Monday, December 2, 2019

Christmas Barn Scenes

I wanted a new Christmas art project for the bulletin board so this is what I came up with.

Grade 1 completed them today.


- white heavier paper for painting background, you also can cheat and just use light blue construction paper
- white sketch paper
- light blue, white, red, and green liquid tempera or acrylic paint
- corrugated cardboard
- white and black oil pastel
- black paper scraps
- white paper strips, I ran mine thru the paper shredder
- white glue
- gold and silver sequins
- red buttons
- golden/or silver stars


Tape down your heavy painting paper.

If you are using light blue construction paper you can skip this step.

Paint light blue.

Paint some sketch paper red. This is for the barn.

Paint some paper green, this for the wreath and Christmas tree.

After the blue paint has dried take a white oil pastel.  Draw out your snow slopes and your trees.

This will be a guide for when we add our white paint.

You want trees on either side and space in middle for your barn.

For the far snow slope I painted with watered down paint.  I used dry brushing and straight paint for the slope in the foreground.

With Grade 1 we just used watery white paint as the dry brush was a bit difficult for them.

Now we are going to add white paint to the trees.

We are going to use a piece of corrugated cardboard, stamping the paint on with the end.

I would do the trunk of the tree first and then the branches.

I made templates for Grade 1 just to get the right size....they all end up looking different which I love.

Cut a barn shape out of the red paper.

With the white paper strips (I put printer paper thru the paper shredder), make the door for your barn.

For grade 1 I had them draw a rectangle in pencil first.

Glue into place.

For the roof, outline it with black pastel and smudge it a bit.

We will add some snow later.

For the wreath I turned over the green paper, I traced the inside of a masking tape to make a circle, this is my guideline.  I then drew a jagged line.  Cut on this jagged line.

To cut the inside, fold it and cut a jagged inner circle.

If you want you can add some texture to your wreath by adding flecks of different green pencil crayons.

Glue the wreath into place. With scraps of black paper cut a couple of windows. Glue into place.

Decorate the wreath.  I used sequins and some stars I punched from silver and gold wrapping paper.

I had some extra trees I punched for another project but you could cut a tree from the green painted paper.

I outlined and smudged with black pastel.  We did not have time for this  with Grade 1.

Add a little snow using the cardboard technique again.

You can then glue into place in the foreground and decorate it with sequins, red buttons and stars.

Add some snow to the roof.

We then smudged a little pastel in front of the barn
like the animals or tractor had trudged thru the snow,

Great work Grade 1.

See you next time.


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Poppy Portraits

Every year I try to come up with a new art project for Remembrance Day.

This is the one we did this year.

This was with Grade 1 and it worked very well.


- paper for painting, we used watercolour for background and regular white paper for our poppies
- disk tempera paint in blue, yellow, and red
- oil pastels
- black and grey crayons 
- scissors and glue
- masking tape
- black paper, black buttons and poppy seeds
- printed paper with our remembrance day words


I prepped art boards for all the students.  I taped off a border and then a section where the table will be.

We took oil pastels in dark blue, light blue and white and I had them draw circles in the large section of the paper.

Some were very ordered and precise with rows of circles and some just scribbled circles all over.  I found the scribbled circles tended to look better.

The students then painted the large section with blue disk tempera paint.

Set aside too dry.

While our background dries I gave them some extra paper.  One I crimped with my crimper for texture.

On the other piece I had them draw circles again with black and/or grey crayon.

We painted these papers.  I used red disk tempera for the paper with the crayon circles and red acrylic for the crimped.

I was trying to get 2 different shades of red.

Set aside too dry.

Back to the background.  I took the tape where the table is and moved it up so it was on the edge of the blue background.

Now with yellow disk tempera we painted in the table.

I made up sheets of repeating words in different fonts and sizes.  They were all related to Remembrance Day.

We painted them with some watery grey paint.  This is to make it less stark and darken the value (colour value) of this component.

Set aside too dry.

On the back of the paper with the words we draw out a vase.

Cut it out and glue into place on the background.  Make sure it is touching the table.

On the back of our red poppy paper we draw some poppies and cut them out.

You want at least 3.

Before we glue them on we use green pastel and draw in the stems and one or two leaves.

If they are different heights it looks better.

Glue poppies on.

For the centers we used 3 different materials:

- black paper
- black buttons
- poppy seeds

This gave each of them an interesting look and lots of discussion, especially about the poppy seeds.

Finally we outlined our vases with black oil pastel and smudged it a bit.

This helped to visually bring the vase forward in the composition.

That's it.  Great job Grade 1!


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Sketchbook Hacks

I'm off to Montreal but as I was packing my art supplies I thought I would do a post about my sketchbooks.

I use a lot of sketchbooks, some I make some I buy.

But I always add a few things that make it work better for me and I thought I would share my sketchbook hacks.

First thing I add is a ribbon bookmark, very few sketchbooks have this feature at least not the ones with the paper I like.

This is very easy to add, just turn to the back of your sketchbook, cut a ribbon about 4-5 inches longer than your sketchbook, and then tape into place.  I use packing tape.

Next thing I like to add is a pocket.

I tape this in place with packing tape again right in the back of the sketchbook as well.

For a large sketchbook I just take a business sized envelope and cut it on the diagonal.

I save the other half as I can use it in the next sketchbook, just tape the opening closed and turn it to the other side.

With smaller sketchbooks I will use different envelopes and cut them to size, taping as I go.

Next thing I add is an elastic,  I know seems pretty low tech but I get asked about this.  As your sketchbook gets to be about 1/3 or more full it expands. (especially if you are adding paint)

The elastic helps to keep it together.

You will also find with a bound sketchbook that you will need to reinforce the binding as you go, again packing tape works great for this.

Even with a coil bound book I use an elastic.  Some people will use a binder clip but I find that it can make dents in your pages and there is never a big enough clip and it ends up falling off.

I then add a large ziplock bag.  With my large sketchbooks I can't close it but I will still store my sketchbook in one.

This has saved me more times than I can count especially when travelling.

It protects your pages from rain, spilled coffee, rogue ocean waves, sticky fingers, etc....

Another habit I have developed is using a date stamp.

I carry it with me when I travel and I use it in my sketchbooks.

 I don't use it if I think the painting is framable.

The first few pages of a sketchbook I leave blank.

I use them to add technical info or ideas that I want to always have available to me.  Lists, reference material, photos from my sprocket, stickers from my travels.

I usually add a business card or at least my name and cell # in case I lose my sketchbook.

So what types of sketchbooks do I really is personal preference.

I like these bound Peter Pauper Press books.  You can find them at Chapters/Indigo which is great, they have very nice paper that holds up to painting and come in a few sizes.

They are also cheap.  Now with watercolour paint the paper will buckle but it is thick enough to get some paint effects that you don't get on lightweight paper.

Amazingly Michaels has a good bound sketchbook,  their Artist Loft one, which comes in lots of great colours actually has pretty good paper in it.  You will have to maintain the binding with tape as you go though.

I also really like these Nature Sketch books.  It has some of heaviest paper out there in a sketchbook.

I also like the wide variety of sizes it comes in.

The Nature Sketch books have off white (buff) paper in them.

Here is the Nature Sketch and the Peter Pauper Press side by side.

I also make a lot of sketchbooks using a Zutter machine.

The main reasons I make my own are:

- can have a variety of papers in one book including good quality watercolour paper as well as tan and grey sketch paper

- I can make it bigger, more pages

- I can make it the exact size I want. A lot of times paintings in my sketchbooks end up being framed, I can make a sketchbook that corresponds to common frame sizes.

Another system I use a lot when working with really high quality watercolour paper is a hand bound book and detachable cover.

So I will take 150-300lb wc paper,  score with a bone folder and tear into full pages (a large rectangle that is folded for 2 pages).

I will then stack them usually 3-4 deep and sew them together with a few binding stitches.

I then have a cover made from gatorboard and duct tape.  I use an elastic to hold the wc paper book into the cover.

I could give you all the instructions but you just need to watch these videos if interested in this system.

Video 1 Sketchbook

Video 2 Cover

One of the best parts of this system is that the cover is large enough when open that I can add these magnetic clips.

I just got these at Staples.

I can then have my metal watercolour palette attach to the book for easy painting in the field.

When I am not using the watercolour sketchbook I then close the cover and clip it together.  The gatorboard is thick enough that I don't get any dents in my paper and the elastic inside holds the paper in the cover.
 I prefer metal watercolour palettes so I can use those magnetic clips for both the sketchbook and on my easel.

I buy them empty and then fill up plastic half or full pans with my favourite paints.  I let them dry and then place them in the palette.

I do put magnetic tape under the plastic pans to help them stay in place, this also lets me add an extra row of paints.

This system also lets me change out the colours in my palette really easily.  I also have palettes of colours for places I travel to frequently.  I have a Maui palette, a Cabin/Mountain palette, and a desert palette. (Palm Springs, Phoenix).

For travelling my kit looks like this.

I have 2 metal watercolour palettes with the colours I'm using at the moment.

- pencils, eraser, sharpener, small ruler
- water brushes, I like sakura, make sure your water brushes have the little valve so they don't leak
- some watercolour pencils
- some fountain drawing pens
- molotow white paint marker

I put the water brushes, fountain pens, and molotow marker in a ziplock. This way I can easily remove it and set it out if I'm going thru airline security and the plastic bags helps with any leaks I may have.

One hint I also usually put a paper towel in that plastic bag to absorb any leaks.  I find my fountain pens may leak a bit while flying due to cabin pressure.

This post ended up being longer than I expected, hopefully I didn't ramble too much.

See you next time.