Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Monet's Waterlillies

Inspired by Monet's Waterlillies paintings, we wanted to create our own!

Materials needed:
-Heavy weight water color paper
-Tempera paint, only blues, greens, and white for mixing
-Paint brushes
-Green construction paper
-Tissue paper

1.  Show examples of Monet's Waterlillies.  Talk about the softness of the paintings, soft edges, soft colors.
2.  Have the students paint the water first.  Encourage color mixing; shades of blues, greens.
3.  While the paper is drying, have students draw and cut out 3 lily pads.  You can offer them a template to trace, if needed. 
4.  For the lily pad flowers, have little scraps of tissue paper that students can wrap around the eraser end of a pencil, dip in a little glue and then stick it to the middle of the lily pad.   A few tissue paper flowers per lily pad is perfect.
5.  Once painting is dry, then glue the lily pads to the painting and voila!   A mini-masterpiece!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fall Leaf Centerpiece

Just in time for Thanksgiving dinner...this wonderful fall leaf inspired centerpiece!

Materials needed:

For Leaves
- Watercolor paper
- BLEEDING tissue paper, cut up in squares, using only fall colors
- Paintbrushes
-Cups of water
-Leaf templates
- Sticks
- Hot glue

For Pots
- Tempera or Acrylic Paint in fall colors
- Paintbrushes
- Marbles or rocks (to weigh down the pots)
- Spanish moss

1. To create the leaves, start with one big piece of watercolor paper and place squares of the bleeding tissue paper, overlapping pieces, using a brush dipped in water to temporarily "glue" them onto the paper.  The water is what transfers the color off the tissue onto the watercolor paper so make sure the kids make it wet enough!
2.  Once the entire piece of watercolor paper in covered in tissue paper squares, gently remove all the tissue paper.  (it's okay if the paper is not dry yet)  The kids love this part.
3.  Once paper is dry, trace as many leaf templates onto the paper then cut out the leaf shape.
4.  Hot glue the stick intbetween 2 paper leaves and stick it in the pot!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dia de Los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos  - Day of the Dead is a holiday celebrated in Mexico in the beginning of November.
It's a fun party celebrating the lives and honoring those who have passed away.

Using BIG black contruction paper and chalk pastels we make these colorful skulls.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Happy Halloween!

Let's make eyeballs!  

Materials needed:
-Crayola Air Dry Clay
- Permanent markers in black, red, brown, green and blue
- wooden dowel, chopstick or toothpick if you opt to poke a hole through to be able to string them as a necklace (optional)

1.  Roll clay into a ball
2.  Poke hole all the way through
3.  Let dry
4.  Color in eye detais
5.  Thread onto string to make a necklace (optional)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hundertwasser's Neigborhood

This great idea I got from -

Thanks for the idea!  It turned out great!

Friedensreich Hundertwasser was an Austrian painter and architect.  He was influenced by Kilmt, Gaudi, nature, spirals, metals and colors!  

Chicago has so many awesome neighborhoods and we have students from all over the city.  This was a fun project for the kids and the parents LOVED it too!  I encouraged them to draw specific buildings near them, include Lake Michigan, playgrounds, their school, and each drawing featured their home, whether it's a house or an apartment building or a high-rise, in the middle.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dubuffet - Art Brut Cow

Jean Dubuffet is a French painter and sculpture.
He has a very cool sculpture right here in Chicago!

His paintings have an interesting TEXTURE.  He would often take sand, tar and straw and mix it in the paint!
This project is based on his "The Cow with a Subtile Nose" 1954

I snagged this great lesson idea from Art Projects for Kids and I wanted to share our result!

Material Needed:
- White drawing paper
- Pencils
- Black Sharpie
- Crayons (white, yellow, orange, brown)
- Black Watercolor paint
- Paintbrushes

1.  We drew the cow, in pencil, as a group, step by step, breaking it down to basic shapes.  (Follow the Art Projects for Kids link to an example)
2.  Trace the pencil lines with a black Sharpie
3.  Color the cow, pressing pretty hard with crayons (avoid using dark colored crayons)
4.  Background is colored green
5.  Have the students crumple up their drawing 3 or 4 times.  Make sure they crumple it up real good!  The kids always get a kick out the this part!
6.  Uncrumple the drawing and paint over the entire thing with black water color paint and let dry.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Get Smart, Make Art!

In one of my searches for inspiration online I came across an American painter and ceramic artist named Fred Babb.  He believed art is supposed to be cheerful and bright.  He encouraged unbridled creativity and unfiltered self-expression.  His art always had a message.

"It flows because it is the natural expression of who you are.  If what you makes happens to please someone else, that's great.  But always make art to please yourself first."

Well I wanted the kids to understand his messages.  Some kids, when they get a certain age can be overly concerned with doing it right, staying in the lines, not "messing up".  I cringe a little every time a student says, "I messed up."  Partially because art supplies are costly and I can't give everyone a new piece of paper every time they "mess up" but mostly because I believe THERE ARE NO MISTAKES IN ART...sometimes things don't go according to plan, sometimes there are happy accidents, sometimes things work, and sometimes they don't but no matter what, just go with it.   Just the act of making art can be a wonderful time of expression and exploration.

So, here is what we painted, just using Tempera paints, inspired by Fred Babb...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Making Sunprints is the perfect sunny day activity.  

What is a Sunprint?
  • Sunprints are cyanotypes that are created by exposing light sensitive paper to the sun.
What is a cyanotype?
  • Cyanotype is an old photographic printing process that dates back to 1842!  A print is created due to a chemical reaction of the UV light and iron on the paper.  The beautiful deep blue image is known as a cyanotype!

First we went on a nature walk to gather items for our Sunprints...leaves, branches, those whirley helicopter things were abundant that day!  We observed all the beautiful things that were blooming and growing now that it is finally (almost) summer!

Step 1.  Place items on special Sunprint paper (Arranging them beforehand in a practice run helps so you can work out your composition)

Step 2.  Let the items sit undisturbed on the paper for 1-5 minutes.  (We did it at about 4pm so we took up the whole 5 minutes).  You know your print is ready when it turns very light blue, almost white.

Step 3.  Once it has turned light blue/white quickly take off the items and "develop" the paper by rinsing it in water for about one minute.  Your image will be very light but the background will darken as it dries.  Kinda like magic.

p.s.  You can find Sunprint paper or Nature Print paper at Blick or you can order it online.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spring has Sprung!

It's getting nice out!
Perfect for painting alfresco!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Op Art Paper Weaving

Op Art - meaning Optical Art
The idea is when the viewer looks at this art it almost seems like the piece is moving or vibrating.  There can be patterns, hidden images and lines that look like they are warping, bending or swelling.  Kinda makes you dizzy right?

Famous Op Artists are Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely

I was thinking about how I could recreate Bridget Riley's "Movement in Squares" with my kids.  The idea of drawing, coloring and painting the very precise lines seemed a little hard, then I thought of paper weaving and it came out great!

Materials needed:
- Extra large construction paper in Black and White
- A big paper cutter is great if you have one!
- Scissors
- Ruler
- Pencils
- Glue

Ahead of time, cut the white paper into 3 or 4 different sized strips

Directions: (Picture tutorial coming soon!)
1.  Fold the big black piece of paper in half.
2.  Take the ruler and trace it across the open ended side of the paper
3.  Then use the ruler to trace vertical lines from the top line you just drew all the way down to the bottom folded edge
4.  Cut the lines you just drew
5.  Open it up and start arranging your white strips into piles by their size.
6.  The idea is to start weaving the white strips in, varying the size of the strips to mimic Riley's painting.
7.  Push the strips tight together and once they are all in and you are happy with the way it looks, glue the edges down to the black paper.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Van Gogh Sunflowers

April showers bring May flowers!
And sunflowers were on sale at Trader Joes!

Many artists used sunflowers in their work.  I showed the kids 2 examples, Van Gogh and Diego Rivera.

Materials needed:
- Pencils
- Oil Pastels
- Vase full of real sunflowers!
- 11x14 brightly colored construction paper

1.  First talk about the basic shape of a flower.  We practiced drawing flower middles and flower petals on scrap paper.  We examined the shape and color of the sunflower petals...long and skinny with pointy tips as opposed to wide and round.
2.  Look at the example of Van Gogh's Sunflowers painting, note that the flowers are together in a vase, on a table, now look at the vase on your table, tell the kids that we will draw what we see on our table.
3.  Start by lightly sketching the flower middles, petals, stems and vase.
4.  Add color with oil pastels.
5.  Don't forget to draw the table line.

I helped the littler ones with the basic flower shape.  I would draw 2-3 petals around a flower middle and have them finish drawing the petals, going all the way around.  Then I would draw one side of the vase and have them draw a mirror image on the other side finishing the vase shape.

Everyone's sunflowers were so bright, happy and colorful!  I sent each kid home with their own real sunflower.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Go Green Fashion Show!

To celebrate Earth Day we designed and created our own earth friendly fashions!

We collected all kinds of things to repurpose into cool new threads and accessories...

- paper grocery bags - we turned into vests, hats and skirts!
- plastic shopping bags - different colors braided together to make belts!
- foam packing peanuts - strung on dental floss to make necklaces!
- toilet paper rolls - painted to become hip arm cuffs!
- and more!

Turn trash into fashionable treasure!  Let your imagination run wild!

We spent one class period designing, painting and constructing our fashions.  Then Earth Day week we had a fashion show where we walked down a "runway" to show off what we made.  It was a blast!

Monday, April 5, 2010

April Showers mobile

Materials needed:
- wire coat hanger
- sturdy watercolor paper, 4 pieces of 11x14
- lots of cotton balls!
- school glue in bowls
- pre-made templates for the cloud shape and rain drop shape
- watercolor paint
- scissors
- string
- hole punch

1.  Have kids trace the cloud shape twice on separate pieces of sturdy watercolor paper.  Cut out both.  Set one aside.
2.  Kids will glue cotton balls all of over one of the cloud shapes by dipping the cotton balls into the bowl of glue, eventually covering the entire cloud.
3.  While the cotton ball cloud is drying, give them 2 pieces of 11x14 watercolor paper and the rain drop template.  Have them trace the raindrop as many times as they can fit on the two pieces of paper.
4.  Then they will paint the raindrops with watercolor

Since my students are all pretty young the rest of this project I put together myself.  It was rather tedious but the results were cute.  If you have older students you could have them put together the raindrop strands.

First, staple the clouds back to back with the hanger inbetween.
1.  Cut out raindrops.
2.  Cut string, 3 pieces approx. 2 feet long.
3.  Glue the raindrops back to back with the string down the middle.   I glued 2-3 raindrops onto each strand (See photo)
4.  Hole punch the cloud and tie the raindrop stings to it

I added a lighting bolt made from lightweight cardboard with aluminum foil glued on to each child's mobile.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Georgia O'Keefe's flowers

Georgia O'Keefe

Mainly known for paintings of flowers, rocks, shells and landscapes.  She often transformed her subjects into powerful ABSTRACT images.

She uses bold colors in her often huge paintings.  She tends to concentrated on just the little details, like the inside of the flower or just the petals.

"Filling a space in a beautiful way.  That is what art means to me."
-Georgia O'Keefe

Materials needed:
- Large watercolor paper
- Examples of Georgia O'Keefe's work
- Pencils
- Watercolor paints (or Tempera or acrylic paint if you prefer)
- Brushes
- Fresh flowers or photos of flowers (optional)
- Magnifying glasses (optional)

1.  This part is optional, but I brought in an old calendar that had wonderful photographs of flowers.  The kids took magnifying glasses and we studying the photos, concentrating on the details.  We talked about how O'Keefe painted her flowers, up close and almost abstract.
2.  We started by lighting drawing in pencil our flowers shapes, stress the importance of really filling up the page, don't be afraid to let the petal "fall off the page", remind them that we are trying to draw a flower as if we were looking at it through our magnifying glass.
3.  Once they are happy with their sketch, add color!  Try to not leave any white space on your paper.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Mark Rothko
Born in Latvia!  My parents are from Latvia so I get very excited when I hear about any fellow Latvians making contributions to the world!

Rothko went to Yale University thinking he wold become an engineer or attorney.  He eventually moved to NYC and began taking art classes.  He fell in love with painting.
He thought simple shapes were the best for showing feelings.  The large scale of his paintings are intended to pull you in and make you FEEL the color and emotion that is in front of you.  He wanted you to stand real close to them and be consumed by the feelings.

He said "...You paint a larger picture, you are in it."

What feelings do you think this student artist was having?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Magritte's Eye

Rene Magritte

Magritte believed that all things are mysterious.  He took the ordinary and made them not-so-ordinary.  His paintings were unusual and sometimes strange.  He loved to paint right after having a bizarre dream! 

We had a blast sharing stories of some of the weird dreams we have had while we worked on this project.

Inspired by "The False Mirror", painted in 1928, this lesson was taken from Art Projects for Kids blog.

Here are our results!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

POP ART with Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol

Warhol was an American painter, printmaker and filmmaker.  He was a key figure in the POP Art movement which began in the 1950's.  POP Art explores themes and ideas from popular culture. 

Warhol created many of his pieces using a silkscreen process.  This project is an adaptation of that process inspired by his images of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis and Jackie O. 

BEFOREHAND - take a digital photo of each child.  Using Photoshop or any other similar software turn the photo Grayscale and then increase the contrast making the image purely black and white, no grays.

- 8 copies of a black and white photo of each child (on plain copy paper is fine)
- Watercolor paints
- Gluesticks
- 16x20 Black contruction paper
- Examples of Andy Warhol's paintings

1.  Each child will get all 8 copies of a photo of themselves that they will paint with watercolor.  Emphasize that each one should be different, altering the colors and/or color placement.  Refer to the examples of Warhol's paintings.
2.  Glue each image next to one another into a grid like pattern (4 on the top, 4 on the bottom) onto the big black construction paper.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Worry Dolls

Worry dolls originate from Guatemala and are a trusted source for your troubles.  Tell your doll what is worrying you and then place the doll under your pillow at night.   

I have done this project with kids in my regular art class as well as in a more therapeutic environment as part of my Masters program, with a group of kids who had all suffered some kind of loss (divorce, death of parent or family member).

Materials needed:
- Wooden clothespins...(optional - I glued mini popsicle sticks to the sides for arms with hot glue)
- Yarn
- Glue
- Markers

1.  Start by talking about worries and how it is normal to have things that we worry about.  Ask for volunteers to share what worries they have.  Examples may include; after a death of a family member there is worry of losing another, worry of abandonment by one or both parents, worry about never seeing a certain family member again, worry about changing schools or moving to a new town, worry about being home alone.

2.  Show the kids how to wrap the yarn around the worry doll, slowly and carefully, experiencing the calmness that a repetitive motion can induce.  Remind them to go slow and breathe.  Kids can switch colors of yarn to make pants, skirts, shoes, etc.  Use a little bit of white glue to glue down the ends of the yarn.  Try to overlap the different yarns, which also secures the loose ends.

3.  Glue on yarn hair and draw on a face (optional)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Van Gogh Starry Night Crayon Resist

Van Gogh loved bright, contrasting colors.  His favorite color was yellow.  

Materials needed:
- Example of the "Starry Night" painting
- Yellow, white and silver crayons
- Black crayon for the cyprus tree
- Watercolor paint (blues and greens)
- Watercolor paper
- Brushes

1.  Color with crayon the stars, moon and swirls with the yellow, white and silver crayons.  PRESS HARD!
2.  Color the cyprus tree it the foreground with black.  Kids may also want to draw in the village.
3.  Paint a wash of watercolor over the entire picture.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Claude Monet Sponge Painting

Claude Monet
French Impressionist painter

Materials -
- White paper
- Various pastel colored paints
- Sponges (I used regular kitchen sponges from the dollar store and cut them into smaller 1"x2" pieces
- Examples of Monet's paintings
- Pencils (optional)
- Real flowers for inspiration (optional)

Directions -
1.  Show examples of Monet's paintings, (Water Lilies, Bridge at Giverny) and discuss his painting style.  Monet's paintings have a softer feel.  The paintings look fuzzy upclose but you can really tell what the picture is when you hold it farther away.
2.  Demonstrate how to paint using only the sponges, and not dragging the sponge, just "dip and dab" the sponge onto your paper.  (Children may want to sketch their painting in pencil first)
3.  Encourage the children only paint organic shapes and images - flowers, trees, etc.  Talk about how Monet would go outdoors to paint and was very inspired by nature!

"The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration."  - Claude Monet

Thursday, January 7, 2010

DaDa project with Mona Lisa!

The Dada art movement only had one rule - Never follow any rules!
Marcel Duchamp is one of the most famous Dada artists.
He asks the question - What is ART?  He hoped to challenge people's perceptions of what art could be.
His famous painting is of Mona Lisa with a moustache.

I thought it would fun to take the infamous painting of Mona Lisa, that kids of all ages will most likely recognize, and see what happens when we give her a new identity.

Materials - 
- Color copies of the Mona Lisa, can be found online
- 8x10 or 11x14 white paper
- Glue sticks
- Pencils, markers or paints - your choice!

Directions -

1.  Each child will get a color copy of the Mona Lisa.  We discuss the original painting first then I begin to talk about DaDa, explaining that there are no rules and show Duchamp's example.  We talk about creating a new Mona Lisa, giving her a new body or new environment...maybe she's a butterfly, maybe a firefighter....whatever their little hearts desire!
2.  The children begin by cutting out Mona Lisa's face, using her hair too is optional.
3.  Each child then glues down her face on their white paper and begins to sketch their idea for the new Mona Lisa
4.  Once their sketch is complete they add color.
Remember - there are no if they ask, can Mona Lisa have 2 heads instead of one?
You simply say YES!