Popsicle Stick People

I have always wanted to have my students spend more time making dimensional things, without getting into a lot of expense or heavy prep work. This project worked really well last week as it took just a few boxes of popsicle sticks, one bag of packing material and one pad of pattern paper to create over 500 stick puppets.
PREP: I opted to tape the two sticks together myself with masking tape to save some time. I also used a 2" circle punch to quickly make a lot of skin colored circles.
1. Students were to choose a circle for their head, draw features with a pencil, and trace them with a thin black marker. When complete, they used a glue stick to attach it to the top of the stick.
2. Using this eco-shredded paper (Staples carries it) they applied glue to the back of the head, and individually attached strands of the paper hair. Gluing hair on the front was an option, but I liked gluing from the back as it kept the glue off the face. Boys could attach long hair and then give themselves a haircut.
3. Pads of pattern paper can be found at JoAnn’s or Michael’s on sale quite often, look for ones with very small scale prints. I showed the students that if they layed their stick person down on the back side of their paper, and first drew the shape of the shirt or dress, they were much more likely to have the clothes fit.
4. Arms could be added at the very end and glued to the backs of sleeves.
CA Visual Art Standard: Grade One
2.1 Use texture in two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of art.
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Sunflowers, Up Close & Personal

Vincent Van Gogh is probably most famous for sunflower paintings. This project shows how pictures can become more interesting when some shapes break the frame and appear to go off the paper.
1. After viewing Van Gogh’s sunflower print from 1888, give the students an extra large paper, (I used 10" x 13") and an old CD to use as a template. They trace the CD somewhere on the paper – left, top, or right side, extended a bit off the page. Consideration should be given to balancing flowers. For instance, a large one is on the right, then a couple of smaller ones should be added to the left to create a visual balance.
2. Students may add their own radiating flower petals, stems and leaves. When the pencil drawing is complete, all lines are traced with a gray oil pastel (I used the Portfolio® brand). The flowers and sky are colored in. Heavy coloring will imitate the dense look of Van Gogh’s paintings.
CA National Arts Standard: Grade Six
Analyze Art Elements and Principles of Design

1.4 Describe how balance is effectively used in a work of art (e.g., symmetrical, asymmetrical, radial).
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Paper Chains, Gum Wrapper Style

Gum wrapper paper chains have been around for a long time, but the original size is rather tedious for small hands. I found that scrapbook paper cut into larger strips works for many ages. This has been one of the most popular activities that I've ever tried with students from grade two to five.
1. Cut LOTS of strips of paper that are 1" x 10" in length. To make each link, the students must fold each strip in half, wrong sides together, and make a crease. The strip is opened, and each side in folded in half again. Lastly, both sides fold together, much like a book is folded. Press all edges to crease and make flat. The final should look like "bunny ears", or two loops. Repeat to make many links.
2. Follow the diagram to the right to link chain together. Short chains make nice bookmarks, and long chains are fun to decorate with.
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In Memorium, Matthew Aaron Adams

A teacher, Christopher Janousek, from Gentry Junior High School in Baytown, TX sent me this photo of one of his students, Matthew Aaron Adams, who was tragically taken in a car accident last Friday. Matthew had worked diligently on his Blue Planet Mural during the week before his accident. He laminated the mural himself and proudly displayed it outside his classroom. In memory of this talented young man and with my deepest sympathy for all his loved ones, I post this tribute.

Matthew Aaron Adams
12.16.1997 – 09.16.2011
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Wet-on-Wet Watercolor Trees

My goal for my watercolor students is to have them learn how to bleed colors together when they want, and keep them separate when they do not. This series of modern trees were easy to draw, and left lots of room for watercolor experimenting.
1. I was inspired by Eloise Renouf’s Etsy store, and used her designs to help students draw very simple abstract trees. I drew six or so examples on my board and had the students draw their three favorite in pencil across a sheet of watercolor paper.
2. I emphasized that all the pencil lines had to be traced very heavily with crayon so they would show up when complete.
3. Students were to use two colors of paint in each tree, each color overlapping the other just a bit. If this is done while the paints are still wet, a very pretty bleeding will occur. I also asked them to use two shades of color in the grass, as I had provided both green and yellow green for them to work with. The sky was to be just one color to keep the multicolors from becoming too much. I love how they turned out. This was made by Alena, a talented 2nd grader. Thanks Alena!
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Line Pattern Leaf

This is a study of patterns that could be simplified for kinder and 1st grade students. I drew my leaf and filled it in, but a large template to trace might help younger students get started.
PREP: If you would like a leaf template to download, click HERE.
1. To begin, the students trace a real leaf or template in pencil near the top of the paper.
2. A stem is added at the bottom, and veins are drawn up the center to divide the leaf into many shapes.
3. The students fill in each section of the leaf with a pattern. Challenge them to think of as many different patterns as possible. A black ballpoint pen or a very thin black marker work best.
CA Visual Arts Standard: Kindergarten
2.1 Use lines, shapes/forms, and colors to make patterns.
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Draw a Hand Tree

I saw this idea on Artsonia.com, and love showing kids how lines can give dimension to their art.
1. The students first trace their hand on a piece of paper. When finished, they should make the tops of their fingers very pointy.
2. Vertical lines are drawn as shown. The more irregular they are, the better. When complete, the lines can be traced with a marker.
3. Demonstrate to the students how they can place their marker on a vertical line and "jump", or make an arch to the next line. It's best to start at the bottom and work upwards. When they reach a finger, the lines become just single "jumps".
4. Leaves may be added around the tree, and grass in the background.
5. Color with crayons or colored pencils. Note: This can make a spooky Halloween drawing if done on black paper with white pencil crayons.
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Tissue Paper + Watercolor Fall Leaves

These are cut out tissue paper leaves outlined with a gold marker, and enhanced with just a bit of watercolor paint. Can you tell I just can’t get enough of fall art projects?
1. I used my “How to Draw a Maple Leaf” post to create a paper template, and traced it on the tissue paper (mine was an American Greetings® brand from the drug store). I found it helped to cut out several layers at a time. I cut out various sizes and other simple shapes of leaves to make my collage more interesting.
2. Using a glue stick, I covered large sections of white card stock paper, and layered the leaves on top. I used a purple glue stick and found that any extra glue did dry clear and smooth so don’t worry about using too much glue.
3. I took a gold Sharpie Poster Paint marker and traced around each leaf, and added some veins inside as well. Loose tracing is OK as it adds a casual look to the art.
4. My new favorite watercolor paint is Crayola’s Watercolor Mixing Set. It has a very pretty cyan and magenta color, along with a darker navy. I used a generous amount of cyan paint to fill in the background, and then just a small, watery amount to add more color inside the leaves.
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Textured Fall Leaves

One of the California Visual Arts Standards for 1st graders deals with adding texture to art. I made these paper towel leaves to give this painting some very real bumps and wrinkles.
1. I used Bounty paper towels (I like the spongy look to them) and cut out about 3 large leaves and 4 small ones. Mix up a small amount of 50/50 water and glue. Dip the leaves, get them completely wet, and spread them on watercolor paper as desired. Let dry overnight.
2. Choose one crayon for each leaf and trace around the edge, pressing firmly. Add a stem at one end.
3. I made some extra watery watercolor from my tube set, and painted the inside of each leaf. Dabs of different color in each leaf can add some more interest. When complete, paint the sky. Some splotches are going to pop up from the glue and water, but I think they add to the un-fussy look of the picture. Finally I used a small brush to add brown vein lines on each leaf.
CA Standards of Visual Arts: Grade One
2.7 Use visual and actual texture in original works of art.
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Cutest Video Ever about Kids and Crayons

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Giant Fall Maple Leaf

A photo of giant paper flowers inspired me to create this oversized maple leaf. Last year I made a life-size one (see post below), but think this big size will be fun for kids and help to illustrate the art principle of proportion.
1. Cut a large paper grocery bag down the seam and around the bottom edge until it can lay flat as shown.
2. Follow my “How To Draw A Maple Leaf” post to draw one as large as possible on the open bag. Trace the pencil lines with a black Sharpie marker.
3. I tried a new product for coloring – Crayola Color Sticks. They work like colored pencils, but because they have no wood there's no sharpening. They are about $13 for a box of 24, but I can tell they will last a LONG time. And for coloring large areas like this on colored paper, I like 'em a lot (not a paid endorsement).
4. When the leaf is filled in, cut it out along the black line and have fun decorating.
Note: My 6' 5" son is holding this sample, just so you know.
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How To Draw a Fall Tree

I found this project on Artsonia.com, and I love how it makes students think of trees as a series of branches, and not just a fluffy shape that sits on a stick (not a bad place to start, but can be left behind at some point).
1. Ask the students to draw a large "Y" on their paper.
2. Show them how to add smaller "Y"s on each side, alternating as they go up each branch. To make the "Y"s the most realistic, they should be directed toward the sky somewhat, and not at 90 degree angles.
3. When the lines are complete, they need to be thickened. The fattest part of the trunk should be at the bottom, and all the lines should gradually get thinner until they end in points at the top.
4. Lots of fall colors can be colored around the branches. I used my favorite Portfolio oil pastels here.
5. The background may be added, with grass and shadow and sun and clouds.
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HOPE Art Returns to Haiti

You can support HOPE Art's next trip to Haiti. Read all about it HERE and please consider donating to our new Kickstarter campaign.
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Vegetable Garden Watercolor Painting

I found this idea for painting vegetables over at Artsonia.com. If anyone would like to take credit for creating it, please let me know. I’ve painted plant roots before, but never colorful vegetables – it’s a great idea.
1. On watercolor paper, students draw in pencil a horizontal line across the middle of the page. They add a variety of underground vegetables below (carrots, beets, scallions, etc.) and stems and leaves above.
2. All pencil lines are traced with a crayon, pressure is needed to create dark lines.
3. The vegetable shapes are painted in with watercolor paint. When complete, the ground, leaves and sky are painted as well.
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Custom Made Art Journals

This year for my after-school Art Journal class, I decided I was tired of ordering them online, paying almost $9 for a small 7" x 10" book. I found that if I went to a local paper supply store, I could buy 8.5" x 11" chip board and paper, and my local Staples could put them together with a black coil binding. This  paper cover allowed me to try out a painting technique, spreading acrylic paint with old credit cards. I tried out about 5 or so different colors on this sample, each spread very thin with a card before adding another. I plan to have students choose and apply maybe one color at the end of each class to build up lots of layers over time. Cost of these books? About $7 and I get a much larger size to work with – works for me!
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Symbols of the Season Drawing

There are seasonal symbols that work not only for Halloween, but fall and Thanksgiving as well. I’m planning to have students divide their paper into a grid, and draw and color symbols that will proportionally fit each rectangle.
1. I find that I tend to divide areas into thirds a lot when I am trying to draw grids. In this case, I will ask students to first draw a border in pencil near the outside edge. If they mark the top line into thirds, they need to draw a vertical line down on their the left on the right mark.
2. Next they will look at the larger rectangle they made, and draw one horizontal line to divide it into thirds. The same is done for the narrower side, with a horizontal line drawn across it somewhere to mark off a third. What is left should be a grid with a large space, two medium, and one smaller square. More or less. It is, after all, still elementary school!
3. You could talk about all the symbols that are out and about for all the seasons coming up. If faces are left off of pumpkins, artwork can easily turn into Thanksgiving art. I drew a few fall items that fit my grid, traced them in black and colored with oil pastels. I’d like to try this idea as a crayon and watercolor resist too.
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Line Art Leaves

This is a good exercise for those small motor skills, no realistic drawing skills are needed. I’ve found students have a lot of fun just loosing themselves in their patterns.
1. I had large tabloid paper and large cardboard stencils of three different kinds of leaves (oak, beech and sassafras.) Each student was asked to trace at least two of their favorite leaves, and then draw the veins inside. The veins should divide the leaf up into large sections.
2. When they were happy with their drawing, they switched to Sharpie markers and traced all their lines. Within each leaf shape, they were asked to draw a pattern of lines or shapes, changing whenever they got to a new section. Both leaves were to be entirely filled in.
3. When complete with the inside, they were to trace what I call “energy lines” around the outside until the paper was filled. I emphasized throughout the project that nothing was to be filled in. I think it made the student’s think more. . . and made my markers last longer too.
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Art of Education Giveaway Winner...


 Congratulations to Stephen Willson, winner of the 
Art of Education Classes Giveaway!
Thanks to everyone who took time to leave a comment, I hope to bring more giveaways to my blog in the near future.

The Art of Education classes were created by Jessica Balsley, an art educator who found that art teachers were often disappointed with the professional development they received. Her online classes focus on classroom management, organization, and current research in art education. All classes are held completely online using a forum platform and work can be completed on your own time, at your own pace.

To enter this giveaway, check out The Art of Education Classes curriculum HERE. Choose which class you would like to take and name it in a comment to this post and make sure to include a link to contact you by. This giveaway ends on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at midnight PDT. Good luck everyone and thank you Jessica for this valuable giveaway.
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Kinder’s First Art Project

I’m guessing that as an art teacher I’m not the first to overestimate the abilities of my students. I’m never more aware of this than when new kinders come to my room at the beginning of a school year. Some are semi-prepared from preschool, but some are not. So as much as I want to dig in at first with some beautiful new project, I’ve learned that the first class just needs to be super, super simple.
1. Kinders in CA spend much of the year studying patterns, so this blends well with their curriculum. I spend a few minutes talking about all the ways that lines can make patterns (round, square, zigzag, etc.) and then draw some examples on the board. The students are all given a thick black marker and five strips of construction paper about 2" x 8" wide. They are asked to draw a different line pattern on each. No coloring in is allowed, only lines.
2. When the patterns are done, they get a sheet of black construction paper, about 9" x 15" or so. After instructions on how to use a glue stick, they glue the strips to the black paper. It helps to start at the top and work down, leaving some space in between. As more than one kinder teacher has taught me, it’s important that these new students have a successful experience their first time around in the art room. It’s worth it at this point to focus on the process and not so much on the product. The masterpieces can all come later.
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Pin Flowers

This project came from an Arts and Activities magazine, and I loved how well it worked with kinders.
1. The students are to draw in pencil near the outside edge of the paper a rounded box (kind of like a TV screen). A zig-zag grass line follows near the bottom of the paper. For the flowers, start by drawing the center circle of the flower up near the top, and then another circle around it. Then petals kind of “jump” around that outside circle. In between the petals, radiating lines are drawn out, with circles added on the ends. Stems are drawn to connect the flowers to the grass, and then leaves may be added. It's best to break this project into steps and have the students follow your large example drawn on a board or large paper.
2. After the pencil drawing is complete, give the students thick black markers to trace all their lines.
3. Distribute markers so that student can fill in all the shapes they've drawn with lots of color.
CA Visual Art Standard: Creative Expression, Grade Kinder
2.6 Use geometric shapes/forms (circle, triangle, square) in a work of art.

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Doodle Summer Self Portrait

I like to have my first art project of the year somehow acknowledge all that has happened over the summer. I’m going to try a doodle self-portrait and ask students to tell their summer story with just visual cues; i.e. a bracelet made in camp, mosquito bite from the lake, etc. I hope the loose style will help them relax and get their doodle on.
1. I really like the background notebook paper look, so I made a tabloid version that would give students lots of room to draw. You can download the 11" x 17" template HERE. Print one for each student.
2. Guide the students through drawing a body that fills the page. The head should be about 8 lines tall and touch the top blue line. The waist should be about halfway down the paper, and so on. Once the body is drawn, students trace it with a fine point black Sharpie, something that will make a medium weight line. Their name is also added on top and traced.
3. The rest of the drawing is done with a thin black marker or pen. The details of the clothes, the written words, any crosshatching are all made with thin black lines to add variety to the artwork. Tip: it is easier to write the words and then circle them than visa versa.
4. Shapes are colored in at will with colored pencils. The more doodles and color you add, the better the self-portrait looks!
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Classroom Colored Pencil Labels

This is just a simple way to make a name label for a student, and could be used many different ways. I find that students tend to use their crayons and colored pencils most often with just one value. Most are just not in the habit of shading with them. These pencils are all made with just one color, using more pressure to make the darker values.
1. I cut tabloid paper into 3 equal sections, roughly 3.5" x 17", one would be given to each student. I drew a vertical line 4" in from the right side for the end of the pencil. A triangle is drawn inside that to make the point of the pencil. Three equally spaced lines are drawn across the length of the pencil. Names are written neatly inside the middle section, and all the lines are traced with a thin black marker.
2. The students are to choose one crayon or colored pencil, and color with the lightest pressure on the top panel, medium on the middle, and heavy on the bottom. The wood can also be shaded with pressure to match the rest. Cut out to make a fun display or leave in panels to label something.
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Back to School Decorated Pencils

Here’s one quick way for your kids to get creative and personalize their back-to-school pencils. I just pulled out my handy-dandy stash of Sharpies and tried a few different looks: animal skin, flowers and stripes. I’m sure kids could think of many more. Fish scales? Reptile skin?...
1. You may have read on my “Favorite Supplies” list that I prefer Ticonderoga pencils to almost any other brand. Others are often made off-center, or have wood that chews up in a sharpener, or lead that is too light. I like the quality of these, plus the nice yellow color is a good base to work with. The one coloring tip I can offer is that it helps to put your pencil on a little ledge of some kind (I used a book) so that one end can extend over. When coloring with the Sharpie, try to rotate the pencil in the air as you color so that the marker has a few seconds to dry before it touches the paper. The color does set up fast, but if you touch it right when it’s still wet, it will smudge. To make the leopard skin look. I started by making lots of brown spots all over, and then drawing black “C” shapes or “O” shapes all around them.
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Close Up Portrait

I've found that drawing a portrait of another person from a photo can sometimes help students see more details than usual.
1. Find closeup photos of different faces, male and female, preferably with strong features. Make sure the photos are all closely cropped, especially into the top forehead.
2. Give the students paper that is in the same proportion as their photo. With a pencil, follow the steps shown in the diagram to the right. Starting with a large "U" shape can be easier than an oval for some students. Remind them that our eyes are located in the middle of our heads, but because of this cropping, they will be near the top of the paper. The bottom of the nose is halfway between the eyes and the chin, and the mouth is halfway between the bottom nose and the chin.
3. After the facial features and shoulders are added, have the students trace their lines with a black marker and color everything in with construction paper crayons. Encourage the addition of shadows, such as on the neck chin, etc.
CA Visual Art Standard: Grade Four
2.5 Use accurate proportions to create an expressive portrait or a figure drawing or painting.
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Homemade Dress Drive for Haiti

Last Auguest, when Project HOPE Art was at Nadine’s orphanage in Port-Au-Prince, it became abundantly clear just how few clothes many of her girls have. The items they do own are well worn at best, some just barely holding together. HOPE Art would like to change this with a personal touch by starting a Homemade Dress Drive. We are inviting all seamstresses, beginner to advanced, to make one or more simple sundresses to be hand delivered to the orphanage in Jan. of 2012. This project is being aided by “Oliver + S”, an online pattern company who has kindly agreed to let us use their free sundress pattern that you can download HERE. Please email me with any questions and thanks in advance to all who take this on.

UPDATE: As of March 1st, Hope Art has received 480 sundresses sent from around the world. Our commitment to this drive continues as we share our collection with as many Haitian girls as possible. Thank you everyone!
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