How To Draw A Chameleon

I showed my students how to draw a chameleon last week, which have lots of possibilities when it comes to coloring. Here’s my breakdown of the steps that students followed along with.
1. Draw the chameleon in pencil as shown in the diagram. 
2. Trace all the lines with a black marker.
3. Color in with crayon as desired. 
Thanks to my friend Gian, a first grader who drew this charming little chameleon.
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Dinosaur Fossils

This is really fun for students that are learning about fossils and imprints.
1. I found some inexpensive plastic dinosaurs skeletons at Oriental Trading Company, which are perfect for this project. I used regular clay for the imprints, play dough would work also.
2. To prepare for the plaster pouring, give each student a 5" square of cardboard, an 11" x 2" strip of heavy weight paper, a bit of tape, and the 2.5" ball of clay. The students are to tape their strip of paper into a ring, overlapping about an inch. With the paper ring laying on the cardboard, they should make their ball into a flat "pancake" that will fit inside the circle.
3. With the "pancake" removed from the paper ring, the student is to take a dino and make an impression into the clay, using the side of the head. If there is room, a foot print may be added. Make sure they make a firm imprint.
4. The "pancake" gets placed back in the paper ring, impression side up. Plaster is mixed with water until it is the consistency of pudding, and then poured into the ring. Pour enough plaster to make a layer that is about 1" thick.
5. After the plaster has dried (about an hour) the paper ring can be torn away and the dough can be removed. If it sticks to the plaster, let it dry 24 hours and then scrub with a brush under water.
6. After the plaster fossils are clean and dry, paint them with very watered-down paint. Watercolor or tempera work, anything to give the plaster a muddy look.
My son loved making this model in the 2nd grade.
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Another Chuck Close Portrait

This is another example of the Chuck Close Portrait Project that I posted earlier this year. It’s also a good example of what the more expensive colored pencils can do – not the cheap drug store variety. This student did a great job of making her portrait look both real and abstract at the same time.

To see the steps involved in this project, type “Chuck Close Portrait” in my search bar.
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Art Journal ”Happiness List”

I saw this “Happiness List” idea somewhere on the internet, and really like the positive message it gives to both kids and adults. It’s a reminder of things to do if you are having a bad day.
1. I started by shading over a jumbo craft stick with some bright crayons. Be sure to use the side of a peeled crayon to get the most definition out of the sticks.
2. I filled the paper up with as many stick shapes as I could, and then wrote my title and listed happiness items inside with many different colored Sharpies.
3. The background was painted with a light watercolor and later traced with a metallic silver Sharpie to add some definition.
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Tinted Ugly Bunny

One of the arts standards for elementary students is learning how to tint colors by adding white. My students had fun making bunnies that didn’t have to look perfect and symmetrical.
CLASS ONE: 1. On a large (12" x 19") sheet of brown paper, student drew a large “ugly” bunny. The definition of ugly in this case means lopsided, worn, etc. The lines were traced with a heavy black permanent marker.
2. Students painted white shapes (eyes, teeth, etc.) with tempera paint, and then added a color to their white to mix up a tint. The body was filled in, painting around lines as much as possible.
CLASS TWO: 1. Students use oil pastels to retrace their main lines in black, and then added any other details they desired, like clothes, accessories, etc.
2. The bunnies were cut out near the marker edge, leaving a little extra brown paper for effect.
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Sticker Art Trading Cards

Sometimes kid’s creativity just blows me away. I brought round colored stickers to my Art Trading Card class today, thinking that everyone could make art with just circles. Then one very clever boy started cutting up the stickers to make these amazing cards, including this tiger and electric guitar.
1. I passed out 2.5" x 3.5" white cards, sheets of .75" colored stickers, and thin markers to each student. They were to use their imagination to see how many different things they could make with circles, i.e. flowers, balloons, vehicles, etc.
2. When complete, each card got a plastic trading card sleeve, which cost about a penny each.
Thanks to Luc, a talented 1st grader, for letting me share his trading card art.
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How to Draw a House

I had great success with this project for kinders recently. Several even came back later saying they went home to draw more houses. Love it when that happens.
1. I printed out 1/4" graph paper on 17" x 11" paper to help the students draw straight lines. Using just plain white paper would probably be fine though too. Start by showing the students how to draw a straight horizontal line for the ground. A basic house shape is added above it, sitting a bit to the left of the paper.
2. Show the students how to draw two horizontal lines for the edges of the roof. If possible, ask them to make them approximately the same length.
3. Starting at the top line, the two ends of the roof need to be connected and then a straight vertical line goes down.
4. Now the details of door, windows and sun may be added. All the lines are traced with a thin black marker, and then shapes are colored in. Encourage them to include the background so the image has lots of color.
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Art Journaling Magazine Circles

I’m so excited that I found a new combination of art supplies that I really like. This is made with 2" magazine circles, Sharpie markers and a glue stick, that’s it.
1. Craft stores have lots of circle punch tools, I like this one. I was able to cut through about 5 magazine pages at a time, creating a large pile of circles for the students to choose from.
2. Students chose their favorites, arranged them on their page, and glued them down.
3. Using a black Sharpie marker, students drew about two or three rings inside each circle. A silver marker was used on very dark circles.
4. Each ring was colored in with a different marker. The lighter colors worked best as they allowed the magazine images to still show through. Next up? Trying hearts on black paper for very artsy Valentine cards.
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Art Journaling Collage Drawing

Some of the coolest art journal pages I have seen on the internet involve lots of layering. A common approach seems to be that a background is created first, and then art is added on top. I love this concept and hope to pass it on to my students this fall.
1. I saved my old obsolete Yellow Pages for this project I guess, and started by tearing out a rectangle that would fit on my page. Rulers help to tear straight lines. I painted gesso on my paper, placed the Yellow Page on top, painted more gesso over it and spread it really thin to look a bit transparent.
2. As the gesso was drying, I found a quote for some inspiration. (I’m thinking of passing out a page full to all the students so they could pick their favorite.) I decided a nature drawing would be nice and drew a curly tree with a black Sharpie marker.
3. My paper was a bit wrinkly so I just colored over all of it heavily with some crayons. I love all the wrinkles!
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Art Journaling Watercolor Blocks

I started an afterschool class for art journaling last year, and this is one of the first projects I started with. The goal was to find a fun way to mix writing with drawing.
1. After review of art journal pages over on Flickr, I decided to make a colorful background pattern that I would write on when complete. I used 3" square Post-Its to move around on my journal page as I drew radiating lines over the edges with a fine black Sharpie marker.
2. I colored in the squares lightly with watercolor pencils, and painted over them with water to make a painting. The space around the squares were also colored and painted.
3. After the painting was dry, I wrote a few notes about my day inside the squares with a few different gel pens. Overall, I like the overlapping transparent look to the squares and think this process has more possibilities...
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Magazine Tree Journal Page

Pattern scrapbook paper could also be used to make these leaves, I was just trying to use what I had on hand.
1. Students cut out a tree trunk from a strip of black paper. If you can, use black art paper, not school grade construction paper as it is more gray than black.
2. Older students can cut out leaf shapes from magazine pages. I precut some for my kinder students as I wanted them to concentrate on gluing and making their tree as large as possible (glue sticks work best).
3. The background was colored in with a crayon.
I just love this art that was made today by a kinder. Thanks for letting me share it Kayla!
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Finished Rainbow Collage

My collage projects were so much fun last week I swear I had trouble stopping. Shown here is Rainbow Collage No. 2, all covered in clear packing tape, trimmed out and ready to hang. Final size, approx. 7 feet wide by 2 feet tall.
To review: Students cut out swatches of color from magazines, and left them in their designated piles under the pinned up roll of paper. I was the “master glue stick lady” and glued all swatches down, taking care to blend the colors. It took four one-hour classes of 24 kids to get this filled out from edge to edge. I love that the kids were engaged with a sense of teamwork, and that I now have another nice piece of art for our school.
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How to Draw a Cow

Last spring my school had a special assembly that featured a cow and her calf. I decided to take advantage of the fact that everyone was seeing this really cute animal at the same time and I did this cow lesson for that week's art class.
1. For kinders and 1st graders, start with cardboard  templates so they can trace the body in pencil. Make the size proportionate with the size of your watercolor paper, as shown.
2. A triangle for the neck, and rectangles for the legs are added.
3. Next, the head is added overlapping the neck. Eyes, nose and ears are added as well as the tail and udder. At this point I the students erase any lines that separate the body parts.
4. Give each student a black crayon to trace the pencil drawing. Spots are drawn and colored in. A pink crayon may be used to color in the nose and ears.
5. Distribute green and blue watercolors and brushes. I like to make liquid watercolors by taking the cheap watercolor tablets and dissolve them in water. I helps a lot when painting large areas.
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Homemade St. Patrick’s Day Card

I made this card with just a little watercolor paint and a gold paint marker. The markers are not cheap, but add a special touch if you can afford them.
1. I drew many stems and 3-leaf clovers lightly in pencil, filling up the paper as much as possible.
2. Using a small watercolor brush, I painted the outline of each clovers leaf and filled them in with green watercolor paint.
3. I then added more water to the paint and filled in the background with the lighter green, leaving a halo of white around each clover.
4. When the paint dried, I traced the stems and veins with my gold paint marker.
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Overlapping Circles Printmaking Project

Save your paper towel or toilet paper rolls for this very simple printmaking project.
1. Students use a cardboard roll dipped in black tempera paint to print lots of circles on a large sheet of paper. Let dry.
2. Each circle is colored in with a crayon. Overlaps will create new and interesting colors. Easy-peesy with minimal mess.
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Camouflage Painting

Can you see the student’s hand in this picture? My 2nd graders had such fun doing this project! After studying camouflage, they had this chance to literally put themselves in their artwork. 
Prep work: I first mounted letter-size white paper to larger sheets of cardboard so that the painting could easily be moved around. I also printed out closeup images of three types of animal fur: tiger, zebra and leopard.
1. After talking about some of the patterns that animals have to help them hide (thin stripes, thick stripes or spots) students were given four cups of tempera paint to work with; orange, black, yellow, and white. They began by choosing a main background color and painted their white paper accordingly.
2. Students placed their non-painting hand on the paper and painted over it all with either stripes or spots. They were encouraged to have both thick and thin lines in their painting, with as much detail as possible.
3. I photographed the student’s work so they could have photos to keep. Tip: Shoot the hand while wet if possible, the shiny colors have so much more impact.
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Rainbow Collage in Progress...

Here’s a new idea I had today – to make one giant class collage instead of a lot of half-done individual ones. I started with a piece of paper measuring about 8 feet wide by 1 foot tall. Students cut out swatches of color from magazines, and left them in their designated piles under the collage. I was the “master glue stick lady” and got to be sure that all swatches were securely attached. The collage only looks good when it has a really smooth surface. It took four one-hour classes of twenty four kids to get this filled out from edge to edge today. I love that the kids were engaged with a sense of teamwork, and that I now have a really nice piece of art for our front office. Oh, and the cost? About $4 worth of glue sticks and maybe $8 of clear packing tape for a pseudo-laminated look when complete.
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M.C. Escher Tessellations

A tessellation is created when a shape is repeated over and over again covering a plane without any gaps or overlaps. I learned the hard way how easily triangles can get flopped and rotated, so I came up with a numbering process that eliminates the problem.
1. Give each student a 3" (or larger) square of heavy card stock paper, scissors, tape, and drawing paper.
2. Make a diagram on a board that follows the steps illustrated.
a. Number the corners as shown.
b. Cut the bottom two corners off and move up to the top. With edges "kissing" and not overlapping, tape in place. The numbers are to stay right reading.
c. The students draw a triangle on the back side, label "H" for head, and move to the right top and tape in place to make a bird shape.
3. Using the bird as a tracing template, they align it with the side of a drawing paper, and trace one stacking column. If they move the bird to the right and interlock the head shapes, they can make another column that interlocks with the first. Continue tracing columns until paper is filled.
4. Pencil lines are traced with a marker and the shapes are colored in. This artwork uses crayon, but painting would look very nice too.
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Ceramic Fish

This fish could be made with many different types of clay. I am partial to ceramics and the layering of color, for obvious reasons, I think.
1. The students will need a stylus or wooden tool, a cup of water, and a lump of clay about the size of their fist. To begin, they should just hold and squeeze the clay and maybe spread a little water on it with their fingers to soften it up.
2. Next, they should try to roll the lump into a smooth ball. They are to keep rubbing water on it if they see cracks. The ball then needs to be flattened into a circle. It should be about the thickness of a pancake and easy to bend.
3. The pancake then is almost folded in half with just the edges pinched together on one side. There should be an opening left on the opposite side which will turn into the mouth.
4. With the pinched seam on the top, the back end is flattened and cut into a tail shape with a tool.
5. Lastly, eyes and teeth may be added to the face. Just be sure to have the students score any surfaces that they are connecting. In other words, they need to scratch the surface to make sure details stick together. Clay will shrink a bit when it dries so smooth edges tend to come apart.
6. After drying and bisque firing, this fish was painted with two different layers and colors of glaze.
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Homemade Easter Card

Easter calls for sweet images with gentle colors. This bunny face can easily be drawn by any age.
1. I like the soft look of a pencil drawing, but brighter colors with markers would look great too. To draw the face, start by making a circle. Add the two bent ears above, and then eyes, mouth, nose and whiskers as shown.
2. I used Prismacolor® Watercolor pencils to add color. I filled inside the head with pink pencil and then brushed with water. Lastly, a message can be written below.
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Sewing Party in New York

Great news! The people over at Oliver + S Pattern Company are hosting a sewing party for HOPE Art’s ongoing Haiti Dress Drive. If you live in the NYC area, and would like to hang out with these amazing ladies, send them as RSVP and you can help them sew right in the Oliver + S design studio. They’ll be making dresses for young girls, and simple shorts for boys. All the fabric is being donated by Moda. Thanks much to Liesl for putting this together, we at HOPE Art are eternally grateful for your support.
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Lots of Logs Painting

I was inspired by a print at “Geninne’s Art Blog” and turned it into a study using neutral colors.
In third grade, students can start to learn about colors that are not on the basic color wheel, like the neutral colors brown, black, white and gray. I like to associate them with nature, so this log painting helps to make that connection.
1. Give the students a square piece of paper. They are to draw a square frame near the edge, and lots of circles that fit inside. The goal is to have lots of different sizes, and all of the spaces used up. Tip: the younger the student, the larger the paper should be.
2. Using brown, gray and black and white crayons, they may draw rings inside their logs. Some of the rings could be filled in with gray, if they wish. When finished, all of the space between the logs needs to be colored in heavily with a dark brown or black.
3. To keep things simple, give the students just strong brown watercolor paint and water. They should use the darkest brown first to paint some rings, let them dry for a few minutes, and then paint the rest carefully with diluted brown. If they rush it the edges will just run together, so patience is required.

CA Visual Art Standard: Creative Expression, Grade Three
2.2 Mix and apply...paints to create tints, shades, and neutral colors.
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Mission Drawings

Each spring in California, 4th graders are assigned a California Mission research project. I've found this to be the perfect time to work in an architectural drawing lesson.
1. I made my own graph paper on 11" x 17" sheets of beige paper, printing a 1/4" grid over all. Make these lines as light as possible so they are easy to cover up.
2. I illustrated for students simple line drawings of common mission features. The doors tend to be round, the windows often have blocks at the base, and the rooftops sometimes have beautiful domes with bells inside. I encouraged the students to start in pencil with a ground line and then a main building in the center. Halls or wings to the left and right could then be added. Remind them that the grid lines are there to follow so they should work slowly to trace right over them. When the building is complete, they may add foliage. When complete, the pencil lines are traced with a thin black marker.
3. Students use colored pencils to fill in all the areas. Encourage students to press hard with their pencils as it will make the boldest artwork.
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Outdoor Mural Update

The colors still look great, but there was a fair amount of wrinkling going on due to the wet canvas shrinking in the middle and not on the dry white border. My next test is to see if wetting the outside edge with the 50/50 glue mixture will fix this, or if I just need to trim the mural out and get rid of the border. I can live with either as I’m so happy with the vivid, bright colors. Rough price for 50" x 60" piece of unstretched primed canvas? $15. Possibilities for outdoor art? Many! Final mural will be posted Monday.

An experiment – Dry Wax Paper panels glued to unstretched primed canvas. When complete, I’ll add grommets to the corners and hang outdoors to see how weatherproof it is. Note: This was created with Sharpies and my Kandinsky Circles Mural template.
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Koi Fish Painting

 It’s fun to change your point of view sometimes, like looking down on fish instead of across at them. 
1. Students started with drawing the fish body on the right, then the one on the left.
2. Tails and eyes were added.
3. Fins were added on the sides, along with some curvy weeds.
4. All pencil lines were traced with crayon. Any spots on the fish were colored in, as well as the inside of the leaves. Lines for bubbles were drawn with a white crayon.
5. Students painted the fish with Orange liquid watercolor paint, and the background with Turquoise blue. I love the Dick Blick brand, but there’s probably lots of good ones out there.
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Russian Buildings

Architecture drawing is a really fun area to explore with children. I've seen many students that have little or no interest in drawing people make the most amazing drawings of buildings.
1. I printed 1/4" graph lines on large format 11" x 17" paper, but you could go to Free Online Graph Paper and print your own. Show the students examples of Russian architecture. Demonstrate how to draw lots of rectangles with "ice cream top" buildings to imitate their look.
2. Distribute watercolor paints and have the students paint their shapes with bright colors.
3. When the paint is dry, give each student a gold paint marker and have them trace all the pencil lines for an extra fancy look.
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Panoramic Landscape

I was inspired by a stock art drawing, and made just three rules for this lesson: the horizon line had to be curved, close shapes were to be large, and those beyond small. The result was a kind of fisheye lens panorama.
1. As noted above, students started by drawing the curved horizon line. They could choose close items to draw, they just had to be extra large. Any shapes on the horizon were drawn rather small.
2. When the drawing was done, all the shapes were traced with a black permanent marker.
3. The drawing was colored in with oil pastels. This drawing was completed with the Portfolio® brand.
Drawing by Neariah, who is a second grader this year. Love it!
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Van Gogh Ceramic Landscape

Van Gogh was known for his thickly painted landscapes, so you can replicate the look with clay and kiln and glazes.
1. Give each student about a baseball-size piece of clay, and have them form a smooth ball. Show them how to press the ball into a thick pancake, using a roller if possible.
2. Give each student a stick or stylus, and have them etch a drawing into the clay. It's good to start with a horizon line, and then add a road, grass and sky.
3. Fire the clay plates, glaze paint, and fire again. Vibrant Van Gogh-ish colors are essential!
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Colored Pencil Apple Drawing

Did you know that good colored pencils can actually blend together like oil pastels do? I didn’t until I purchased some new supplies.
1. Demonstrate a simple line drawing of an apple sitting on a table and ask your students to draw their own, in pencil.
2. Show students how to "glaze" a drawing by coloring the different layers needed for this apple. Fill the apple shape first with white colored pencil, then a layer of yellow (leave a highlight spot) then orange, and finally red.
3. Add detail such as the stem and background.
This apple was drawn by a second grader.
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Butterfly Collage

Just about any Eric Carle book can make a good visual aid to this project.
1. It is important to begin with quality watercolor paper, one that has texture on one side. Give each student two 9" x 9" sheets – one is for painting and one is to save for the background.
2. Distribute a wide (1" or more) flat brush, acrylic paints, a paper plate and scrap paper to each student. Demonstrate how the students can dispense a little paint on the paper plate, spread it on the scrap paper until streaks start to show, and then apply it to the watercolor paper, textured side up. Each student should fill their paint sheet mostly with the main butterfly color, and then smaller sections for the antenna, rectangle body, and details.
3. Once the paint is dry, the butterfly wings need to be cut out. Older students can cut one wing out, flop it and trace for the opposite side. Younger students may need a template they can trace.
4. After all the butterfly wings, body, antenna and details are cut out, arrange them on the remaining sheet of paper. Once the cutting is complete, everything can be glued down with white glue.
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