Marbled Construction Paper Pumpkin

Thanks to this art teacher’s wonderful posting over on Flickr, I’m going to have my students do a one day version of it with this new Creatology Marble Paper I found at Michaels today. Normally construction paper just doesn’t excite me, but this stuff is pretty cool as it looks a bit handmade.
1. Start with a sheet of black, orange, green and white paper. Cut a strip of grass out of the green and glue it to the bottom of the paper.
2. Fold the orange paper in half and cut out a circle. Glue it down, and add a green stem on top.
3. Cut out white circles for the eyes, and a black mouth. Glue down.
4. Cut black circles for the eyes, and strips for the teeth. Arrange to make as silly as possible and glue.
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Art Trading Cards for Kids

I have admired Art Trading Cards for years, amazed at what some dedicated artists can create on the very small 2.5"x 3.5" format. I think elementary age students can do some beautiful work in this area too, given inspiration and variety of tools to work with. Stay tuned for some ATC posts coming in the next few weeks to explain how some of these cards were created.
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Haunted House Mural

My Haunted House Mural is designed to be just the beginning of a very “scary” creation. This classic Victorian house comes with separate pumpkins, ghosts, cats, bats and more that you can color and arrange as you wish on your finished mural.  

This mural contains 24 pages and measures 48″x 40″ when complete. You can see a preview of the blank template HERE. To purchase and immediately download this pdf file, click the image above and you will be directed to my new PDF Shop.

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How to Draw a Pumpkin


Students can learn how to make circles look like spheres when they practice drawing pumpkins. I’ve broken my drawing into steps, and am happy to tip everyone in on a great new coloring product, Crayola Twistables Slick Stix. I’m not getting any endorsement, I just happened to find these at Michael’s and love the way they look and act like oil pastels, but without all the mess.
1. My pumpkins were drawn as shown in my diagrams, first with a large, medium and small overlapping circle, and then following the steps shown above.
2. When the pencil drawing was complete, I traced all the lines with a black Sharpie marker.
3. I used the Crayola Slick Stix to color in my picture. They have an amazing color and only leave a smooth clean finish when complete.
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Tissue Paper Painting

Some tissue paper has an amazing ability to bleed when it is mixed with water. Cut-up squares can be used to control the color, making an easy way to color a picture without using any paint. Word of advice: not all tissue paper bleeds, a test is needed first as many papers react in different ways.

1. Students draw a simple pumpkin and horizon line in pencil. The lines are traced with a permanent black marker.
2. Cut up dark orange and light orange tissue paper into 2 inch squares, along with dark and light green, and dark and light purple. The students are to wet their drawing with a brush, and then place the tissue paper on the spots they want to color. Working in sections, they should gradually cover their entire paper with colored tissue paper squares.
3. When finished, the tissue paper is removed to reveal the color that has bled below. Beware, stained fingers seem to be unavoidable.
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Scarecrow Portrait

Here’s a marker and crayon combo that worked really well in my watercolor class today. I like the clear edges that the markers make, and the hand drawn feel that the crayon adds.
1. Start with drawing a large “U” for the face, then the hat on top, and the shoulders below. Add the details of the face and clothing.
2. Trace the drawing with a black Sharpie marker.
3. Add colorful crayon lines for the straw (press hard!). Color in small shapes with crayon.
4. Paint the scarecrow with watercolors. I used the liquid Dick Blick watercolors.
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Butterfly Leaves


This project was inspired by Lois Ehlert’s beautiful book “Leaf Man”. A little technology, namely stock photography and a color printer, helped me to make dozens of flat, easy-to-cut and glue leaves.
1. If you are so fortunate as to live near some fall foliage, you can take the real thing to a color copier and make lots of prints of multiple leaves. Or if you are like me, nowhere near any maple trees, you can go to www.gettyone and search for “leaves, close-up”. Download the preview images, which are free, and print out on a color printer. I splurged and used photo paper as the color seems to be about 10 times brighter when I do.
2. Young students can cut out the leaves leaving about an 1/8" of white around the outside. The reason is that intricate leaf shapes can be tricky to cut right on the edge, but because the background will be white, it will look OK. Older students can be more precise and cut out the leaf exactly.
3. The leaves are then to be cut in half right down the middle, along the spine. The two sides are then glued down with a little space left in between. A body and antennae are cut from scraps pieces, or from leftover stems.
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Michaels Pumpkin Stamp Journal

I’d like to officially declare that I am on a mission. Some creative holidays are approaching, and I would like to prove that you don’t need lots of time and expensive art supplies to enjoy them. This paper mache journal cover was made in a few minutes for a few dollars after a trip to Michaels

I found this pumpkin stamp in Michaels’ $1 bin. (Not an accident, there were a ton of fall stamps there.) The journal was about $2 and the stamp about $4 with my coupon. I just stamped the cover with as many pumpkins as I could, and then filled them in with an orange pencil crayon. You could probably even add in a shading lesson here somewhere...
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Magazine Circles of Color


I started this page with the idea of repeating circles. Students could fill in solid circles with colors that appeared in the cut out photos.
1. I used a spice jar lid to trace circles on my paper. I think it looks best when you can have at least 3 going across the page.
2. The same lid was used to trace some circles out of an art magazine I had. I wanted a lot of circles to color in so I cut and pasted only four photos. The remaining circles I colored in with pencil crayon, trying to use only colors I saw in the photos.
3. The background was filled in with a color that was not already used.
4. The edges of the circles were retraced with a black marker, and color names written in the corresponding circles. 
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Embossed Foil and Sharpie Markers

Want to make some super shiny art? Try using the brush Sharpie markers on aluminum foil – it’s a pretty amazing combination.
1. This was part of my afterschool Embossed Art Class, so it started with a drawing in glue on chipboard, and allowed to dry.
2. The front was covered thoroughly with a glue stick and covered with a sheet of foil. A cotton ball helps to rub the surface down.
3. Sharpie markers are used to color in the art. I recommend the new brush ones, if you can save up for them, as they allow for smooth coloring over all the bumps that have been created.
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Walking Pipe Cleaner Guy (or Girl!)

I was inspired by a Giacometti style project and found that wiggly pipe cleaners really are easier to work with if they are securely planted in clay feet. Yay, a sculpture project that is cheap and cute!
1. This figure uses two pipe cleaners. The first is folded in half and twisted at the top half to make the torso. The bottom is spread to make two legs. The second pipe cleaner is folded in half and twisted with a loop in the middle to make the head. Slide it through the top of the torso and twist to secure. Loop the ends to make round hands.
2. Make two balls with clay about the size of a grape. Press firmly to a small piece of cardboard. Stick a leg in each and give your figure an action pose.
4. Cut small pieces of yarn and tie to the top of the head.
5. Paint the clay feet the same color as the pipe cleaners.
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Sunflower Journal Page

It’s so much fun to browse art journal pages over on Pinterest. I found a really inspiring page by Dion Dior HERE, which i just simplified a bit for my elementary students.
1. Start with quarter circle templates (I cut mine from old cereal boxes). Place on one side of spine and trace, flip and trace again.
2. First draw the center petal spines extending from the center of the flower. Add the curved lines to the side of each. Add extra petals to fill in any spaces. Trace all the lines with a black Sharpie marker.
3. Color the center of the flower with a brown crayon, the bottom of the petals orange, and the tips yellow. Press hard to make the color very bright. I like the twistable Crayola crayons as they seem to make more vibrant colors.
4. Write the word “Sunflower” in white crayon across the pages.
5. Paint the page with watercolor paint. If you like my blue, it’s my favorite Turquoise Blue from Dick Blick.
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Baby Food Jar + Michaels Paper

I’m seeing how many ways I can decorate recycled containers with Michaels’ Recollections Paper. They have so many pretty fall and holiday patterns, it may take me awhile.

1. Start with a clean baby food jar. Tear a brown lunch bag into pieces about as big as a golf ball. Make a 50/50 mix of white glue and water. Get each piece really wet and apply to the jar. Be sure to wrap over the top edge. Press often to smooth out. Let dry.

2. Cut two 2" wide bands of your favorite Recollections paper. Piece and glue together to make a strip wide enough to wrap around the jar. Draw more patterns or write a message on the paper with a metallic gold Sharpie. Wrap strip around jar and secure to itself with double stick tape. 
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How to Draw A Maple Leaf


I love all things relating to the fall season, especially the wonderful shape and color of the classic fall maple leaf. It’s shape can look a bit complex until you break it down into steps. I made my leaf with grocery bag paper to give it a natural look and feel. 
1. Start with approximately half of the seamless side of an average grocery bag to make a piece that measures about 7" x 11". Using rulers, draw a center 8" vertical line.
2. Measure 4" up or down to find the center, and make a dot. Two “stems” are added at approximately 45 degree angles.
3. Small scallops are drawn at the tip of each line. They should all be the same size.
4. The 2 large“J” shapes connect the scallops. This shape should extend about half way down to the center point.
5. Two more “J” shapes are added with the ends of both just about level with the center point.
6. Gentle curved lines connect the outer points to the center point.
7. Add a second line to widen the stem so that it can be colored in. Small vein lines can be added, all to be traced heavily in pencil. Use colored pencils to fill in the leaf. Layer lots of fall colors and press hard to make a rich looking leaf. Cut out and display as desired.
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Grass in a CD Case – Living Art

I’m continuing my plant experiments in CD cases. An earlier bean seed grew too fat, so I thought I’d try some thin grass.
1. I started with just a couple spoonfuls of house plant soil soaked in enough water to get it really wet. I hand squeezed it and spread it out in the bottom of an open CD case (the original 1/4" thick ones).
2. About a teaspoon of grass seeds were spread near the top edge. The case was closed, wrapped in a rubber band to keep shut, and set in a window.
3. Fuzzy little seeds were showing in 2 or 3 days, and the grass a few days after that. The soil stays wet for a long time, but if it appears to be dry, the lid can carefully be lifted and water sprinkled inside.
4. Paint markers were used for drawing tiny little lady bugs. I printed out my message, taped it inside and traced it so my writing would be nice and neat. 
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Tissue Paper Leaves


Fall leaves are made of lots of fun curvy shapes, so I had my art journal students trace them today to make a tissue paper collage of maple, white oak, elm and maple leaves.
1. Download my leaf line art file HERE, and print a page for each student. Pass out lots of rectangles of tissue paper that are large enough to cover the largest leaf, and have the students trace them with a thin black marker.
2. The leaves are cut out in rounded manner, and glued to the journal page with a glue stick. Light rubbing of glue on journal paper, followed by placement of tissue paper is best.
3. When the page is filled with leaves, the outline of each leaf is traced with a metallic marker. Leaf names may be added afterwards.
4. If any other space is left, more leaves may be drawn and traced with a marker and colored with colored pencil.
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Symmetrical Owl


This project fulfilled all my criteria for a successful lesson today: it was seasonal, a visual art standard (symmetry) was covered, and it really peaked all the student’s interest.
1. To make a pattern, students use an 8.5" x 11" sheet of old newsprint and fold it in half the long way. They draw the outline of a simple owl as shown, making sure the center was on the fold of the paper. With the paper still folded, they cut the owl out.
2. The newsprint owl is centered on a sheet of 9" x 12" sheet of black paper and traced around the edge with a pencil. The rest of the owl is drawn, starting with the brow lines, then the centered diamond beak, then the eyes and then wings. The goal was to have the owl drawn as symmetrically as possible.
3. When the drawing was complete, the students traced the pencil with a black oil pastel. To color the owl, I asked that they use realistic colors (brown, white or gray).
4. After the owl was thoroughly colored (no paper showing) students cut out their owls. One teacher opted to tape groups of them to long ribbons so they could hang in her room – lots of possibilities for decorating.

CA Visual Art Standard: Grade Two, Creative Expression
2.5 Use bilateral or radial symmetry to create visual balance.
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Abstract Fish Drawing


One art concept even young students can embrace is the idea of making an abstract work of art. I like to describe it as coloring just for fun, and not worrying if something looks real or not. A fish is a good shape to work with as students can draw a spine and then add some “bone” lines.
1. Starting with the body, students draw a large football shape that is open on one side. This side is closed by drawing a V-shaped mouth. A curve is added to frame the head, along with a tail and fins and eyes. Lastly, a spine may be drawn across the body and angled lines to imitate the bones.
2. Students trace all the fish lines with a thin black marker.
3. This fish was colored with Crayola Construction crayons, which look great on construction paper. If enough pressure is used, they rival the look of more expensive (and messy) oil pastels.
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“Places to Visit” Journal Page


I used two laws of perspective to help give this art some depth – with distance, similar shapes appear to get smaller and colors in general get lighter.
1. Draw a map-like border around the edge of the paper. Draw a horizon line about 2/3 down. Draw a road that narrows with distance and trees that get smaller,
2. With the lettering, stagger the placement to both loosen up the look and hopefully the students. This journal should be one place where they don't have to worry about keeping things in straight lines. Trace everything with a black Sharpie, going over the headline letters twice to make them darker.
3. Color in the pages with colored pencils. I used the lightest shade of green for the distance fields, and a darker for the area that is up close. 
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Scratch Art Cat Face

I know Scratch Art paper is not in your average school budget, but for smaller groups I do think it can offer really great practice for the fine motor “scratching” skills. This is a follow up to my “Cat Head Pencil Shading” project, but in negative form so the lighter the fur needs to be, the more scratching needs to happen. 
1. Experienced students can draw the cat head according to my post in pencil on white copy paper, then  place over the Scratch Art paper and trace the outline with a ball point pen. A faint line should show to enable the scratching. Younger students (kinder – 2nd grade) may be given this TEMPLATE to trace to on the pink lines to get started.
2. Go over the faint outlines of the cat head with a wooden stylus, repeating if necessary to make a bright line.
3. Scratch out the eyes so they are white with black slits. Scratch out most of the nose color. The fur is to be scratched in the way that fur lays around a cat face, radiating basically from the eyes, It may help to scratch away all the fur evenly first, and then go back and scratch further on areas that are to be lighter.
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Homemade Hospital Gown Drive

When I returned to Haiti with Project HOPE Art this last July, we once again visited our friend Megan Coffee at the Ti Kay clinic near the General Hospital in Port-Au-Prince. Ti Kay is a medical non-profit organization that aims to treat and prevent tuberculosis in Haiti. Dr. Coffee and her staff do amazing work in the very small facilities shown above, and have been acknowledged by many, including former president Bill Clinton.

Project HOPE Art would like to support Ti Kay by taking down a new set of bright, cheery and colorful handmade hospital gowns next January. My sample gown above was made using a free online pattern that you can find at Lazy Girl Designs. Our goal is to deliver 30 adult and 20 children gowns to brighten the surroundings at the clinic. You may send goods to: Melissa Schilling, 2201 Carroll Street, Ste 5, Oakland, CA 94606. Thanks a million to any and all who are interested in participating in this drive. I know I have some of the kindest and most generous readers ever!
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Markers + Crayons + Watercolor Cat

A sketchy illustration of a cat inspired this new combination – drawing with Sharpies, then tracing the marker lines (heavily) with a white crayon. Wobbly and off center lines are welcome, just as long as they are thick.
1. Draw a cat in pencil on a sheet of watercolor paper as shown above. Make sure that the ears touch the top of the paper, and the body touches the bottom. This is a fool proof way to fill the page with your art.
2. Trace all the pencil lines with a black Sharpie marker.
3. Trace all the marker lines with a white crayon. No worries about being exact, just press hard. Repeat and trace again. Add any other crayon line details that are desired. No coloring in though!
4. Use liquid watercolors if you can to fill in the body and the background. The white lines will add a bit of “energy” or glow around your cat.

Thanks to Nathan B., a 2nd grader, who painted this today and is allowing me to share it with all of you.
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Tree Stamps and Watercolor


I’ve been wanting a rubber stamp collection for the longest time, and finally bought a few at Michael’s for my art journal class. If you plan ahead and use coupons, the cost can be pretty reasonable. 
1. Make a pencil grid that fits the largest and smallest of the stamps on hand.
2. Stamp one image in each section, rotating them as wherever possible.
3. Writing is added to each section whether it’s just the name of the leaf or a short poem or phrase.
4. Watercolor is used to paint around each stamp, taking care to leave a little space white space to avoid having colors run around each other.
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Tissue Leaves and Metallic Markers

Tissue paper not only comes in solid colors, but in multi-color sheets too. I found this madras tissue paper at my local Michael’s store.
1. For my city-slicker students, I like to start with an overview of some common leaf names and shapes so they become more aware of the variety that exist. To start, cut several sheets of madras paper into approx. 6" squares. Fold the squares in half and cut symmetrical leaves of all shapes and sizes. I always encourage straight cutting without drawing to eliminate pencil lines and eraser holes.
2. Students take 50/50 water and white glue, and wet the entire paper. The cut out leaves are placed gently on top. More solution may be brushed on the tissue to get the entire leaf wet. Some color bleeding may occur. Let the leaves dry completely.
3.Use metallic marker pens to trace the edges of the leaves and draw veins inside. More line drawing leaves may be added in extra spaces. Lastly, names of each leaf are written around the edges.

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Sailboat Collage Journal Page

I like to encourage kids to make layered pages in their art journals. Rather than writing NEXT to their pictures, it's more fun to write OVER them to merge them together.
1. Cut out a simple boat and sail out of an old map and glue it with a glue stick,
2. Draw a water line with a colored pencil and fill it in. Color draw clouds and sun and color in also.
3. Use a ball point pen to write a story about where you would like to sail away to.

CA Visual Art Standard: Creative Expression, Grade Three
2.1 Explore ideas for art in a personal sketchbook.
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Oil Pastel on Acetate

I love the way oil pastels look on a sheet of acetate, backed with a nice black piece of construction paper. Paul Klee’s City Picture can a lot of fun to imitate in this style with just a few aids.
1. Download a background grid paper I made HERE. Print on white paper and draw a very geometric stack of buildings. Triangles may be added to the squares, along with one circle moon in the sky.
2. Tape a piece of acetate to the front of the grid drawing and trace their drawing on the acetate with a black Sharpie marker.
3. Flip the drawing over and color in all the shapes with oil pastel. Coloring on the back will keep all the black lines intact, even if you color over them a bit.
4. Lastly, the acetate drawing is placed in front of a piece of black paper (shiny and clean side up, pastel to the inside) and taped with invisible tape. 
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Dimensional Magic Mod Podge

Here’s another new craft product that I’ve been turned on to, courtesy of Michaels and their 2012 Holiday Preview they invited me to last month. It’s called Dimensional Magic Mod Podge, and it looks like just glue until it dries, then “wow!”
1. Follow the steps posted in my “Creativity and Michaels Stores” post to make a drawing of a leaf on a mini canvas. Sharpie brush markers again provided a quick, painterly finish on my canvas.
2. Use the squeeze tip of the Dimensional Magic to fill in the leaf and trace the stem. Let dry for about 2 hours. It will dry to a thick clear finish that is filled with the prettiest glitter you ever saw. Hmmm, I see lots of upcoming holiday applications here...
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Painting with Tea Bags

Some of my favorite art journal pages just have a sense of freedom to them. The paper can be spotty and messy, headlines can go at the bottom instead of the top, and writing can go sideways and even upside down. No worries, just paint and draw and write and have fun!
1. Put a teabag in a few tablespoons of hot water to make some really strong tea. Note: Test the different teas first, a cinnamon type worked much better than Lipton. Using a brush or the wet teabag, smear the paper with tea, leaving some blotches and white spots. Let dry.
2. Draw a cat across the pages with a pencil, and trace with a brown Gelly Roll pen.
3. Write block letters for a title and shade in the edges.
4. Write about your cat in the area remaining. The writing may go up and down and follow the shape of the tail. 
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