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6th Grade Art Lessons

Santa Barbara Ceramic Tile Mural

Santa Barbara Ceramic Tile Mural

By on May 31, 2016 | 2 comments

Have you ever thought about creating a collaborative mural with you students? It helps not to think about the logistics. Just imagine how it would feel to walk inside a school courtyard and see a decade’s worth of murals peppering the stucco walls. Over the past ten years, I created and co-created over 13 murals. Want to see them? 2007 Ancient Greece Mural   2007 California Produce Mural 2008 Earth Science Mural  2008 Keith Haring Mural 2009 Literature Inspired Mural 2009 Butterfly Inspired Mural 2010 Nautical Mural 20111 California Marine Life Mural 2012 Ancient Greece Mural 2013 America the Beautiful 2014 Kimmy Cantrell-Inspired Mural 2015 Cars: Past, Present & Future  Mural I’m missing photographs of my very first mural–California Coastline. It was a biggie and the scope of the project almost deterred me from ever making mural again, but as you can see from the pictures above, that I did. If you want to make a mural like the ones above, I put together a How to Make a ceramic Tile Mural PDF packet. It details all the steps that go into making a mural like this one. The only steps I don’t cover are the installation. I highly recommend anyone who is interested in this type of installation,refer to a contractor in your area. Installations differ depending on climate and interior or exterior mounting.   2016 Ceramic Mural: Santa Barbara  For my last mural with the students at Brandon Elementary, the teachers chose the theme: Santa Barbara. Like all murals, we scheduled 45 minutes to explain the mural process to the kids, detail the theme and provide visuals for tile possibilities. I wanted to keep the mural-making simple this year as I wouldn’t be on campus to tweak and adjust, so we chose a grid style with collaborative tile groups as an option. This particular 6th grade class were highly individualistic and many chose to work alone.  You can decide if this is okay with you. Some years, we only offered collaborative grids within the theme and other years we chose entirely solo tiles. Most of the drawing day was spent trouble shooting groups, adjusting for the exact number of students and tiles (math plays a part here) and making...

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Sketchbook Project #8: Animal Eyes

Sketchbook Project #8: Animal Eyes

By on May 24, 2016 | 2 comments

The Sketchbook Project is a record of how my sixth grade students used sketchbooks during their art class to record art information and create projects. Learn how I used sketchbooks instead of individual sheets of paper to teach art & creativity. Week One: The Beginning Week Two: Creating Value Week Three: Atmospheric Perspective Week Four: Tree Line Drawings Week Five: Sonia Delaunay Abstract Art Week Six: Portrait Journalling Week Seven: Line drawings Week Eight: Farm Animals WHAT WE DID: Books have continued to be the most consistent source of art lesson inspiration for me. Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World by Steven Jenkins (Amazon affiliate link) is an exploration of close-up images of various animal eyes. As the last project in our Sketchbook series, I still wanted the project to use art supplies that could be picked up at anytime so that the children could finish their artwork at home or during free choice class time. I set a variety of coloring tools on each table (markers, colored pencils and pastels) and allowed the kids to choose whichever medium they wanted. I also photocopied pages from the book so that the kids could select an animal eye that they liked as well as downloaded and printed a few photographs of close-up animal eyes to place on the white board. This provided enough examples of kids to start weeding through what appealed to them. Ad the kids moved through drawing and then to coloring, many students remembered my collection of metallic paints and asked if they could use them. The combination of a marker background with metallic paint details was really effective! OBSERVATION DRAWING Like many of the drawing lessons in this sketchbook series, the goal was not to provide guided instructions on how to draw an eye but rather encourage the students to select an animal eye and use a scaled-up method to create a composition on their paper. I asked the children to consider the eyeball the feature of the art project; to make it prominent and large enough so that even the smallest details can be seen. Truthfully, this is still a challenge for many students. If you find that some of your students are struggling to draw a large eyeball, offer a few randomly sized plastic containers for the child...

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Sketchbook Project #7: Farm Animals

Sketchbook Project #7: Farm Animals

By on Feb 16, 2016 | 1 comment

The Sketchbook Project is a record of how my sixth grade students used sketchbooks during their art class to record art information and create projects. Learn how I used sketchbooks instead of individual sheets of paper to teach art & creativity. Week One: The Beginning Week Two: Creating Value Week Three: Atmospheric Perspective Week Four: Tree Line Drawings Week Five: Sonia Delaunay Abstract Art Week Six: Portrait Journalling Week Seven: Line drawings   WHAT WE DID: Drawing animals is a favorite art subject for pretty much every child. Children love to draw their pet and can often do so with ease, but drawing an unfamiliar animal takes some practice. For this project, I wanted to offer my 6th graders the opportunity to explore farm animals. I gathered some books, of which Farm Anatomy by Julia Rothman remains my favorite. The strategy for this project was to encourage the kids to use their sketchbook to practice drawing a few animals. I photocopied animal pictures from books and placed some photographs on the white board. I asked the kids to draw at least 3 different animals, or one animal 3 different ways. The intention was to push them out of any comfort zones they may have. After they sketched a few animals, they selected which animals they wanted to develop further. Using pencils, the kids drew their animal(s) in an art-style of their choice. This was the fun part. Some kids created farm scenes, others created pop art animals, others went 3-D…so many options! And with many of the Sketchbook projects in this series, I allowed the kids to use whatever coloring medium they wanted. Some used markers, pencil crayons, watercolor paints and others went the collage route. I have to admit, that this project produced the most varied results. The kids LOVED choosing their own medium. At first I worried that allowing the children to move around the art room to gather supplies from the art cupboards would result in chaos, but the opposite happened. They were quick and deliberate. They put their own supplies back when class was over. They were empowered with their freedom (as most 6th graders are) and for me it resulted in a lively art-making session. I don’t know if this fits in with the choice-based classroom...

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Romero Britto-Inspired Hearts

Romero Britto-Inspired Hearts

By on Jan 22, 2016 | 16 comments

Romero Britto is a Brazilian born artist who now lives in Miami, Florida. His modern pop culture art work is known and celebrated all over the world. Like many art teachers, I love his work and love introducing his colorful art to my students. THE PROJECT Using broad tip markers like these markers from Faber-Castell and a piece of card stock, you can create an easy-to-draw Valentine’s Day Pop-Art Hearts with your kids. Here are the basic steps: Draw curved lines on bottom of paper with black marker Draw “sun” and sun’s rays (straight lines) Draw a large heart over and in-between the rays Double up the black lines so they are thick Use broad tip markers to color in areas of the artwork Light colors make a good color choice for large areas Draw patterns over white paper or colored areas THE VIDEO   Download a Free drawing Guide RESOURCES If you enjoyed the short video, you can extend your unit on Pop Art by studying Pop Art painter, Romero Britto. Artists bio and mixed-media lesson plan and video below: Romero Britto Pop Art Mixed Media PDF Lesson plan & Video Faber-Castell Children’s Art Products...

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Abstract Moose Winter Art Project

Abstract Moose Winter Art Project

By on Jan 11, 2016 | 3 comments

During my visit to Alaska in 2014, I scoured books stores and art galleries looking for an artist who captured the spirit of Alaska and whose art could be translated to children. Dawn Gerety’s work fit the bill. I love her paintings: colorful, pattern-filled and whimsical, her collection of art went beyond the galleries to books for kids. When I got home, I crafted this project for older students. It is rich with the elements of art, captures the graphic beauty of the mighty moose and is easy enough for even the most art-timid child to be successful. The project uses watercolor paints and watercolor paper along with salt to achieve the fabulous texture, but if you don’t have all three ingredients, I offer great substitutions....

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Sketchbook Project #6: Line Drawings

Sketchbook Project #6: Line Drawings

By on Jan 10, 2016 | 3 comments

The Sketchbook Project is a record of how my sixth grade students used sketchbooks during their art class to record art information and create projects. Learn how I used sketchbooks instead of individual sheets of paper to teach art & creativity. Week One: The Beginning Week Two: Creating Value Week Three: Atmospheric Perspective Week Four: Tree Line Drawings Week Five: Sonia Delaunay Abstract Art Week Six: Portrait Journalling Before I get into the project, this is a good time to point out the importance of creating a project calendar. There will be some projects you teach that will consume a lot of time both in demonstrating the lesson and the actual art-making process. Try to balance simple projects with the multi-step projects (like last week’s portrait journalling). You all know that some kids will finish a project in the time allotted while others won’t. Easier projects like this one, offers kids a chance to catch up. All this project requires is the sketch pad, some markers and colored pencils. That’s it! You’ll need to find two or three simple, graphic drawings for the kids to use as drawing prompts. I took an old zentangle hand project I did many moons ago plus this giraffe I found through Pinterest. The kids loved these images and dove into the project. PATTERN IDEA DOWNLOADS You’ll want to demonstrate some lines and pattern ideas for the kids on the white board, just to get their drawings started, or you can download a few free patterns from sources on the internet. Here’s a good source for patterns. DRAWING INSTRUCTIONS I  didn’t go into very much detail with drawing instructions. These are 6th grade kids who pretty much know what they want to do and how they want to proceed. If you have never down the hand drawing before, it’s super easy. Kids place their non-dominant hand on the paper and trace around the hand with a marker. Then, draw a rainbow/echo line around the hand contour. I find that this border separates the hand from the pattern detailing that will come later. After the hand or the giraffe’s head/neck are drawn, the kids use their imaginations and creativities to draw shapes, lines and patterns. The only rule is to NOT draw a scenic background. COLORING I must admit that last year...

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