Monday, October 31, 2011

In the Style of Friedrich: Spooky Trees

Happy Halloween everyone!  I have been waiting to do this post....Caspar David Friedrich 1774-1840 was a German landscape painter often thought of as one of the key artists of Romanticism.  I often present his work "Monk by the Seashore" when teaching open composition.  Today we are looking at his "Abbey in an Oak Forest" which shows his atmospheric use of light and his great "spooky" trees.

Using Friedrich's work as inspiration you can create a great spooky scene in very little time.  Perfect Halloween art project.


- yellow construction paper
- black washable markers
- water
- paintbrush
- black disk tempera
- black paper
- small scrap of repositionable contact paper, optional
- glue
- scissors


Using your black washable markers draw out your spooky trees.  Although I was adding parts of the building here it actually looks better if you just concentrate on the trees.

If you have some of that contact paper lying around trace out a circle.  If you don't have any don't sweat it you can add a moon with some yellow paper later.

Apply to the area where you want your moon to be.
Using plain water brush over your trees. Just enough to moisten.

Immediately your trees will begin to bleed and distort...perfect!

Let dry.  It won't take too long and don't worry if your paper starts to ripple, that's what you want.

Using the tempera disk paint mix a really watery black.  Paint in the horizon line as well as the dark sky.  Leave mostly yellow in the sky near the horizon line.

Paint right over top that contact paper sticker.

Let dry, will only take a few minutes.

Remove sticker.  If you didn't have any contact paper now is the time you can cut a circle out of yellow paper and glue into place.

Cut a spooky house out of black paper and glue onto your paper.

You can some details with a fine sharpie if you wish.

That's it...a very easy spooky scene.  Check out this website for more of Friedrich's trees.

Hope everyone has a great Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

In the Style of Louise Bourgeois and Giveaway Results

Before I announce the winner of the 2 books I thought I would introduce 2 new art projects based on the work of Louise Bourgeois, a sculptor known for these huge "spiders". (titled Maman)  For her they were a nod to her mother, who like a weaver held things together, "was deliberate, neat, clever, patient, indispensable and as useful as a spider"

Incidentally these projects were inspired by the "Let's Make Some Great Art" book by Marion Deuchars which we are giving away today.

My kids are quite intrigued by them and they kinda fit with Halloween.

The first project is a painting / pastel resist.

The second project is a papier mache model of "Maman".

First Project:Paint/pastel resist

- wc paper
- pencil and eraser
- disk tempera or wc paint
- paintbrush
- oil pastels
- eye dropper
- fine sharpie
- reference photos of Ms. Bourgeois's work


Tape down your paper to your art board.

Sketch in a horizon line and then start adding a city skyline.  You want to get the buildings quite small to allow lots of room for your gigantic spider.

With oil pastels go over the outlines of the buildings, add some windows and a few details.

Paint in your sky.

Paint in your buildings.  We used a grey wash.  The pastel will resist the paint.

Then paint in the ground.

Mix up some water into your black paint to get an inky consistency.  using your eye dropper suck up that paint and place it where you want the body of your spider to be.

Using a thin paintbrush pull the paint down to make a squiggly leg.  You don't want it too perfect here.

You can scrumble it a bit as you go.  Scrumbling means twisting and turning that paintbrush as you are applying paint.

Let dry and then you can add some details.  My boys were insistent upon giving the spiders red eyes and having people reacting to these large spiders walking thru their city.

Project 2: Papier Mache Spider


- small paper plate
- wire
- hockey, or masking tape
-  1/2 of a white pipe cleaner
- paper towels cut into strips
- white glue, recycled container, water
- paint


Take your paper plate, turn upside down and poke 8 holes with a sharp pencil.  Space them out around the edge.

Cut 4 pieces of wire about 14 or 15 inches or so.  Starting with 1 piece thread both ends into 2 of the holes.

Turn the plate over and twist the 2 ends together.  Then take your hockey or masking tape and wrap around the ends.  This just keeps those sharp ends from poking anyone.

Repeat this with the remaining 3 pieces.

Take your 1/2 pipe cleaner and wind amongst the wires at the top forming the body of the spider.

Put some wax or parchment paper down on your work space.  An old plastic bag will also work.

Mix up your glue and water into your recycled container in a one to one ratio.

Using the paper strips, dip into glue mixture and start winding around the wire.  It helps to start at the top and work your way down.  It also helps immensely if you always wind in the same direction, (that way you don't untwist the last strip you just put on!)

Cover the plate as well.

Put in a warm dry spot to dry. Ours dried in about 24 hrs.

Paint with tempera or acrylic.

There you have it a large "Maman" coming your way.

So on to the giveaway for:

"My Even More Wonderful World of Fashion" by Nina Chakrabarti and "Let's Make Some Great Art" by Marion Deuchars.

I had 126 entries,( comments, facebook, emails) whew!.... and the winner chosen by random drawing .........

........was 57 in the comment section (not counting doubles) which works out to be
Juise: who said

"What fun looking books! Thanks for the chance. :) "

Juise, if you could send me your shipping address at
I can arrange to get those books out to you (lucky duck)!

Thanks everyone for entering and don't despair there will be another giveaway very soon.

That's it for now, make sure you try a "Maman" spider.  I am absolutely swamped getting ready for the Early Childhood Education Conference in Kananaskis next week.  I'm presenting 2 workshops so hope to see you there.

This is what my workspace is looking like these days!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Reviews and Giveaway

My 2 friends and I would like to introduce you to 2 new titles from Laurence King Publishing, graciously provided by my friends at Raincoast books.

"My Even More Wonderful World of Fashion" by Nina Chakrabarti,  is great for all those future Project Runway candidates.

Soft cover and over 200 pages of prompts to get you drawing and designing your next "fashionista" collection.

"Let's Make Some Great Art" by Marion Deuchars is also soft cover and full of prompts, techniques and art history.  Lots of art projects in the making here.

I really enjoyed the artist profiles and accompanying projects.

So if you are interested in winning both of these books please leave me a comment on this post, an email  ( ), or a like/comment on Facebook.

You have until Wednesday 11:59pm and the results will be posted Thursday.  U.S. and Canadian residents only.  Good Luck everyone!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Halloween Jumping Jacks

I've been meaning to post another "jumping jack" project for some time.  It seems to fit the Halloween theme so here we go.

 I made up 2 versions for you.

Nothing like an art project you can create and then play with.


- this cardboard, like a cereal box
- scissors, pencil
- gesso
- paint/paintbrush or pencil crayons, felts, crayons, any medium to add color
- paper fasteners
- string
- bead for the pull
- hole punch
- embroidery or crochet weight thread and needle
- ribbon for hanger
- Mod podge, optional


Using templates trace out pieces onto your cardboard and cut out.

With really young kids, (Kinders), I have taken the template and just glued it onto the cardboard.

If you want you can give your pieces a coat of primer or gesso.

When the gesso has dried add color to your "jack".  Decorate with any medium you want, you can add embellishments like googly eyes.

Now you are ready to string your "jack".  It looks more complicated than it is and once you've strung one you can do it in minutes.

The holes on the template are just guidelines.  Put the upper arm into place behind the body piece. Have it sticking straight out and using the hole punch, punch holes thru both pieces.

Now if you want a nice strong puppet you can give all the pieces a coat of Mod podge after you have punched the holes, wait until dry and then assemble.

Slip in a paper fastener.  I'm using the large ones like we have at school but you can get a whole range of sizes and colors now at the craft store.

Bend down your ends, keep it pretty loose.  Sometimes I cut the ends down with the nippers if they stick out too much.

Do all the joints in the same fashion.

Take your crochet or embroidery thread and thread your needle. Make sure the puppet is is a relaxed position, arms and legs down. Now starting with the upper arms push the needle thru the cardboard, placement is important here, it's the little circle marked on the templates.
Tie the string off and then thread to the other arm.  You don't have to make it super tight but there shouldn't be slack in the line connecting the arms.

Do the same with the legs.

Take your string and tie a knot in the middle of the thread joining the arms.

Pass the string down and under the thread joining the legs.

Holding the string down loop it around and tie a knot in the middle of the thread joining the legs.  You need to make sure there is no slack between in the string between the arms and the legs.

Test the mechanism, if it's not working unknot your string and try again!

Tie on a bead for the pull at the end of the string.

Tie a loop in a piece of ribbon and stick to the back of the head of your puppet.

Hang them up or just hold them and you're ready to make them dance.

See you soon for another great giveaway next time.