Sunday, November 5, 2017

Negative Poppy Painting

Here is the next poppy project that I came up with, a negative poppy painting.

Negative painting is a hard skill to grasp so I love that this project gives students more practice at it.


- watercolour or heavy painting paper
- masking tape
- watercolour or disk tempera paint
- sea salt
- pencil
- black acrylic paint


I start by taping off my watercolour paper to my art board.

This will give me that nice finished edge.

Using reds, orange, yellow and a little purple and blue I paint the paper. I am using a lot of water to make the paint flow.  The purple and blue are mixed with the red before dropping onto the paper to create the dark reds.

I also scatter some sea salt onto the paint at the end before the paint dries.
Set painting aside to dry.

When painting is dry brush off the salt.  You can see the effect you get in this picture.

Now I need to decide where my poppy flowers will be.  I look at the paint and choose my favourite spots, places where the colours are rich and where the salt has created amazing effects.

I draw the outline of my flowers in these places including the stems and a few leaves.

Taking black acrylic paint I begin to paint around the flowers following my pencil lines.

I paint the spaces inside between the flowers using a smaller brush.

When I have painted all the negative space black I leave my painting to dry.

When it has dried I remove the tape. The last thing I do and this is optional as the painting is pretty awesome as it is right now, I paint in a few shadows with a mix of watery blue and black.  I use a small brush again and I'm very selective where I'm adding this.

That's it.

I love the way it turned out.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Chalk Pastel Poppies

I have already had requests for new Poppy projects for November so I have come up with a few.

This is a chalk pastel version using the white glue on black paper method.

I am very fond of this technique as it always produces winners but I added a bit of twist this time.


- black paper, you want some tooth or texture so black sketch paper or construction paper works great
- chalk pastels
- white school or tacky glue
- acrylic or liquid tempera
- charcoal and pencil crayons


With a pencil draw out your design on black paper.

Overlapping some of the poppies and stems helps create a good composition. You need enough space between your lines so that the glue won't just run all together.

Using white school glue or tacky glue go over your lines with a bead of glue.

Keep paper flat to dry.

When the glue has dried it's time to add the chalk pastel.

For smudging I like to use kleenex and q-tips for the tight spaces.

When I am using chalk pastels I approach it just like a painting, adding light colours for highlights, dark colours for shadows.  Each poppy is made up of several colours not just red.

Here are the poppies all filled in.

Now you could just stop here or add a background.  I wanted a background but I did not want to use chalk pastel.

First off that would have been a lot of chalk pastel, most schools have a limited supply of pastels. Second it could easily become messy with the smudging, although I have my glue lines for definition chances are some of the background colour would wind up on the poppies.

So I chose to use acrylic paint. You want a colour that will give you a chalkboard like effect so pick a lighter more 'pastel' colour.

Do not add water we are doing a dry brush method here.

You can see what I mean here. I am also criss crossing my strokes.  I do this because the brush strokes show up quite a bit using this method and I don't want long brush stroke lines that the eye will follow rather than looking at my poppies.

When the paint dries I decide to take it a bit further.

Using a charcoal pencil I add some shadow around the poppies on the left.

I also add some pencil crayon, layering on some different shades of blue. I am doing this lightly just to add some depth to the background.

Finally I just add little white paint to the upper right corner. I'm just using my finger to rub it in.

That's it. I quite like using the paint for the background and I can see that this will become my primary method from now on.

See you next time.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Fall Swirls

The trees are a swirl of brightly coloured leaves, or at least they were until we had some really strong winds and they all blew away.

Here is a great little fall project.


- nice paper for painting on
- green masking tape (painter's tape) optional
- acrylic or liquid tempera paints
- pencil or black pencil crayon
- oil pastels


Tape paper onto art board using masking tape.  This will give us a nice white border.

Using white and blue paint your background.  You want a white oval off centre and then light blue and darker blue.  Have the kids paint in a circular motion.

Set aside to dry.

This one was with acrylic.

I did this one with disk tempera to compare.

Starting with brown, paint dashes around our oval.

With brown we stay away from the white oval.

We then add orange covering some of our brown dashes and work a little closer into the oval.

After orange we add yellow.

As we get into the centre with the yellow add a little white paint to mix a really light yellow.

Set aside to dry.

When the paint is dry remove the tape.

With a pencil or black pencil crayon draw your tree trunk.  You want to come from the corner closest to the centre of your swirl.

You want it to look like you are looking up into the tree.

Using black oil pastel go over your tree trunk lines and fill in.

Now you could just leave it at this point but oil pastel looks better if you blend it a bit.

In my studio I would just use a paper tortillion but at school we don't have them around so the kids use a q-tip.

If my lines are quite fine I will take the q-tip and break and use the little broken end to blend my fine branches.

Here is a comparison of acrylic vs liquid tempera.

The acrylic covers better (more opaque) so your lights are brighter.  For the liquid tempera I added some dashes in pencil crayon in orange, yellow, and light yellow to help with this after the paint was dry.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Sunset Weavings

These Sunset Weavings are a result of my Canada 150 focus and trying to find new ways to expand my circular weaving options for my younger students.

I love circular weavings, it's where I start after paper weavings with Division 1 kids, (Kinder - Grade 1).

So I took elements of the Canadian landscape as the focus.

Other ideas that would work:
- lighthouse on the rocks 'Peggy's Cove'
- grain elevator on the Prairie
- cabin in the woods
- urban skyline, using landmarks like Calgary Tower, CN Tower
- wildlife silhouettes


- heavy corrugated cardboard
- something circular to trace, I used a dessert sized Chinet plate
- yarn and string, I like chunky yarn for weaving but nothing too fuzzy
- plastic or metal yarn needle, you can also just use a piece of pipe cleaner, or even just wrap masking tape around the end of the yarn.
- acrylic or liquid tempera paint
- black felt
- glue, scissors

Before we start I just want to say the directions look complicated but really they are not.  I'm just trying to give you all the tips and ways of doing this that I find have worked the best.

Weaving takes kids a while to get the hang of, some longer than others.  You will have some students that will pick it up immediately and I like to buddy them with kids who are struggling.

Weaving ends up being very relaxing, a quiet time for the kids and once they have it down a good project for those spare moments or early finishers.

Using a circular item, the size you want your weaving to be, trace onto heavy corrugated cardboard.

Cut out.

I use heavy cardboard because kids are not the most gentle with their looms.  They can pull really hard on the yarn and sometimes I see those looms flying like Frisbees, you know exactly what I mean.

You need to poke a hole thru the center of your cardboard.  I use a knitting needle.

You then need to cut 15 notches around your circle.

I never measure I just cut 4 notches first to divide my circle into quarters, like 12 o clock, 3 o clock, 6 o clock, 9 o clock but I purposely cut 1 quarter smaller than the others.

I then cut 3 notches into my bigger sections and only 2 notches in my smaller section.  This way I can cut the many class sets I have to make fast.
Cut a length of string to thread your loom. I like to just use plain household string. You don't see it in the final weaving and it does not get fuzzy while you are weaving.

If using a needle, thread it and then knot the little tail onto the needle. This stops you from having to keep threading the needle when the kids pull to hard.

Incidentally I teach kids how to thread needles and tie knots before
we do any weaving, otherwise I would go crazy.

On the end that does not have the needle I secure it into a notch, any notch, leaving a little bit so I can tie a knot.  Pass the needle thru the hole and pull tight.  Tie the little end you left to the string you just pulled thru.  This will now be the back of the loom.

Pull string tight and then fit into the next notch, pass the needle to the front of the loom and thru the hole again.

Continue until all notches are strung.

On that last notch tie off the string to the back onto one of the other strings.  It won't look right but this is the back.  It's important that you only have 15 strings showing in the front.

Now we are going to tie on the first colour we are going to weave with.  I am using white to start on these Sunset weavings.  Cut a length about the 3-4 ft.  I tell kids to stretch their arms out and cut a length that long.

Thread your needle, knot onto the needle using the little tail and then tie the other end of the yarn to your loom.  Just choose any of the strings to knot onto at the back.

Pull the needle thru the hole so you are ready to start weaving on the front of your loom.

Choose a string on the loom to start at, doesn't matter which one.

Begin weaving using the pattern over under over under.

I tell my young kids that the needle is like a rabbit, it dives under the first string, hops over the next one, then dives under the next one and so on.

When you have woven over/under along 4 or 5 strings pull the needle so that all the slack in white yarn is taken up and then continue weaving.

Some important points here:

- you have to be constantly pulling the slack, I will remind the kids of this all the time
- you want the weaving to lay flat on the loom, if you pull too tight the weaving won't sit right, it will start growing upwards from the loom instead of out to the edges of the circle, like a big mass of yarn in the center.
- after each pull look at your weaving, you should be able to see where you left off. Start again right where you left off, no skipping.
- tell the kids to leave about 4-5 inches of yarn unwoven when it's time to change colours or get more.

When it comes time to change colours or add more we need to tie off.

The best way I have found to do this and hide our knots is to first tie a knot on the next string in the loom to finish.

Before cutting thread the needle under some of the existing weaving.

Then cut the yarn carefully so you don't cut any of the weaving.

Cut the needle off from what's left of that yarn.

Select your next colour and cut a length

Tie one end onto a string, I usually choose one opposite to where I finished because I do not want too many knots hidden in the same place.  It will make a bump in your weaving.

Using the needle just thread that little end back under the weaving and cut off .

Then thread the other end of the yarn on your needle, knot on and start weaving again.

Weave until there is no space left on the loom.  Tie off one last time.

Now it's time to paint the loom.

We are just painting that little bit of cardboard that is exposed. If you want you can prime it first with some white paint, let it dry and then paint the finishing colour.

You could also just paint without priming but I would suggest you add a bit of white paint or gesso to your colour.  The white paint makes it a bit more opaque and it covers the cardboard a bit better.

When the paint has dried cut the black felt for your silhouette.

Here I cut my mountain range first.

I then turned the felt and loom to the back and using a white pencil crayon or china marker I traced the edge of the loom.

Cut on that line.

Then glue into place.

That's it. 

Some other circular weaving projects you might want to try:


Woven Owls

Finally the winner of the "Little Loom Weaving" by Andreia Gomes is

Kathy Hardman from Ontario

Thanks everyone for entering and don't worry I have more book giveaways happening all summer long.  :)

Take care everyone and DO SOME WEAVING!