Friday, June 29, 2012

Lemon Still Life

A couple weeks back I started summer lessons working with a very talented young lady...this little girl is going into third grade in the fall and over the summer we'll be working on refining her drawing skills. I'm so excited to be working with her!

For our first lesson, I decided to have her do a still life with lemons. The lesson was a nice way for us to chat and get to know one another while talking about art concepts such as shape, form, balance, symmetry and so much more! She was very interested in drawing the lemon segments and we had a wonderful discussion about the colors we saw in the lemon peel and the shadows!

Lemons on drawing paper using colored pencils
I had her sketch the lemons using graphite and then add color using watercolor pencils. She could then soften the color by adding water (she didn't want to--she liked the look of the pencil lines).

We finished that up pretty quickly and I introduced her to a new (to me) technique I have been laying around with. We tried out this new technique using just one lemon, to keep it simple. She drew the lemon using craypas, or oil pastels, and then used baby oil on a Q-tip to smudge the colors and blend them. Boy, I remember using turpentine with oil pastels in high school-YUCK! What a smell and mess (at least for this watercolorist!).

She then used watercolor to add a wash of color to the background (the oil pastels act as a resist for the watercolor, so she could just paint over the entire image). She really enjoyed working with that medium and we decided our next lesson would use that technique. I can't wait!

Lemon done using the craypas/baby oil technique on watercolor paper

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Words of Wisdom From 2nd Graders...

Another project I was able to do at a local elementary school, before the end of the year, was the paper plate fish project relating to the book "Only One You." My original post is here.

"Be Artistic!" What a great idea!!
I had the teacher  share the book with the children before I arrived and get them thinking of "words of wisdom" that they could impart to others. This was a great thing to do before my arrival so they were ready to go on the art project!

I started my presentation, by sitting with them and the book and talking with them about it. I did a quick recap of the plot and then we looked at the book from an artistic point of view. This was a good discussion in realism, pattern, line and repetition.

Then we got to work! I wasn't sure if the lesson would engage all of the students since I hadn't done this project with a group before (only my "test subjects" at home). It went VERY well! The project kept the children engaged the entire time and their words of wisdom were wonderful! There are some very wise second graders in Mrs. Bevilacqua's class!

As you can see, each fish was so unique!

This one gives new meaning to "Rainbow Fish." Beautiful!
Some of these read: "Think Positively" and "Don't Lie"
"Have a Vivid Imagination," "Be Unique," and "Be Careful"

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Math & Art & Giant Cake!

Before school let out I was able to squeak in projects with two of the teachers at a local elementary school. I had tons of fun doing both projects! Here's the first...

The first was with Mrs. Nagy and her fourth grade class. We made 3D food sculptures inspired by the work of Claes Oldenburg. My original project idea appears here. But with this class, I limited the children to creating a slice of cake or pie so that we could study the math concepts associated with those shapes.
Mmmm...blueberry swirl cake!

I know, I know, math and art together? SIGH....isn't that going to be a bit, ahem, boring? Not at all! Here's how it's done...

I started with MY favorite part: the ART. I gave a short presentation on the work of Oldenburg and showed some examples of his sculptures.

Then, we focused on my other favorite part of this lesson: the FOOD part. We looked at some yummy examples of Oldenburg's sculptures such as the big soft sculpture of chocolate cake. These portions of the presentation allowed me to talk about art concepts such as sculpture, soft sculpture, form, scale, surface and design. We also discussed placement of art in certain environments.

Then we got down to the MATH portion of the exercise. Don't worry, it's a "piece of cake" to create a piece of cake (come on, I HAD too!)! We created our 3D cakes from a 2D surface: a piece of paper. Our cakes are made from two equilateral triangles and have three square sides. This solid form is called a triangular prism. I brought in some other solids that the children would easily know for comarison: a pyramid, a sphere, a cone, a cube and a rectangular prism.

I had the students begin the construction of their pieces of cake by creating two identical equilateral triangles (one for the top of the cake and one for the bottom). Ours are 9" on each side. The children then figured out how big the sides of the cake needed to be. That led them to create three 9" squares (one for each side of the cake slice). This is where the discussion of height, width and depth can come in.

The children then attached the pieces together using staplers to make "seams" and stuffed their sculptures with crumpled newspaper before sealing the solids up (more info about this can be found in my earlier, related post).

WHEW! Cake slice made! Then, the children happily "decorated" their cakes using tempera paints. It was lovely to see al of the awesome cakes they made: chocolate tortes, red velvet, chocolate cake with vanilla frosting--YUM!

If your group is very comfortable with these math concepts (as was this group), you can try your hand at making a slice of pie. Make the top and bottom equilateral triangles (two 9" equilateral triangles were used by these students), but reduce the height of the sides of the sculptures (ours were 4.5" x 9") because pie is generally not as tall as cake. Proceed as above to create the solid and stuff the sculpture and decorate it accordingly. These students created chocolate cream pie, key lime pie and cherry pie.

This is a wonderful exercise illustrating all sorts of math concepts in an easy-to-understand and enjoyable way. It really does combine art and math perfectly and it's FUN! I hope you are able to try it with your kiddos!
Cherry and blueberry pie--great lattice tops!
(Sorry the photo is blurry, but you get the idea!)

Chocolate torte and black forest pie!

Key lime pie with whipped cream on top! YUM!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Follow-up: 3D Wire Sculpture

One of my 13-year-old private art students created a wonderful sculpture from pantyhose and a coat hanger and it came out so incredibly cool! I wish I could do this project with ALL of my students! I originally showed this project here while it was in-the-works. These sculptures do take a while to make--she worked on it during a few of our sessions together (a coat of gesso here, a coat or paint there...). But finally, it was done!

She chose to paint her sculpture with a bright red acrylic paint (3 coats) and we finished up with a coat of Mod Podge to add a bit of sheen and seal it up. While the Mod Podge was drying, we used the opportunity to sketch the sculpture from a variety of angles and with a few different types of drawing media.

I brought out the very large newsprint I have and we practiced drawing BIG and loose trying to get the feel of the sculpture and the lines and movement with our sketchy lines. Some children have a hard time with being "sketchy" with their drawing--a few timed drawings (each about 2 minutes) and some vine charcoal usually loosen them up.

We then tried sketching the sculpture from other angles working with charcoals and conté crayons in various shades of grey, black and brownish-reds. Some of the media lent itself to sketchy, loose drawing (vine charcoal and traditional, chalky, pastels), while other media allowed my student to create hard edges. I really stressed that these drawings were just sketches--they needn't be museum-quality--the more you draw, the more you learn.

This was also a wonderful project to discuss value and contrast and perspective (the base of the sculpture needs to "lie flat" in the drawing. This was a great lesson and the results were wonderful! ENJOY!

Dollar Store Flip Flop Collage Craft

I live in my flip flops during the summer (and have the tan lines on my feet to prove it!). So when I saw this cute project on Artrageous Afternoon, I knew it would be great for my Recycled Art class, but also just plain fun, too! 

You'll "flip" for this summertime craft!

First, we traced my flip flops onto lightweight cardboard (we used poster board). Make sure you make two flip flop soles--one for each foot! We also cut out some 1" x 8" strips of card stock for the straps of the flip flops (you'll need 2 strips per flip flop).

Then, we decorated our flip flop "soles" by using strips of magazine paper to fill up the background and then cut neat summery images from magazines to show our summer plans or what we love to do during the summer. I encouraged the children to cover the entire surface of the sole--I didn't want to see any cardboard showing through.

We used hole punches to punch holes in the straps and the sole of each flip flop and then secured them together with one of those metal fasteners (mine were leftover from another project, but you can get them at craft stores and some office supply stores). We secured the other ends of the straps to the underside of the soles with tape.

Lastly, we hot glued our flip flops to a piece of sandpaper (a pack of 12 is $1 at the dollar store) to make our flip flops on a sandy beach. So fun!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Archimboldo Food Portrait by my Preschooler

Sometimes you need to just embrace fun. Today, when I was cutting up food for snack, my preschooler, Third Son, came up to me and started rearranging the cantaloupe on the plate to look like hair and a smile. It would have been easy to shoo him away. But, then I got an idea: out came the whipped cream, blueberries and strawberries and I asked him to make a picture with his food. Yep, "Play with your food, my boy!"

He made a butterfly, then a picture of a man with a goatee that looked like a family friend, then Santa Claus, then he settled on this guy:

"Fruit Man" by Third Son
(he even took the photo, too)

While he was eating, I grabbed my Art History book and showed him this painting by Renaissance painter Giuseppe Archimboldo entitled "Spring" (c. 1573). We talked and laughed about how funny the person in the painting looked and how yummy our people tasted.

I hope you have fun with your kids today!

Spring, 1573
Giuseppe Archimboldo

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Father's Day: Recycled Ship in a Bottle

Father's Day is on the way! This week, in my Recycled Art class, I'm having the children create a project that they can give to Dad--A Ship in a Bottle! Many of the kids had never seen a real ship in a bottle--and they had fun trying to figure out how I got the ship inside the bottle (like countless generations have done with real ships-in-bottles!). But it was simple, here goes...

Hey, how'd ya do that??
By the way, I apologize for the awful pictures, my camera is challenging me today (grrrrr....)....

Recycled Ship in a Bottle

Supplies Needed:

  • A small, clear plastic bottle (I used a bunch of bottles from juice I had bought from Cosco so they were all the same size for my students)
  • Corrugated cardboard (cheap, thick sheets work best)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Tacky glue
  • Hot glue with glue sticks
  • Toothpicks
  • A pointy nail
  • Paper scraps--card stock has the best color (blue, white, brown, red, etc.)
  • Yarn or string, optional
  • Clear tape
  • 6 popsicle sticks

1. This may take a bit of fiddling--you'll need to adjust these instructions to fit the dimensions of your bottle, but here's what we did. Cut a rectangle from the bottle of the plastic bottle. I did this for the kids because I didn't want anyone to poke themselves with the scissors. Make sure the piece you are cutting doesn't come up the side of the bottle too much, because then you'll see it when you put the bottle back together. We were fortunate since our bottles were square-shaped. You'll be reattaching this piece of plastic to the bottle, so you'll want to plan your ship so that it doesn't extend beyond this piece (or you won't be able to fit it in the hole you created in the bottom of your bottle!).

We used 10 ounce Naked juice bottles
2. Create some water for your boat to sit on. Cut a piece of blue paper for water and glue it to the rectangular piece of plastic you cut from the bottle using hot glue or tacky glue. Make sure your water doesn't extend beyond the edges of the plastic rectangle.

3. Create your ship (you only need one per bottle, unless you have a really big bottle):

To create a sailboat: Cut a boat-shape from corrugated cardboard that is pointy at one end and flat at the other end. Depending on the size of your bottle, your boat might be pretty small. Our sailboats were about 1 1/2"-1 3/4" long. Trace this shape on corrugated cardboard three more times and cut out so you have four layers of corrugated cardboard, making the hull of your boat about 1/2" tall (thick). Stack and glue the layers of your ship together.

Cut a strip of paper 1/2" tall and wrap it around the outside of your sailboat. securing with glue. This will finish off your sailboat--you can make the sailboat any color you wish.

Use the nail (or something equally "pokey") to poke a hole in the center of your sailboat. through the layers of corrugated, for the mast. Insert a toothpick into the hole and cut it down so that it fits the height of your bottle.

Cut a triangular-shaped piece of white card stock for a sail. Use the nail to poke a holes in the sail, insert the sail onto the mast and then secure to the mast with glue, if necessary. Hold the sail in place until the glue is set.

Sailboat in the background and multi-sailed ship in foreground.
To create a many-sailed ship (pirate ship, the Mayflower, etc.): Cut a boat-shape from corrugated cardboard that is pointy at both ends. Depending on the size of your bottle, your boat might be pretty small. Our many-sailed ship was about 2" long. Trace this shape on corrugated cardboard three more times and cut out so you have four layers of corrugated cardboard, making the hull of your boat about 1/2" tall (thick). Stack and glue the layers of your ship together.

Cut a strip of paper 1/2" tall and wrap it around the outside of your ship. securing with glue. This will finish off the hull of your ship--I used brown for my example to make a traditional-looking ship, but you can make your ship any color you wish.

Use the nail (or something equally "pokey" to poke two holes in the top of the hull of your boat. through the layers of corrugated, for the masts. Insert a toothpick into each of the holes and cut them down so that they fit the height of your bottle.

Cut three square-shaped pieces of white card stock for sails. Use the nail to poke a holes in the sails, insert onto the masts and then secure to the mast with glue, if necessary. Use the photos as a guide. Hold the sail in place until the glue is set.

Add a bit of string or yarn, as rigging, to your ship for detail, securing it with glue.

4. Glue the ship onto the water, and let everything dry completely. This is important since you'll be fiddling with it to get the whole thing back in the bottle--you'll want your ship to be secure!

5. Insert the boat into the ship and use the clear tape to secure the plastic rectangle base back in place. Tape all four side of the rectangle.

6. Stack and glue popsicle sticks together to make two legs to use as a display "base" for the bottle. Glue the popsicle stick legs to the bottom of the plastic bottle, covering the seams of the piece you had originally removed.

7. The finished ship in a bottle can be attached to (or inserted in to) a piece of card stock decorated with a message for Dad on his big day! 

Poster board "card" decorated and with slits cut
to accommodate the finished piece.

Anchors Away! Enjoy!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"No Tie" Tie Dye Bags

I love the look of tie dye, but I don't like the mess...and the prep...and the post-dying process to set the's just too much work for this mama! So I was intrigued when I saw the "No Tie" Tie Dying technique online using Sharpies and rubbing alcohol to create tie dyed effects on T-shirts! 

Why should you do this?
  • WAYYYYYY less mess than traditional tie dye! Actually no mess at all!
  • You probably have the supplies already (Sharpies, white T-shirt, rubbing alcohol).
  • It's addicting and the success rate is high (good for Kinders to adults).
  • This project not only combines ART (color mixing, warm & cool colors, the color wheel, etc.) but it also is a SCIENCE lesson in solvents and molecules.
I did this with my after school Recycled Art class--I had the children do their "No Tie" Tie Dying on squares of white T-shirt fabric I had pre-cut to about 9" square. This gave each child the opportunity to create 4-6 designs. Once their panels were done, I sewed them to bags I had made from an old T-shirt. The design for the bag mimics a traditional plastic shopping bag and is very easy to create (two seams) from an old T-shirt. 

This created a bag from RECYCLED resources (old T-shirts) and REDUCED our art supply consumption (using items we already had on hand) to create a beautiful and useful project students can REUSE over and over (instead of using a disposable bag). WOW!

Don't want to work that hard? Instead of creating a bag, use a plain white T-shirt or a plain bandana--the results are fabulous and perfect for the summer! ENJOY!

"No Tie" Tie Dye Bags

Supplies Needed:
  • White T-shirt
  • Sharpie in rainbow colors
  • Eye droppers or pipettes (I bought ours at Michael's craft stores in the soap-making section--five for $2.00)
  • Plastic cups (we used old yogurt containers)
  • Elastic bands
  • Rubbing alcohol
Additional supplies for the bag:
  • Other color T-shirt (we used blue)
  • Ruler
  • Sewing machine and matching thread
  • Scissors
  • Pins

1. Cut the white t-shirt into 9" squares. Discard the rest of the t-shirt, or keep for another use.

2. Use the Sharpie markers to draw a simple design, about the size of a quarter, onto the white t-shirt material. We experimented with a variety of designs from simple, geometric designs to flowers and peace signs (see the photos).

3. Place the t-shirt over the plastic cup, centering the design over the opening of the cup. Secure with a rubber band. 

4. Using the pipette, slowly drip rubbing alcohol onto your design. Don't flood the design--you want to allow the rubbing alcohol to slowly dissolve the ink and allow the colors to blend as the fluid wicks along the threads of the fabric. We used about 20-30 drops of alcohol.

5. Repeat so that the surface of the t-shirt square is nicely covered. Allow the square to dry toroughly before heat setting. Fifteen minutes in the dryer is recommended, but you can also use an iron on cotton setting for a couple minutes.

Make the t-shirt bag:

6. Place the t-shirt you'll be using for the bag onto a table and smooth out. Referring to the photo, use sharp scissors to cut off the collar and sleeves close to the seams. You can use a real plastic shopping bag as a guide or just eyeball it. Leave the shoulder seams about 3"-4" wide.

7. Increase the sleeve openings to be 7"-8" tall. I used kid-sized t-shirts for my art class, so I made the arm holes 7" tall, but if you are using a grown-up t-shirt, you might want to make the openings 8" tall or so.  

8. Enlarge the height of the opening of the collar by cutting a "W" shaped hole--use the photos as a guide. This will make the opening of your bag larger and easier to use. Still keep the shoulder seams about 3"-4" wide.

9. Fold the inner and outer seam at the shoulder of your t-shirt in and tack it (with a sewing machine) to make the handles narrower as they are on a real plastic grocery bag. The finished shoulder seams can be about 1" wide or so.

Detail of the finished shoulder seam.

10. Pin and sew the bottom edge of the t-shirt. You can add gussets to the side edges of your bag before sewing the bottom seam (see photo). Real plastic grocery bags have gussets on the bottom and it make the finished bag look nicer (in my opinion). Sew two seams at the bottom of your bag for durability.

Detail of the gusset on the right side of the bag.
11. Pin the square of fabric you tie dyed onto the front of your bag. Sew on.

12. Go shopping!

Friday, June 1, 2012

My latest painting...

So, I'm a bit behind in my birthday gifts this year. My sister-in-law had her birthday in March, but I'm just finishing her birthday gift. What held me up was that I just couldn't figure out WHAT to do exactly. I find it so hard to come up with unique gifts for people sometimes. SIGH. It really stresses me out. I hate the thought of spending money on a gift that someone won't like and will get rid of, so I've been sticking to consumables such as food, gift cards to restaurants, etc. But these things are so impersonal! Well, this time I had an idea...

I grabbed a photo she had taken while on vacation and posted to her facebook account and created a watercolor/colored pencil piece from it. The photo is from a place that is near and dear to her heart: Rehobeth, Delaware. She vacationed there with her family as a child and still goes there every year now that she's a grown-up.

You Are Here...
(Rehobeth, Delaware)

To create this piece, I used pencil to transfer the photo to Arches cold press watercolor paper. The photo wasn't exactly the dimensions I wanted--I wanted to show more ocean and beach and give it a more contemplative feel, so I drew in more of the ocean and beach. I then used permanent marker (a very thin tip) to outline the important contour lines in the piece. Afterwards, I added washes of color using my trusty Windsor Newton watercolors from college (I love those babies!). Once everything was dry, I went in and added layers of color and texture with Prismacolor colored pencils. Finally, I added some white gouche for the crests of the waves.

So here's the original photo and the finished piece. I'm very happy with it and I hope she is too. Happy Birthday Susan!

The original photo Susan took...Beautiful!
I can see why she likes it there so much!

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