Tropical Birds are a wonderful way to teach a variety of lessons: color wheel basics, color mixing, drawing techniques. Parrots are an art room staple. They are easy to draw and even more fun to paint. I love this lesson because no matter what the child’s perceived artistic ability, most will be totally surprised with how well they did.
OPTION ONE: Drawing a Tropical Bird
For this lesson, I focused on the drawing aspect. The children used oil pastels to color in their parrots, but the project would be stunning if you used tempera paint with black outlines. Scroll down further to see that project.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
12″ x 18″ sulphite paper
Thick piece of paper or smooth fabric
Drawing the Bird
When using oil pastels, the trick is to encourage the children to press hard and color thoroughly. Most of my students aren’t used to this much effort and the truth is, if they color properly, their arms and hands will become tired! It helps to place a thick piece of paper (or even a smooth piece of fabric) under the drawing so that the oil pastel goes on smoothly.
The disadvantage of oil pastels is that they do take a while to finish coloring. The big advantage though, is that there is little prep and the unfinished project becomes an easy piece to pull out and work on if the student has some free time. I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, don’t you?
OPTION TWO: Painted Parrots
For this lesson, which took three-45 minute class times, we started with learning how to draw a basic parrot.
I use the “shape” strategy:
Draw a circle for the eye, draw an arrow for the beak, etc. Most kids find it easy to draw when a confusing and seemingly difficult image is broken down into basic shapes.
After the kids draw a parrot on scrap paper, I give them a large sheet of white 12 x 18 sulphite paper. They are free to draw whatever bird they like. I plaster the white board with pictures of tropical birds and set black and white drawings of birds, used as a drawing aid, for their table.
I encourage the kids to use a black marker or colored oil pastel for drawing. Pencil and erasers take up too much class time. Most kids will spend the entire class period erasing their lines.
By the second class, each kid will have a completed bird drawing. At this point, I give them a tray filled with liquid tempera in primary paint colors. I demonstrate how to mix the colors to make the secondary colors and then the kids are free to paint their tropical birds in any manner in which they please.
By the last class, some kids still need to finish painting their birds but most others can add a black marker or black paint detail to their painting. Outlining the leaves, feathers and other details really make the painting come alive!