers, pens, crayons, colored pencils, whatever you like. You can fill the spaces with solid color or you can draw stars, zig-zags, rainbows…any designs Elmer would like (and he likes them all!)


Once you fill Elmer, can you also make a patchwork sky? Or a patchwork city? Or patchwork outer space? Of course. It’s art! You can even draw a patchwork Beep! (He’d love to see it.)



Always be creative and have a blast!!

Beep says Yay to you!


Another lesson soon!

Art Blast! Fun Lessons for Kids and Aliens. #1

My characters, Beep and Bob, go to school in space. Up in space school, you can always look out the windows at the infinite wonders of the universe. But that can get pretty boring after a few minutes. So what to do?Beep’s answer is: ART! Beep loves to draw and always carries a sketchbook. But he also likes the lessons from his art class. Sadly, they don’t paint or use glue much in zero gravity, but even with simple materials like white paper, pencils, crayons and/or markers, there are a universe of possibilities for fun and creativity!

For those times you’re home and looking for some fun art ideas, I’m going to share some of my successful lessons from my 21 Earth years so far as an art teacher. Hope you have a blast!

Art with Words #1


Words are used for writing and speaking. But did you know that words can also an element of visual art?

Beep really, really likes to write his name. But he really, really, really likes to make it fancy and colorful. You can, too. Here’s how:

1. Write your name with a pencil in the center of the page. The letters can be uppercase or lower, block or bubble, straight or squiggly; it’s your art and personality, have fun! 2. Trace around your name, to make the word into a shape. 3. Now trace around the shape of your name; and do it again, and again, and again, until you hit the edges of the page.


4. Now it’s time for color and patterns. Markers are fun to use for this, but you can also use crayons or colored pencils. First, trace your name and fill with a regular (a/b, a/b/c, etc.) or random pattern. 5. Trace the concentric shapes. 6. Fill those with colorful patterns, too!


7. Keep going until you fill the page. Looks pretty awesome, right?!


Note that the patterns do not have to be “perfect”, pencil lines can show, and so on. Art is very flexible that way! Also, if you only have a pencil, black and white art can be pretty cool too (I’ll do a post on pencil art later).


Once you’ve done your name, try other styles with other words or phrases: your favorite teams, characters, or – hint, hint – even subjects you like (such as this example by a 4th grader):


Always be creative and have a blast!!

Beep says Yay to you!


Next up: How to make art with hundreds and hundreds of words!

Art Blast! Fun Lessons for Kids and Aliens. #2

Art with Words #2


In the last lesson, Beep turned his name into ART! (Beep thinks his name is very artful.) But are there other ways to use words visually? Of course!

Micrography (micro=small, graphy=writing) is an artform that has been around for more than a thousand years! It began with religious artists who wanted to express sacred texts in interesting new ways; they used Hebrew letters and the Arabic alphabet in their work, but you can use any language in this cool art form. Here’s how:

First, use a pencil to lightly sketch anything you like! That’s right, as you’ll see from the student examples below, you can draw animals, flowers, flags, characters, logos, mythical creatures, your name or even entire planets! I did a quick sketch of Beep, of course:


Now, for the MICROGRAPHY part. You’re going to need thin colored markers (such as ultra fine point Sharpies), pens, or colored pencils. You can also do in black and white with your regular pencil, too; but with pencils, you’re going to have to keep them sharp!

Here’s your task: instead of filling areas and details with color, like you usually do, you’re going to color each area with only words! So wherever Beep is supposed to be blue, for example, you’ll take a blue (pen/marker/pencil) and write BEEPBEEPBEEP… until you fill that area. OR you can write BLUEBLUEBLUE… OR you can write a poem: ROSESAREREDBEEPISBLUE… OR you can fill with words you associate with your drawing like BEEPBOBSPACEARTPARTYYAY!…


Got it? Good! Ready to try? For your inspiration, here are some examples (some still in progress) done by some awesome current 5th grade art students. Some of them can write really small! Enjoy.



Always be creative and have a blast!!

Beep says yay to you!


Check back for a new lesson soon!




Debut Year Scrapbook

I can’t imagine I’ll ever have a publishing year to top 2018 (four books of my debut series released). With that in mind, I wanted to collect and share a few of my favorite shots:

Books 1 and 2 launch event at Barnes & Noble, Rockville, MD.

With my indispensable writing partners Lauren Francis-Sharma and Fataima Ahmed-Warner.

A gift I’ll always treasure: Beep as crocheted by these fans’ talented and generous mother.

Niece Gwen and nephew Arthur with book 4, which was dedicated to them. Gwen, is a very talented young artist, and I hired her to draw kids and aliens, which I then melded and included in at least one final illustration in each of the books.

Quite a feeling to finally see my own books in libraries and stores (with some not-too-shabby shelf proximity).

I love receiving photos of kids enjoying Beep and Bob.

Strangely, whenever I try to catch a shot myself, it always seems to be right between all the bouts of raucous laughter (at Baltimore Comic Con).

With my fellow local Electric 18s Jean Diehl, Lauren Abbey Greenberg, Deborah Schaumberg (and a photobombing Renaissance woman). We were all asked to sign books at the National Press Club’s Annual Author Night in downtown DC.

B&B in the hands of superstars Rachel Renee and Nikki Russell!

I was honored to speak on a panel at the SCBWI Mid-Atlantic Annual Conference with fellow authors Mary Rand Hess, L.M. Elliott and some guy named Kwame.

With the legendary Tomie de Paola and his latest. Though I’ve only talked to him a few times in the past dozen years, he has always been super generous and supportive.