Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Festive Trees

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I was thinking about how much I love the simplicity and honesty of Folk Art and it gave me the idea for this holiday tree lesson.
 These were made by Kindergarten students.  It's basically printmaking with a cardboard tool and using your fingers for the ornaments.


  1. Show them how to make the basic tree shape by creating a mountain or a triangle shape with the cardboard tool.
  2. Use the same cardboard tool to fill in the tree.  I actually have them say all together "press, lift, press, lift".  Otherwise, they may forget and start using the tool like a brush.  Once we say it a few times they remember.
  3. Next, yes, here it comes...finger painting for the ornaments.


  • Demonstrate using one finger for each color.  Finish one color of ornament, then move on to the next color, etc.
  • Demonstrate leaving plenty of space for the ornaments,  otherwise, they may fill up the tree completely.
  • These are about 8x10 or so and we finished in one 45 minute class period.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Amate Bark Paintings

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Here, the students learned about the amate bark paintings of Mexico.   In amate bark painting the scenes depicted are usually of common everyday activities of the local people.  We talked about what life might be like in a small town or village and tried to put ourselves in that time or place.  


  1. We looked at and discussed many examples 
  2. sketch out ideas
  3. crumble craft paper and open various times to get a weathered look
  4. pencil sketch onto the paper and trace over with sharpie
  5. we used oil pastels to color in

*tip- leaving some of the color of the craft paper showing has a wonderful feel
* Patterned borders help to unify the overall look
* I randomly cut various sizes of craft paper so the student could choose the size that best fit their idea.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Angel Icons

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These lovely angel icons were made by my first graders.   Icons were first introduced as a visual language for those who could not read.  They were a way to introduce stories or figures in the form of images.  I showed a few examples of icons throughout history and the kids came up with stories of what a particular icon might suggest.  That was pretty cool because we actually experienced how icons were first used.

Basic Angel Figure
  1. Directional drawing of basic angel figure (takes 5-10 minutes).  I always say to them to feel free to change or add anything they'd like. 
  2. Color in with crayons.
  3. I passed out gold paint and brushes for them to paint the background.
  4. These are 9x12 and we finished in one 45 minute class period. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Egyptian Canopic Jar / Sculpture

We've started making canopic jars (or a version of) in my middle school elective class.  So far, the kids have chosen an animal that they feel has characteristics that may portray a godlike or special quality.  We are just starting to build the armatures.  So far, they are really embracing the project, yesterday when I said it was time to clean up it was as if I was addressing an empty room.  About 5 minutes later, I asked why  no-one had started cleaning up one student said, "Oh, you said clean up?  We're just so engaged in our artwork we didn't even hear that!"


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Can you tell these were all made by boys?!  I find that the 5 and 6 boys can be quite a challenge as far as coming up with lessons that keep their interests high.  I definitely recommend this lesson if you too have that challenge. A, for the freedom to create a character and B, for the sewing.   First they were to create a character that was of their own  design.  They usually want to do something from a video game or a movie.  After a certain amount of "artist's block" they ventured out and came  up with some great stuff.  I also love the sewing part.  There's nothing like a room full of boys learning how to sew, it's as if they are in a trance of some sort.

Yes!  I got the thumbs up on this one!
In hindsight, yes, they're 10 or l1 years old, but they're
even younger at heart.


  1. Have them draw their character on a folded piece of large paper.  Make sure the neck starts at the folded edge so it will not come apart later.
  2. Color in with oil pastels.
  3. Have them draw a dashed line to represent where they will cut.
  4. Cut out the character.
  5. Hole punch all along the character.
  6. Demonstrate how to thread a needle and how to do a running stitch.  We used about 4 feet of yarn for each puppet.
  7. Remember to leave about 4 inches of yarn in the back (tape it so it wont move) so you can tie this to the other  end later.
  8. Have them sew.
  9. Tie the two loose ends together on the back.
  10. Now you can cut where the fold is to separate the front and back panels.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Printing Complimentary Colors and Negative Space

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Printing with a cardboard tool is always one of my favorite lessons.  The simplicity is what makes it so open to diversity.  I cut pieces of chip board into about 2x3 or so.  Place one color of paint onto a plate and let the designing begin.  After about 10 minutes I added the complimentary color (I gave them a new piece of chipboard ).   We talked about seeing the energy between the two colors .   About the last 10 minutes of class I passed out small paint brushes and added magenta paint to their plates.  We talked about filling in the shapes or the negative space.  I love the results and my  students did not want to stop...always a good thing!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Slab Construction Clay Projects, Middle School

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 These pieces were all made by hand  with the slab construction technique.  I love that they each have a unique style.  I think this shows that the students are becoming comfortable with the materials and not afraid to explore both the material and their artistic potential.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Altered Page

...and we have finally finished! Check out the post below to learn more about this lesson.