Review: TwoSticks Shadows Painting Kit

My education has gaps. So does yours. Unless you know everything. Which you don’t. Unless you’re 11. If so, you probably think you know everything. But you still don’t.

However, there are a few courses I missed out on during my years in school. World History for one. Geography for another.

Never fear. I have long since filled in those gaps between reading many, many books plus 17 years of homeschooling my kids.

Another course I missed out on in school was Art. Other than crayons or tempera paint on sheets of manila paper in elementary school I haven’t had any formal art instruction.

Lately the girls and I have enjoyed dabbling with some different artistic mediums including pencil, watercolors, and most recently, acrylic paints.

Two disclosures:

  1. I am not an artist. Take any advice I offer with a grain of salt.
  2. Timberdoodle sent me this kit in exchange for my honest review.

New to their line-up this year Timberdoodle is offering several TwoStick Shadows painting sets as part of their upper grade curriculum kits. These painting sets can, of course, be purchased separately. We received the Flowers set for review.

What’s Included

This is a high quality art set which includes:

  • 18 tubes of acrylic paint
  • 2 paintbrushes – 1 flat, 1 round
  • 2 – 5″ x 7″ canvases printed with black outlines of flowers
  • 3 – 8″ x 10″ canvases printed with grayscale “shadows” of flowers
  • 1 – 13″ x 19″ canvas printed with grayscale “shadows” of flowers
  • An instruction sheet
  • A painting reference sheet
  • A sheet about the Bridge2Rwanda Scholars program that the manufacturer supports
  • TwoSticks which are actually nicely finished oak boards designed to frame the 13″ x 19″ painting

I love that it comes with 6 projects. This way multiple students can share the same set, or it could easily be enough for a single student for a one-semester art course.

The line drawings are the simplest and smallest so you can start with those, then work your way through the three 8″ x 10″ canvases before finishing up with the 13″ x 19″ canvas which you can then frame as your “masterpiece.”

For our first session Rebecca chose the lily, Laura chose the sunflower, and I chose the cluster of… um… poppies? Roses and tulips? I’m actually not sure what kind of flowers they are meant to be. The painting is a little abstract.

Getting Started

We started off watching the recommended videos on the TwoSticks site. These were particularly helpful with tips for mixing paint and achieving the desired tints and shades.

Did you know there was a difference? I didn’t! Turns out tints are mixed with white, while shades are mixed with black.

If I were tracking credit for a high school transcript I would have my student watch the videos and then practice the paint mixing and techniques demonstrated before she ever started on the canvas projects.

We did a little bit of gradation practice on a scrap piece of paper before we started our paintings, but we were eager to try them out so we probably didn’t do as much practice as we might have ahead of time.

I’m not sure I did it “right” by starting with the background but that’s what made the most sense to me.

Painting Fun

I dabbled around with different blends of color. I’m not totally satisfied with that background gray. I think it needs more white mixed in. However, I discovered that an abstract style painting is very forgiving.

Once I started adding the pops of color with the flowers the painting began to come alive. It was so much fun to dab a little of this color here, then pick up a teensy bit of that color on the same brush and blend it in there. It’s a somewhat messy process but very satisfying.

I didn’t take pictures of the girls’ works-in-progress, but here are their finished paintings.

The small print in the middle shows the reference picture. Laura asked, “Do we have to try to make our paintings look exactly like that? Or can we use our own ideas?”

Well, of course you can use your own ideas! That’s the whole point!

I like how Laura’s sunflower has more vivid colors with the splashy blue background.

I also love the shading of Rebecca’s lily. “What do you think of that yellow background, Mom?” she wanted to know. “Don’t you think it makes the flower pop?” Indeed it does. Definitely.


You may want to buy an additional tube of white paint, especially if you do much practice with mixing paint and experimenting with techniques ahead of time. I found we went through a lot of white in mixing our tints. I expect white acrylic paint is readily available anywhere that sells craft supplies.

The instruction sheet says you’ll need a paint pallet or flat surface on which to mix paint. It suggests a paper plate as a pallet. We tried that but I found that I was smearing the paint out too much in mixing my colors. I happened to have some small watercolor pallets which worked much better for containing the paint in a small area.

I found that thinning the paint out with water to start with was a good way to lay down the background colors and still be able to easily see the shadow guidelines through the paint. With acrylic paints you can keep adding layers as long as you like.

My Thoughts

I love the quality of the TwoSticks Shadows Paint Set. The canvas is lovely to paint on. For the price of about two sessions at a paint-and-sip place you can have six projects. Of course, wine is not included but since we don’t drink wine anyway, that’s no problem for us.

The girls and I thoroughly enjoyed the hour or so we spent together working on our paintings. And while we recognize that our finished paintings are far from professional we thought they turned out nice enough to display in our home. We look forward to painting the other canvases in the set.

Also Available

Other sets available from Timberdoodle:


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