Fun with William Wegman

William Wegman is a photographer famous for his compositions with his Weimaraner dogs. His fascination with humanizing his animals has created hundreds of amazing videos and photographs. I like his book shown here as it shows the dogs in many everyday poses. 1. Print Dog Head template and gave each student a strip that contains 4 … Read More

Bleach Pen Jeans

There seems to be lots of decorative art in fashion these days (think peasant / ethnic wear) and this is a good way to imitate that look without using a single needle or thread. 1. As part of a weekend class, I had students bring in an old pair of jeans. They first planned their decoration … Read More

Watercolor Sheep

I love almost anything that children paint with watercolor. This is a simple watercolor resist, done with sheep imagined on a hillside. 1. The students are to draw, as lightly as they can, three to five ovals (the sheep bodies) in pencil on watercolor paper. 2. A white crayon is used to color heavily inside all … Read More

Pattern Snake Template

A tip from a teacher led me to this coil snake project, which I have recreated on my computer. The original called for drawing on paper plates, but I prefer to print my pattern shown 110 lb. stock to save a whole lotta time. • View and download Pattern Snake PDF file 1. Kinder students and … Read More

La Boca House Collage

La Boca is a neighborhood, or barrio of the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires and is a popular destination because of its colorful houses. Looking at lots of photos of these amazing buildings is a good way to start this project. 1. I discovered these really cool Fiskar paper crimpers at JoAnn Fabrics, and brought several to … Read More

Laurel Burch Cat Heads

This cat project was inspired by a talented artist named Laurel Burch, who sadly passed away recently. She had a wonderful style of drawing abstract cats with large eyes that met in the middle. 1. Ask students to make three dots (in pencil) across the center of a paper. The 3 dots are connected to make … Read More

Simple Starry Night

I like having students make their own simplified version of famous paintings, which can encourage their appreciation of the original. 1. View Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, and discuss the composition; the foreground tree, the middle ground hills, and the background stars. 2. On a 12″ x 9″ turquoise paper, have the students draw their own simple … Read More

Drawing Class Tips

I’ve been holding afterschool drawing classes for a few semesters now, and I’d love to share a few things that seem to be working pretty well. Whether you’re looking for extra income or just volunteer ideas, here’s what might help you run your own class, should you be interested. 1. I start with a quick exercise … Read More

Custom Light Switch Plates

I saw this project in an Arts and Activities magazine. When your fridge and walls are already filled with your child’s art, have them paint your switch plates! 1. Your local hardware or home improvement store carries plastic switch plates for every need and they’re quite inexpensive. Provide the students with lots of acrylic paint and … 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

Andrew Goldsworthy Land Art

posted in: 4th Grade, 5th Grade | 1

Andy Goldsworthy is a brilliant British artist who collaborates with nature to make his creations. Go to his website to view his gallery of breathtaking art. Teaching in a city school, I wanted to bring in a little nature against our urban pallet.

California Collage with PDF Template

My experience with collage is that students enjoy them, but often have trouble filling a paper in one class session. I thought that if they all work on one large project, they might stay on task a little better. I’ve made a large multi-page California template that measures about 30″ tall. The file may be downloaded HERE. 1. To … Read More

Draw a Winter Town

The holidays may be almost over, but winter certainly is not. This old fashioned winter town is fun for those that enjoy drawing buildings. I’ve found it helpful for students to use grid paper, so I made a custom sheet that you can download HERE, along with a complete drawing you can download HERE. 1. Draw ground … Read More

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

Tissue Paper Christmas Tree

I’ve seen some really beautiful decorations made from just clear contact paper and tissue paper. 1. Cut two matching rectangles of clear contact paper. 2. Peel the backing off one piece of contact paper. Place it on the table with the sticky side up. Tear strips of colored tissue paper and lay across the contact paper, … Read More

Cutout Christmas Card

There’s nothing like a homemade holiday card. I tried this method to make a quick “quilted” card that didn’t actually call for any sewing. 1. Start with giving each student 3 colored cards that measure 4.5″ x 6.5″. Next, they each need 3 sheets of contrasting card stock that measure 4″ x 6″ (I used a … Read More

Halloween Monster Gloves

OK, so maybe this is more craft than art, but Halloween can be a great time to challenge your creative muscles. And if I could inspire even just one person to make something instead of buying that awful ready-made stuff in stores, I will be a happy camper. 1. The key is finding fake fur from … Read More

Bone Letters

You could make this a lesson about anatomy and what the different kinds of bones in your body look like – or you could just make some creepy looking name signs for Halloween! 1. I drew examples of some typical bones on the board. They generally look like sticks, but have large bumps on the end. … Read More

Pasta Skeleton

A fun way to mix basic anatomy with art is by creating skeletons from pasta. 1. To make a sturdy pallet, the students arranged 20 popsicle sticks horizontally and secured them with 4 sticks glued vertically to the back. 2. A variety of pasta shapes were needed. I started by briefing the students with a simple … Read More

Kinder Portfolio Project

posted in: Kindergarten, Painting | 5

I found this art and book combination over at Teach Kids Art. “The Dot” book is short and sweet and has a wonderful art message. The simple lesson of just painting lots of dots on a posterboard was good for kinders just learning how to follow directions. 1. I prefolded 28″ x 22″ posterboard almost in half, … Read More

Kinder Line Art Project

Starting a kinder art class with a book is very helpful in establishing focus but can also be an opportunity to merge the art lesson with their other studies. Kinders in CA start off the year learning about horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines. Finding just the right book can often be a test but, I think … Read More

Watercolor and Crayon Name

You can give your painting skills a practice while you make a pretty sign for your home or classroom. 1. I recommend starting with some kind of watercolor paper as it will make a big difference in the brightness of the paint color. Working with a wide format paper, have the students draw five equal horizontal … Read More

Glitter Leaf Journal Page

I like to try new products on the market, and had fun today with Crayola’s new “Mixing Mediums”. They’ve made “Texture It”, “Pearl It” and “Glitter It” paint which are designed to add some special effects to your artwork. Adding the glitter paint to my journal leaf page added a nice little sparkle, and inspired my … Read More

Contour Tree Drawing

I’m stilling enjoying the artwork of Friedensrich Hundertwasser, who inspired this contour drawing of a tree trunk. 1. I used a square paper and drew the outline of a tree trunk with a few finger-looking shapes pointing down. After adding a few vertical lines for definition, I made a series of curved, or “jumping” lines going … Read More

Hundertwasser Portraits

I’d been looking for a different approach to self-portraits for a back-to-school project. I wanted something that would ask the students to see themselves in a new way, and create a colorful display that I knew the teachers would appreciate for their classrooms. Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser has an amazing life story, along with a very … Read More

Over and Under Snake

Learning to draw overlapping shapes is the first step to working with depth. I found this project to be a fun way for students to think about what is in ‘front’ and what is in ‘back’. 1. Starting with a sheet of white drawing paper, the students are to draw one long continuous curved line that … Read More

Collage Name Card

Lately I’ve been inspired by scrapbook artists and the layered-looking collages they often create. This project lets students get creative and colorful with the letters in their name. SESSION ONE 1. Cut enough 9″ x 12″ drawing paper into fourths measuring 4.5″ x 6″ to furnish each student with one page for each letter in their … Read More

A Kinder Portrait

Sometimes when a student gets to use a new media for the first time, like oil pastels, a visible excitement can be seen the results. These kinders traced a head and shoulder template and then drew a line down the middle. They were supposed to draw and color a “calm” and a “wild” side. But this … Read More

“Things That Are Most” Project

posted in: 4th Grade, 5th Grade | 3

I decided to reapproach this creative writing/drawing project from a book titled “Things that are Most in the World” by Judi Barrett. I tried it’s enclosed follow up a few years ago, but have now created a more specific formula to follow. Each page in this book is based on a different adjective, such as “The teensie-weensiest thing … Read More

Andy Warhol Soup Cans

posted in: 4th Grade, 5th Grade | 6

Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Can painting has come to symbolize the pop art movement. WEEK 1: Students trace a with a 5″ wide oval template (the shape of the top of a can in perspective) on a 9″ x 12″ sheet of paper, along. They trace one oval at near the top of the paper, slide the … Read More

Dubuffet Self Portrait

Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) was a French painter and sculptor who preferred what he called “raw art”. This came from non-professionals who worked in very primitive ways. He routinely added sand, tar and straw to his paintings to give them an unusual texture. His playful style is fun to imitate and can encourage some very creative portraiture. … Read More

Bandage Halloween Head

Halloween can offer lots of creative drawing opportunities, some even with valuable art principals. I got this drawing idea from a piece of clip art, and found that it helped to teach students how to make a round head look more dimensional, simply by adding curves instead of flat straight lines. 1. I made cardboard head … Read More

Birch Trees

Variations of this project are often posted on, but I like the subtle colors that come out in this version by painting with a toothbrush. 1. Each student starts with a 9″ x 12″ sheet of watercolor or heavy paper. They are to tear off six strips of 1 1/2″ wide painter’s masking tape at … Read More

Watercolor Caterpillar

A good lesson for kindergarteners on up. Reading “A Very Hungry Caterpillar” before drawing is recommended. 1. Students draw about 7 vertical lines in the middle of a sheet of watercolor paper. 2. Starting on the top left, show them how to “jump” from top to top to connect the lines with curves. 3. Repeat the … Read More

Collage Figure Study

This project makes learning figure proportions fun, while still allowing room for creativity. Many poses are possible when your figure can bend in so many ways. 1. Background collage: Each student needs a background piece of 9″ x 12″ construction paper, and then 2 other panels that were roughly 5″ x 12″ (I used green and … Read More

Fauve Portraits

The primary mission of Fauve artists in the late 1800’s was to work with vibrant and unnatural color. Van Gogh, Gauguin and other artists wanted their art to be new and modern, much like the technology that was developing around them. 1. If your budget permits, give each student a canvas panel to work with – they really … Read More

Giant Paper Mache Numbers – Painted

Here’s the follow up to my “Giant Paper Mache Numbers” project, all painted and ready for a culmination ceremony tomorrow. I finished putting one layer of mache on all the numbers, painted them with a flat black interior paint, and then let the students take turns dripping on my leftover acrylic paint. I couldn’t be happier … Read More

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