Saturday, December 29, 2012

Art Storage Folder

The best storage folder for art (in my opinion) is a card stock storage folder.  The ideal size is 11 1/2 inches high by 14 inches long - use duct tape for the sides.
I thank one of my son's art teachers for this great idea (Michael).

Over the years I have experimented with different size folders - and while larger storage folders are needed for big projects - this 11 x 14 folder is perfect!  It holds most projects from the year and can even fit the average size sketchbook. It also fist on most bookshelves and just serves as a nice keepsake.

Each year I now try and have students make this size folder to keep their items in from the year - and it has been a very useful item.

11 x 14 student made storage folder -

All of this stuff fits nicely into the 11 x 14 storage folder!

Friday, November 16, 2012

aerial perspective

Did you know that the Mona Lisa has a bit of aerial perspective in the background?
Did you know that aerial perspective lessons can be an easy introduction to one-point perspective?

Well here is an idea for a beginning aerial perspective lesson.

1. Draw a vertical and horizontal line through the paper.
2. Add a center vanishing point (VP)  Talk about what this is and how it is used in art.
3. Remind students to make whisper light lines - and can use darker lines to outline buildings.

4. Draw some sauqres and rectangles in different areas of the page, which will become the top of the buildings (older students can review math quadrants I, II, III and IV).  
5. I think it helps if the shapes are drawn close to the vertical line, which will become the street.

6. Beginner students can add little dots to the corners of each shape - and then show them that are basically connecting dots - from the VP to each corner (usually one corner will not be connected to the VP).

7.  Remind students to use the ruler for every line drawn.  
8.  Show students how to only use the ruler lined up with the vertical and horizontal line - and to never draw lines by "eye-balling" or guessing.  It may feel correct to just draw in a line, but it must be lined up with the vertical or horizon line.
9. Remind students that they will "get it" eventually and to never give up.  And I have seen students not grasp the concept for many lessons to then one day suddenly say, "I see it now!"

10. If students get frustrated, remind them that perspective is a different way of drawing and that the brain has to adjust - so they need to give their mind time to get it (this takes the pressure off of them and puts it on the body -where we are teaching our mind and hand to work in a new way).  

I sometimes tell students about biofeedback studies - like ones that have monitored brain activity and how certain areas of the brain get used when we try new things - and so I tell them that right now their brain is probably using new areas - or opening pathways that would show highlighting if hooked up.  This seems to encourage students and remind them of the value of trying - the value of learning new things - and the value that art has to our learning.  Our minds become more developed, more seasoned, and more efficient the more we use them - and this can encourage the learner!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fall Art Ideas

October already? Here are some fall art ideas:

1. Go outside - collect some leaves - lay them flat, arrange them - then sketch them (paying attention to veins, shape,margin, hairs, etc.)  Use watercolors to paint in the drawings and add design to the negative space.
Sample from a 6th grader

2. Try some bucket art.  We started bucket art a few years ago (n Fall) as a way to escape for outdoor drawing time.  We go to a local park or civil war preserved site.  Everyone gets their own large bucket to sit on (we have the large ones from a local home improvement store).  Each student has 2 pencils and their sketchbook (can also bring a viewfinder to select your area).  Students use the buckets to sit on and they select three different areas to go and draw.  Usually the fall weather is refreshingly cool and enjoyable, and students are encouraged to date each entry - and even share a sentence or two about how they feel or how the sketch came out.

3. Have an apple party.  You can enjoy apple dishes and apple games, but be sure to set up some different arrangements of apple still life - and have students draw their version.  Can use a lamp to create different effects on the still life set up.

4. Make contour drawings of an apple:

5.  Check out Cezanne's still life with apples:

"The dish of apples is a wonderfully realized piece of painting. One should observe the different posture of each apple. Together they are a symmetrical formal group in which each member is tilted in its own way. And what is more original, each is modeled distinctively, with unique transitions of rich color and light and shade. The dark spots of the stem ends, like the poles of rotating spheres, form an interesting group. We appreciate the qualities of these apple-forms against the flatness and the straight lines and larger, shallower curves of the surrounding objects. With their round contours the apples form a triangle unique in the canvas. It has a kind of perspective in the convergence of the outlines to the vertical jamb of the fireplace. Beside it at the right is another approach to depth through the succession of overlapping objects with shifting axes in vertical alignment--apple, cup and saucer, card, poker and tongs. Within this series C├ęzanne has created a secret counterpoise of small accents through the shadows. The varied directions of the brush strokes too are a decided factor in the construction of the whole."

We had a still life drawing lesson and I raffled off some apple items to students that guessed which artist  was Cezanne. All students ended up guessing who was who (and that was the goal) - so after they signed their name with their guesses, we put all names in a cup and picked winners to take each prize.

We made a "Guess the Artist Sheet"
Students were quick to identify Van Gogh's covered ear,
Monet's faint blue background, and Picasso's Cubism feel,
but the aim of this mini activity was to
expose kids to each Masterpiece Portrait -
and to identify Cezanne (portrait A)!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sources of Light

Lesson: Sources of Light.  
(Sketchbook warm-up)

In the sketchbook, draw lines to mark one page into four sections.  In each section, we draw things that are sources of light.  The items may changes for each class, but usually includes:

1.  Make a Sun!  There are so many different draw a sun - from the classic circle with rays to a layered hot star with spots. Students can really show their unique style with the sun(s) that they sketch.

2. A candle.  There are many ways to make a candles, and in the past, students have made some of the early 1900's classic candle holders with handles while some have drawn more modern versions of table candles.  A few have even sketched a crafty bee's wax candle with fun wicks.  Here is one idea for a quick draw:

old school light bulb
3. A light bulb The classic incandescent bulbs are always fun to draw - with the nice little coil inside and traditional shape - and I usually draw "idea" on the board next to my "old school" bulb!

  However, as times are changing and more efficient lighting emerges, more and more students tend to draw the new style of compact fluorescent lightbulbs!  Some students also get creative and draw night lights, strobe lights, chandeliers, etc. - 
source:  Jeff Knecht

source:  Jeff Knecht

4.  Self-portrait!  The last section for us is used as a faith connection. Students make a quick and simple self-portrait to remember that they are the "light of the world."  They can make a gesture drawing - or spend some time with a mirror (depends on skill level and time).
          Our art classes are at a Christian school and so we are free to express faith in our lessons as we choose.  Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world."
&  Matthew 5:16  "let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

***Also,  according to scientific research, a wise-geek article recently noted that human beings have "bioluminescence"and they have bodies that emit light in the world. ***

From Wise-geek (click here for full article)
"Humans give off trace amounts of light that gets brightest in late afternoon and dimmest at night."

"The human body has been found to emit light, but in extremely small amounts -- about 1,000 times lower than the sensitivity of the human eye. 

The process of the body releasing energy as light is known as bioluminescence.
This process was once thought to occur only in certain animals, but researchers discovered with the use of cameras that were hypersensitive to light that human beings also emit trace amounts of light. The light intensity emitted from humans tends to operate in 24-hour cycles. In the late afternoon, the light tends to be brightest, and the levels are their
dimmest at night"

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Terra Cotta Paint

We used Terra Cotta Paint to make our version of a cave painting.  BTW, A huge Thank You to Trish at Home Depot in Richmond, VA!

~We viewed and discussed numerous cave paintings as our inspiration for today's painting lesson.
Joshua cleverly ripped his base to highlight
different layers of the box.  Also note how he
placed his owl off to the side. Clever use of space!
 ~Provided some examples of creating texture.
~We also talked about art history and highlighted major movements.

~Talked about how Picasso (and many artists) experimented with supplies that were readily available to them (cardboard, paper scraps, candle wax, etc.).
~ Each student was given a cardboard box bottom to rip and tear into a base shape - and then they painted over it.

 Two class examples of cave paintings were:
Old Cave Painting from Spain

Old Cave Painting from France
Student Work:

Mrs. Johnson and student
(notice the custom ripped edges on her artwork)



Debra helping out!  Thanks

Makayla's birthday painting!

Courtney's turtle 

detail of Courtney's turtle 

Aleia's Horse



Cade's version of a cave painting 

DaNae's elephant


Thanks for the flowers Maria!!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Paper Mache' - a ten minute volcano??

Paper Mache' Volcano Starter Idea

The 10 minute volcano (may take longer, but after doing so many we were able to do them in less than ten minutes). Pictures coming in October


* 1 Styrofoam plate or cardboard piece (the base)

* 1 tall plastic or paper cup (it will be used upside down to hold the smaller cup)

* 1 small 2 or 3 oz. plastic cup (this will hold the baking soda and vinegar that will ooze or “erupt” down the side of the volcano once done).  If this cup is too large, it will require way too much baking soda and vinegar to ooze properly –s o keep it small.  A bathroom Dixie Cup works well – or an old laundry bottle cap.

* Masking tape

* Flour (5lb. bag)

* Water (pitcher full)

* Salt (few teaspoons) this inhibits mold

* Newspaper – torn into pieces (the volcano does best with long, thin strips to go up and down the sides, but will also need small misc. shapes to patch in holes and for smoothing). 
Can also use other paper sources, but make sure it is not too thick for this particular project.

*Large bowl (for mixing paper mache’)
A bucket or pail of water – for cleaning hands – or have a sink nearby.
(Future projects can use liquid starch, powdered starch, Elemer’s art glue, or papier mache pulp, but for now – just try the flour and water)

*Enamel paints in brown, green, red, orange, etc. (Enamel paints are made for glassware, but they work great here if you want to reuse your volcano.  If you do not want to reuse it, just use any tempera or acrylic paint.  But those paints are not usually made to last.
For eruption: Bottle of vinegar and box of baking soda

This is a picture from the
Internet - it is similar to how it will look,
but please note we are not using
the two-liter bottle used here!
This is only to show the tape....
If you use two cups - one flipped -
you can use less liquid for explosions.
We will do this in spring 2013 and
I will have updated pictures then!
A)    Prep the skeleton or base for the volcano.  Use masking tape (in strips) to fasten the tall cup (upside down) to the center of the base.  Place tape pieces on the top of the cup and then stretch it out to the base.  Once the first cup is secure, add on the top cup (usually just tape it down – or use hot glue) and this cup will hold the baking soda and water.  Then add a few pieces of tap to the outer edge of the top cup. Once the tape is in place, that will serve as the mold or skeleton to hold the paper mache’ strips and pieces. 

B)   Fill the bowl halfway with flour.  Add water a little at a time to develop a thin, creamy texture.  Add in salt.  Now you can use this straight from the bowl – and in our ten minute volcano we do not boil.  However, if you have the time, the mixture will be smoother if you boil it for 3 to 4 minutes and combine 1 part flour to 5 parts water (add less water if very humid).  Let it cool and then use right away. 

C)   Dip the long, thin strips of paper into the flour and water mixture.  Try to saturate the piece so it is a bit soggy, but not too dripping.     Use your index and middle fingers to squeeze out excess past - some little kids like to experiment with scrunching out the excess, and then unfolding the blob - it may rip and does not always work - but it is soooo fun (and process counts here).

      Apply the strips of paper from the top to the bottom of the base. Younger students can use large pieces – because do not forget it is so much about process.  And when the pieces are large, they can apply them with their little fingers and have success.  Also, if their pieces are too dry, the flour and water paste can be added on top of the applied paper.  We have taken scoops of paste to smooth out areas that were too dry.  Little pieces of paper are used to fill in holes – and expect to have many.  Ridges and bumps usually happen naturally, but some students make hills and bumps down the side of the mountain.  Two layers of paper mache’ is usually enough, but it depends on the thickness of your paste– and so you will need to decide if it is solid enough.  Too many layers will not dry properly.

D)    Paint!  Let it first dry if you have time, but for our quick end of the week project, we usually add the first layer of paint while it was still a bit wet. For example, one layer of base coat brown was smoothed on to cover the entire thing.  It actually adds a nice effect when it is mixed right in to the mache’.   Let it dry a bit more, and then, using a fine paintbrush and various colors, students add lines and wavy designs down the sides.  Many students use reds and oranges to show lava coming out (it is magma when it is still inside the volcano). It may be a good time to talk about a few science terms while painting.

E)   Let it dy completely (ideally this is overnight, but it depends on weather and humidity).  

F)    Explosion time:  We usually go out of doors, but make sure you have a covered area because this can get messy.  Add baking soda to the bottom of the cup.  Usually three teaspoons is enough.  Then, each student receives a half-cup of vinegar. They gently pour the vinegar on top of the baking soda and it erupts and bubbles down the side.   They can keep adding vinegar and having more activity, which will keep working until the baking soda is all used up.  Some students add a little paint to their baking soda.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Playing with Paper (shredded cash!)

Today's lesson involved working with paper.  


*Tag board, card stock, or heavy paper for base

* Paper pieces (for mosaic) our colors were separated by warm and cool colors

* Elmer's glue, glue sticks, and Modge Podge
* Paint brushes to be used for glue and Modge Podge
* Finger towels 

* Misc. scraps of plain and patterned paper
* Shredded Money: Any paper money that is unfit or outdated gets shredded - and you can get some of it if you want!  
Write to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing/ U.S. Department of the Treasury:
Requestors must agree to the certain conditions and note your intended use in a written request to the following address:

Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Attn: Chief, Office of Compliance
Shredded Currency Request
14th and C Streets, SW
Room 321-A
Washington, DC 20228
For larger amounts you need to contact Federal Reserve Bank

Optional Supplies for lesson:

* A few trays of watercolor paints (brushes/water) for the few students that want to use them.

* Glitter, bag of gems, misc. paper items.

* Pre-cut out paper shapes (i.e. forms of trees, cat shapes, etc.) to be traced or used as is.
* Pictures of paper mosaics, pics or samples of real money trees, and examples of computer generated "Y" trees.  

Suggested time for older students is at least one full hour (or two 40 minute art classes). Younger students could make a simple finished piece in one thirty-minute class.

Suggested Rubric  
For informal workshops where grades are not required, I usually tell students that "IF"  I were grading, here are the four things I am looking for - and then I break the lesson down into 4 categories at 25 points each.  When I walk around assessing and commenting, I usually say, "Well so far you have 75 points because you have (1,2 and 3) or "Wow, well you definitely have your 100 points because you have covered all four things (and I say what they are specifically because it reinforces the concepts and others are usually listening).
100 Points:
25 Points - Technique (Did student use principles of mosaic and/or quilling)
25 Points - Creativity (Did student demonstrate uniqueness and add in their own ideas to their work)
25 Points - Effort (Did student participate and explore lesson ideas)
25 Points - EOA incorporation (i.e. did student consider the elements of art - i.e. use of shape, color, spacing, etc.)


1. Show the students some pics with examples of quilling, shredded money, paper mosaic, and other features (like a house or animal).  

2. Demo how to space mosaics, how to apply shredded money and how to quill (here is a v-shape)

3. Show how to apply small pieces of paper, how to apply modge podge, and give color ideas.  For example, notice the samples made for class used only cool colors.  
While students are creating their paper creations, I walk around and usually end up helping with the modge podge - especially for those that have large clusters with the money pieces - and it provides fine motor skill practice and finger coordination to place the items. 

4. Talk about how money is a type of fabric paper - show the shredded money designs- older students are challenged to use design elements found in pieces of money (i.e. words, numbers, patterns, etc.) to add more interest to their work.

4. Create student masterpieces! 

Class demo:  A Y tree with shredded money:  

Sometimes money is destroyed and shred into tiny pieces (the size of confetti) because specialized machines examine all U.S. bills and if they find that it is “unfit” – it is pulled and replaced with new money.  One pound of shredded cash consists of 457 bills. Free samples are usually given out when you visit a  federal reserve.  Or you pay a small fee for a baggie full.

Student samples:

One student chose to use watercolor in negative space,
and this is why I make sure to have at least one tray out!

Student took to finish at home

Student took to finish at home