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Art Lessons by Technique

How to Draw & Paint a Turkey

How to Draw & Paint a Turkey

By on Nov 17, 2016 | 21 comments

Need a quick and easy 40-minute art lesson for your Kinders or first grade class? For the last day of my Fall rotation, Kinders created these adorable thanksgiving turkeys. I hadn’t done a guided drawing lesson with this group yet, but since they have all settled down and have become quite good listeners, I figured a directed line drawing lesson was due. You’ll need a 12″ x 18″ piece of sulphite paper, black oil pastels, colored oil pastels, liquid watercolor paint, craft feathers, white glue and a small plastic container lid. Want to know where I get my supplies? Download this handy guide. Watch this short how-to video: How to draw a turkey… I must admit that my own version of a Thanksgiving turkey looks more like a peacock than a turkey, but at the time, it was the best I could do. I experimented with a few body shapes before deciding that tracing a container top was the best way to begin this lesson with my Kinders. I was not alone with this assessment. A group of students who like to help me prep in the morning all agreed that tracing a circle was not only far cuter than my previous sample and they liked the simpler lesson for their little buddies. Who’s to argue with sixth grade girls? Another KEY component in helping this project along was to fold the paper in half to create a crease line. You might think this is silly but for my group of Kinders, many have low spatial awareness and although we’ve been working hard on this, many drawings tend to start way at the bottom of the paper. Have you experienced this? Thought so.   Need a handout?   DOWNLOAD FREE DRAWING PDF FROM THE SHOP So, to draw a turkey…. Fold paper in half to achieve a crease line and place container template on top of the crease line. This helps not only center the turkey but sets the stage for the turkey’s size. Trace container top with a black oil pastel. Draw two dots for eyes and an upside down triangle for a beak. Place oil pastel on crease line right next to the head and draw a BIG, FAT belly. Go all the way around to the other...

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The Top Watercolor Techniques for Kids

The Top Watercolor Techniques for Kids

By on Nov 3, 2016 | 5 comments

Are you a new art teacher wanting to try a watercolor project with your students? Perhaps you’re an artist who is  teaching art to kids for the first time. Determining the best watercolor techniques for young children can be challenging. For children in Kindergarten through fifth grade, I have always found that its best to keep it simple. Here are my top 4 watercolor techniques that I use with children in grades K-6: Wet-on-Wet Wet-on-Dry Wax Resist Black Marker Last summer, I hosted a workshop for 200 teachers. I demonstrated a simple experiment that is great to try at the beginning of a watercolor unit. You can present it as a practice session before the real project but in fact, the resulting art can be quite beautiful. I did a version of this experiment with a group of 6th graders (age 11-12) a few years back as a practice for a detailed watercolor project. The experiment helped children identify the properties of watercolor paints and explore all the possibilities of what the medium can do. You can read all about my 6th grade watercolor experiment here. WHAT TO DO: I created a Cheat Sheet for you to download as a guide to help walk you through drawing the grid, the 4 techniques and what to say to the kids. I also included a few simple drawing prompts in case some kids get stuck on what to draw. We don’t want the drawing holding them up as the point of the lesson is to experiment. The first thing to do is to draw a grid. I demonstrated 4 techniques to my room full of teachers, but you can add or subtract techniques depending on the age of the children or just the complexity of the experiment. Note: The PDF demonstrates what to do. Work your way through each of the four techniques. I like to demonstrate ONE technique at a time and allow the children to work for 5-10 minutes on the technique before moving on. In elementary school, we are always looking for process-based art projects that lead to the development of skills and creativity. Understanding what mediums can do in order to fully express a child’s creativity is a part of this process. I encourage...

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Contour Cat Watercolor Project

Contour Cat Watercolor Project

By on Oct 5, 2016 | 3 comments

The complementary colors of orange and blue are everywhere this fall season. And why not showcase these happy colors with a blue belly cat? A bit of doodling the other day prompted a quick contour drawing of this cute cat. Using the simple drawing handout,  children can free-draw their own contour cat to use as the subject of three watercolor techniques: Wet-on-wet watercolor (cat) Wet-on-dry watercolor (background) Wax resist (white outline and watercolor barrier) This lesson can be done in two steps. First, draw the contour cat with a sharpie on watercolor paper. Then paint the cat and background. Second, after the paint dries, add the pattern and lines. ART SUPPLIES waterproof black marker watercolor paper (90 lb) pan watercolor paints white crayon or oil pastel medium round brush water TECHNIQUES wet-on-wet wet-on-dry wax resist contour line drawing patterns, shape and line DRAWING DIRECTIONS Use the drawing handout as a guide to draw a contour line of a simple cat. Focus on drawing two ears, a head, a long neck, hunched shoulders, simple paws and a long, curvy tail. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect. The fun part is drawing wonky lines! Draw two oval shapes for the EYES. With a white crayon, trace carefully along the outside of the black marker line. With a brush, touch the blue paint and dip into water so the clear water has a tint of blue. Brush water inside the contour line. With BLUE paint, start painting a LINE of color along the bottom of the cat. Hold paper upside down so that the blue drips and mingles towards the body. Continue painting the cat blue, allowing the paint to migrate down the paper using gravity. This is really fun for kids as they can see how the colored paint will travel to the wet areas. Paint outside of the contour line (NEGATIVE SPACE) blue’s COMPLEMENTARY COLOR (orange!) After paint dries, use the black marker to add a NOSE and a MOUTH. Fill the cat with patterns, lines and...

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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 | 5 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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