Thursday, March 8, 2018

Watercolor Dragons

Students in grades 4-6 created these vibrantly colored dragons to celebrate the Chinese New Year! We started by learning about Chinese New Year- the traditions, why each year is named after an animal and how people celebrate the holiday. Next, students looked at different examples of dragons and began sketching a dragon face. We chose the best sketch to draw large- folding the paper in half to only draw half of the face. The drawing was then traced with black crayon and rubbed off onto the other side to create a perfectly symmetrical dragon. For the painting, students could use any combination of colors they wanted as long as they kept the symmetry. Students loved the results especially because dragons are our school mascots!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Watercolor Weavings

To create these artworks, students first began by creating an abstract textured watercolor painting. The students used an analogous color scheme to create a sense of color unity. These paintings were then torn into 1/2" strips and woven together on a large piece of paper. Weaving is an important method of art making around the world and most students enjoy the process.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Native American Buffalo Hides

2000 years ago, the Anasazi Indians inhabited the cliffs of the Southwest. They were the ancestors of the Pueblo Indians who live there today. There are 20 pueblo villages left; at one time there were 200! These ancient villages are built from adobe bricks. These natural homes are warm in winter and cool in summer; it rarely rains in the Southwest, so they won't melt.

The Anasazi Indians left Petroglyph drawings on rocks and cliffs. Some were chiseled into the rock with animal antlers, some were etched with the acid juices from cactus plants. They are pictures of Indian symbols. Symbols are pictures drawn very simply of things in nature, such as animals, plants, stars, people, etc.

The Indians were very spiritual people. They respected the earth, never wasted resources, and were ingenious at using the things in nature around them.

Students created these buffalo hides over three classes. We began by drawing a narrative using Native American symbols. After the drawing, students covered the paper with a light brown watercolor and cut the paper to look like a real buffalo hide.

The next class, students used fluorescent tempera paint to paint in all of their symbols. For the last class, students outlined all their symbols and also created a pattern around the edge of the hide.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Students in PreK and Kinder created these fun and vibrant fish tanks to learn about color, shape, movement and repetition. We began by attaching tissue paper to a 9"x12" white paper using glue water. These were later cut into fish shapes and a black eye was dabbed on to complete the look. The fish bowls were blue and green watercolor paintings where we talked about different types of lines and created a pattern to show movement in the water. The table was made by piecing together square pieces into a mosaic like pattern. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Comic Illustrations

Middle School students recently created comic strips. We learned about the art of comic and cartoon making. Students looked at all different forms- from traditional comic strips, cartoons, anime and fan art. Students then created original characters and created a 3-4 panel story. The narrative needed to be clear and understandable and the layout needed to employ good use of the design principles. This project kept students more engaged than any other lesson I have ever taught. I displayed these outside my classroom and have seen groups of students admiring them consistently all day!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Graffiti Color Wheels

Color theory and mixing is vital for art students but can become very tedious and boring. This lesson was a fun and different way to teach color mixing and give students the chance to experiment with different lettering styles as well. We started with drawing out names in any chosen font- I gave my students the choice of bubble letters, block, graffiti or three-dimensional.Next, students divided the paper up into 12 sections. These 12 sections would include all 12 colors on the color wheel (primary, secondary and intermediates). They would have each color appear twice- once around as the letter and its complement as the background. This was a great lesson that got students to understand color theory but also put their own style and creativity into the lesson.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Expressive Self-Portraits

Middle School students began their first project of the new semester after completing one week of drawing exercises. During the first week, one of the activities we practiced was contour line drawings of hands. I extended this lesson to include a contour line self-portrait. Students used mirrors and were free to do contour line or continuous contour. Once complete, these were outlined with sharpie and then students could use watercolor paint in a variety of ways. We discussed how artists can use color to portray personality and make the portrait more expressive.