Creativity & Michaels Stores

Last month, fourteen bloggers and I were invited by Michaels to their 2012 Holiday Showcase in Dallas. We were all in arts and crafts heaven, spending time with Jo Pearson (above), Michael’s creative expert and judge of TLC’s “Craft Wars”, and previewing some of the coolest new products around. But most of all, we learned that the company is an advocate for adding creativity in our lives, no matter what your age, and no matter how tight your schedule may be. I say there are plenty of very creative projects that are easy to do in just a few minutes. This canvas leaf is my first example, and my mission is to find a lot more – especially for all the holidays that are just around the corner. Enjoy!

Sharpie Leaf on Mini Canvas

1. Follow my “How to Draw a Maple Leaf” to draw one in pencil on a mini canvas. Trace it with a black Brush Sharpie Marker. If you haven’t tried these new markers yet, do it soon, they are a treat!

2. Fill the inside with yellow and red Brush Sharpie Marker. Overlap the colors to make them blend a bit.

3. Fill in the background and sides with a blue Brush Sharpie Marker. I left a little white edge because the black will smear if you touch it while coloring. You may like it though, if it happens, as the look gets more “painterly”.

4. Paint the entire canvas with Sparkle Mod Podge. It will add glitter and shine at the same time.

5. Hang your masterpiece. See, wasn’t that quick and easy?
Note: The glitter didn’t photograph so well here, the real thing sparkles like a Christmas tree!
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Miro Watercolor Painting


Joan Miro was a Spanish artist who developed a very whimsical style back in the 1930s. His painting called “People and Dog in Sun” is  fun to imitate by drawing stick figures, stars and circles.
1. Draw one large stick figure in the middle of a sheet of watercolor paper, preferably in some action pose. Miro often repeated shapes in his work so add more shapes to your art but ONLY by using lines and dots. At least two of the shapes need to intersect (overlap) to make more closed shapes to color.
2. Trace the pencil drawing heavily with a black crayon.
3. I tried a new paint for this project - Dr. Ph Martin’s Inks. They are similar to watercolors but have a really intense pigment. They do stain clothes so I wouldn’t recommend them for young kids. Whatever you use, fill in all the shapes with a different color.
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Mondrian Watercolor Painting


Piet Mondrian became a master of geometric shapes in abstract art. There are many ways to imitate his style of painting, but I like this one best as the crayon naturally creates a wall between the watercolors.
1. With a ruler lightly draw about four parallel horizontal lines across a piece of watercolor paper. Draw about four vertical lines.
2. Randomly erase about three or four “pieces” of the horizontal lines.
3. Add about five lines, in any direction, chopping up any the the large rectangles to make some small ones. The goal is to have relatively even amount of large, medium and small shapes when complete.
4. Trace all their lines, pressing heavily to make a dark line with a black crayon.
5. Paint in the squares with red, blue and yellow watercolor paint. Try to spread out and visually balance all the colors (including white).
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Masking Tape Art Journal Page

When I want my students to make a really colorful and layered page, I keep coming back to crayon rubbings and watercolor paint. It’s still just an unbeatable combination.
1. Tear blue masking tape into strips to make them thin with jagged edges. Apply them to a spread of journal pages to spell out "A-R-T”. Press down well.
2. Place a plastic mesh under the page and color heavily with several crayons.
3. Remove blue tape carefully.
4. Paint over all the are with watercolor paint. Add accents lines where desired.
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Klimt Watercolor Tree

I was so happy to find this idea at Artsonia from Cedar Creek Elementary. It’s perfect for little ones just figuring out how to draw and paint. All you need is one permanent marker and some overlapping watercolor paint to make a really stunning picture.
1. Draw a ground line and the center tree trunk with a pencil. Add curly branches to the left and right. Add more curls wherever they fit.
2. Trace all the pencil lines with a chisel-tip black Sharpie marker. Add some extra thickness to the tree trunk and beginning of the branches.
3. Paint the ground one color (I love Dick Blick Liquid Watercolor paints). Paint splotches of color all over the tree and background. Overlap the splotches a bit so that the colors run together.
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Scratch Art Peacock

I’m continuing to make projects for my afterschool Scratch Art class and think this peacock will be fun to do. I prefer to give students just a little bit of a shape to start with, and then have them continue with their own ideas.
1. I made a very simple peacock drawing that is posted HERE. Print on copy paper and tape to the front of a sheet of scratch art paper.
2. Trace the lines with a ball point pen. Check that the lines made an imprint on the scratch art paper.
3. Remove the copy paper and scratch all the imprint lines with a wooden stylus. Extra feathers are added in between each with details as shown.
4. The head and body are scratched with any desired pattern.
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Storm in Haiti Hits Citi Soliel School

If you followed my trip to Haiti this summer, you may have read that all the Project HOPE Art women fell in love with the kids and teacher in the clip shown above. I just got a message that this small school is now housing 60 people due to homes lost in Friday’s tropical storm. Friends at an organization nearby called Haiti Communitere are working right this moment to bring help to those stranded from food, water and shelter. If anyone has the ability to donate funds, it would go right to the hands of people who can help those in need today. (Click HERE to donate.) Thank you so much!
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Glue & Foil Drawing Tutorial

I was so inspired by a project at “Make It A Wonderful Life” that tried it out today in an afterschool class. It really makes some very inexpensive supplies (chipboard, glue, aluminum foil and shoe polish) look pretty fabulous. 


1. Make a large simple drawing on chipboard with a pencil and trace with a thin marker. Trace all the lines with white glue and let dry for at least 24 hours.

2. Rub the entire drawing with a glue stick. Cover ALL of the cardboard. Any missed spots will not stick to the foil and cannot be “etched” later with the stylus.

3. Tear a sheet of aluminum foil and press to chipboard, shiny side up. Wrap edges around the sides and glue in place.

4. Rub around edges of the glue with a Q-tip. The better the rubbing, the more defined the drawing.

5. Use a wooden stylus to draw details on the bird, ground and sky.

6. Apply black shoe polish to drawing. (Don’t try to substitute black paint, I tried, it rubs off.)  Wipe away any extra polish with a paper towel.

7. It’s done. I’m going to try a cowboy boot next spring when a 4th grade class is learning about the wild west. Can’t wait!
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Draw a Sitting Cat


I've never had a student say that they didn't want to draw a cat. They make a great subject matter for boys and girls that are just learning how to draw.
1. Lightly draw two circles, the same size, in the center of the paper. They should be about half a circle apart.
2. The cat body is made from drawing curves that go from the neck down, adding space around the bottom circle. (The bottom of the cat needs to wider than the head.) When complete, erase the bottom circle.
3. The eyes, nose, mouth, collar and whiskers are added to the face.
4. The tail and leg shapes are added.
5. Al the lines are to be traced with a thin black marker.
6. The cat is colored in with oil pastels. Encourage using a contrasting color for the background.
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First Art Journal Project

I was looking for an easy way to have my young students put their name on their new art journals this afternoon, and was happy to find these glitter stick on letters at Michaels just in time, and even on sale! Sometimes things just work out.
1. I’ve been using Strathmore Art Journal Kits for over a year now, and love the extra pretty papers that come inside. Students picked out the letters for their name, peeled off the backing and applied as desired.
2. The filler letter pieces were added randomly, and metallic markers were used to add some hand drawn finishing touches.

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Watercolor Dragonfly

I’ve found that symmetrical images generally make the best introduction to drawing and painting for young students. It also helps to have the art touch the edges of the paper to overcome the tendency to make images too small.
1. Draw the head circle in pencil near the top center of the paper. Add the thorax below, and then the abdomen which should almost touch the bottom of the paper. Two pairs of wings are drawn coming out of the thorax. Lines are added to the wings and abdomen.
2. The lines are traced with a chisel tipped black Sharpie marker.
3. All the shapes are painted with liquid watercolor paints. I like the Dick Blick brand as they are so vibrant.
Thanks to Illana, a 4th grader at my school who make this beautiful painting today.
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Paul Klee Castle Drawing

Paul Klee was one of the great colorists in the history of painting. I developed this project that imitates his abstract “Castle and Sun” painting by having students trace cardboard shapes and fill them in with colored pencils.
1. Give each student a piece of black paper, a pencil and half a dozen or so cutout square, rectangle and triangle cardboard shapes. I made lots of shapes that were all based on 1" proportions. My sample uses 2" squares, 1" x 2" rectangles (some with triangle tops) 3" x 2" rectangles, a 3" bridge, and a 2" circle.
2. Starting at the bottom, the students are to stack and trace the cardboard shapes until they have built a castle to their liking. A sun is also added somewhere in the sky. After the drawing is done, they trace all the pencil lines with a white colored pencil.
3. All the shapes are filled in with colored pencil. Tip: If you can, buy some good black Artagain paper which won’t face before your very eyes like the school-regulated construction paper does. There’s nothing like good materials to make good art!
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Positive / Negative Drawing


This is a simple exercise that uses positive and negative shapes and lines.
1. Give each student a tall white rectangle, and a black piece of paper that is half the size of the white. The black paper is to sit at the bottom of the white paper. Ask the students to draw three lines to make a smaller black square, the top edge being one side. Have the students cut out the square out in one clean cut (not several pieces).
2. Show how the smaller black square is to flip up, matching corners. Glue down the bottom "negative" shape, and the top "positive" square, leaving a "negative" white space open.
3. Now the students may use a black marker to draw a "positive" vase in the bottom empty square, and a white crayon to draw a "negative" bunch of flowers on the black square above.
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“Things that Are Most” Project


Recently I decided to revise a creative writing/drawing project from a book titled “Things that are Most in the World” by Judi Barrett. I tried it’s suggested followup before, but now have a more specific idea on how to have students push their creativity a bit further.

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

One more idea: collect all the pages from your class to make one big book book, and get hardcover copies made online. Could make a great fundraiser...

Click HERE to download my blank template for this project.
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Marker Line Leaves



I find a lot of inspiration at stock art sites like gettyone.com and istock.com. This came from a leaf illustration, which is simpler than it looks if you pencil yourself some guidelines first.
1. Start by drawing the center veins of each leaf, which kind of looked like a long main line with an "X” through it. Sketch lightly with a pencil. Continue drawing these until the paper is full. See my small diagram.
2. Still using your pencil, draw the outside curved edge of each leaf as shown in the small corner diagram.
3. Using a fine tip marker such as this Stabilo set, draw parallel lines inside each leaf, taking care to start at the center vein and end at the pencil edge. Continue until the leaves are all filled in.
4. If large spaces are left, parts of a leaf could be added, coming in from the edge of the paper. When all are traced, erase the pencil guidelines around the leaf edges.
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Scratch Art Leaf

I’m preparing for a Scratch Art Drawing class, which calls for a different plan than a regular drawing class. Erasing is not an option, and I’d like the kids to focus on drawing lots of patterns, so I’m going to give them the outline of this leaf to start with.
1. You can download my leaf template HERE. Print on copy paper and tape to front of Scratch Art paper. Trace with a ball point paper.
2. When you remove the white paper, you should see a faint dented line on the black paper. Trace with a wooden stylus. Trace again to scratch away a thick line.
3. Scratch all the separate areas with different kinds of lines: circles, zig zags, swirls, etc. Challenge yourself to make each one different.
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Kinder Portfolio Project

I found this art and book combination over at Teach Kids Art. “The Dot” book is short and sweet and has a wonderful art message. The simple lesson of just painting lots of dots on a posterboard was good for kinders just learning how to follow directions.
1. I prefolded 28" x 22" posterboard almost in half, leaving about 4" extending on one side. This is saved for the student’s name. (Make sure any shiny surfaces are on the inside as the paint will not stick to it.)
2. Each student received their posterboard face up, along with several spillproof cups of liquid watercolor. “Dip, dip, wipe, wipe” was explained for those new to painting, which helps to keep the brushes from getting overloaded with paint. Students practiced making large, medium and small dots, just like the little girl in “The Dot” book. They were allowed to trade their cups with their neighbors to get a variety of colors.
3. The teachers printed the students names carefully with a fat black Sharpie marker.
4. After the paint was dry, the sides were taped together with either a clear or colorful tape. These portfolios will help keep art safe and organized all year long.
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CICO Art Book Giveaway Winner


 The winner of the four Art Books is...

Rescued and Rehabbed who wrote:
“As a first year art teacher I could use these in my classroom!!!”

Congratulations, I hope your kids have a wonderful time with their new books. Thanks to all who entered my giveaway, I hope to have more for the holiday season so check back often!
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To My California Bay Area Friends...

Project HOPE Art’s 
Second Annual VooDoo Dinner 
Monkeyflower Ranch
Sept 22, 2012
3:00pm to sunset

Project HOPE Art will honor their donors at a five course Haitian-inspired meal on Monkeyflower Ranch; a working organic sheep farm in North Monterey County. 

Local wine, produce and beautiful organic fromage from Monkeyflower Ranch will all be a part of this experience.  


Cheese-maker Rebecca King will be on hand to give farm tours, Haitian children's art will be on display and lots of sheep, pigs, dogs and ducks will be available to pet. We look forward to you joining us on the farm! 

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First Flower Painting

This project makes for a great introduction to painting. Just simple shapes with a little color mixing. Step-by-step instructions are here...
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Torn Magazine Duck Collage

Magazine pages are great to collage with. The colors are bright, and they have a built-in shine. My step-by-step instructions for this duck can be found here....
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Me & My Goals Self Portrait

This was inspired by a New Jersey middle school posting you can see HERE. Drawing just the top face allows a focus on the eyes, and the beginning of a school year is a good time to declare goals. Here are my step-by-step instructions with a template...
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Color Wheel for Elementary Students

I’ve found that most color wheels are either too complicated (lots of sections and subsections) or too simple (three overlapping balloons) for your average elementary student. My solution is to make my own, and also diagram primary, secondary, warm, cool and complementary colors. You can download a copy for free HERE (new link). Enjoy!
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Modigliani Style Portrait

Amedeo Modigliani was a late-century European artist who never lived to see his success, but his paintings are some of my all-time favorites. I love his portraits with elongated faces in soulful colors.
1. Start with a tall 9" x 15" sheet of black paper. Fold the paper in half three times to make 8 equal sections as shown. Draw a head, neck and body as shown on the diagram.
2. Draw hair around the head as needed.
3. Modigliana drew his faces in stretched proportions as the eyes usually sit in the middle of the face. Draw your  eyes near the top of the head, and the mouth near the bottom. Continue with a nose and eyebrows.
4. With a black oil pastel, trace the pencil lines using a lot of pressure to make a thick line. Fill in the skin, hair and clothes with more pastel. If some of the black lines get covered up, trace all again when complete.
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Lichtenstein Style Portraits

Roy Lichtenstein was a prominent American pop artist who favored old fashioned comic strips as a subject matter. By using a pre-printed paper full of empty dots, you can make your own portrait – complete with graphic marker shading.
1. You can download my pdf template of empty dots HERE. Start by lightly sketching your face with a pencil. Remember, the eyes go in the middle of the head, not up near the top!
2. Trace all the lines with a black Sharpie marker.
3. Fill in the dots with the desired pencil crayon colors. This may take some time, but neatly colored dots will make a successful picture. Also add some light background shading of each color.
4. Using the Sharpie marker again, add some thick lines wherever you think shadows may happen, as shown by image on the right. Be sure to leave some of the lines thin so you have variety.
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Draw like Renoir

Auguste Renoir, a French Impressionist painter, was famous for his use of vibrant light and saturated color. This scratch art project is one way to play simulate that look of bright light on a sunny day.
1. I used the 24 pack of Portfolio brand oil pastels as they provide the soft covering needed for scratching away layers of color. Begin by covering your paper with a layer of yellow pastel.
2. This project is meant to simulate the look of THIS Renoir painting, so a simple side view of a dancing woman with her arm extended is drawn next in pastel as shown.
3. An old fashioned man is added next, still in pastel and colored heavily and filled in with more pastel.
4. The area around the couple is filled in with another pastel color.
5. A wooden stylus is used to scratch away areas that might reflect light on a sunny day. Details on the dress, the man's hat and more are all possibilities. 
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Layered Paper Weaving

I’ve found the “over and under” concept of weaving is easiest to learn when using strips paper. Yarn gets tangled too easily and takes time to show patterned results.
1. This sample was made from Strathmore “Smooth Bright Construction Paper” tablet as it has sturdy paper in great colors. To create the “warp” paper, have an adult cut an even number of vertical cuts on one of the sheets with an exacto knife. (An even number will insure symmetry on the sides.)
2. Stack the sheets of paper needed for the strips and cut varying widths with a paper cutter. Three widths or more will offer lots of variety.
3. Students use the larger strips to weave into the “warp”. They continue until the sheet is full.
4. Thinner strips are added on top of thick as desired. All the paper is taped down to secure in the back.
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Back to School Composition Books

I found all these supplies at my local Staples store. Turns out you can now buy sheets of Duct tape, who knew?
1. Carefully peel one side of the sheet of duct tape back, press onto the composition book and smooth together. Fold over any extra edges and trim round corners with a scissors.
2. Using metallic markers (I like the ones shown with the tiny brush tips) draw letters and shapes as desired until the cover is pretty full.
3. Using the tips of the brushes, fill in the background with tiny diagonal lines.
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