Sunday, January 26, 2014

Inuit Whale Portraits

I recently completed these Inuit Whale portraits with Grade 2 in my current residency.

It is mixed media on canvas.

We did them in multiple layers so there is some 3D action happening.

I was surprised at how well they turned out, awesome job Grade 2!

Before I give the 'how to', so we are clear and I don't get targeted again by those online haters (as my students call them):

Disclaimer: I am not an Inuit artist, this is my interpretation solely for the use of teachers and parents when teaching the social studies curriculum.  My blog is not a forum to address any concerns about larger issues, only to assist other art educators with their work.


- primed canvas, I use the 8 x 11" multipack from Micheals which I buy on sale (this week it's $17.99 for a pack of 10). You could also use primed heavy cardboard or 1/8" masonite.
- blue or yellow acrylic paint.  I use the Craft Smart brand from Micheals for all my residencies. It gives great coverage, lots of colours, and is priced right.  The current brand offered to most schools in the Calgary area is too translucent, requiring multiple coats…..very frustrating.
- recycled cardboard
- drywall filler
- black acrylic paint
- white craft foam
- red and black card stock
- tacky glue
- Mod podge for sealing
- my templates: jumping whale, swimming whale
- wax paper


Paint your canvas, make sure to do the 4 sides as well.

Using my templates, cut out the base of the whale out of cardboard.

We had 75 whales being created so I made sure (tried to) that the kids wrote their names on the coloured side of the cardboard.

Working on top of wax paper, add a layer of dry wall filler.  I just get the kids to use their fingers to spread on a nice coat.

Leave to dry. (about 6 hrs.) If they curl a bit just gently bend straight.

Paint over the drywall with black acrylic paint.

Leave to dry.

I gave each child a piece of white craft foam.  I made 6 sets of stencils for each type of whale which the kids shared.  I labelled and numbered each set and placed them in a ziploc bag. This worked well and we didn't lose any pieces.

Trace out all pieces in pencil and them cut out.

Glue the black base piece to the canvas with tacky glue.  If it is really curly you might have to use the glue gun (adults only).

Glue on the white foam pieces and then cut additional pieces out of red and black card stock to add.

I did not give out any stencils for the red and black details.  The kids designed their own. For the mouth cut a rounded rectangle and the cut in half with a zig zag.  Glue into place leaving some space between the 2 pieces.

I had some copies of my original drawings for the kids to follow if they wanted.  it was like putting a puzzle together.

When glue has dried add a nice coat of Mod podge to seal and add a nice shiny coat.

You can see yellow wasn't the most popular paint choice.

Great work Grade 2!

See you next time.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Pastel Resist Night Skyline

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope it was a good break.  I was in Florida with my family.  It was nice to see flowers and green grass again.

I'm back at it, scheduled into residencies up until Spring break.

This week's project is one I presented at ECEC as part of my Canadian series, pastel resist skylines.  This is Toronto but any skyline will do.  My hometown here in Calgary also works well with reflections in the Bow river.


- reference photo of skyline
- white drawing paper, pastels work well on paper with a little bit of tooth or roughness
- green painter's tape, art board
- pencil, eraser, ruler
- oil pastels
- black sharpie
- disk tempera paint


Place your paper onto your art board and tape into place.  This will give you that nice clean edge at the end.

In pencil draw out your skyline.  You can use a reference photo to draw a specific city or just have the kids create their own.  Draw a horizon line in the lower third of your paper.  Your skyline will be reflected in this lower section.  Most cities are near water and this water is where we see the reflections.

Go over your skyline with sharpie or permanent black marker, just the outline.

The skyline is a nighttime scene.  With oil pastel add in all the windows and the lights on top of the buildings.

I used some black pastel to define the horizon line and some of the sides of the buildings.

In the lower third, the water, smudge in the reflections.  You want them to correspond to the buildings so smudge long rectangles of colour.
Don't forget the moon if you have added one.

When the pastel has all been added it's time to add the paint.

Start at the horizon line. Working up add some purple paint, gradually make it darker purple adding some blue and then black when you reach the top.

The part below the horizon is darker than the sky.  A little purple but mostly black.

When the top of the horizon line has dried (it takes only minutes), go over the buildings with black tempera.  This is the secret and makes them stand out from the sky.

When it has fully dried remove the painter's tape.

With our short days in January this project fits well.  If you are starting an Olympic theme there is a great night skyline of Sochi here just click on #3.

Here is another skyline project you could try:

 Night or Day Skylines.

Give it a try and I'll see you next time.