Art Projects You Can Do At Home With Just A Few Materials

August 2020

Start making art at home with contemporary artists as your expert guides. These Open Studio activities, which serve as a continuation of the project Mark Bradford initiated at the J. Paul Getty Museum, offer art novices and experts alike the opportunity to hone their skills while thinking critically about process and experimentation.

This miniature collection focuses on art projects that don’t require extensive or hard-to-find materials. Dozens more are available here.

Jessica Stockholder: Making Things out of Things

Artist Jessica Stockholder discusses Cross Hatch (2013), her painted installation at Fourth and State Streets in Los Altos.

“All objects are made in response to the circumstances surrounding the maker,” Stockholder advises. “The object you make for this activity will be circumscribed by what is available to you wherever you are.” Here, the sculptor offers guidance on creating site-specific pieces that brim with significance. Recommended materials include tape, glue, scissors, a hammer, nails, a camera, a printer and staples.

Mark Bradford’s Re-Re-Process: Rearranging the Familiar

Mark Bradford introduces and explains his inspiration for the project.

“The choices you make might reveal who you are as a young adult and how you translate your identity into an artwork,” Bradford says in the introduction to this 3-part art activity. Check out Assignment #1 and Assignment #3 in the link above to create self-portraiture and art from song lyrics. Recommended materials include colored pencils or pens, a computer, poster paper, a printer, scissors and tape.

Nigel Poor’s Observing Self: Collecting life’s remnants

Nigel Poor’s work explores the ways people leave behind evidence of their existence.

“I find that in the quiet of the everyday there is the possibility of answering or at least engaging in life’s most perplexing questions,” Poor notes in the introduction to this project, which focuses on finding inspiration in everyday objects and found remnants. Recommended materials include a bag for holding your found objects, along with whatever materials you might need to put your objects together at the end.

Rigo 23’s Seeing Hands: Coordination, Memory and Visualization

Rigo 23 discusses lost bird posters he has found throughout San Francisco and how they reflect the lives of the people who post them.

“I think it is important to understand that the ‘work’ that ultimately communicates best, or that we develop a particular liking for, is not necessarily the one that involves the greatest deal of craft mastery,” Rigo 23 muses in this art activity, which revels in the unexpected and surprising moments of art-making. Recommended materials include an 8 1/2 x 11 in. piece of paper, and a pen, pencil, or marker.

Draw Everyday Objects with Hung Liu

Artist Hung Liu discusses how working in the fields during China’s Cultural Revolution has influenced her art practice. Listen to her explain how she uses washes, drips, and grainy photographs to respond to the precision of Socialist Realism.

“When I am beginning a painting I shuffle my collection of photographs, just looking at them over and over again,” says Liu. “…I just quickly sketch, thinking, what if I were to do this painting eight feet tall?” In this activity, journey with the artist to find new perspectives within immediate surroundings and everyday objects. Recommended materials include paper, pencils, pens, erasers, smartphones, everyday objects, and some acrylic or tempera paint, ink and paintbrushes if you have them on hand.

Looking for more art projects? Head over to the Open Studio series.

Gillian Edevane

Gillian Edevane

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