Watercolor Resist Snowflakes

Here's a simple crayon and watercolor painting idea that was inspired by an illustration on a stock art website.
1. As the students will first need to draw with a white crayon on white paper, I've found it helpful to trace 9 large circles very lightly in pencil to use as a guide. As a starting point, I encouraged the students to make an "X" in the middle of each circle, and then a horizontal line through the middle so their flake will have 6 legs. After that, they may add dots or arrows to each, but they must press very hard and draw slowly to leave a lot of crayon on the paper.
2. Once you are certain that there is a snoflake drawn in the middle of each circle, pass out lots of liquid watercolors. When the students fill in each pencil circle with paint, the snowflake will "magically" appear. A simple project with beautiful results, I think.
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Acrylic Dry Brush Landscape Painting

This lesson was to show young students how to layer color when painting with opaque paints, such as acrylic or tempera. Their tendency is to mix and mix and mix, which only creates a muddy palette. If you put some restrictions in place, the outcome is much cleaner and brighter.
1. I had the students paint the bottom third of a horizontal paper white. (This example was done with acrylic, but tempera would work fine too.) Then they chose a main cool color for the sky, as this was to be a winter scene. All the paint needs to be spread thin so that it starts to dry pretty quickly.
2. Next, an accent color was added to the sky as small dots of paint that were brushed with just a few quick strokes. Another accent color was chosen for the ground, and also smoothed with just a few strokes. (This student chose pink for the sky and green for the ground.)
3. After the sky and ground are dry, or even mostly dry, a black fence is painted in with thin horizontal and vertical lines.
4. Snow is added with white paint in the sky, on the fence and on the tree.

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Watercolor Still Life

When it comes to painting, most children need to practice looking at subtle changes in color. The skilled student may already see this, but others may have not been asked to think about it before. In this case, they are challenged to make as many values as they can with just one color and a little water.
1. On a chalk board, draw three simple still life shapes: the coffee cup, the wine glass and a bowl. Ask the students to draw all three in pencil on a 9" x 12" watercolor paper, but note that the items MUST all overlap in some fashion. Add a table edge line somewhere in the middle.
2. Give each student a single dark crayon for them to trace all their pencil lines.
3. Give each student a watercolor set, brush, water, and mixing tray. Tell them they are to use only ONE of the colors in the tray. With this color, they may add water to make different values, for example, very dark red, medium dark red, light red and very light red. As they mix the colors, they should paint in each section of their drawing. The goal is to not have any similar values next to each other.
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Rousseau Tiger Drawing

Henri Rousseau was a French artist that lived in the late 1800s. He tried to paint in the schooled manner of the traditional artists, but it was the innocence and charm of his work that won him the admiration of many avant-garde artists such as Paul Klee.
1. If possible, show a poster of Rousseau's “Surprised! Storm in the Forest” painting to the students. Impress upon them that it was Rousseau's loving attention to detail that made him an exceptional artist. Encourage them to do the same.
2. Give each student a 9" x 12" piece of paper and a 6" cardboard circle template. Have them trace the circle in the center of the paper.
3. Show the students how to draw a simple tiger face, starting with two eyes, two lines going down the center, a upside down triangle nose and two circles drawn to the sides. Whiskers are added, then ears, body and tail. Lastly, triangles may be drawn all around the edges for a tiger look.
4. After the tiger is drawn, ask the students to draw lots of leaves, some that are in the back of the tiger and some are in front. This is important to make the tiger look like he is hiding in the leaves, like in Rousseau's painting.
5. When the drawing is complete, the students should trace all the lines with a black marker and then color everything in with oil pastels.
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Snowman on Skis

I sometimes look at stock illustrations on websites like gettyone.com for inspiration. I found a simple drawing of a snowman on skis that I really liked, and remade with my glue and pastel technique.
1. Drawing lightly on black paper, make three overlapping circles, each getting a bit smaller as they go up.
2. Draw simple stick arms, a face and buttons.
3. Add stick ski poles attached to the hands, and a hat that sits on top of the head. Stripes are nice as they allow for extra color.
4. Draw two skis below the bottom circle, and then a curved horizon line. Trace all lines with a thin line of white glue and let dry for 6 hours or so.
5. When dry, color in all the areas with pastel. I used Art Stix for this picture, which are a kind of new-fangled stick that don't have all the chalky-ness of the chalk pastels. They aren't cheap, but they are clean and sturdy and seem to last forever.
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Close Crop Snowman

Drawing closeup and cropping out what is unnecessary can make just about any artwork more interesting. The tendency is for students to draw small with lots of extra space. If you are trying for dynamic images for special uses like greeting cards, this approach will make a big difference.
1. I started with a 9" x 12" sheet of black paper, and traced a ruler width in pencil around the outside to give the artwork a frame.
2. I used an old CD to trace the bottom circle, purposely placing it so that it would go off the page on one side. The smaller head circle came from centering a smaller cup above the CD circle. I drew in the face, hat, scarf, arms and buttons. A horizon line was added in the background.
3. I took a black pastel, and traced the all the pencil lines, pressing hard so that the line was easily visible. All the shapes were filled in with pastels, and lastly I added some snow on top of the sky.
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