Thursday, May 17, 2012

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream!

These two lessons are very similar. The first was taught to a fourth grade class and the second to a third grade class. They both use the same ice cream bowl imagery with a patterned background. The older grade used tempera (so theirs are actually not done yet) and the younger grade worked smaller and used oil pastels.

For the tempera lesson, I provided only primary colors, brown, white, and (lastly) black (for shades in the toppings). The background is done in marker. Each scoop of ice cream has to be a different tint (flavor).

My sample painting:

For the oil pastel lesson, blending is key. Again the scoops all have to be a different tint (flavor). Even if the students used pink I asked them to add white to tint it even lighter. Required number of scoops: three or more.

A few student examples:

Random Object Yankee Swap! Gr. 4

Almost everyone knows how a Yankee swap works. You pick a gift then get to swap with someone else no matter if they want to or not. And being the first to choose means you get to swap last and have your choice of everything. It can be fun or frustrating depending on what you get stuck with.

Anyway, I was in need of a fourth grade mini lesson last week and thought it might be fun to try with random small objects that are placed in a box. These could range from art supplies to little toys or knick knacks or pretty much whatever is handy and whatever you have enough of for every student to get one thing. The students are already assigned numbers in their classroom so they chose from the box in that order. It was great fun and although it did take a little longer than expected with all the swapping, it was worth it.

Once the swap was completed, students were instructed to draw their objects from observation. They could incorporate the following:
  • cropping
  • change in view point
  • overlapping
  • change in scale
They were asked to draw the objects more than once, but you'll see from the examples below that this did not always happen. Once the drawings were complete and traced over with permanent marker, they had some choices for how they could finish them off with watercolor. These were:
  • Paint around the object only and leave the object white -- Not many chose this option.
  • Paint the object and a border only and leave the background white -- The popular choice.
  • Optional: Add some splatter paint. This first occurred to fix a stray mark and then everyone wanted to try it so I said it would be okay if they were careful of others working around them.
Here are the results of this little art game experiment:
Wind up snail toy.
Miniature brass candelabra.
Key chain.
Toy alien figure (with movable arms).
Little felt craft bear.
Key chain.
Alien toy (this student never started the painting because he was so careful of his drawing).
Plastic minute timer.
Bulldog clip.
Cowboy hat car air freshener.

Positive Negative Accordion Books - Gr. 3


One thing I love about making these accordion books is that they typically use paper that would have been thrown into the trash or recycling bin. Since I often trim larger sheets of drawing paper, I end up with lots of 2" strips, which are perfect for these mini-books. The construction paper is also from the scrap box, so I am using as much of what would be tossed as possible.

This is a great intro lesson or finish early lesson for a class about to do a larger positive negative cut paper study. It allows for experimentation with the concept with little worry about wasted materials or about making mistakes because it is so easy to start over. And the students love making them, sometimes making more than one!

Here are some student examples:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Snail Mail" donated to Lowell's Brush Gallery Fundraiser

This painting will be available for purchase for a mere $20 at the Brush Gallery's annual scholarship fundraiser.

Just the facts:
Tiny Works with Big Returns
Saturday, May 19, 2 - 5 pm
256 Market Street, Lowell, MA 01852
For more details visit:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ant Picnic! A First Grade Illustration Lesson

For this lesson first graders were asked to think about picnics, specifically about pests that might be unwanted at picnics. A few guessed bears, a few guessed lions (wonder where they picnic...) and most immediately said ants!

Students were also asked to think about the ant point of view -- low to the ground! They loved this idea, especially when they learned how to make the picnic blanket look almost 3D by incorporating a little perspective. Not every student grasped this idea, but those that did really liked it.

Then we talked about ant anatomy. How many parts, legs, etc.? What are they called (head, thorax, abdomen)? We even did some math facts. 3 legs on one side plus 3 legs on the other equals 6! Plus 3 parts equals 9! We even tried some multiplication, which some could answer 3 legs times 2 equals 6!

With the ants drawn and all parts accounted for, the most fun part could begin. Students had to decide what food the pesky ant would steal from the picnic. The food was drawn being carried away on the ants' backs or sometimes in their mouths (which a few students added pincers to).

Here are some of the super cool ant drawings!
This ant is carrying a strawberry and heading towards the "rot beer". Check out those perspective lines on the blanket!
Believe it or not, that is an apple on its back. Love the detailing on the blanket!
Another apple thief! This is a "girl" ant because of the eyelashes. Some of the boys in class informed me that girl ants stay inside because they don't want to get dirty. Only the boy ants find the food. How funny is that?
This ant has passed over the healthy fruit and milk and opted for an ice cream sundae!
An example with pincers. I think that is a banana on the right.
There were a few patriotic ants (above and below). This one is a "forth" of July ant! Again some great perspective happening on the checkerboard blanket. And cool patterns on the ant itself!
This patriotic ant steals the food while the people are distracted by the fireworks display! And it has segmented antennae instead of just lines.

Hand Renderings: Grade 5

I am excited to say that I have been subbing for another art teacher all this week and it has been so much fun! This is especially true because I have been given free reign on many of the lessons and have been trying out some new ideas with the students!

The first one I will post about may be my favorite this week -- although it would be a tough choice since all the projects have been great in their own ways.
My Demonstration Drawing

The fifth grade students were presented with the challenge of drawing their own hands from observation only. Cue a few moans here when they were told absolutely no tracing. But after the initial and expected complaints that it was too hard to do, they buckled down and realized with focus they could achieve surprising results.

Once the hands were drawn students could choose from the following options:
1.) Draw more hands in varying poses
2.) Overlap hands
3.) Crop some of the imagery
4.) Add text (such as a name or phrase)
5.)Work collaboratively with a partner

Then with the drawings complete and gone over in permanent marker, students could add color with watercolor paints using any technique they chose. These ended up including some of the following:
1.) Paint everything one color
2.) Paint everything varying colors, no pattern
3.) Paint everything with a pattern
4.) Paint only selective areas (i.e. background or hands)
5.) Use splattering with care

This one is pretty amazing! I love the varied lettering and attention to detail.

Here are more drawings -- I think they are all rather awesome since this was the students' first experience with drawing hands without tracing and with no rough drafts!

I envision this lesson as part one of a two part idea. In the second part, I would love to expand on the use of hands by incorporating them into a portrait drawing lesson.