Friday, November 21, 2014

Piet's Pumpkins

Piet's Pumpkins

Here is a fun and easy Fall lesson that required minimal supplies and used a fun art history lesson on Piet Mondrian.

9x12 white construction paper
Black permanent marker
Red, Yellow & Blue markers
Yep, that is all it took. Here are the easy steps.

 Piet's Pumpkins

Draw a pumpkin shape, using the entire paper, with a black permanent marker. Really encourage the kids to almost touch all the sides and the bottom of the paper - leaving a little more room at the top. After they draw the shape, they can decide if they want a jack-o-lantern and add a face at this time. They can also leave out the face and just keep it a pumpkin.

 Piet's Pumpkins

They can decide how they want to create their bold geometric lines like Mondrian. My jack version used triangles and irregular polygon shapes for a more fractured look - not exactly Mondrian but still fun. My plain pumpkin was more Mondrian in style and used squares and rectangles.

 Piet's Pumpkins

Then the students could start coloring in their shapes using yellow and blue and red. I let them keep the black markers because we talked quite a bit about composition in Mondrian's work and how as you are coloring in shapes, you may realize you need to change the size of a nearby shape to add a balancing color.

 Piet's Pumpkins

The students could also add a vine and some leaves if they like. They also had to add a horizon line so their pumpkin was not floating. They could then add some straw or something underneath their pumpkin as well.

 Piet's Pumpkins Piet's Pumpkins

 I have to admit that although Mondrian is such an important and accessible artist to introduce to kids, that I do not particularly like primary color schemes. But, these darn pumpkins turned out so striking with their limited palette and bold lines, that this has become one of my favorite lessons.

 Piet's Pumpkins Piet's Pumpkins Piet's Pumpkins Piet's Pumpkins

Aren't these fun? Definitely check out my Pinterest page for some fun Mondrian videos that we also used during our history appreciation lesson.

Piet's Pumpkins

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Super Hero Second Graders

Super Hero Self-Portraits

Okay, here is the lesson I was yakking about in my last post. Mrs. H and I decided super hero self-portraits would be a nice display for the parents to see on Open House Night.

 Super Hero Self-Portraits

We went with the #2 super hero version as I thought it would be the easiest for this class, and keeping everything on one sheet of paper would be easier to keep together.

 Super Hero Self-Portraits

18x24 white construction paper
watercolor paint
brushes, water cups

  Super Hero Self-Portraits

 I showed a powerpoint on cartoon super hero characters and we talked about realistic portraits versus cartoon portraits, how cartoons/comics are more stylized and simplified. We noticed that the super heroes usually had bigger heads than normal, bigger shoulders and longer legs and muscles! We looked at famous super hero symbols and all the accessories that super heroes can have. Then we started the drawing. I was probably a little ambitious to start with this kind of drawing project as the first art lesson with a new 2nd grade class. But these kids ROCKED it. I was amazed.

Super Hero Self-Portraits

 Before we sat down to draw we all stood and modeled several super hero "poses" and what kind of names we might have as our super hero alter ego. Then we took out the pencils (which I almost NEVER use in art class at school in the beginning of the year). I did try to come up with some tricks to help them with their drawings. As most kids at this age have trouble filling the page with artwork, drawing proportions anywhere near normal and drawing lightly with a pencil. That's just developmental stuff, but I still encourage all students to break out of those developmental art stages and stretch themselves. I had them fold their papers in half both lengthwise and width-wise. Then fold again the upper half width-wise one more time. You can see it in the photo below.

 Super Hero Self-Portraits

Of course all along we are talking about "drawing so you can barely see your pencil line" but that doesn't really get through to them yet. :-) In that upper half of the paper we used the second fold to draw the oval head using the "T" shape in the middle to help center the head and facial features. I made several kids erase (eek!) and draw bigger heads. We then made "skeleton lines" for the rest of our body (with the intention that they were done lightly so they could be erased - HA! )Since we were drawing our super heroes a bit exaggerated we used the middle horizontal fold as the "waist or hips". We drew horizontal lines for the shoulders and hips so they could see how to give their heroes more dimension and shape, rather than the typical stick figures. Then we outlined around the "skeleton" with our pencils and made the "skin"- giving shape to their muscles and joints. For the most part, their proportions (while supposed to be slightly exaggerated) were not too shabby.

Super Hero Self-Portraits

At this point we talked about their backgrounds - were they flying or standing on the ground? Were they in a city or over a rural area or in the sky? Pencils went away and they brought out their crayons to color their super hero and create their backgrounds.

 Super Hero Self-Portraits

All along we talked about what their names might be and what super powers they might have so that they could start drawing in accessories or a background that fit their hero.

Super Hero Self-Portraits

 I think I did have some project rules too: They were supposed to have a logo for their super hero, mask, some kind of cape. Most of them also added boots, belts and gloves. I wasn't too rigid on the rules this time as long as they got the big ideas. They also could not have guns or knives in their artwork.

Super Hero Self-Portraits Super Hero Self-Portraits

This lesson took two days for drawing and coloring and then painting.

 Super Hero Self-Portraits Super Hero Self-Portraits

Here are some ideas that we generated that helped us create our super hero personas.....
NAMES....we thought of some super hero names and realized most super hero names come from the same "formulas".

#1 ADJECTIVE + Girl/Boy/Woman/Man (ex. Wonder Woman, Superman)
#2 NOUN + Girl/Boy/Woman/Man (ex. Iron Man, Hawk Girl)
#3 COLOR + NOUN (ex. Green Lantern, Black Widow)
#4 "The" + JOB or NOUN (ex. The Hulk)
#5 ONE WORD (scary animal or dynamic word) (ex. Wolverine, Flash)

 Super Hero Self-PortraitsSuper Hero Self-PortraitsSuper Hero Self-Portraits

The names kind of led us to possible super powers and vice are some super powers we came up with: smiling, doing homework, telling time, eating vegetables, reading, playing soccer, singing, creating art, jumping rope, elastic arms, loving nature, being nice to animals, babysitting, passing all tests, making lightning bolts....really this went on for quite a while. I mean, there are a lot of possible super powers out there in this world in case you didn't know!

Super Hero Self-PortraitsSuper Hero Self-PortraitsSuper Hero Self-Portraits

Accessory ideas came next because you kinda have to know your super powers to know what kinda swag you need....mask, gloves, belt, boots, cape, wings, eye patches, cyborg parts, shield, hammer, crown, rope, glasses, rockets, webbing, bracelets, mermaid tail (hey, you never know!)....

 Super Hero Self-PortraitsSuper Hero Self-PortraitsSuper Hero Self-Portraits

Background ideas were the final part...
#1 In the City (buildings, skyscrapers, roof tops)
#2 Over Land or Water (far away landscapes, farms, towns, ocean, rivers, lakes, trees)
#3 In the Sky (clouds, sun, rainbow, weather, rain)

 Super Hero Self-PortraitsSuper Hero Self-PortraitsSuper Hero Self-Portraits
The kids can't wait to show their parents and see if they can guess who they are.  Super Hero Self-PortraitsSuper Hero Self-PortraitsSuper Hero Self-Portraits Are these not the coolest group of super heroes or what?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Super Hero Samples

Super Hero Self-Portraits

I am so excited!! My first art lesson with M's 2nd grade class is tomorrow. Of course that means I need to drop all the work I have piled up and make some samples.

Super Hero Self-Portraits

But no - not only one sample - but yes,many samples.

 Super Hero Self-Portraits

 Let's be honest here. This is a lot more fun than work.

 Super Hero Self-Portraits

This above is ME in super hero form. I look pretty cool, don't I?

Super Hero Self-Portraits

Here is my third version.

 Super Hero Self-Portraits

This one involves more cutting and more gluing.

 Super Hero Self-Portraits

 But equally fun. Hmmmm....which one should I use for my first lesson. Anyway, here are the details.
 #1 Newspaper Background glued on first on top of 9x12 paper. 9x12 white paper used for body and "pow" and "zap". Markers except for a light brown crayon for skin color. I was simulating what supplies the kids would have in class. Cut & glue. Very cute and Pop Art like.

#2 My standard wax resist and watercolor. 12x18 white construction paper. Experimented with folding the paper to help give them guidelines that are less visible than those dratted pencil lines. I have yet to find an under 5th grader who can really "draw very lightly with your pencil". :-) Used crayons this time instead of oil pastels since I am still gauging this class' art exposure level. I was worried about smudging until I could see their coloring abilities. I also experimented with "drawing a skeleton" for their figure. They will have background choices to draw in with crayons (pencils will have been put away by then!) and then the magical water color over it all. I'm thinking this one might be it.

 #3 Similar to #2 but made in 3 parts. Might be too much to keep together this time around with 2nd graders. Again crayon and watercolor wax-resist. Head done on 9x12 paper cut in half. Body on 9x 12 paper. Background on 12x18 paper. Background was the only piece with watercolor. Cut out the body parts and glued them on the background when dry. Looks a little more like he is coming out of the background. Pretty fun too.

Anyway, stay tuned for the actual lesson. Inspired by these lessons at John Post and Art with Mrs. Seitz.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Value Landscape Study for Older Grades


 I am taking an online e-course on how to teach art to kids with Patty Palmer at Deep Space Sparkle. Last year I took her amazing course Teaching Art 101 and this year I am taking the next course Beyond the Basics. Patty's blog, her instruction, her's all amazing. I highly recommend taking a course from her or purchasing one of her many lesson plans. Our homework for the second week of her Beyond the Basics course is to create and post a lesson based on one of the lessons she taught us in her first or second week of class, BUT to make that lesson into one that can be taught to a different grade/age level than the one she showed us.


12X18 White Sulphite Paper
Paper Plate for Large Palette
Paint Brushes
Tempera Paints - White, Black, Blue (or color you will be using)
Paper Towels
Black Permanent Marker
Color Wheel with tints, tones, shades (optional)


Grades 4-6
2 Class Periods
Learning how to make color values, landscapes, and include pattern design


 Line, contour, organic, shape, color, warm colors, cool colors, tints, tones, shades, gradient, value, hue, horizon, landscape, foreground, middle ground, background, perspective, depth of field, pattern

Contour  line drawing of landscape

 First, have the students design their landscape contour line drawing, with at least 5 "layers" of landscape features. Show examples of different landscape formation shapes and discuss the concepts of landscape drawing using foreground, middle ground and background and horizon line.  This is also a great lesson to show the students how things get lighter in color as they are farther away.  A color wheel (with tints, shades and tones) to show overhead or pass around the class would be a great addition.

My Blue Value Palette

One the students have their simple line drawing complete, have them choose their main tempera color. They will count how many "layers" there are in their design and make that many different tints and shades and tones, including their original paint color.

Demonstrate this part first - starting in the center of their plate have them make a quarter sized dollop of original paint. Then have them make the corresponding amount of dollops around their plate. The original paint color will be one of their middle layers on their drawing. However many layers they have above the original color will become tints and the students will add white to those dollops - more white equals a lighter tint. However many layers they have below the original color layer will be shades (or tones if you'd like to delve into grays). Those dollops will have SMALL drops of black paint added to them.

Caution the students on how quickly black can "GO WRONG" if added with a heavy hand. That is why we start with small dollops of paint, the dollops will increase in size as we add the black and white. They can start mixing their paint, starting with the tints. Each student should have a paper towel to dry wipe their brush in between color mixing and painting. No need to have water at the tables. It should only be needed for clean-up.

Painting from darkest tones to lightest tints

The students can start at either end of their drawing, working from tints to shades or vice versa, just encourage good brush wiping. Tempera paint is fairly forgiving with it's blending, but they want to keep definite contrast between their mixed tints and shades. They will complete the painting of each layer before wiping their brush and moving on to the next layer.

Value Close-up

If they would like to add some clouds or some top layer element with white, they may do so.

Completed value painting portion

The paintings will dry quickly and next session they can add the permanent marker.


The first step will be to outline each landscape layer. It is fine for some layers to be the same shade but have a line dividing the "mountains" or "hills" in that particular layer. It will make for more fun patterns to be able to include in the next step.

First pattern drawn in

Again, you could show some simple design pattern examples or have the kids generate their own pattern ideas and share some of them on a white board. Some zentangles, though more detailed than desired for this lesson, would be fun to show the students. However, you do want to stress that the color value layers still need to show through the pattern design, or they will lose the effect of the value range of their landscape. So simple designs with less solid lines and shapes are the most desired patterns for this lesson.

 Several patterns together Adding some bubble pattern

When they get to the sky and/or clouds, encourage then to continue with their patterns, still making sure not to overwhelm the lightest part of their painting.

Working on the sky

And there we have it - our value landscape study with added pattern design for older grades!

Finished! More patterns