Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chalk Landscapes

This is a very easy and fun project to do with  kids. It really allows them to be creative. I began this lesson by talking about landscapes and the different types of landscapes. This is also a great activity to discuss foreground, middle ground and background. We viewed and discussed several examples of landscapes before making our own. The students got very excited about this project and asked, "Can we make an ocean?" "Can we make a sunset?" Yes! Yes! Yes!
The materials you will need for this project are:
1 sheet of white paper
1 sheet of paper of any color that is the same size as your white paper (this will be your scrap paper)
Paper towels
Chalk pastels (These are available at any crafts or art store and very affordable. Regular colored chalk could probably be used but the effects will not be as vivid. I haven't tried it myself)
Spray fixative

The first step is to tear the sheet of scrap paper in half so that the torn edge is sort of wavy and interesting, not straight across. Then, have the children think about what type of landscape they are creating because this will influence what colors they choose. Are they doing hills and valleys, a desert, maybe a seascape?

In this case, the student was doing a field so she began with green chalk. The scrap piece of paper is placed on top of and near the top of the white paper. The student draws a heavy, thick line with the green chalk on the torn edge of the white paper.

Now, she takes a clean paper towel and uses it to smudge that chalk line all the way up to the edge of the paper (We were rather rebellious here and did not cover the workspace with newspaper. That is not recommended).

Lift off the scrap paper and you have the first layer of your landscape. Now, the student can choose to use the other side of the paper or the other torn half of the paper to make different shapes on their landscape.

Move the scrap piece of paper down about an inch, choose another color of chalk and repeat this step.

The student continues with this process until she is about 2/3 of the way down the page. This student only used three colors but I encouraged 3-4.

Next, the student turns the paper around so that it is "upside down" and voila! A beautiful landscape. I let the students who wanted to, fill in their sky or other elements with crayons. Lastly, spray these with a fixative or aerosol hairspray. Make sure to test on a scrap piece of paper. Some fixatives leave dots or a film on the artwork. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dale Chihuly "Stained Glass" Flower Sculptures

This is another art camp project and it was really successful with all ages (6-11). It uses papier mache to create flower sculptures that have a stained glass look to them. The 6 year olds needed a lot of help with this project but parents could easily do this at home with 2-3 young children. Art teachers would have a difficult time doing this project with a whole class (unless you were lucky enough to have a few parent volunteers) if the children were younger than 3rd grade. This is also a great lesson to couple with the Georgia O'Keefe chalk flowers because you can talk about two-dimensional and three-dimensional art. The students can use their chalk flower as a reference and now make the flower into a sculpture. 

When I do this project again soon, I will post photographs of each step because there are a LOT. These turn out great and it's another messy project so of course the kiddos dig it! Here are the materials you will need for this project:

Tissue paper in at least 2 different colors 
Mod Podge or watered down white glue (half and half)
Large paint brushes that you don't mind destroying
Plastic plates
Pipe cleaners
Plastic Wrap
Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
Sharp pencils

This is a messy project. Begin by covering tables and probably the floor in newspaper. The first thing to do for this project is to make the paper for the leaves. I did this in advance and just let the kids use the ones I made. To make the papier mache leaves I used two different shades of green tissue paper. First, lay out a sheet of plastic wrap. I used about 3 8x8 sheets but the size doesn't really matter. Apply one coat of the Mod Podge or watered down glue mixture to the plastic wrap. Then, begin tearing off pieces of the green tissue paper and placing them randomly on the plastic wrap. Cover the sheet of plastic wrap with pieces of tissue paper and then apply another layer of glue and repeat the process. You need to have at least 3, preferably 4, layers of the tissue paper. When finished applying tissue, make sure that there is a final coat of glue on every piece. Allow this to dry overnight.

To make the flowers, blow up a balloon to the desired size. Your flower will be half the size of your balloon. Have children put a plastic plate under their balloon and work on the plate. We use plastic plates instead of paper because the glue will stick to the paper when the flower dries. Have the children start covering the half of the balloon opposite the end where the knot is. I have to tell them many times that they want a bowl shape and are only covering HALF the balloon. The papier mache process is just way too much fun for some and they want to cover the entire balloon. The students must apply 3-4 layers of tissue paper. After they have applied a final coat of glue, they leave the balloons on the plastic plates to dry overnight. I usually check each one to make sure there are no holes and no place where there is not layering of tissue paper.

The next day, the leaf papers can be removed from the plastic wrap. It will peel right off and the  green paper that you've made will maintain the sheen from the plastic wrap. It is pretty cool so I usually let the kids do this part. Then, I let them use scissors to cut out their leaves from this paper.

Now, the kiddos can pop their balloons. This is by far their favorite part. Shocking, right? They use a sharpened pencil to pop the balloon and then they can peel the balloon out of their flower. When the balloon is removed, the students can cut the rim of their flower with scissors to create the petals. I remind them that they might use zig-zag lines or wavy lines. Next, I have them use that same pencil to poke a hole in the bottom of their flower. I let them pick a colored pipe cleaner for their stem and then I assemble everything myself using the hot glue gun. I pull the pipe cleaner through the hole in the flower and tie a knot on the inside. Then, I use a dot of hot glue to glue the knot to the inside hole of the flower. Then, I glue their leaves onto the stem. Some kids want to use multiple pipe cleaners to add curly vines or more leaves.

I am doing this with a large summer camp group next month. I think I am going to spray paint dowl rods green instead of using pipe cleaners for this next one. I am thinking if the flowers have sturdy stems, I could put them all together in a large piece of floral foam and then display them at our local library. If this works out, I will post the pictures along with the pictures of the process for this project.

Backyard Birds in Chalk Pastels

This lesson is the same premise as the Georgia O'Keefe chalk flowers. I love Mrs. Picasso's blog and got the idea for the birds from her. We followed the same instructions as the flowers only we viewed bird photographs beforehand. Part of the assignment was to incorporate the bird's habitat so we looked at pictures of all types of birds and talked about what their environment might be like for that all-important science link. They really turned out beautifully and the kiddos LOVED them.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Wax Resist Seascapes

I did this project with my nature-themed art camp. The kids really enjoyed looking at all the photographs of different sea creatures. I brought in several books about marine fish for them to look through, in addition to reference photographs. We spent several minutes brainstorming animals and discussing the wide variety of plants and animals that live in the ocean.

 The materials you will need for this project are:
Watercolor paper
Oil pastels or crayons
Blue, Purple and Green watercolor paint
Large watercolor brushes

The kids started out by drawing their sea creatures with pencils. I required at least three animals in the picture. Then, they colored their animals using the crayons. An important part of this activity is encouraging them to bear down hard when coloring. Don't forget to tell the kids that any areas that they want to be white need to be colored with white crayons or oil pastels. We used crayons in my camp because I had such a wide variety of ages. Oil pastels would probably yield better results and can be blended with a little baby oil on a q-tip but they are too messy for the little ones. After the kids have colored all of their animals, they can use the watercolor paint to create a wash over the entire paper. The paint will just bead up on the crayon areas and can either be left alone or wiped off with a paper towel. I let the kids choose any combination of green, blue or purple paint. Some students chose to add salt to their paintings to create a bubble effect. I think these turned out really great and were a good summer activity when so many children were going to the beach on vacations.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Watercolor Butterflies

Materials you will need:
White watercolor paper or other heavy weight paper (8.5x11)
Watercolor Paints
Small and medium watercolor brushes
Water cups
Black tempera paint
Butterfly photographs for references

I really love this lesson because the kids get really excited about it. In the classroom, it's a great tie-in when the students are studying insects in science. I start by looking at butterfly photographs with the kids and examining all of the different wing shapes and patterns. Then, I have the kids sketch a few different butterflies on scratch paper. I talk about drawing big and filling up the paper. The kids select their favorite sketch and we start to draw it on the watercolor paper by first folding our paper in half. Then, we draw half of the butterfly (emphasizing symmetry and composition) with the body of the butterfly being drawn along the fold. Now, the kids can cut our their butterflies, open them up and begin to draw their wing patterns. They need to use large shapes to keep from having a hard time with the tempera paint later. After they've drawn their design,  they can paint the butterflies with watercolor. In the classroom, I make the kids choose one of the color groups. The butterflies need ample time to draw before outlining with the black tempera. The kids can go over all of their pencil lines and also outline the edges of the butterfly. This will really make their colors pop. If you don't have tempera paint, you could also use black oil pastel or crayon.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hand Marbled Paper

This project is so easy and because it's messy the kiddos love it! I did it with 6-10 year olds but I added the watercolor myself for the 6 year olds.

The materials you will need are:
Heavy Watercolor Paper or Card Stock
Liquid Watercolor Paint (available at any crafts or art supply store)
Shaving Cream Foam- not gel (the cheaper the better)
Pieces of scrap cardboard
A disposable baking pan or cookie sheet
Pencil or Chopstick for swirling

I started by cutting the paper into 5x7 sheets. I was thinking the kids could fold their creations in half and then use them as notecards but they could also draw right on top of the marbling with oil pastels or crayons. Then, I sprayed about an inch of shaving foam into the baking pan and spread it around using my scrap cardboard squeegee. I gave the kids three color choices and they could pick which combination of the colors they wanted to use. I helped them put a few drops of each color into the center of the shaving cream. Then, gave them the pencil to swirl their colors around in the shaving cream. Too much swirling will result in less marbling, more blobs. Make sure the kids incorporate the surrounding shaving cream as this is what creates the marbled pattern. When they have the pattern they want, I let them lay their white paper on top of the shaving foam and gently push down so every part of the paper is touching the foam. Then, I peel the paper up and use my trusty squeegee to remove all of the foam and like magic- their design remains behind. I hang these to dry using clothespins but they can dry flat too. They may need to spend the night under a hefty stack of books after drying to really flatten them out. Fun stuff!!

The Obligatory Georgia O'Keefe Chalk Flowers

Pretty much every art teacher I know does these flowers. However, parents who are looking for some crafty ideas will love the ease of this no-fail activity. The images below were done by 7-10 year olds. Although, I have successfully done this project with 5-6 year olds too. I just have to take out the two pastel colors that they choose and not give them access to the whole box of colors. The whole box is just way too tempting! Most important in this activity is encouraging the kids to draw big and fill up the whole page. Size is what makes these flowers most striking. 
The materials you will need are:
Black construction paper
Chalk pastels (cheapo brands are fine)
Elmer's School Glue
Photographs of flowers for reference
Fixative Spray

I let the children select their flower reference photograph and then encourage them to draw only one or two flowers that fill the page. If the flowers go off the page, even better. Then, the students trace their pencil lines using the glue. The glue needs ample drying time. I let them dry overnight just to be safe. When the glue dries clear it give the look of the leaded area on stained glass. The next day, the kids can use the pastels to add color in the areas between the glue lines. Regular chalk will not give the vibrant colors that you get from the pastels. I also tell them to stick to two or three colors and not to use black. The black over powers the other colors and if they use more than three colors, it starts to look "muddy". I show the kids how to lay down patches of color and blend the edges with their fingertip. Q-tips come in handy and help avoid little fingerprints but we didn't have any for these. Then, the pictures can be sprayed with a fixative. Test your fixative on your teacher sample first. Many hairsprays will leave dots on the artwork. I want to try this activity with other subject matter since so many people do the flowers. I will be doing Backyard Birds later this week so I will post those pictures when they are done. I also think this would be a great project to make abstract designs for Holiday Stained Glass Windows. 

Andy Goldsworthy Sculptures

This is a lesson that I did with my art campers this summer. Summer camps tend to have limited budgets to keep the cost to parents down which tends to require a little creativity on the part of the instructors. This is a great project that I did with absolutely no supplies (although, it did require the illicit use of a fancy printer but whatever). I first showed the students pictures of Andy Goldsworthy's work and we discussed "site specific sculpture". I told them that Goldsworthy didn't use any tools except for his hands, teeth and sometimes spit as an adhesive. They were both disgusted and delighted by this. I had 13 kids, ages 6-12 and they all got really excited about this project. I gave them about 30 minutes to wander the playground and collect their building materials and to experiment with different locations for their sculptures. After they set up their sculpture, they used my digital camera to take their own photograph to document their work. Then, I printed out the pictures and brought them back the next day. The kids were ecstatic with these!