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Art Lessons by Technique

Tempera vs Acrylic Paint

Tempera vs Acrylic Paint

By on Sep 1, 2016 | 3 comments

I avoided acrylic paint for a long time. I was happy with my liquid tempera and watercolor paints and didn’t see the allure of acrylics. Now, for my own art, nothing beats acrylics. But who wants to mess around with tubes with 30 kids? This was my mindset for a long time. When I learned about acrylic paints that were meant for an elementary classroom, I was excited to give them a try. I order some Blick acrylic paints and experimented with a few projects. Everything that was said about acrylic paints was true…they were smooth, beautiful and had a lovely finish. Then I made the BIG mistakes that only experienced art teachers know not to do: I cleaned my plastic muffin-palette filled with acrylic paints in the sink. Two days later, my sink was clogged. Here’s the thing. Acrylic paints dry to a hard plastic. And when your pour them down your drain, they will stick to your pipes. And if you don’t clean your brushes well, then the same hard plastic will adhere to the bristles. So that had me swearing off acrylics for  along time. Cut to this summer…. I was creating art with my 3-year old niece in Canada. I needed supplies so I went to the closest store. They carried a few craft acrylics but not much else. So I bought a smock, grabbed some primary colors and prepared to cover my niece so she wouldn’t ruin her clothes. Turns out that the acrylic I bought was very (very!) similar to regular liquid tempera paint. It even washed away like tempera. It didn’t even dry to a hard plastic finish. I was amazed. And surprised. Here’s a video that shows how craft acrylic paints are just like liquid tempera paints. Maybe they will work for you! Save time and effort with a done-for-you artist curriculum, art training, art lesson downloads and a supportive, engaged community within The Members’ Club. Don’t miss the next...

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Matisse Garden – Book Review & Video

Matisse Garden – Book Review & Video

By on Jun 13, 2016 | 4 comments

MATISSE’S GARDEN My favorite activity is popping into a book store to browse. I hardly do it anymore mostly because bookstores aren’t as plentiful. And doesn’t Amazon make it easy to buy your favorite books? But as I was walking down Sate Street last week with my daughter, we popped into The Santa Barbara Museum of Art book store. Nothing makes me happier than being immersed in colorful children’s book covers, except maybe art books written for children. Matisse’s Garden by Samantha Friedman is a must have book for your art room library. It moves past Matisse’s back story and dives straight into the process of creating art, choosing colors and seeing art in a new way. And if you don’t have any of Matisse’s works of art nearby, there are eight reproductions you can use to show your students. Nice, huh? I love the illustrations by Cristina Amodeo. Perhaps a little less saturated than I prefer but still lovely and appealing. I was so inspired that I decided to draw my own little Matisse Garden inspired by Amodeo’s illustrations. Here’s a video that shows how to use basic markers to draw organic shapes and create a composition of your own. I used a simple sketchbook and Faber-Castell broad-tip markers. I tried really hard to leave the colors flat, like Matisse, but I couldn’t resist. In the end, I grabbed a Sharpie and outlined the flowers. I think you are either in one camp or another. I almost always outline but I love the organic beauty of not outlining, too. I know. So many tough decisions in art-making. Which do you prefer? Outlining or not?     SAVE THIS POST!...

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Easy Watercolor Line Art for Kids

Easy Watercolor Line Art for Kids

By on Jun 2, 2016 | 7 comments

There’s something about the lure of summer to awaken your creative juices. My favorite illustrators like August Wren and Alisa Burke create art. every. single. day. I can’t even imagine doing that. Can you? But something inspired me this morning to turn off my computer, find a sketch pad and grab a box of watercolors. Usually I plan out what I want to paint, but today, I decided to paint as if I were a child being handed a tray of paint. What would I paint? What colors would I use? It ended up being nothing…just a series of lines and blobs. But that’s what a child would do. Well, actually they would most likely paint a rainbow or a flower or a lollypop tree…but if we said they could paint anything except those things. I let the paint dry and took out a Sharpie marker and drew a few lines. Not worrying about it needing to be something. And as it turns out, the painting did indeed turn out to be nothing, but it did its job. Tomorrow I will do it again. This time, I feel it won’t take as much energy to get started. WANT TO SEE ME IN ACTION? Here’s a 1 min video…   Want to create something with me? Paint or draw something tomorrow that could be used in your art class. Tag me on Instagram with #deepspacesparkle and let’s share some ideas!...

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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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5 Tips for Making Vibrant Paint Colors

5 Tips for Making Vibrant Paint Colors

By on Apr 21, 2016 | 6 comments

Do you ever wonder why some art projects look so vibrant? Perhaps you wondered what brand of paint results in such rich colors? What if I told you it’s not what, but how… I used to think that there was a special type of paint that I could order and squeeze into a palette until I discovered the secret of creating colorful paint hues. No matter what brand of paint you buy, don’t feel limited to paint with colors directly from the bottle. A world of color and creativity awaits. Try the next 5 tips for creating your own vibrant colors.   FUN COLOR TIP #1 – Squeeze a quarter-size amount of blue, red, yellow and white liquid tempera paint onto a styrofoam plate or egg carton. – With a brush, scoop up a little bit of yellow paint then scoop up some white. Mix the two paint colors onto a piece of art paper. What happens? Keep adding white paint to the brush and paint a new dot onto your paper. See how the color gets lighter and lighter? – This is called creating a tint. Tints works especially well on dark colored paper like black or navy blue.   FUN COLOR TIP #2 – Without rinsing your brush clean, scoop up a bit of red paint. Paint a dot on your paper. What happens? What color did you create? Because there is still white and yellow on the brush, the resulting red won’t be as pure. This is one of the tricks to creating vibrant colors…don’t clean the colors away with water.   FUN COLOR TIP #3 – Clean your brush and try mixing the red with the blue paint. What color did you get? – As you keep adding more colors, the lighter colors fade away. You can keep adding dark colors or you can dip paint brush back into the white paint to create a new tint. It helps to mix from light to dark. Light colors are easily blended with the dark so less muddy colors result in the efforts. FUN COLOR TIP #4 – Use a styrofoam egg carton to create a colorful palette. – Squeeze a dime size amount of as many colors as you want into each...

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Foil Turtle and Fish Collage

Foil Turtle and Fish Collage

By on Apr 8, 2016 | 25 comments

This lesson was inspired by a lesson in The Usborne Book of Art Projects. It was a huge hit with my third grade class. The lesson in the book focused on fish but I thought a sea turtle would look lovely swimming in the glittery waters. Here’s How: Creating the Background There are a couple of ways to make the water background for the sea turtle and fish. One method is to use liquid or tray watercolors and table salt to make a traditional speckled background as shown above or you could use Mod-Podge and glitter liquid watercolor paints. To make a watercolor and salt background,  use 6″ x 9″ pieces of 90 lb watercolor paper and regular watercolor paints.  Wet the paper with a sponge or large brush, then mix blue and green watercolors onto the wet watercolor paper (wet-on-wet technique). Salting the surface will give the “ocean” a sparkly quality. I had some of the Mod-Podge glittery paints left over from the Fancy Fish Lesson, so I though I may as well use it up before it hardened and became unusable. The students brushed the leftover “glittery paint” onto a piece of blue or lavender drawing paper. The results were shimmery and ocean perfect. To make the glitter paint, combine a few table spoons of glitter liquid watercolors with about a ¼ cup of gloss Mod-Podge. Stir and use like regular paint. Drawing the Sea Turtle and Fish CLICK TO DOWNLOAD How to Draw a Sea Turtle Set the ocean paper aside and demonstrate how to draw some fish and sea turtles.  The idea is to keep the drawing very simple because the drawing will be created on tin foil. It may be helpful to do a practice drawing on a piece of paper cut to the same size of the tin foil. Use the drawing guide or show pictures of sea turtles and fish and allow the children to identify the basic shapes and colors from photographs. Coloring and Texture You’ll need some heavy weight tin foil (regular tin foil is fine), and some texture boards.  To make a texture board, cut heavy board (tag board, etc) into 9″ x 6″ rectangles.  Cut up old mesh vegetable bags and tape to cardboard. I made about 25 and had a...

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