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!

First Day of Art Class

PreK and Kinder students created these works of art on their very first day of art! We began by reading the book Art Is by Bob Raczka and talking about all the fun things we do in art class. Next, students were free to create a work of art and draw whatever they wanted. During the second class, students used some precut squares to create a pattern around the border. We learned the three primary colors and added some finishing touches to the drawings. The results are a nicely framed commemorative art piece for the first day of art!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Laurel Burch Style Cats

Students in grades 1-3 created these Laurel Burch inspired watercolor cats. I demonstrated step-by-step how to draw the body of a cat with simple lines and shapes. Students then outlined with crayons and added different types of patterns to the body and face. We used texture plates to do rubbings in the background. Students then used liquid watercolors to paint in the cats and backgrounds. This project is very simple and yields amazing results for all students!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Monet and Water Lilies

Students in 4-6 learned about French Impressionist painter Claude Monet and created these watercolor paintings in his style. We started by drawing out a series of water lilies and lily pads. Students learned about foreground, middleground and background and were required to include this in the drawing to create depth. Next, the drawing was outlined in black for contrast and lines were added to imply movement. The final step was using watercolor paints in the three cool colors- blue, green and violet. 

Sea Turtles

Students in PreK and Kinder created these Eric Carle inspired sea turtles. We began by reading A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle and discussing the underwater illustrations. I then showed students how to draw a sea turtle step by step in pencil. Students then outlined the turtle with blue or green crayon and painted them using watercolor paints. After cutting them out, we added seaweed and lines in the background. We talked about what types of lines would imply movement in the water so students could create a moving seascape. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Zentangle Cityscapes

Students in grades 7 and 8 created these fun patterned cityscapes of downtown Dallas. We began by looking at the skyline of Dallas and pointing out the most iconic buildings. Students sketched the skyline and drew out different patterns within each building. We made sure to emphasize contrast with the patterns- buildings next to each other should alternate from light to dark patterns. We then filled in the negative spaces with watercolor paint- I let the students decide which colors to use but made sure they were making good color choices. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Notan 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.