Thursday, October 16, 2014

Self Portraits and Art Journal Page

Don't you just love self portraits……it's got to be one of my favourite lessons.

I'll show you how to do this one….

……..and how to do an awesome journal page using your practice copy from the first project.

So this variation of my self portrait lesson was done with grade 4.

We put a bit of a math spin on it, discussing fractions when drawing the proportions of the face.  We also did patterns for the background.


- we used 12"x12" hardboards for our backgrounds, you could use paper or cardboard
- acrylic paint
- good quality drawing paper
- mirrors
- pencil and white drawing erasers (Staedtler or triangular drafting erasers).  I have a class set that travels with me and I tell the kids don't use your pink erasers or the one on the end of your pencil.
- coloured pencils or pencil crayons
- fine sharpies
- printmaking shapes, I use cut up pool noodles and these foam blocks I got from the Dollar Store (circles, triangles, squares, etc.), recycled corks from wine bottles, little cups
- scissors and glue
- Mod Podge or Duraclear for sealing, optional


Self Portrait Board:

Now I do self portraits a lot so I have a full class set of mirrors. I got mine at the Dollar Store.  I added some hockey tape to any that did not seem too sturdy.  Kids can be a bit rough with them.

They are a worthwhile investment for any school as each class can do several portrait drawing projects throughout the year.

We start off doing a practice portrait using regular copier paper.  We go step by step as a class.

The hardest part is getting the kids to sketch lightly until they are ready to commit.

My directions for drawing a face can be found HERE and depending on the age of the students I'll also give them a handout or have large step by step pictures up on the board.

When the practice drawing is done I give them a piece of good quality drawing paper.

For this variation I had them do the face shape, ears, neck and shoulders, and outline of the hair.

They then used some flesh tone acrylic paint and painted in the face, ears, and neck.

I keep 3 main colours of skin tone premixed.  (light, medium, and dark).  The kids can usually find a good match but we can alter if we need too.

Let face dry.

While the face is drying paint the 12"x12" hardboard or background a solid colour.

Your face should be dry now.  Using a light hand with the pencil sketch in the rest of the proportions.

Add the eyes, nose and mouth.

When the features are drawn in pencil we added some white paint with a tiny brush for the eyeball.

Now add colour and shading with your coloured pencils.

Your background board will be dry now.  We added patterns to ours and I'll describe how we did this when we do the art journal page.

Cut out your portrait and glue on top of your background.

Art Journal Page:
This is a great project if your students are really self conscious about their drawings.  By painting it a different colour, almost like a fauvist portrait, it helps them loosen up a bit.  They won't expect it to be perfect.

Take your practice drawing.  This is one of my student's.

Go over the outline with a black sharpie.

Squeeze a little acrylic or tempera onto your palette.

Add water to make it inky.

Paint over your drawing.

Let dry.

Paint in the whites of the eyes.

Add detail and shading with your coloured pencils.

Paint a background colour on to your art journal page.

Now add some prints.  I'm using sequin waste paper, cut up pool noodles, corks, little cups, etc.

For the first project the Grade 4's chose 2 shapes and then made repeating patterns on their backgrounds.

While the paint is out do the opposite page so you have a background ready to go for next time.

I used the leftover blue paint as the main colour.

Add some stamps.

And then I added this ADMIT ONE ticket.

That's it, you just completed 2 great projects.

Take care everyone.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Papier Mache Squirrels

I hope everyone here in Canada had a relaxing Thanksgiving weekend.

I made these squirrels 2 weeks ago with a Grade 1 class.

They turned out adorable and the kids were very proud of themselves


- paper roll (paper towel centre or toilet roll)
- cardboard
- pipecleaner
- newspaper
- masking tape
- paper towel strips
-white glue and water mixed together in a 1 to 1 ratio
- acrylic or tempera paint in Fall colours
- scraps of felt
- 22 gauge wire
- paper
- feather boa
- glue gun, adult to use only
- googly eyes


Take your paper roll and stuff with a newspaper page.  Squash another page of newspaper into an oval shape. Tape this to one end of the paper tube with masking tape.  I have it angling out to look like a head.

Put a few pieces of masking tape over other end of paper tube to keep newspaper inside.

Cut 2 legs out of cardboard. They are about half as tall as the cardboard tube.  The foot comes out and they are straight on the bottom.

Take your pipe cleaner and make 2 loops at both ends twisting the pipe cleaner onto itself.  It ends up being approximately 7" or 15cm.
For Grade 1, I did this prep ahead of time for them.  Older grades (grade 3 and up) could do this for themselves.

Set up your workspace for papier mache.  We worked on top of a piece of wax paper.

Get your glue and water mixture going and hand out some paper towel strips to everyone.

I learned this great tip from the art of education, I made up a newspaper strip for each child with their name on it.  When they were finished their papier mache they stuck on the strip. Great for keeping track of every one's work.

Dip your strips in the glue mixture and start covering your paper roll armature.

I asked the kids to cross the strips.  We added a belly to the front.

Put on that name strip.

Add a little papier mache to the front of the leg and papier mache those hand loops on the pipe cleaner as well.

Set aside to dry for 2 days.  Most of our paper tube armatures would stand up for drying.  Turn leg and arms over halfway thru the drying time so everything dries out completely.

When the pieces are all dry paint with acrylic or tempera paint in Fall colours.

I made some wired paper for the base of the tail.  You take one strip of paper, run a line of glue down the length, lay your piece of wire into this glue.  Take your glue and do some zig zags all over the paper.  Place another paper strip on top sandwiching the wire between them. I also used my fingers and ran down the sides of the wire to make sure it was secure in that sandwich.

Let dry.

We cut them into a large feather shape.

Paint the feather shape in Fall colours  on both sides.

I bought some feather boas at the Dollar store.  Cut into pieces about as long as the feather shape.  Glue to one side.

Now it's time to glue together.  We used a glue gun to put on the legs and arm strip.

This enabled us to angle the legs if needed in order to get the squirrel to stand.

Glue tail onto the back of the squirrel.

With scraps of felt add a nose and ears.

We glued on googly eyes as well.

The Grade ones went on a nature hike and collected some pine cones.  We added these as well.

Great work Grade one!

See you next time.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Autumn Owls

It was a whirlwind 5 days at my first artist residency this past week.

Lots of great art completed and some terrific students and staff!

This is the project that Kindergarten completed.  I was inspired by this post by Art with Mr. Giannetto. I feel in love with the presentation, night with a moon.

I changed it around a bit and this is my version.


- 12" x 12" hardboard, you could use cardboard or poster board
- cardboard owl body and crescent moon
- drywall filler
- plastic spoon
- Crayola Model Magic, you could use salt dough clay or air dry clay as alternative
- acrylic paint (Black, Red, Orange, Yellow, Brown, White)
- splatter box, just a big cardboard box devoted to splattering
- old toothbrush, optional
- tacky glue
- glue gun, adults only
- a twig
- white felt
- black buttons, you could also use black paper
- textured craft foam, you could use paper


This is a 2 - 3 session project depending on your students.

Session 1

Using my 12" x 12" hardboard as a guide I cut out an owl body and crescent moon for each student ahead of time out of corrugated cardboard.

I do this ahead of time.

We work on wax or newspaper.

I gave each student a piece of Model Magic, about the size of a plum.  We talked about wing shapes and each student made 2 wings for their owl.  By having the cardboard owl in front of them they can gauge how it will look.

I handed out some great tools for texturizing. I found these fondant tools at the dollar store, a whole set only cost a $1.00 (woohoo!)

After forming their wings they add some texture to them with the tools.  Set aside when done.

Give each 2 - 4 students a little plate with some drywall filler.  Using their hands they spread the drywall covering the owl on the front.

Everyone gives their hands a quick wipe with a paper towel, (some will need 2 ….or 3)

The kids then add some texture to the drywall.

I have a bin full of tools, things like combs, lego pieces, plastic canvas, etc.

One of the best tools for the owl is a plastic spoon.  You can make feather shapes on the belly of your owl.

Set aside when done.

Both the owl and wings will need to dry overnight.

Hand out the 12"X12" boards.

Using black acrylic, paint the front of the board.

That's it for this session.

Session 2

Using acrylic paint in Fall colours paint your owl body and wings.

Paint the cardboard crescent moon as well.

Set a side to dry.

Now it's time to splatter.  I have a big cardboard box that I use.  It has "Splatter Box Do Not Throw Out" in big letters written on it so I don't accidentally lose it.

Place the black painted board into box.  Using white acrylic paint with a little water mixed in to thin it a bit, splatter some stars onto your board.

I have found that old toothbrushes are the best splatter tools.  You dip the brush into the paint and then just run your finger over the bristles.

At school the splatter station is running at the same time as the kids are painting.

Make sure the kids reach down into the box.

Now it's time to glue.

Using the glue gun, set up a parent volunteer or just have the kids visit you at your glue gun.

Glue on the owl body and the twig to the board.

The kids can glue the wings and the moon on themselves.

While I was working the glue gun I had the kids glue on the eyes.  We used a white felt circle and a black button.

The beak was a triangle cut from some textured craft foam I had.  You could just use some paper.

I also brought in some extra painted paper I had left over from some other projects.  I always keep leftover painted paper for my stash. The students cut out some extra feathers from this paper and glued them to the body while they waited for their turn to get their owl glued.

Here are some of the Kinder owls.

They turned out terrific!

Great job Kindergarten.

See you soon with more residency projects.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Nature File Folder Book: Part 2

We continue on with the Nature file folder book.

These are the first inner pages.


- acrylic or tempera paint
- cotton swabs (Q-tips) or extra pencil with eraser on end
- nature stamps
- white paper
- old book page
- plastic wrap
- scrapbooking paper scraps
- straw
- spray paint or inks if you have them otherwise you can use sponges
- yellow paper 
- black buttons
- pinecone pips, optional
- scrap of yellow felt
- coloured feathers


We now have to paint the inside pages.

The first inner page has a big sky section and and a strip of grass.

For the 2 middle pages the kids chose whatever colours they wanted.

The last page needed blue on top section and bluish green for bottom section.

When the paint has dried paint a nice tree with black acrylic or liquid tempera.

Using a cotton swab or pencil end dab on some leaves in fall colours.

The 2 middle pages are where a lot of info gets added in science class.  Tuck in the bookmark, add tabs, tags, and cards.

I had some nature stamps so they kids used these to decorate these pages.

Take 6"x3" or so sized paper and paint a light green with disk tempera. This will be your frog so pick whatever colours work for you.

While the paint is still wet lay a piece of plastic wrap on top and scrunch it a bit.  Leave on to dry.

While your paints are out paint an old book page with some stripes.

We will use it to make the reeds in the pond.

Now we are going to use some scrapbooking paper to make the rocks.  We also used some extra painted paper I had on hand or you can paint some.

Cut out the rocks.  Add a fish if you want.

Add some bubbles using a straw and some white paint.

Cut some reeds out of the painted paper or scraps you have.

Glue into place.

Cut out a frog from the paper you previously painted.  Add some details in black pencil crayon or fine marker.  Glue on a goggly eye.

You could also make your frog sitting on a lily pad if you wanted.

I had some butterfly embellishments from the Dollar store so we added as well.

Back Cover:

Take a piece of brown kraft paper (about 5"x 7") and spray on some paint or ink.  You could also sponge on some colour.

This will be our owl body.

When dry turn over and make an owl body.  Cut out.

Time for the eyes. Cut out a large white circle, a smaller yellow circle, and then add a black button.

To make the feathers we painted some of the pips taken off a large pinecone.

If you don't have these available you could just make them from paper.

Glue owl onto back page.  Add some coloured feathers (Dollar store) for the wings.

Using a scrap of felt cut out a triangle beak.

Glue on the feathers.

You can add some text to label your owl.

That's it……I know a lot of steps but what a great book at the end that ties into science.

Here is some student work in progress.

See you next time.