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.

Birds of the Rainforest

One of my favorite stand-by art lessons is "Birds of the Rainforest" from the book, "Dynamic Art Projects for Children." It provides wonderful step by step instructions for drawing the bird. I like this lesson so much because it works well for all age groups (K thru 5th) and is popular with both boys and girls. After the basic bird is drawn the child can add as much detail and pattern as they would like: zig zags, polka dots, swirls. ect. This is where they really have fun bringing their own personality to their bird. I strayed a bit from the book and had them add their rainforest plantlife directly to the page (rather than to an separate paper and then cut and glued to the artwork), making some plants in from of the bird and some behind. I explained this would really make the bird look like it was hiding in the jungles of the rainforest. The 3 pieces above were done by a kindergartener, 1st grader and 2nd grader. My daughter (7) did the bird at the head of my blog. Each one, wonderful and unique.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Test Driving" Art Projects

I'm constantly "test driving" art projects and ideas for my classes. I have boxes and shelves of ideas that have either been put on the back burner or need to be tweaked. These are just a few that I have worked on lately. I am dying to do an art lesson based on the wonderful"Gee's Bend Quilts" of Alabama. I just learned about these amazing works af art made by descendants of slaves from Miss Tabarcea's blog. I like to browse Flickr for ideas. The tissue townscape and the "Hundertwasser"-like tree were both found there. Finally, I would like to introduce my 5th graders to Pop Artist, Keith Haring. I think they would really respond to the story of him using the empty poster space in the subways of New York to do his very graphic people. You may see some of these ideas put to use soon!

Falling Back Into Space Portraits 2nd - 5th Grade

This weekend my art assistant (otherwise known as my 7 year old daughter, Savannah) and I tried out an art project I have wanted to do with a couple of my classes. I saw this at Oodles of Art Projects and just changed a few things. After tracing your hands towards the top of a large piece of posterboard, you take off your shoes and trace them towards the bottom. Now a head shape is drawn a bit smaller to look as if it's further away. Now the neck and body are drawn. We did ours in pencil, then Sharpie and finally watercolor. I'm going to emphasize the importance of observing and recording details with this project. For instance, we drew the lines on our palms and fingers and the details we saw at the bottom of our shoes. I like how Savannah painted her mouth in a "O" shape, showing a perfect reaction if you were to actually fall into space. To create an added dimension I drew the planets with chalk pastel and chose the direction of a light source, higlighting one side with white and casting a shadow on the opposite side. It's a small detail that I think adds a big impact. Finally we painted around the planets with black tempera paint. Savannah gave this project a "thumbs up." Her seal of approval carries a lot of weight regarding whether a project gets the green light or gets shelved.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fish Flags

I do several variations on this fish flag project with my younger kids. I pre-cut the fish body shape and allow them to paint it whatever way they'd like using tempera paints. The following week they cut fin and eye shapes and finally glue streamers to the tail. After I tape a little fishing line to the top they are ready to hang on the porch and blow in the wind.