Best Art Supplies for Young Artists

If you have or know a little budding artist, the best way to support them in following their dreams is to load them up with some of the coolest (and most affordable!) art supplies around.  A rule of thumb: when in doubt, buy washable.  Another trick: simple is best!  

Art by Megan and her little artist at work in the studio

Here's my list of favorite art supplies for young artists, ages 3 and up! 

1.  A basic set of watercolor paints. Crayola brand is my favorite and they are super affordable and washable!  (click to purchase through Amazon) 

2. Paint brushes in different sizes and shapes.  My favorite (even I use them to paint!) are from Ikea in the kids' department.  

3. A fun little portfolio or notebook on-the-go.  Remember that little artists are happiest when they can draw and doodle anywhere, so something small that can go to restaurants or other "quiet places" are a HUGE gift for parents, too!  

4. Books with fun and cool techniques about how to draw people, animals, etc. This is a perfect rainy-day or summer break activity for older kids, too!  

5. A kit for making something from their imagination.  My favorite brand for kits are Kid Made Modern and Seedling.  These kits are hours and days of fun and are neatly packaged so that the supplies don't completely take over your home!  

6.  And don't forget all of the basics like glue sticks, different types of tapes, and paper! A little gift basket of essentials (extra points if you assemble them all in a storage bin or "art kit"!) are perfect for a little artist.  

7. CLAY!  Because clay is the best thing ever invented according to kids and this clay doesn't make a mess at all.  I promise! 

8. Stickers.  Because stickers are important and essential.  Kid's love them so much, so just give in and get them for your little artist and then tell them not to put them on every single flat surface in your home. 

9. An easel.  If you want to win mom or dad or aunt or uncle-of-the-year, buy a kid who loves art an easel and watch them giggle with excitement.  

10. Fancy colored pencils.  Nothing against crayola because I love their products for kids and adults alike, but these Prisma colored pencils are THE BEST.  Bigger kids love getting "fancy" art supplies, so something like this is perfect for the little artist who is ready to take the next step in their art career.  

Most importantly, enjoy making a mess with your little artist!  It's all part of the process and they will remember making art for the rest of their lives!  Happy art-making, friends. 

art by Megan paint palette

xo 

M

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links to my amazon.  I trust and use all of these products!  

Art + Home: My Favorite Gallery Walls

I love to hang a statement wall of favorite photos, artwork and kids' artwork and think that a well-styled gallery wall is such a great accent in any sized home.  Our tiny apartment in NYC has a great little gallery wall that makes me smile every time we enter our home or enjoy a meal at the dinner table.  

The major trick with assembling a custom gallery wall is to start with a larger object in the center and work your way out from the center point, to maintain a general pattern of shapes and sizes, and to frame in similar frames (I used an assortment of Ikea Frames that we had collected over the years to create ours!).  I find that sometimes people get caught up in the measuring and can over-think it too much.  Imperfect totally works for a gallery wall!!  

 Our apartment gallery wall - see more on  @artbymegan .  

Our apartment gallery wall - see more on @artbymegan.  

Here's a round-up of some of my favorite gallery walls for inspiration.  

 Image courtesy of  Oh Joy Blog .  

Image courtesy of Oh Joy Blog.  

 image courtesy of Shay Cochrane's  Home Tour  with Curated Interior.  

image courtesy of Shay Cochrane's Home Tour with Curated Interior.  

 Image courtesy of Morgan Foery aka Preppy Blogger's  Instagram .  

Image courtesy of Morgan Foery aka Preppy Blogger's Instagram.  

Here's my Gallery Walls inspiration board full of great ideas for creating your own wall of memories and fun artwork!  

 

 

My Artist-Gang: The Original Art Collective

Started in 2016, The Original Art Collective is a group of professional, emerging and established artists from around the U.S. who believe in helping one another succeed and thrive as artists and business owners.  

What began as a business mentoring relationship immediately turned into a friendship between all of us.  Not a week (or day!) goes by where we do not chat via Instagram messenger about ALL things motherhood, art, balance, and pursuing a career in what sometimes seems literally impossible.  

We support one another furiously, believe in one another and encourage one another through transitions in life, challenging times, creative block and all of the other curve balls life has thrown us. 

The funny part - we have never once met in person.  Some of us have individually met one another at shows or events, but we have NEVER ALL BEEN TOGETHER!   So, my challenge to anyone reading is to figure out how and where we can show our work together this year or next.  Can we make it happen?  I am totally manifesting this or "throwing it into the universe" as the Jealous Curator says to do.  

Want to check out the gang?  Here's a list of the amazing artists that are part of the OAC.

1. Lesley Grainger

Lesley Grainger artwork
Lesley Weaver
Susannah Bee Fine Art
Wink Wink Studio
Eva Magill-Oliver
Jenny Prinn
Katherine Freeman Art
Gee Gee Collins

Be sure to follow us at @originalartcollective on Instagram and also check out all of their amazing work!!  

xo

Behind-the-scenes: Best date nights in NYC

   

  

Grand Banks Brooklyn

If you know me, you know I love adventures, food and date night.  Seriously I just love hitting up a new spot (or a favorite) and enjoying an unplugged evening of laughing and chatting with Mr. Art by Megan. 

Here's a list of our favorite places to go for a date in Manhattan and Brooklyn.  Note: some (but not all!) of these are kid friendly, so use your best judgement! :) 

 

Manhattan date nights: 

Romantic French cafe + perfect neighborhood stroll: Buvette

Speakeasy + Hot Dog Date: Please Don't Tell + Criff Dogs afterwards.  

Simple and Delicious + a long stroll afterwards: Jacks Wife Freda.

Traditional + Classy: The Smith

Low Budget + Romantic: Joe's Pizza takeout and hang on a park bench.  

 

Brooklyn date nights: 

Flavorful + Fun Foodie Heaven: Talde.

Romantic and Tiny + A walk in the park: Le Paddock followed by a walk in Prospect Park

Backyard Cuteness + a fun neighborhood bar: Krupa Grocery and Double Windsor

Shuffleboard + Ice Cream Date: Royal Palms and Ample Hills Ice Cream

Backyard BBQ and beers: Pig Beach

Summer Fun + Urban Sailing: Grand Banks.  

 

 

 

A Summer Reading List: Art by Megan-style

Confession: I am a TOTAL bookworm.  I usually have about 3-5 books going at the same time and cannot get enough reading time on the train, in between tasks, in the evenings and any other time I can squeeze in some reading for fun.  Here are my most recent favorites to add to your reading list: 

1.  "Disoriental".  The story of an Iranian family over the generations, this book is extremely interesting and captivating.  I loved learning about a new region of the world (to me) and seeing how generations change over time but remain attached as a family.  I loved this book! 

2. "Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk".  An older lady takes a walk around her old stomping grounds in NYC in this beautifully written and poetic novel.  I love to read about NYC in the olden days and seeing how it has changed so much but also remained the same.  I cried at the end of this novel, it was that sweet.  

3. "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck". Read it!  Seriously so good and a great laugh for small business owners. I like to read this one right before bed sometimes to give very good perspective to the day!  

4. "Rules of Civility".  I loved the language of this book.  It takes place during the Great Depression in New York City and beyond and it was just intriguing and interesting.  I don't want to ruin the book for you, but I loved the perspective of the narrator and hearing about tragedy from a unique point of view.  Read this one!  

5.  "The Girl Who Smiled Beads".  This was one of my most favorite recent picks with my Book of the Month Club.  It chronicles the true story of a young girl who flees her home in the midst of civil war in Rwanda.  I loved her perspective and the writing is just beautiful.  The story of a strong woman who survives and is thriving as an adult is so inspirational and beautiful.  

6.  "Little Fires Everywhere". OMG!  This book is addictive and so-so juicy with gossip and betrayal.  I want to re-read it again before it becomes a TV show.  Did you hear?  Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon are making it into a TV series!! 

ALSO, Join Book of the Month Club if you are a fellow book worm who cannot get enough!  I love this subscription service and really like to pick out my book each month.  Click here to get a deal on your first book! 

 

Art: 10 female artists you need to know about

In an effort to share the work of more women artists in the world, I am sharing my favorites today. I am totally inspired by my new instagram favorite called @artgirlrising, which aims to share notable women in the arts so that people can name more than 5 of their favorite women artists in conversation. (More than just Frida, O'Keefe, and Helen Frankenthaler.) 

 For more amazing t-shirts celebrating women in the arts that you MUST KNOW.   Click here.   

For more amazing t-shirts celebrating women in the arts that you MUST KNOW.  Click here.  

 Carmen Herrera from Art News.

Carmen Herrera from Art News.

Carmen Herrera is one of my favorites!  I love her late bloomer story and how she has dilligently worked at her simplistic and relaxing painting over the years.  Also, she is Cuban so obviously I love her.  Her famous quote "don't be intimidated about anything" is one of my favorites to remember and repeat.  Also, her first show made me cry at the Whitney Museum of art.  And she had to wait until she was 100 years old to get it.  So, keep painting if you are doubting yourself.  Also, watch this Netflix documentary.  

Amy Sherald.  If you haven't heard about Amy Sherald, you have been living under a proverbial rock.  She is the recently super famous artist who was commissioned by former First Lady Michelle Obama to paint her portrait.  Her work is fresh and breathtaking and unique and I LOVE HER.  Listen to her interview with The Jealous Curator on her podcast "Art for your Ear" here.  

 One of my favorite Joan Mitchell paintings.  

One of my favorite Joan Mitchell paintings.  

Joan Mitchell.  If you love abstract expressionism (think DeKooning or Pollack), then you love Mitchell.  I love her work because it is full of movement and feeling and strong emotion. Also, she loves the color blue and for that reason alone I cannot stop staring at her work.  I love you Joan.  

Eva Mendieta.  If you like performance art and crazy expression, then Eva is your lady.  She is wonderfully different and refreshing and totally bonkers.  You need to check her out and immerse yourself in her breathtaking work.  

Yayoi Kasuma is such a badass and has totally embraced our culture of "selfie" obsession. Check out her work, lest you dare braving the selfie obsessed millennials in line.  Her sculptures are conceptual, interesting and full of dizzying movement and space.  I love her fashion as well, she really matches her work so nicely.  

Mary Cassatt.  I love a gangster lady who fights her way into the circles of tradition and men.  One such lady is Mary Cassatt, who is a famous impressionist and who didn't let the world of art saturated by men of her time overwhelm her.  She explores the role of mother daughter relationships in her beautiful paintings and you should read more about her here and here.  

Louise Nevelson.  Nevelson's work is full of structure, movement and shape.  Her sculptures are famous for being collections of objects that are painted in monochrome colors.  I love the found-art movement and I love her unique work.  Plus, she is rumored for being a total ball-buster, which is pretty awesome, too.  

Lee Krasner.  You might recognize her name from her famous husband, (Jackson Pollack) but Lee Krasner's work speaks for itself.  Her wild abstracts, part of the abstract expressionism movement, are both joyful and passionate, angry and untamed.  Read more about her here.  

Faith Ringgold.  Best known for her writing and narrative quilts, Faith Rinngold's work is beautiful and tells such amazing stories.  Her work is highly influential in the civil rights movement and fight for equality among African Americans. Additionally, she fought for collaboration, storytelling and celebrating tradition in her work.  I LOVE HER WORK!  

Beatriz Milhazes. This Brazilian artist paints in such a colorful, lively and beautiful palette and I cannot get enough of her work.  Her work is compared to a kaleidoscope of color, which i just adore.  You cannot stop looking at her paintings in real life and they really engage the viewer.  Check her out!  

 Painting by Beatriz Milhazes.  

Painting by Beatriz Milhazes.  

Parenting + Art: Best Crafty Gifts for Kids

Ok, I don't know about you, but it seems like birthday party and end-of-year gift season for some reason and I KNOW you need some affordable and crafty ideas.  Well, search no longer, my friends.  Here are my favorite gifts for crafty kids!  

Kiwi Crate

1. Kiwi Crate subscription.  THIS IS THE BEST gift that my kid currently receives.  Monthly, a box of inventions, discoveries and cool scientific "stuff" arrives at our doorstep and she giggles with delight.  Last night she built a LEGIT vacuum cleaner by herself FOR FUN.  I am telling you, this box subscription is worth every penny and makes a great gift for kids ages 4-10.  Click below to sign up today!  (affiliate link) 

Kid Made Modern

2. Kid Made Modern craft kits.  BUT SERIOUSLY.  This is my childhood dream come true. Crafty kits for crafty kids with super cool themes and they come in cute tiny cases.  I mean seriously, who doesn't love a kit of fun little trinkets?  If you don't like trinket cases, just stop reading this blog, because I have nothing to say to you. ;)  ALSO, these are SUPER SUPER AFFORDABLE and they have a super cute instagram that you should totally follow.  PS I want all of their books, too.  

Bravery Mag

3. Bravery Magazine.  Girl Power? Check.  Inspiring stories?  check.  Interesting new ideas and concepts?  Check!  Go check out the new Bravery Mag and fall immediately in love like I did.  The world needs more magazines just like this for little dreamers - boys AND girls!  

Illustoria Mag

4. Illustoria Magazine.  As a former elementary school doodler, I really appreciate a magazine that celebrates the doodlers.  I used to COVER pages of notebooks and textbooks and my backpack (sorry mom and dad) with my little creations and now there's a magazine that celebrates kids who can't turn off the doodles.  I love it.  Also, it's a great magazine for young readers who need some practice and inspiration.  

Melissa and Doug

5. Melissa and Doug craft kits. Affordable, fun and adorable, these kits are perfect for boys and girls who love to make things.  I love their little kits for party favors, birthday gifts, and little kits to use for long car trips.  They are well made, fun and entertaining for little ones ages 3 and up!  

So, happy shopping and stay crafty, little ones!  

Behind-the-scenes: Podcasts I love!

I am a "lifelong learner" as they say and cannot get enough information, inspiration and ideas from all over the place.  So, one of my favorite places to get amazing inspiration recently is through podcasts.  I often listen to them while I paint at the studio, but also love them at home while my little one does homework or while we hang out in the evenings.  It's an easy way to engage my brain without total visual distraction.  So, here is a list of my favorites! 

 photo by Amy Frances Photo.  

photo by Amy Frances Photo.  

Best podcast for kids: 

Wow in the World. This podcast is GENIUS.  It explores fun scientific concepts and is super silly and fun.  My 1st grader is OBSESSED and we have learned some awesome new trivia and science facts from just listening to it together on weekend mornings or in the evening as a "bedtime story".  Mindy and Guy Raz (of How I Built This Podcast on NPR...another absolute favorite!) are hilarious for both adults and kids, so I highly recommend you give it a listen! 

Best podcast for female run businesses: 

Second Life by My Domaine and Hillary Kerr.  I LOVE this podcast and am so thankful that I discovered it recently for my long drives for work events.  I found the questions and inspiration of women who own businesses after pivoting from other areas of expertise and other jobs so interesting.  The host, Hillary Kerr, does a great job asking probing, important questions to the guests and I just can't wait for the next episode to air!  

Best podcast for artists and inspiration:

I could go on and on about my favorite art podcast and most of you have probably heard or seen me gushing about it on instagram, but that won't stop me from sharing it again.  Listen to Danielle Krysa on The Jealous Curator's Podcast called Art for Your Ear.  I love hearing the stories of artists who have chosen to follow their passion, what they were like as little artists and how they got to where they are today.  It's so intriguing and really a great way to stay inspired in the studio as I paint.  

Best ridiculous and funny podcast: 

My Favorite Murder is a new one that I have gotten hooked to. You definitely have to be in the right mood to listen to it, but the satire and general ridiculousness of it all is so fun and funny.  Try it out if you like making fun of the news, people in general or if you need a good snort-laugh.  

Some of my future podcasts are within these curated lists, so take a look at these lists! 

Levo League's 10 best Podcasts for Women

 Buzz Feed's 13 Podcasts by Women you should know about

A solo show + celebrating the tiny victories!

This coming Friday, May 11, I will be having the first solo show (at Captain's Daughters in Provincetown, MA) during my 3 years of "official" business as Art by Megan.  While I have been SO busy (and under the weather recently due to family expansion!), I kind of forgot until today to celebrate this big (HUGE!) step.   

So, I want to celebrate by taking a little trip down memory lane, Art by Megan-style.

Sometimes I completely forget that ONLY 3 years ago this past weekend, we moved to NYC and started almost completely over in a new city with just a few friends and 2 brand new careers.  It was exhausting and overwhelming and terrifying and completely amazing all in one breath.  

After some time spent unpacking, setting up a new tiny home, learning how to do things the "Brooklyn way" and teaching my little one some important life lessons like how to ride the subway and how to ride a scooter to school, I began to work full-time as an artist and small business owner in the fall of 2015.  I worked from the "Teeny Tiny Studio" aka the spare bedroom (aka the walk in closet in any other state) in our first apartment. 

It was my dream come true. 

I had dreamed of having a space to call my own as an artist for my entire life and this felt like the "big leagues" or at least my childhood fantasy coming true and I was so pumped.   A few months later, I was picking up a package from the UPS guy at our front door while covered in paint and he asked what I did for a living.  I said, confidently and maybe for the first time ever, "I am an artist" and he replied "wow, I have never met a real artist". 

I started to notice that I was saying to people I met, "I am an artist".  It felt amazing and surreal.  

 The "Teeny Tiny Studio" - photo by  Amy Frances Photography  

The "Teeny Tiny Studio" - photo by Amy Frances Photography 

Time passed and selling occasional paintings became less infrequent, but each time I get an order for a print, small painting or large commission, I giggle. 

I always tell my family, "oh my gosh guess what?  I sold a painting!" when it happens and the "honeymoon phase" hasn't worn off yet. I sincerely hope it never does. 

Then, in March of 2017, I found my first studio outside of our home.  I was quickly outgrowing the "teeny tiny studio" and finding that paintings were always on the kitchen table, drying in the hallway, being photographed above our bed and our space for family was getting a little crazy.  So, I took a big financial and business risk and put the down payment on my first studio in Gowanus, Brooklyn in an old warehouse on a crazy street.  I loved it so much.  I will never forget the feeling of stepping into that empty room and thinking "oh man, this is just so cool."  

I cried that day, happy tears.  

 My Gowanus, Brooklyn Studio, 2017 // Here's an awesome  feature  on our studio with photos by  Amy Frances Photography  and featured on Household Mag's Blog.  

My Gowanus, Brooklyn Studio, 2017 // Here's an awesome feature on our studio with photos by Amy Frances Photography and featured on Household Mag's Blog.  

This past February (2018), I moved in with 2 of my favorite business owners ever (Whitney of We Gather and Betsy of Sylvan Park) to our new space at Industry City in Brooklyn, NY.  Industry City is like a magical-google-campus-vibe for creatives and innovators in Brooklyn.  When I step foot into our studio each time I go to work in the morning, I sigh and think or usually say out loud, "dang this is a cool spot". 

My "roomates" often hear me say it and we all giggle or agree.  

As an impatient person with a fierce streak of overachiever, I often forget to take a deep breath and let it all sink in.  But, I am making a sincere effort to do so as I get older and, dare I say, a little bit wiser. 

So, this post is really just a little reminder to myself and to all of you who support me that I am VERY thankful:

  • I am thankful for the friends I have made while growing this business.  
  • I am thankful for the clients who support me by purchasing artwork and prints. 
  • I am thankful for the tough lessons I have learned while building a business from scratch in a crazy new city.  
  • I am thankful for the community of creatives that I helped to build in Brooklyn and who I now consider my dearest friends. (Tuesdays Together NYC) 
  • I am thankful for this chance to push myself and learn so much.
  • I am thankful for a husband who agreed it was time to jump into a crazy new adventure together.
  • I am thankful for 3 years that have felt like both the fastest and longest years of my life!  

Thank you and cheers to celebrating the little victories!  

Megan 

 

Palette Screen Savers for my friends!

I did a little thing and made some iphone backdrops for my friends!  Feel free to download these and use them on your desktop or iphone (or whatever kind of phone) and enjoy a splash of color and messy paint from your favorite artist!  

Have a great day and remember that the beauty is in the mess.  

xo 

Megan 

Learn to Paint with Art by Megan!

Last week, I taught an "Abstract Oceans" course at the instagram-famous and oh-so-lovely Maman at their newest NoMad location just north of the Flatiron Building in Manhattan.  The space is so lovely and accommodating and the Maman team makes teaching a breeze! 

Here are some photos of our night, courtesy of my lovely friend Eileen of Eileen Meny Photography.  

Eileen Meny Photography

More about my Maman classes: 

  • Each class is about 2 hours long and features delicious treats and canapes from Maman's kitchen. 
  • Students of all levels are encouraged to attend and I tailor the class to each student. 
  • Note: I used to teach high school, so I can literally handle anything!  
  • Bring a photo of your favorite ocean scape for inspiration.
  • All supplies are included, just bring along your best friend for a fun night out!

Be sure to follow along on @artbymegan to see when future classes are released!  Hope to see you there.  

Eileen Meny Photography
Eileen Meny Photography
Eileen Meny Photography
Eileen Meny Photography

All photos featured courtesy of Brooklyn photographer Eileen Meny.