Thursday, October 8, 2015

Drawing Leaves with Sticks

Kate, Kindergarten

Izzy, 1st Grade

Works in progress

 Sharpened sticks for ink drawing

When I was in high school, one of the first assignments our art teacher gave us was to go outside and find a stick shorter than a ruler. We were intrigued to say the least. After our sticks were sharpened, we were given India ink and given lots of contour/observational drawing assignments. Over the next few weeks we drew everything from nature, to shoes and backpacks to faces from National Geographic magazines, all with just sticks and ink on "typing" paper (this was the 80's). What a great foundation for me as an artist. Not having the ability to erase and having to draw so many things, helped me not worry about making things perfect and just focus on drawing what I saw. Why I haven't tried this with my students before now is beyond me. It gives line drawings a wonderful quality as the line thickness varies. It's perfectly imperfect. 

My Observational Art Lab students had a variety of leaves to observe and draw for their mixed media pieces. I had my younger ones trace their leaves and then observe and draw the veins. They turned their paper around and drew leaves in every direction, filling their paper. I decided to let them really play with media and offered oil and chalk pastels, bleeding tissue and watercolors, encouraging them to experiment with different combinations. More to post....

Friday, October 2, 2015

Sea Otters Revisited

I have had several requests for a drawing tutorial for my Sea Otter post last October. So I added a basic one below and thought I'd post again. Hope this is of some help!

We kicked off our new Mixed Media Art Class session with these sweet sea otter pieces. This project was inspired by this gallery I found on Artsonia. The kids created their otters on black construction paper using chalk pastels. They followed a direct line drawing lesson to put down the basic shapes of their otters. I encouraged them to add texture with their pastels to create the look of fur (we learned sea otters have the thickest fur of any animal - 1,000,000 hairs per square inch!) Their backgrounds were created with watercolor to give the appearance of the otters popping out of the water. Artwork by K-6th graders.

Fun fact: Sea otters are social animals that float together in groups called "rafts" and hold hands when they sleep so they don't drift away from each other. So darn cute!

When drawing animals I like to start with a photograph and break it down into a series of shapes. In this case I used this sea otter print :

Start with eyes first. They are relatively small and and pointed in the corners.
The otter's nose points upward and downward, (like 2 chocolate kisses glued together). From there I like to draw a furry head around those features, connecting to the tip of the nose on each side. Now add a furry little chin and small ears. A body can be drawn and stop wherever it enters the water. You may choose to add furry "arms" extending toward the mouth. We did this project in chalk pastel and I encouraged the kids to add as much texture as possible with the tip of their chalk to show the otters' thick fur. Don't forget to add whiskers and some white highlights in the eyes!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Coral Reefs with Sea Turtles

My Animals and Their Habitats art class explored a variety of media in making these collage pieces. We first created a background of wet on wet watercolor sprinkled with salt. Once dry, I gave the children cotton balls and small strips of cardboard to created printed coral and seaweed. Sea turtles in a choice of media, as well as tropical fish were added to their underwater scene. I enjoyed seeing the kids putting their own spin on these collages.
Artwork by kinder through 2nd graders.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Saguaro Cactus Dwellers

 Ella, 2nd grade

 Delaney, 5th grade

 Raya, kindergarten
Her first art class with her big sister - what fun!

 Mia, 2nd grade

Fiona, 2nd grade

Sydney, 3rd grade

The theme for my September/October class is Animals and Their Habitats. For our first project we learned about the sagauro cactus of the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and Mexico. We learned that the Gila woodpecker will make a nest and wait for it to dry before moving in for a stay. And almost like a hotel, it will leave and another inhabitant, the tiny Elf Owl will seek shelter in the cavity.

We created glue line cactus and simple horizon lines on roofing felt. I reminded them to make sure to create a hole for their woodpecker or owl to inhabit. These were put up to dry and we created our birds using chalk pastels. The following week, the children used pastels to add color to their cactus and backgrounds and glued their cut birds to their saguaro.

Looking back on the past 6 years of art projects.....apparently, I Love Owls!
The do make a Great subject for an autumn art lesson.

                           Next up, coral reefs and sea turtles.....

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Summer at a Glance

Here's a quick look at a sampling of our summer projects. A Big thanks to all my students for making this a Fun and Creative 9 weeks. I appreciate each and every one of you! :)

- Miss Mary

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mixed Media Pelicans

I always marvel at how pelicans can spot a fish as they fly above the sea, swooping down into the water, grabbing them in their large bills and gulping them down. Seagulls on the other hand are notorious opportunists, hanging around beach-goers, waiting for dropped remnants of lunch. I once had one fly away with a an entire corn dog while I went to grab some napkins at a place in Santa Monica. This is not meant to be a seagull bashing post - just an observation.  :)

My students created their birds using their choice of chalk or oil pastels following a basic direct line drawing lesson. Wings were done with the scratch art technique using oil pastel and acrylic paint. Many of my young students took this as an opportunity to carve their initials, names and doodles. (Funny I hadn't anticipated that.) Backgrounds were created on a separate board using acrylics and watercolors. (Hindsight - I would have offered a wider variety of colors for their skies to yield more diverse results.) These are big poster sized pieces by kindergarten through 5th graders.

my experiment

Yesterday was the last class of my summer art series. I intend to do a little pelican (and seagull) watching and soak up the last gasps of summer before my fall classes begin.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Alley Cat Collages

This project was inspired by the art of Ezra Jack Keats, (one of my favorite children's book authors/illustrators) and more specifically his book, "Hi Cat" seen here. I love his expressive, painterly brushstrokes and use of collage to portray an urban landscape. So my students used cut painted paper placemats full of brushstrokes, spills and even doodles, just as they did with these Mixed Media Cityscapes. They could add more paint, stamped letters, or scribbles to their backgrounds to make them their own. Stray kitties could be done in a choice of media on black or white paper. The kids created the top of a trash can using scraps of roofing felt and silver paint. Some of my students really embraced the messy, expressive aspect of this project
(Artwork by k-5th graders)