Monday, July 11, 2011

"Zen Shorts" Inspired

This artist wanted a horizontal format

Some chose to omit the panda and keep it simple with the cherry blossom tree

This artist (9) turned Stillwater into a female

A BIG thanks to Erica from Art Project Girl for her post about the magical book, "Zen Shorts" by John J. Muth. Also thanks to Anna at Imagine, Explore, Create for her idea of using chalk pastel background for the straw blown ink cherry blossom trees. I thought the results were wonderful.

After Erica's recommendation, I purchased a used but flawless hardback copy from Amazon. The three stories the Giant Panda, Stillwater tells his three neighbor children have roots in Zen Buddhist literature that have been passed along for centuries. Muth's beautiful watercolor illustrations have earned him a Caldecot Honor. This book really is a gem.

The children first used chalk pastel (blending with their fingers) to create their sky. They then painted a moon in white acrylic. Some watered down black tempera was dropped along the side of their page and blown with a straw to create branches for their cherry blossoms. Once dry, they dipped a pencil eraser in white and red to create blossoms. On a separate paper we drew a simple panda that was colored with markers and colored pencils and cut out and glued to their background. I will do a revised version of this project with my Children's Book Art camp in a few weeks.


  1. Mary - These are terrific. I must remember the technique for next year!!

  2. You know how much I love the book, these turned out great. Mom

  3. Beautiful artwork.
    The Pandas are adorable.
    My favorite is the female Panda.

  4. Mary I was so pleased to see you used my idea of using chalk pastel for the background. Wow! Isn't it amazing how we are helping each other out from across the seas... Oh, by the way they look fantastic..

  5. Just saw this! Isn't this book wonderful. I even used it with a bilingual class and they were glued. A very sensitive bunch of children and happy to translate to their peers who could use some of these life lessons:) They will be my 5th graders this year. I am so excited to see how they've matured and will mature. This is a great book to reinforce some of those tough lessons! Beautiful pandas too:)


I appreciate your comments and feedback!