Landscape Collage

You can put your old paperbacks to good use by turning them into art collage paper.
1. Give each students several printed sheets from an old, preferably yellowed book. They are to paint each with watercolor paint, filling each page with large swatches of color. I made a red, yellow and green sheet for my sample.
2. After the pages are dry, the students are to cut out simple landcape shapes, such as a sun, grass, trees, and buildings. The shapes then get glued down to a background paper.
3. After the glue is dry, give each student a ball-point pen to trace around the edges of the shapes, and add details. Double-tracing the lines adds a kind of casualness to the art.

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Kandinsky Oil Pastel Circles

Kandinsky pretty much invented abstract art back in the early 1900's, and his “Study of Abstract Squares” is a fun painting to imitate.
1. Start with a 9" x 12" paper, and have the students fold it in half; and then in thirds so that you have 2 rows of 3 squares.
2. Using oil pastels, students are to make a circle in the middle of each square fill it in. Then they gradually add rings of different colors around it, some thick and some thin until they reach the edge of the square. The corners are filled in as needed.
3. Students continue until all the squares are filled in. Remind them that slow, solid coloring is going to look much better than quick scribbles.
4. Young students may just practice their coloring with a variety of pastels. The 4th and 5th graders could be challenged to use different color theme in each square. For example: warm colors, cool colors, neutral colors, complementary colors, etc.
This art was made by a 2nd grader.
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A Kinder Portrait

Sometimes when a student gets to use a new media for the first time, like oil pastels, a visible excitement can be seen the results.
These kinders traced a head and shoulder template and then drew a line down the middle. They were supposed to draw and color a “calm” and a “wild” side. But this young boy instead just had a blast coloring with as many colors as possible, watching how they would blend together. Not the directions, but I love the results!
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Butterflies from Chile


I was so touched to receive these amazing butterfly mural photos yesterday. They were sent by Lorena Siqués Sambuceti who teaches at “Centro de Tratamiento ASPAUT,” a school for autistic children in Vina Del Mar, Chile. The teachers printed out the butterfly templates and painted the borders with metallic paint or crayon. The rest was done by children ages 4 – 8. The students used watercolor, acrylic paint, little pieces of tissue paper, silk and cellophane. They showed off their work in the outdoor art show pictured above.

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Lorena. I just love the color and variety of these butterflies. I never thought of using tissue paper, but I'll have to try it now. Please congratulate your young artists on their beautiful murals.

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How to Draw a Clown

Clowns takes me right back to black velvet paintings, but the subject matter tends to really bring out the creative side of students. Maybe it’s the permission to be silly, which hopefully of goes without saying when drawing a clown face.
1. I started with a 9" x 13" black piece of paper and pencil. I know it is sometimes a little tricky to see the pencil lines, but using either dark pencils or really dark paper will help. Follow my diagram as follows:
a. Draw a large oval.
b. Draw an upside down hat on top.
c. Add two eyes, a round nose and a single line mouth.
d. Add arches over the eyes and two ears on the side.
e. Starting on the left side of the face, draw the ruffle by drawing down, lots of curves across to the right, and up to meet the right side of the face. Also add a flower coming out of the hat.
f. Add curly hair to fill up the space below the hat and above the ears.
2. Trace all the lines with a thick black oil pastel
3. Color in all the shapes with oil pastel. If some of the black lines are lost, trace again with pastel when complete.
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Japanese Watercolor Fans

If you need a Japanese-themed art project, this works well even for kinders. In fact, I personally like the “wobbly” lines of the young ones – who wants a drawing that looks like it was done on a computer?
1. These fans are all based on quarter circles, so you need to start with circle templates. Older students could cut their own from folded paper, younger may need to have some already made. (I used a 7" circle for 12" x 17" paper.) When students have their circle template, they cut it in half, and then in half again.
2. The quarter circle shape is randomly placed on watercolor paper and traced with a pencil. Repeat until the paper is full. Three lines are drawn inside each fan, along with a curve to indicated the inside edge of the fan. Trace all the lines with a crayon, pressing hard to make definite edges.
3. The inside of the fans are painted with watercolor paint, and afterward the background. The crayon lines will help keep the paint from running together.
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Layered Landscape

I found this project at www.artsonia.com, a wonderful source for creative ideas.
1. Each student is to position a piece of paper horizontally, and draw three lines that tilt a little to each side. These sections will each represent foreground, middle ground and background in the picture.
2. Draw three simple tree shapes, one extending up from each line. All should be spread out to give the branches room.
3. The ground lines within each tree then need to be erased. The students will then trace all the pencil lines with a black sharpie.
4. Lastly, the hills, trees and sky are to be filled in with oil pastels. Most pastels have a dark and light green, orange and yellow and brown, which may be used to shade each section to give it depth. If you use water-soluble pastels, you can brush the artwork with water to smooth the edges between the colors.

CA Visual Art Standard: Creative Expression, Grade Three
1.3 Identify and describe how foreground, middle ground, and background are used to create the illusion of space.
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Abstract Oil Pastel Cat

Sometimes the simplest projects are the ones with the best results.
1. Have the student fold a piece of 9" x 12" paper in half both ways. Trace folds with a pencil.
2. Demonstrate how to draw a simple line drawing of a cat that fills up 3/4 of the paper.
3. Have the student trace all the pencil lines with a black marker and fill in the cat and background with oil pastel colors. The colors are to change whenever they go across a line.
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Watercolor Cityscape

This idea comes from one of the Usborne Book of Arts, which I have expanded upon greatly over the years. The important feature is that students first paint the rectangle shapes, and lastly draw building details on top. The result tends to be so much more creative than if they had drawn the buildings first.
1. Each student needs a sheet of watercolor paper and watercolor paint. I like to dissolve the watercolor tablets to make liquid paint, but trays will work fine too. Have each student paint a series of large rectangle buildings across the paper, leaving a bit of room on the bottom and the top.
2. When complete, they are to paint a background layer of buildings that are all connected, preferably with just one color.
3. A sky is added with some very watery paint that fills in the remainder of the paper. Let dry.
4. With a black Sharpie, the students are to trace their cityscape, and add lots of detail to the exteriors. I’ve had some of my best results with just direct black Sharpie tracing, and if students draw something they don’t like, they can fill it in and just continue.
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Art Journaling 120

Tissue paper not only comes in solid colors, but in multi-color sheets too. I found this madras tissue paper at my local Michael’s store.
1. For my city-slicker students, I like to start with an overview of some common leaf names and shapes so they become more aware of the variety that exist. To start their project, they need several sheets of madras paper cut into approx. 6" squares. If they fold the squares in half, they can cut symmetrical leaves of all shapes and sizes. I always encourage straight cutting without drawing to eliminate pencil lines and eraser holes.
2. When enough leaves have been cut out to fill the paper, the students take 50/50 water and white glue, and wet the entire paper. The cut out leaves are placed gently on top. More solution may be brushed on the tissue to get the entire leaf wet. Some color bleeding may occur. Let the leaves dry completely.
3. I used a bronze marker pen to trace the edges of the leaves and draw veins inside. More line drawing leaves may be added in extra spaces. Lastly, names of each leaf are written around the edges.

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How To Draw a Bear Head

I used this bear drawing project a few years ago with not only kinders, but older students as well. They were asked to add lots of fur to their bears, with lines that were all going in the correct direction (away from the face). Good fine motor skill practice.
1. Make sure the students start by drawing a large upside down “U” shape, it should fill most of the paper.
2. A large upside down heart is added in the top half of the face.
3. A smaller “U” is added below the heart, and then a 2nd smaller “U” to make the lip shape.
3. Four or more pointy teeth are drawn inside the mouth.
4. A circle nose sits at the center of the heart, and two circle eyes up above.
5. Two ears are added at the top of the head.
6. Trace all the lines with a dark marker, and then color as desired. Black bears, brown bears, white bears, all will look good, especially if drawn on colored paper with construction brown crayons.
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PDF Sewing Pattern Giveaway

And the Rumpled Quilt Skins Pattern Winner is...
Valerie (who posted on 8/13)!

Congratulations, I will be emailing your pdf files to you today.
I’d like to thank everyone who took time to comment and tell such great stories about how they got started sewing. I too learned from my mother and the 4-H program that still continues today. It took many years to go from the starter apron to designing prom dresses, but I am so glad to have had that experience today. My wish is to encourage more young people to try sewing as it really can have a huge impact on your life. Knowing that you can take a bolt of fabric and turn it into something you really want and need is a truly great feeling!

Note: My giveaway winners are chosen with the help of a site called “Random Integer Generator”. I enter the number of comments that I have received, ask for one random number to be chosen, and then count down to see which commenter that was. It’s quick and easy and paper-free.
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Paint and Pastel Island House

This is another oil pastel over tempera project that worked well for a multicultural theme a few years ago. A teacher wanted an art project linked to the Bahamas, and this colorful house worked well. I’ve found that when students add oil pastel details over tempera paintings, they end up with a lot more color and detail in their art.
1. The students begin by drawing the angled roof shape in the middle of their paper.
2. The house side is drawn below.
3. The left side of the house is added. Younger students might be better off ignoring the little indents of the roof.
4. A base is added to the bottom house, and also a horizon line.
5. The house, sky and ground are all painted with colorful tempera paint. Let dry overnight.
6. A white pastel may be used to draw clouds, black to make edges on the house, and green to highlight some grass shapes.
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Frank Stella Abstract Drawing

Frank Stella is an American painter and printmaker who has fully embraced the idea that sometimes a painting can just be a flat surface, with no intention of having any depth to it. In the 1960s he created some paintings titled the “Protractor Series” which you can see HERE. For young students practicing geometric drawing, a protractor is the perfect tool to work with.
I like working with coated paper and Sharpie markers, so that is how I created this artwork. The pointy tips on the markers take some patience to color solid areas, so if I had young students (1st through 3rd grade) I would use some blunt tip markers and drawing paper. I’ve also found that limiting the amount of markers students may use (6 or 7?) forces repetition, which can create a kind of color rhythm in their art.
1. Every student will need a protractor and Sharpie, and should make overlapping shapes all over their paper. I would limit them to 6 or so protractor tracings, and that they all need to be either horizontal or vertical. Stella’s art is not freeform or random looking. It’s very clean and orderly and geometric, so that is the look the students should have as a goal.
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PDF Sewing Pattern Giveaway, $130 Value

Before I was bitten by the art teacher bug, I designed a line of stuffed animal patterns. I started with a simple fish, and ended up making more complex shapes like a snake that coils on itself. The patterns all have a common feature though, which is they are heavily top-stitched to muslin fabric, and hot washed and dried which creates a soft, rumpled, old-quilt texture...hence the name, Rumpled Quilt Skins.

I currently sell these patterns in both printed form and pdf format at quilt shops around the country. The retail value of all sixteen patterns is $130. I am offering my entire line as a pdf pattern giveaway, and because I will email the patterns to the winner, anyone with an email address may enter.

To enter this drawing, please leave a comment about the very first thing you ever sewed, or would like to sew if you are just starting. I’d love to read how other sewers out there got their start. This drawing ends Friday, August 13th at midnight PST. Please make sure your comment leaves a way for me to contact you. Links back to my site are always appreciated. Good luck everyone!

Large photos of each stuffed animal pattern may be seen at Rumpled Quilt Skins.
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“Things that Are Most” Creative Writing Project

I’m on a mission to find the most creative projects for my curriculum this fall, and have decided to reapproach this creative writing/drawing project from a book titled “Things that are Most in the World” by Judi Barrett. I tried it’s suggested followup a few years ago, but now have a more specific idea on how to have students push things a bit further.

Each page in this book is based on a different adjective, such as “The teensie-weensiest thing in the world is a newborn flea” or “The prickliest thing in the world is the inside of a pin cushion”. The end of the book just suggests that you have students come up with their own “most” creation, but lacks the guide on how to have them really exaggerate things. What I plan to do now is first ask the students to choose their adjective (prettiest, softest, bumpiest, etc.) Then they need to think of two things with those qualities, and put them together. For example, if they chose “prettiest” they need to think of two pretty things and combine them somehow. So maybe they think princesses are pretty, and say beauty pageants are pretty, so their sentence could read “The prettiest thing in the world is a princess beauty pageant.” It’s a formula that’s been around awhile, but I think could be pretty effective in creating some very funny combinations. And from funny ideas, hopefully come funny drawings.

One more idea: collect all the pages from your class to make one big book book, and go to www.tikatok.com/classroom to get hardcover copies made. Haven't tried it yet, but they are connected to Barnes and Noble and their prices start at just $2.99 each.

Click HERE to download my blank template for this project.
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Ando Hiroshige Mural

Ando Hiroshige (1793-1858) was a master Japanese woodblock print artist who specialized in very poetic landscapes. He significantly influenced European artists from the 1870’s onwards, most notably van Gogh, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet and Manet. The American painter Whistler even borrowed elements of Hiroshige’s style.

My pdf file is made up of a 30 pages and measures 36" x 54" when complete. You can purchase my pdf file with instructions for just $5. Click the “Add to Cart” button below to make your payment and receive download instructions.
Add to Cart
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Stuffed Cow Give Away Winner

And the Stuffed Cow Winner is...Ginny!
Congratulations, please let me know where to send your cow Ginny.
Thanks so much to everyone for such great ideas
about how to re-energize your creative life.
I think the only thing better than finding a good solution
is sharing it with someone else.



Before I was a blogger, or even an art teacher, I designed and created stuffed animal patterns for a living. I still sew when I can, but it does take a back seat during the school year.

I have a few sewing models that I’d like to give away during the next couple of weeks, starting with this very cute brown cow. He stands about 8" tall, was made with my own little hands, and will be sent to a lucky drawing winner next week. To make this a little more fun, please leave a comment about how you best regenerate your creative juices when you feel them running low. I’d love to see a long list of everyone’s favorite ideas!

This drawing ends Sunday, August 1st at 12pm PST.
Please make sure your comment leaves a way for me to contact you. Links back to my site are always appreciated. Will ship to US address only. Good luck everyone!

My complete line of stuffed animal patterns can be seen at Rumpled Quilt Skins.
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TED Video about School and Creativity

I’ve been researching the whole subject of creativity and came across this amazing video recently. If you have a few minutes, check it out as this man is so insightful and so charming. He’s basically asking that creativity be as valued as much as math and sciences in our schools. But check it out for yourself, he says it so much better than me. (Or is it “than I”?)
Click here to go to video
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