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

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Primary Popsicles

One of my favorite things to teach PreKinder and Kindergarten students is color mixing. Younger students are AMAZED by mixing primary colors and creating new secondary colors. This lesson incorporated color mixing along with learning the primary and secondary colors.

On the first day, I read the story Mouse Paint by Ellen Walsh so students could see how mixing primary colors can create all three secondary colors. We then divided a paper into three sections and mixed two primary colors in each to create green, orange and violet. During the next class, we also divided a paper into three sections and then created different line patterns with secondary colors in the background. The final class is when students cut out the popsicles and glued them onto the patterns with a popsicle stick. Students really loved this project because they love mixing and creating new colors! 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Printmaking With Nature

Here is an article that I wrote in the November 2017 issue of Arts & Activities magazine. You can view the online version of the magazine with the link below:

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Optical Illusion Self-Portraits

My students really love and enjoy making self-portraits. I like to start the year with a new style of self-portait and talk to the students about how the best portraits not only resemble the person but also show us something about their personality as well.

First through third grade students created these fun self-portraits to start off the year! We began by spending the first two classes drawing a realistic and proportional self-portrait and then coloring it in with colored pencils. The students were pushed to add details to make it look more like them. We then spent a class creating an optical illusion painting. We discussed different types of lines and created an interesting pattern for the background. During the final class, students added the self-portrait to the painting and added different line patterns. 

Throughout this project, students examined self-portraits by Chuck Close, Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Kehinde Wiley and several others for inspiration. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Lichtenstein Style Self-Portraits

Students in grades 4-6 learned about American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein and created these dynamic self-portraits in a similar style. We began by drawing self-portraits in pencil as realistically as possible. Students then outlined the portrait in sharpie and added an action word and some lines or shapes around the word for emphasis. Next, students drew in several shapes and painted them in with the primary colors. We used primary colors and benday dots to stay in theme with the old school vintage style of early comic strips. This is a great project to teach about pop art while incorporating some elements that can capture the artist's personality.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Chuck Close Style Self-Portraits

Students in middle school created these self-portraits in the style of American artist Chuck Close. We began by working from a photograph- students drew a 1/2 inch grid over the photo and a 1 and 1/2 inch grid over a 12x18 sheet of drawing paper. We then transferred the information over so the portrait was accurate and proportional. Next, students chose a color and created a value scale in that color from light to dark. The drawing was then filled in with different values that matched the black and white photograph. Students had to become comfortable with blending and creating many values within the portrait. I do this project every year and the results are always incredible!