Torn Paper Animal Collage

I really love torn edges and all the irregularities that come with them. Kids tend to want the control of the shapes they make by using scissors, but with practice they can learn to appreciate the benefits of tearing too. I think it works especially well when fuzzy edges are called for.
1. Each student will need several magazines to look through. I recommend that they look for a page that has a lot of one color, and they let that determine which animal they will make. For instance, a page with a lot of brown could be a horse or a dog.
2. The students tear out lots of pieces of their chosen color, and glue them down on a white paper with glue sticks. The best results come when their are no straight lines left on the shapes, only torn edges. It’s easiest if they start “building” the main body first, and then add head and legs and so on.
3. When the animal is complete a marker may be used to add an eye.
CA Visual Art Standard: Grade Kindergarten
2.3 Make a collage with cut or torn paper shapes/forms.
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Ceramic Snowman

Sometimes the simplest of projects can turn out to be anything but. My students loved making these snowman, but they did turn out to be a challenge in making clay pieces connect to each other. Whether it was a nose or hat or head, we all learned a lot about what it takes to keep clay shapes from falling apart.
1. The students got a handful of clay, warmed and softened it up with water and formed the small, medium and large balls of their snowman. To connect the shapes, they needed to score (scratch with a fork) the sides of the balls that would touch each other. After securely pressing the scored edges to each other, they could add decorations as desired: carrot noses, buttons, hats, etc. What turned out to be key in making connections was having very soft and damp clay, very defined scratches, and literally “screwing” the shapes into each other. Clay shrinks as it dries so smooth edges just seem to pop apart. Pipe cleaners were stuck into the sides for temporary arms.
2. After drying for several days in the sun, the pipe cleaner arms were removed and the clay was fired in a kiln.
3. The pipe cleaners were placed back in the arm holes, and the students painted the snowman with glaze.
4. The pipe cleaners were removed, and the snowmen were fired for the last time. When cooled, small twigs were placed in the arm holes.
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M.C. Escher Eye Drawing

M.C. Escher was one of the world’s most famous graphic artists. He created many visual riddles, and an amazingly detailed piece titled “Eye” that offers lots of detail for students to imitate.
Students may use either soft drawing pencils or black charcoal pencils. Whichever media, they need to be able to sharpen their tools to make fine detailed lines.
1. Students may draw the football eye shape, or trace one.
2. A partial circle is drawn inside, one that touches the top of the eye.
3. An inner circle is added, along with eyelashes and a rectangle “highlight” that is to stay white.
4. Crease lines are added above the lashes. The inner circle is shaded in to look black, and lines radiating around it are added. They eye is colored in a dark gray.
5. Light shading is added above and below the eye, and on the right side of the eye. All the shading is rubbed with a paper stump to blend in.
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Draw a Snake with Texture

You can buy plastic texture plates for making crayon rubbings, or you can be thrifty and use one of those convenient store coffee cup holders for free.
1. To first draw a snake, follow the diagrams shown above. Start by making 4 parallel lines that shorten to make what somewhat looks like a pyramid.
2. Connect the lines with curves, leaving the top right side open.
3. Add a curved neck and head.
4. Finish with a mouth, tongue and end of tail.
5. Trace the snake with a thin marker. Open up one of those brown paper coffee cup holders (mine was from am/pm) to lie flat. Place drawing over cardboard and rub with a crayon to make snake skin.

CA Visual Art Standard: Creative Expression, Grade One
2.1 Use texture in two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of art.
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Year End Accordian Book

This can be a fun journal project for your child to record some of their favorite memories from last year, or write hopes and wishes for the new one.
1. Start with large watercolor paper, the 22" x 30" size sheets, and cut into panels of 6" x 24". Fold the panels back and forth every 4" to make an accordian book that has six panels measuring 6" tall by 4" wide.
2. I had some stencils on hand for making the numbers, which really helped the younger students. The year’s numbers were traced and then colored heavily with crayon.
3. The students were given ink pens to write four of their favorite memories from the year, one in the background of each panel. I had some prompt questions already printed on a handout, asking “What was your favorite day in 2010?”, and “What did you do in 2010 that you were proud of?” and so on. Perfect writing was not the goal, just capturing memories. The writing could go in any direction. I think that cursive would be nice if you had older students.
4. The four panels were painted with watercolor, each in a different color.
5. The covers were separate pieces of heavier stock that measured 6" tall by 4" wide. While the accordian book is drying, the covers were painted with tempera paint, and then a title written on top in oil pastel. When complete, the covers were glued to the accordian end panels with white glue.
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Lois Mailou Jones-style Drawing

This Lois Mailou Jones-inspired drawing is in honor of Black History month (coming up in Feb). During Lois’ remarkable life, she painted, designed masks, textiles and stained glass windows, traveled the world and never stopped learning. Her “Les Fetiches” art has a style that is fun to imitate.
1. Starting with a black sheet of paper (I prefer art paper, not construction paper as it often is just dark gray) the students draw a large oval face that fills the paper. Small lemon-shape eyes are drawn in the middle of the face, along with one for the mouth.
2. The students place a dot that is centered between the eyes, and then draw large lemon shapes that go around the eyes, and touch the outside edge of the face. (The goal is to make lots of closed shapes.) The same shape is drawn around the mouth.
3. Students draw a simple nose that touches the center of the eyes and top of the mouth. Two eyebrow-like curves are added to the forehead.
4. All of the closed shapes on the face are completely colored in with colored pencil.
5. A white colored pencil is used to go over selected corners to brighten (or tint) them, and a black colored pencil is used to go over selected corners to darken (or shade) them. For the most dramatic results, all the corners should be either tinted or shaded.

CA Art Standard: 2.2 Mix and apply tempera paints to create tints, shades, and neutral colors.
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Nutcracker: Oil Pastel on Black Paper

This is a breakdown of my Nutcracker drawing project, this time using oil pastels on black construction paper.
My large construction paper comes in 18" x 24" size, so I cut long narrow panels of 8" x 24" for each student. Each also got a cardboard template measuring 7" x 4".
1. Following the steps shown in my diagram, the students first placed the rectangle in the middle of the black paper, and traced it with a pencil.
2. Two vertical lines are drawn up from the top of the rectangle, and one horizontal to divide that shape in half.
3. The bottom of that rectangle is the face, and eyes, mouth, moustache, beard and hair are added.
4. Half-circles are drawn for shoulder pads, arms and hands go below.
5. Two legs are added under the body, with half-circle feet for boots.
6. Uniform details are drawn on the body, along with a belt.
7. I had my students then trace all the pencil lines with a black pastel, and then color the body in with lots of red, black, white, and a little skin color.
California Visual Arts Standard: Creative Expression 2.0
2.6 Use geometric shapes/forms (circle, triangle, square) in a work of art.
This Nutcracker was drawn by Luc, a talented 2nd grader.
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Tinted Christmas Tree Painting

This picture looks best with just white crayon lines (no pencil) so my lesson plan uses mostly tracing of cut-out shapes instead of drawing them.
1. Each student needs to draw three trees on a smaller sheet of scrap construction paper and cut them out. They may use a small piece of double-stick tape to mount the three trees on a piece of watercolor paper. (Please note that the diagram to the right uses a gray paper only so that the lines may show.) The edges of the trees may go off the page, if necessary. A ground line is drawn with the white crayon below the trees.
2. Using the white crayon again, trace around the edges of the three trees, pressing firmly to make a thick line. A moon may be added to the sky, along with lots of dots for snow, and a yellow star (in yellow crayon) above the middle tree. The crayon lines may be hard to see at this point, so the students have to work carefully to not miss any steps.
3. I used watercolor that comes in tubes as the white will not be found on your average school watercolor tray. Each student needs just a bit of white and blue, and some water so they may mix a tinted paint color. After removing the two outside cut-out trees, the tinted blue may be painted over those trees, and the sky, and around the moon. At this point the white lines become apparent so that the last paint step is easier to do. Let the tinted paint dry.
4. A bit of straight blue paint is mixed with water and then painted around the trees to fill in the sky. The moon and middle tree and ground remain white. The star could be deleted to just make a non-religious winter landscape painting.
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Matisse Murals from British Columbia

I’m getting all kinds of great stuff from up north this week. Megan from Port Alberni, BC worked tirelessly with her 2nd and 3rd graders (and finally, her family) to make these beautiful Matisse Chrismas murals for their holiday show. Megan wrote that the kids colored them in with Mr. Sketchy markers. I love the bright colors!  I know the work that goes into coloring just one of these murals, so I applaud her effort in creating FIVE. Congratulations Megan and thanks for all the inspiration this photo brings.
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Free Christmas Card Coloring Download

I love the illuminated letters at clipartETC.com and I've used 
them to create this template for a last-minute Christmas card.
Click here to download your free pdf file.
1. Print on 8.5x11 card or cover stock in the landscape orientation.
2. Use fine point markers or colored pencils to color in the letters.
3. Fold the paper horizontally and you are ready to add your personal greeting inside.
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Nativity Mural from Canada

This mural comes from Notre Dame School in Dawson Creek, BC, Canada. Jenna Gilbertson shared how her 4th grade class colored my Nativity Mural with markers and then brushed it with baby oil to make it translucent. After absorbing excess oil with paper towels and leaving it to dry overnight, they assembled the mural in their classroom window. Jenna added that students can use crayons or markers to color any picture before brushing it lightly with the baby oil. Cooking oil works too, it just doesn't smell as good. What a great idea, thanks for sharing Jenna!
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Giraffes from Chandler, Arizona

Mylien, a parent volunteer from Chandler, Arizona shared her very successful paper mache project that is sure to inspire others. These giraffes were made by 6 classes of kinders and first graders at Mirada Elementary School. 

Parents first assembled the juice cartons (see my initial Giraffe post) and then had a few students at a time apply mache layers of pre-cut strips of newsprint. They would alternate directions with each layer so that the next parent coming in would know what to do next. Two layers of mache and then a final layer of unprinted newspaper were applied. Parents outlined the spots with yellow paint, and each student filled in one brown spot. 

Their giraffes were completed just in time for last week’s art fundraiser. Because it was such a unique sculpture, Mylien did not expect the giraffes to do well but to her surprise, they raised a total of $500! Congratulations to your students and your parents, Mylien. It’s a great example of how even very young students can make amazing art and a difference, when careful planning is involved.
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Gingerbread House Marker Drawing

Ask kids to draw a house made out of candy and their imaginations can can take off pretty fast.
1. I had students start their drawing with the top edge of the roof, and then the curvy “drippy” edge below. The sides of the the house were added, and then the bottom. Rounded windows and doors were recommended for that old fashioned look. Gumdrops, candy canes and lollipops could be added.
2. The pencil drawing was traced with a black marker and filled in with lots of color. I found that Sharpie markers work best for details, and chisel tip Mr. Sketch markers are great for the background.
This drawing was made by Neariah, an amazing artist in 2nd grade. Thanks for letting me share your art!
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Abstract Snowman Card

I needed a simple and quick card project, and was inspired by some stock snowman art. After deliberating on all my options, I settled on using Sharpie markers to get the brightest color for the least amount of cost.
1. I began by giving each student an 8.5" x 11" piece of paper, a 5" square cardboard, a half 4" diam. circle and one 2" diam. circle template. Students folded the paper in half as shown, placed the square in the top center, and traced (lightly!) with a pencil.
2. The half circle was centered on the bottom of the square and traced in pencil. The small circle was placed above and also traced.
3. A hat was drawn on top of the head. Note: The top of the hat must touch the top of the drawn square. A horizontal line was drawn across the middle of the square, skipping the inside of the snowman.
4. The extra lines inside the snowman were erased. The hat was colored in with a Sharpie marker, as well as the other details.
5. The background of the square was colored with Sharpies, using four different colors.
6. White circles of paper made from a hole punch are glued randomly to the background. If desired, a message could be written in the space below the snowman.
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How To Draw a Santa Stamp

I had really good results with this Santa drawing today. Any colored paper works, but my favorite is just a swatch of a brown grocery bag for that earthy, recycled look.
1. With a 6" square of brown paper, students drew a square that sits about 3/4" in from all 4 sides. The postage stamp border is started by drawing 4 large “U”s that point to each corner.
2. A row of “U”s are drawn inside the border, all pointing towards the outside edge.
3. The outside edges of the “U”s are connected, forming the border.
4. A rounded rectangle is drawn for Santa’s brim. Moving in a bit, the side of his head and cheek are added below.
5. A circle nose and two petal shapes (his mustache) are added to the middle, touching the cheek line.
6. Crescent-shaped eyes and eyebrows finish the face.
7. Starting at the corner of the brim, a curvy line is drawn down on each side to form a beard.
8. The hat is added on top of the brim. All of the lines are traced with a black marker and then colored with colored pencil.
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Tissue Paper Christmas Tree

I’ve seen some really beautiful decorations made from just clear contact paper and tissue paper.
1. Cut two matching rectangles of clear contact paper.
2. Peel the backing off one piece of contact paper. Place it on the table with the sticky side up. Tear strips of colored tissue paper and lay across the contact paper, overlapping edges. NOTE: The tissue paper has a grain to it. Try tearing in both directions to see which one is easier. When the contact paper has filled up with tissue strips, peel the backing of the remaining rectangle and place on the strips so as to make a tissue paper sandwich.
3. Find or create a tree shape that you can use as a template. Trace onto the tissue collage and cut out. Use on a holiday card or punch hole in top and make a row of trees hanging from a string.
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Santa Claus Drawing

I helped students draw a Santa today, and they had no trouble thinking of situations to put him in – on a roof, in front of a door or a tree. Seems there’s no shortage of imagination when it comes to drawing this guy.
1. I began by showing students how to draw the Santa face, which I have already posted about with my “Santa Stamp” posting. When that was done, they drew the arms and shirt, and added the legs and boots below. Afterwards they were free to place their Santa in whatever environment they wanted.
2. All of the pencil lines were traced with a black Sharpie marker.
3. The art was colored in with crayons.
This drawing was made by Miranda, a talented 3rd grader in my afterschool classes. Just last month she was named “Student Artist of the Month”, very deservedly so.
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My Top Ten Favorite Projects from 2011

It’s that time of year when Top Ten Lists are popping up everywhere, so I thought I’d make my own. Here are my ten most favorite new projects of 2011, chosen for the overall success rate they produced in my classroom. They are in no particular order.

1. “Where I Live” Art Journal Pages


2. How to Draw a Lighthouse


3. Folk Art Halloween Cat Painting

4. Ice Cream Cone Watercolor Painting


5. Popsicle Stick People


6. “Day of the Dead” Skull Pattern Drawing


7. Kandinsky Watercolor Painting



8. Camouflage Painting



9. Doodle Summer Self Portrait


10. Andrew Goldsworthy Land Art



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Quilling Snowflakes

 Quilling is an art form that involves rolling, and gluing strips of paper together to create decorative designs. If you use bread ties instead, the curl stays and is easier to glue too.
1. Students made popsicle boards by gluing 11 sticks across two back sticks, and letting them dry while the curls were made.
2. White bread ties can be bought at Smart and Final stores for about $5. Students wrapped their ties around pencils to get a roll started, and then removed and finished them with their fingers. They needed to make one large roll for the center, and then three for each of the six arms (19 total).
3. White glue was used to glue the curls down on the popsicle boards. Magnet strips may be added to the back to make a very crafty and creative refrigerator magnet.
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Mosaic CD Picture Frame

Looks like mosaic glass, right? It’s actually just an old CD cut up and glued to a wooden frame and painted with green metallic paint.
1. I used a heavy duty scissors to cut a couple of old CDs into 1/2" strips, and then into 1/2" squares. Care needs to be taken to keep the shiny film from peeling off one side of the CD. It needs to stay on to keep the iridescent look to the tiles.
2. Glue a double row of the CD squares to a wooden frame using tacky glue. It is important that you glue them with the shiny film side down, so the clear side is left on the top. This sample is one of the $1 frames currently sold at Michael’s. Let the tiles dry.
3. Paint the entire frame with Moss Pearl “Dazzling Metallics Elegant Finish Paint”, also sold at Michael’s. This paint is the best, I wouldn’t try to substitute as most paints don’t have this bright metallic quality.
4. Print a digital portrait in black and white on paper. Color the picture with pencil crayons as desired. I recommend the Prismacolor pencils because they are softer than the average brand and make a much brighter color on any paper. Trim your photo to fit the frame, place, and enjoy your colorful holiday portrait!

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Cut & Tear Candle Card

This is a simple card project that has been my holiday staple for kinders for years. Just change the colors to blue and gold for Hanukkah, or pink or blue for custom birthday cards.
 Prep: Test the grain of the paper you plan to use. Most paper is vastly easier to tear in one direction than the other, and directing students to tear the easy way will ease frustration.
1. I gave each student a 6" x 9" piece of blue paper, and asked them to tear many fat strips across the 6" side, so that they will have at least three 6" x 1" ish candles that are torn on both sides. Next, they tear off one end so that the candles are all about 4" tall. These three candles are glued to the bottom of a horizontal 6" x 9" white paper.
2. Each student gets a small piece of yellow paper and are to make a flame by tearing out a small irregular shape. These are glued down to the white paper, just above the candles.
3. Each candle on the white paper is cut out, leaving a small amount of white paper around each. Those final candles are glued down to a pre-folded to a 6" x 9" horizontal card.
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Paper Chain Christmas Tree Card

I call this my “minimalist” tree card. Art stores like Michael’s have lots of pretty scrapbook paper these days; I prefer ones with a small scale print.
1. Cut strips of paper 5" long by 1/2 " wide and follow the folding and chaining technique on my post “Paper Chains, Gum Wrapper Style”.
2. Fold and chain 6 links for the bottom row of the tree, 4 for the middle, 2 for the top and 1 for the trunk.
3. Arrange the chain segments as shown on a piece of white paper, about 5" x 7" and glue in place. Glue the white paper to a slightly larger colored paper for an accent.
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Highlight and Shadow Snowman

This shaded snowman project comes from “For the Love of Art” blog. Great idea that can have many upward levels of complexity added. Thanks for the idea Kristin!
1. I used my favorite scrapbook paper from Joann’s as they come in some really pretty packs of blue. A letter size sheet was folded in half to make a card, and I drew a very simple snowman on the front.
2. I traced the snowman with a black marker.
3. Highlights and shadows were added with colored pencils. When light shines on an object, the brightest side is said to have a “highlight” and the darkest side a “shadow”. When you start with colored paper, students can use white and darker colored pencil to accomplish this look.
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Watercolor Gingerbread Cookie

My new watercolor project, Gingerbread Cookie Boy (or Girl, of course).  Kinders can concentrate on just drawing a large, symmetrical shape while 1st and 2nd graders can try adding a shadow to give their cookie more dimension.
1. I drew a large, symmetrical cookie shape on a letter size piece of watercolor paper. The outline was traced in crayon, and thick bands of color were added to resemble fat lines of frosting. White lines always brighten up the art, so I added a few. To make a shadow, color a black edge on one side of the cookie as shown.
2. I used brown Dick Blick liquid watercolor paint and filled in the cookie, over all the crayon. Lastly, the background was painted. You just can't beat how great crayons and watercolor paint work together!
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Shop Project HOPE Art’s CafePress Store

I just created this new journal over at Project HOPE Art’s CafePress Store. It’s made with the mural students painted in Haiti during my visit there last August. I love the colors and think this would make a great gift for any art lover who can never have too many journals to sketch in. The price is $14.49 and $5 from each sale will go back to support Project HOPE Art. So let your holiday shopping dollars help a great cause while you get totally original presents for your friends and family. It’s a win/win!
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Juice Box Apartment Buildings

I've found that turning a juice box inside out creates a great pallet for 3D art, especially when building features are applied. Using crayon on a corrugated cardboard surface also makes a brick-like pattern.
1. Each student got an empty box and were shown how to pop open the ends and ease open the slit on the long side so the box could lie flat. They also bent all the folds in opposite directions to uncurl the box.
2. With the glue flap tucked inside, the long side was taped with invisible tape. The ends were folded in and taped also. Working as partners helped so one student could hold while the other taped.
3. I handed out copies of my “Winter Town” sheet for window and door drawing inspiration. Students sketched theirs out in pencil and traced with a fat, chisel tip black marker. 
4. The entire building was colored in crayon, and right over the tape which helped to conceal it.
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I’m featured on the new Strathmore ATC packaging!

Here’s a peek at the new packaging for Strathmore Art Trading Cards, made with Bamboo paper. This package of 120 blank cards includes an instruction sheet with two of my projects, “House on the Hill” and “Sea Life”.

I started collaborating over the summer with Strathmore, and could not be more proud to work with a company that has a long history of providing fine art papers to leading artists around the world. Stay tuned as I try out more ideas with these cards and share my results.
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How to Draw a Snow Bear

This very simple bear drawing worked well today as students could concentrate on their coloring technique. Careful filling in of the background sky is what really makes this art successful.
1. Following the diagram above, students draw the bear and hat in pencil on letter size paper.
2. The bear is traced with a black Sharpie, and the nose and eyes were filled in.
3. The hat is colored as desired. With the sky marker color, snow circles were drawn and then colored around to fill in the sky.
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