Picasso’s Three Musicians (minus two)


By Wylie Mc Bride

Inspired by Picasso’s Three Musicians, First graders created collages using construction paper scraps and some hand painted papers.  Students focused on shapes and creating a face with free form shapes.  They loved making a music stand and drawing the music on it too.

Students chose a variety of musical instruments.  We had guitars, flutes, horns and many other instruments.


Laurel Burch Patterned Pets








Laurel Burch, an American artist, started her career creating jewelry from metal she found in junkyards.  Her designs, mostly animals, were bright and colorful with a mix of many patterns.  Her vision blossomed into “fantastic felines”, dogs, moons, hearts, and mythical animals.

Our students study Laurel Burch as a design influence.  Patterns, for example, are a first grade curriculum unit.   What better way to look at pattern and work with it than the inspiration of Laurel Burch?

Here’s all the behind the scenes work we did to get to the pretty finished project:

First we started with guided drawings.  With guidance, students drew two different cats and two different dogs:

The next step was allowing students to choose his or her favorite animal that they had learned to draw and redraw it larger on a heavy weight drawing paper with pencil.  Then students re-traced the line-work with a back sharpie.

After all the drawing, we were ready to paint.  Student had choices of thinned bright, neon colored tempera paint.  We used a wash (painting water first to allow for better blending) and applied light layers of color, moving from one color to another.

Next, students worked with pattern on worksheets, trying out different designs for their animal.  Some examples were spirals, triangles with circles in the center.  When they settled on one they liked, students drew it on the animal, spacing it out with a finger’s width between, using a black sharpie.

The last steps were cutting out his or her cat or dog and gluing it to a black background.  Students used a different pattern in the background, drawn with a gold metallic marker.

We love the bright colorful results!

Dear Tooth Fairy

The Tooth Fairy Queen by Sophie

“Dear Tooth Fairy,

When you leave me money for my tooth, could you leave me a letter too? PS I lost a tooth on the sofa.”

First Grade Students and I read a charming book called “Dear Tooth Fairy” by Alan Durant

and we drew some fancy tooth fairies.

We used simple shapes, such as triangles and circles to draw the fairy.  Her wand is a toothbrush!  We outlined them in sharpie and colored them with oil pastels.  The last steps were a watercolor wash and glitter glue for the stars and the crown. Check out her fancy shoes!


Irresistible Indian Corn

My first graders created this awesome Indian corn that has a textured surface.  They were a big hit at the fall art show and many mommas’s asked to have them home for Thanksgiving.

Here’s how we made them.

Kids rolled a slab of clay with rolling pins to a thickness of about ½ inch.

Next, they placed a template (which somehow looked a little like a grenade) on top of the clay and lightly traced with a dull pencil.

The cool texture was the next step.  We used a popsicle stick, pressed in lightly, to make rows of corn kernels.

Next, we cut out the ears of corn with needle tools.  Luckily, I had some Mom and Dad helpers to help cut them out.  Be sure to cut a bumpy edge.

After I fired the Indian Corn, we used under glazes sponged on and painted on to re create the look of authentic Indian Corn.  I dipped them in clear glaze and fired again.

For the corn husks, I used real corn husks from a neighbor’s garden.  I soaked them in water to make them pliable enough to put through the hole in the top.  I think they look fun and festive!  The first graders were so proud of one of their first works in clay.

What ceramic projects are you doing with your little ones now?  Any fun fall projects?

Marvelous Matisse Cut Outs

Students in first and second grade created striking collages made from  a variety of images similar to those designed by Henri Matisse.  In reference to his paper cutouts, Matisse stated, “I cut paper, but I’m drawing with the scissors.”  Matisse also called the collage process  “cutting into color”.

We looked at examples of Matisse’s  Goldfish and many examples of his cut paper designs.

Here’s the process:

First we painted some watercolor paper with watercolor paints in cool color and covered the paper with saran wrap while the paper was wet to get a fun, watery texture.  Let this paper dry.

Next, we worked with the background paper, creating blocks of color with some precut geometric shapes and glued them down.

We also cut lots of organic shapes form colorful paper, in the style of Matisse, “drawing with the scissors”.  Some were glued to the background; some were saved for using in the composition later.

To make our goldfish bowls, we folded an 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet of printer paper in half (either lengthwise or crosswise) and drew half of a vase starting from the folded edge to create a symmetrical template.  Then this shape was cut out to create a shape to trace.  Trace the goldfish bowl template onto the back of the watery painted paper and cut out the goldfish bowl.

I had some templates to trace for the stool and students cut them from black paper.  We also cut goldfish from some collage paper that had been painted for another project.

The last step was assembling the many elements of the collage.  This was when kids really got to use their mad artist skills and try lots of different compositions before gluing down the end product.

As Matisse (also) said: “Creativity takes courage.

Enjoy Simon G. and Leah’s collages!

Leapin’ Lizards

By Jenna F.

We started this fun painting project with some guided drawing lessons.  We drew several kinds of lizards using this resource – 123 Draw Pets by Freddie Levin. 
We drew our lizards on a nicer, heavy weight drawing paper and I really encouraged the students to draw large!  Next, the students traced over their pencil lines with black Sharpie.

The details such as the stripes and dots were drawn with white oil pastels.

Then we painted!  At each table, I set out liquid watercolors in warm color sets or cool color sets and a small cup of kosher salt.

For the watercolor demonstration, I showed kids wet-on-wet:  painting one color, then while the paint is still wet, adding another on top to blend.While the paint is still wet, sprinkle some salt to create small twinkles of star-like dots.

Wet-on-dry: Since this lessons takes 2-3 classes, once one section of the chameleon is dry, they can then paint over that section to create spots, stripes, dots, etc. as well as the branch and leaves.

Look at the fun lips and eyelashes!  First graders add the cutest details!

Fall Leaves

Fall Fun in the Art Room!

These beautiful leaf print/paintings were made by first graders!  They loved the process and we all loved the results.

Materials:  Black construction paper, whiter tempera paint, fresh fall leaves, tempera paints in a variety of warm and cool colors.

Day one: students printed the leaves on the black paper, by painting the bumpy side of the leaf with white paint, setting it down gently, and pressing onto the paper.  We let the prints dry.

Day two: students chose a warm or cool color scheme.   Then we got to work painting.  We used big brushes and sort of dabbed our way around the leaves.  Kids did not wash brushes,  just let the colors blend between color changes.

Comments from students: “I feel like a real artist” and “My leaf looks like an x-ray”.