Friday, February 24, 2012

Secondary String Prints - Gr. 1

I did this easy printmaking lesson with first graders, but I think even kindergarten students could handle it at this time of the school year.

The materials are simple: chip board or cardboard cut into small squares, thick string, Elmer's glue. printing inks (I used secondary colors), brayers, barrens, and white paper.

A student learning to rub her print using the back of a spoon instead of a barren.

The resulting prints are really one-of-a-kind mono prints because of the process, but if you print only once then you could do a series of collograph prints instead.

A collection of prints and printing plates.

Step 1: Have students write their names on the BACK of their cardboard squares. Then distribute strings. The strings are dipped in glue so they get really gooey. This is definitely a project where the students will get their hands dirty. The dripping strings are loosely arranged on the cardboard with parts of the overlapping. They will look almost like a scribble or doodle. Make sure the strings are pressed flat against the cardboard. Put more glue on top if needed. Let dry completely.

Step 2 (optional): Seal the strings down with a coat of acrylic paint. If you have the students do this it will take another day to dry, so you may choose to do this between sessions.

Step 3: With the glue (and paint) now dry the prepared plates are ready for printing. I usually set up a little printing station with three colors at it. I make sure I squeeze out the ink, but let the students practice rolling the brayers. Before students come up to use the ink have them write their names on white papers. Remind them that clean prints don't have fingerprints so they need to be really careful handling the paper while using the inks. For this particular project the students rotated around the printing station overlapping the three colors and turning their printing plate one turn with each new color to get three prints that overlap each other.

*while groups of three are printing have a small activity available for those waiting at seats.

Step 4: Display or mounting. For this project I had ended up cutting circles out of the prints, and stringing them to make a sort of curtain. They were backed with sticky gold paper which held them on the fishing line. Displayed near a vent in front of a window the individual circles would spin and catch the light.

And another collection of prints and printing plates.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Color Theory Ice Cream Cones Gr. 1

It is a little early to be thinking ice cream, but with the mild winter we've been having here in Massachusetts, I figured why not look at some lessons for the coming Spring. And I remembered I had this lesson when I saw Art with Mr. E looking for food-themed ideas.


This lesson began when I was teaching summer camp. It was an extended day program where the kids were basically with me for about a half an hour to have some fun making art before going on to swimming or some other camp activity. Since it was summer I wanted them to make something they could relate to -- ice cream cones -- but at the same time learn or demonstrate some art skills -- color mixing!


I would like to try this lesson again with some modifications. I would add texture to the cones using rubbing plates and crayons or art stix. I would have the students use tempera rather than watercolor to paint the color scoops. I would have the background developed by adding clouds or the child's portrait ready to lick the cone. I would keep the cut-out hands holding the cones.


The steps of the revised lesson would be:
Step 1: Create the mixed color paper. Give each student a piece of thick paper to paint the entire paper with the colors of the color wheel using only the primary colors and having to mix the secondary colors. Set these aside. Wash up.
Step 2: Begin creating the background using crayons or other material to draw a large face portrait with the mouth open and the tongue out to lick the cone. Behind the portrait create clouds or some other imagery.
Step 3: Finish the background drawing. Cut out a triangle cone and add texture to it using a rubbing technique and rubbing plates. Trace and cut the children's hands.
Step 4: Using a tracer, trace and cut 6 scoops of ice cream from the painted papers.
Step 5: Assemble all the elements together.

Primarily this lesson acts as a great review of color-mixing for students who have already learned about colors earlier in the year. Do NOT tell the students how to mix colors. The challenge is for them to remember on their own.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mardi Gras Masks - Gr. 4 or Gr. 5

So this coming week is February vacation week for some school districts but not for others, so for those who will be in school for Mardi Gras I wanted to share this one-day lesson that I evolved from something that I've seen other art teachers do.

This lesson teaches about positive/negative space, symmetry, and precision cutting skills, so I recommend it for either fourth or fifth grade especially if going for more intricate designs.


Step 1: Using a half-sheet of paper draw a half mask design from the edge. This will actually create the entire mask when glued down. Once the design is drawn carefully cut only on the drawn lines. That is the challenging part because if you cut on the paper to get to a line you risk ruining the image.

Step 2: With all pieces cut out, assemble them onto a full sheet of paper. It helps to start with the pieces that are on the edge and work from there. When all pieces are in the correct place glue them down as neatly as possible.

Step 3: This is where I have "evolved" the lesson. I added embellishments with sequin strands, ribbons, feathers, rhinestones, and gold glitter. All of which really glitz things up to bring to mind the celebratory nature of Mardi Gras!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Felt Heart Sachets -- Teens & Adults

This is a nice little sewing project for teens or adults. The sewing part makes it too complicated for younger students unless done in small groups like an after school art club where you can focus on teaching the stitches.


The materials are felt, ribbon, embroidery floss (and stitching needle), scissors, any heart shaped objects or tracers, felt scrap or fiber fill stuffing, and this one has dried lavender for scent.

Step 1: Trace 2 larger hearts onto felt and cut them out. Trace one smaller heart and add a scalloped edge if desired; cut that out too. Cut a few short lengths of ribbon (about 8 inches each).

Step 2: Use a running stitch and embroidery floss or thick thread to attach the smaller heart to one of the larger ones.

Step 3: Make a bow with one of the ribbons and use a few stitches to attach it to the front of the smaller heart.

Step 4: Place the second large heart under the one you've been working on, make sure the small heart and ribbon are now on the outside (not the inside) because you don't turn this project.

Step 5: Use a blanket stitch to attach the two large hearts together; start at the point on the bottom and work around. Make sure the hanging ribbon is inserted at the top and sewn into place at this stage. Leave about an inch to an inch and a half open with the thread still hanging.

Step 6: Put some dried lavender into the opening and finish stuffing with scraps or fiber fill. Complete stitching the opening closed. Tie off with a knot and back stitch through the other stitches before cutting the thread.

Project completed!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Romero Britto Inspired Pattern Hearts - Gr 5

Kids Heart by Romero Britto.

I was looking for an interesting new artist to introduce students to instead of always turning to Jim Dine who is so well known for his heart paintings. What I found was the artist Romero Britto and the artwork above.

Britto uses a variety of patterns in the background of this piece and some of the designs use different shades of the same color. I thought this was an important aspect to touch on in the students' work. So using different shades of the same color in at least one of the patterns of each heart became part of the lesson criteria. In addition students had to use completely different patterns in each of their three hearts (no repeats at all). The individual hearts had to contain six patterns each for a total of 18 patterns (6 x 3 = 18 if you want throw a little math quiz in there).

Materials are simple enough: White paper, pencils, heart tracers, and markers. And you will need construction paper to mount the hearts onto.

My example.

It is best to break the hearts into segments with pencil, but then to do all the pattern making directly with black Sharpie markers before coloring in with water-based markers.

A student example.

Paper Quilled Valentine Hearts - Gr. 5


If you follow my posts you know that I've been doing my own paper quilling, but I wanted to try some Valentine's Day quilling with a fifth grade class. As luck would have it I was subbing for an art teacher who lets me try out lessons on his students and he liked this idea.

Now the only change that should be made to this project is that it would work much better with actual quilling papers that are cut 1/4" in size instead of the 1/2" copier paper strips that I used. But with most things in the art room, you work with what you've got. And I had copier paper and a paper cutter that had a 1/2" increment grid for measuring the cuts.

Other necessary materials: Quilling tools or toothpicks if that is what you've got (and what I had), Elmer's glue (and toothpicks to apply it), heart tracers, 3 x 4" heavy weight white paper, scissors and pencils (for tracing and cutting the hearts).

This is what a slotted quilling tool looks like:
This is the website that I prefer to use for buying quilling papers and related materials:
Quilling Superstore

Since quilling can take some time to master -- those rolls of paper can get slippery between beginner fingers -- it is best to work smaller so that students can have some sense accomplishment by creating a finished project in one or two classes. Only one student in the class actually finished a heart in one class session.
Finished student heart using the simple coil and the marquis coil.

Discuss the types of coils you want students to learn to make, such as the simple coil, the teardrop and the marquis (which the students thought as an "eye"). You will have to demonstrate how to make any type of coils you'd like them to use and it helps if they can pass the sample coils around for closer inspection. For this lesson, students had to use at least two different types of coils and at least two colors of paper.

Some students, boys in particular, may not be too excited about paper quilling or hearts, but I brought in a sample of my own quilling and allowed them to pass it around to see the details of it and feel the heft of it. Knowing it was "only paper" that created the design got even the more reluctant students intrigued enough to give this project a try.

Here are several student examples that have the potential to become beautiful quilled designs once they are completed:
Students were encouraged to work from the "outside" of the hearts before tackling the "inside".

Some students opted to use the simple coil on its side. However, they were cautioned that this would work best only on the "outside" and that it would still count as only one type of coil if they used the simple coil again but with the coiling upright and visible.


One student (the one who completed her heart) thought it would be nice to make a second quilled heart and glue the two back to back with a ribbon in the middle to make a hanging quilled heart ornament of sorts. This would be a lovely idea if there is enough time or if students work quickly!

Metallic Hearts: Two Variations, Same Materials - Gr. 4

This particular lesson could easily be done with a younger (third grade) or older (fifth grade) group of students. It uses materials typically available in most art rooms: White model magic (1 oz. per student), cardboard cut to size (3 x 4"), metallic acrylic paint (I used a copper color), sponges, construction paper, and brushes (to apply paint).

Initially my idea was to use the model magic to create unique heart stamps. The stamps will need to dry completely for at least a day.

Use simple items like old automatic pencils that are out of lead to shape the designs.

Close up of one of the model magic hearts.

These would then be used with the metallic paint (although you could probably use printing ink, too) to stamp the hearts onto the construction papers (4" square). Additional pieces of construction paper (5 1/2" square) would be sponge painted with the same metallic paint to create a border for the stamped designs. Alternate the stamped paper color and the sponged paper color. Then arrange the three images on a third piece of construction paper (8 x 18").


But then I was left with these paint covered stampers that were beautiful on their own. So the variation is to paint the stampers and the cardboard they are on with the metallic color to create a sort of sculptural relief image. Mount these onto two pieces of off-set construction paper for a nice display.
And that is how I inadvertently developed two projects in one two-day lesson.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Value Hearts - Grade 3


The Valentine heart-themed lesson I developed for third grade came about while substitute teaching. I filled in for an art teacher who had called out sick and who does not mind when I try out my own lesson ideas.

I had about fifteen minutes before the students would be coming into the classroom and I thought up this idea. There were heart tracers available in the room as well as white paper and black thin and extra-thin tipped Sharpies. I decided to give a lesson in composition and value.

The criteria of this lesson were fairly straight forward:
1. The traced (in pencil) hearts had to show overlapping and cropping in their composition. And there could be 6, 7, or 8 hearts - no more (too crowded) and no less (too sparse).
2. The hearts had to be gone over with the thicker Sharpie.
3. To demonstrate all three values (light, medium, and dark), students had to use hatching, cross-hatching, and stippling (at least one of each). No hearts could be left white and no hearts could be colored in solid black.

Students quickly learned that spacing between marks was the key to changing the perceived value of their hearts. The learned several new key art-terms: value, hatching, cross-hatching and stippling. And they reviewed a few terms they already knew: overlapping and cropping.

Here are some examples from the class I taught:




Huichol Mexican Folk Art Inspired Hearts - Grade 2


The second grade lesson that I designed this year for Valentine's Day takes its inspiration from the Mexican folk art Huichol -- or yarn painting. Students use heart tracers to obtain a basic shape, then work from the outside in using glue to attach the yarn to the cut-out heart shape. The hearts are then mounted to square papers. Keeping with the three-heart theme as the younger grades, the students make three yarn-painting hearts which are mounted together on a larger paper.

Here is a student example:

Valentine Hearts Inspired By Stained Glass - Grade 1

The second heart-themed lesson I designed using the simple technique of tissue paper squares applied to white paper to resemble stained glass. I did not try this particular lesson with students yet, however similar lessons (see Flames of the Holy Spirit) have worked well with this age group. The lesson could also be done with kindergarten with no changes made to it.

This lesson uses the same size paper as the Pollock-inspired hearts lesson, which makes it easy to prep for and display if done together. In addition to white paper (3 x 5"), it calls for construction paper (3 x 5"), cut tissue paper, mod podge or elmer's glue, heart tracers, scissors, pencils, and glue to mount the heart frames. Unlike the painting lesson, this one will need more time to dry, especially if using mod podge.

Step 1: Cut out the three frames in the same way as the Pollock-inspired lesson. Set them aside.

Step 2: Collage the tissue paper over the entire surface of the white paper, overlapping colors and allowing no white gaps. Make three papers this way.

Step 3: When the collaged white papers are totally dry, mount the heart frames on top. Then mount these on larger paper.

The final result should look something like this:

Valentine Hearts Inspired By Pollock - Kindergarten

So in honor of Valentine's Day I wanted to come up with some new art lessons that used hearts (especially in groups of three), but in a less traditional sense. Typically when I see Valentine's themed art lessons the hearts are used to create shapes in animals, so I wanted to do hearts, but also incorporate artists or skills, techniques, etc. I also wanted to try out these lessons on actual students and had some volunteers both in private lessons and in classrooms.

The first lesson I will share is this one designed for kindergarten, but suitable for pre-school or first grade with some accommodations for younger learners who may not have developed sufficient skill with scissors yet.
In this lesson the materials used were: construction paper, marbles, tempera paints in primary colors, hear tracers, pencils, scissors and glue.

Step 1: In separate trays (I used the trays from microwave entrees) place the different paint colors and several marbles. Give each student a similar tray with a piece of paper that fits snugly in it (about 3 x 5"). Have students rotate between the three colors. They select one paint covered marble each. drop it on their papers in their trays and roll the marble around. Repeat with each paint color. Then repeat the process again on two more pieces of paper in different colors than the first.

Step 2: While the paint dries read a color-related story or a story about Jackson Pollock (the artist of inspiration). The color-related story I read was White Rabbit's Color Book by Alan Baker. It is a cute story about how the primary colors mix to form secondary colors and how all three combined make the color brown.

Step 3: By the time all students have washed the paint from their hands and listened to the story the painted papers should hopefully be well on their way to being dry. As they continue to dry distribute three more (3 x 5") papers, heart tracers, pencils and scissors. Demonstrate how to fold the paper down the middle, trace half a heart on the fold, cut while folded, and open up to reveal an open heart frame. Provide extra help with proper cutting, especially for younger learners.

Step 4: With the painted papers fully dry, have students glue their three cut-out frames over their three marble paintings. This will hide some of the paintings, but explain that this is okay and what is to be expected. Then mount the three finished framed heart painting on a larger sheet of paper either vertically or horizontally, whichever you prefer.

Here are some samples made by three and four year-old students:


Rotational Motif # 6

Rotational Motif # 6, Copyright Margaurita Spear, January 2012.

This is the sixth piece in the quilled paper series that I am currently working on. It is the first one completed in 2012. As one my goals for this year I have decided to complete at least one larger-sized quilled design each month with a long-term goal of putting them together in a small show or creating something with the designs.

As with the previous pieces in the series this one focuses on symmetry, rotational design, repetition of shapes, floral inspirations and the basic geometric element of a circle within a square. This particular piece takes additional inspiration from what I considered a winter color palette of cool blues and greys.

Unlike my previous designs that were worked more from the center out, this piece switched from the central petal design to the outer circle perimeter then back to filling in those shapes.

This particular quilled design is 8 1/2 inches squared prior to mounting.

Each quilled design takes hours and hours of careful intricate work, often employing tweezers to place the individual elements. This piece probably took over 60 hours to complete. Although I do not actually track the time, I do work on the pieces for two to three hours a day and this one took the entire month of January with many three hour days.