Monday, January 31, 2011

Joan Miro-Art project

This is a project I just did with my preschool class, but it could be adapted for older ages. Kids love the bright colors, funny shapes and lines Miro uses in his work. I like using Abstract art to teach kids that you don't have to be able to draw something realisticly to come up with a great piece of art.


8"x10" board (or you could use paper)
white, blue, green, red, black, yellow acrylic paint
scratch paper

For the preschool class I pre-painted the board white, and pre-drew the large shapes (see sample). If this were a kindergarden class or above I would let them do all the drawing. I had the preschoolers sand down the board. Then I had them draw in the other lines and shapes with a pencil, while I demonstrated it on a whiteboard. We talked about the different kinds of lines and shapes in this piece and how to make them.

They went over all the lines in Sharpie.(on my sample below I skipped the Sharpie part). Then we started with the lightest color (yellow) and filled in all the shapes-giving the yellow, red, green and blue areas two coats. After everything was dry we went back in with a small round brush with black paint and went over all the lines and filled in the circles.

The results were great and the kids had fun. (Unfortunately I didn't have my camera).


Raoul Dufy Art project

This project is great for all ages, and it is quick to do. I love Raoul Dufy's style as it is very kid like and fun.


Acrylic paint-yellow, orange, red, white, and two different blues (one true blue, one a turquoise)
 large and small flat brushes
watercolor paper
Fine line Sharpie

I start this project by showing some of Dufy's regatta prints, and talking about his unique style.

We start by painting the water with watered down acrylic paint. I give them a dab of each blue and the white. Then using a large flat brush they streak it on being careful not to mix the paints. For the sky we use the same brush and only the true blue and white going in big swirls. I tell them to  leave a jagged white border of paper showing.

Next we talk about and practice the simple shapes of the boats and sails (half circle and triangle) and how to use size to show perspective. I always tell my students to use an odd number when they are putting subjects in a picture as it looks more natural. For this project, we do 5 boats.

For older kids I have them use small flat brushes to paint their boats right on the water, for younger kids I have them lightly draw in the boats first with pencil, and then paint. I let them choose how to use the colors (orange, yellow, blue and red). After the paint dries, we use a fine line Sharpie to add birds and the horizon line.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Draw Like an Egyptian-art project

This year they are studying Ancient times at the Christian school where I teach, so I have created a whole bunch of new  art lessons to tie in with the cultures that they are studying. I have done this project with the 1st-4th graders and last week with the 7th-8th graders. Both groups had alot of fun and success with it.


16"x16" cardboard
acrylic paint
chalk pastel

I started with a brief introduction to Egyptian drawing. There are lots of resources on the internet that explain the process and ideas behind how the Egyptians did their drawings. I discussed how they made paint, and colors they used etc. Then I introduced hieroglyphics. I made copies of all the hieroglyphics from a book I had, but there are many sources for that on the internet as well. I gave each student a copy and they began the lesson by practicing various hieroglyphics on scratch paper. Once they had practiced all the ones they wanted on their project I gave them a 16x16 piece of cardboard. (my husband works at a cabinet shop and cut these from )

Using a template that I had made of an Egyptian woman and man they chose the one they wanted and traced around it. I had the younger kids all do theirs in the middle with the hieroglyphics around the outside. I let the older kids choose how they would arrange the figure and hieroglyphics. I also plan to do this lesson with the high school students and I will have them freehand the figure instead of tracing.

After drawing everything in pencil, I had them go over in Sharpie. Using the limited palette of colors-brown, white, teal, orange, yellow,and black, I had them paint in all their symbols and the figure. ( to stay true to the real Egyptian drawings-I had them paint the man's skirt white, and the woman's dress teal. His skin was a reddish brown, and the woman's skin a creamy flesh color). They could add jewelry, hair ribbons, and tools, weapons, or things like a fan or mirror for the woman). I brought in some pictures and books to help them.

After everything was dry, I had them re-Sharpie areas that needed it. Then they rubbed the flat side of a lt. brown chalk pastel over the entire picture, wiping most of it off with a paper towel. This helps give it an aged look. I had them use a dark brown pastel on the edges and rub that in to give it a frame. This took a total 2 hr.time block. The kids really enjoyed this project.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jim Dine-Confetti Heart project

The artist Jim Dine uses hearts, bathrobes, and tools for subject matter for much of his artwork, which makes him a kid-friendly artist to introduce to your students. I have done many different projects related to this artist, and the kids always enjoy learning about him and seeing photos and prints of his art. His heart art is especially fun to introduce for a Valentine's day lesson. This particular lesson is an attempt at re-creating a painting of his called "Confetti Heart". I have used this book by Jean E.Feinberg when introducing Dine to my students.  It has a good collection of his artwork in colored photos. Unfortunately the heart used in this lesson is not in there. I made a color copy off the internet as a resource.

antiques price guide, antiques priceguide, works on paper, America, A color lithograph by Jim Dine (American, born 1935). The Confetti Heart I, 1985, pencil signed, dated and numbered 87/400 in the margin.

I have done this project on a wood board with a seperate heart piece attached, or just on a single board with the heart shape painted on, and also on cardboard or paper. The sample showing below is done on a cut out piece of cardboard 10 1/2"x 8".


Acrylic paint:blue,orange, red, lime green ,yellow, magenta, white, and black
six different size and shapes of brushes, some round, some flat.
a piece of sponge
an old tootbrush
a stylis

First I have the students paint the heart white. Then  I have kids add the colored paint in an assembly line. All of the paints (except black and white) are squirted on a seperate paper plate with a different brush for each color. The kids go down the line and add different strokes for each color onto their heart, being careful not to overlap colors too much. When they have added all the colors, we use the sponge to dab on black paint around the edges.

I do the next splatter step outside or in a protected area. The kids use the toothbrush, some watered down black paint and the stylis to "splatter" black paint on their heart.

The results are amazingly similar to Jim Dine's piece!

Matisse-Flower Vase Lesson

I got this idea from  Matisse's "Woman with a Purple Robe" painting, and have altered it to fit different age groups. I love Matisse,because of all the bright colors and patterns he used in his work. This is a fun way to introduce mixed media and the different steps keep the interest level high.


 yellow, purple, blue, and green bright colored card stock (cut into 5 ½" by 3 ¾" pieces)
9"x 6"white card stock
5 1/2" x 7 1/2" heavy paper (I use 1/2 of my 11"x15" watercolor paper)
oil pastels
acrylic paint
glue stick

For the first step I have the students draw with pencil, then outline with Sharpie a vase with flowers in it. (I predraw this for preschool level).Then I have them paint the vase grey. Next step is to do a different pattern with oil pastels on each piece of colored cardstock (see sample).Then I have them glue the pieces down to the the heavy paper.

Next they color in the flowers with oil pastel and add the black lines on the vase . When the paint is dry they cut out the vase and flowers and glue down over the patterned card stock.

I've also done this project with paint instead of the cut paper on a full size sheet of watercolor paper. I add more detail with the painted orange and lemon and plate, and also a wider variety of flowers.  The flowers and line work are done with chalk pastel instead of oil pastel. Make sure to spray with fixative when they are finished.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Picasso-Blue Guitar project

This is one of my favorite "go to" lessons that I have done many different ways with many different ages and sizes of classes. I like using the guitar as subject matter because it has all the different lines in it and can be as detailed or simplified as you like and still look like a guitar. It is also a great lesson to teach about composition and color mixing.


acrylic paint
scratch paper
watercolor paper

I  start the lesson by talking about Picasso and his use of musical instruments as the subject for many of his paintings. I also talk about his "blue period", and Cubism.

Next I show them an actual guitar and talk about all the types of lines and how they can go about drawing it. Usually I tell them to simplfy it unless I am teaching an older group of kids and plan on doing the lesson in 2 or 3 sessions. After they do a basic drawing on a practice sheet, they re-draw it on a sheet of watercolor paper. Then they use a ruler to break up the background of the guitar,making several different geometric shapes. (The more shapes they have the longer the project will take, so adjust it according to your class time.) I also have them section off their guitars in a few shapes.  If it is a younger group I have them outline their pencil drawing with Sharpie at this point.

Next I give them a choice of three different blues. They start with one blue filing in all the shapes they want to be that color. Then they add a little bit of white and fill in all the shapes they want with that color. They can get about four or five different values out of one blue (or more) by continuing to add a little white. I have them continue the same process with the other two blues.When they are finished they go over the lines with Sharpie.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Giuseppe Arcimboldo-Fruit Face/Vegetable Head Project

This lesson is based on the amazing art of Giuseppe Arcimboldo. If you have never seen any of his work-you need to look him up. I have used Arcimboldo  by Taschen and Hello Fruit Face! to start off this lesson. Lots of great photos of his art.

To have the best resources for this project, get your name on the mailing lists for some vegetable/fruit seed catalogs and some flower seed catalogs. You can also use floral scrapbooking paperor clip magazine pictures, but you need alot so I don't rccommend this. Depending on what age you are doing this lesson for you may want to precut some flowers and fruits and vegetables.

pictures of flowers
pictures of fruits and vegetables
head pattern piece cut out of poster board
1/4 sheet posterboard for each child
1/4 sheet black posterboard for each child or black acrylic paint
mod podge
rubber cement

I have the kids trace my pattern piece of the head onto their poster board. Then they draw in the lips, eyebrow, and eye with pencil, and paint these in with watercolors. Then I have them outline the head and facial features with sharpie.Next they paint the space around the heads with black acrylic paint. (or leave this white, see last step)

Next step is to decide whether they are doing a man or woman and a fruit/vegetable face or a flower face.
Then they need to choose their pictures-getting different sizes and types.

They mod podge them onto the head going around the facial features.  You can either leave the heads on the same paper or have the students cut around the heads and glue, using rubber cement  to a black piece of poster board.

Jacob Lawrence-Tool Project

I got the idea for this project from a design lesson I did while in art school years ago. It is a great way to introduce the concept of positive and negative space. If you are not familiar with Jacob Lawrence he was an African American artist who used the working man and tools for subjects in many of his paintings. Thus the connection to him with the use of tools as the subject matter for this project.

 12x18 black construction paper (I like to use tru-ray fade resistant construction paper from Nasco as it is a real true black paper that gives good contrast)
white poster board (1/2 of a sheet)
glue sticks
white colored pencil
tools (you can use any type of tools you want-kitchen, garden, workshop, etc.)

I usually use workshop tools as there is alot of variety of sizes and shapes which makes for a more interesting composition.

First I have students trace out several different tools onto the black construction paper using the white colored pencil. I stress picking a variety of different sizes and shapes.

Then the students carefully cut around each tool.

This is the part when I really have them take their time and play around with some different compositions. I talk about the negative space and making that as interesting as the positive space. I suggest they try at least 5 different layouts before they choose the one they like the best.

Then I have them carefully glue each tool down.

Paul Klee project-Tissue paper face

This project is a fun one, and good for a variety of ages, plus it really captures the Paul Klee style. The secret ingredient is bleeding tissue paper. I use the Spectra Deluxe Art Tissue from Nasco Art Supplies. I have also purchased some art "bleeding" tissue paper at Michaels which did not bleed, so I am not sure if that is the problem with other art tissues or not.

Spectra Deluxe art tissue
dark crayon
watercolor paper (I use the Canson Montval 11x15 Student Watercolor Paper from Nasco)

Students start by drawing a simple Paul Klee style face (see sample). Go over the pencil lines in a dark crayon. Then use tissue paper cut in about 2 inch squares to cover drawing brushing water under each tissue square. You need to be careful to get enough water down to make the tissue bleed but not so much that the water puddles.

Let the tissue dry a few minutes and then peel off. You will have beautiful soft color that is blended here and there.

A second project I often do at the same time is the same process using symbols instead of the face for the initial drawing. It is a great way to introduce the use of symbols in art and to reference Paul Klee's use of them. On a seperate sheet of paper I have them practice a variety of different symbols and lines, using some of Paul Klee's art as a sample. Once they have an idea of which lines/symbols they want to use they follow the same process as the face project.  I often have the kids choose either warm or cool colored tissue paper for this project or you could do all colors like the face project.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Leonardo da Vinci-Montana Mona art project

This project is one I have done several times and really helps my Montana students relate to Da Vinci's Mona Lisa .It is also a good mixed media project. You could change it up by relating it to your state or area

Cardboard for each student roughly 11x14
local travel magazines or brochures
scrapbook paper
mod podge
coloring book copy of the Mona Lisa ( I got mine from the book Art Masterpieces to Color)
Colored pencils
brown and black acrylic paint

First I have the students paint about a 2 1/2" border on their cardboard with the brown paint using a large brush and then using a small round brush paint in some lines and knot holes.

While that is drying they work on coloring in the Mona Lisa (lightly) with the colored pencils. They can choose the hair and eye colors and her blouse color.

Then using pattern pieces that I made in advance using poster board scraps they trace out a hat, cloak (from the scrapbook paper) and rectangular background piece (from the magazines).I used a map of Montana in my sample, but any large picture without a bunch of writing would work. (for example: a scenery picture, a herd of cows, a man on a horseback, close-up of a saddle or cowboy boots,etc.) They cut and assemble all the pieces.

Next they find letters or words (mine came from the magazines or scrapbook papers) for the "Montana", and letters (the ones in the sample came from a bag of random letters I got from Michaels) to spell out "Mona", and lay them out on the frame.

Now they are ready to mod podge all the pieces onto the framed board, being careful to center everything. Once they are done getting all the papers glued down, they do a final coat of mod podge over the whole piece.

This is a great book for other Leonardo da Vinci projects and information on the artist and his life.