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A Short List of (Mostly) Free Digital Paint Software

Monday, June 17th, 2013

 

          The internet is a mixed bag. On the one hand it can provide a treasure trove of knowledge and information, and on the other hand it can quickly turn into a confusing array of choices. It can also be a terrific way to spend large amounts of time that you really didn’t have in the search for that one thing you’re actually looking for. Admit it, we’ve all wasted time trying to get Google to cough up relevant information. So we thought we’d save you some time in the search for a kid-friendly (mostly) free digital paint program.

          For those new to Creativity Express, our 16 online art lessons include doART  ‘Creativity Builders’. These are hands-on art projects that can be completed using both traditional art supplies as well as digital paint programs. From a parent’s point of view, a digital approach can have several advantages. Anyone who has supervised an art project involving glitter appreciates the lack of cleanup time computers offer while still encouraging their child’s creative self-expression. Looking towards you child’s future, a vast array of jobs use digital tools for real-world products; a simple example would be architects who rely on computer aided rendering software to design buildings. So it’s a good idea to give kids at least some experience with digital paint programs – it is a worthwhile stepping stone to more complex software.

          In order for us to recommend a digital paint program it needed to meet three basic rules.

  • First, the software has to be kid-friendly. This means that the child can learn to use the program either because it is simply laid out, or because there are good tutorials. This should be fun for the kids, not a burden for the parents to trouble-shoot.
  • Second, the software should be free to download, or low-cost. Though free sound great, it has its downsides. Generally software is free because it has ads in it, and with kids involved that’s not always okay.
  • Hence my third rule: any advertising must be child-appropriate.

There are quite a few digital paint programs to choose from, so let’s get started!

Traditional MyPaint toolsMyPaint – Available for PC and Linux operating systems; MyPaint has a range of functions similar to Adobe Photoshop including pressure-sensitive capabilities for use with drawing tablets. In addition to basic layering features, MyPaint has many different brush settings. Kids can even create their own brushes, allowing them to be really creative with this program!

Firealpaca – This kid-friendly art program is available for free download on both Macs and PCs. A relatively new program, it does contain advertisements. However they claim to be art-related, and only placed ion the introductory screen, along with any relevant update information or user tips. The program has layer capabilities and many different brush settings.

Copic – Another free program compatible with Macs and PCs, Copic has a user-friendly interface that incorporates Copic’s color system as well as different brush settings. Kids will love the easy look of the program, and should be able to pick it up quickly.

Sumopaint – Users can draw online or download a more comprehensive version of this easy-to-use program; it has both PC and Mac compatibility. Its tools for drawing are virtually unlimited, allowing kids to have an expanded choice for their artwork.

ArtRage ToolboxArtRage – This program is very kid-friendly and simplistic, and is our choice for digital art software. It’s available for both Windows and Mac operating systems for $49.90. Supporting all levels of artists, ArtRage is designed to be like a virtual painting space, increasing authenticity and making the experience for kids more fun and realistic.

Artweaver – Suitable for beginners, Artweaver is a freeware program that is available for Windows computers. On this program, kids can even draw from a photograph scanned into the computer – draw on paper first, then paint on Artweaver!

SpeedyPainter – SpeedyPainter has a simple and intuitive design, and is suitable for children to use. It is downloadable for free for Windows users. It includes basic features, as well as a brush library and separate viewfinder to allow kids to really see what they’re drawing.

SmoothDraw – This program has many different brushes that can be used, as well as a simplistic interface; it’s available for free download for Windows operating systems. Children will love the ease of use in this program, and will be able to use it with little basic knowledge of tools in art programs.

Qaquarelle – Part of the Sourceforge portfolio of software, Qaquarelle supports tablet functions and has a simple design that children will find easy-to-use. It’s an open-source software that has a free download.

Last but not least, a clever drawing tool….

DrawPile – Although not specifically a digital paint program, DrawPile is a freeware program that allows multiple users to share the same online drawing board. Kids can have fun doodling and creating with their friends wherever they may travel.

With such a range of choices, we look forward to user comments on these programs, and links to others we may not have discovered.

Enjoy!

The Madcap Logic Team

Madcap Logic Introduces the New Assessment Rubric for Creativity Express

Monday, June 25th, 2012

The sixteen Creativity Express lesson modules in combination with the hands-on Creativity Builders projects create an entire curriculum that meets the National Standards for the Visual Arts. Our new interactive rubric has been designed to assist educators and parents in assessing the depth of understanding any one child has gained from the Creativity Express lesson content.

The National Standards for the Visual Arts are divided into two grade level groups: K-4 and 5-8, with different achievement goals for each age group. Entering the child’s grade level in the ‘Student Information’ area will select the appropriate rubric for that child

The K-4 Standards focus on conceptual comprehension over hands-on execution of artwork. In this age group there may be some quite talented children who simply lack the coordination or maturity to fully execute their ideas. Children progress at different rates during these early years; their achievement level on this rubric should reflect their relative capability at their given age or grade level, and effort put into the curriculum and projects. By grades 5-8, it is expected that the child is able to grasp the concepts rather easily. Their assessment is focused on the ability to analyze, discriminate, and make choices in execution of the projects to fully express these concepts in artwork. Again, those using the rubric should focus on relative skills and effort when deciding on assessment level for any one child.

Though it seems counterintuitive to attempt to measure creativity at a time when most children face a burden of standardized tests, we hope that both educators and parents find this rubric a useful tool. Creativity Express was designed by artists and education professionals to encourage experimentation, analysis, self-expression, and ultimately teach children to find their individual artistic voice. This rubric was designed to encourage these behaviors and serve as a guideline for further exploration.

 

The Madcap Logic Team

“The Balancing Act” on Lifetime to Feature Madcap Logic’s Unique Educational Arts Program ‘Creativity Express Online’

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012


“Madcap Logic is thrilled to partner with BrandStar Entertainment’s TV popular morning show “The Balancing Act” on Lifetime in their effort to address the complex educational needs of today’s students.”

BrandStar Entertainment

“Creativity Express Brings Art Into The Classroom Tuesday January 17th, 2012: Lifetime Television 7:00-8 AM EST. & PST., 6:00-7AM CST

PRLog (Press Release)Jan 09, 2012
(Pompano Beach, FL) Madcap Logic, LLC – creators of Creativity Express, a fun an innovative arts educational program, recently completed filming for BrandStar Entertainment’s hit morning show, The Balancing Act on Lifetime Television.

“Madcap Logic is thrilled to partner with BrandStar Entertainment’s TV show The Balancing Act on Lifetime in their effort to address the complex educational needs of today’s students. In today’s challenging environment we applaud the efforts of The Balancing Act on Lifetime to provide parents and educators with essential resources required for lifelong academic success,” says special guest, Elise Ruiz-Ramon from Madcap Logic.

The segment which also features Robert Monson, President of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, will air this month as part of The Balancing Act’s Parent Teacher Corner series on Lifetime Television.  In the upcoming segment, they’ll discuss the importance of including art lessons in your child’s curriculum as part of the learning experience.

In this edition of the Parent Teacher Corner on The Balancing Act on Lifetime, viewers will learn that with so many schools cutting their budgets, educators are looking on-line to find the types of tools that teach effectively and are cost efficient. “Arts education enables children to draw from their experiences to create meaning that will enhance their learning,” says Robert.  “Research tells us that the arts have a tremendously positive impact on teaching and learning, especially in discovering talents, stimulating academic interests, and awakening an awareness of the vast possibilities of life.”

Children with art education do better across the board.  “Our Creativity Express curriculum reaches some children who would otherwise be left behind,” Elise adds.  “An arts education also helps students develop motivation for higher academic achievement, leading them to become lifelong learners.”

Make sure to watch BrandStar Entertainment’s special Parent Teacher Corner edition of The Balancing Act to discover how a properly applied art education may lead to academic improvement, as well as develop more intuitive thinking and developing creativity and self esteem.

About “The Balancing Act” on Lifetime Television
The Balancing Act TV show airs daily on Lifetime Television at 7:00am (ET/PT).  The Balancing Act on Lifetime Television is America’s premier morning show that’s about women, for women and trusted by women.

About BrandStar Entertainment
BrandStar Entertainment is well known for their cutting edge content driven women’s programming, including “The Balancing Act” on Lifetime Television.  The Balancing Act TV show inspires and empowers women with entertaining and educational segments, placing them in the best position to achieve success in every aspect of their lives.

# # #

O2 Media’s parent company, BrandStar Entertainment, producers of The Balancing Act show on Lifetime TV, have proven themselves as pioneers in the Branded Entertainment industry bringing Social Media to TV with the vision to Engage, Entertain and Educate.

Madcap Logic Moves to Florida

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Leaving Colorado in late 2010, Madcap Logic, LLC has officially relocated to Florida. Our move is accompanied by a change in ownership and refocusing of Madcap Logic’s business plan.

“Our flagship sixteen lesson Creativity Express curriculum has been quite successful.” says the new CEO and Owner, Elise Ruiz-Ramon. “However, the CD-ROM delivery has caused significant frustrations from our customers – the operating systems are changing so rapidly that compatibility has become serious issue. We are at the mercy of Microsoft and Apple, and whatever upgrades or patches they may choose to place on any given computer at any time. Our Creativity Express Online product is free from those potential bugs, and is always on for any number of users from any web browser. The internet delivery of curriculum content is now widely accepted by home and traditional school students. Creativity Express Online is specifically designed to meet the needs of teachers and students alike, increasing productivity and creatively engaging the minds of children.”

The new CEO will begin by upgrading essential services within the Teacher Account Center, then improving the store front for greater product choices, pricing transparency and ease of ordering.

“We expect next year to be challenging for teachers and schools given the upcoming budget cuts,'” says Mrs. Ruiz-Ramon, “and we need to be able to provide a viable solution for art education to remain a core component of elementary curriculum.”

Time4Learning Provides Creativity Express Art Curriculum to its Members

Monday, July 12th, 2010
Time4Learning Provides Creativity Express Art Curriculum to its Members

Durango, CO – Representatives from Madcap Logic LLC announced today that Time4Learning.com is bundling the Creativity Express online art curriculum with its existing curricula to its Time4Learning members.

Time4Learning.com has licensed Creativity Express web-based art program to add to the educational services that Time4Learning.com provides to its thousands of members. The animated online program teaches art as well as art appreciation and art history. Students learn the principles and history of art through interactive lessons on topics such as line, form and color, using real examples from art history to illustrate each concept. The sixteen-lesson program is available to Time4Learning subscribing members. Creativity Express features a built-in reward system as each lesson concludes with a quiz designed to assess the students’ understanding of the material presented: the higher the students’ scores, the more artist cards and puzzle pieces they collect.

Time4Learning parents and students who have used the art program quickly nicknamed it “Time 4 Art.” They are enthusiastic about having an art course included in the Time4Learning academic curriculum and are thrilled by the quality of the content and delivery of the material. “My kids loved the art so much that they work on the program well beyond their homeschool time, spending their free time on it,” reported one parent. Homeschoolers in particular appreciate the structure the program provides to learning about and creating art. “I am so impressed! Our kids adored being taught about art in such an educationally fun and guided way, rather than our usual laissez-faire approach to homeschool art,” reviewed another parent.

About Time4Learning: Time4Learning is a leading online learning system that offers a preschool through eighth grade curriculum for homeschool, afterschool, and summer use in language arts, math, science and social studies. The Time4Learning online educational offering also includes Time4Writing.com, online writing courses for K-12. Time4Learning was selected as one of the “Top 100 Educational Websites” in both 2009 and 2010 by Homeschool.com and received a BESSIE Award after being named the #1 “Multi-Subject Website” by the ComputED Gazette in 2010. Time4Learning is a certified “Green Business” by the Uniform Standard for Green Business Certification 2009.

Creativity Express selected as a winner of the 2009 FAMILY CHOICE AWARD

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

fca_logo_2007

The Family Choice Awards was founded by the Family Magazine Group, America’s largest free parenting publication,    and is recognized as the premier resource for the very best in children’s and parenting products and services.

Creative Education : Something to Inspire You!

Friday, April 10th, 2009

One of my most favorite things to read is the Edutopia magazine. They have excellent articles and insights from teachers all over the nation and across the curriculum. As a teacher at university, I am always inspired by my fellow teachers doing some excellent work for students before they hit my classrooms and thought I would share with you, two particularly amazing ideas and projects.


The first involves using art and music together for students — teachers using the 9 Muses of ancient Greek lore to introduce and examine various examples of their specialty through youtube! If you don’t remember the 9 sisters,
there was Calliope who ruled epic poetry, Clio who worked with history, Erato loved lyric poetry while her sister Euterpe was fascinated with music. Melpomene was the muse of tragedy while her light hearted sister Thalia, loved comedy. Then there was Polyhymnia who specialized in choral poetry and Terpsichore, the dancer. Finally, Urania governed astronomy.

In her article, Shari Wargo demonstrates how each of the muses discusses examples from youtube to help students understand the history of all such performances, reconnecting them to the ancestry of rap, hiphop, movies etc. A completely new and at the same time, ancient way of learning about the performative arts! Interestingly, the word muse, has the same root, as music. The sisters, with their dedication to the performative arts, founded learning in a preliterate world. They remind us that before we were homo sapiens ( knowing humans) we were homo narrans (story telling humans).

Likewise, while November is a long way off, it is National Novel Writing Month, and as a teacher who battles with students to write 5 pages, I am amazed at what kids who participate in this program accomplish in one month. A novel in a month! How many authors could do that kind of work? Yet, the kids do and they do it with amazing tenacity in a collective act. As one student reports, “it is not even about having your work read, it is about having written it.” In November 2008, more than 1.6 million words were written in a month! In the same year, nearly 120,000 adults from at least 45 countries became authors. You can too! The program is free for schools and has an excellent website which walks teachers through the program and how to prepare. Perhaps the greatest thing emerging from this program is the fundamental change in the relationship young kids have with books and writing. I have seniors who are afraid to write. I wish they had had this opportunity to unleash their power as a scribe!

From the Muses to the power of the scribe, if you are homeschooling your kids, you might be interested in the annual contests run by the Home School Legal Defense Association, for art, essays, poetry and photography. The poetry competition runs from May 1 through June 1, while the photography competition is coming up this summer and has a submission period beginning July 1 and ending August 1. Check out the website for a host of tips and resources for preparing your work for the competition. It’s a great event and every year, hundreds of home school students from around the country and even around the world raise thousands of dollars for the Home School Foundation’s Special Needs Children Fund.

“[The Muses] are all of one mind, their hearts are set upon song and their spirit is free from care. He is happy whom the Muses love. For though a man has sorrow and grief in his soul, yet when the servant of the Muses sings, at once he forgets his dark thoughts and remembers not his troubles. Such is the holy gift of the Muses to men.”
~Hesiod~

So, welcome the Muses into your life this Springtime and revel in their gifts as you celebrate the performative arts — arts for all and all for arts!

 

What is Visual Literacy?

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

What is visual literacy? When we have the ability to interpret, negotiate, and make meaning from an image, or information presented in the form of an image, it can be said that we have visual literacy. It can also be considered a vision-competency, says John Debes. Many are familiar with the value of linguistic literacy, as found in the printed word through books and journals, but the importance of visual literacy is growing as it delivers information without the need for the print.

When traveling, we see a sign with a bicycle and a red diagonal line through it. As someone who is visually literate, a traveler knows that the sign means something to the effect of “Please do not ride your bicycle here.” Likewise, if we see a sign with the picture of a child and a ball, with no red line through it, we understand it to mean “Children playing; please watch out for them.”

Several 21st century scholars, including Courtney Cazden, Allan Luke, and others advocate for the importance of both linguistic and visual literacies as modalities in the process of meaning-making. Implications, then, for classroom or home-schooling would be to incorporate the written word with visual information to provide a rich teaching and learning environment. For example, one might give kids a picture and asking them to write a caption or an empty cartoon and asking them to fill in the speech balloons to see what kinds of different interpretations emerge.
Exciting fields effective in visual literacy training include art history in all its glory: paintings, drawings, sculpture, architecture, even textile design and furniture design. Of particular delight to students in these fields are uses of color, texture, style, shape, size, and form. Who is not visually delighted when confronted with patterns of colors, which convey excitement, cheer, and suggest lively festivities?

In terms of learning tools, one visual tool used in teaching environment is PowerPoint, intended to present information visually. One expert on visual literacy, Edward Tufte, a Yale professor and an expert on the presentation of information graphics, offers us a challenge: Do the slides communicate? His interest focuses on the efficacy of the tool rather than simply the happy opportunity to have the tool.

Thus, visual literacy not only refers to learning through the visual experience but learning useful, helpful, and usable information! It is easier for a student to make meaning when not only information is provided but information that a child can use to make meaning of her or his world.

Learning is delicious in whatever form. In capable teaching hands, linguistic and visual literacy make wonderful partners. For the learner, integrating these with other modalities—such as music—continue to expand learners’ meaning-making capabilities.

Running Group
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