Mosaic Rainbow

My creative curiosity has been peaked with a recent discovery of colored paper tape. It really makes any type of mosaic work a slam dunk, with no messy glue.
1. Beginning with 1" green tape, cut strips into squares and line up across the bottom of a sheet of black paper.
2. Use purple tape squares to make the inside curve of the rainbow.
3. Continue adding rows of blue, light green, yellow, orange and red.
4. Finish off with rows of light blue for the sky. 
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Watercolor Witch Hats

I don’t know how many times I have to relearn that the simplest ideas are often the best. Apparently once more, because I first thought that this was going to be too easy (i.e. boring) for my afterschool watercolor class. Now it’s one of my favorite projects.
1. Draw a large upside down V for the hat, with a fold at the top. Connect the ends with a curve. Add another curve for the band, and an oval for the rim. Buckle is optional.
2. Trace the hat with a Sharpie marker.
3. Add colorful designs with a crayon, both on the hat and in the background.
4. Paint all the areas as desired. I used Dick Blick Liquid Watercolor paints as I love the bold colors.
Thanks to Ryan, (just a kinder!) who is letting me share his beautiful witch hat.
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Cubist Paper Bag Costume


A Halloween book that included faces on paper bags inspired my “Cubism” costume. 
I used a regular brown grocery bag, and started by drawing the split face on one side with a black pastel. For more specifics on how to draw the two-sided face, check out my post here. After the features were drawn in black, I colored white pastel to fill in the background and cover over any logo art. (My Portfolio® brand pastels are pretty opaque.) I continued drawing the hair around the sides, top and back of the bag, always coloring very heavily. I poked two eye holes near the bottom of my nose. I won’t be running any races with this on, but I do think I can make it around the playground once or twice for our school parade. Hope this helps others that need a last-minute costume!
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FREE Download Spider Template


If you give students half of a symmetrical image, they will have all the info they need to complete the missing side.
If you search for spiders at “Clip Art ETC” you will find THIS amazing collection. You may have trouble deciding which one to download. I chose the highest resolution of a fuzzy one, and cropped it in my computer to print just half an image. For those in a hurry, HERE is where you can drag a copy to your desktop. I recommend that students start with drawing the outside edges until they think the shapes match, and then fill the inside to match. Lots of shading will be necessary to complete the spider.
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Watch out for this in 2013...


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Coffee Painting


I saw this idea in a recent Arts and Activities magazine. I thought a haunted house would be a good subject matter because of all the moody brown tones that could be created.
1. Students dissolve bits of instant coffee with water on a plate. The house is ‘drawn’ with a paintbrush, which allows for lots of thick and thin lines. The horizon line is first, then the house is outlined with as many sections and add-ons as possible. Skinny trees add lots of atmosphere.
3. After the outlines were done, the students filled in the painting by making as many different values of brown as they could. The finished painting was to have a range of white, light brown, to dark brown when complete. Students loved this project – and how else can you get cheap instant paint that even is shiny after it dries?
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Printed Pumpkins

I introduced my kinders last week to their first printmaking project. Learning how to draw different expressions on the faces, like those in the famous “Five Little Pumpkins” book, added to the fun.
1. Students use a paper towel or toilet paper roll, dip the end in a pool of black tempera paint, and print as many black circles as they can on a sheet of drawing paper. Let dry.
2. Faces are drawn in each circle with a Sharpie marker. Happy, scared, surprised ... the book has clear examples of each.
3. The pumpkins are colored in with crayon, and the background filled as well.
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Crazy Watercolor ATCs

It turns out that lemon juice does a pretty cool thing if you leave it on a watercolor painting. Give it a few minutes to soak, dab away with a tissue, and some crazy shapes are left as a result.
1. Cut watercolor paper to the standard ATC size: 3.5" x 2.5". Paint with liquid watercolor paint, overlapping areas so that they bleed together. If possible, use full strength paint to get maximum color. Let dry, or make many cards so to give the first ones time to dry.
2. Use a brush or eyedropper to place small dots of lemon juice on cards. Let sit for a couple of minutes before dabbing with a tissue. The citric acid will “bleach” out the color below it.
3. Use a black ball point pen or marker to trace the shapes that are created and turn them into whatever creatures come to mind.
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Day of the Dead Drawing

Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) is a holiday celebrated in Mexico in which family and friends pray for and remember friends and family members who have passed away. It occurs every November 2nd in connection with All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day celebrations.
1. Starting with black construction paper, show the students how to draw in pencil a large skeleton head, which looks a lot like an upside down pear. Circles are added for the eyes, a triangle for the nose, and rectangle with lines for the mouth. A skinny neck and shoulders are added.
2. After the pencil drawing is complete, the students are to take white glue and trace all the lines. Let dry for at least 24 hours.
3. Oil pastels are used to color in all the shapes made with glue.
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Positive / Negative Scratch Tree

This starts as a “negative” scratch art picture and is completed as a “positive” marker drawing. Students can become more familiar with both terms while they make a spooky night drawing.
1. Glue a sheet of Scratch Art paper to a larger sheet of drawing paper. A white border that is 2 to 3 inches wide is best.
2. Use a wooden stylus to draw a tree that is going off the scratch paper. Details like a fence, grass and moon may be added.
3. Finish all the shapes that are going off the page with a thin black marker.
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More Fall Leaves

I like using grids to organize art and fill a page at the same time. It eliminates the “tiny drawing on a large paper” syndrome.
1. I used my printer to make lines that divided the paper into 6 equal rectangles. Draw 6 simple leaves in each, starting with the spine and then adding the leaf edge around it.
2. Trace all the lines with a black permanent marker.
3. Paint the leaves with warm colors. Add accent lines of paint over the marker lines. If you do this while the paint is still wet, the colors will bleed together.
4. Pick two cool colors, and paint the backgrounds alternately in a grid pattern.
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HOPE Art Photo Essay in School Arts!

It’s confirmed, Project HOPE Art’s Melissa Schilling will have her photos and essay published in the Feb. issue of School Arts Magazine, one of the largest arts education magazines in the country! So proud of her and everyone who made that photo session happen. Click on the photo to get to see a preview.
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A Jackson Pollack Pumpkin

Want to show your neighbors how creative you are? Get this white pumpkin from Michaels and pour lots of colorful acrylic paint over it. Let drip and dry for about 24 hours, and then add a coat of glossy Mod Podge for an extra shine. Voila! A pumpkin Jackson Pollack would be proud to call his own.
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Watercolor Crayon Resist Leaf

This is so simple but really makes a beautiful image.
1. Cut corrugated cardboard into rectangles that are at least as large as your drawing paper. Students start by drawing large leaf shape on on white paper, and then tracing with a crayon. Vein lines are important as they allow separation of colors.
3. To create the texture, the students put the corregated cardboard under their paper (bumpy side up) and rub inside their leaf with the side of a peeled crayon. Encourage the use of warm colors, just like most fall leaves.
4. Pass out warm watercolors (red, yellow, orange) which may be painted over all of the inside leaf, including the crayon rubbing.
5. Pass out cool watercolors (blue, green and purple) for the students to paint in the entire background as they please.
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Mosaic Tape Pumpkin

This is basically my Mosaic Michaels Pumpkin project applied to paper. But rather than make a picture that just goes in a folder, students decorated the front of a folded cardstock paper with writing paper inside so they could have a “Halloween Journal.”
1. Black cardstock paper like this Recollections brand from Michaels makes this project work. It’s black and smooth and even allows for repositioning. Fold in half and staple a few sheets inside with a long stapler.
2. Paper tape is cut into pieces and arranged into shapes or patterns on the cover.
This art was made by a 3rd grader. Thanks for letting me share your art, Arman!
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American Gothic Face-in-the-Hole

A reader sent me this great photo a few days ago and wrote:

“I am sending you these photos to show you how I adapted your American Gothic mural to make a Face-in-the-Hole board for our school’s annual Harvest Hoedown. I have always been afraid of painting projects, but I loved doing this and am very happy with the results. My husband and I got to study the painting in a way that we never would have in a museum. I look forward to new additions to your store and may even attempt to paint another! 
– Sincerely, Donna B.”

Thanks Donna! You and your husband are obviously talented painters. I wish you much success with your Hoedown, and hope that your work inspires other creative thinkers as well.
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Another Folk Art Cat

I loved this folk art painting project last year. I brought it out again today but simplified it. The basic idea is to draw in a primitive style, so I asked students to imagine drawing a cat as if they had never drawn one before.
1. Draw a cat with very simple shapes. Start with the circle head, oval body, “hot dog” legs and tail, and add ears and face. Trace all with a black Sharpie marker.

2. Add details with crayons: stripes on legs, spots, whiskers, colored eyes and stars in the background. Last detail? Draw white claws with a white crayon.

3. Paint the cat and background as desired with watercolor paint. Be sure to go over the crayon, and not just around it.
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Zack’s Abstract Cats

This marker drawing project was inspired by a “Jazzy Cat” painting in the AliceinParis Etsy Shop. I love the simple white cats with the super colorful background.
1. Start by drawing a foreground cat with a simple face and add shoulders below. Add another cat behind, with simple shoulders, and continue until the page is full. (Note: This art was drawn on coated paper, similar to slippery fingerpainting paper. The marker color just looks much richer on it.)
2. Trace all the lines with a black Sharpie marker. Add color only for small parts of the cat face, the body may have only black patterns added to it.
3. Fill in the background with one chisel tip Sharpie marker, taking care to leave no spots.
Thanks to Zack G., a talented 1st grader, for letting me share his artwork. Aren’t his cats too adorable?
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Mr. Model Skeleton


I have a hard time throwing away multiples of anything, as I am sure they are just a few steps away from becoming a great art project. This is especially true for plastic, so it was only a matter of time before I figured out what to do with old watercolor trays. With just a few items from Michaels Craft Store, you can make this cool little skeleton in his own carrying case.

Supplies Needed: Tray, Black spray paint, Crayola White Model Magic®, brush, Sparkle Mod Podge®.

Click HERE to view a complete tutorial...
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Winner of Project HOPE Art Giveaway...

Kassie Mayo who wrote...

I have twin students who were adopted from Haiti. I know their family would LOVE these mugs with art from their home country.

Congratulations Kassie and thank you for all you do for your students. Your four mugs will be arriving soon!
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Leaf Art Trading Cards

I went back to my favorite markers today, Sharpie brush, for my ATC class. Those brush tips just make for the best coloring!
1. Coated paper works great with the Sharpie markers. If you don't have access to any, try fingerpainting paper like this Strathmore type. Cut paper to 3.5" x 2.5" size. Draw outline of leaf with a black Sharpie marker.
2. Fill in the leaves with Sharpie brush markers. Color the background with a contrasting color.
3. Use a metallic markers like this Sharpie set to draw highlight colors on each card.
Note: I promise this post is not brought to you by Sharpie, they just happen to make markers that color really well.
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Witch Feet Art Trading Cards

Symmetrical witch feet make for a good drawing exercise with this Halloween theme art trading card project.
1. Draw the witch feet in pencil on art trading cards (which is paper cut to 3.5" x 2.5").
2. Trace with a black marker.
3. Color in with colored pencils.
4. Draw the laces with a metallic marker.
5. Add a fun message.
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Frankenkids Cubist Collage

Mix Frankenstein with computer illustrated eye drawings and kids can have fun making some very silly faces. 
1. Those on a budget could use magazine eyes, but I had too many kids to chance that they could all find some, so I looked for another option online. I found a place called Pycomall and bought a sheet of illustrated eyes for $8. Print out many for the class to share.
2. Students draw a rectangle head and glue down two non-matching eyes. Simple monster features are added, along with a profile line down the center of the face.
3. The drawing is traced with a black marker and colored in with crayons.
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Cat in a Pumpkin Painting

Consider this drawing a study in circles. The head, eyes and pumpkin give kids plenty of practice in making round shapes.
1. Start by drawing the cat head in the middle of the paper. Add the ears, eyes, nose and mouth.
2. Draw the two paw shapes underneath, making sure they touch the head.
3. Draw the top curve of the pumpkin between the paws and on the sides. Add the sides and bottom. Finish with the pumpkin lines. Add horizon grass line.
4. Trace all the lines with a black Sharpie marker.
5. Color the small shapes with a crayon (ears, nose, eyes).
6. Paint all the shapes as desired. This sample was painted with Dick Blick Liquid Watercolor paints.

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Mosaic Michaels Pumpkin

I’m rather proud of this idea that actually came to me by chance. I was experimenting with a black foam pumpkin that I found at Michaels and a parent donated several rolls of orange painter's tape. Voila! A mosaic pumpkin that was easy to make and has a cool graphic look. Happy Halloween!

I cut the painter's tape into irregular shapes and applied my mosaic. Orange tape is extra tacky but be sure to smooth the edges to get a solid bond.
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How To Draw A Bat

This bat drawing worked really well for me last week with 1st through 4th graders. Short and fat or tall and thin, they all were very cute! I thought I’d try this new format of extra large tutorial diagrams. Let me know if it helps for reading on smart phones, tablets, etc. Click HERE for a how-to diagrams.
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Project HOPE Art Giveaway $70 Value

Project HOPE Art is proud to sponsor a very special giveaway – a set of coffee mugs printed with watercolor paintings from four Haitian orphans at OJFA. Last January, Jenni Ward led the girls in a project about eating healthy, and this colorful, whimsical art was the result.

To enter, leave a comment with your contact link or info by Tuesday, October 9th, 12pm midnight. A winner will be announced the following day. Will ship to continental US addresses only please. These mugs are absolutely one-of-a-kind, are valued at over $70, and are perfect for a special holiday gift. Please visit our Project HOPE Art Cafe Press Store for some other beautiful products for sale. Thanks everyone!
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Kandinsky by Matson

If you need a simple oil pastel project that works for many grade levels, try my “Kandinsky Colorweaver” project. I had prepared the paper with the center horizontal and vertical pencil lines so the students could jump right in making the colored diamonds. Thanks to Matson, a talented 1st grader for letting me share this beautiful artwork.
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Leaves with Lines


This is a good exercise for those small motor skills. I’ve found students have a lot of fun just losing themselves in their patterns.
1. Cardboard templates of leaves may help young artists get started, but drawing their own is always best. Students draw at least two of their favorite leaves, and then draw the veins inside. The veins should divide the leaf up into large sections.
2. Sharpie markers are used to trace all the lines. Students fill all the areas with patterns, changing whenever they got to a new section.
3. When complete, the leaves are traced with what I call “energy lines” around the outside until the paper was filled. I emphasized throughout the project that nothing was to be filled in. I think it made the students think more. . . and made my markers last longer too.
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Watercolor Landscape

One of the very first steps in learning perspective is noticing that the further things are away from you, the smaller they appear. A fun way to play with this is with a leaf-blowing landscape.
1. Draw a very simple landscape with a tree, hill, and multiple layers of bushes. Add leaves around the tree, and at least one big and several medium size ones.
2. Trace all the lines with a black Sharpie marker.
3. Add some lines of color with crayons: squiggles for grass, lines in bushes, veins in leaves, etc.
4. Paint all with watercolor paint. I used my favorite Dick Blick brand, especially their Turquoise Blue!
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Glowing Pastel Pumpkin

I found some amazing pumpkins HERE at Artsonia.com, which I believe should be credited to Whitney Elementary School in Strongsville, OH. I simplified the project a bit for my 3rd graders, but kept the brilliant idea of adding a white “glow” around the pumpkin.
1. Draw a large pumpkin on a black sheet of construction paper. Make the lines curved to point to the stem and center bottom. Add a horizon line.
2. Use a thin black pastel to trace all the pencil lines.
3. Color the pumpkin and background with oil pastel. Stars and moons are fun to add.
4. Use a white pastel to make a little “glow” around the pumpkin.
Thanks to Nicolette, a talented 3rd grader, who agreed to let me share her beautiful artwork!
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