Bird Tessellation

A tessellation is created when a shape is repeated over and over again covering a plane without any gaps or overlaps. I learned the hard way how easily triangles can get flopped and rotated, so I came up with a numbering process that eliminates the problem. 1. Give each student a 3″ (or larger) square of … Read More

Ceramic Fish

This fish could be made with many different types of clay. I am partial to ceramics and the layering of color, for obvious reasons, I think. 1. The students will need a stylus or wooden tool, a cup of water, and a lump of clay about the size of their fist. To begin, they should just … Read More

Russian Buildings

Architecture drawing is a really fun area to explore with children. I’ve seen many students that have little or no interest in drawing people make the most amazing drawings of buildings. 1. I printed 1/4″ graph lines on large format 11″ x 17″ paper, but you could go to Free Online Graph Paper and print your … Read More

Colored Pencil Apple Drawing

Did you know that good colored pencils can actually blend together like oil pastels do? I didn’t until I purchased some new supplies. 1. Demonstrate a simple line drawing of an apple sitting on a table and ask your students to draw their own, in pencil. 2. Show students how to “glaze” a drawing by coloring … Read More

Monet Pastel Iris Drawing

An on-going dilemma I face is how to help students draw new shapes, without giving them too much help. My current solution is to give them partial templates, so that they all have a good starting place to build upon. With these Monet-inspired Irises, the students were given just the center lower leaf as a template, … Read More

Romare Bearden-Style Collage

Many art historians consider Romare Bearden to be one of America’s most important and inventive artists. Bearden loved collage, combining painting, magazine clippings, old paper and fabric together like a jigsaw puzzle. This project gives a nod to Bearden’s love of photos and texture, but also offers a kinder / 1st grade version of my “Collage … Read More

Dr. Seuss Signs

Our school has a Dr. Seuss celebration each year, and with our modular classroom set up in California, we have a lot of long outdoor halls without much signage. I had students make up their own to add color and creativity to our school. 1. I started with large sheets of white foam core, and chopped … Read More

Symmetrical Valentine Birds

I showed students how to create texture in their watercolor paintings, just by sprinkling a little salt while the paint was still wet. The salt absorbs the water and leaves interesting patterns behind. 1. Start by drawing the heart in the upper center of the paper. Students drew the birds in steps to make them the … Read More

Hearts & Trees

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright told his students, “Limits are an artist’s best friend.” That’s because they force us to find answers we might not otherwise have discovered. 1. Students are to draw a picture with only one tree, one simple hill, and hearts that may be any size, and any place on the picture. No sun, … Read More

“Cool Shades” Drawing

I like to give students photos of items as a kind of drawing prompt. In this case I was looking for images of sunglasses, and came across these heart shades, just in time for Valentine’s Day. 1. I found a variety of images by just Googling “photos of sunglasses”. These heart glasses are particularly great as they … Read More

Bernard Hoyes-Inspired Dancing Lady

Jamaican-born artist Bernard Hoyes is a Caribbean national who has served his country well. Now residing in California, Hoyes is among the most widely collected and exhibited of contemporary artists. Through his art, many have been able to connect with Jamaica’s colorful traditions and culture. 1. Past experience has proven that students almost always draw images … Read More

Faith Ringgold Flag Quilt

Faith Ringgold, an African-American artist, is best known for her large story quilts. In 1985 she made a piece titled “Flag Story Quilt” which inspired this collage. 1. To help cut swatches, I gave the students a template to follow, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ cardstock. I passed out several old magazines to have them cut out swatches of red, and … Read More

Tiki Faces

Drawing a Tiki face is all about making symmetrical shapes, and usually captures the attention of some of the more “restless” students. 1. Give the students a sheet of brown construction paper, and ask them to fold it in half vertically so they know where the center of their face will be. Using the sample Tiki … Read More

How to Draw Cartoon Faces

The great thing about cartoon drawing is that it is simply meant to “suggest” things like eyes, nose, hair, etc. I have plans for a big comic book project with my students next week and feel that starting with some practice drawings like the above will help them stay on track and not get overly detailed.

An Eye for Magritte

René Magritte was a Belgian surrealist artist who became well known for a number of witty and thought-provoking images. He wanted to challenge viewers to think about what they were looking at and to ask themselves “What does this painting mean?” 1. Take an old CD and trace it in the center of an 8.5″ x … Read More

Ceramic Snowman

Sometimes the simplest of projects can turn out to be anything but. My students loved making these snowman, but they did turn out to be a challenge in making clay pieces connect to each other. Whether it was a nose or hat or head, we all learned a lot about what it takes to keep clay … Read More

Nutcracker: Oil Pastel on Black Paper

This is a breakdown of my Nutcracker drawing project, this time using oil pastels on black construction paper. My large construction paper comes in 18″ x 24″ size, so I cut long narrow panels of 8″ x 24″ for each student. Each also got a cardboard template measuring 7″ x 4″. 1. Following the steps shown … Read More

Hand Colored Christmas Card

You can find some beautiful illuminated letters at clipartETC.com. I’ve used them to create this template for a hand colored Christmas card. 1. Print on 8.5×11 card or cover stock in the landscape orientation. 2. Use fine point markers or colored pencils to color in the letters.  

Cut and Tear Candle Card

I’ve been doing this card project with kinders for about 8 years now, and I’ve yet to find one better. Students can make this for whatever they celebrate, and practice their tearing and cutting skills as well. 1. Students tear a 3″ x 11″ strip of card stock into 3 pieces. The middle one with two … Read More

Watercolor Gingerbread Cookie

My new watercolor project, Gingerbread Cookie Boy (or Girl, of course).  Kinders can concentrate on just drawing a large, symmetrical shape while 1st and 2nd graders can try adding a shadow to give their cookie more dimension. 1. I drew a large, symmetrical cookie shape on a letter size piece of watercolor paper. The outline was … Read More

Happy Thanksgiving!

These lovely turkeys were shared with me awhile back, but they are still some of my favorite. Volunteer art docent Tricia from Brentwood, CA had her 4th grade students first draw them on 12×18 white paper with Sharpies. They added oil pastel accents and finished with water color from edge to edge. Love the color!

Fall Landscape Drawing

The first step in learning to draw with perspective is to notice that foreground items will appear larger than background ones.  1. I demonstrated how to draw a large tree to establish the foreground and how adding a horizon line and smaller trees creates a distant background. They then added any details they wished. 2. They traced their … Read More

Kandinsky Watercolor Painting

This project worked really well with my last afterschool watercolor class. And that was with over 40 kids (kinder through 5th) in one not-so-large art room! I’ll add my tips on how to paint with these conditions below. PREP: I pre-printed the grid lines on letter-size watercolor paper using my file posted HERE. About 80 spillproof … Read More

Fall Tree with Blowing Leaves

The basic concept behind perspective is learning that the further away objects are, the smaller they appear. This painting idea comes from one of the Usborne art books, all of which I am very fond of. 1. Students start by painting an off-center tree, with trunks and branches. A thick trunk with thinner branches work best. … Read More

Layered Pastel Leaves

You can show students how to overlap leaves and blend colors with oil pastels, and have very lovely picture as the result. 1. I tend to think of the maple leaf as the classic fall shape, and made templates out of chip board with the stem left off. Give each student one leaf and ask them … Read More

Draw the Mayflower

I drew this Mayflower ship with my students last fall and was happy to see so many make beautifully detailed ships. Try drawing on kraft paper from the scrapbook dept. at Michaels and those sails just pop off the page. • View and download Mayflower Tutorial

Gilded Halloween Portrait

I found a great book simply called “Halloween” by Joanne O’Sullivan, which has a ton of creative ideas. This is an adaptation of a portrait project, which I am including in an after-school class next month. 1. I started with one of those super-inexpensive unfinished frames from Michael’s. had some iron-on appliques in my stash of … Read More

Maple Leaf Drawing

Today I combined two past projects – how to draw a maple leaf and making a batik-looking watercolor and crayon drawing. The key is to use cheap copy paper. Strange as it sounds, good drawing paper doesn’t work nearly as well. 1.  I showed students how to draw a leaf, as shown in my Maple Leaf … Read More

Funky Witch Feet

Another idea that originated from stock Halloween illustrations. I think it offers some colorful seasonal fun, and some good symmetrical drawing practice too with those curvy, funky boots. 1. Students start drawing the boots in very simple steps. For instance, two centered lines for the backs of the boots, then the right and left heel, then … Read More

Make a Paper Pumpkin

This project turned out to be a very quick and easy way to make a 3D shape out of strips of paper. 1. I used orange construction paper in the standard 9″x12″ size, and then used a paper cutter to make a pile of orange strips that were 1″ wide by 12″ tall. The students were … Read More

Contour Fall Leaves

Contour drawings are made with just lines, which also add a bit of visual energy to this picture. • View and download line drawings of Leaves 1. I started by printing out my sheet of leaf line drawings. Give the students one print of these leaves, and one matching-size blank paper. Have the students trace several … Read More

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