If I taught art in an Elementary School I would love working with the other teachers in integrating my art projects with their lessons. Even as an at home art teacher I love to have mini Art History lessons with our art projects. This lesson is one of those that would integrate well in the classroom. My students are fascinated by animals but add the magical element of the "Totem Animal" and the idea that there could be an animal out there that has something to teach you or is a type of spirit guide for you and I had their full attention! There are many cultures in the world with variations on this belief and a quick google search brought up lots of fun quizzes and information on the different totem animals. There were a lot of discrepancies, so make sure you teach this with that in mind! Here is some of the information I used:
Your totem animal is usually an animal that is very present in your life, either a favorite animal or one that makes itself known to you somehow, like a big assignment you have to research or actually crossing your path recently!
Your totem animal can change throughout your life. Sometimes we need to be brave, sometimes we need to be still and listen, sometimes we need to be creative. Watch for what the totem animals are trying to tell you!
Once we chose our totem animal and had fun looking up what it means we found some images to do drawings from. We tried charcoal for the first drawing, but then simplified that into a simple line drawing. We did our line drawings in pencil on big pieces of stiff white paper that could handle a little moisture. I mixed white school glue with some black india ink, but there are websites that say you can use acrylic paint mixed with the glue too. Leave your black glue in those orange tipped glue bottles because they will draw a line so easily. Go over your pencil drawing with a bead of black glue. This takes some practice, but really the thick and thin lines add great variety. Set them aside to dry. Next class use watercolor to fill in your drawings. Don't just stop with filling in your animal! I'm a big advocate for FILL THE PAGE! If you have blank space find a texture or pattern or color to fill it in with.
I love our projects and how they turned out. And as much as this isn't a part of MY beliefs, it was amazing to see how well the totems matched the kids!
It's finally March, and the sun has just started to come out occasionally and warm us all up. What does that mean? It means every kid I know, including my own, have started wearing shorts to school, art class, everywhere! They shiver the whole time but they won't admit it. They won't stop because it's in some way a hopeful kind of magic. If we wear them, the sun will come. So along those lines, I thought I would post this great art project that makes me feel like SUMMER is really on its way.
I told the kids to think of drawing themselves and their friends playing in the sprinklers. Include the hose or the sprinkler! I keep a file on hand entitled "Body In Motion" with photos cut from magazines, books of athletes, and anywhere I can find them. These photos show bodies jumping, leaping, running, squatting, etc. Because drawing bodies is HARD! Sometimes in class when someone is really struggling we convince someone to "strike a pose" and model for us so we can see what it really looks like. But the file helps a lot! Anyway, the object is to show bodies in motion while playing in the sprinkler or the hose. THEN when the pictures are done and colored with colored pencils you get to add the sprinkler water!
Get out your watercolors or watered down tempera paint and splatter, flick, whatever works and make that water get everyone wet! On some of the paintings you can see the artist tried to work with the hose or sprinkler head and define the water's point of origin. This project was so much fun. I took these photos of the finished artwork at the Flowerstone Art Show, so you can see some of the kids won awards for theirs!
Today in art class I introduced the children to the Tree of Life image, which is prevelant in many cultures and societies around the world. It means lots of different things, which we didn't go into, but we did talk about how sometimes you see similar symbols appear in different cultures, religions, etc. I showed the kids some examples. There are tons but I wanted them to see some tree designs inside rings where the roots reach the bottom and the branches reach to the top. We looked at how the trunks can be thin or fat, bent or straight. It is important to stress there is not a RIGHT or a WRONG. Each tree will be individual.
1st step: Drawing the tree
I believe in going right to Sharpie. I tell the kids they can use light pencil marks but I only give them a few minutes to do that or they will get way too detailed with that pencil! I outlined a butter tub I had in the artroom for holding water in on the center of my paper. Starting at the bottom I drew continuous lines from the bottom of the circle (roots) up through the trunk and reaching ALL THE WAY to the top of the circle. This was really hard for my younger students to grasp. They wanted to stop and draw the shape of the tree. Try to get them to make at least 5 main lines from the bottom, twist together at the trunk and then out to the circle again before they go back and make branches and roots forking off of the main lines. Add a few lines to shape your trunks and to separate the design into shapes. I told the kids to think of it as puzzle pieces. To look at the spaces between branches and see if they could pick up that piece or if it would be too small. Try not to make your pieces get too small but try to make the picture in pieces. We don't want a space to reach all the way from the top down into the trunk too far. Close off those spaces!
We also traced around a small plastic cup for our moon behind the branches. Find something the right size and round so they can trace easily a nice round moon. Make sure everything is drawn in black or dark sharpie before you move on to step 2!
Just a note about mistakes. I had to reinforce during this lesson that artists USE their mistakes. Natalie felt like her moon was too big. She wanted to scrap the whole thing and start over because it was already in Sharpie. NO! I suggested she draw a smaller moon within the larger one. It's now one of our favorite parts of her picture. Samantha accidentally splattered some watercolor paint around her drawing. Possible solutions? Paint a solid color around the drawing, Cut out the circle and mount it on a colored paper. Splatter MORE paint! Splatter like you mean it! She did. The "on-purpose" splatter looks awesome! Besides, problem solving in art makes you smarter at everything.
2nd step: Watercolor paint
Get out your watercolor palettes and demonstrate how to use them. My younger students had to be shown how to make the color darker by stirring on the paint cake longer. Kids just don't do art at home anymore! This is a great time to pull out the color wheel and review cool and warm colors. We want to paint the shapes (Puzzle pieces) in cool colors and the moon in warm colors. Each shape should be slightly different from the pieces right next to them. It looks like stained glass! The pictures already look GORGEOUS, right? Use varying colors of brown in the trunk of your tree if you left shapes there.
3rd step: Border and Creative "Extras"
Everyone has trees now, painted in watercolor. Now I asked the students "You're ARTISTS! How can you make this your own? What is going to be different about your tree?" Although they were all very different. We had weeping willows, we had lots of branches, a few branches, and curly branches. I told them to draw a circle around the tree circle and create a border. Fill the paper. Move on from here. A few of my students wanted leaves so we brainstormed how we could put a few leaves on our tree without losing the beautiful design they had made. We got out Q-tips and some orange acrylic paint. They even made some stamps with foam beads on the end of chopsticks, the ingenious little artists! I love to see their creativity EXPLODE when I stop instructing and stand back to let art happen.
So I would say the leaves stamped on are optional. The artwork by the older artists is so beautiful none of them wanted to stamp over top of it. But it would be a great project to draw the Tree of Life on colored paper and then stamp leaves. Or draw some leaves as part of our original drawing. Hmmmm... my creativity is EXPLODING! I hope you let me know how your lessons go!
I am so excited to tell you about what we did this week! This is one of my favorite projects and here is the best part... I Made It UP! Yep! All by myself. I didn't see it somewhere else or anything. And the kids love it. They work on it together, they stay totally engaged the whole time and every project ends up looking great. I can't wait to display these at the annual show. They are going to look fantastic. So for our guided drawing today we showed each other all the different ways to draw spiderwebs. Yep, they have lots of different ideas. It was fun and I think I learned a new way to draw them too! Then I told them today we were going to create a totally different spider web! And while I got a few things ready we had a great discussion about how some artwork is all about the final product. Some artwork is also about the fun process of making it. Splatter painting, installations, this was a great time to tell them about the work of Christo and how his work was a PROCESS, not a result. Luckily today we get both!
Step 1: Web Design!
I didn't spend very long on guided drawing since I needed to get on to the project for the day. We started with a demonstration. This would be chaos if I had to demonstrate more than once, so everyone pay attention!
This project can get a little messy, so we start with aprons or smocks. Paint can splatter!
Each student needs a partner. Start with a blank piece of paper and a length of yarn, about 18 inches long. Provide any kind of paint and a sponge brush. We used both acrylic and tempera paints and both worked great. I like to use the small sheets of posterboard. The glossy side works well with making the spiders later. Your first step is to have your partner hold the yard while you paint it with paint. I like the variation of using two colors. Just swirl them a little on the pallet and paint the paint up and down the yarn until your yarn has plenty of paint on it.
This is Key: If it is YOUR painting, YOU HOLD the string. This is because you will be deciding where the lines will go on your painting. You will be creating the WEB.
You hold the yarn at each end in a firm grip very close to but not touching the paper. Your partner will "flick" the yarn. This is most easily done by pinching the yarn and pulling up slightly and then letting go. If you hook the yarn with your finger it will pull it out of your partners fingers or will pull their hands together, losing the tension needed to SNAP the yarn back down and create the line. We practiced this step with our partners before we painted the paint on the yarn so we knew how to get a good snap. If you hold the yarn too high you will also not get a good line on the paper.
Now just keep moving your yarn to a new spot and "snapping" it until you create your web pattern! Each web will be different. If your yarn gets too dry just paint a little more paint on it again and keep going.
When your web looks the way you want it to you trade jobs with your partner and you snap the yarn while they move the yarn around on the paper. Great teamwork!
This is the end of Step 1. Now wash your hands and get ready to make your spiders!
Step 2: Spiders
For step 2 each student needs a straw. The kind with a bendable elbow in them work best. You can use any liquid paint like ink or watercolor. Watered down tempera or acrylic will work too. It just has to be really watery. Put a tiny bit in a little plastic cup for each partnership. Dip the end of the straw closest to the bend into the paint and then dot that paint that sticks to the straw on the paper. We found less is better than more.
You can experiment on scrap paper before doing this on your web. I let the class try it on my sample web after they watched my demonstration then move back to their own paintings. After the paint is dropped on the paper blow through your straw at it, using the elbow end to aim your air where you want it so that the paint spreads out in a neat shape. You have to get really close for this to work well. And remind everyone to stop and breathe between blowing! I had a lot of dizzy artists.
I let the kids make as many spiders as they want on their webs. But for the next step I told them to pick their favorite two to glue google eyes to. We used Rubber cement to glue them on. The others on the web got eyes made with paint dabbed on using Q-tips.
As a final step you can draw on any details and legs with a Sharpie.
Now to review...
Have fun! And leave me a comment. I would love to know how it went for you!
It's the month to do something spooky and Halloween related in the art room! I have lots of lesson plans, but wanted to try something different this year. I decided to go with a sculpture project.
I have a coil of very easy to bend copper wire. I thought it would be great for mummy sculptures. Any project using the figure teaches so much about proportions and measurements. You have to consider the structure of something and how it comes together in layers.
WHAT WORKED: My first class didn't use the paper towel step. They only added toweling inside the wire loop head. They had a lot more problems wrapping their mummies than the next class did! The paper towels taped to the wire armature really helped give them something to hold onto and to wrap around without it slipping off. Using the glue gun to tack the end on before wrapping also helped. Use only the lo-temp guns if kids are doing it themselves! Even those can get hot enough to hurt. My second class also had the thought to add google eyes, which were a fun addition. I also had to remind the kids to pull the wrapping snug as they wrapped. If you do it too loose it will unravel and fall off! One last tip: making the arms and legs a little longer will make posing them later a lot easier!
I just love working on projects together as a class. It is great to see how the kids feed off of each other's ideas. In the early days of Flowerstone Art there was a lot of "She STOLE my idea!" and now things have changed and I hear "Who wants a great idea?" called out across the classroom. This collaborative project still has an element of individuality since we aren't creating one big work, but working on our own projects using Stamps that each student has made.
Using the hand drawing from last week (or a vase drawing) we planned to make rubber stamps from some blocks I made from 2x4's. I used the white board to lead a discussion about the many shapes of flowers. Making flowers on a rubber stamp is a lot different than drawing them. We had to talk about how to make them out of SHAPES that could be cut out of fun foam and arranged on the block to create a flower stamp. I had the kids try it on the white board a few times until I thought they had the hang of it. Then they drew the flower on the paper side of adhesive fun foam. I had them make the stamps from double sheets of fun foam to make them thicker stamps. They cut out the shapes and stuck them to the block this week. I'll show you the rest with a slide show to make it more interesting. The finished projects are so beautiful and will be a beautiful exhibit at this year's art show!
Using Guided Drawing during arrival time
Getting my classes going isn't always a smooth process. Everyone doesn't walk in together when a bell rings. They wander in early, on time or late depending on weather, parents or scooter speed. So I have a 10 minute window where I need to keep kids busy but not start the lesson, which would mean I have to repeat myself for each student as they come in. After a few different ideas have come and gone, this year I think I have it figured out.
As my earliest student arrives there are hellos and we enjoy one on one time as I get materials organized for the lesson. Second and third student wander in and we start comparing sketchbook work for the week. Sometimes I give them an assignment, sometimes they just show me what they've done that week in their sketchbook. I admit, I bribe them for this. Although I tell them the best way to get better is to DRAW, I've found that what works the best is CANDY. That's right, I keep a little bin of candy in the art room. At the end of class if everyone was on task and it went well everyone takes a candy on their way out. If they drew in their sketchbook that week AND brought it to show me AND it is real effort not a smiley face they drew in the driveway, they get a BONUS piece of candy. I used to get lots of "but I drew at home!" but I've been firm and now they know. No proof, no BONUS. So after we all ooh and ahh over sketchbook work just about everyone is there. I tell them to get ready with their sketchbook and a pencil and it's time for guided drawing time.
Don't get me wrong. This isn't a time filler. I hate time fillers. I think if you are going to teach then your job is to put some purpose behind it. There are a few reasons I have decided that guided drawing is really IMPORTANT in the art classroom.
One of the first things I want my students to learn is to say "I AM AN ARTIST" and mean it! They are here because they love it. They are entitled to the identity that comes with that. It took me well into my adult life to state with confidence "I AM AN ARTIST" and mean it, although it was something I always knew, I was afraid to tell anyone in case they didn't agree. Pshhhh! Guided Drawing helps them with this because young artists get themselves into a rut almost every time of drawing what they like. They draw what they are good at. They don't experiment, they don't always get creative. They want to, but they get self conscious or really proud of one thing they draw well and they just get stuck in that rut.
Guided drawing pulls them out of that. They find new things they can draw, they learn new approaches to drawing the same old thing. Their built-in portfolio grows. Now instead of being "the girl who draws mermaids really well" she's the "girl who can draw anything". Seriously. It works. And then their friends want them to draw things for them. They get chosen to illustrate the group project or draw the picture for the school play. And their confidence grows, and they try harder, and then we accomplish the self confidence and identity that parents hope to find when they put their child in art or sports or music or lessons of any kind. AND their skill grows, so we really are building little artists.
So we start every lesson with guided drawings. You can get these from any learn-to-draw book. Those step-by-step lessons that start with circles and then you add form to. Today in class one of my 3rd grade students wanted to lead the guided drawing. Great! We all learned how Carissa draws a Peacock. We added our own touches and had a great time! I wish I had taken more pictures. I'll get used to this. Today I'll share with you our guided drawing that leads into our next lesson where the hand needs to HOLD something. So here are the steps:
Now its time to personalize. We don't want everyone's to look the same. Here are some ideas for you to make it "your own".
We are going to use this next week when we do our collaborative project making our own rubber stamp flowers. But you'll have to come back to see that! In the meantime, here is some of the work from my students today so you can see how well THEY understood the guided drawing! I have students from age 5 to 12 so we have a wide range of abilities. We call them Level 1-2 artists, Level 3-4 and Level 5-6. That way they don't compare themselves quite so harshly. They know they are progressing as they learn.
It's good to be up and running this Flowerstone Art blog finally! I'm so excited to share with everyone all the "going-ons" at our studio. The studio has been open and I have been teaching for over four years. I earned my Fine Art Degree from the University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta in 2008 with a focus on art education. As an art teacher I often try to search the internet for lesson plan ideas I can use with my students. What am I looking for? Projects adaptable to artists the ages of my students (6 - 16), using recycled materials or as inexpensive materials as possible, something visually appealing and fun to create, and something that teaches something about art! That's right, we are not a craft class! More often than not, I find something that springboards my own creativity and I come up with a brand new lesson plan on my own. So, I thought I would share what goes on in my studio with my students and hopefully fill the art education world with some new ideas as well as some tried and true ones.
At Flowerstone Art I aim to teach children at a young age what the elements and principles of art are, how to recognize them in the art they see, and how to create BETTER artwork themselves by adding more of the things they have learned in class. I find artists and illustrators that are using a fun technique or style in their art that I can show the students how to try themselves. It's important to show artists where and how to find inspiration without plagiarizing the artwork itself. We go on field trips, especially when we try plein air painting or drawing animals from life as in the photo on the left when we went to draw farm animals. Once a year we hold an Art Show where the work of the students is displayed in a formal manner. They can invite anyone they want to see the Show, I create a program that explains what each project's artistic goals were and the students each receive a ribbon for a piece they did especially well on. I have outside help come and award a "Best of Show" ribbon as well. It's a pretty big deal!
One thing I will share here with you is what works and what doesn't. I do a lot of experimenting. When I try three recipes for air dry clay I'm going to tell you what I liked and don't like about each one. When we use an iron or heat gun I'll share with you what is WAY too messy for the classroom and what will make you have to open windows because of the stink! I'll have fun experimenting and I will save all of you some time! I'm hoping this website will be helpful to art teachers looking for new exciting lesson plans, parents looking for relatively easy art projects they can do with things at home, and even the occasional emerging artist who wants a new art adventure. Let's get creative!
Flowerstone Art School
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