Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Surrealist Scratchboards

After learning about the Surrealist art movement, students created these vibrant Surreal worlds using handmade scratchboards. We started by coloring a board with oil pastels. The entire space needs to be colored in or else the paint will stick to the board and the scratching will not work. I encourage students to color in lines and to switch off their colors as much as possible. Next, the board is painted over with black tempera paint with a little dish soap added. Once the board is dry, students attached a magazine cutout of a person to the front of the board. Then, students were able to create a vibrantly colored world of their own creation! I gave students the option of scratching out a landscape or to just include intricate patterns and designs. This is a project I do every semester because all students love the results!


Students in grades 1-3 created their very own robots! We began by looking at many examples of robots, from cartoons to real life models. Students then sketched several different types of robots while being encouraged to include a lot of details. For the next class, students chose their favorite design and drew it out large on a colored paper. They painted the entire shape gray and had to make sure each side of the robot came close to every edge of the page. During the final class, students drew in the details with black crayon, painted highlights on one side with white paint and a shadow on the other side with black paint. We also added a bit of color to the robots, some aluminum foil for shine and rubbed a texture into the background. The students were very proud of these and each robot has so much personality!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


PreK and Kinder students created these adorable penguin collages just in time for the cold weather! We began by painting a line pattern with cool colors for the background. During the next class, students used orange, black and white paper to create their penguins. Except for the nose, all the parts of the penguins were made with circles or half-circles. To complete the artwork, students cut a triangle border with white triangles to look like ice and dabbed some white in the back for snow. 

Autumn Aboriginal

Students in grades 4-6 created these enlarged leaves in a traditional Aboriginal style from Australia. We began by drawing a very large leaf form observation. Students needed to make sure the drawing came within one inch of all four sides of the composition. Next, students chose two complementary colors to paint the leaf and background- the warm color was to be the leaf and the cool color was for the background. 
For the second class, students painted a strong black outline around the leaf and some type of veins as well. We watched Aborigines from Australia painting and learned about this style of art before adding our own dotted patterns to our paintings. We stuck with warm colors in the leaf and cool colors for the background. 

This project focused on color contrast, patterns and learning about the art of another culture. Students were very successful and enjoyed decorating these fun fall paintings! 

Autumn Leaves in a Van Gogh Sky

This is a great lesson for teaching observational drawing, color contrast, watercolor techniques and art history. And the best part: almost all students succeeded  in creating a beautiful painting! 

I taught this lesson to first through third grades. We began by completing observational drawings of leaves. These were then outlined with a black glue(Elmer's glue mixed with black tempera paint). During the next class, we painted in the leaves with warm colors. I showed students how to blend the watercolor paints to create intermediate colors. For the final class, students learned about Starry Night and created lines in the background that demonstrated movement. We also discussed how cool colors are opposite warm colors on the color wheel and how placing them next to each other creates contrast. 

This is a great seasonal project that introduces so many important design principles in an easy and fun way!

Friday, October 20, 2017


Mandala is the Sanskrit word for circle and is a form of art stemming from the Buddhist and Hindu traditions. A Mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol that represents the universe and is meant to increase focus and strengthen meditation. These mandalas were created by middle school students by repeating a design to create radial symmetry. Students then outlined these designs with black sharpie and used colored pencils. We learned different techniques with the colored pencils- like blending colors, shading light to dark and creating smooth coverage. More advanced students were able to incorporate more detail into their patterning as well.

Here is a more detailed overview of the lesson which I wrote for the January 2017 issue of Arts & Activities magazine. You can read the digital version online by following the link below:

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Best Autumn Projects for Children

Below you will find easy art and painting ideas for fall leaves and autumn trees, pumpkins and scarecrows using several types of art processes- painting, printmaking, watercolor resist, etc.

Here are some links to the best Autumn projects I have done at my school:

Britto Style Pumpkins

Pattern Pumpkins

Fall Pumpkins

Autumn Trees

Watercolor Leaves

Textured Autumn Leaves

Texture Scarecrows

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Pumpkins with Glue