Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy Birthday Henri Matisse!

In honor of Henri Matisse, who was born on New Year’s Eve, I am writing about how I feel when I look at his works in person.

What makes seeing a painting in a museum so special?  Everybody probably has different reasons but two stand out for me the most.

First is the scale of everything. You may see a painting a hundred times but never understood the impact it makes by the size of it, whether it is 8 feet tall or much smaller than you would have imagined.  There is no better way to show the scale of something unless you are there to see it for yourself.  The MoMA has this comparision that shows Matisse's painting  “Bathers by a River,” so you can see just how big it really is.

Photo: Henri Matisse painting Bathers by a River, May 13, 1913. Photograph by Alvin Langdon Coburn. Courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester

Painting: Henri Matisse. Bathers by a River. 1909–10, 1913, 1916–17. Oil on canvas, 102 1/2 x 154 3/16" (260 x 392 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago, Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection. © 2010 Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

I encourage you to show your children this photograph and then bring them to see the real painting at The Chicago Art Institute, it will be a WOW you can’t buy in a toy store.

The other reason why seeing a painting in a museum is so special, is being able to look into the painting and see the many layers of the painting.  You almost always see things in the painting you can never see in a book or online.  This summer I visited Matisse’s “The Red Studio” and was amazed…I could have looked at it for hours. I felt like I was going back in time and envisioning what Matisse was thinking when he painted what he did.  Why he put strokes down, what made him put some details in and what made him leave details out.  To see the underpainting…his original canvas, you can see the canvas how Matisse was seeing it.

This painting inspired us at kidzaw to create a painting kit to help children understand a little bit about this painting and make them feel a part of it too. Here are some close-ups of the painting, The Red Studio. If you get a chance to go to The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in NYC and see this painting you will also be amazed at how big this painting really is.

Our Matisse kit should be ready in Spring of 2012 and we will keep you updated on its progress.

Happy Birthday Henri Matisse
and Happy New Year to everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Art Institute of Chicago Family Programs Jan/Feb 2012

Cool thing to do with the kids on their day off...

Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Monday, January 16
Drop in between 10:30 and 2:00

Celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King! Hear a storytelling program with Gwen Hilary, accompanied by the music of Enoch Williamson at 11:30 or 12:30, and visit a drop-in workshop to make a picture that celebrates friendship and peace. Enjoy a gallery walk at 12:15 or 1:15

Download the latest Family Programs brochure and find a program that fits your family.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Children's Christmas Picture Book Countdown

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, our last book in our series is is clearly a must. The Night Before Christmas Pop-up written by
Clement Clarke Moore and illustrated by Robert Sabuda.
This book was created by the master of pop-up books, and you will be fascinated how he made everything work...the Santa pops out of the chimney, glides over the clouds in his sleigh and much more inspired by Clement Clarke Moore's classic Christmas rhyme.

Robert Sabuda who is also the force behind many stunning best-selling pop-up books, including America the Beautiful, Alice in Wonderland, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Winter's Tale: An Original Pop-up Journey.
There is a spread where the Emerald City pops up and even comes with emerald green colored glasses you can wear to make everything even more green!

©Robert Subuda

Friday, December 23, 2011

Children's Christmas Picture Book Countdown

Just one more day left till Christmas...our next book is one of my personal favorites, Olive the Other Reindeer by J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh.
I have been collecting Children's books for years and when I found out the creators of The Mr. Lunch series of Children's books had just created a Christmas Book...I knew I would love it.

Now, Olive has branched out and she even stars in her own movie! I have been a fan of Olive for years and was happy to find all these cool collectables...
My prized Olive and Mr. Martina Christmas Ornaments...
A Snow Globe...
An Advent Calendar...
I even made an Olive themed photo album from a 2001 Nordstrom Shopping Bag.

Let's just say...I like Olive!

Copyright ©1997 J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Children's Christmas Picture Book Countdown

Heres a book that belongs in your collection right next to all the Christmas classics. My Penguin Osbert written by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
and illustrated by H.B. Lewis.
 I was so pleased when I found this book a few years ago...the story is so sweet and very imaginative.
And, the beautiful illustrations, you can't help but soak up every detail of this book, and your children will want to read it over and over (Mine, like to read it all year round).
I highly recommend this book, you will fall in love with Osbert!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Children's Christmas Picture Book Countdown

The next book in our countdown of favorite Children's Christmas Picture Books is called The Little Fir Tree written by the author of Goodnight Moon,
Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Jim Lamarche.
There are many versions of this well-loved Christmas story, but I love this version because of its delicate and glowing paintings by award-winning artist Jim LaMarche. 

You are going to be part of
a great celebration.

The Little Fir Tree is a character in this book, that longs to be part of something. The Little Fir Tree finds it's connection with a little boy and his family.  Through beautiful pictures and words, see how both the tree and the little boy grow and heal.

  More about Margaret Wise Brown

Margaret Wise Brown wrote hundreds of books and stories during her life, but she is best known for Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny. Even though she died over 45 years ago, her books still sell very well. Margaret loved animals. Most of her books have animals as characters in the story. She liked to write books that had a rhythm to them. Sometimes she would put a hard word into the story or poem. She thought this made children think harder when they are reading. She wrote all the time. There are many scraps of paper where she quickly wrote down a story idea or a poem. She said she dreamed stories and then had to write them down in the morning before she forgot them. She tried to write the way children wanted to hear a story, which often isn't the same way an adult would tell a story. She also taught illustrators to draw the way a child saw things. One time she gave two puppies to someone who was going to draw a book with that kind of dog. The illustrator painted many pictures one day and then fell asleep. When he woke up, the papers he painted on were bare. The puppies had licked all the paint off the paper. Margaret died after surgery for a bursting appendix while in France. She had many friends who still miss her. They say she was a creative genius who made a room come to life with her excitement. Margaret saw herself as something else - a writer of songs and nonsense.  

text ©1954 by Roberta Rauch and Bruce Bliven, Jr. Text copyright renewed 1982 by Roberta Brown Rauch. Illustrations ©2005 by Jim LaMarche.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Children's Christmas Picture Book Countdown

The next book in our countdown of favorite Children's Christmas Picture Books is called The Spirit of Christmas from the New York Times—Bestselling Author/Illustrator, Nancy Tillman.
From the first page you fall in love with the poetry of this book.

I had Just nodded off,
at a quarter past four,
when the Spirit of Christmas
stepped in through my door.

The spirit is an actual character in the book and is hidden on every page...which my boys love to find hidden pictures.  Another thing that makes it fun, is that there are beginnings to popular christmas carols designed within the illustrations, so you can sing some of those songs with your children as you is fun to see how much of these popular carols you all remember the words to.

As you go through the pages of everything that is wonderful about Christmas, the reader soon discovers that the best part of spending Christmas is with the ones they love.  This is a perfect gift to send to a child (or anyone) that is special in your heart, but is far away.  Hope you enjoy this book as much as me and my boys.

©Feiwel and Friends An Imprint of Macmillan, N.Y. Cover art copyright ©2009 by Nancy Tillman

Monday, December 19, 2011

Children's Christmas Picture Book Countdown

Every year I get a new Christmas Children's Picture Book to read to my two boys on Christmas Eve.  We have built quite a collection, and I thought it would be fun to post some of our favorite books each day this week until Christmas.

Happy Holidays Everyone!
by Marcus Sedgwick and Illustrated by Simon Bartram
 I originally bought this book because it was illustrated by the artist of one of our favorite books, The Man on The Moon by Simon Bartram. We love his bright, super-surrealistic and "very detailed in a goofy kind of way" illustrations.

This year my son has been wishing for SNOW on Christmas day.  This book tells a simple story of a boy's wish and illustrates it in a magical way including translucent pages that lead the reader to a wish that comes true. 

I really recommend this Christmas book as well as his other books! Here are some illustrations from our favorite, The Man on the Moon: (A Day in the Life of Bob). A funny story that keeps you looking to see if aliens really exist.
A Christmas Wish: Text and design copyright ©2003 by the Templar Company plc. Illustrations copyright ©2003 by Simon Bartram
The Man on The Moon: (A Day in the Life of Bob). Illustrations copyright ©2003 by Simon Bartram

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Starry Night is on Vogue's Top Ten Most Wanted List!

Enjoy the holidays at the Chicago Art Institute!

Family Festival: Holly Days
Tuesday, December 27 to Friday, December 30. Drop in between 10:30 and 3:00

Visit the picture book exhibition Animals Around the World and come to the studio where you can create a paper animal sculpture of your own.  Explore movement, rhythm, and yoga in a storytelling program led by Pranita Jain of Kalapriya at 11:30 and 1:00.  Enjoy and interactive family gallery walk at 2:00. On December 27 only, meet the Art Institute's mascot Artie the lion.
Steve Jenkins. Illustration from How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly? 2008. Written by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Houghton Mifflin Company.

Artist Steve Jenkins combines cut-paper collage with amazing animal facts to create dynamic nonfiction picture books that appeal to readers of many ages.

Did you know that the tailorbird, using her sharp beak and silk from a spider’s web, sews a leaf into a pouch that will hold her nest and eggs? In Biggest, Strongest, Fastest, Jenkins presents such facts with awe and reverence, while in Brothers and Sisters he presents equally compelling tidbits about animal siblings. (Did you know that nine-banded armadillos are always born as quadruplets and that whiptail lizards are all females?) Actual Size allows kids to put their hands over the life-sized hand of a gorilla or peer into the eye of a giant squid. The artist often uses handmade paper to capture the various textures and colors of animal skin, creating an added sense of dimensionality. Original pictures from seven books are on view in this exhibition, allowing visitors to compare the original artworks to the illustrations in the picture books—all while learning fun facts to share with classmates and friends.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Celebrate Monet's Birthday Today: Pictures from "Jardin de Monet a Giverny"

My Parents at the Monet Garden at Giverny this past month.

"Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love." —Claude Monet

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thank You Steve Jobs

I was working with my 10 yr. old son on a book report.  This is his first one he did using a computer...a mac of course.  We did all the work, the plot diagram and story map. We defined the characters, the setting, problem and resolution.  With all our note cards in hand we went to lay it out on the mac.  Something amazing happened...

The book report was forming right before his eyes and his energy grew. Seeing his words in an organized format gave my son something amazing: His mind is now free to concentrate on what was important; the creativity of his words. The possibilities of images, color, and design.  You could see his excitement of making something real just from his thoughts.

Then, I heard a segment on NPR: "How Steve Jobs Changed the World of Design", an interview with RISD president, John Maeda. The interviewer asked, "What do you think was Steve Job's greatest design acheivement?" John Maeda answered, "Apple Organization—An organization that cares about design." That rang true for me in so many aspects of my life and now my childrens' lives.

Our children may never really understand how Steve Jobs changed the world, but they will be using his tools to change the world themselves!  I found these original apple ads in some of my old advertising books that I think speak to this (and are quite funny to see)...

Thank You Steve Jobs for taking something so overwhelming for most and designing something so simple just for us to be what we want.

Thank You Steve Jobs for giving me the tools to create an amazing and rewarding career for myself.

Thank You Steve Jobs for inspiring people to do better.
Thank You Steve Jobs for creating so much for the world.

Thank You Steve Jobs for making me look like a Rock Star!
Written by Michelle Talbot, Kidzaw Executive Creative Director

Photo Credits: "Chiat/Day: The First Twenty Years" 1990, Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Kidzaw Creates at the "2011 Apple Fest" in Lincoln Square

Kidzaw brought kits for the children to create their own inspired "Tree of Life".  We were invited by Martha and Harry Burrows from Timeless Toys to participate in their kids program.

Michelle and Jane had a lot of fun and thank you to the Timeless Toys Staff for all your help!

We walked around after and enjoyed all things apple...especially the yummy pie!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Kidzaw Creates at the "2011 Oaktoberfest" in Oak Park

Thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth and to all the children who participated...your artwork was wonderful and it was great to see all the smiles : )

We would also like to thank our guest artist, Lynne Talbot (Michelle's sister) who flew in from N.H. to help the children create inspired versions of van Gogh's "Irises".  Lynne also made all the cute smocks for the kids.

Stay tuned for the show opening that will be at the the Oak Park Library, Maze Branch.  There will be a collage of the work that was made today and a storytime for the children.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Art Institute of Chicago Family Programs for Fall

If you live in the Chicago area or are planning a visit, they have a great kids' artist studio where they have supplies for a special art project the kids can do on their own.  You can just drop-in between 11am and 2pm, no registration is required...the room is big and very inspiring for young artists!

Click here for a calendar of their family programs and the themes for the drop-in Artist's Studio.

I will be taking my boys to "Art in the Garden" where they explore landscape through artwork in the galleries and then immerse themselves in the real landscape of Lurie Garden to create their own oil pastel masterpiece.

—This program requires advance registration and space is limited. For more information, call 312 857 7161 or e-mail

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Oh! The Places You'll Go!

I guess all that doodling in school was not so bad after all!  Thanks Marbles The Brain Store for including us in your Top Five List! Also see us in their front windows!

Click here to see the "Top Five for Back to School" list and learn more about this great store.

Monday, August 22, 2011

More Alexander Calder

While visiting the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York City, I saw more works by Calder, which was our featured artist on the "see what they saw" series #02.

I love the shadows on the wall...every angle creates a new composition.  This month we are going to see how shadows affect composition on our walk to school and you can do the same.  We will share our discoveries and creations. Send us yours for us to post too...I love to "see what they saw"!

"Constellation with Red Object" by Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976). Roxbury, Connecticut, 1943. Painted wood and steel wire, 24 1/2 x 15 1/4 x 9 1/2" (62.2 x 38.7 x 24.1 cm). James Thrall Soby Fund. © 2011 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

To see more selected works by Calder at the MoMA, click here.

Kidzaw at the New York International Gift Fair 2011

It was a lot of  hard work, but we enjoyed meeting everyone and thank you to all our new Retailers that are now selling our line.  To see the list of Retailers in your area click here.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Our First Award!

We just won "Best New Product" in the Toy category at the New York International Gift Fair!  Here is a picture of Michelle in our booth proudly displaying our award!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Thank You to the Playthings Staff for naming us "Toy of the Week"!

Playthings provides the latest news from the world of toy, game and collectible retailers, manufacturers and suppliers, including financial results, store openings and closings, promotions and marketing efforts, product exclusives and other business developments. has merged with their sister site and all related content can now be found here. 

Click here to go to the site.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mark Your Calendars...kidzaw is coming to the Milwaukee Art Museum!

Feature image for Impressionism: Masterworks on Paper exhibitionOctober 15, 2011–January 8, 2012
Baker/Rowland Galleries

Organized in conjunction with the Albertina in Vienna, Impressionism: Masterworks on Paper is the first exhibition devoted exclusively to the significance of drawing to the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist avant-garde movements—and to the development of modern art. The exhibition makes its premiere in Milwaukee, presenting more than one hundred drawings, watercolors, and pastels by many of the greatest artists in the history of Western European art—Manet, Degas, Renoir, C├ęzanne, Seurat, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec. These artists created drawings independently of painting, as they sought to create an art that more accurately represented their times. In the process, the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists effectively elevated drawing in nineteenth-century France to a status equal with painting.


Pierre Auguste Renoir, Bathers with Crab, 1890–99. Oil on canvas. 21 ½ x 25 ¾ in. Acquired through the generosity of Mrs. Alan M. Scaife and family. Photo: Tom Little.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thank You!

Thank you to everyone for helping us get ready for our first trade show this past weekend.  Again, we had a lot of help from friends to pull this together.

We enjoyed meeting everyone at the show and thank you to all the retailers for embracing this product and bringing Kidzaw Master Kits to their store. We look forward to working with you and creating more great products for you!

Michelle and Jane

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"see what they saw" First in Series. To learn more about this painting by Juan Gris, click on the image to go to the Art Institute of Chicago Web Page.

My two boys have been going to the "School of the Art Institute of Chicago Continuing Studies" for kids, a.k.a. "SAIC kids"!

For those of you in the area, I highly recommend it.  This is the second year we are doing the Multi-Arts camp for 2 weeks. (But it goes all summer, so you can pick the week you want).

I will be posting some of their work for the next few watch for it, it is amazing what all the children do.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

We would like to thank James from "The New Toy" for featuring Master Kitz on his show.  We are proud to be among his picks for "The New Toy of the Week"!

You can get "The New Toy" in your inbox every week...just go to this site to sign up

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Boxes Have Arrived!

We received our first shipment of Kidzaw Kitz.  In true start-up fashion, we went to the warehouse ourselves and loaded up our cars.

It was a hot one today but kudos to Jane for beating the heat and delivering our first batch of orders!

"The Starry Night" and "The Tree of Life" Master Kitz are finally available!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

"Kidzaw Creates"

Welcome to our new series called "Kidzaw Creates"...we will give you creative ideas of things you can do with kidzaw.  We hope you get inspired and make your own creations and we would love to see what you come up with.

One thing that I love more than giving presents is wrapping them.  I love to put a smile on a friends face, and the way it is wrapped makes them feel special...because they are.

I took the van Gogh roller that was in the Starry Night Master Kitz and made wrapping paper.  For the "Little Prince" I took a used brown paper bag and rolled blue paint over it.  I had this gold trim that I had left over from a costume I made for my son, and it seemed so "Regal".  I was happy with the effect, and I had a book I wanted to give my sister, so I made some more wrapping paper but matched the color of the fresh cut lily from my garden and then tucked it under a piece of vintage ribbon.

Learn. Create. Share.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Kidzaw is proud to be part of this special group!

The Good Toy Group is a group of independent locally-owned toy stores that are knowledgeable and committed to making the best toys available to children across the country.
Currently they have 80 member stores with 120 locations across the country.  Each shop is independently owned and prides itself on the toy selection, service provided, and commitment to their local community.
Kidzaw Master Kitz® Will be featured on their 2011 Holiday Back Cover!  Check our website for these toy stores in your area.  If you have never visited that toy store it is worth the trip...and you can also sign up to receive their catalogs featuring the newest best products of the year.

Thank you "The Good Toy Group" and we are proud that you chose us to be in your collection of children's toys and products!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Robin's Nest

"The Robin is the One
That speechless from her Nest
Submit that Home -- and Certainty
And Sanctity, are best"
-Emily Dickinson, The Robin is the One 

These robin chicks took up residence in Michele & Tripp's hanging plant on their farmer's porch in New Hampshire for the past month or so.  The last photo was taken seconds before the inaugural flight of one of the chicks.  The other two took flight the next day.  Thanks Michele for sharing these beautiful photos, it must have been exciting to watch.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago Reinvents Itself

Did you see the article from the Sunday, June 14 edition of the Chicago Tribune covering The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago? Click here to read full article MCA 2.0
During the summer we make many trips to the Art Institute of Chicago Museum...I want to start going to the MCA just as much.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Master Kitz teaches a Simple Lesson in Composition

Composition in art is the plan, placement or arrangement of the elements of art in a work.  Something that can be hard for a young child to understand (and even a lot of adults).  Composition is what makes a piece of art feel balanced, gives it structure or gives the point of view.  Many artists will work days even years figuring out a composition of their painting before they even begin painting.

Kidzaw developed a Master Kitz® that was inspired by the artist, Paul Klee.  The name of the painting is "Flower Myth".  The tool that helps children begin to think about composition is something very simple that they can easily move around.  We have pre-cut shapes that were inspired by the composition of "Flower Myth" and the children are able to move the shapes around to make their own composition and keep moving the pieces around to see how each shape's placement effects the entire picture.  The shapes have a sticky back so all they do is peel it off like a sticker and place it down into place.

Look at our gallery to see how some children composed their paintings from these shapes.
How would you compose your painting?