I’ve been playing around with this painted owl art lesson for a while now. I created this free owl drawing guide and have been taking advantage of it. My third graders used the handout to create a marker and watercolor painting but for my Kinders, I wanted to keep the choices to a minimum.
I decided to use yellow chalk to draw the owl (keep on reading to learn why this isn’t the best choice) and pre-mixed liquid tempera paint. I love to mix my paint colors before the students arrive. This is especially helpful for younger students as they are still learning how to paint smoothly. Adding a lesson on color-mixing is just a bit too premature for most of my students.
I selected two simple variations of the owl and simplified the drawing even more by using small condiment cups for getting the drawing started.
This is what we did for our painted owl art:
Every student received a piece of yellow colored chalk, a sheet of 12″ x 18″ white sulphite paper, a placemat and access to paints and brushes/water.
The students sat on the floor as I demonstrated the process for drawing two styles of painted owl art: one with open wings and the other with closed wings. The open wing owl needs a wide piece of paper (place paper sideways on table) and the no-wing owl needed a tall paper.
Using a small condiment cup, trace two circles near the top of the paper for the eyes. For the nose, draw a rhombus (according to the kids, they aren’t called diamonds) between the two eyes. If they wanted to, they could draw a “mask” around the eyes. I show them how to draw a line close to, but not touching, the eyes and nose.
Place chalk above mask and draw a straight horizontal line. Add ears. Next, draw a long letter “U”. This is the body. The tall owl shows a few back tail feathers. I showed the kids how to add these if they wanted to. Draw a wing in the middle– like a pocket.
The open winged owl has big wings. Draw (or trace fingers) wing shapes on both sides of the owl body. We added two small bumps where the legs will be but we didn’t draw legs yet. That comes after we paint.
After I demonstrated how to draw the owls, the kids went back to their tables. Many kids jumped ahead and drew whichever owl they liked best. About half the class needed guided instruction. We completed the owls together and once the children seemed to know what they were doing, I set out the paints.
Painting the Owls
If the paints are not already on the table, put them on now. I only offered 4 paint colors. Reducing paint option not only prevents muddy colors but helps move the project along.
I asked the kids to paint the body first using any color they wished. They had to select a different color for the wings. They painted the remaining owl shapes with whatever color combo they wished.
That’s it for Day One. If the kids don’t paint the background, no worries. I fixed that by cutting out the owl and gluing to black paper.
Outlining and Adding Patterns
This is an interesting step. I placed Sharpies on the tables with the intention of having the kids trace over their original chalk lines to make the colors pop. The theory is sound but the execution wasn’t quite there.
Problem #1: Using yellow chalk was a horrible idea. Kids are messy painters but Kinder kids are the messiest painters ever. By the time the paint dried, the yellow lines were barely visible. Pretty hard to trace over lines you can’t see. I should have stuck with my tried-and-true method of using black oil pastel for drawing. Bad Patty.
Problem #2: Using Sharpies to trace lines. A few tried but basically turned the art project into free choice time. Lots of scribbles and random shapes. A few kids got the hang of it, but most were struggling. So I plucked the markers from the table and encouraged the kids to use the crayons and oil pastels that were already provided for shapes and patterns.
The oil pastel and crayons worked so well.
Lesson Learned: Thirteen years of teaching art means that I’ve tested quite a few techniques. Using drawing tools with fat ends are easier for 5 and 6 year old kids. Less scribbling and bigger shapes equal an easier and more successful time with art-making.
Finally, after all the decorating is done, add some legs (if you can fit them in!).
Aren’t these owls the cutest thing ever? I don’t mean to keep saying cute over and over because it’s not about how cute they are. It’s really about how cute the kids are creating them. What a joy it is to see them try so hard and be so proud.
DOWNLOAD THIS PAINTED OWL ART LESSON PLAN AND DRAWING GUIDE:
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