Mono Print

Metallic Glue Relief

Tissue Paper Painting

Crayon Etching

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back to School

The slight chill in the air feels appropriate, as children and teachers are all back in school now. I look forward to another year of creativity, as I present new and exciting projects to my students.

This week, weather permitting, my Elementary art classes will be drawing the landscape of our school campus. We'll be using white pastel chalk & white charcoal pencils on black paper! I'm anticipating some very dramatic interpretations.

It's always fun to draw subjects you're very familiar with. It forces you to observe things carefully, & to see things you never noticed before. Try drawing your house, or your building, including as much detail as you can.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

School Art Show

This is the first year my school has had an Elementary art show, & tonight, we had a reception for the artists. Each young artist stood near one of his/her artworks, and was prepared to speak about the process & ideas in creating the work. 

This was a very proud moment for parents, grandparents, classroom teachers and me, their art teacher. For me, the art show, a pretty monumental presentation, was tangible and dramatic evidence of a year's worth of planning, teaching and connecting with wonderful young artists. Parents seemed to realize that although the show featured art, their children are learning so much beyond the paintings and sculptures; they're being gently pushed to take creative risks, and are learning new ways of thinking.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Art & Musical Instruments

I hung an exhibition of my students' wonderful drawings of an antique tuba today. It was important for the artists to concentrate & keep looking carefully at the tuba to make a convincing drawing of it. Since the tuba has about sixteen feet of bent tubing and three valves, it's a very challenging object to draw. I'm so proud of my students, from first grade through sixth who made excellent drawings.

If you play a musical instrument, or if your family has an old instrument, whether it's guitar, drums, violin or piano, you might be inspired to draw that instrument. It's really fun to draw something you're interested in. With parent's permission, place the instrument on the floor in front of you, and concentrate only on what you see, not what you KNOW is there.

Begin using a pencil and an eraser, and finish your drawing with markers, pastels, colored pencils, watercolors, or any combination of materials. Try looking for darker parts, where there are shadows, lighter parts, and details, such as valves, keys, and strings, which can be shown in your drawing. Are certain parts of the instrument in front of others? Can you draw the closest parts showing that they hide what's behind them?

Have fun enjoying your musical instrument, not only for the beautiful notes it can produce, but also as something great to draw.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Drawing on Vacation

I've used some of the free time during my school Spring Break to work on some large charcoal still life drawings. Drawing is an ongoing exercise in learning to observe carefully and record what you see. When kids ask me how to become better at drawing, I usually say, "Draw, Draw, Draw!" The more you draw, the better you train your eye to really see.

You can keep a small sketchbook, pencils and an eraser in a backpack, or in the car, and sketch scenes you see, places you visit, or things you imagine. These drawings can be developed in more detail later on, or simply stand as a record of your ideas and experiences.

Sketchbooks keep your work neat and organized, whereas loose papers tend to get lost or discarded. If you don't own a sketchbook, you can make a simple one by stapling together a small stack of recycled white paper. You can even make covers for your book, by using colored papers for the top and bottom of your stapled stack. Keep drawing...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Picasso, a Master

Just saw a wonderful Picasso exhibit at Yale Art Gallery. It was intimate and manageable, and would be an ideal show for children to see. The exhibit focuses on Picasso's use of words in his work, in collages, paintings and books he illustrated. What a treat to see the fluidity, grace and expression in Picasso's line drawings and etchings. This inventor of Cubism is a real inspiration.

If you're a parent who enjoys taking your child to art museums, you may want to limit the number of galleries you view per visit. Both children and adults can become very weary from visual overload, crowded spaces and tired feet. Often, when a museum features a blockbuster exhibit, its other galleries, showing the permanent collection, may be relatively empty. Take advantage of such an opportunity for a peaceful family meander through less traveled paths to see some inspiring art.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Crayon Etching

I hope you have a chance to watch the video demonstration of how to make a crayon etching. It's a really easy project to make, and the results can be quite beautiful and magical. Many parents will remember doing this as a kid - you might want to give it a try again, and create a crayon etching as your child also creates one.

Small etchings can be glued to folded colored paper to make greeting cards. They can also be glued to colored paper larger than the etching, and given as a wonderful handmade gift to someone special.

Many thanks to our good friend, Nick Pisarro, who skillfully shot the video in my home studio. Deepest gratitude to our son, Josh, and his wife, Nana, both multi-talented and creative, for editing, writing the music and directing the video. And thanks to my husband, Dick, who designed the lighting, and kept us all on track. They're threatening to make more art project demonstration videos, so please stay tuned.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thinking Outside the Box

My students in school are currently making imaginative sculptures out of recycled boxes. Although I rarely repeat art projects from year to year, box sculpture is one I assign every year. In fact, the children in my art program usually make a point of asking to do it, because they enjoy it so much.

The materials needed for this project are simple: recycled cardboard boxes, paper towel or toilet paper cardboard rolls, and cardboard egg cartons. We use masking tape, white glue, scissors and lots of imagination for the first stage of our sculptures. My students have made such diverse constructions as horses, lions, butterflies, trucks, robots and caterpillars... Almost anything is possible, & therein lies the value in this project - amazingly open-ended possibility.

I love the fact that this is a sculpture children beginning at age six can manage mostly by themselves. Older kids can make more complicated pieces. For example, I teach a ten year old who is building a sky diver, and an eight year old who's making a clown spinning a plate on a stick! I'll be posting some of the projects in process soon.

Monday, February 9, 2009

More About Obama Drawings

When we made Barack Obama drawings in school (see previous post), I taped a sheet of clear acetate over each child's picture. Then we used permanent black Sharpie pens to write short, inspiring quotes from our new president on the acetate, placing the words in a graphically interesting spot over the drawing. Students also used the Sharpie's to outline images, or to add details on the acetate layer. These became magical drawings in two layers: the bottom paper layer in Art Stix colors, and the overlay piece of acetate, with black Sharpie words of Obama's, and drawing additions. Sounds a little more complicated than it really is... They turned out quite well, & I'm thinking of sending some of the finished pieces to President Obama.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Drawing Inauguration Day

In school this week, my art classes (grades 1-6) are making wonderful drawings of our newly inaugurated President, Barack Obama, and are showing some of the important work our country will undertake under his leadership. The students are including famous quotes by President Obama in their drawings.

You may also want to do some drawings that remind you of our historic Presidential Inauguration Day. Some things you could include are the American flag, the White House, the Obama family, the world globe and people of all colors celebrating.

We used Art Stix and colored pencils to make our drawings, but you could use colored markers, crayons or oil pastels too. Your drawing will be a great reminder of a special day in American history.

Monday, January 19, 2009

101 ideas in the Idea Bank

"What should I draw"? In my school Art Studio, I often see kids who need help thinking of something to draw. I created a classroom Idea Bank to help kids find inspiring subject matter for their art. 

Similarly, I've created an Idea Bank on this blog, filled with lots of fun subjects kids can use to begin a drawing - in fact, there are 101 different ideas to choose from. Each time you click on the idea button, you'll see a new idea pop up. Choose the idea you like best, and make a drawing with lots of beautiful colors and details. 

Draw big, and fill the space on your paper. You can draw with any tools you like - crayons, oil pastels, colored pencils, markers... Try to keep all your drawings in a sketch book so they won't get lost. More about sketch books later.

Keep drawing, and do try this at home!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Do try this at home!

As an Elementary art teacher in an independent school for seven years, and a working artist, I'm very excited about the opportunity to share my ideas about creating art with simple materials. The main idea is that great art depends on's not about fancy or expensive materials. I bet you never thought a little tin foil and tape could be used to make action figures. By working on some of my art projects, I hope children and parents can see how easy it is to have fun making wonderful art. These projects offer great opportunities to spend time together as a family.