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VIRTUAL Summer Art Camp – Nature Through the Eyes of an Artist

June 8 - August 31

Join us in Experiencing Nature Through the Eyes of an Artist!

By making art in nature, or creating art that mimics the beauty and complex nature of our environment,
it allows you to experience the world around you in new and exciting ways!

Given the impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge and the Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge are unable to hold our annual, in person, Summer Art Camp this year, so we created this virtual event space for everyone to participate in art in nature activities this summer! Invite your friends and family to join in, learn something new, and create beautiful works of art.

Feel free to make artwork at your own pace, and participate in whichever order you please.
We encourage you to share your artwork with us!

To be featured in a digital gallery, email photos of the artwork you create while participating in this virtual event to teresa_skiba@fws.gov. Also we encourage you to post pictures on Facebook using #VdOKidzArtCamp. Feel free to tag Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge and Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge so we can share them as well!

Thanks for joining us for our 2020 Virtual Summer Art Camp, and happy creating!


Activity 1

To get our creative juices flowing, and to learn about some of the wildlife species you may encounter at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge or in public lands throughout New Mexico, we will start with these fun coloring and activity pages! As you color, consider which of these wildlife species you have had an awe inspiring encounter with, or hope to see the next time you are exploring nature. Feel free to share your experience, or your interest in viewing one of these animals in their natural environment, in the comments or when you share your coloring pages with us. #VdOKidzArtCamp

Download PDF versions to print these pages and view all the wildlife images ready for your touch of color by clicking here:
Also, shout-out to Wren Dreams for creating these beautiful wildlife coloring pages for us all to enjoy!


Activity 2

In Activity 2 we will build off of our coloring skills from our first day activity and move to painting… with mud!

Have you ever made your own paint with natural materials? Today we will learn how to paint an image using soil as your pigment. The goal is learn more about soils, dirt and minerals while using a low impact way to create art. Our partners, the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program, shared this fun activity during Earth Day this year, and we had so much fun with it, we wanted to bring it back for this Virtual Summer Art Camp.

Check out the detailed instructions below, and as you paint consider that throughout history people have used soil, minerals, plants and even insects to create color. Explore how different soil types and minerals impact the pigment of your ink. Maybe paint a series of pictures of the different places where you collected the dirt from. Feel free to share your works of art and your experience painting with mud or the connection with the places where you collected your soil. #VdOKidzArtCamp

There are only a few steps to follow for this activity.

To make your own paint you will need:
1. A piece of paper (or a sidewalk if your parents allow)
2. A recycled container
3. Water
4. A paintbrush
5. Soil or dirt

Go outside and collect a handful of dirt or mud from your backyard and put it in your container. Slowly pour water into the mud and stir to make a paint-like consistency. Dip your paintbrush into the mud and begin painting onto your paper or sidewalk. Maybe paint a picture of the place that you collected the dirt from. If you enjoyed this activity, try to find different soil and dirt types and see what new pigments you can create. Consider how minerals in the soil impact the pigment of the ink. If you’re feeling extra creative try out a chlorophyll or flower pigment painting!

¿Haz hecho alguna vez tu propia pintura con materiales naturales? A través de la historia las personas han usado tierra, minerales, plantas e inclusive insectos para crear color. Hoy aprenderas como pintar una imagen usando tierra como pigmento. Este no solamente es un camino de bajo impacto para crear arte, sino también un camino para aprender más acerca del barro, la tierra y los minerales.

Hay solamente unos pocos pasos para seguir ésta actividad.

Para hacer tu propia pintura necesitaras:
1. Una hoja de papel (o una banqueta si tus padres lo permiten)
2. Un contenedor reciclado
3. Agua
4. Una brocha
5. Barro o tierra

Ve afuera a tu patio trasero y recoje un puño de tierra o lodo y ponlo en tu contenedor. Lentamente agrega agua al lodo y revuelvelo para obtener una consistencia similar a la pintura. Sumerge tu brocha dentro del lodo y comienza a pintar sobre el papel o banqueta. Pinta tal vez la imagen del lugar donde recogiste la tierra. Si disfrutaste esta actividad, intenta encontrar barro y diferentes tipos tierra y mira que nuevas coloraciones puedes creas. Considera como los minerales en el barro impactan la coloración del tinte. ¡Si te sientes super creativo trata pintando con el pigmento de la clorofila o las flores!


Activity 3

Through Activity 3 we will learn more about the complexity of the natural world around us, and build bird nests! 

For today’s activity, you will use natural materials found in your yard to mimic the process of building a bird nest to hold eggs and baby birds. Although this nest will just be for you and can be a nice decorative piece, it is fun to try your hand at creating something that birds do every year, with only the use of their beaks! Before you start, feel free to do some research on bird nests, and the requirements for different bird species and mimic what you learn, or you can jump right in, get creative and explore your space to see what materials might be available to local birds in your backyard! As you build your nest, consider what types of natural materials native bird species might use in your area, the locations in your yard where birds might build their nests, and how you can provide additional materials in your backyard to support birds on the search for their nests in early spring. Feel free to share in the comments your works of art and your ideas for supporting native birds in your backyard!    

Check out a fun instructional video, created for this virtual event by Katherine Smith, Teen Miss Colorado Earth 2020 and volunteer at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge!

Also, you can find details instructions and a materials list here:


Activity 4

Through Activity 4 we will learn how to interpret the world around us through the use of a Nature Journal!

¡Hoy aprenderemos cómo interpretar el mundo que nos rodea a través del uso de un Diario de la Naturaleza!

If you don’t yet have a nature journal, don’t worry, we have instructions on how to make one! Check out this beautiful instructional video on how to start nature journaling, created for this virtual event by Juliette Conzuelo, a
Student Conservation Association (SCA) intern at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge and Sandia Mountain Natural History Center!
In English: https://youtu.be/B9MP6PTdHBM

Also, you can find detailed instructions and tips for creating a nature journal here: https://friendsofvalledeoro.org/…/Nature-Journaling-Activit…

Si aún no tiene un diario de la naturaleza, no se preocupe, ¡tenemos instrucciones sobre cómo hacer uno! ¡Mira este hermoso video instructivo sobre cómo comenzar a escribir en la naturaleza, creado para este evento virtual por Julietta Conzuelo, un internada de la Estudiantes Asociación de Conservación Student Conservation Association (SCA) en el Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre de Valle de Oro y el Instituto de Historia Natural Sandia Mountain Natural History Center.
En Español: https://youtu.be/2lxOI6dmAO8

Además, puede encontrar instrucciones detalladas y consejos para crear un diario de la naturaleza aquí: https://friendsofvalledeoro.org/…/Nature-Journaling-Activit…

As you sit in nature and journal, whether it is a local green space or your own backyard, consider the plants and wildlife that make up your local ecosystem and are most prominent in your space as well as the interactions between them. Make sure to also jot down the sights, sounds, smells and other sensory details of the experience, or your feelings or reflections when journaling in nature. Did the experience change you as a person? Feel free to share your sketches and your reflections on the activity and experience!

Mientras te sientas en la naturaleza con tu diario, donde sea, puede ser un espacio verde local o su propio patio trasero, considere las plantas y la vida silvestre que conforman su ecosistema local y que son las cosas que vez que son apareciendo más prominentes en su espacio, así puedes ver todo las conexiones entre ellos. Asegúrese de anotar también las imágenes, los sonidos, los olores y otros detalles sensoriales de la experiencia, o sus sentimientos o reflexiones cuando escriba en la naturaleza. ¿La experiencia te cambió como persona? ¡Por favor, siéntase libre de compartir sus dibujos y sus reflexiones sobre la actividad y la experiencia!


Activity 5

For Activity 5 we encourage you to build off of your experience in our Virtual Summer Art Camp to create a capstone project, using any type of art medium, that will convey your hopes to see and create CHANGE!

Artists and scientists have the power to engage the public in critical environmental issues through different lenses. These can reach people at a personal level and create emotional connections to what’s happening in their surroundings. What can you do today to create change through Art? Our partners, the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program, shared a great video about exploring water pollution through art that we know will spark some thought about the power of Art to affect change. Check it out here:

As you create your capstone project, consider what has empowered you to make change, the emotions behind your advocacy, and how your capstone art piece can spark similar emotions to empower others to make the change you hope to see.  Feel free to share with us your works of art, the change you wish to see, or the emotions you hope to invoke through your capstone project in order to create change. #VdOKidzArtCamp



Thanks for joining us for our Virtual Summer Art Camp. We hope you will continue to create art while in nature, and that you learned some new skills throughout these activity to support you in engaging with nature in new and exciting ways.  Happy exploring and creating!


June 8
August 31


Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge
Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge