Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kandinsky Circles Watercolors

Today, in my after school art class, I decided to do a colorful project that was relaxing and simple, but with great results! This project is from one of my favorite blogs: Art Projects For Kids and it uses my favorite medium: watercolors, and is based on the art of one of my favorite artists: Kandinsky.

Kandinsky was born in Russia and was originally a lawyer. When he was thirty he decided to leave that profession and become an artist. His paintings and color studies are gorgeous and full of life. They are a neat look at abstract art for children because the paintings allow for quite a discussion! Kandinsky LOVED color and explored the way color could make people feel and think. For example, how do you create a painting about war without using images that people normally associate with war? What about the feelings that fighting and war conjure up?
The piece we used for inspiration.

This project is based on some of his color experiments. I hope you enjoy it--we did!

Supplies Needed:
  • Watercolor paper, ours was 8 1/2" x 12 1/2," I used Arches brand, cold press
  • Masking tape
  • Foam core or heavy cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Crayons, assorted colors
  • Watercolors
  • Paint brush
  • Water bucket and paper towels

1. Cut out an 8 1/2" x 12 1/2" rectangle of watercolor paper and, using the masking tape, tape it to the foam core board. This will keep the paper from buckling as it dries.

2. Divide the paper into 4" squares. Use the pencil and ruler and make light pencil lines. We had two rows of three squares.

3. Use a crayon to go over the lines you just made. Press down firmly to make a heavy crayon line. Then take the crayon and make a series of concentric circles in each of the six boxes. We did about four rings in each section.
This picture shows the crayon circles within each of the six sections.

4. Starting with the lightest watercolor (yellow, if you are using it), fill in the rings of the circles. Don't work on one box at a time, jump around the paper and do all of the rings you want to be yellow at once. This gives the paint a chance to dry. Work with the watercolor paints in order from lightest to darkest (this minimizes the chance the colors will get all mixed up and yucky in the paint trays).

See how the child isn't just working on one set of circles within one square?
Working on the entire piece at once allows the paint to dry and minimizes
the chance that the paint will bleed between sections.

5. Keep going until all the circles are painted. Leave the piece on the board until it is completely dry. Gently peel the tape off of the piece, frame and enjoy!

I am so proud of the students in my art class! These pieces look fantastic! Good job everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mosaic Snowglobes

So, using paper to make mosaics is not new, but using a grid with my students has really helped them "get" the idea of mosaics. This week, I had my after school art class create plaques with a mosaic snow globe scene inspired by a quilt I saw. This project has enough direction so that the children could understand the concept of mosaics and create a piece that they could be proud of in a short amount of time. It also allowed for creativity: the children could choose the colors they wanted and if it was night or day, etc. The projects came out great and were very gift-worthy!

 Supplies Needed:

  • Pattern on graph paper (see below)
  • Tracing paper
  • Tape
  • Glue stick
  • Small amounts of scrapbook paper cut into 1/2" squares. Use whatever colors will work for your piece. I had the following colors available for the students:
    • Pale Blue (for a daytime sky)
    • Royal Blue (for a nighttime sky)
    • White
    • Brown
    • Orange
    • Yellow
    • Red
    • Teal Green
    • Lime Green
    • Pine Green
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Modge Podge
  • Brushes/water bucket
  • Wooden plaque large enough for your design to fit on (I bought mine at the dollar store)
  • Hole punches (I had 1/8" circle, 1/4" circle, 1/4" heart and 1/4" star on hand for the children to use).
  • Newspapers
  • Ribbon to hang the piece with (ours came with ribbon attached)

1. Using graph paper and a pencil, design your image. Darken the grid and image with Sharpie markers to make it easier to see. For this project, I used 1/2" squares of paper so I divided the graph paper into 1/2" squares (rather than the 1/4" squares that are standard). I used a fine tip Sharpie to mark the grid and a fatter-tipped Sharpie to outline the image of the house and snow globe. I also labeled each of the cells with a letter and had a key on hand in case the children got confused ("A" is the Background behind the snow globe, etc.). This helps the children be able to place the paper squares easily.
My original design was 5" square. This is a basic design for younger children or first-time mosaic artists.

Add I modified the design for my after-school art class since the plaques I bought were oval.

2. Once your image has been designed, decide on the colors of paper you will need and cut them into 1/2" squares. I needed lots of squares so I used a combination of Xacto knife and mini paper cutter to cut my squares quickly. If you are doing just one piece, you can use scissors to cut your squares. Don't worry if they aren't perfect!

3. You are ready to go! Tape a piece of tracing paper over the image on the graph paper. Using the glue stick, glue to squares onto the tracing paper using your image as a guide. You don't need much glue, so go easy! Don't worry about the snow or stars right now, we'll put those on later.
 I keep the little paper tiles in an ice cube tray or muffin tins.

Gluing the paper mosaic pieces to the tracing paper.
4. Once you've glued all of your paper pieces onto the tracing paper, trim off the excess tracing paper from around your piece. Go right up along the edges of your paper mosaic tiles.

5. Brush a nice coat of Modge Podge onto your wooden plaque. While it is still wet, place your mosaic (glued to the tracing paper) onto the plaque. Press down gently and then brush a nice coat of Modge Podge over the entire piece. These two coats of Modge Podge will secure the piece to the plaque. While the piece is wet, you can add the details to your design: stars if it is nighttime in your snow globe, snow,  details to the door, etc. We used hole punches to make these details. Just sprinkle them on or gently place them into the wet Modge Podge for now. Let the piece dry.

6. Brush the entire piece with another generous coat of Modge Podge. This will further protect the piece as well as secure the snow and/or stars you added. Let the piece dry.

7. It's done! Attach any hardware or ribbon to the back of the plaque if you'd like to hang the piece on the wall. The piece should be displayed away from direct sunlight and if you need to clean it, use a damp cloth (getting the piece wet will ruin it). 

I hope you try this project! It is fun for the kiddos (and grownups too!) and comes out so beautifully! ENJOY!
Another version of the project. Instead of a snow globe, make a winter scene.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Burlap Weavings (Class #2)

My homeschool art class also did burlap weavings this week (just like my after school class, see the original post here). 

The project was slightly different since the class is shorter (only an hour) and my class is made up of students in 2nd through 5th grade. I brought out my samples from my original post, but did not have the paint element this time. The burlap was also cut into smaller pieces and I did not mount them to mat board, but affixed a layer of masking tape on the back of the top edge so the piece didn't unravel while the children were working in it.

Done this way, the project makes for an inexpensive project for a group. Many of the children were able to complete their pieces in this session, but two sessions could be used. This really got the children thinking and working with their hands in a new way!

Here are some examples of the finished pieces:

Beadwork and straight stitches to create an image.

Exploring color, texture and stitching.

Love that variegated yarn!

Beautiful! Great Job Everyone!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Burlap Weavings

This week I wanted to introduce my after school students to the art of weaving. Weaving many times makes people think of the Native Americans, but I pointed out to the children that almost every culture has some form of weaving: Africa, Mexico, South America, China, and Japan as well as Europe in the Middle Ages.

I gave each student a piece of burlap that had been hot-glued to a piece of mat board. Burlap is great because it has a nice open weave, so it is easy to see the WARP (threads that run vertically) and WEFT (threads that run right to weft, er, I mean LEFT).

The students can weave yarn into the spaces of the fabric or can gently pull on the weft threads of the burlap and remove them to create spaces where the exposed warp threads can be tied together or larger ribbons can be woven in.

I created an example board for the students to view during my discussion. It shows the following:

First Example:

1. Yellow thread: Single strand woven in one row.

2. Purple threads: Single strand woven into three rows (multiple rows).

3. Multi-colored Fuzzy Yarn: Single strand using large "stitches" so that the fuzzies can be easily seen.

4. Dark Purple Eyelash Yarn: Single Row, large stitches.

5. Burgundy Yarn: Single row with beads and a fuzzy yarn stitched along with it. Stitched in an open area of the burlap where the weft threads have been removed.

6. Burgundy Yarn (2):  Single row stitched into the plain burlap

7. Pale green: Single strand woven in a pattern. You could also do X's or other patterns.

Burlap Weaving: First Example

Second Example:

8. Ribbon woven into a section where the weft threads have been removed. Ends are tacked down with hot glue on the back of the piece.

9. Section where weft threads were removed and remaining warp threads were gathered and tied. Some with yarn and one with yarn with bead added.

10. Stamping with acrylic paints. Diamonds, squares, etc.

11. Fringe: Fringe created using yarn and an example of fringe created by removing the last few weft rows.
Burlap Weaving: Second Example

The possibilities are endless with this. I also provided some acrylic paints and stamps with Navajo motifs that the children could add to their pieces. Here are the step-by-step directions:

Supplies Needed:
  • Burlap (I bought ours at a fabric store)
  • Mat Board, optional (I glue to top edge of the burlap to the board to keep the whole thing from fraying apart as the children work. The final piece looks more finished this way)
  • Hot glue gun & glue sticks
  • Assorted yarn and ribbon 
  • Beads (I used plastic pony beads)
  • Scissors
  • Plastic needle (easy to thread the yarn through and won't poke little fingers)
  • Acrylic Paints, brushes, craft foam, optional

1. Cut the burlap to size: ours was 10"x13." The students I have are 3rd and 4th graders and we have an hour and 15 minutes to work, so that size seemed appropriate. Younger students and less time would require a smaller piece of burlap to work with. When cutting burlap, wear eye protection since the fibers may scratch your cornea.

2. Cut a piece of mat board slightly larger than the burlap square: ours was 11"x14."

3. Hot glue the burlap to the mat board along the top edge of the burlap (leave the bottom edge unattached so that the child can work with it).

Stamps Include a starburst-like shape, diamonds and squares.
4. If you would like to use the paints to stamp Navajo motifs, do so now. I cut a motif from craft foam and had the children apply paint to the shape with a brush and stamp it onto the burlap. 

5. While the acrylic is drying, plan the rest of your design. Choose a few different types of yarn and ribbon to complete your design. Weave the yarn into the fabric using the plastic needle, adding beads if you'd like. If you would like to use ribbon, remove a few of the weft threads first to create an open section. Instead of the plastic needle, we used a safety pin to weave the ribbon into the fabric. You can also sew around the stamped designs, if you'd like.

6. Create fringe at the bottom of your piece by removing the last few weft rows and/or using yarn knotted into the fabric.

This piece is very open to the student's individual creativity. Have fun and encourage self-expression. Here are a few of the examples from today's class. ENJOY!

The student said this is an "Elvis-inspired" weaving!

The student said this is a Christmas-inspired weaving.
Lovely Beading!

Painting and eyelash yarn create a nice symmetrical image. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fall-inspired Shoji Screens

The art from the 1500's-1700's is so wonderful and we really do begin to see the art of so many cultures starting to emerge since many nations were exploring the globe. I wanted to introduce my students to panel paintings and altarpieces this week. A couple of years ago I had my students create multi-paneled images of the saints and we used gold tissue paper to "gild" the images. The pieces were fantastic! But I felt that that was more of an advent-type of lesson, so I was hesitant to re-do that lesson (even though we had snow about 10 days ago!).
Is it a triptych? Is it a Shoji screen? Wait, it's both! And pretty, if I may say so!
This time, I wanted to get the concept of altarpieces across, but I wanted to do something a bit more Fall-inspired. I had a bucket of tissue paper squares I've been using for the past few years (I swear those pieces multiply in there by themselves!). So I thought about having students create a fall landscape, sort of like stained glass. I usually use Contact paper for my stained glass projects with the children, but didn't have any & experimented with waxed paper instead. The result was a muted Japanese-screen-looking creation. So, I was able to introduce the children to that art form as well.

This craft is inexpensive and little ones can do it with help from a grown-up and older students can customize the piece in their own way. I hope you try this craft with your family. Enjoy!

Fall Shoji Screens

Supplies Needed:

  • Black Construction Paper (Ours was 12"x18")
  • Pencils
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Construction paper for trees (we used 9"x12" pieces in black, brown and white)
  • Crayons and/or colored pencils
  • 2 12"x18" pieces of waxed paper
  • Tissue paper squares (1" squares in whatever colors you wish)
  • Iron & Pressing cloth

1. Create the frame for your triptych (3 paneled piece of artwork). Mine took up the entire 12'x18" piece of paper and had a 1" frame all around it.

2. Use the scissors to remove the "window" portions of the triptych, taking care to leave the frame intact.

3. Create your "trees." Rip black, brown and white construction paper into 1/2" strips. If you are having trouble ripping the paper, try ripping it in the other direction. Flip your frame over and use the glue sticks to attach the trees to the back of the frame. I suggested the children put a couple of trees in each of the three "windows." We used black for trees that were far away and then brown for pine trees and white for birch trees.

4. Once you are done glueing on the "trees," flip the frame over and add details to the front of your trees with the crayons and/or colored pencils. We discussed how tree bark can be bumpy or smooth and have knots on them, etc. I also reminded the students that tree trunks have shadows on them and explained that the shadows would be on the same side of all the trees.

5. Flip the frame over, so the back of the piece is facing up. Apply glue to the back of the frame and trees. Press a 12"x18" sheet of waxed paper onto the frame.

6. Working in one section at a time, apply a few lines of glue stick to the waxed paper and attach the tissue paper squares. You don't need to use a lot of glue, once you iron the waxed paper together, the tissue paper will be fused in place. Cover all of the spaces between your "trees" with the tissue paper squares.

7. Once all of your tissue paper squares are in place, place a piece of waxed paper on top of them. Using an iron set to the "polyester" setting (medium heat) and using a pressing cloth to protect your iron, gently press the piece so that the two pieces of waxed paper fuse together with the tissue paper squares in between them.

8. Use scissors to trim the excess waxed paper from around the frame. This piece looks nice in a window or with a battery-operated candle behind it. Keep it out of direct light so that the piece stays intact longer and the colors don't fade. ENJOY your fall scene!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Creative Delays

Well, it's been a couple of weeks since my last post. No, I haven't been lounging on the sofa eating bon bons...I've been tackling a viral pneumonia, stomach virus (both which hit all six of us in our family) and a 5-day power outage after a freak October snow storm. Really. I have never seen such aggressive viruses in my limited years as a mom. But, we're all done (at least I've decided I'm done with sickness and will ignore any further germs that decide to come my way). Halloween was postponed a week in our area since the snowstorm left 300,000+ people without power. I'll post a few Halloween-inspired crafts we've been doing this week for my friends who are on delayed-Halloween time. The rest of you can file them away for next year! Enjoy and stay healthy!!
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