Cool Days, Warm Hands


Kindergarten has been working on using pattern in an artwork and learning warm and cool colors.  The result?  Warm colored mittens covered in a zentangle-ish pattern and backgrounds painted in cool colors, using plastic wrap to create an icy texture.

Enjoy these paintings by Hallie and Zach.




Summer Fun: Liquid Sidewalk Chalk

Try this fun recipe from Smashed Peas and Carrots:

Liquid Sidewalk Chalk
1 cup water
1 cup cornstarch
food coloring (any colors you desire!!)
Mix the water and cornstarch together until combined. I then separate the mixture into cupcake tins or those smaller plastic cups you find in the paper products aisle of Target or Wal-Mart. Then, get our your food coloring and add a few drops to each tin or cup and mix well. As a side note, for all of you that only have the basic red, yellow, and blue on hand, you can mix ’em up for some more color choices:
yellow + red = orange
red + blue = purple
blue + yellow = green
****and don’t forget just the basic white you already made!****

Guest Post by Emma Smith Puffinpalooza!

Guest Post by Emma Smith, 4th grade artist from Wilder Elementary

“This is a puffin I painted.  You might ask “why did she decide to paint a puffin?”  Well, I thought not many people make art of puffins or penguins.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a penguin and a puffin.  A puffin has a big orange beak and the body is shaped differently.  My puffin is from the artic and she does not have a family.

I liked making this art piece because I did it on my own and I used different techniques with the watercolor like salt and rubbing alcohol.

This is one of my most favorites!  I hope you like my painting.”

Carousel Creations










Fourth grade students designed, painted and created carousel animals (or in some cases, reptiles, dinosaurs, birds or fish).  We looked at folk art as our  inspiration, studying hand carved examples.  Particular deatil was paid to adding a fancy saddle.  Sometimes it was difficult to find a way for a particular animal to wear a saddle, like a hammerhead shark, but students used their creative problem solving brains to figure it out!  In addition to painting and cutting out, students embellished thier carousel animals with metallic paints and sequins and rhinestones.

Enjoy Maggie’s giraffe and Tyler’s Chicken.

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!

A Stroke of Genius

My fourth graders study brush strokes as a part of the curriculum. It used to be a difficult concept for me to teach, but this lesson has helped create painters out of my students. Art teachers often teach painting with color theory, but few teach the application of paint to a surface. Without learning a painterly technique, students tend to draw with paint, using lollipop shapes and colors with black outline edges.

The process to create the paintings is simple: use a primary color as a center “dot” (for example red). Create a painting around that spot, using the complementary color. Mix various colors, including black and white, with that complement. Last, students paint with a short brushstroke, no longer than a thumb. Our technique: press the brush with paint to the paper and lift it. This is important because students were used to drawing (and painting) lines. Students were encouraged to bring wider, bigger brushes from home; some smart, lazy students loved this!

To help students remember the sets of complementary colors, we call them Christmas colors – red and green, Bronco colors – blue and orange (this IS Colorado!) and Easter colors – purple and yellow.

We discussed that each person’s brushstroke is like a unique fingerprint and looked at many artist’s paintings, such as Van Gogh’s and Monet’s. Students learned color theory, painting skills, and insight into the brushstroke techniques of the Impressionists. It was a painterly experience!

Brrr, It’s Cold Outside!

This was a fast and fun drawing and coloring project for a kindergarten class that was ahead.  To keep it a little more manageable, we traced the four squares first – lightly – with a pencil. Then we drew our snow man.  After outlining with sharpie, we colored the background and the snow people’s accessories!

When the coloring was finished, we used q-tips to add some fluffy white snowflakes.

Kind of like the snow we’re seeing here in Colorado today.  Darn, it’s so cold; we should have given those snow men some scarves!