Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Monet's Japanese Bridge

In addition to my Children's Book Art classes, this session I am offering 2 Mini Modern Artist classes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders. We will be creating our own works of art inspired by some of the great artists of the late 19th and 20th centuries. While Monet may not be considered a "modern" artist I wanted to start with Impressionism before focusing on Cubism or Abstract art. I will discuss how the Impressionists were radicals of their time, leaving their art studios to paint in the open air with visible brushstrokes.

I found the basic idea for these bridges on Artsonia. Starting with a large sheet of colored construction paper, fold in half. Using the side of an oil pastel, shade around the paper. I will have them use several colors different from their paper. Next paint trees, leaves, bushes and flowers above the fold line. After each application of paint, fold the paper in half and rub to create the reflection of folliage in the water. A simple bridge shape can be then painted and folded for the last print. For the final step, paint lily pads and lilies on the bottom half of the paper. I think this project is accessible for my younger children, but still focuses on the idea of reflection and the visible brush strokes of Monet's bridge which he painted many times from 1899-1923.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Colors of Us

Karen Katz created the wonderful children's book, "The Colors of Us." It is the story of a girl, Lena, who sees herself as the color of cinnamon and how her artist mother, teaches her that there is no black and white. She shows her the many shades of skin colors: from light cocoa, to peach, from chocolate brown to butterscotch and beyond. Rather than pretending to be color blind, this book embraces the beautiful array of "colors of us."

This book is particularly meaningful to me because my family reflects a spectrum of beautiful colors. I purposefully purchased this book several years ago with that in mind. My daughter often refers to her skin color as cinnamon. She considers me to be "peachy-vanilla." My husband is "milk chocolate." This book reinforces the beauty and diversity of all people.

For my art classes my kindergartenders created their own Katz's folk art inspired collages with a layer of painted background, scrapbook paper cityscapes, and construction paper cut people with added details in oil pastel. The children really had fun with this project, bringing their own personality and added touches to their people.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Harry By The Sea

Another one of my favorite books from childhood is "Harry By The Sea" from the Harry the Dirty Dog series. I think it's timeless success lies with its simplicity(in story and illustrations). The pictures have only 2 colors (and black): a pale olive green and light yelow orange which the children will paint with watercolor.

On a separate paper, I will give a directed line drawing lesson to create Harry. While it may seem simple, I'm sure I will receive a wide range of versions. This is when I hope I can convince them that that is where the beauty lies in art. I always say how boring it would be to have everyone's "dog" or "flower" or whatever look the same. Bring on the misshapen heads and swollen bodies - I love it! These simple pencil drawings will be drawn over with charcoal and smudged to create the same effect as artist, Margaret Bloy Graham. They can then cut them out and glue them to their watercolor backgrounds. Harry's shadow and ocean currents will be done in charcoal as well.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Little Miss Spider

To create Little Miss Spider from the David Kirk series of books, the children will have 2 circle templates to create the head and body. Her unique features added are: cut paper arms and legs with tempera yellow dots, cone shaped nose, red curl, and oil pastel eyes, mouth and belly spots. They will use orange chalk pastel to shade around the head and belly. For the background, they will add wispy clouds by smudging white chalk pastel with their fingers.

My son is a freshman in high school and I can still hear myself reading from one of his favorites,"Miss Spider's Tea Party Counting Book." Kirk's illustrations are saturated in deep colors and glowing with an almost illuminated light source.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Tribute to Ezra Jack Keats

For my next art session, I am going to be offering 2 classes devoted to children's book art. One author/illustrator we will be looking at and creating our own work of art inspired by, is Ezra Jack Keats. I still have several copies of his books from my childhood in the 1960's. My copy of Whistle For Willie is marked for 75 cents! He is one of my favorites because of his bold use of forms and colors, as well as his unique combination of collage and painterly style.
I did a little research about him and found his story so compelling, I wanted to pass it along.

Ezra was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1916 to poor Polish immigrants of Jewish descent. He excelled in art throughout school. At the time of the great depression in 1933, his family suffered hardships, as did most people in his neighborhood. While his mother encouraged his art, his father wanted him to focus on more practical skills. In January 1935 Ezra was awarded his high school's award for excellence in art. Sadly his father died in the street of a heart attack the day before he was to receive this award. Ezra was called to identify the body. It was at this time that he discovered in his father's wallet all the newspaper clippings of Ezra's artistic accomplishments.

Keats went on to work as an illustrator for a variety of publications as well as a fine artist. In the early 60's, Keats published the children's book, The Snowy Day, which received the Caldecott Award. It and 6 other books feature Peter, a young black boy in the streets of New York who would be Keats "hero." He introduced children to an urban world and a main character most had not experienced before in books.

The picture above was inspired by Whistle for Willie about the little boy, Peter who is yearning to learn to whistle so he can call his dog. Different colors of construction paper were used to create the city scene. I used foam stickers and small rectangles of sponge to print graffiti and bricks in Keats' style. I did marker drawings of Peter and Willie as they appear in the book. I will adapt this project for little hands for my classes next month.(The top picture is the actual cover from the 1962 copywrite version of the book)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stacked Presents Christmas Tree Cards

I purchased a pad of scrapbook paper over 6 months ago and I am still finding some fun ways to use it. I thought some of the children would enjoy making these cute cards for family and friends. I pre-cut strips of decorative scrapbook paper in widths ranging from 1" to about 4 ". If you don't have scrapbook paper, solid colored construction paper would be very pretty as well (just as I have used for the tree tops and the trunks.) Glue a 5"X8" piece of scrapbook paper to a folded piece of white paper for your card base and background. Next glue the strips of paper to a half sheet of white paper and cut out. Wrap and glue a thin piece of ribbon around your stack of gifts and glue this to your card. Lastly, top your "tree" with a small bow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wintertime Gustav Klimt Inspired Trees

I have been wanting to do a Gustav Klimt inspired tree for some time now. I thought the holidays would be a great time with the beautiful gold that he used in many of his pieces as well as the decorative colors and shapes that adorn his paintings. Using black construction paper, lightly draw the tree shape and foreground in a light colored oil pastel. The limbs on the tree should curve inward and outward in beautiful spirals of various sizes. Paint over the drawing in gold metallic tempera paint. Using a variety of colors adorn the tree with a different shapes, repeating colors and patterns. I'm giving the children a few bottles of glitter glue to add even more sparkle to their shapes. To give the effect of new falling snow, paint white in the tops of the spirals and limbs, as well as the top of the ground. Lastly dot the sky with a scattering of snow flakes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Construction Paper Penguins

I found this adorable project at the wonderful blog, ARTolazzi. I thought it would be the perfect wintertime project for my K thru 2nd kids. After cutting and glueing their penguin together, the children can decorate their scarves with oil pastels. For the finishing touch, add snowflakes with white oil pastel or tempera paint.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Splatter Painted "Spotted Owls"

I have yet to meet a child, or adult for that matter, who didn't love the process of splatter painting. I wanted to come up with a project that would combine the the freedom of splatter painting with a representational subject matter. I was inspired by the torn paper owls at Deep Space Sparkle. I added the element of splattering 2 pieces of black construction paper with white paint and one white paper with black paint. It is up to each child how they would like to divide their textured paper. A simple head shape can be drawn on the back of one of the papers and the body shape on another. These are cut out and glued to a dark blue construction paper background. After the wing shapes have been drawn, they can be filled in with the remainder of the paper using small torn pieces. Here I used the black for the majority of the wings and the white at the tips. Eyes, ears and beaks are added with cut paper, and feet, branch and moon and are drawn with oil pastel. Each child can create their own one of a kind "spotted owl"!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Painted Scarves

This art session, I promised a couple handmade gifts for the children to give for the holidays, in addition to my usual art lessons. Thank goodness for a fabulous post by "That Artist Woman" for hand painted scarves. For this project we used a sheer lining fabric. Our scarves measured about 8" X 58", which is long enough to tie in a number of ways. They can be hemmed prior or after painting. Fortunately for me, my mother kindly hemmed each one by hand (although this can be done by machine). I provided a variety of colors of acrylic craft paint diluted with water to an inky consistency. This gives a wonderful watercolor-like effect. After they are dry, they should be delicately washed with a little detergent and fabric softener (which will fade the paint slightly).

I am thrilled with the wide range of results of this project. Some opted to paint stripes or polka dots and some went for a more spontaneous abstract effect. I even had a 5 year old boy who without hesitation, proceeded to paint what looks very much like Kandinsky's "Squares with Concentric Circles." Their Moms will truly cherish these one of a kind wearable works of art!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Colorful Abstract Winter Trees

"Art Projects for Kids" has a wonderful and simple abstract winter tree lesson. I decided to add the extra element of decoupaging colored tissue for the trees. After a rectangle of tissued posterboard is dry, it can be cut into the triangle tree shapes. These are glued onto watercolor paper that has been divided using oil pastel or crayon and then watercolor washed into three different sections as well as a foreground. With an oil pastel lines and "v" shapes can be drawn on the trees. Lastly a hole puncher is used to add the white snowfall effect. The 2 colorful pieces below were done by a kindergartener and a 2nd grader.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kindergarten Snowmen

It's late November and the weather forecast for Southern California: sunny and in the high 70's. It's time to create some snowmen! When you live in such a warm climate, I think the kids appreciate these type of winter time art projects even more. I liked the close up, cropped perspective snowman lesson from Deep Space Sparkle. After drawing our snomen in oil pastel, the children painted them with tempera paints. They really liked the final step of using a q-tip dipped in white to create falling snowflakes.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Radial Symmetry Designs

The wonderful book, "Dynamic Art Projects for Children" has a great lesson in radial symmetry. This type of design refers to repeating patterns that converge to a center point. Radial symmetry can be seen in the dome of the U.S. capitol building, the stained glass windows of many European cathedrals, Islamic Arabesque tiles, and even in nature's flowers and snowflakes. To create your own design, this project requires a A/B pattern label process where the image is rotated around 180 degrees to create a new design where points converge in the middle, creating a striking design. The top design shows my original 6" drawing. I transferred it to a 12" by 12" paper and repeated the design all the way around. I got a little carried away with detail, but the final product colored in marker is quite nice. I did a second simpler design which I think is also very pretty and more approachable for my students. I decided to introduce my 2nd and 3rd graders(in addition to my older elementary children) to this wonderful and universal form of design. Here is some of their work at various stages of completion.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Personal Work

I haven't spent much time on my own personal work lately. On any given day I will be trying out the perfect Kindergarten project or something new and different for my 2nd and 3rd graders. When I am creating work for myself, I like to do a variety of pieces: life size people in charcoal, chalk pastel, and watercolor. I love nothing better than tapping into that right brain mode, losing track of time and getting lost in a painting or drawing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkeys

I tend to steer clear of these type of holiday themed projects, only because I assume they are doing a lot in school. I went against my better judgement and decided to do these turkeys based on a step-by-step drawing lesson from A.P.F.K. "How many turkey art projects have you done this month in school?", I asked my group of Kindergarteners. "3, 4!" they shouted. Oh well. "These turkeys will be different!" (No painted hand prints here.) After a step by step lesson, I instructed them to load their brush with the autumn colors: yellow, orange, red and brown. No need to clean your brush, just go to the next color - a la Impressionism. At pick-up one Mom was thrilled, "Oh great, we don't have any Thanksgiving artwork in the house!" (Little does she know, there are 3 or 4 more to follow :) )

Abstract Cat Faces - Kindergarten

I am always looking for short art lessons to use when we have some time to fill before pick-up. This was the case today when I found myself with 15 more minutes left and (fortunately)children still willing to create and follow a lesson. I adapted a lesson in abstract cat faces from Art Projects for Kids. It starts with the eyes which look like big lemons and goes from there: triangles for the nose, circle cheeks, lines for whiskers ect.. They could choose between permanent marker or oil pastel. Since "Sharpies" are so forbidden in most homes in the hands of 5 and 6 year olds, they almost always choose them. Finally they paint them in watercolor choosing different colors for each side of the face. I think these are simple, graphic and fun.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Picasso Faces - Pre-K and Kindergarten

You may have noticed that I love to do different versions of cubist self portraits or "Picasso faces." What a treat it was this week to introduce my group of 5 and 6 year olds to one of the most iconic and revolutionary artists in history. I explained to them that rather than painting a picture of a person the way you see them (like when you take their picture), Picasso wanted to show 2 or more different sides of the person all at once. Group response: smiles and giggles. Great, I've got them! We did the basic step by step lesson to draw our faces: large "U" shape for the face and add hair with just a few lines with oil pastel. Now for the important line down the face that really makes it Picasso-esque. It went something like," a long bent line for our forehead, now draw a slide for the nose, a sideways line, 2 bumbs for the lips and another long bent line for the chin. They did a wonderful job following along. Next we talked about our skin color. I asked what they saw: peach, tan, brown, ect.. I told them that Picasso was bored with painting with realistic colors. We are going to use wild and fun colors: red, blue, green ect.. More laughs and hoorays! The only rule was to paint the 2 sides of their face different colors. "What about the eyes Miss Mary?" On a separate paper they drew bold eye shapes and a Picasso type mouth following basic instructions. They colored these and cut them out. Now they were to glue them to their face, but were encouraged not to put the eyes side by side - another Picasso trademark. Some of the children painted their background, others opted to cut it out and will paint a separate background to glue their face. Once again, with this age group, there is a wide spectrum of skill level with fine motor control. So I like to offer alternatives based on this, so all the kids can succeed.