Monday, June 24, 2013

Lighthouse Project and New Giveaway

Well it's been a few crazy days here in Calgary and southern Alberta.  We have been in a state of emergency for the last 5 days due to an unprecedented flood.

Although I live in an unaffected area (hilltop) it's hard to see the city where I was born and raised ravaged by extreme flood damage.

Schools are now closed due to the emergency but my thoughts and prayers are with all my fellow Calgarians (and Albertans) as we start to recover from this unbelievable event.

Last week, the day before the flood, I finished this project with two Grade 5 classes who also did the Nautical Inchies.

We used cardboard as a substrate (old tri-folds) as well as cardboard pieces to add some 3-dimensional appeal.

I'll give you the full 'how to' in just a minute but first I have a new giveaway.

"Understanding Art: Hidden Lives of Masterpieces" is a new DVD series from my friends at Athena and Acorn Media.

It is a 5 episode set that documents study days at the Louvre. During study days, works from one major artist are removed from their frames, placed together in one room, and analyzed by a team of curators, historians, restorers, and scientists from around the world.

You get to see exceptionally close detail of the paintings as well as discussions on how and why it was painted.  With diagnostic imaging and techniques the team is able to look under restoration work, examine underlying sketches and see how the work has been changed or altered.

Each episode highlights a different artist.
- Raphael
- Rembrandt
- Poussin
- Watteau
and Leonardo da Vinci

This is a great series if you are an art history buff and interested in the techniques of the Masters.

Details on how to enter the giveaway will be at the end of this post.

Back to the Lighthouse Project.


- cardboard, wood, or canvas substrate (base), I used 12x12" cardboard cut from 2 old tri folds
- gesso for priming if needed
- drywall or joint compound
- pieces of scrap corrugated cardboard
- tacky glue
- acrylic paint
- Mod Podge for sealing
- ribbon stamped with maple leaf


Draw out your scene in pencil on your base.

Use reference photos if needed.  You don't won't to focus too much on detail here, just general shapes.

Using scrap cardboard cut out the shapes of your lighthouse.

Add some rock shapes of other parts of the scene.

Using drywall or joint compound add a layer to your cardboard pieces.  You can use a spatula or old gift card but I find your fingers work great.

Add some to your background base as well.  Here I put some texture into my sky.

Set aside to dry.

When painted it the texture is terrific.

Paint in your background with acrylic paint.  I discussed with the kids how the sky and other parts of the background are not just 1 colour.

It's really 3 colours.  A mid tone value, a light value, and a dark.  I encouraged them to mix the 3 values using the paint I brought in as well as using black and white.  They then applied the colours and blended so we didn't have stripes.

Here is some student work.

Before painting our pieces I had them paint the edges black.  This helps that element 'pop' from the page.  It also covers up the cardboard edge.

I asked them to paint the pieces lighter than the background as this would also make them appear closer.

For example, the rocks pieces are still painted with 3 values, (mid grey, white grey, black grey) but I use more of the whitish grey than I did in the base.

We painted the edges of our lighthouses black and then discussed adding shadows.  Determine where you think the sun or in some case the moon would be and shadow the opposite side a bit.

I then gave each of them a piece of ribbon that had a Maple leaf on it and they painted the 2 sides with a band or red.  I love this ribbon and use it constantly.  Right now is a good time to get it as it's part of Canada Day promos at both the Dollar store and Michaels.

Glue all the pieces to the base with tacky glue.  Use a fine sharpie to add details like some seagulls in the distant sky and the flagpole.

Finally when the paint is all dry add a coat of lodge.  It has a nice shiny coat which adds depth to your paint as well as it ensures all your pieces are well stuck on.

That's it.

Love the colours used on this was like an oil painting.

Use of the 3 values in the rocks.


Great work Grade 5!

If you want to enter the giveaway for the DVD series  "Understanding Art: Hidden Lives of Masterpieces" just enter below.  (This is the first time I'm using Rafflecopter so fingers crossed it works).  Canadian or US residents only please.  

Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Please note you can also enter this giveaway by leaving a comment on this post :)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Nautical Inchies

Working my way through the last 2 weeks of school.  I'm doing these nautical inchies with Grade 5 tomorrow.

Now I love inchies, they make a great little art collection, but you can do each of these as a larger art project.

We have a lighthouse theme going.  I have been doing some planning work in my visual journal.


- 6 squares of wc paper, we are doing ours 3" x 3"
- disk tempera paint
- fine black sharpies
- scrap of bubble wrap
- old book page
- yellow oil pastel
- white, black, and red crayon
- white and red scrap paper
- tacky glue
- metal duct tape
- drinking straw
- acrylic paint in white, light brown, and a few bright colours
- coloured sharpies
- cheesecloth
- a little sand
- a few small shells
- letter stamps, printed text from the computer, or hand written
- black mounting paper


Original inchies are 1" x1" but I find that way to small for the kids.  I like working with 2", 3", or even 4" squares.

For this project we are using 3" x 3".

Take your first square. Paint the top half with a pale sky blue using tempera disk paint  (white and blue mixed).

Wash your brush out.  Dip in plain water and scrub the paper where the 2 colours meet.  Blot on a paper towel and repeat until you have some white showing and it looks like an ocean wave.

Add some text and a few seagulls drawn in with sharpie.

Take another square.  Paint bright blue with disk tempera.

While the paint is still wet lay a scrap of bubble wrap on top.  Leave on until dry.

Paint half of an old book page.

When the book page is dry turn it over and sketch out a starfish.

Cut out, draw a few circles on it with sharpie.  Using a black crayon colour the edges.  This gives it a nice outline.

Glue onto the blue square with the bubble wrap impression.

On another square sketch out a lighthouse in pencil.

With a yellow oil pastel add the light and glow to the lighthouse.

Colour in the lighthouse with white crayon.  Add some red crayon to the top.

Paint over with purple disk tempera.

Take a kleenex and blot while the paint is still wet.

Paint the rocks black and the water deep blue.

Take another square.  Paint in a sky.

Take a kleenex and lift out a few clouds.

Paint in a green blue ocean.

Using scraps of white and red paper cut out a boat and 2 sails.

With a fine black sharpie add some details.

Paint a square blue.  Before the paint dries sprinkle on some salt.

Take some metal duct tape, using a pencil draw on a fish.

Using coloured sharpies add some colour to the fish.

Cut out.

Brush the salt off the now dry square.

Using white acrylic and a straw add a few bubbles.

Peel backing off fish and stick in place.  Using letter stamps add the word FISH.

Spread some glue on a square and lay on a piece of cheesecloth.

Let dry.

Paint with some sand coloured acrylic paint.

Select a few small shells and add some bright colour with acrylic paint.

Glue some sand onto the square.

Glue on the shells and add some text.

Glue onto some black paper and you're done.