Monday, November 25, 2013

Blue Jay Portraits

I had a request from my last residency to do a similar project as my Stellar Jay portrait only in a winter setting.

After watching a pair of Blue Jays hanging out in my backyard I knew exactly what I was going to do.


- substrate, can be a primed canvas, primed cardboard, poster board, heavy paper
- photocopied pages from a bird book
- glue
- scissors
- template
- thin recycled cardboard or an old file folder
- tape
- white, black, blue, brown, and red acrylic paint
- pencil with eraser on the end
- black pony bead
- a few red sequins
- black sharpie, white gel pen
- Mod podge for sealing, optional


To add an extra layer to our project I photocopied some pages from a bird book on Blue Jays.  I also made up some text on the computer.

Cut and glue onto your substrate or background.

Roughly mix a drop of black acrylic into some white, I say roughly because I want some variation in that grey.  Add a little water if needed.  Paint over your background.

You want to be able to read some of the text so water down the paint more (like a glaze) for those areas.

Let dry.

I'm using my Stellar jay stencil for this project.  To make a stencil cut out the template or a drawing you have made of the bird.

Place on a piece of cereal or cracker box cardboard. You can even use an old file folder.  Trace around.

I take the easy way out when cutting a stencil.

I cut it in half, cut out the shape and then tape it back together.

Place stencil into position on background.  I have the kids do this in partners.  One holds the stencil while the other pounces on the paint.

Start with the lightest colour and pounce on the paint.  Do not move or shift stencil.  Continue until bird is all stencilled, end with the black paint.

You need to pounce up and down to ensure the paint does not go under the stencil.

Lift stencil.

Paint in a branch for your bird to perch on.

Using the end of a pencil add some red berries to the branch.

With a small brush add some details to the wing, tail and head.

Glue on a black pony bead for the eye and a few red sequins on some of the berries for a little shimmer.

If you want you can add some black sharpie and white gel pen to add a little outlining and detail.

Finally you can add a coat of Mod podge to seal and add that shiny finish.

Here are some of Grade 4's work.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Handprint Angels

This is a Christmas craft I came up with for Kindergarten last week, handprint Angels.

It's made on a 2" x 6" that is cut into a square.  Sturdy enough to stand on their own on a table or mantle.


- piece of 2" x 6" cut into 6" square, I buy 8ft lengths at Home Depot, after cutting each one works out to about 25 cents
- blue or purple acrylic paint
- white acrylic paint
- snow glitter
- brown kraft paper or card stock
- silver or gold paper doilies
- pencil crayons or twistable crayons
- silver or gold pipe cleaners
- silver or gold wrapping paper
- glue
- scissors
- Mod podge


I had the kids paint the wood block either dark blue or purple.

I then painted their hand with white paint.  I used a paintbrush rather than having them place their hand in the paint.  This produces a better print with more definition.

Now I'm using my 11 yr. old son for this photo and his hand just fits.  The kinders hands are smaller so they fit well on the 6" x 6" block.

While the paint is still wet we sprinkle on some snow glitter.

Here are some of the kinders.

Put aside to dry.

When the paint is dry cut a circle out of the brown kraft paper or card stock.  I have a selection of paper in all skin tones just for projects like this one.

I used my circle punch as it was just the right size.

Using pencil crayons, twistable crayons, and fine black sharpies draw in the face.

I had the kinders choose what colour doily they wanted for the wings.  They then cut 2 ovals out of it for the wings.  For some kids I had to draw the ovals on the back and then they cut.

Glue into place on the sides of the palm.  The face is then glued on.

I have a heart punch which we used to cut the heart out of the wrapping paper or card stock.  This is glued under the head.  Take a gold or silver pipe cleaner, cut into thirds.  Twist the piece into a circle to form the halo.  Glue into place.

I printed out the year on the computer and we glued that on the block as well.

Finally you can add a coat of podge to seal and give you a nice shiny finish.

Here are some of the Angels before podging.

Another project from last week was the Nativity silhouettes with grade 2.  Here we did them on canvas instead of paper and then we also podged.

Great work everyone.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Prairie Landscapes and a Page from the Art Journal

On Friday I presented at the Early Childhood Education Conference.  Those of you that joined me completed these 6 inchies representing art projects from my "I am Canadian" series.  I had a great time and thanks to the ECEC committee for inviting me!

One of my favourites is the Prairie Landscape which I also did with Grade 1/2 in my last residency.

The large project looks like this.  I had already podged it before photographing so sorry for the glare.

Here is some of the student work.


- 12" x 12" piece of masonite or MDF, cardboard, or heavy paper
- sky blue, brown, yellow, white, red or green, acrylic paint
- sponge
- piece of corrugated cardboard
- chipboard or light cardboard from a cereal or cracker box
- drywall medium
- train clip art
- green painter's masking tape
- Mod podge
- tacky glue


For the substrate (base) I used 1/8" masonite.  It's the same material I use to make my art boards.  I have a 'father in law' with a woodshop so he is nice enough to prep all my wood for me. Thanks Hank!

Home Depot sells masonite/MDF in 2' x 4' pieces now called builder cuts.  Much easier to handle and relatively inexpensive. (my 12" x 12" board works out to 37 cents)

You can also use cardboard or heavy paper (poster board) for this project.  If working on paper you can easily substitute liquid tempera for the acrylic just don't add the Mod podge at the end.

I taped off the horizon line for my students.  This is Grade 1/2 so we learn a little chant before painting. "Paint, paint, when we hit the tape we STOP!"  I get them to hold up their hands for stop.

Paint in the sky with blue acrylic. We are working on top of wax paper.

For the most part this works very well.  Of course you always seem to have one that forgets about the tape…..sigh.

Leave to dry, about 30 minutes.

While our board is drying we will work on the grain elevator.

For Grade1/2 I use a template.  It's amazing how different they will still turn out to be because of scissor skills.

We cut out our elevators out of thin cardboard or chipboard.

Working on top of wax paper, add a layer of drywall medium to your grain elevator.  I just have the kids use their finger to spread.

Leave to dry, about 5 hrs or so.

When my blue paint is dry I remove the green tape and move it so it is on the blue with the edge now on the unpainted part. (horizon line)

Paint the bottom with brown acrylic paint.

I take a piece of sponge and some white acrylic paint and sponge in some clouds.

Using a piece of corrugated cardboard on it's end I add yellow paint.

You want to still be able to see the brown background.

When the drywall medium is dry you can paint your grain elevator.  I gave the kids a choice of red or green.

We added the Alberta Wheat Pool logo.  You can adapt this to the logo of the wheat pool in your area.

We also added a door made from black paper.

I found a clip art train and we glued it and the grain elevator in place using tacky glue.

If you are working on masonite, canvas, or cardboard you can add a coat of Mod podge to seal everything and get that nice shiny coat.

That's it.

Here's a page from the art journal.  I'm having a tough time adapting this November.  It seems winter just snuck up on us here in Calgary.

We are supposed to have warmer weather in a few days to melt all that snow….thank goodness.

To make this page I added some painted paper scraps to my background as well as a piece of textured wallpaper that I cut into a tree trunk shape.

I added a quick coat of gesso.  you can also use white acrylic or my new favourite art supply, plain white latex primer from the hardware store….a little thinner but still adds tooth to your surface and is erasable.  (and did I mention CHEAP, I got a 7.4 litre can at WalMart for $10.00 on clearance)

Paint in your background.  I did a twilight scene…. with the end of daylight savings it seems so dark now and I'm still trying to get my head around that.

Paint the tree black, add a few leaves that have not fallen yet.  I also used some silver paper.  A little glitter glue for the frost.  For my text I used a white paint sharpie and a fine black sharpie.

See you next time.