Thursday, May 19, 2016

Abstract Cardboard Masks

Ella, 2nd grade


Raya, kindergarten


 Charlize, 2nd grade


 Kiran, 1st grade
(This shape reminds me of Keith Haring's dogs - Love it!)


 Harper, kindergarten


 Kate, kindergarten


 Thalia, 3rd grade


Katherine, kindergarten
(My kinder girls were very adamant about wanting their masks to be "cute")
Love the blond locks


Mira, 3rd grade



Scott, 5th grade

It's been six years since I have done an abstract cardboard mask project inspired by artist, Kimmy Cantrell shown here. Recently I saw some Fantastic masks over at Handmakery. They inspired me to give it another go with my Unique Materials Art Fun classes. I loved the way they layered facial features on separated pieces of scrap cardboard, so I had the kids create their masks in a similar way. The bases were created on squares cut from large cardboard boxes. (I've earned my black belt as a dumpster diving ninja) ;) We looked at examples of Cantrell's clay work before creating a unique face shape. These were divided into sections with permanent marker and painted with acrylics or shaded with pastels. 

I then handed out thin pieces of cardboard from boxes of cereal, oatmeal, soda ect... It prompted a funny discussion about grits. (My husband is from the south, but none of these west coast kids had ever heard of them.) I encouraged the kids to make their features, bold and unique. They added color with oil pastels and cut them out. They played around with their arrangement before gluing these down.

Kimmy Cantrell uses unique hardware accents in many of his masks. So I provided a variety of fun embellishments to use in their masks. Key earrings were all the rage. (My mom works at a hardware store in case you were wondering) Miss Mary used a glue gun for these heavy pieces.

This was a lot of fun for my wide age range groups. Everyone felt successful and it was a great way to teach the children that they could create art from a variety of recycled materials.


  Recycled food and beverage boxes for facial features - easy for the kids to cut out


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Moonlit Fireflies


Last summer my students created these beautiful firefly collages. I was thrilled to be asked by Arts and Activities magazine to write an article for the lesson. It will be in next month's June issue.

Here's the link:


Friday, May 13, 2016

Chameleon Experiments








This was a fun one! After creating their chameleons and adding elements for a tropical habitat on watercolor paper, my students had the opportunity to play with three different media techniques to create their colorful chameleon compositions. (points for alliteration?)

Chalk pastel on wet paper
Oil pastel blended with baby oil using cotton swabs
Salt and Watercolor

Students had their choice of using any combinations of these techniques throughout their artwork. I look forward to trying this again with another subject matter. It offers a great sense of play.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Thank You Mom!

 Mary and Janice - 1967 
(Got to love a 60's shift dress)

In honor of Mother's Day, I would like to thank my Mom for all the efforts she put forth to foster creativity, learning, and expression. She has always cheered me on and celebrated any of my successes, no matter how trivial.


 My Mom saw early on that art and creative play made me happy. She did her best to encourage and foster this passion through art and painting classes as well as coming up with her own creative ideas. One day, she brought out a box of items and odds and ends she had bought at a thrift store. She encouraged me to put together an assemblage piece. I don't think she was even aware of Louise Nevelson or Robert Rauschenberg, but just thought it would be fun to explore a new 3D format.


I was a horrid sleeper as a toddler. My Mom tried everything! One night in exasperation, she gave me a stack of books, left the light on and went to bed. (worked like a charm) I Love children's books to this day. Here are some favorites from childhood that I treasure. I enjoy incorporating children's book illustrations in many of my art lessons. 



Every summer my family went for a week's vacation to Oceanside, Ca. Obviously, most of my time was spent in the surf and sand. But during the down times, my Mom kept me busy and entertained by packing this suitcase with a stash of loot: markers, typing paper, stickers and even items from the office supply store like receipts and adhesive letters. It was a thrill to open it each summer and play with creative ideas. Collage art projects are a favorite of mine to this day.



She is a Wonderful Grandma as well! My kids know just how special she is and lucky they are to have Her as their Grandma.

Thank you Mom for all that you have done for me and the continued support you and Dad give me!

Love you Momba!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Mother's Day Teacups









For Mother's Day I wanted to do a teacup themed collage with my Draw, Paint Collage classes. I started browsing on Pinterest and found myself pinning a number of wonderful teacup themed artworks. I may just need to start a whole board dedicated to the subject. Who knew?

We started our layered works by creating a textured background with crinkled tissue paper and Mod Podge. Once dry, chalk pastel was used to add another layer of color. The children chose a piece of scrapbook paper for their table top. I found a very helpful tutorial to create the stacked teacups here at Color It Like You Mean It. For a bit of extra whimsy they topped their towering teacup stack with a bird. (Because I subscribe to Portlandia's "Put a bird on it." mantra) And last, they added some special notes to mom with scrapbook paper tags tied to their handles with twine. I had to get in on the fun and made one for my mom too.




Thursday, April 28, 2016

Fish Collages

I had the privilege of having Dr. Deb, a Psychologist and Art Therapist join her grand daughter for some creative fun and mixed media play. She used the tissue paper and Mod Podge technique from my Mother's day teacups as the base for her ocean background. Love the textured effect!

Scott, 5th grade

 Mira - 3rd grade


 Thalia - 3rd grade


 Kiran - 1st grade

This session my classes have an emphasis on collage. I love how artist, Mary Fedden described collage as putting together cut elements like a "jigsaw puzzle." To create these layered artworks, we began by creating a unique underwater background with Gelli printing. My students had the option of using some clipped weeds to mimic the look of kelp or seaweed. They created another Gelli printed paper in their choice of colors to create more collaged sea plants. For our fish, I was inspired by my daughter's pet beta fish, Sushi. I thought the beta's lacy fins and beautiful colors would be striking in their collage work. I led a basic line drawing lesson and encouraged the kids to make there fish big. I did a quick photo copy of their fish so they had 2 or 3 to use in their compositions. They used chalk pastels to add color to each of their fish. Finishing touches were added with permanent marker, pastel pencils and white gelly roll pens. I had the children play around with different compositions before gluing their cut elements to their background board. I love the uniqueness that collage art provides.


my experiment

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Sandra Silberzweig Inspired Portraits

Grayden - 2nd

Summer - 3rd

Maddie - 3rd

Thalia - 2nd

Skyler - 2nd

(This 1st grade artist may want to add some more details - but I'm Loving it at this stage)


I have done portraits inspired by Toronto artist, Sandra Silberzweig ("Synesthesia Goddess") several times with my classes. And each time I do, I'm so delighted by the results. The artist explained to me that children relate to her art and it doesn't intimidate them. I recently saw some marvelous artwork inspired by her colorful and primitive portraits over here at Small Hands Big Art. It made me excited to do another lesson with my Mini Modern Artists.

We created our art on roofing felt. This allowed my artists to work big (15"X20"). After creating the basic head shape and features with chalk, my students could use chalk pastels or acrylics to add color. Everyone was in a painting mood. To add pattern and repetition to their portraits, I encouraged them to use pencil erasers, pen caps, or even fingertips to make prints. I was so excited to see everyone go in their own direction with their portraits. They have a wonderful primitive quality. (Artwork by 1st-3rd graders)

A Big Thank you to Sandra Silberzweig for continuing to inspire me and my students with your colorful and dynamic art!

*Update - The artist was kind enough to send me the following response:
Thank you so much for sharing my art with your young ones, I really am shocked and amazed by their ability to see ‘the beyond’ in the images and work so intuitively.
I believe the appeal is basic, something instinctual and familiar, it speaks to all ages, the faces draw you in and hold your attention, even young for children.  These works are fabulous and the students really drew what they felt.

Deb - my first ever adult student