Thursday, September 26, 2013

Stamped Autumn Tree

Ok,  just one more tree project and then I'll move on.

This is a very easy one that is quite striking.  It includes use of a homemade stamp.


- wc paper
- watercolour paint or disk tempera, blue, green. black, and Fall colours
- spray bottle with water
- scissors
- sticky back craft foam
- piece of corrugated cardboard, wood, or even a small candy treat box (smartie)
- ink pad


Tape off wc paper onto art board.   Paint in a sky starting with lots of blue paint, then gradually just painting with water to create a graded wash.

Paint in a horizon line and the ground.

Let dry.

Take 1 or 2 scraps of wc paper.

Paint with Fall colours, spray some water on to get the colours to mingle a bit.

Set aside to dry.

When background has dried paint in a tree with a few major branches.

Let dry.

I love, love, love using craft foam to make my own homemade stamps.  It's kid friendly, no carving or using sharp tools, cheap, and produces a great effect.

Having sticky back foam makes it super easy but you could use regular craft foam and just tape in place with a loop or glue in place.

 You could also use store bought stamps.  I'm always picking up some from the dollar bin at Michaels.

Cut a leaf shape out of the foam.  Using a pencil and pressing hard draw your detail lines.

Remove the sticker paper and stick to a base.  I often use wood (2"x2") that
is cut into cubes.  You can also stick to corrugated cardboard or even to an empty little treat box.

Cut out some leaf clumps.  Stamp on your leaf stamp here and there.

Glue into place on the tree.

That's it for this one.

Here is another variation.  The individual leaves are cut out.

The tree is cut from painted paper and the small branches are done in pastel.

The stamp on this one is made from plasticine or modelling clay.

Roll your modelling clay into a cylinder shape.  Tap one end on the table to make it wider and flat.

Carve your design into the clay with a toothpick or skewer.

Instead of a stamp pad I used black tempera.

See you next week.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Colour Wheel Trees

I'm starting a new residency tomorrow and this is a project I'll be doing with Grade 1-2.

Similar to all those Kandinsky tree projects out there only focusing on the colour wheel.


- substrate (base), you could use paper, canvas, poster board.  I'm using 1/8" MDF
- acrylic paint in yellow, orange, red, purple, blue and green, and whatever background colour you want
- sandpaper
- paper for painting
- assorted card stock, scraps of scrapbooking paper
- white glue
- printed text of colour words
- kraft paper
- brown acrylic paint
- homemade Glimmer mist (how to make)
- Mod podge for sealing


I cut my MDF boards to be 1'x1'.  I purchased them at Home Depot at $2.95 for a 2'x4' piece.  That works out to 37 cents each when cut!

If your MDF has a shiny finish rough it up a bit with some sandpaper, just a little scrub is all that is needed.

Paint with your base colour, because I'm sealing these with podge I'm using acrylic.  If you are not sealing then you could use tempera.

I made up a paper in Word that has colour words all over it.  I cut this into strips.

Mix up a glue/water solution (1 to1). Take a piece of kraft paper about the same size as your board and start covering with the strips.  Dip each strip into the glue mixture and then apply to paper randomly.

Set aside to dry

Take 6 pieces of paper and paint in your colour wheel colours.  On each one I added an extra layer of texture, stripes, dots, sponge, bubble wrap, plastic wrap.

Let dry.

When my text covered paper was dry I painted it with some diluted brown paint.

I sprayed on some glimmer mist in white and black.  To find out how to make your own on the cheap check out this post (scroll down).

Let dry.

Turn over to the back, trace out tree shape.  You need 6 main branches for the 6 colours on the wheel.

Cut out.  With the Grade1-2's I'll have some templates if needed.

Glue onto your background.

Cut circles out of your painted papers.  Each branch represents a colour on the wheel.

For green, orange and purple I added a leaf that has the 2 primary colours and then the resulting secondary.

Glue into place.

Add a coat of Modge podge to seal.

That's it.

Looking forward to tomorrow!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fall Puzzle Trees

Well the trees are starting to change colour even though the weather is still amazing.

Time for another great Fall art project.

I've been thinking about these trees for awhile.  They even made an appearance in my wacky skyline a couple of months ago.


- old puzzle pieces
- paint in fall colours, acrylic or tempera
- wc paper
- painter's tape 
- disk tempera paint
- kleenex
- tacky glue


Find some old puzzle pieces.  Try to find 2 different sizes if you can to give your leaves some variety.

Turn the pieces over to the plain side.
Paint in fall colours.  I used acrylic put you could also use liquid tempera.

Let dry.

Place your wc paper on an art board and tape around the edges.  This will give you a nice border at the end.

Paint in a blue sky taking the paint down to about 2 inches or so from the bottom.

I use these big brushes at school.

While the paint is still wet left a few clouds using a crumpled kleenex.

When the sky has dried you can paint in the ground.

I used green, yellow and brown.

When background has dried paint in a tree.  I used black paint.

You could also cut out a tree from black paper and glue in place or use pencil crayons and draw one in.

Let dry.

Arrange puzzle pieces and then glue into place.  You want to plan it out.  Smaller pieces look good at the top.

That's it.

See you next time.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

How to make a Steller's Jay Portrait

I spent the Labour Day weekend hiking around Yoho National Park showing my kids the Falls, Emerald Lake and hoping to get a glimpse of this guy....a Steller's Jay.

The Steller's Jay is the provincial bird of BC.  I saw my first one at Emerald Lake 4 years ago.

Didn't see one on this trip so I went home and made one.


- thin cardboard (cereal or cracker box)
- reference photo or template
- masking tape
- corrugated cardboard or primed canvas as substrate (base)
- collected collage material (old maps, photocopies)
- glue
- gesso
- acrylic or liquide tempera paint
- pencil crayons
- a black pony bead
- letters
- mod podge for sealing


I start by sketching out the bird to create my stencil.

I use reference photos.  You can borrow my template HERE.

Cut it out.

Put your cut out bird on a piece of thin cardboard and trace around it.

Now cut out your stencil.  I always take the easy way out.  I cut the cardboard in half, cut out the bird and then tape it back together.  If you're careful you'll have both a stencil and a tracer.

I wanted a collaged background. If I can make it relevant to the final piece then that's even better.
I hang on to any maps or brochures from my travels. I scan them, photocopy them, so I can use them over and over.

I take material from reference books. I also use copies of my art work.  I scan most of it so I can easily make copies.

I'm using a thick piece of corrugated cardboard as a substrate.  I could have also used a primed canvas, canvas board,  or piece of wood.

I cut strips, squares, rectangles and start gluing them on my base.

I add a thin coat of gesso.  I don't want to hide everything but I want a nice surface to add colour too.

I used my stencil to trace on the image.

Paint in the background.   I'm using acrylic but you could use water colour or disk tempera.
 Next time I think I'll just skip adding the bird and just paint the entire background first. Easier for young kids as well.

Looks pretty good just like this.

Using masking tape, tape the stencil into place.

Pounce on some black paint (acrylic or liquid tempera).  Hold brush straight up and down and dab, no stroking or the paint will seep under the stencil.

Add the cobalt blue.

Lift the stencil straight up.

You can add some detail with coloured pencil. (black, grey and white).

Add a black pony bead for the eye.

Now taking some colour photocopies of my art work I add some feathers.  You can look for pages in a magazine, use scrapbooking paper,  or create your own painted papers.

To get a nice shimmer on some of my papers I spray on some glimmer mist.

You can buy glimmer mist but it's pretty expensive......or you can make your own for a fraction of the cost.

Glimmer Mist Recipe:

- empty spray bottle, buy at Dollarstore or clean out an old one, travel size
- acrylic paint
- if your acrylic is not metallic you need some pearlizing medium
- a marble
- rubbing alcohol
- water

Add 1-2 tablespoons of paint to the bottle. Depends on how strong you want the colour. If you are using metallic paint you are good to continue.  If you just have regular paint add a squirt of pearlizing medium.
 Add 1 tablespoon or so of rubbing alcohol.  This helps keep the solution from clogging up the sprayer.
Fill the bottle with water until about 2/3rds full.  Add a marble if you have one (Dollar Store), this helps with mixing it.  Shake well before using and spray as needed.

Using this recipe I have made a lot of mists.

With the pearlizing medium you can make any colour if you have the acrylic paint.

When it dries you cannot rub the sparkle off so your work stays shimmery.

Add text to your piece.  I bought these great Martha Stewart punches, expensive, but I caught a sale at Micheal's.

I save all the extra letters for future projects.

I absolutely love using the punched paper as a stencil to use in backgrounds or to make interesting painted papers for next project.

I added a branch for the Jay to sit on (optional), you can paint one, cut one out of paper, or even add a real twig.

Finally add a coat of podge for sealing.

Once you have that stencil you can use it over and over again.

Here I'm using it in my sketchbook.

A stellar Steller's Jay!

That's its for now.