How to Shade 3D Objects

I’ll be the first to admit that having real forms with a light source is the ideal way to learn about drawing shadows. But sadly that is not very practical in this day of large classes and little budgets. I believe the next best option is to teach students the logic of what happens when a … Read More

NEW Matisse Mural $5

The Dessert: Harmony in Red is a painting by French artist Henri Matisse and considered by many to be his masterpiece. You can make your own large mural (48″ x 36″) by purchasing my pdf template, coloring in all 24 pages, and taping them back together. Visit my PDF Shop to purchase and download for just … Read More

Klimt Line Art

posted in: artist Klimt, Markers | 0

Gustav Klimt was an Austrian painter who often used gold leaf to make his elaborately patterned paintings, as in “Adele Bloch-Bauer’s Portrait.” One way for students the appreciate all the patterns is to imitate the look just using lines. MATERIALS • Color print of Adele Head Template • Black Sharpie marker, fine tip 1. Students sketch … Read More

Back to School Pencils

Here’s one quick way for your kids to get creative and personalize their back-to-school pencils. I pulled out my stash of Sharpies and tried a few different looks: animal skin, flowers and stripes. I’m sure kids could think of many more. Fish scales? Reptile skin?… You may have read on my “Favorite Supplies” list that I … Read More

Doodle Lettering

There are some really cool new paper-like products out these days. I found YUPO at, which looks like vellum but feels like plastic. It’s great to paint on or trace with markers.   1. Students draw large stick letters for their name on copy paper, and then trace around those lines to make block letters. … Read More

Andy Warhol Portraits

Andy Warhol’s repetitive style is fun to duplicate and the perfect example for students to create their own repetitive drawings using Sharpies on acetate. 1. Review some of Andy Warhol’s portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, etc. Collect several photos of celebrities or of the students themselves and copy in black and white. Let the student’s … Read More

Make a Vegetable Painting, Roots and All

I found this idea about how to make a vegetable painting over at It’s a great way to supplement studies about plant life, and makes a very pretty botanical study too. MATERIALS • Watercolor paper • Crayola Crayons • Liquid Watercolor paint DIRECTIONS 1. Students draw a horizontal pencil line across the middle of the … Read More

Pattern Cat

This drawing was inspired by artist Heather Galler. I simplified some of her details, but kept the basic brilliant idea of a cat filled with patterns for my next afterschool drawing class. 1. My favorite combo is using Sharpies and BIC markers on coated white paper. I bought some wholesale at Kelly Paper for about $14 … Read More

Maud Lewis Cat Painting

Renowned Nova Scotia folk artist Maud Lewis (1903 – 1970) painted colorful scenes of rural Nova Scotia using random art supplies and painful hands as a result of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.   1. Wet a 12″ x 9″ piece of watercolor paper, and paint the background bright yellow. Let dry. Using watercolor pencils (like Prismacolor), draw … Read More

Maasai Portrait

The Maasai are a group of semi-nomadic people located in Kenya and Tanzania. They are among the best known of African ethnic groups, due to their very colorful customs. One way to simplify (but still celebrate) their look is to draw a solid profile and add your own ornamental headdress. 1. Fold a paper to make … Read More

How to Draw a Klee Portrait

Here’s another project that I believe works well with a kindergarten Common Core Math Standard. This continuous line drawing is made by following the “up” and “down” and “over” directions shown on my diagram page. The fact that the finished art will look a lot like a famous Paul Klee painting means a little art history … Read More

Drawing Frida Kahlo

A few key features will help you learn how to draw artist Frida Kahlo like a pro. She was a Mexican self-portrait artist and feminist icon who was married to Diego Rivera. Draw her hair up, with flowers and classic heavy eyebrows, and there’s not much mistaking whose portrait you are drawing. • View and download … Read More

How to Make a Round Braid

posted in: Haiti, Weaving | 3

I was looking for fun yarn projects to take to Haiti next month, and happily found this technique to make a rounded braid. It’s actually pretty simple to make, you may just have to help young ones get started. 1. Trace any cup to make a circle about 3.5″ wide. A little larger or smaller will … Read More

Matisse Patterned Collage

Henri Matisse, an important French artist, loved all kinds of patterns. Not only the decorative forms he created, but also reproductions of tapestries, embroideries, silks and more. A recent donation of leftover wallpaper inspired this project. 1. Give each student a 12″ square of chip board for mounting. Pass out a variety of wallpapers cut in … Read More

CD Mandala

A mandala is an abstract design that is usually circular in form. It is a Sanskrit word that means “circle”. Mandalas generally have one center point from which radiate an assortment of shapes and designs.   1. I wanted to start with a bright background on my old CD, so I spray painted it white. After … Read More

Tissue Paper Flag from Canada

Can you believe this mural is made out of craft tissue paper? Thanks so much to Krista Dillon and her students who experimented with my Canadian Flag Mural and came up with this beautiful piece!  The technique is one that I haven’t used since elementary school. It’s made up of lots of craft tissue paper cut into 2″ squares, … Read More

Ancient Maps

I’ve found another use for my supply of dry wax paper, which is my staple for canvas portrait art. The paper is perfect for tracing, painting and crumbling, as in making “old” maps. 1. A class was studying ancient Greece, so I googled for a line drawing of a map and found THIS. I printed it … Read More

Faith Ringgold Flag Collage

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

Art Trading Cards with Texture

You can buy texture rubbing plates, but my favorite alternative is using plastic embroidery mesh panels that are made for cross stitching. If you buy them large and cut them up, they are pretty cheap. Give students white cards that measure 2.5″ x 3.5″. Challenge is to think of things that come with a grid-like texture. … Read More

Sailboat on a Lake

This sailboat painting gives students a chance to add interest with elements such as the reflection of the sails and blue sky and the tonal greens across the shoreline forest. 1. Draw the boat and sails. Add a horizon line. Make some zig-zag lines for two layers of trees. 2. Trace all the lines with a black permanent marker. 3. Use a white … Read More

How to Draw Grumpy Cat

You can learn how to draw Grumpy cat with my step-by-step tutorial. Luckily, he has some pretty distinctive features, like the dark rings around his eyes and his famous frowning mouth. • View and download New Grumpy Cat Tutorial MATERIALS • Color print of Grumpy Cat Tutorial • Drawing paper • Sharpie marker, fine tip • … Read More

Classroom Doodle Mural

posted in: Markers | 0

My friend Simona shared her daughter’s classroom Earth Day mural with me last year. I think it’s spectacular! I thought it might inspire a few more artists before Tuesday’s Earth Day festivities. My Earth Day Doodle Mural comes in two sizes, one perfect for doors, and can be found at my PDF Shop.

Silent Auction Canvas Art

posted in: Fundraising, Markers | 0

If it’s April then my school’s silent auction can’t be far away. After years of trying different approaches, this art is what I will stay with next year. What’s new is finding value packs of stretched canvas at Aaron Bros and Michaels. A 16″ x 20″ pack of 5 costs just $25. So for $5 plus … Read More

Easter Card

Here’s an idea for a pretty Easter Card. Grid formats are fun to play with so feel free to make your own variation of this drawing. 1. I started by folding a piece of 8.5″ x 11″ watercolor paper in half. To make a quick grid without a lot of measuring, give each student a 1″ … Read More

In Your Face Cow Drawing

This idea comes from a funny painting I found in a home decor catalog. I love how it exaggerates the proportions of the cow. 1. I started with a 11″ x 14″ drawing paper, and folded it in half four times to get a grid of guidelines like those shown on my diagram. Have the students … Read More

Starry Night Skyline

Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” painting has inspired many an art project, and this is just one more. 1. Students to make several large yellow oil pastel circles of various sizes on a sheet of watercolor paper. Next they draw with a blue oil pastel lots of curvy lines that go around all the yellow circles. … Read More

Marker on Sticks Portrait

posted in: Markers | 1

I made this childhood portrait of my sister awhile back, using Sharpie markers on dry wax paper, adhered to popsicle sticks with watery glue. I’m really posting it now though as an excuse to wish her a happy birthday today. She can craft, cook, garden, wallpaper, build and farm like nobodies business, so my hat goes … Read More

Special Needs Art Project

posted in: Painting | 2

I’ve been asked in the past for a special needs art project, and just recently found this idea to work pretty well. I see a class every week that has mild to severely autistic kids, and it can be a struggle to find projects that cover the range of abilities. It seems their needs are more … Read More

Burlap Weaving

Weaving lessons can come in many forms, the simplest being with just plain paper. My preference though is using actual fabric, and burlap has the most open and visible weave for beginners to work with. 1. Give each student a rectangle of burlap, about 3″ wide by 9″ tall. They are to pull about 5 threads … Read More

Warhol Art Trading Cards

If you are familiar with Andy Warhol’s art, then you might know that he celebrated repetition that came with popular art images like the Campbell’s soup can. I made a custom ATC template that you can download so students can come up with their own creative soup flavors. • View and download Warhol ATC Template 1. … Read More

California Mission Drawing Guide

Many California students are learning about missions this time of year, so I thought I’d like to share some more details about my drawing guide in my PDF Store. Years ago I discovered that students could draw some amazing buildings if they started with a grid. It really helped them concentrate on architectural features without struggling … Read More

Geometric to Organic Shapes

This is a fun and easy project that shows how you can turn geometric shapes into organic ones.1. Students used cardboard templates to trace many  triangles, circles and squares on their paper. Shapes could overlap, but some space should be left open. 2. All the shapes are to be colored in with a NON-permanent, waterbase marker. … Read More

Cartoon Car by Cassius

posted in: Drawing, Markers | 0

My afterschool Cartoon Class has drawn a lot of characters, but not a lot of vehicles. Today was time for a funny car. Cassius, a 4th grader, drew this cute dog complete with feet sticking up in the back. Too funny!

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