Saturday, February 28, 2009

Addiction, Justification, Validation and a Giveaway Announcement!

My good friend Jessica at ArtSmarts for kids just sent me this link. More validation for my addiction.
You enabler, you. Thank you Jessica, good stuff to know when my pastor sees me doodling in church!

On another note, I am announcing my first giveaway!!!

Monday is a somewhat auspicious day for me as I am turning 35. Thirty had it's own sort of trauma but 35 is like getting to the top of the hill and getting a real good view of the steep slope down the other side and realizing the speed at which you are approaching it! There are lots of things I love about this age though and in honor of that (and the fact that I share this special day with Dr. Suess and Jon Bon Jovi- my 7 year old thinks that is so cool) I am going to give something away! In fact 35 is just so nerve racking, I will give two things away...

Eve's Redemption Giveaway
Giveaway #1

Set of 20 "Eve" notecards and envelopes.

Rules: Really simple. Guess the bible verse symbolism of the butterfly pattern in the lower left of the art piece and guess the right number I am thinking of between one and one hundred. To enter, leave a comment under this post with the previous info, a valid email address and Giveaway #1 in the body of the comment.

Custom Art Lesson and Unit Study Giveaway
Giveaway #2

I will custom design a step by step drawing lesson and unit study to complement your current lesson plan or an idea you want to try.

Rules: To enter, leave a comment explaining the theme of your lesson plan or curriculum and Giveaway #2 in the body of the comment.

Contest is open until Friday March 6th and winners will be announced on Saturday March 7th. (Just in time to honor my hubbie's birthday as well!)

Sitting under the tree with Gustav- not K-I-S-S-I-N-G: an art lesson focusing on Gustav Klimt.

Again, I am bringing out "the best of" anthology...

I have been checking my friends blogs and lamenting that they have not posted in a few days. Then as I was updating my blog, I realized it has been more than a week since I've written anything either. Summer is almost over and as usual, most of my grand intentions for all my free time went unfulfilled. Of course I did do some things that I hadn't planned to do as well and am better for it.
I have had a great time with my art classes this summer though, and here is our latest project.
This past week we learned about Austrian artist Gustav Klimt. If you know Klimt's work, you may think that not an appropriate choice for a kids class. For the most part, I would agree, but he does have several family friendly pieces and his contribution to the art world is still significant. Not to mention he is one of my favorite artists. Though his life was not one we Christians can admire for his high morals, he had few, his work is still exceptionally beautiful. He used a lot of gold in his paintings, being the son of an engraver helped him to become an expert at the gold leaf process.
For this project you will need examples of Klimt's work. is a good resource. There is even a children's book called Klimt and His Cat by Berenice Capatti and illustrated by Octavia Monaco.

The narrator is the cat and Klimt's world is seen through its eyes. It is in no way a complete biography but it is a kid-friendly way to introduce this particularly controversial artist. There is some nudity in the book, so be prepared. I take no shame in my censorship and placed post it notes over questionable images. I also did not let kids view the book on their own so they could not "peek".

Materials needed:
Print or photo of Gustav Klimt's "The tree of life".

Metallic gel markers (we used Prang, purchased at WalMart)
Black or other dark toned paper (pastel paper would be good, but I used scrapbook paper)
oil pastels(brown and black)

1. Have kids decide whether their composition will be vertical or horizontal.

2. Once they decide this then they should find the middle of their page on the bottom edge. Just to the left of this have them draw a curved line with a metallic gold or silver marker that starts at the bottom edge of the page and ends in a spiral. Have them move to the right a bit and repeat this curve in the opposite direction, still ending in a spiral.

3. In the middle of these two curves they should draw a "V" shape. This will create a tree trunk.

4. Now the kids get to make their tree grow. Continue to have them add spiral branches, some growing from the first spirals moving outward and some moving upward until they have just about filled the page. Encourage kids to make some spirals larger and some smaller, some going right and some left. Hopefully they will leave some room though as there are lots more details to add.

(note)There is a lot of detail to this project, so younger kids or ones who aren't into art that much may benefit from breaking this project up into 2 or 3 shorter sessions instead of one long one.

5.Have the kids fill in the tree trunk and then thicken some of the branches on the curves only. The actual spirals probably won't need to be thickened.

6. At this point the kids should add a horizon line. Have them draw a line from the right side of the trunk to the edge of the page and repeat on the left.

7. At this point have them draw in pink and purple flowers with green stems. They may add as many or as few as they like and they should be on the ground and in the tree.

8. Next they will add green triangles, stars(any color), circles, and dots. All these shapes look better when they are done in a grouping and not just by themselves randomly scattered. The dots especially look nice if they follow along the edges of the spirals. Then have them add green and blue swirls on the ground in between the flowers. Encourage variety in sizes, making some bigger and some smaller.

9. At this point have the kids start putting black and brown rectangles on the tree trunk and thicker branches of the tree. They can also add some gold or silver rectangles here depending on whether they started with gold or silver. Again encourage variety in the rectangle pattern. Some should be vertical, some horizontal, some filled in, some empty. The cloak of the male figure in Klimt's "The Kiss" is a good example of this.

When all is said and done these pieces are beautiful and very dramatic especially if mounted on lighter paper and then on black.

This was the example I made.

This is from an 8 year old student.

This was from a 6 year old student.

This was from an 11 year old student.

This was from a 5 year old student.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Fine Art Fridays #3- How to Draw a Hummingbird in Six Steps

This was a post from a while ago, but what the heck, a classic is always in style, and I am beginning to have visits from these lovely creatures in my backyard again.

Many a seemingly complicated drawing project is really simple if you just break it down into steps. When teaching a lesson, I always start with a black line coloring book style drawing. Most details and color blending is done as the last steps in a project, but tends to get seen first and can distract you from finding the "bones" of the drawing. I obviously used a still picture to do this project and drawing from life is much more challenging, but the principle is the same. Practicing gesture drawing in quick sketches is the best way to get the structure of your drawing and then go back and add details later.
This blackline came from the Jan Brett website and is available as a free coloring page.

I tried to break this down into manageable pieces without making too many steps.
If you find it confusing, just try to break it down into even smaller steps. What does a shape look like to you? Do you see a triangle or maybe a Hershey Kiss. Do you see a sideways letter C or maybe a rainbow or happy face? Making those kind of connections is what turns you into an artist, not simply following someone else's steps.

The finished hummingbird at the top of this post was completed with watercolor pencil and white oil pastel for highlights.

Below you will find some images of real hummingbirds to reference for color ideas.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Dreadful Bear- A California History Lesson

In many California schools, this is the time of year when an in-depth study of the Golden State is begun. I love this project because of all the cross-curricular connections it has. The story behind the flag is filled with action, adventure, drama and intrigue. If you don't know the story, you should and you can learn more about it and California history at these great links.

The Drawing Lesson
The Bear Flag Revolt at Wikipedia
Raising of the Bear Flag

Once drawn, outline with black marker. The bear is brown, the star red and the grass is green. The claws stay white and some versions of the flag have black footprints in the grass. I had my students color in with marker first in a flat color and then build up texture in different tones and highlights with oil pastel making sure to add more white to the front legs and more black to the back legs. We then wrote CALIFORNIA REPUBLIC on the bottom.This could be done first to plan the space better or the bear and star could be cut out and added to another page with the lettering.
The final step is attach a strip of red paper to the bottom of the flag.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Degas' Dancing Divas

How do you present a master of figure drawing (an extremely difficult technique to master) to a group of second graders? This lesson would be a good start. I took this originally from an Usborne art book called "What shall I draw today?"

First I gave the students a triangle and circle template to control the outcome on the size of the figure.(You can click on the pictures to enlarge them.)

When the drawing is complete, have the children outline the lines with black sharpie marker and then color in with markers and chalk pastels. With older students you can emphasize light sources and how to add shadows and highlights.
The sample at the top was done with chalk pastel pencils and marker on pink paper, but you could also do a simple variation with a glue and pastel technique on black paper. All the above steps would be the same except instead of outlining with black sharpie marker, have the kids go over their lines with glue. Wait for it to dry- a day or so and then color in with chalk pastel.

For more information on Edgar Degas, check out these great links and resources...

ArtSmarts for Kids
National Gallery of Art

Stay tuned for a project based on the California State Flag.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Just Clownin' Around

Since the fair was in town, most of my students have gotten to see a few clowns, so what a great time to clown around a bit!
This was a project I did with first and second graders. They did a really great job! The big trick in working with this age group is to get them to use the whole paper and to use color consistently.

Using a step by step method, the first thing I have the kids do is fold their papers in half lengthwise. Then I have them draw a rainbow by making dots on both sides of the fold. We add another dot up higher where the bow is going to arch through. The the rainbow is drawn from dot to dot. We close up the bottom with a straight horizontal line. I think the rest of these visual steps are pretty self explanatory.

From here the kids can color with marker or crayon or a combination of both. The clown does look a little bolder if it is outlined first. Adding a hat and backgrounds are also a nice touch as well. When coloring I encourage the kids to work in small circles as opposed to broad lines. The color tends to be more even and consistent that way, especially with marker. With older kids, you could also work on shading techniques. A shadow effect can be produced by using the same color marker or crayon in a second layer. I also added some highlight to my sample with some white oil pastel.

Here are some student examples. There are a few in here that I really love that look like clowns on stilts. Who knew first and second graders could draw with foreshortening?(I'm still working on it my own self!)