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Posted by on Jun 13, 2014 | 2 comments

Margaret Wohler’s Nature Sketchbooks

Margaret Wohler’s Nature Sketchbooks

I’ve been to two of Margaret Wohler’s nature journaling workshops, one for grown-ups at the Del Ray Artisans and one for kids at Huntley Meadows Park, where Margaret has spent more than 20 years as a park naturalist. When she teaches, she brings along a few of her own sketchbooks. I’ve always wanted to spend time one-on-one with Margaret to talk about her art. One afternoon recently, Margaret showed me some of the many journals she keeps in her home that are filled with notes and drawings. She loves the idea of filling sketchbooks with observations in nature, even, she says, if the drawings are crude at times or unfinished. The more one draws, the better the artist one becomes. Margaret always includes a few notes on the pages, such as the date, the weather and maybe temperature and cloud cover, as well as identification of various plants, insects, and other features. She’s experimented with a lot of different artistic media, but her favorite drawing implement is the thin-lined Japanese Goulet...

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Posted by on Jun 3, 2014 | 1 comment

An Artist’s Journey from Del Ray to the West Indies

An Artist’s Journey from Del Ray to the West Indies

We featured Sarah (Coffin) D’Alessandro on DIY Del Ray as an artist (potter, illustrator), student of arts management and all around DIYer running The Empty House Studio (TEHS) art space in Del Ray in 2013. When we discovered that Sarah had moved to the West Indies with her husband Andy as he finishes med school, we started reading her blog, The Study and The Studio, where she writes beautifully about her adventures and artistic endeavors. This is one of Sarah’s first of, we hope, many guest blogs from Dominica to Del Ray in which she shares how she creates art on whatever canvas she can find, including rocks, seeds and shells. This is where I live post The Empty House Studio (TEHS), in the tropical lands of the West Indies, on the nature island of Dominica (pronounced “dom-i-NEE-ka”). It’s exotic, vibrant and very difficult at times. The shapes, textures and colors are shocking to a native Virginian like me. I am enthralled with the visuals even after five months...

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Posted by on Feb 26, 2014 | 5 comments

A Bungalow Designed for Art and Play

A Bungalow Designed for Art and Play

Last week we showed you Kay’s creative and serene home office where she runs her holistic interior design business, Oikasa. Before that, we featured the fabulous wallpaper she installed on her stairway. And today, we bring you the rest of her house which she shares with her husband Stefan and their two active young children. In every room of their home, we see Kay’s design sensibility at play — simplicity, uplifting colors, handmade and natural elements, and an organized and efficient use of space. In the middle of the front room, a child’s-sized grand piano atop a green shag rug was the last thing I expected to see. But, given that Kay teaches music lessons to young children, a room dedicated to musical instruments makes perfect sense. Next to the front door. you can see an illuminated canvas Kay made. She painted the leaf design on a stretched canvas and then poked Christmas lights through holes into the canvas. She says that her youngest music students love to gaze at...

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Posted by on Aug 19, 2013 | 3 comments

DIY Kids: Nature Journaling at Huntley Meadows Park

DIY Kids: Nature Journaling at Huntley Meadows Park

When I signed up to take a nature journaling class workshop about a month ago, I enrolled my 9-year-old daughter Ana for the same class designed for children, and Katie enrolled her 7-year-old son, Jack. Both classes were taught by Margaret Wohler, a vivacious and talented staff naturalist and illustrator for Huntley Meadows Park, a 1,500 acre wetland park in Fairfax County just a few miles down Route 1 from Alexandria. Even though it was raining steadily on the Sunday afternoon of the class, we stayed dry under a pavilion at the park as Margaret gave the kids some basic sketching lessons and warm-up exercises. She talked about learning five basic lines to look for when drawing — a straight line, a curved line, a circle, a dot, and an angle. If you can draw those, you can draw anything! She gave the kids a chance to practice drawing those very shapes by copying simple designs. Like the 19th century naturalists, Margaret taught the method of recording the date, location, time, weather,...

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Posted by on Jul 10, 2013 | 0 comments

20 Summer Projects for Kids

20 Summer Projects for Kids

With kids out of school and camps and vacations spread out during the summer, there are bound to be times when your kids complain, I’m bored. So here’s a list of 20 of our favorite kid projects — perfect for weekends, rainy days, or any day. Most can be modified to fit any age or skill or done as a small group. Click each photo for more info. If you have a project to share, let us know! We’d love to add to our list. Sun prints Geoboard math toy Beaded bubble wands and homemade bubble mix Duct tape Painted shells and sticks Flower petal paints Pom poms Paper dolls (and other travel-friendly activities) Woodworking Homemade finger paint Outdoor checker board Beach crafts Tin can lanterns Cardboard cutouts and paper cities Neighborhood walk journal Make your own postcards Paint-by-number wall Melted crayon art Decoupage Edible...

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