There’s something about watching the mix of the colorful, larger-than-life balloons traveling high above the streets of New York City paired with the sounds of marching bands that make the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions.
I watch it in between prepping the turkey and baking pies on the big day and the background is always a seasonal trigger for me. I’m probably not alone as it is an event that has been intertwined in American Thanksgiving celebrations for nearly 100 years.
Along with recognizable characters from movies and television, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has also featured balloons inspired by artists including a Yayoi Kusama sun, a Keith Haring figure and a Jeff Koons rabbit.
This lesson puts a fun twist on the traditional balloons, with a sleek, shiny, balloon inspired by Jeff Koons’ signature style. Featuring simple techniques and supplies, this lesson is perfect for students from second grade and up.
Download this handy drawing guide before you get started.
THIS IS WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
– 9″ x 12″ white sulphite paper
– 9″ x 12″ colored sulphite paper (light colors are best)
– Small scrap of white paper
– Colored markers
– White oil pastel
– Pan watercolor
– Posca paint pens or chalk markers (construction paper crayons would work, too)
– Scissors & glue
DRAWING THE BUILDINGS
Turn the paper horizontal. Use a Sharpie to draw several large buildings that fill the entire paper from left to right. It’s okay if they are different heights.
Add windows and doors, but don’t add any other details just yet.
Paint the buildings and background with watercolor paint.
While the paint dries, start creating the balloon dog.
DRAWING THE BALLOON DOG
Use a Sharpie to draw the separate pieces of the balloon dogs on a light colored piece of paper. You should have a body, head, two legs, two ears and a tail. Don’t forget to download the drawing guide for a visual reference.
Use a white oil pastel to make a curved highlight on one side of each piece. For pieces that are horizontal, like the body and head, the highlight will be on top. For pieces that are vertical, like the legs, ears and tail, the highlights will be on the right side.
Use a marker in a darker shade than your paper to make the shadow. For the head and body, the shadow will be on the bottom, For the legs, eats and tail, the shadow will be on the left side.
The highlights and shadows are what helps give the dog the rounded three-dimensional appearance.
ASSEMBLING THE BALLOON DOG
Cut out all pieces, leaving the black outline intact. Glue the pieces together to make the balloon dog.
Cut two eyes from the scrap of white paper and glue onto the face. Outline and add pupils with the Sharpie. Draw a nose and mouth. Add a white oil pastel highlight to the tip of the nose.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Use Posca paint pens or chalk markers to add details to the buildings, including; window panes, awnings and decorative architectural details.
Glue the balloon dog to the background. Make sure it’s floating nice and high above the street.
Use the Sharpie to add a few lines that extend from the dog’s feet to the bottom of the paper. These are the ropes that handlers use to navigate the balloon through the streets.
Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet us a perfect companion to this lesson, which tells the real life story of Tony Sarg, the puppeteer who developed the first Macy’s parade balloon.
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This lesson was created and written by one of our lesson developers, Heather Sparks!