Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Notan Paper Collage

Notan is an arrangement of light and dark that creates an impression of beauty. Notan is a popular form of collage in Japan. Students focused on two art principles for this project- shape and space. Students were allowed to work with either realistic or abstract shapes when creating their collage. Notan collages are so unique and beautiful because they focus on a play of positive and negative space that create interesting shapes. We overlapped several different colors to create an even more dynamic and layered design.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Warm and Cool Autumn Trees

Montessori students in grades 4-6 created these vibrantly styled Autumn trees! We began by making a simple grid and drawing a simple tree. Students learned about pattern and contrast by creating many different designs in each square within the tree. The leaves and background were then filled in using colored pencils and/or crayons. Students needed to identify the two color schemes(warm and cool) used in the artwork to create additional contrast. This project served as a great introduction to patterns and color schemes but also introduced the art style of Cubism, which we focused on more deeply in our current mixed media project.

Vincent Van Goghs Sunflowers

Students in PreKinder and Kinder created these artworks after learning about Vincent Van Gogh. We began by using tissue paper in oranges, reds and yellows and gluing them onto a square white paper. The students got to see first hand how yellow and red can make orange. During the next class, we read Camille and the Sunflowers and talked about Vincent Van Gogh. Students then used brown and green construction paper to create the flowers and stems. Students then used yellow triangles to finish off the sunflowers. Van Gogh projects are always loved by students because he was so interesting and his colors were so alive and vibrant!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Watercolor Leaves

Students in grades 1-3 created these fun and festive fall paintings. We began by doing a leaf rubbing and cutting it out to create a stencil. This was then retraced onto a large paper repeatedly. I made the students aware that they would be coloring the background in black or brown so the closer the leaves are to each other the better. Repetition in art and negative space are important principles to stress and learn here. Once this is completed, students painted the leaves with the three warm colors- red, yellow and orange. I showed the students how to blend the colors from light to dark and to blend them into each other. The darkly colored background acts as a good resist so the students can be a little more free and loose with their painting.  

Fall Pumpkins

This is a great project for teaching wet-on-wet painting techniques, color blending, and how to use space in an artwork.

We began by doing sketches of pumpkins. I made sure students used contour lines while drawing and focused on details like vines and leaves. Once students were comfortable sketching the pumpkins, they then transferred that drawing onto a large piece of paper. The students had to be very comfortable with the drawing, because the large drawing had to be done with glue! I did not let the students use pencil because once the glue dries, it becomes clear and the pencil drawing would become visible. These were left to dry overnight. The next day, I had the students use an ultra fine sharpie and outline all of the glue lines. It can be very difficult, and sometimes you may need to tilt the paper to be able to see where the glue is. Finally we were ready to paint! I showed the students how to use a wet-on-wet technique to spread color quickly, as well as how to blend analogous colors. You have to be sure to NOT paint over the glue lines, the glue does not resist the paint and can be very hard to remove.

These painting were very fun to do and extremely successful! I received many compliments and they made for a great Autumn display!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


A Mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Indian religions representing the universe. 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.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Mondrian Minions

Students in grades PreK and Kinder created these adorable Minions in the style of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. Mondrian was famous for his grid paintings that utilized horizontal and vertical black lines and the three primary colors (red, yellow and blue). 
We began by drawing the Minions step by step. I used simple lines and shapes, while showing different details to use to make the different characters. We then outlined them in black crayon and added a simple border with a ruler. Students then learned the three primary colors and used these to paint the Minion and border. Children love this project because they love to draw characters from movies, plus it's a great way to introduce the primary colors to young artists!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Swimming Self-Portraits

Students in grades 1-3 began the year with some fun end of summer self-portraits. We began by drawing the self-portrait in our favorite swimsuit. Next, students outlined them with sharpie and colored them in with colored pencils. The pool was made using a white crayon to capture the reflective light seen at the bottom of a pool. We added printed bubbles on top and some students added a beach ball or floatie. This was a fun take on the self-portrait that captures a favorite summer memory!

Tiki Time!

These wonderful Tiki masks were designed by our 4-6th grade artists! We began by sketching perfectly symmetrical masks and giving them a strong black outline. These were then painted in using bright colors and detailed patterns drawn out on top with crayon. The students learned about the Maori tribes of New Zealand and their style of artwork. These masks were a fun way for our students to explore the art and culture of many Polynesian countries!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Chuck Close Self-Portraits

Students in 7th and 8th grade completed these self-portraits in the style of American painter Chuck Close. We began by drawing a 1/2 inch grid over top of a photograph and a 1 and 1/2 inch grid over a large piece of paper. Students then transferred the information to create an accurate and proportional drawing. These were then filled in with oil pastels. Students used light and dark values to create a three-dimensional looking person. The background was then filled in using analogous colors to create a sense of unity throughout the artwork.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Shape Art

PreK and Kinder have finished their very first artwork of the year! We began by cutting out different shapes and using them to create objects like houses, people, flowers and more. Students used crayons to add details and complete the artworks. We then added a pattern around the border to frame our work of art!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry blossom festivals are celebrated all over the United States and Canada in the spring. These festivals began because Japan donated many cherry blossom trees to cities all over North America to signify a growing friendship between the nations. These festivals are particularly popular in Washington D.C. and Vancouver.

Students in grades 1-3 created these cherry blossom paintings to learn about color, lines and printmaking. We began with using curved lines to break up the space and create a cool color watercolor painting. Next, students printed the branch and cherry blossom flowers using cardboard and crumbled up pieces of paper. During the final class, students added details with oil pastels and also created a name block print for the corner of their painting. We loved this project and students were very happy with the results!