Keith Haring Drawing

Keith Haring was one of the first artists to mix street art with the world of high art back in the 1980s. He got his start by decorating billboards in New York subway stations. 1. I had some drawing manikins that I inherited from a previous teacher, and figured out how to remove the base and … Read More

Fruity People Collage

One CA Visual Art Standard centers around how to create feelings with one’s own artwork. This book “How Are You Peeling?” is full of some very creative photographs of fruit and vegetables, all made to reflect a wide variety of emotions. Reading it first helps to make connections that certain shapes can look a lot like … Read More

CD Case Diorama

Here’s one more recycle project – using a CD case, cardboard boxes, and dried beans. 1. Collect clean cardboard packages, such as those used for cereal, crackers, pencils and markers. Open them up and cut out simple vehicle shapes, along with mountains, trees and sun. 2. Glue a small amount of dried beans to the inside … Read More

Egg Decorating from Macedonia

posted in: 4th Grade, 5th Grade | 0

Lila Arsova, a teacher from Veles, Macedonija, recently sent me this wonderful series of photos showing how she decorated her eggs with some very colorful springtime napkins. I think her step-by-step pictures say it all, and cross any language barrier that might come between us. I personally have never seen any treatment quite like this, and … Read More

Rainbow Painting

This project offers students a chance to practice either wet-on-wet or dry brush watercolor painting. I used both for my sample.  1. I had the students paint without the aid of a pencil outline. They began by painting the grass across the bottom of the sheet. 2. Students who preferred the wet-on-wet rainbow painted the red arc, then orange, yellow, green, blue and … Read More

Baby Plant Craft

A parent recently donated a LOT of baby food jars, so I’ve been playing around with some different ideas. This comes purely from supplies that were on hand: peat moss, grass seed, and white paint marker. I wrote a simple message so the roots could still be seen, but a row of clear grassy jars would … Read More

Jasper Johns Painting

posted in: 4th Grade, 5th Grade | 0

Jasper Johns is an American artist whose richly covered number paintings like this, rose to prominence in the 1950s. I created this project so students could make a miniature version, and recycle an old CD case as well. 1. Six 1 1/2″ foam numbers or letters are arranged on an old CD case, the 1/4″ thick … Read More

Grocery Bag Paper Chain

Paper chain art seems to be most commonly associated with gum wrappers, as was popular in the 1960s. I’ve found that the process of folding and linking paper chains to be extremely successful and satisfying for students as young as 2nd graders. The sample shown here is made from a Trader Joe’s grocery bag, cut into … Read More

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

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