mummy and me art collaboration in progress, Italian Greyhound dog sketch. How to create an art collaboration with a toddler

How to create an art collaboration with a toddler, even when you don’t intend to!

This how to create an art collaboration with a toddler instructional article is brought to you by, “I am always a mothering, even when I am drawing”, “I was only distracted for a zero tenth of a second”, “lighting fast toddler hands” and “how do I salvage this?”.

I will start this post off by saying I am a typical creative.  Not only do i have multiple project going on and unfinished at any given time, as well as a ton more more running through my head, I am also my worst critic.  I also draw in my daughters presence, always, as I keep her full time whilst working from home.   And that’s how this story started months ago.

I was drawing a cat in impressionist form, or at least I was trying to (I don’t even remember why I was drawing a cat, though as it’s one of my daughters favorite animals it may have been for her benefit) and I wasn’t happy with what I had so far. It just looked wrong rather than an impressionist style cat.  At the same time I was sitting with my daughter who was three in our living room.

I was a little distracted with everything being that my mind was being pulled in multiple directions (daughter, drawing not going the way it should, other members of family, rest of my surroundings).  I put the drawing down on my lap with the pencil resting on top, whilst fielding “can I help you draw the cat?” whilst finding a distraction for my daughter, when the inevitable happened.   My daughter evoked one of her super speed toddler powers, grabbed the pencil and “helped” me draw.  Within a blink of an eye it was done, I don’t even think I had time to put down the object I had just picked up to distract her with.  I’d say I was frustrated or slightly annoyed.  But in truth, despite the fact I knew that those pencil scribbles were done with such a heavy hand that no amount of rubbing out would remove the deep trench marks, I really wasn’t.

Truthfully I hated it a little less, though it may have been that biased mothers love of everything their child creates (yes sometimes you do just a smidgen of a second feel bad wiping away the artwork your precious angel decorated the walls with whilst seething that they chose that as a canvas and not some of the scrap paper).

That all said I still didn’t want to waste the art materials and hours that I had struggled to draw that darn cat. Even more so since I hated it a little less now.  I wracked my brain for ideas to salvage it.  Frankly trying to rub out the pencil scribbles didn’t appeal as I knew it wouldn’t work all that well, so I decided to incorporate them.   And the best idea I could come up with was to keep them as part of the line drawing of the sketch and let them dictate colour placement.

Mommy and Me art project, Art Deco cat drawing in progress.

An actual improvement. The accidental mummy and me cat drawing collaboration in progress.

I am by no means the first, last or only artist to collaborate with their children, on purpose or otherwise.  In fact not very long after I had started salvaging this cat drawing by incorporating S’s scribbles, I came across a post on Facebook about the talented illustrator and graphic artist Mica Angela Hendricks who is Busy Mockingbird.  Detailing her art collaborations with her own daughter.

The more colour  I added to our accidental mummy and me cat collaboration, the more I liked it and the more apparent it was that S really did help.  So I decided to try and replicate the effect and process again with a new picture and this time I would take photographic evidence of each step by step progress.  And it worked.

So here for your viewing pleasure is a step by step guide (with pictures) to creating an art collaboration with your toddler, even if you really don’t mean to.
  • Step one . Draw something.  It’s very important that you own this drawing, act like it’s yours, this help for the next to steps. Its also better if you do this in eye sight of your intended collaborator (read toddler/small child)
Mummy and Me Art, Italian Greyhound Sketch In Progress

Italian Greyhound Sketch in progress. Pencil on paper, early stages.

  • Step two.  Collaborator notices you drawing and the questions ensue.  “What are you       doing?”, “Why?”, “What are you drawing?” “Why?”
  • Step three.  If all goes well in the first two steps, this step should be where you field the question “Can I help?”.  If it’s not forth coming you can always jump the gun and ask them to help. Though I find from experience with my three year old, she finds more passion in things they are not allowed to do.  “please eat your favorite mac n cheese?”…. “NO!” “Don’t put that yucky tasting thing in your mouth!”…. ***put’s it in mouth.  “No you can’t help with this drawing darling, this is mummies special work just by her , but thank you!”……leads to step four.
  • Step 4.  Collaborator (toddler/small child) engages their lightning speed super powers and grabs drawing instrument that you stupidly left in their reach (yes it doesn’t matter that it’s in your lap/hand/up higher than you thought they could reach.  Silly, silly you).  Collaborator (toddler/small child) re-engages their lighting speed super powers and “helps” you draw.
mummy and me art collaboration in progress, Italian Greyhound dog sketch.  How to create an art collaboration with a toddler

Tiara and converse optional, helping mummy draw an Italian Greyhound.

mummy and me Italian Greyhound sketch in progress

The more scribbles the better. Well as long as you can still see the main drawing underneath.

  • Step 5.  The salvaging of the artwork, or more better put colouring in  the artwork.  This is where you get to have fun with your colour mediums.  For this I broke out my oil paint based sharpies.  I was careful not to go over S’s scribble lines that I wanted to keep.  I chose a select number of main colours for the body of the dogs and cat, and black to go over my line drawing and scribble lines by S.
    Italian Greyhound, mummy and me art in progress

    How good are you at keeping between the lines?

    This is where you need to revisit your childhood colouring in skills and keep between the lines of both your line drawing and your collaborator’s scribbles.  fill in the different areas of your drawing that were created by the scribbles  with your choice of main body colours.  I alternated between gold and silver, creating a patchwork Art Deco effect.

  • Step 6.  Tracing over the lines and scribbles.  Very carefully I took a black oil based marker and traced both my line drawing and S’s scribbles that I was keeping.
    mummy and me Italian greyhound drawing. Work in progress

    Tracing the lines and scribbles, in black marker.


  • Stage 7.  This is the grand finally, erase the messy pencil marks that are leftover and went over, tidy up and missed marks in the marker pens, sit back and admire your finished artwork.
    mummy and me Art Deco Italian Greyhound Portrait.

    The finished collaboration. Our mummy and me Art Deco Italian Greyhound Portrait.


And rinse, repeat and create an art collaboration with your toddler…..

Art Deco Cat art, mummy and me art

Art Deco Kitty, Finished Mummy And Me Art


and repeat …

Art Deco mummy and me italian greyhound, mummy and me drawing.

Another Italian Greyhound in progress.

Italian Greyhound mommy and me artwork.

Finished dog on a pillow. S and I are on a roll.


and repeat…

Italian Greyhound Mommy and me art in progress

Who’s line drawing is better? Mine or S’s?

Gone Shopping, Italian Greyhound Dog art with bag, mommy and me art

All done with a Deco feel.

Now you have read this how-to create an art collaboration with a toddler, do you think you might create some mummy (or daddy) and me art yourself? If you do share your makes on our Facebook page. The link is in the footer our our website. or better yet leave a comment on this post.


Koi Carp

There’s an aquarium store near us that have a large indoor pond just inside their door. In which they keep large beautiful koi fish.  It’s the sort of set up that most fish lovers would love but I am sure would cost a bomb or two to achieve your own, not considering the upkeep, maintenance and space.  I don’t think I have seen too many of these since I moved over here if any apart from the one at this store.  My 3 yr old daughter likes the fish but what she really loves is that if you go to the till the other side of the door you can buy a pre-measured out little pot of fish food for a dollar and feed the koi.  The excitement and thrashing that ensues from the feeding frenzy, as their big mouths open to gulp down the tiny pellets gets giggles and raucous laughter from S.  So every once in a while we visit the aquarium store so she can feed the fish.

We have actually been doing this a while, yet it hadn’t made it to this blog yet.

But I have recently been trying to reorganize my digital devices which I use for my art.  Even when I hand draw or paint with traditional medium I still use technology to scan it, finish it or tidy it up and enlarge, before I share on this blog. Other times I use it to actually make art from scratch with my different apps and programs I have.  But I am pretty bad at transferring and deleting things and so it’s gotten to the point of clean up and tidy up or not be able to do anything more.  Digital memory is limited it seems more than my memory on a Monday morning, during a caffeine ban.  One of my favorite and go-to creative apps is the Art Rage for IPad app, which was struggling to process the simplest of tasks thanks to the multiple large as possible multi-layer works it had saved all waiting to be transferred or finished.  I can no longer ignore spring cleaning my digital files and work. So I have been trying to do it here and there, especially when it comes to inside the apps, which I found have quite a few pieces not finished.

And then I saw a fish, an unfinished fish, a whole lot of effort put in already fish, but no where near finished.


A fish in need, Koi in progress long forgotten.

A fish in need, Koi in progress long forgotten.

And then I remembered our walks to feed the fish and S’s squeals of laughter and happiness.  And that this fish has been waiting for more detail since 2013, poor poor lonely forgotten fish.

How could I leave it for so long languishing, with all the memories it represents? Clearly I had lost momentum during the creative process, probably from loosing my nerve.  I tend to get scared about ruining a piece and back off for a breather.  This breather apparently took a year.  Well I clearly couldn’t leave it any longer.  So I pushed through the uncertainty about what direction to take it and started making progress.

Close up of the nose details in progress.

Close up of the nose details in progress.


In Progress Koi Carp close to being finished. Screen shot of the work in the Art Rage app which I am creating it in.

In Progress Koi Carp close to being finished. Screen shot of the work in the Art Rage app which I am creating it in.

I was surprised how little time it took to finish considering how long it took me to get to the point in which i found it. I came to the conclusion that it’s my dithering and lack in confidence in my directional choices that make it such a long creational process.  The minute I chose to ignore those little voices and just go with the flow it seemed to speed up.

But as always I had a last minute wobble with the eye colour.

Screen shot of Koi Carp in progress within the app. With lighter blue eyes.

Screen shot of Koi Carp in progress within the app. With lighter blue eyes.

I realized whilst on screen the darker blue version was striking, but in print the lighter blue would stand out more.  So I decided to make both versions. Why not? This is the benefit of digital art. you can create different versions of things with simple tweaks quite easily without having to start over on a canvas or board.

So here they are my two versions of the same fish.

Dark blue eyed koi carp.

Dark blue eyed koi carp.

And with a lighter touch.

Koi Carp version two with lighter blue eyes.

Koi Carp version two with lighter blue eyes.

I think it works. I am glad I didn’t go whole hog on the water swirls, as I think that the plain black areas of the water add a nice touch and stop the water from overwhelming the koi.  I have to admit it makes a nice mirrored fabric print design.

And more so I have something finished to represent all those memories of S and her screams of laughter and giggles whilst feeding the fish.

I think it’s probably time we take another walk back to feed the fishes.



Peaceful is a toddler napping!

We’ve been quite busy this week. Especially with S. So I haven’t been very creatively productive since before christmas. But this evening, a rare long nap, gave just enough time to progress on a few works in progress. And even start and complete (only just), a quick sketch of what exactly was enabling my rare opportunity to work.

Peaceful is a toddler napping <3

sketch of S sleeping. Pen on paper

And the end of that peace is said toddler waking up in a cranky mood!

What’s your peaceful moment of the day?

My Daughter, My Inspiration.

And here we are my first two pieces and first inspiration.

This inspiration has been a learning curve for me and brought with it a huge realization on many fronts. Firstly I have learnt that it’s much harder than I thought to find the odd five minutes here and there for hobbies when you have a 1-year-old. And the odd five minutes here and there don’t lend to very much creatively and doing it this way means a not so great drawing that took maybe an hour in total max took forever to finish. But what really hit me was holly cow are my drawing skills rusty!!!!!!
And it is that realization that hit me the most. I’m not sure which had more of an effect, the former or the later. But one thing I’m sure about, is that I’m not very impressed with the results.
I thought I was capable of better. But hopefully as this project progresses my skills will improve….I hope.

Anyway enough digressing and back to the real purpose of this blog. This posts inspiration and what resulted from it.

This weeks post is brought to you by the letter S. Specifically my beautiful daughter S. My never-ending source of inspiration and muse who has motivated me to do many things. Such as cook. My husband and anyone who knows me will tell you I don’t cook very often. There are very good reasons behind that. Mostly it’s not something I even average on except for one or two things. But yet at the 6 month mark I was hell-bent on making my own baby food. And then just recently S was part motivation for this entire drawing project. And I don’t mean just this weeks post. I mean the whole thing. I want to be able to show her the many facets of mummy and foster a creative environment for her to grow up in. And to do that I need to actually do the things I love and enjoy and not just say I can do them.
Every day S does something inspiring and new. Yesterday she showed us that just because we think she’s a little too short to reach something doesn’t mean she won’t courtesy of her new “stand on tippy toes skills”. She’s getting closer and closer to walking properly every day and just yesterday I caught her dancing somewhat…well butt shuffling in a bad rhythm to Choo Choo Soul while in her high chair. There’s always something new to wrap my head around and I’m still trying to process that it’s already been over a year since we brought her home. My baby is growing up! And fast!
We’ve been snap happy taking millions of pictures for the memory banks and got as many videos as she would let us catching her doing the latest “cute new thing”. So why now immortalized some our memories in pen and pencil? Is it not appropriate that my motivation be my first inspiration?
Well lets look at the results.

This is my first piece. It’s coloring pencil on paper.

20121023-215901.jpg Drawing number one.

I took inspiration from pointillism for style. Purely for fun. I do like how it looks like a mosaic almost.
And here’s a close up.

20121024-145426.jpg Close up of drawing number one.

You can see in the close up how I did the dots.

20121024-160119.jpg Memories of impending motherhood.

You may be wondering “what’s with the big star?”. Well it’s to signify S’s name. It is “star” although not in English. It seemed appropriate as she is our little twinkle and I’d wish for her upon a star any day. That and we were searching for a beautiful girls name to represent my heritage as she has V’s surname which makes his (or at least part of) very obvious. It was beautiful and not too difficult for an American tongue to pronounce although many still miss-hear it. And bonus was it is very rarely heard of over here. Which is something we wanted as well. Something unique but meaningful to who she is.

20121024-160322.jpg Tiny feet.

Like any mother I have the obligatory thousands of photos. In fact I think I hit well over a thousand by the time S was six months old. When I sat down to start drawing for this post, I looked at the many I have on my phone (don’t you love the technology of today? You can’t fit that many photos in your wallet!), and thought about in what way I wanted to represent my little muse on paper. I knew I wanted to represent my love for her and our bond most of all. Before and after she was born. Had I found more opportunity to concentrate on my drawings, I think I would have ventured more into conveying who S is. Her personality, her loves, and likes. Just generally what its like to live with S. I truly do feel so lucky to be able to call myself her mum and claim her as mine, well ours.

But that’s enough gushing. As I said earlier I did do two drawings. The second one (shown bellow) was done in pencil and black pen. This drawing I was aiming for was a picture to convey what impending motherhood felt like for me and how I feel about it now. Waiting for S to finish cooking and greet us in the big wide world. Again I’m not that impressed with how it turned out. It was pretty rushed and more worthy of the title doodle than drawing.

20121029-141350.jpg Drawing number two.

And a close up of drawing number two. I did swirls for the sky instead of dots like before. The swirls were strangely relaxing to do. Must have been the monotony. Although not as neat as I’d have liked due to me rushing it.

20121029-141534.jpg Close up of drawing number two.

And I guess that concludes my first inspiration post. I’ll leave you to mull on what you have seen and read. While I go off to draw some more (hopefully with improvement) for a new post.

Another preview, apology and an addendum.


The month is almost up, both mine and our daughter S’s birthdays are quickly approaching. They are both “milestone” birthdays at that. So we are busy, busy, busy, what with preparing to celebrate as well as looking after Soon to be toddler. As a result I’m still working on my first inspiration. Sorry guys I have any pictures of finished work for you this post. I currently have three different pieces on the go at the same time. The close-ups above and below are from the same piece. Not my usual method or style, I thought I’d try something different. Hoping it works out. I must say it’s calming to draw this way. Though more time-consuming. It reminds me very much of roman mosaics as well as the obvious Pointillism style.
Any guesses as to my current inspiration?


I hadn’t intended on posting again without at least one or two finished pieces to show you. However I didn’t think it would take me so long to finish at least one piece. I’m not by any means promising you or claiming I’m creating a masterpiece (far from it) but I haven’t found many spare minutes here and there to sit down and draw these past few weeks. I thought I better at least give you an update I mean I can’t let my first month go by with just one blog post. Could I?

And this brings me to the addendum. When I set forth this project I didn’t specify at least for myself a goal for how often I would post, or how many pieces I would create per post. I thought being flexible would be better. That way I wouldn’t feel rushed, nor would it seem out-of-place if I posted more frequently should the creativity flow more quickly at one time or another. Being flexible in my project seemed like a better way to fit it into my day-to-day life as mummy. Because let’s be honest S is numero UNO in order of getting things done. She needs me I’m there, she needs it, I’m doing it. Hovering over her like a honey bee on a flower……..ok maybe a helicopter over a freeway. The bumble bee thing just sounded prettier. Yes I admit it! My names Hannah and I’m a helicopter parent! I can also be described as an “attached parent”. Although I’ve never read the book nor remember the author’s name for that matter but from what I gather I do fair few things this “expert” encourages.

Ok so now I’ve held my hand up and admitted my guilt, time to move on to a solution. Clearly just a little structure will go a long way. I need to give myself a posting schedule at the very least. Because I’m busy with S I’m not going to go over board. I need to be pragmatic and honest with what I can achieve. But I would still like to maintain some flexibility because ever the optimist there may in fact be a week I can post multiple times! But then there’s also, I’m sure going to be weeks where it’s going to be even more difficult.

So let’s see………

let’s start with how many pieces of work should I promise per post? I’m going to stick with at least one. Yeah it may seem a cop-out or easy way out but I’ll more likely achieve one piece per inspiration more frequently than a larger number thus being more likely to be able to promise more frequent posts. However I reserve the opportunity to post as many above that minimum as I see fit should the creative juices really flow.

So now the bigger question.

How often should I post? Now this is tricky, I need to choose a frequency that is achievable in my busy schedule, yet enough so as to keep this blog entertaining. Once a month just isn’t going to cut it! I don’t want to bore you. But I still need to take into account I need to not just sit and write a post but also create at least one piece of work based on my day-to-day life experiences and inspirations.

What would be a happy medium? Is every two weeks too long for readers to wait? Or would once a week be too tight for my schedule? I want to give myself the opportunity to create something more than just scribbles and doodles. I’m not promising you I never will submit scribbles and doodles I’m just saying once or twice it would be nice to have the time to create something awesome.
So with that in mind I think I’ll give myself a bi weekly minimum target. No matter what I will post. Whether be it an update or hopefully some inspiration to share with you!