“Moody” Self Portraits

I’ve found that metallic markers and tissue paper make a great combination. The shiny color and matte paper really show each other off.  
Drawing directly on tissue paper with a pencil is a little tricky as it is so delicate, so here is what my students did:
1. On a heavy drawing paper, they planned their portrait, starting with an oval and then adding shoulders, features and abstract hair.
2. When the drawing was complete, they took turns at getting their paper lightly sprayed with adhesive spray. They were allowed to choose a matching size piece of tissue paper and carefully rub it down on top. The color chosen was to reflect their feelings of the day.
3. The portrait was traced with both a permanent black marker, and then filled in with metallic markers. If you are not familiar with them, I like this Prang brand.
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Wet-on-Wet Watercolor Flowers

One thing that watercolor paint loves to do is run together. Instead of fighting that tendency, I showed my students how they can make “puddles” their friend by painting lots of irregular spots, some overlapping, which could later be outlined as delicate little flowers.
1. Flower spots of varying sizes and colors are painted on the top half of a watercolor paper. Work quickly and overlap some while the paint is still wet so that colors bleed into each other.
2. While the flowers dry, green paint is mixed and the leaves are added below. Some simple lines are good, along with solid patches of green. Varying shades add variety. Let dry for several hours.
3. With a ultra fine point permanent black marker, draw edges to all the flowers, along with stems and leaves. Try to picture some flowers at angles, with the centers facing towards the sky, as in real life.
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Hundertwasser Portraits

I’m hooked on the Vienna artist Hundertwasser, so I thought I would try combining his style with my popsicle portrait project. I think his art has a kind of layered marker look to it so it seemed like a good match.
1. It seems that Hundertwasser had a real aversion to straight lines, so I thought I would start with 8 un-straight jumbo popsicle stick glued to two back ones and let dry.
2. I traced the board onto dry wax paper just so I knew the size my drawing should be. Looking at Hundertwasser’s paintings, I tried his style of a very round head, large eyes, simple features and hair.
3. When the pencil drawing was done, I traced the lines with a gray marker, and then colored in all the shapes with Sharpie markers. In the past I have tried to not smudge the color together, but this time I let them smear all they wanted to. When the coloring was done, I cut the drawing out very close to the edges.
4. I mixed 50/50 glue and water and brushed a layer all over the board and the back side of the drawing. I placed the drawing on the board and brushed another layer of glue over the front. Any wrinkles were spread out to smooth before the glue dried.
5. After the glue was dry, I went back with the markers and added those trademark Hundertwasser lines wherever it seemed fit. The marker colors show up much brighter over the dry glue so they give some added punch to the picture.
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How to Draw a Dandelion

I wanted to use new gel pens in my art journal class, and some dandelion doodles got me experimenting. The trick is to draw them in a very orderly and symmetrical manner. I think my step-by-step process shown above will help even the young draw very round and delicate flowers.
1. Start with a light pencil circle drawing, possible from tracing a bottle or jar. Mine is 2" diam.
2. Using a pen, follow the steps shown above.
3. When complete, erase the circle guide line.


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The “What Am I?” Rubberband Project

A recent donation of old rubber bands was the inspiration for this project today. Students were given an empty CD case, white paper insert, Sharpie markers, and of course rubber bands. What they made out of them was up to their own imagination.
1. White paper inserts that fit into a CD case and Sharpie markers were handed out. The challenge for students was to draw a background for whatever their rubber bands were to be: curly hair, spaghetti, snakes. All options were open and discussed before beginning.
2. When complete, the rubber bands were placed on top of the drawing. Students had to figure out how many to place on the paper so that they filled the space, but didn't keep the CD case from closing.
Thanks so much to Claire, a 1st grader, for letting me share her beautiful artwork that brings a smile to my face!
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Strathmore Art Journal Cover

I’ve been looking for a cover treatment for my student’s art journals, and think this is pretty good solution. One container of foam stick-on letters, a few tubes of black and gold paint and you’re good to go.
1. I bought foam letters like the ones shown HERE. Students peeled off the paper backing and stuck them to their cover as desired. Some spelled out their names, some just made up words. The point is to fill the cover with shapes. The sticky backs are such a help so no glue is needed.
2. Black acrylic paint was brushed over the cover, spreading as much as possible to keep the paint from becoming too thick and making the cover curl. They were allowed to dry for at least 24 hours.
3. Gold metallic craft paint was brushed on (with a very dry brush) to highlight the shapes. A paper sealer such as Mod Podge may be added on at the end to seal the paint.
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Earth Day Mural from Mamascout

Amy from Mamascout shared her post about her Earth Day project with me, and I think it may bring some inspiration to others. I love how she used one of my murals as just a starting point to more creative thinking. Thanks for letting me share it Amy!
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Art Trading Cards, or ATCs

Art Trading Cards are miniature works of art (2.5" x 3.5") that fit inside standard plastic card sleeves. This type of art was started in Switzerland in 1996 and grew out of an interest in mail art. ATCs are now produced all over the world in various media, including pencils, pens, markers, watercolor, acrylic paints, collage, papercuts, found objects, and more.
1. Draw sea life shapes in pencil on the cards, keeping them as large and simple as possible.

2. When complete, trace them with a black permanent marker.
3. I used my favorite Prismacolor® watercolor pencils to color and paint the cards. The pencils allowed me to easily fill small shapes like the seaweed.
4. After the cards were dry, I used ultra fine point permanent markers in matching colors to add waves to the background, and details to the fish. 

Note: This art is now featured on the Strathmore ATC packaging and website that you can see HERE. Thanks Strathmore!
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Masking Tape Letter

I tried this masking tape and marker project with kinders and they really enjoyed it. The students were given full permission to scribble, and actually had time to do both their initials in their hour of class time.
Note: I recommend testing your tape on your paper first to see if it comes off without tearing. I used blue painter’s masking tape on some donated coated paper. I’d say some paper came off with the tape maybe 10% of the time, but other combinations may fare better.
1. I began by writing block letters on the board. Two other adults and I tore lots of pieces of tape and stuck them around on the desks so each student could concentrate on making their letters with straight lines (not too easy with curvy "S" and others).
2. I handed out my well-worn collection of Sharpie markers and let each student go to town. They were encouraged to just scribble over the entire paper with lots of colors. When a teacher said they had colored enough, they peeled off the tape. Voila! A perfect white letter!
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Geometric Print Man

When introducing printmaking to young students, it helps to keep things simple. Sometimes the most striking images are the result.
1. Each student should receive one 9" x 12" chipboard, a smaller piece of posterboard for the body, scissors and white glue. Instruct the students to cut geometric shapes from the posterboard to make a figure from a circle, squares and rectangles. Circle templates help to make round heads, if desired. Encourage students to make arms and legs with two sections that can bend and show action. After a figure is made, it is to be glued down firmly to the center of the chipboard.
2. Each student needs a brayer, rolling plate, printing ink and several sheets of 9" x 12" manila paper. Demonstrate how they can roll the ink on the plate with their brayer until it is evenly coated, then roll it onto their cardboard figure until evenly covered. The manila paper is pressed down on the inked board, and then pulled back to reveal the print. Have the students try to make several prints until a "clean" image is produced – one that is evenly covered with ink.
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David Hockney Landscape

David Hockney, a contemporary artist living in Los Angeles, created photocollages in the 1980s, compiling a 'complete' picture from a series of individually photographed details. You can get a similar effect using one photo, cutting it up and loosely putting it back together again.
1. Start with a magazine photo, nature themes are nice to work with. Cut the picture into small square and rectangular sections, taking care to keep them still in order.
2. After a good mix of vertical and horizontal squares and rectangles are cut, glue them to a larger paper. Glue sticks work best as they minimize wrinkles. My goal was to keep the shapes somewhat in the same original placement, but overlapping and rotating them a bit.
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Recycled Mosaic Picture Frame

I love the look of stone mosaic art, but it is expensive and not really practical for young kids. I thought I’d try a variation of this idea I saw online using old plastic cards instead. Between gift cards, rebate cards, and club cards, it’s pretty easy to collect these without really even trying.
1. I started with 8 jumbo popsicle sticks, and glued them together with white glue as shown. Let dry.
2. Cut several plastic cards with a scissors into strips that are just a bit thinner than the width of the stick. Cut across the strips to make the most even and equal-sided squares that you can. Glue these onto the frame with white glue, leaving a small amount of space on either side.
3. If you like the frame with the round ends showing, stop and find or make some art for the center. I wanted a more modern look so after the squares were dry, I used a large scissors to cut the ends off flush.
4. Fill your frame with a photo, drawing, or your favorite quote. To hang, apply a stick-on hanger (available at most craft stores) on the back.
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Sarah’s Fish Journal Page

This is another reason why I love kids art. Today a first grader made her own version of my “One Fish” journal project posted below. I must confess that I never thought of making my water with stylish wavy curls on top, and I never thought of making a ton of colorful scales on my fish, but she sure did. Thanks for letting me share this Sarah!
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One Fish Art Journal Page

It’s fun to add a little texture to your journal pages with yarn.
1. A fish is drawn on heavy watercolor paper, traced with a crayon and cut out. Students paint it with watercolor paint and let dry.
2. On an open spread of journal pages, water lines are drawn in blue and some waves in white. The water is painted with blue watercolor paint. A title for the page is added at the top.
3. A length of colorful yarn is chosen. Notches are cut along the sides of the fish and the yarn is wrapped using the notches.
4. The fish is glued down with a glue stick.
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Kandinsky Trees

Kandinsky is perhaps most famous for his abstract circle paintings. But if you apply his idea to construction paper, some pretty interesting abstract results may occur.
1. Students cut out a tree trunk from black paper, more or less in the shape of a hand with five fingers outstretched at the top. It is glued to a background paper that offers a lot of contrast in color.
2. Lots of “circle leaves” are made by starting with the center circle cut from any color of paper. It is glued to another colored paper, cut out leaving an edge, and so on. The best results come from a variety of circle sizes and widths. Big, little, thick edges, thin edges – all are welcomed. These circles are glued on the branches until the tree is full.
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Recycle Mosaic Faces

I was wishing for some pretty colored paper to collage with when I realized my stash of recycled food boxes would do the trick. I save these boxes for their bright colors and enjoy finding new ways to recycle them.
1. I started with a black piece of paper, where I lightly sketched the outline of a head and neck.
2. My boxes came from food that held cereal, crackers, granola bars...anything that is clean and has lots of color to it. I began by choosing the eye shapes, then lips and nose. Then I found a skin color box and cut it into little “tiles”. All these shapes are glued down using a thick layer of glue stick glue. Any extra glue blobs are OK as they dry clear. More is better in this case to keep corners from popping up.
3. Finish the portrait with some interesting clothes and hair. It took some patience to try to fill in as many small pieces as I could, so I plan to encourage students to not rush through this project. The more detailed shapes they include, the more interesting their artwork will become.
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Painting on Popcorn

“My 5 year old girl started with trying to glue popcorn kernels on the outline of her hand. It morphed into covering the whole plate. We had an idea to paint it after the glue dried. She really enjoyed painting on the texture.”

Julia Fleming
Pearland

Thanks for sharing this Julia!
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Homemade “Oscars”

Sometimes unusual requests lead to new discoveries. This time a parent was looking for student-made awards for an event he was hosting. I found a pretty easy way for a class of 2nd graders to make these “Oscars”.
PREP: A small amount of clay was stuck in the bottom of a baby food jar. I used a scissors and hammer to poke a hole the in the lid of the jar, and a knife create a slit. I also poked an extra hole for air to circulate and let the clay dry. A jumbo popsicle stick was placed through the lid and all the way into the clay for stability. The jar was glued to a tuna can with craft glue. Let dry overnight.
1. Students used air dry clay to make a figure around the stick. I had them start by making a “sandwich” with the stick in the middle. My only request was that their figure had arms crossed like a real Oscar statue does. Let dry for a day in the sun.
2. Students used black acrylic paint to cover the jar and can, and golden brown to cover their statues. Let dry overnight.
3. The final (and most fun!) touch was to paint sparkly gold paint on the figures, and Mod Podge on the base to make things shiny. I can picture turning these into a fun Father’s Day gift.
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Abstract Portrait: A Lesson in Cropping

To crop a picture is to remove outer parts to accentuate the subject matter. Chuck Close was famous for making portraits of people extremely cropped and close up. I've combined this lesson with an abstract portrait project, and love the image that my son made here in 3rd grade.
1. I started with giving the students a template that I made. It was a face with ears, but the very top was cut off to make a flat edge just above the temple. Ask the students to place the template on a tall piece of paper, draw a rectangle around it, and then trace the face with the top edges touching.
2. After tracing the outer edge with a black marker and adding a neck, the students are to divide the face into sections. Each section is to be colored in different colors and patterns with a marker. I've explained that abstract art can be just about anything EXCEPT making a picture look real, so their options are wide open (although making a rule about no blood or gore might be advised).
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Watercolor Cow Face

A piece of stock art inspired this simple watercolor cow with bold, colorful outlining. The trick is to trace the drawing of the cow many times with crayon so the color will really stand out when complete.
PREP: Very light grid lines were drawn in pencil, dividing the watercolor paper into 8 sections as shown.
1. Students drew their cow face in pencil as shown in the diagram.
2. They chose one crayon to trace all the pencil lines. When finished, they traced the lines again so they would be very bold and colorful.
3. Students used Crayola watercolor trays to mix up black, pink, and whatever color they wanted for the background. Remember, sometimes less is more, so lots of details are really not necessary for this project.
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Tie-Dye Looking T-Shirts

This was a big hit today in my afterschool class today – a pseudo tie dying project but without all the unsafe ingredients. My sample had just a couple of circles on it, but these creative students filled their shirts with lots of color, I love it!!
1. I found cheap white t-shirts at my local Dollar Tree store. Each student started by a placing small baby food jar inside their shirt, and stretching a small rubber band around the top. Any open jar would work, but having a rim for the rubber band to rest in really helped. They used permanent markers to draw designs inside each circle.
2. Using a small eye dropper, drops of rubbing alcohol were slowly dripped in the center of each jar. The colors will spread and grow. When the colors have stopped spreading, the rubber band may be removed.
3. The shirts need to have some heat applied before washing them, either with a dryer or iron. This will help set the colors.
Thanks to Athena and Hannah for letting me share their beautiful designs.
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Wild Side/Calm Side Self Portraits

This lesson starts with a discussion about how lines and colors can show emotion. A great book to read first is "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" which shows a lot of emotion with simple line drawings.
1. Students are given a head and shoulder cardboard template to trace in pencil on a sheet of paper. Next they draw a line down the middle of the head.
2. Students choose one side and draw face features and hair in a "wild" manner. Lots of zig-zags and energetic lines may be used. The remaining side of the face and neck are drawn with simple, smooth "calm" lines. When complete, all the pencil lines are traced with a thick black marker.
3. Students fill in the "wild" side with crazy colors (generally red and orange) and the "calm" side with peaceful colors. I think oil pastels produce the most vivid results, but crayons can work too.
4. Make sure the students also fill in the background. Remind them that the goal is for both sides to look very different.

CA Visual Art Standard: Creative Expression, Grade One
2.4 Plan and use variations in line, shape/form, color, and texture to communicate ideas or feelings in works of art.
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Op Art Swirl

Op Art is a math-themed form of abstract art, which uses repetition of simple forms and colors to create optical effects.
1. The students make a dot somewhere near the middle of the paper. They draw four or five sets of wavy “triangle” shapes radiating outward. The shapes need to be done in pairs for the coloring to work out correctly.
2. They draw lines within in “triangle” group that all curve outward.
3. Next they connect all the curved lines with lines that are straight as possible.
4. Pencil crayons work best for coloring. To enhance the pattern that has been drawn, the students are to choose two warm or cool colors for all the curved lines. To finish, they use two other colors to fill in all the straight lines. The result is an image that has a dimensional look. This art always reminds me of Dr. Seuss for some reason.
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Paper Mache Bowls

My after-school paper mache class just finished their bowl project, and I love how they turned out. The key is to just not take any shortcuts. This bowl is made from four mache sessions: two with newspaper and two with paper towels.
1. I have posted the steps to this project before, which you can see by clicking here. I had previously instructed students to do just three layers of mache, but you can see the difference that is made by adding one more layer. I love how thick and strong this one is. It stands about 12" high. This bowl was made by a talented kinder (with a little help from his mom).
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Tissue Paper Collage

This is really good for young kids (age 5 and 6) who may not have used a paint brush before. The only catch is finding liquid starch, which seems to have been replaced by new products.
1. Students make a collage with just warm colors: red, yellow and orange. Give them a few dozen tissue paper squares in these colors, approx. 2" in size.
2. I used a parchment-type paper (wax paper would work too) for the base, and gave the students all a cup of starch and brush. The starch works well because it is thick and not too sticky. Show the students how to brush a little starch on their base paper, and then place a tissue square on top. They need to repeat this, overlapping as much as possible, until the paper is filled.
3. The last step is to brush a final layer of starch over all the tissue so that everything is wet. Any dry spots will not have the nice shiny look to them.
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How To Draw a Duck

I received a gift set of Dr. Ph. Martin’s inks and decided to show my students how to use them as a wash by adding water.
1. Using pencil on 11" x 7.5" watercolor paper, the students drew the large petal shape for the body and a circle above it for the head.
2. Curved lines were added to draw the neck.
3. The lines at each end of the neck were erased to complete the connection. Then feet, feathers and facial features were added.
4. Simple background shapes were added to create the landscape with flora. When the drawings were complete, all lines were traced with a black ink pen. Then, using small paint palettes and thin brushes, the students added water to thin the full-strength blue, brown and green Dr. Ph. Martin’s Inks and completed the picture. Of course, watercolors are an option.
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Kandinsky Circles in Felt

Spring is our biggest school fundraising season and our Silent Auction is our best event. I am always on the lookout for classroom projects that are colorful, quick and simple and Kandinsky circle projects always seem to do well. I’m working on this one with my 4th and 5th graders. 
1. Students use a 6" cardboard square to trace and cut their background felt.
2. Using a variety of colored felt, they build their Kandinskylike circles from the top down, starting with the smallest piece. Each layer is mounted to a larger piece with craft glue. The 4 or 5 layers are then mounted to a  6" background square. 
3. Glue the finished squares to a piece of black felt large enough to create an even border around the outer edge. Clean cutting and gluing is essential.
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Kid’s Video from Sydney, Australia


Shoebox City from ShopfrontArts on Vimeo.
This video was sent to me from ShopfrontArts in Sydney, Australia. Is it cute or what? I thought my students were pretty tech savvy until I saw this. Thanks for sharing, Sarah!
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Flowerpot Painting

Here’s a good first step for kids to learn how to to add some perspective to their drawings. Rather than make a flat profile drawing of a flower pot, have them start with an oval so their plants can “grow” right out of the dirt.
1. Students followed my drawing, starting with an oval in the middle of the paper, a pot shaped around it, and then flowers coming up from the middle.
2. The pencil drawing was traced with crayons, preferably dark ones.
3. The drawing was filled in with watercolor paint, in this case the liquid Dick Blick variety, but any colorful ones will do.
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Paper Mache Houses

Here’s a recycling paper mache project idea turned out really well last month. Empty Goldfish cracker boxes (used for our snack) were the starting point to make these little houses.
PREP WORK: I taped a folded piece of cardboard over the top, just long enough meet each edge. This made a roof-like slope, and hid the folded tab of the package.
CLASS ONE: One layer of paper mache and newspaper was applied all over the box.
CLASS TWO: Another layer of paper mache and newspaper were applied.
CLASS THREE: A layer of paper mache and paper towels were applied all over the box and a cut out cardboard roof. Leaving the roof to dry on the wet house made them stick together.
CLASS FOUR: A background paint was applied to all.
CLASS FIVE: Details were added in paint (windows, flowers, etc.)
CLASS SIX: A shiny finish was added. I tried out this stuff “Collage Pauge” and liked it as I’ve found Mod Podge to sometimes leave a cloudy finish, which is a bummer after weeks of working on a project.
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Tinted and Shaded Circles

Once students know how to mix basic colors, they can learn how to tint (add white), and shade (add black) to a color.
1. Each student gets a paper plate with white and black tempera, a brush, water, and the circled paper.
I pre-printed 3" circles on 9" x 12" paper.
2. Students chose just one other color (red, blue, turquoise, orange, etc.) which is added to their plate. They are to mix that color with white and black, in varying proportions, to make many new colors. As these colors are created, they are to paint rings on the circled paper again and again until it is filled in. The goal is to have at least 2 shades or tints filled in each circle. Encourage lots of variety.
CA Visual Art Standard: Creative Expression, Grade Four
2.2 Mix and apply tempera paints to create tints and shades.
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April Fool’s Eye Glasses

These glasses are pretty much guaranteed to create lots of giggles. Just be sure that children don't try to do much more than pose in them.
1. Follow this link (eyeglass template) to download a template I've posted for the glass frames. Print out copies on the heaviest paper stock available. Give each student a set and have them cut out all 3 pieces, including the inside of the frames. Tape sides to the front. The students decorate the frame with colored pencils or markers.
2. I found some stock photo images of eyes, and made lots of color copies for the students to pick from. Another option is to have realistic drawings of different eye shapes, and let the students choose and color their favorite. Or they could draw their own. Either way, the eyes and skin need to be colored, and then cut out and glued behind the eyeglass openings.
I have posted a pdf of the eye photos I used HERE. If you don’t have a color printer, laser prints that are hand colored might work well too.
You have read this article 1st grade / 2nd grade / 3rd grade / pencil crayon with the title April 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://anitalaydonmillersmiddlegradeblog.blogspot.ca/2012/04/april-fools-eye-glasses.html. Thanks!