Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dragonflies Part 2: Portraits

In this project we take the larger Dragonfly and attach to a background for a nice portrait.

I'm going to show you a few options for backgrounds ranging from canvas to paper. 


For Dragonfly:
- paper, pencil, eraser
- DRAGONFLY TEMPLATE or you can make your own
- thin cardboard (cereal box), chipboard, manila tag or posterboard
- white paint or gesso, optional
- acrylic or tempera paint
- sharpie
- old book pages, text
- Mod podge
- clear glass gems from the Dollar store

For Backgrounds:
- primed canvas, heavy cardboard, posterboard, or paper
I'll go thru each background in the tutorial including the materials you need.

You need to trace your template onto your thin cardboard, chipboard, posterboard, or manila tag.

Cut out.

I was using a cereal box so I primed mine.  This makes painting in the colors easier.

If you are using posterboard or manila tag you can skip this step.

Paint in the body of the dragonfly.

I've left my wings white.  At school I know depending on the grade that this might not be possible so you have options:
- you can cover them with text like in the previous post
- you can go back over them with a coat of white
- you can glue a white paper wing on top

Because the wings are large you can pair this project up with a poetry or writing exercise.

Here I've cut out words in old book pages to compose a little poem on the wings.  You could also print it directly on with sharpie or print the text off the computer and add it to the wings.

Other wing options are making it look realistic by adding fine lines with a fine tipped sharpie.

Another nice option is to add some watered down paint to the wings and then while still wet place a piece of plastic wrap on top and smunch it up a little bit.

Leave the plastic wrap on while the paint dries.

For all wing types I added some glitter glue for that sparkle.

For the eyes I took some glass gems and painted on some Mod podge where I wanted the eyes to go and then stuck the gems on.  Now you could just use glue but I like Mod podge as it dries fully.  In fact it leaves a real nice texture under the gem.

You can seal the entire dragonfly with a coat of podge at this time as well if you wish.

The background at the beginning of this post was a primed canvas.

I wanted some texture on it so I used one of my favorite products, Drywall compound or filler. 

I use my spatula to spread it on the canvas and then I use my finger to add some detail.  I also used a coffee stir stick to add some fine lines into the drywall.

Leave to dry, about 6 hrs.

Now if you do not have a primed canvas you can do the same technique on corrugated cardboard.  This is cardboard that I primed with some gesso/white paint.  I usually prime any cardboard as I find if I leave it plain it tends to darken my paint colors.

Once the drywall is dry paint your background/substrate with acrylic or tempera paint.  Start with the sky as it is furthest back, then the reeds.

Glue your Dragonfly onto the background.

This is primed canvas.

This is cardboard.

Another background option is posterboard.  Here I'm using blue posterboard and then taking a variety of painted papers, scrapbooking papers, and whatever was in my stash I cut reed shapes and glued them down.

Add your Dragonfly.

Here is another option.  I painted a background on some paper.  Let dry and then using just construction paper and kraft paper I cut out some reeds and glued then down.

Attach your Dragonflies and you have a great project.

If you have each child make 2 large Dragonflies you can send a portrait home and use the extra one in a large bulletin board display.

See you next time.



  1. A great range of options to make individualised projects. I've done dragonflies this week also, but on a tight time schedule, so not nearly as 'finished' - yours are lovely :)

  2. A great range of options to individualise the project ... I've done dragonflies with my groups this week, but under a very tight time restriction so with far less depth. Love these!

  3. oh,this is such a great project to do wiht my 4 kiddos. thanks for sharing. You are such a great artist!! :)