Draw an Abstract Self-Portrait

Here is an older student adaptation of my popular Abstract Face project. It still has simple features that fill the face, but allows for some personalization with hair. I think it might make a good early self portrait project for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders as it bypasses all the fussy eye and mouth details that … Read More

Abstract Face Tutorial

Many children have a natural tendency to draw small, so I like to direct them in simple shapes that must touch the sides of the paper. I’ve used this drawing with tempera paint, but thought I’d also post a watercolor version that includes colorful crayon lines and patterns. • View and download Abstract Face Tutorial   … Read More

Camouflaged Hands

Here’s an idea I tried awhile back when students were learning about camouflage. I loved that they had a chance to be fully immersed in their art, messy hands and all. PREP: Tape a sheet of white paper to a larger piece of corrugated cardboard. 1. Students choose one tempera color and cover their entire paper. … Read More

Mona Lisa Coffee Filter Portrait

It’s possible to make really brilliantly colored paintings without expensive watercolor paper. Start with liquid watercolor paints, and paint on coffee filters, which hold the color amazingly well. 1. Print out one Mona Lisa template for every student. Iron 9″ coffee filters to make them flat. Tape one to the front of each face. Trace and … Read More

Draw Lady Liberty’s Portrait

I’ve used this approach for drawing and painting the Statue of Liberty for years, and even kinders amaze me with how well they do. Just make sure to start with the guide lines shown on the tutorial, as they help keep the head in scale to the page. I also pre-mix the liquid turquoise color as … Read More

More Canvas Journals

These journals are turning into one of my favorite projects. I’m loving how freely the kids paint when given one long piece of canvas instead of designing the front and back separately. CLASS ONE: Cut unstretched canvas into 8″ x 20″ rectangles. Students paint the primed side with one acrylic color, and then add patterns on … Read More

Dutch Windmills

This amazing idea comes from Dream, Draw, Create. An uncoated paper plate takes the watercolor really well, and the border makes for an instant frame. My sample is drawn in pencil, traced with a marker, and then painted with watercolors. With all the multicultural projects goring on at my school right now, I may find more … Read More

Canvas Covered Journals

posted in: Art Journal, Painting | 0

This is basically a piece of painted canvas glued to a pad of 6″ x 9″ paper with chip board covers. I love how the students, especially this kinder Zac, just got experimental with making designs. Wish I could keep this one for myself! CLASS ONE: Students paint an over sized piece of canvas that is … Read More

Amazing Seahorses

Kinders in my district learn about “amazing animals” around this time of year.That’s the perfect time for a seahorse watercolor resist project. A reading of the “Mister Seahorse” book by Eric Carle will show all the amazing ways fish take care of their young, and a direct draw seahorse with crayons and watercolor will show off … Read More

Schulten Inspired Painting

Ton Schulton is a Dutch landscape artist, known for his amazing color work. I wish I knew who first thought of this great approach for having students paint in his style. It’s basically working backwards, as in painting a wavy grid first and then designing buildings on top. 1. Students lightly draw about 3 wavy horizontal … Read More

Snail Paintings

Kinders at my school are learning about snails, so they learned how to paint one in art class. 1. Students trace an old CD in the middle of a 9″ x 12″ sheet of art paper. They drew a spiral in the middle to make the shell, and then draw a snail body around it. 2. … Read More

Fox on Newspaper

Sometimes I find great art ideas that just aren’t easy to replicate for 25 or more students. That’s when Photoshop saves the day. This project looks like students recycled newspaper for the background of a painting, but actually one sheet was scanned and printed for all of them. No need to make your own, just download … Read More

Rubber Ducky

Here’s another project born from scouring stock art illustrations. Turns out that a traced CD makes the perfect beginning to this oversized duck. 1. Trace a CD in the center of a sheet of watercolor paper. Finish with drawing the beak and body as shown. 2. Trace the lines with a permanent marker. 3. Paint as … Read More

Rainbow Zebra

Here’s one idea I use when looking for new art project ideas – searching stock art sites. This comes from gettyimages.com, after searching for “cute animal illustrations”. This rainbow zebra was lots of fun for my afterschool painting class today, because of course everyone had a different idea of what a rainbow zebra would look like. … Read More

Purple Headed Robots

posted in: Kindergarten, Painting | 0

It was time for a color mixing lesson for the pre-K kids today, so at the teacher’s request, we made it very simple and geometric. Templates were used for the body and head, but the rest was free drawn. 1. Students traced a 7″ square box that had a heart cut out (thanks to a standard … Read More

Recycled Coffee Cups for Paint

I wouldn’t guarantee that these are “spill proof” cups, but they will beat a totally open cup any day. I needed to distinguish between some similar watercolor paints today, and these washed out coffee cups with holes cut in the lids helped to keep the blue-green from getting confused with the plastic-cupped blue. One more reason … Read More

Watercolor, Salt and Snowflakes

posted in: Christmas, Painting | 0

Here is a really simple way to add texture to a watercolor painting. Just sprinkle salt while it’s still wet and let sit for a few minutes. All kinds of cool shapes will develop from the salt absorbing the water. 1. Paint a sheet of watercolor paper generously with several shades of blue liquid watercolor paint. … Read More

Abstract Winter Watercolor Trees

posted in: Painting, Winter | 0

If students concentrate on making a very simple geometric drawing, they can just focus on seeing how precise their painting can be. 1. Have students make tall, skinny triangle templates, or for kinders or 1st graders, make them ahead of time. About three triangles are traced in the middle of the paper. 2. Students to draw … Read More

Fundraiser Painting for Little Artists

posted in: Kindergarten, Painting | 0

I tried one more watercolor project with my T-K class this week, one that I wanted to be successful with as many students as possible for our school’s art fundraiser. Many are still just learning their alphabet, so I made a page with the letters and grid printed very lightly so that they could just concentrate … Read More

White Marker Drawings

I started with one of my favorite poems, “The Wise Owl” for this 2-page spread layout. 1. I really love the look of white on dark journal pages I have been coming across, so I splurged on a white DecoColor marker from Aaron Brothers. To prepare the pages, I painted them with a dark blue watercolor … 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

Tinted Ugly Bunny

One of the arts standards for elementary students is learning how to tint colors by adding white. My students had fun making bunnies that didn’t have to look perfect and symmetrical.   CLASS ONE: 1. On a large (12″ x 19″) sheet of brown paper, student drew a large “ugly” bunny. The definition of ugly in … Read More

Laurel Burch 3D Cat

You can use this idea to turn any silhouette into a 3-dimensional shape. Just make sure you use a thick paper so your design will stand up nice and straight. 1. I made a two cardboard templates of a silhouette (see picture) and had the students trace each onto the heaviest watercolor paper I could find. … Read More

Draw a Whale

I found this simple whale drawing to work especially well with younger elementary students, as in kinder through 2nd grade. One of my favorite new media combinations is to have students trace their drawing with a Sharpie, add crayon patterns and decorations, and then cover all with liquid watercolor paint. I think you get definition of … Read More

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