Sunday, February 11, 2018

Nature Journaling

I know what you are thinking......nature journaling in Canada, in February???

but I really think this is a time when we crave it.  I wake up dreaming of birds and green. Where is the colour?

So in the midst of our snowy winter some nature journaling is needed.  We always have access to reference photos, museums, and the zoo is also an alternative.

Now this is not a paid endorsement I am just so blown away by these books and his blog I needed to let you know.

For Christmas I asked for these 2 amazing books.

The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling  and The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds.

There is so much information packed into these books I could not believe it....amazing.

But then I thought surely he has a blog or website and I found the treasure trove:

Here is the link to his blog archive.  He teaches a lot, videos his lessons and puts them on youtube.

I watched his whale sketching videos and then went to the Whales Tohora exhibit at Telus Spark.

Well not only has my whale drawing improved (look out Maui here I come :) but I absorbed so much info about whales from his video I had the staff member at the exhibit listening in as I described details to my daughter while looking at the big whale chart.  ("He was impressed, Mom")

For me I like to watch his video, sketch out notes while watching and then add extra details from the books.

Then I try to use what I have learned in practice.

Now I probably won't be out journaling in the wild until we get a chinook but I have lots of reference photos and I'm finding this a good warm-up to the rest of my painting day.

For you teachers out there please check out his blog and videos, he often has kids in his audience.  There is so much information he details about his subject matter while teaching you how to draw it.

See you next time.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Valentine Lovebirds

I have been meaning to do this project for a long doesn't have to be Valentine themed but with the heart at the bottom I couldn't resist.

I also did a Hen and chick one.  You could do several, a long line of birds.


- corrugated cardboard
- paper towels strips
- book page strips, ( just check your library for discarded books)
- white glue and water
-acrylic or liquid tempera paint
- air dry clay
- heart cookie cutter
- coloured sharpies
- string
- felt hearts


Draw some basic bird shapes on cardboard and cut them out.

Mix your glue and water in about a 1 to 1 ratio.

I used the book page strips to cover the cardboard shape on both sides.  I used some of the paper towel strips to build up the wing area. I covered this with more book page strips.

I like to work on wax paper.

When finished leave them to dry.  You may have to turn them over to help dry the back or prop them up.

Out of air dry clay I cut some heart shapes.  Use a skewer to poke a hole at the top for hanging.

Leave to dry turning occasionally.

When dry paint red.

When the birds are dry you can cut off any excess strips that are hanging off the side. You can also use sand paper to sand off those little bits.

Before painting I punched a hole at the top and bottom of the bird.  I used a ruler to make sure I had them in line.

I primed my birds with gesso.

I then painted and decorated them.

You also can use coloured sharpies to decorate.

I had these felt and sequin hearts from the dollar store so I glued them on the heads of the birds.

Finally tie on your strings.

That's it.


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Kandinsky Christmas Tree

This is an easy Christmas tree project.  Good for kinders on up.

I did 3 versions.  This is on paper.

This is on wood.

and then as ornaments.


- heavy painting paper for background, the wood version uses hardboard or MDF
- drawing paper for collage papers
- liquid tempera or acrylic in many colours
- corrugated cardboard
- tacky glue
- a little bit of glitter paper
- thread for hanging if making ornaments


For the paper version I taped off my background paper.

Using blue tempera or acrylic paint your background.  I used 2 blues for variety using a darker blue at the top of my page.

If you don'y have 2 blue shades use a little white or black in your blue paint to mix a different blue to use.

I used blue acrylic on my hardboard for my wood version.

Set aside to dry.

I then took some corrugated cardboard and cut out a large triangle for my tree.

I measured my cardboard to make sure it was slightly smaller than my background before cutting.

For the ornaments I cut smaller triangles and added a little bit of a trunk.

Paint your cardboard green.

I did the same for my ornaments but did both sides.

Set aside to dry.

Now it's time to make our collage papers.  You need to paint a few papers in multiple colours.

At school we will share papers so I will get some students to do the yellow, some to do the green, etc.

I like to get a little variation in my painted papers so I include white to add in here and there or different shades of colours.

When the papers and triangle are dry we can begin assembly.

Here you can see the colour variations I use for the painted papers.  A lot more interesting this way.

Start cutting out different sized circles out of the paper.

We are going to layer some of them.

I like to have it all cut and planned out before I start gluing.

You can use some small circles of a single colour to fill in the holes.

When you have it planned start gluing.

I did the same with my ornaments.

For the top of the tree we are going to make layered circle top.

Now my tree is not glued on here I just have it placed on my background to see how big to make my circle at the top.

I traced the inside of my tape on the back of my painted yellow paper.

I glued this at the top of my background.  I then cut a smaller circle out of some glitter paper and glued that on the yellow circle.

I glued my tree on now and then added a even smaller circle on the top of the tree.

You can see I did the same for the tree on the wood base.

For the ornaments it's a little different.

I cut 2 of my larger yellow circle.  I then glue them together with my hanger thread sandwiched between.

I then glue on the smaller glitter circle on the front and then glue this to my tree.

That's it I hope you give this a try.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Nativity Collage

Here is a Nativity Collage I came up with complete with templates.


- wc paper or heavy painting paper for background, mine was 9x12
- disk tempera paint, I used blue and black but I think a purple, magenta background would be nice
- salt
- oil pastel in white and yellow
- paper for painting parts of collage, I used this white construction paper, which really isn't construction paper but beautiful drawing secret weapon to keep costs down
- acrylic, liquid tempera, or disk tempera for painting collage papers
- pencil crayons
- glue
- glitter glue
- TEMPLATE1, TEMPLATE 2, please feel free to use mine


We are going to start with the background. I taped off my edges.

In the upper right corner I'm putting my star.  I traced a cutout star a I had and then coloured it in with yellow oil pastel.

I took a white pastel and drew circles radiating out from the star.  It's a little hard to see because it's white on white.

Now I paint the background using disk tempera. I add a little black to my blue at the top and work my way down with just blue.  I think a purple  and magenta sky would be great as well.

While my paint is wet i add a sprinkle of salt to look like more stars in the sky and add some texture to the background.

I have found that sea salt is working the best for this effect.  As long as the paint is wet when I apply it it works every time where as table salt is hit and miss.  Set aside to dry.

Now I need to paint my collage papers.  I make sure I have paper large enough to fit my templates.  You can find mine Here (template 1, template 2).

I paint each one a different colour.

I did green for Joseph but red or orange would also be great.

Traditional blue for Mary.  Did some swirling brushstrokes for interest.

and yellow/gold for Baby Jesus.

I also painted some scraps of paper a skin tone (whatever shade you wish) and a brown for Joseph's beard, a black would also be nice.

Set papers aside to dry.

Using the templates I trace the pattern on the back of my painted paper. (if you want the arrangement to look like mine make sure you trace the back of the pattern pieces)  Glue into place, Joseph's body should fit nicely into the corner of background.

I glued the face and beard of Joseph into position. I added a band for his head using a bit of the paper I painted for Baby Jesus.
With pencil crayons I drew the face and added some swirls to the beard.

I then glued on Mary's body, she overlaps Joseph a bit.  Added her face and another band for her head.

Baby Jesus is added into Mary';s arms.  I cut a white inner circle for around the baby's head out of regular white paper.

Using pencil crayons I drew on their faces and added a line or 2 for definition.

Finally I added some glitter glue on my star and radiation lines for that extra sparkle.  Glitter never seems to photograph well for me so the finished project has more impact then you can see here.

That's it.

More Christmas projects in the works so I will see you next time.