Monday, October 19, 2009

Impossibly Haunted Houses

This is a fun project to do at Halloween, but it does take a lot of black marker! These examples were created by 3rd grade students, but this project can easily be adapted for other grades.

Using watercolors on 12" X 18" watercolor paper, students made a wash using warm or cool colors applied in a striped pattern. Allow to dry.

I handed out several images for the students to view; buildings, windows, various architectural details, and (of course) Halloween "things". I make four packets for each table and put them in a color coded folder. Students are encouraged to view these images, gain inspiration from them, but not copy them exactly.

The students began drawing directly on to their watercolored paper, making sure to leave a space between each section of the house. I told them that it should look like there was an earthquake and the house broke in to pieces. This step can be difficult for them to understand, but if you model it for them a few times, they tend to get the hang of it.

Because the houses are impossibly haunted, I tell them that the pieces don't have to be in the right spot. If they want a column in the middle of a level holding up the roof, then I tell them to go for it!

Finally, details are added to the drawing: spider webs, stars, bats, a moon, black cats, etc.

I had the students outline their drawings using a thin black permanent marker. They then filled in the larger areas using a thick black marker.

The results are wonderfully creepy, fabulously spooky, and impossibly haunted!

See more Impossibly Haunted Houses at my Artsonia Gallery.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Large Leaves- glued lines with chalk

These gorgeous drawings were created by fifth grade students.
Paper choice is very important for this project- we used Molly's Midnight Black paper from Molly Hawkins' House. If you haven't heard of this art supply company, visit their site and request a catalog! Their prices are hard to beat. Molly's Midnight paper is very smooth and has the deepest black color. It is gorgeous!

I handed out packets with examples of leaves for the students to use for reference, but we have also worked while viewing actual leaves, which is ideal. They were instructed to draw as large as they possible could on the paper, even allowing some of the leaf to go off the edge.

Glue is applied to the pencil lines and allowed to dry until the following class.
~ Close the glue bottles slightly to achieve a smaller flow of glue. Too much glue and the lines tend to blob together.
~ Remind students to keep the glue bottle close to/right on their paper as they follow the lines. Believe it or not, there will be students who want to hold the bottle about 6 inches above their drawing and squeeze the bottle. Not a pretty outcome!
~ Also tell students that if they make a mistake with the glue, to leave it there. If they wipe the glue off, the chalk pastel will not adhere where the glue has been. It is better to have a few "holes" in the leaf than to wipe off a drip or two.

When the glue has dried, metallic marker is applied to the lines. We used Prang Metallic Art Markers, but silver Sharpie or other metallic markers would work well also.

Finally, chalk is added to the leaf, using either a cool or warm color scheme. I had the students choose 3 colors of chalk to use and demonstrated blending them. I had them begin with one color and add from the midrib (central line) out, following the shape of the leaf. One section is done at a time. Then, they added a second color, starting from the outside edge of the leaf going in toward the midrib. Finally, the third color of chalk is added, "bridging" the other two colors together. I reminded them to keep their hands out of their work, as they wanted to blend the chalk with their fingers. Some may find this acceptable, but to me, it makes the work look "dirty". Instead, they used cotton swabs.

The finished work looked fabulous hanging in the hallway and we got several compliments.

These gorgeous drawings were created by 5th grade students. To see the entire gallery, visit our Artsonia page.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

VanGogh Sunflowers

Can you believe that a First Grader created this wonderful piece of artwork? I have had much success with this project simply by having the students follow me step by step and by relating the shapes of the flower to other things.

I begin this lesson by showing them the video "Getting To Know The World's Greatest Artists- VanGogh" by Mike Venezia

Afterward, I read to them the book Camille And The Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt, a story of a young boy who befriends the "Sunflower Man" (VanGogh).

Then, I have the students practice drawing sunflowers using chalk. This is an exciting thing for them, because it is a brand new medium to explore. I have to remind them not to put their fingers in their drawings and to draw over mistakes instead of trying to erase them with their fingers.

Usually at this time of year, the sunflowers are in full bloom in the country near my school. I can usually get a big bouquet from at least one of the students by simply asking. We observe them before drawing.

I use different colored constrution paper for each class to make them easier to pass back! Burgandy, navy, forest green, and violet are all great colors for this exercise with the white chalk.
Drawing a sunflower step by step:
1. Make a donut or fried egg shape in the center of your paper about thi size of your fist. This area will become the seeds of the flower.
2. The petals are shaped like long bunny ears or surf boards I demonstrate "Mr. Wrong" on the board by drawing petals that are done incorrectly (long and pointy instead of curved or short like teddy bear ears) and then demonstrate "Mr. Right". I also show them that it is necessary to turn their papers as they draw their petals around the center.
3. A second row of petals, or bunny ears, are added in between the other row. Again, we observe the actual flowers so they can see that the petals are stacked.
4. A leaf is added to the corner(s) that has the most room. We look at leaves and I point out the midrib and the veins. I have them start on one side of their flower, draw to the corner to make a point, and go back up to the other side of the flower. The midrib is added by starting at the point and going back up the middle of the leaf. Snaky veins are last.

It is at this point that we go on to their final paper. I typically use a nicer pastel paper for these because they do turn out so nicely and many parents will want to frame or save them. The size is 12" X 12".

After choosing their paper, we again follow the steps above to draw the sunflower. Then, the real fun begins! It is time to add the color. About four years ago, I bought some pastel sets that had only landscape colors in them and they are perfect for this project. We are still using those same boxes.
We begin by adding yellow to the main petals, following the shape of them, making sure that no dust is made. "If you are making dust, you are pressing too hard!" If they do make dust, it is important to remind them not to rub it, but to blow the excess dust away. I also stress that we will be blending the chalk later, so it is not important to cover every bit of the paper.

Next, they use a yellow-orange piece of chalk to add color to the second row of petals because they are behind the main ones and need to look like they are shaded. I then have them choose another shade of yellow and add it to the yellow-orange to give it depth.
Br own is used to shade from the center of the sunflower out on the petals. I also have them add one quick, long brown line down the center of each petal. Again, we observe the real sunflowers to see the creases in them.
The leaves are colored using two shades of green- lime green and grass green work well together. If they accidentally cover their vein lines, they are encouraged to redraw them using the white chalk.
Finally, the center of the sunflowers is colored using chocolate browns and black. I encourage them to color following the shape of the center, in a circular motion.

When it is time to blend the pastel, I joke with them and say that I have a very expensive, super secret tool that we will be using. I then pull out the Q-Tips. and they all laugh. I pass one out per student; no more. Beginning with the yellow petals, they begin blending the chalk, following the shapes. Still using the dirty end of the Q-tip, they go on to blending the second row of petals.
At this point, I tell them to flip over the cotton swab to the clean end and blend their leaf sections, being careful not to erase their vein lines. Finally, they blend the center of the flowers. They throw away the Q-Tip and get a piece of black chalk to add seeds to the center of the flower. Make sure to demonstrate adding small dots and not large circles or you will end up with polka dotted flowers!


A great song to have them listen to while adding color is "VanGogh (No Stereo)" by Greg Percy from Songs In The Key Of Art, Volume I.
I typically erase all of the stray fingerprints using a kneaded eraser and then fix the drawings with cheap hair spray. The cheaper, the better!
We always get so many compliments on these when they are hanging in the hallway and parents will cherish them.
To see more drawings, visit my Artsonia gallery.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Who Let The Ghosts Out?

I do this project with my Young Fives class, but it can be adapted to older grades.

1. Tear a piece of 12" X 18" green construction paper down the middle to make the grass and glue it to your choice of sky color (also 12" X 18").

2. Add pumpkins. We used scraps sparkly paper made from tissue squares glued to paper using Mod-Podge mixed with glitter. You could use any type of cool orange-y paper. Stems were just yarn scraps.

3. Make a sparkly moon from some cool paper. We used some textured iridescent origami paper, but I have also had them use Funky Film scraps.

4. The ghosts are stamped on using sponges I made myself from compressed sponges (seen below). Cut out the ghost shapes and use a paper punch to make the eyes before you puff them up! A diagram showing all of the pieces and parts:

5. The leaves can either be stickers or sometimes you can find tiny cloth ones at the craft store. Last year, I was not so lucky!

6. BOO! can be written with a silver Sharpie or metallic marker.
7. For the final touch, add some swirly action lines with glitter.
I usually mount these on fluorescent posterboard or paper in wild Halloween colors. They always get plenty of OOOs!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Funky Filtered Photos

Believe it or not, these photo effects are super simple. My 3rd grade students set up their own display of Halloween items and took their digital photos while holding a colored Post-It note over the flash! I saw this idea in a magazine and had to try it out. We found that purple didn't seem to work very well, but blue, lime green, orange, and hot pink worked great! The kids loved it, practiced using the digital camera, and gained experience in setting up still-lifes.

I had one student who either forgot to hold the Post-It over the flash or else it fell off. Regardless, his photo didn't have the filtered effect we were looking for, so we used a photo program to get the negative image of the photo. Another creepy effect!

The Artistic Process

I came up with these steps as a way to mimic the Scientific Process in the art room. State of Ohio Content Standards being met here!
The Artistic Process
1. Purpose- Organize your thoughts. What would you like to make?
2. Research- Look at examples and study artists. Art History.
3. Hypothesis- Plan how to carry out your ideas. Sketch.
4. Materials- Select the media you will use in your artwork.
5. Procedure- Create your artwork. Use the Elements and Principles of Art.
6. Results- Self-evaluate and critique.
7. Conclusion- Rework and display finish piece of art.

First post- where to start?

I think I will start by showing you where I spend many happy hours every week teaching elementary students about art and artists.

Because our building was a state funded project, I had minor input as to what went in to this room, but most of the furniture and cabinetry was pre-determined.
I did get to choose my stools and I can say that I am happy with the ones we ended up with. I knew that I had to accommodate pre-kinders all the way up to fifth graders, so these stools work out perfectly. Of course, the first week we had several of them tipped over, but now they are used to them and the tipping is few and far between.

I created this word wall about 3 years ago and it has been a wonderful addition to my room. I no longer have to spell out art terms for students and I can give them clues to finding the correct vocabulary when we are discussing our projects.

The art timeline is new this year, so I don't have a verdict on that quite yet. One of my state standards for 4th grade is using a timeline, so I plan on adding the dates of the artists we cover and an example of his/her artwork on it.

I highly recommend getting a plug in air freshener to plug in right near your door. Everyone who enters my room comments on how wonderful it smells in here. Right now, I have McIntosh Apple from Bath & Body. Spice is another great one; nice and cinnamony!

At the top of a small flight of steps that connects my room to the music room, I had some unused space that I turned into the kids' Free Time Area.
1. Every cartoon, sticker, photo, button, or artsy tidbit that I come across goes on this bulletin board.
2. I loaded this shelf with all the "seconds", or last year's leftover art supplies for the kids to experiment with when they are finished with their art projects. They love using the mini whiteboards the most.
3. This cart is loaded with coloring pages, how-to drawing books, clean white paper, and collage papers of all kinds.

Luckily, I have a wonderful custodian who custom built this shelf to fit the landing. Make friends with your janitor!

This is a closer look at the far right corner of the art room.
1. I have 3 bulletin boards that I use for "Artist Spotlights".
2. I had a parent donate this cow skull. I feel just like Georgia O'Keeffe!
3. I do NOT recommend these types of table tops as they do not clean up as easily as you might think. Actually, the dark colored ones are ok, but the yellow ones show all of the scratches. Beautiful, but not practical.
4. I asked for, and received this backsplash last year. No more scrubbing paint out of the cracks of the bricks. Yay! 5. This collection of old art supplies, artifacts from other countries, and various oddities is a crowd pleaser. 6. A closer look at the stools.

Moving around the room to the left:
1. Another look at the soffit area above the cabinets. An old globe, powdered tempera tins, and Andy Warhol soup cans bought in Pittsburgh are all up there if you look closely.
2. The shelves in these cabinets pulled out, but had no backs on them- obviously not designed by an art teacher! What to use them for? Construction paper, of course.
3. Elements & Principles of Art posters. If you don't have these handy little cards, get them!

4. Our lightbox is used often, even in the elementary room.

There is a lot packed in the back left corner of the art room.
1. A closer look at an "Artist Spotlight" display, this one being on VanGogh.
2. Ancient drying racks, but they still do the job and I really don't want to part with them!
3. These red boxes are our "Picture Files", which contain several photo references for students to use when creating their work.
4. Paint shirts are kept in this trash can on wheels. Yes, a trash can. I have tried a rack to hang them on, having students bring their own, and also had pegs to put them on. None of those solutions work, so in the can they go and are laundered periodically.
5. These inexpensive vinyl table cloths are a great investment. Not only do they protect the tables from mess, they save valuable time because I don't have to "toss out" the sponges to the kids to clean up the tables.