Friday, September 28, 2012

In the Style of van Gogh: Painted Collage

One of my favorite paintings, especially this time of year, is "Siesta" by van Gogh, 1889 - 1890.  It also sometimes titled "Meridian" or "Rest".

I had the pleasure of seeing it in person at the Orsay in Paris and the texture of the brushstrokes immediately places you in that field.

What a good place to start with a painted paper collage.


- wc or heavy sketch paper for painting
- newspaper
- brown kraft paper
- disk tempera, liquid tempera, and/or acrylic
- sponge
- scissors
- glue
- charcoal
- colored pencils or crayons
- reference photos


So this is a 2 session project.  One for painting and one for cutting/pasting. 

Take your heavy sketch paper or wc paper, this will be your background substrate.

With blue paint  cover at least half the paper on the diagonal.  Now with kids I just have them paint the entire page.  Set aside to dry.

Newspaper is one of my favorite art materials.  You will need 3 1/2 sheets.

With the same blue paint you were using paint over one 1/2 sheet.  Add a little white so you have a page that goes from dark blue to light.

Set aside to dry.

Paint the next piece brown and one yellow.

Take the brown sheet.  Using liquid tempera and/or acrylic paint 1/2 of the sheet with darker colours and one with lighter colors.  You also want different brushstrokes for each half.

One side has skinny diagonals and one side has wavy.

It's up to you what you do just be consistent on the half.

Here on the yellow I'm using a piece of cardboard to make my lines.

Leave your newspaper to dry.

By now your background should be dry.

Grab your sponge.  Now it can be a sea sponge or a manufactured one.

Put a little white tempera or acrylic on a plate.

If using a manufactured sponge make sure your tear a chunk off.  You want an uneven surface on the sponge.

Sponge on some white paint on the diagonal.

I ask the kids to turn their hand each time they sponge so you get variation in the sponging.

Let dry.

Take your brown kraft paper and cut a rectangle that fits in the lower 1/2 or 2/3rds of your background.  I pencil in a mark on the kraft paper so I know where to cut.

Don't attach just yet.

Using the painted newspaper start cutting out the other parts of your background.

Here is the light field.

The medium value haystack.

The dark value haystack.

Using glue secure the pieces into place.

Add some pieces to the front, (foreground).

Now with crayon or

colored pencil add in some grass details onto the kraft paper.

With the blue paper you painted sketch out the figures.

Cut out and add to the collage.  For the faces, feet, and hands I used the reverse side of the painted newspaper.

Add some shading and details to the figures with charcoal and crayon/colored pencil.

You could also sketch out the figures on white paper.

Add colour and then cut and paste onto your collage.

That's it.

Onto the results for the giveaway of the DVD Series, "Understanding Art: Impressionism" with Waldemar Januszczak.

I had a total of 57 entries and the winner by random draw is:

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2012-09-28 19:35:59 UTC

Which works out to be Jess who left this comment,

"Hi Gail! I have you on my google reader and I always look forward to your blog. I teach art to grades 4-8. Would love to win the DVDs! Thanks for sharing your ideas. "

Congratulations Jess!  Please email me at so I can arrange delivery.   Thanks everyone for entering.

See you next week.

Monday, September 24, 2012

How to Paint Abstract Autumn Leaves

This painting is part of an abstract exercise you can do with your students (Grade 4 and up).  Sorry for the pictures but blogger is not letting me enlarge the pictures in the procedure section of this post. Please click on any of them to see larger.

It is a great lesson to practice looking at and painting negative shapes.

In this painting the background gradually gets lighter enabling you to lift out some leaf shapes at the bottom. 

This one is a bit easier, no variation in the background.

I'm going to give you the complete
 "How To" , but first let me introduce this week's giveaway.

"Understanding Art: Impressionism" is a DVD series from my friends at Acorn Media.  It features my favorite art critic Waldemar Januszczak (click on his name for a preview of his style).  Mr. Januszczak is not your "stuffy" art historian.  He approaches his documentaries with enthusasim and humour.  Transporting you back to the 19th century, showing you the exact locations of many Impressionist paintings, describing the conditions, personalities, and what the artists had to go through to create their art.

This gives you a deeper understanding of what Impressionism is all about, why it came about, and you will never look at a Monet, Renior, etc. the same again.  Great if you are teaching this to your class.  I often get asked " how do I explain Impressionism to kids".

This DVD series includes 4 one hour episodes and 2 bonus programs on Manet (90 minutes) and van Gogh (146 min). 

There is some nudity so you need to preview before showing to a class,  but overall I found this series very entertaining as well as very informative, not something you expect in an art history series.  My kids enjoyed it as well.  My 14 yr old was thrilled when she found out I was reviewing this series.  We had caught a few episodes of Mr. Januszczak's Baroque series on the Knowledge Channel at the cabin and the kids were hooked. Unfortunately that one is not currently available for sale in North America, fingers crossed it will be soon.

If you are interested in winning your own copy of this series check out the full details at the end of this post.

Now back to our abstract exercise.


- watercolor paper or heavy sketch paper
- pencil and eraser
- disk tempera or watercolor paints in Fall colours
- plastic kitchen wrap, (Saran type wrap)
- salt
- art boards, painter's masking tape
- black acrylic or liquid tempera

Take your paper and tape down to your art board with the painter's masking tape.

Gather your materials.

Paint a mottled background using Fall colours.

You can place some plastic wrap on it before it dries, smooshing a bit, to get some nice texture.  Leave plastic wrap on until it dries.

You can also shake a little salt on for the salt effect if you wish.

Let your background dry.

The next step is to make a good sketch on your now dry background paper.  You want branches and leaves.  Have some overlapping and crossing.  You need more than you think you do because, once you start painting in the darks you realize "I really should have added more".

Click on this picture to see larger.

Take some brown disk tempera or watercolor.  You want a watery mix as you are just doing a glaze.

Apply this glaze to all the leaves and branches that are behind other leaves and branches.  This recedes them, giving them a touch of shadow adding that depth to your picture.

You can also add in a few lines to make the veins of the leaves that are in the forefront.

Now for the easier version take some black acrylic or black liquid tempera paint and start painting in all the negative spaces, places where there are no leaves or branches.

For this more challenging version start painting in the background with black watercolor or disk tempera.  Continue to add layers to those areas where you want lots of dark.  The background is only lightly coloured near the bottom as it sort of fades out.

You can lift out a few leaves in that faded background by painting them in with plain water and drying your brush on a paper towel after each pass.  This lifts the colour.

Finally you can add a few splatters.

That's it.  Let dry, take off the tape and sign and title.

On to the giveaway.  If you are interested in winning your own copy of the DVD series, "Understanding Art: Impressionism" with Waldemar Januszczak,   a $59.99 value from Acorn Media,  please enter in one of the following ways:

- leave me a comment on this post
- like or leave a comment for this post on my Facebook page
- send me an email at

Canadian or US residents only please.

You have until 11:59pm on Thursday Sept 27th/12 and I will make the draw on Friday Sept 28th/12.

Good Luck everyone.

Disclaimer:  Review and Giveaway copy were provided by Acorn Media.  The views and opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Kandinsky: Student Work

This is a lesson I never get tired of.  I know it is a staple with most art educators and why not....the results are always stunning!

This is what Grade 1 accomplished today.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Papier Mache Mushrooms

Here are some papier mache mushrooms I've been working on.  Something new for the Nature Table.

I'm pretty happy with how they turned out but I think next time I'll make the tops just a bit  bigger.

I added some old book pages to give them texture to this set.

Others I just painted.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cardboard Prints and Giveaway Results

It's been a week of Fall trees so I thought I'd finish off with an easy cardboard print.  This is great for Kinders and Grade 1.

It's made up of three layers and has lots of texture to it.