we help adults teach art to kids

The Best Art Supplies

Watercolor Paints & Paper: What Works Best

Watercolor Paints & Paper: What Works Best

By on Dec 11, 2016 | 3 comments

Here’s a question I get asked a lot: Can I use regular paper with my watercolor paints? Or do I need to use watercolor paper? The answer is yes! I like using liquid watercolor paints (affiliate link) on regular sulphite drawing paper but it only works well for a specific result. Here’s a video to explain what the differences are: https://d11vly3u9uru85.cloudfront.net/2016-D/watercolor+paper+and+paints.mp4 Summary Sulphite paper is about 76 lbs and will soak up the watercolor paint quickly. This doesn’t make it an effective surface to promote color blending or using the salting technique. Watercolor is best for blending watercolors and adding salt for that lovely starburst effect because it has texture. This allows the watercolor paint to sit on the paper surface for a longer period of time to allow for the mingling. The biggest difference is using glitter watercolor paints on sulphite paper. The viscosity in the glitter watercolor seems to help the liquid stay on the paper’s surface long enough for an effective salting technique. Here are some projects that use liquid watercolor paints on regular sulphite paper: 1. Watercolor Castle for Kinders-Second Grade 2. Watercolor Sunflowers 3. Underwater Hippos for second and third grade Interested in experimenting with more watercolor techniques? DOWNLOAD THE WATERCOLOR TECHNIQUE CHEAT SHEET Just click on the image below, add your name and email and you will be sent the PDF via your email address (make sure to check you spam/junk mail folder). Note: You will also be directed to a Thank you page where you can see other freebies that may interest...

Read More

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

To Spray or Not To Spray…

To Spray or Not To Spray…

By on Sep 4, 2013 | 64 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: Problems, Set Up, and Art Supplies

Teaching Art at Home: Problems, Set Up, and Art Supplies

By on Feb 20, 2013 | 10 comments

Over the years, I have received many emails from home-schooling parents wondering how to incorporate my art lessons into their home-school curriculum. The questions range from which art supplies to use to how to adapt a lesson for different ages. I don’t have any experience as a home-school parent so I have always been reluctant to offer advice. But I got thinking and asking (thanks to my DSS Facebook group!) and have come up with some tips that might make the task of incorporating art into your home a bit easier. From what I can tell from your emails, most of the problems associated with teaching art contain one or more of the following statements… I am not an artist I don’t know how to draw so teaching my children drawing skills feels overwhelming Spending 30 minutes setting up painting project for 5 minutes worth of art time seems like a waste of time I don’t have my art supplies in one place so it’s easier to avoid art time My child gets frustrated and doesn’t want to do what I teach Too many kids + too many ages = an organizational nightmare I have no idea what supplies to buy and how to use them. I don’t know how to teach the same lesson to all my kids Do any of these sound familiar? I totally get it. I’m going to break down these problems and hopefully offer a solution or two. Not an artist? That’s okay. You don’t have to be. I started this blog hoping to help anyone interested in teaching art to children. This mantra didn’t happen overnight. Early on in my career as an art ed blogger I posted what I thought were pretty complete lesson tutorials. But my readers kept asking more and more questions.  I realized that the omission of even the smallest item in a checklist of instructions could stymie someone. I totally got it. People were asking for very specific details…exact steps to teach an art lesson in a language they understood. Why do you suppose that is? To me, most people are attracted to a visual idea like a picture of a finished art project. Some know instinctively whether...

Read More

The Best Colored Pencils

The Best Colored Pencils

By on Sep 26, 2011 | 25 comments

Colored pencils, when used properly, can impart a wonderful quality to artwork. When combined with markers, colored pencils can add tints and values to an otherwise flat image. Having said this, I haven’t always been so fond of colored pencils (or pencils crayons as we used to say in Canada) for use in the elementary classroom. Unless you use the good ones, the results can be less than satisfying. Cheap pencils can leave the art with an  “unfinished” quality. I don’t like to nag children to press harder, so I searched for better quality pencils. After 8 years of experimenting, I finally decided that my favorite brand is: KOH-I-NOOR WOODLESS COLOUR PENCILS  Like the name suggests, these beauties are woodless, which means that they are all lead. The color lays down velvety smooth and encourages even coloring and dark tones. Almost as good as painting! The only drawback (okay, there are two) is that they have a tendency to snap  and they are expensive (but only compared to the cheaper ones.) A set of 24 is only $10.92 at Dick Blick. Do not go to a craft store and purchase these. Very expensive there! Another thing I like about them is that they are super weighty. Really feels like you got something worthwhile in your hands. I know my students love them, too. They take very special care with them. Other Brands: Since I purchased the Koh-I-Noor brand, other woodless pencil sticks have surfaced. Prismacolor has some and so does Crayola. I don’t like the short sticks as much because you don’t get a good point but Crayola has a large variety of kid-friendly pencils that won’t break the bank (although their woodless pencil sticks are as expensive as the brand I prefer). I adore Prismacolor for the application and color intensity but dang it all, they are really hard to sharpen without the lead breaking. I did a little demonstration to show the color intensity the different colored pencils. It was not at all scientific. I just tried to place equal amount of pressure per pencil rendering. For me, the Koh-I-Noor are the best at laying down a good saturation of color. What are your favorite brands? Do...

Read More