Tag Archives: Art

FREE Printable: Chinese New Year – Year of the Pig

This year Chinese New Year falls on Tuesday 5th February. Chinese New Year is a glorious, colourful celebration of the New Year, just when I feel the year is at its darkest and gloomiest. This year is the Chinese Year of the Pig.

In Manchester the Chinese New Year celebrations are legendary, with a parade, Chinese crafts exhibition, a big celebration in Albert Square and a fantastic street food market.

2019 is the Chinese Year of the Pig. The Pig is the twelfth of the 12 year cycle of animals which make up the Chinese zodiac in the Chinese calendar. Legend has it that the Pig was the last to arrive when the Jade Emperor called for the great meeting. This is why the pig is the last animal in the zodiac.

To celebrate Chinese New Year and the Year of the Pig I’ve created this colouring sheet for children, or indeed adults. It’s a simple sheet which you can print out on A4 paper. All you need are some felt tips or colouring pencils and it should keep the kids entertained for a little while. If you want to extend the fun, you could also try making a Chinese drum, or some traditional red envelopes for Chinese New Year.Chinese New Year Year of the Pig PrintableClick here to download your FREE Chinese New Year printable!

It’s pretty cute isn’t it? It’s A4 sized, so just print off however many you need. Give the kids a million coloured pencils or felt tips and let them go wild with them. Adults who enjoy colouring in might also like to get in on the action too.

I’d love to know what you’ll be doing to celebrate Chinese New Year, let me know in the comment box below. Gong hei fat choy!

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FREE Printable: Chinese New Year - Year of the Pig

FREE Printable: 2019 New Year Colouring Sheet

That’s it. Christmas is pretty much done and dusted and the next big date in our diary is New Year. After all the fun and frivolity of Christmas, who really has the time and energy to get out a load of glitter and glue and get crafting with the kids? Not me, that’s for sure. I’ve created a cute little printable for New Year which I’ve made available for you to download and use for free.

New Year is usually a time for parties. We often get together with friends and their families over the New Year period, the kids love to sit and colour for hours. Here’s a sweet printable which they can colour in to welcome in 2019!

Free Printable: 2019 New Year Colouring Sheet

Download your free 2019 colouring sheet here!

It’s pretty cute isn’t it? It’s A4 sized, so just print off however many you need. Give the kids a million coloured pencils or felt tips and let them go wild with them. Adults who enjoy colouring in might also like to get in on the action too.

Our New Year celebrations are usually fairly low key. We might have an early dinner out with friends somewhere and then off home for snacks and family snuggles in front of the TV before the boy goes off to bed. Sometimes I might do some work while it’s quiet.

The fireworks at midnight usually wake my son up, so he will usually get up and watch them out of the window with us for ten minutes before he goes back to bed.

New Years Day usually involves us all going on a long walk somewhere with the dog and a roast dinner at home. We have a small extended family and our friends are usually busy, so we tend to do our own thing. What are your family traditions at New Year?

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Free Printable 2019 New Year Colouring Sheet

Pretty prints and greeting cards from Shepherd Illustration

Shepherd Illustration specialise in wildlife illustration, art prints, screen print tees and greeting cards. They have a pretty, quirky, contemporary and unique style which is pleasing to the eye and looks great in any home. It’s always nice to send cards and gifts which you know are pretty unique and special. Something not mass produced and something which a small artist has produced and developed with care. This week I’ve been looking at the beautiful cards and gifts on Etsy made by Shepherd Illustration.

Shepherd Illustration is owned by Lauren Shepherd who is a motion graphics designer and illustrator based in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Her illustrations are predominately drawn in black fine liner pen with some gold detail. Most of her illustrations are of wildlife and wildflowers with others featuring anatomical drawings of parts of the body.

Pretty prints and greeting cards from Shepherd Illustration

I was very taken by this goose print. The three geese tied together reminded me of our three-person family and I have plans to frame it nicely and have it on the wall of my office at home. The description on her Etsy store does suggest that this print would be great on a nursery wall, especially if your family of two has recently become three and I quite agree.

I like both the simplicity and the detail of this A5 print which has been printed on high quality 300gsm recycled white card and individually signed and numbered. This print costs just £7.50 and would make a lovely gift for a new baby.

Pretty prints and greeting cards from Shepherd Illustration

This cuddly baby sloth is really detailed, even down to his claws. This would make a lovely gift for a first wedding anniversary (which is paper). This sloth print is also available as a greeting card. 

I love giraffes and I was pleased to find the giraffe greeting card in my illustration package. Again the detail is stunning, even down to the little gold heart on the neck of the giraffe. 

Lauren Shepherd describes herself as a “dachshund mom” so it’s not surprising that they do feature in some of her illustrations. Again these are drawn in black fine liner pen with accent details highlighted in gold.

Pretty prints and greeting cards from Shepherd Illustration

The greeting cards from Shepherd Illustration are priced at just £2.50. I always think that if you’re sending a card then it’s worth sending a good quality one. I often keep good cards I receive and keep them on my desk because they make me smile. These are the kind of cards which will make me smile. 

Shepherd Illustration have a good range of art prints, screen print tees and greeting cards available in their Etsy store and on their website. Something for all occasions, from new baby, birthdays and bereavement, all in their unique, understated style.

Note: Shepherd Illustration sent us these prints and greeting cards for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Learning: Encouraging Creativity in Kids

When I was pregnant with the boy we sat down and had a number of earnest discussions about how we would bring him up. We made many decisions and made plans for him, whilst understanding that if he was like us he’d be stubborn and stick to his own path, so we’d let him follow that, but we knew we wanted to encourage some creativity in him. So we did.

We both love music and we knew we wanted to encourage a love of music in him, we’d love him to play an instrument and enjoy playing for himself, but we would be happy if he just enjoyed listening to music. He does love listening to all kinds of music. He has a few small instruments, he likes his guitar, but he’s developing a real love of the drums, so much so we’re taking him African drumming over the weekend. Drumming gives him a lot of pleasure, though less so the people around him but I’m sure he’ll find his rhythm eventually.

We knew we wanted to encourage him to lose himself in a book. Reading is such a wonderful gift for the imagination. Since before he was born we’ve read to him nightly. When we have an afternoon together we often snuggle up with a pile of books. He’s too young to read by himself yet, but reading has given him such a wonderful, bright imagination, I love sharing that with him.

encouraging creativity in kids

It’s well documented that despite a three year stint in an art college (doing a journalism degree) that I am terrible at arts and crafts. I am comfortable with the shonky nature of what I produce and my main aim is to teach the boy that arts, music and general creativity are for fun and personal enjoyment. It doesn’t matter so much if it isn’t perfect, it matters more that you enjoyed doing it. If you happen to have a talent or a gift for the arts then so much the better.

One way we try and encourage his enjoyment is by taking him to various creative learning events such as arts festivals, the theatre and to see interesting and diverse things such as African drummers and such like. It’s lovely to see him respond positively and enthusiastically to the new, exciting and colourful things he sees, and the feedback from school nursery is that our efforts are paying off. We have a boy who gets stuck into music, dance and drawing, we couldn’t be prouder!

How do you encourage creativity in your kids?

Crafting with Kids: Fish handprints on canvas

The world is 4.54 billion years old so I’m pretty sure there isn’t an original idea out there. I hold my hands up, I went on ye olde Pinterest and borrowed/was inspired by/stole this idea for kids handprints on canvas. They were for Christmas presents, I thought they’d be cute, cheap and easy to do. Two out of three ain’t bad.

To start with I went to one of those pound shop type places and found some cheap canvases. I bought a pack of four for a pound, which was an immense bargain.

When we got home I painted wavy scenes on them, thus accurately depicting the ocean. I would’ve asked my four your old to help but I didn’t want blue paint everywhere, it was quicker and it was easier for me to do it than to stand in the kitchen for an hour arguing why the sea couldn’t be red. My wavy canvases looked like this…


They took a while to dry, so I left them overnight. Naively I thought getting the boy to press a painted hand onto a canvas would be the easiest thing in the world. I was wrong. I started this crafting venture on 2nd October 2014 and we managed to finish it on Christmas Eve.

Both husbear and I tried repeatedly to get him to do it, we tried it with our best “fun activity” voices, we negotiated hard, we tried bribery, we tried tricking him into doing it, we tried witchcraft (made that one up). Nothing on earth could persuade him to put paint on his hand and press it onto something four times. But for some reason, late on Christmas Eve afternoon he did it. Using some sparkly gold paint thickly slicked onto his hand, he made a fish swim in the sea. We did a victory dance. We ran up the stairs and did that thing Rocky does, I did a lap of honour round the kitchen. Then we had a brew.

Once they’d dried (at this late stage I helped them along with the hairdryer) I got a marker and drew on an eye and a mouth for the fish, wrote his name on his masterpiece (his masterpiece? Yeh right) and then wrapped them up for gifts.


I think it looks alright, it’s a nice thing to have and any self respecting grandparent would love to receive some artwork from one of their beloved grandchildren wouldn’t they? Wouldn’t they? Apparently not. Three months of negotiation and temper tantrums (from both sides) and not a glimmer of appreciation for it. Next year they’re all getting a box of crappy chocolates instead.

This is a cheap and easy activity for you to do with a willing, co-operative child. I wish you luck with your crafting endeavours, but I fear our crafts-as-gifts days are over.