Monday, January 5, 2009

How to Create Art with Old Calendars

Well I'm back....had a good break and I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Back to business though, I usually don't do resolutions but I'm going to try hard to get that daily painting practice in as well as continue to create some great art tutorials for you.
Sorry I was unable to get the templates to work for the last post however THEY ARE WORKING NOW!! I know Christmas is past but the Snowman and Penguin are still applicable.

I love January for one main reason...old calendars, even new ones, I always tend to get a gazillion in the mail. Instead of putting them straight into the recycling bin take a second look. They are a treasure trove for the budding artist.

Great for reference photos and for teaching some basic art principles.
I have been drawing and painting for over 30 years and I still go back to these exercises again and again. Art like anything that you want to do well requires practice. This usually takes my students by surprise...they often think you are born with it........ While you may be artistically inclined you need to work hard and practice. That is what makes you a better artist. I just find art so much fun it doesn't feel like work.

Here is a picture stretching technique. It works well for all grades and abilities as you can easily increase the challenge if need be.
Lets get started.

Find a picture you like in an old calendar. Trim off the top to get rid of the little hole for hanging.
Take some white paper, I'm using 11x 17. You want your paper to be longer than your picture so you can stretch it.
Measure the height of the picture and cut your white paper so it is the same height.

Turn over your calendar photo and cut the picture into vertical strips. You can use the month grid to help you with this. Try to keep the strips in order or else you will be assembling a puzzle as well.

Lay out your strips on the white paper to get a feel for how you are going to stretch it. It helps if you anchor each end of the paper with a strip, put one in the center and then arrange the remaining strips from there.

When you have it the way you like glue them down with a glue stick.

Using a pencil, sketch in the gaps.

Now you can choose what medium you want to use to add color:
watercolor pencils
pencil crayons

I'm using watercolor pencils for this one.
The ones shown here are my expensive ones but I found some great sets for the kids at the toy store of all places. They came in packs of 24 and were only $12.00 each. That might still seem expensive but you can get a lot of painting out of these babies. The kids also have greater control with fine detail work.
Just remember some guidelines. You want to add water in small amounts and keep cleaning your brush as you go. You also want to let some areas and colors dry a bit before painting others otherwise your painting just mixes all together.

If you want to make this more challenging take out some of the strips.
For this one I am only using 4 instead of 7.

I decided to use tempura for this one.
It's amazing what you can come up with. This is student grade tempura on white cartridge paper using 2 brushes, a 3/4" flat and a small round both of which belonged to the kids.
A good color study technique for the more advanced artist
Give it a try and hold on to those old calendars. I have a few more projects to show you next time.
see you soon


  1. Brilliant! Thanks so much for sharing that clever idea.

  2. Thanks Tessa
    Hope you give it a try!

  3. Oh, this looks so cool and fun! I'm going to give this a try with the kids. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Your's blog its fantastic!

  5. I absolutely love love loved this project!!!
    I tried it with my students

  6. I absolutely love this. A stretch of the imagination as well as the calendar picture. thanx

  7. what a great idea. thanks for sharing!