I’m thrilled to introduce you to Bar Rucci from the creative blog Art Bar! Bar is a graphic designer, art teacher, and comes from one creative family as you’ll read below. Kids and art are her passion and you can tell. From clicking around Art Bar, you’ll find tons of beautifully expressed projects that scream happy, hands-on FUN for kids. Bar has a wonderful way of taking simple materials like paper and cardboard and turning them into pretty collages, ice cream cones, buntings, castles and more! It’s an imaginative world over there and full of artistic projects you’ll want to dive right in with your kids.
Thanks for sharing your passion with us today, Bar!
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your blog.
Hi, I’m Bar, short for Barbara. My family is Dutch, and my brothers and sisters and I were born in Holland. We moved to the US when we were in elementary school. Growing up with European parents was different for sure, especially in our conservative town. My dad was a banker who became a painter the day he retired. He now paints the most gorgeous canvases that I have all over my house (lucky me)! My parents both had a beautiful aesthetic. Everything was bought for a purpose, or made by hand. My mom would sew all of our dresses and knit our sweaters. Fast forward 40 years and I now have three kids of my own, ages 14, 11 and 8. I married a very funny man who happens to be a third generation local. My kids are surrounded by extended family, something that I never had and what I love most about living in the same town where I grew up. As a mom, I expose my kids to all of their passions, and all of mine, too. Some love acting and singing, some love sports, but all of them have made art since they could hold a brush. We have always had an art room, whether it was a closet or the living room (our current art room). My blog is a place where I share my passions: my three unique kids, making stuff with our hands, and celebrating the beauty that surrounds us.
What are your tips on getting creative with kids?
Ha! Well, the irony here is that my kids roll their eyes at me most of the time now (thanks to the teen and the tween). When they were little, I just always put out a simple invitation for them to create. Whether it was watercolors and a new piece of paper in a weird size or shape, or playdough and cookie cutters, I would make sure the art space was clean and clutter free except for the new material. This worked really well. Now that they are older, I still sometimes put out an invitation, but it will be a cool still life (like donuts), or wire and fabric scraps and washi tape. Something more intricate and inviting for their more able hands. But the thing that all three of them love the most is to get messy! Anything using shaving cream or water balloons is a sure thing. They also love grafitti-ing on the table, especially with their friends. Just covering the table with craft paper and leaving out cool pens is a great invitation to just draw.
Where do you draw your creative inspiration?
I am a huge fan of Pinterest. I call it my “research” so that I don’t get too uptight about wasting hours online. I have private boards where I write comments about stuff I like and how I could use it to teach a lesson to the little kids in my art classes. (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I teach art in my home!) I also read a TON, it’s actually my favorite thing to do. Getting into a good novel inspires me in completely different ways, though. It fuels my writing, which could always be better. I am in absolute awe of a good writer. I sometimes read a sentence or paragraph over and over because it’s so well done. And lastly, I am inspired by the world around me. Although my kids are used to it, they still whine about the fact that they cannot walk down the street with me without stopping to pick up some adorable baby pinecones, or a cool leaf. I take photos obsessively and document everything and anything that catches my eye. Sometimes it’s a truck on the highway that has a cool logo. As a graphic designer, I appreciate good design so much. My kids are like, “Oh my God, she’s doing it again”, but I can’t help myself. The world is too interesting.
What are a couple of favorite activities you’ve done with the kids?
My favorite posts are the ones that are more open-ended. That’s what all kids love most.
I’m obsessed with the way these watercolor garlands turned out. My blog features the ones made by the girls in my camp, but my 8yr-old son recently made one that was pretty rad with orange and green, his favorite colors.
Another art project that the kids LOVED was making these cardboard ice cream cones. Painting with colors named after flavors was the best, and using glitter glue never gets old.
And I must share this post about when we painted on leaves. It was such a simple little thing that turned out so beautiful. We used water-soluble crayons, which are so cool.
If you were stuck on a desert island with the kids, what crafting materials would you absolutely need to have?
I always tend to over pack, so my list is ridiculously long. But we would for sure need good paper, some watercolors and brushes, a pencil, and some scissors. These supplies are like your toothbrush and clean underwear layer: essentials. Next I would have to have glue, wire, yarn, and colored tape. I feel like with these things you could pretty much make anything. If I were to pack one fancy dress item, it would be glitter. Glitter just makes kids happy!
And because we love books and are always looking for good recommendations, what are some of your favorite children’s books?
We are totally book obsessed in our house. I still get picture books from the library and read to them. Here are some of our faves (it’s a long list, but that’s how I roll):
Leonardo the Terrible Monster (anything Mo Willems)
Flotsam (no words but simply magical)
Bread and Jam for Francis
George & Martha
I Had a Favorite Dress
My Traveling Eye
Same, Same but Different
anything Charlie and Lola (read with a British accent)
The Frank Show (anything David Mackintosh)
Lost and Found (anything Oliver Jeffers)
The Snowy Day (anything Ezra Jack Keats)
If you could only buy one make it Ish by Peter Reynolds. A must have for any creative family!
Last, who are some of your favorite bloggers that inspire you?
I don’t get to peruse blogs that much, but when I have a free hour on Sundays (or when I’m am sitting at my son’s long hockey practice), these are the ones I go to most often (and I use Bloglovin to keep them all in one place):
Meri Cherry ~ For her amazing photos and process oriented art ideas (and for that matter, all of the moms in the Pinterest group Rockin’ Art for Kids ~ just a ton of awesome ideas).
Tinkerlab ~ Great concept, great writing, always interesting.
Classic Play ~ Her kids are also entering the tween years so I appreciate her posts and writing that much more.
CAKIES ~ Beautiful documentation of a creative family, I love the names of their girls.
EAT DRINK CHIC ~ As a graphic designer, everything she presents is just so pretty. Great printables as well.
SF Girl by Bay ~ LOVE her photos of spaces, pure eye candy
Creature Comforts ~ More eye candy, gorgeous photos of DIYs, recipes, homes, travel and also tips for bloggers.
Design Mom ~ Because I feel like she started it all! The first blog I ever read. Always relevant and interesting. (Also her sister’s blog Oh Happy Day, and her s-i-l’s blog Say Yes. That is one creative family).
Thank you so much Bar, for sharing your creative approach with kids. I love your passion for art and zest for so many things! Your projects are a great expression of that – vibrant, playful, and fun. Those ice cream cardboard cones are awesome! I have to get my daughter making them right away – she’s a huge sweets fan 🙂
Oh and thanks so much for this great list of books to catch up on! We’re always on the hunt for good ones to fill our never-ending list.
Visit all of Bar’s creative projects over at Art Bar and follow her over on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter to get the latest updates!
P.S. If you’d like to be featured as a Maker Mom, please drop us a note here! We’d love to hear from you.
Agnes Hsu is a mom of three and has been inspiring parents and kids to get creative with easy activities and family friendly recipes for over 10 years. She shares her love for creative play and kids food to her 2MM+ followers online. Agnes' commitment to playful learning and kindness has not only raised funds for charity but also earned features in prestigious nationwide publications.