we help adults teach art to kids

The Best Art Supplies

3 Techniques to Try with Tempera Paint

3 Techniques to Try with Tempera Paint

By on Mar 24, 2015 | 0 comments

When it comes to painting techniques, most of us think about using watercolor paints. There is just so much you can do with these watery paints: resist, wet-on-wet, salting, etc. But if you use liquid tempera paint for most of your art projects, you may not know that these paints can transform into extraordinary textures. Here are my 3 favorite techniques to use with liquid tempera paint: DOUBLE-LOADING This is my absolute favorite tempera paint technique. The name comes from the simple description of adding more than one color of paint to a brush. Most lessons ask that a child dip their brush into a single color then paint onto a piece of art paper. Or instructions ask the student to mix paint onto a palette to create a color. Double-loading is a bit of a hybrid. The idea is to not only create beautiful, interesting colors but the benefit is that it saves a whole lot of time. Mixing paint on a palette is a rewarding experience but it can take a while to complete a painting. When time is not on your side and you have 30 kids to move through the painting process, the double-loading technique is your best friend. Here’s what to do: Start with 3-5 colors of paint. I like to include white into this mix. Dip paint brush into one color (say red) then scoop up a tiny amount of another color (say white). You will see two colors on the brush. Brush paint onto a paper surface noticing how the colors appear on the paper. The more times you brush the paint onto the paper, the more it will blend. Sometimes it’s nice to leave the application alone so you can see the striped effect of the two colors. Try loading the brush with three colors. The tip for making this technique work really well is not to use too much water in between paint colors. The idea is to have remnants of color already on your brush so that after dipping into a paint color, a new color appears. Ready to try it? Here’s a video to watch to get a sense of what double-loading can do. SCRATCHING Whenever you want to jazz up a painting project, try scratching to create texture,...

Read More

Art Tip Video: Using Markers in the Art Room

Art Tip Video: Using Markers in the Art Room

By on Mar 17, 2015 | 8 comments

Using markers in the art room is by far one of the easiest mediums to prep for. I love how easy it is to set out trays then put them back into my marker drawer in less than a few minutes. No washing or sorting required.  But sometimes an art project colored with markers can look, well…you know…messy. Teaching kids how to color with markers has been a one of my goals this year. I’ve experimented with different markers and different papers to see what works best for all grade levels. This is what I found…. My Favorite Markers: Prismacolor Markers are expensive but worth it. I had a little extra room in my budget this year so I bought six boxes of the 24-marker set. I originally intended them for my older students, but the results were just so amazing, I had to allow my younger students to use them. They are double-ended meaning that one end of the marker is a fine point and the other end is a broad, chiseled end. Most of my students use the broad tip but the fine point is a bit easier to color with. I teach my students to listen for the click when placing the cap on. Taking proper care ensures a few years of usage. Crayola Markers have been my go-to markers ever since I began teaching. The broad tips are angled to deliver a thick or thin line. The best part of course is that they are inexpensive. In the video I actually say “cheap”. I really should say inexpensive as they are not cheap. In fact, I’ve had my current classroom pack for over three years and they are still holding up well. They are great quality for the...

Read More

Holiday Gifts for the Young Artist

Holiday Gifts for the Young Artist

By on Nov 30, 2014 | 2 comments

Wondering what to give your art-loving niece? Or son who loves to draw? A walk down any craft aisle will yields lots of wonderful art activity packs. All are good choices as there is nothing a child loves more than to open up a box and seeing hundreds of pencils, pastels and crayons. Although, sometimes these art packs aren’t the best quality. What I love about customizing art gifts is that you can buy fewer better quality items. This may not matter to a five-year old, but a ten or eleven-year old kid will abandon a project if a pencil lead keeps breaking or paint color doesn’t apply well. I remember when I was nine, my Aunt Aleah gave me a box of colorful colored pencils from China. As I opened up the tin box, it felt like I had even given a box of jewelry. I picked up each pencil and studied the names and colors. I still have remnants of these pencils as they were so treasured. Maybe it was the beautiful box or maybe it was because my Aunt knew I loved to draw…either way, I loved them. Art supplies can be a wonderful gift for the child who loves to sneak way to a quiet place to draw or paint. If you are thinking of bestowing the gift of art to a child in your life, here are my suggestions: 1. 365 Things to Draw and Paint (Activity Books) is a great book for creative kids. Usborne makes many art books and quite honestly, they are all great.  I do favor this one as it has so many art projects, drawing tips and prompts for both boys and girls. And you want to know a secret? There are few art teachers out there who do not have this book on their book shelves. It’s a wealth of fun. 2. Moma’s The Color-Play Coloring Book is another favorite of mine. I use the charts in my art room but kids will love painting and mixing colors right in the book. The large format makes it less precious than most art books, encouraging a child to experiement. 3. Because my nine-year old self loved drawing more than anything in the world, pencil crayons were my best friend. And because my...

Read More

To Spray or Not To Spray…

To Spray or Not To Spray…

By on Sep 4, 2013 | 61 comments

Chalk pastels are one of my favorite products to use in the art room. They allow a child to lay down a lovely layer of color with just their fingers. No paint, brushes or water necessary to create a colorful work of art. And if you’re into color-mixing, you can’t beat pastels. They are soft, glorious and come in every color imaginable. So why do they have a bad rap in the art room? Well, they are dusty for one. And pretty messy. And some kids (okay, me) don’t like the chalky, dry feeling on their hands. Truth is, it’s very hard to keep clean with chalk as it’s impossible to apply chalk neatly. Once you embrace this, I think you are on your way to some pretty amazing art lessons.   My 5 Top Tips for Working with Chalk: TIP # 1 If you are working with a new set of pastels, go ahead and break the long sticks in half. Yes, you heard me right. You don’t need perfect, unmarked sticks of chalk to create beautiful art. In fact, the smaller the piece, the easier it is for a small child to work with. TIP # 2 Use black paper instead of the white. For many of my projects that feature chalk pastel, I set out colored paper (black is my favorite) for the background base of the drawing. The dark background allows the vibrancy of the chalk pastel to really pop. This Rainforest Chalk Art lesson is a great example of how the chalk really pops on the darker paper. TIP # 3 Draw first with a black oil pastel or waxy black crayon. The trick here is to encourage a child (especially one that is 10 and under) to draw large. Larger drawings are far easier to color, especially when you are using chalk. Color right up to the black line and smooth the chalk. This lesson on drawing Modigliani-Inspired Portraits shows how effective outlining can be. TIP # 4 After drawing with an oil pastel and coloring with chalk, outline the good drawing lines with a black oil pastel. This really makes the piece stand out. TIP # 5 Use chalk pastel over dry paint to add highlights, contrast and extra...

Read More

Teaching Art at Home Part III: Art Supplies

Teaching Art at Home Part III: Art Supplies

By on Feb 25, 2013 | 13 comments

The third in my series, Teaching Art at Home. Click here for Part I and Part II I’m going to tackle one of the most basic problems with teaching art when you are a non-artist: Art Supplies. I remember when I first began teaching, I was asked to teach 7 grade levels and had one week to order art supplies and develop an art curriculum. Do you know what gave me the biggest headache? Paper! I could not figure out for the life of me what kind of paper art teachers were using. No one tells you. The websites I perused had images of beautiful art but I was baffled with what paper the teacher used to get such amazing results. It took me over a year of sampling special papers before I realized that the paper my school stocked for the classrooms was perfect for art. What paper was that? Sulphite paper! If you have no idea what Sulphite paper is, don’t worry. I have create a special Art Supply PDF that details all you need to know about art supplies. It includes links to Blick art supplies so that you can see the product as well as read about it. I am super excited about this little PDF gem, so go ahead and download it now for free! Click on the image above or this link: Home-school art supply list2  Art Storage: Now that you know what supplies to order and what to use them fo, you’ll need a place to put them. I’m going to be honest here. The more organized you are, the easier it is to teach an art lesson. It has taken me a long, long time to find the perfect storage for me. I don’t like to see art supplies in my den or on my kitchen counter. I like things tucked away, but not forgotten. These plastic bins from Ikea are perfect! I slide them onto my shelf  and when I need an art product, I slide the little cover off and pluck out what I need. I can also remove the entire bin and place it where it will be close. I bought some Martha Stewart Chalk labels at Staples to...

Read More

Teaching Art at Home: Part II The Set-Up

Teaching Art at Home: Part II The Set-Up

By on Feb 22, 2013 | 10 comments

This is my second installation in the series, Teaching Art at Home. Click here to read Part 1 and here for Part III I remember when my children were young and I set up an outdoor art studio: rolls of newsprint, tubs of paint, texture tools, etc. I dreamed of my children creating, painting, exploring and then running off to Michaels to frame the resulting masterpieces. Um, not what happened. The art experience lasted about 5 minutes and all I got to show for it was a paint splattered patio and crying kids. Can I remind you that I am an artist and an art teacher and this still happened to me? This scenario is fine if your goal is play time, but if you want to teach art, you need to set up a learning space.  This doesn’t mean you need to set up an elaborate art lab, but you need a few basic things… You don’t need art easels but you do need a spot for each child to draw, paint and create. Kitchen tables are the best. Lay down a plastic table cloth or a large 18″ x 24″ sheet of paper per child. I use large sheets of paper in my classroom. They get a bit soggy after a paint day, but after they dry, they can be used again and again. If you are teaching art to school-age children, it is imperative that you treat the art lesson like any other subject. To do this, you must develop a matrix of what works for you so that everytime you do an art lesson, the children know what to expect. Basically, establish a consistent schedule. Teaching at home is not unlike a classroom setting. For my younger students (K-3), the children sit on the floor while I read a book as a transition to my lesson, I show them a simple demonstration and then they go to their seats to do the art lesson. When the class is over, I ring the bell and we clean up. This happens every time they come to art class. Consistency breeds good behavior. Children know they can’t just get up in the middle of a project and run outside to...

Read More