Student Art from Minnesota

Last week I received this wonderful photo from a 4th grade class in Royalton, Minnesota. Their teacher, Erin, had tried out my Picasso Paper Bag Costume project with her entire class and agreed to share her results. Are these a bunch of cute and creative kids or what? I love all the colorful faces and the animated posing too, it really makes for a wonderful photo. Thanks kids, for letting me share your art with my readers.
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Sir Ken Robinson on Education and the Arts

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Day of the Dead Skull Drawing

Day of the Dead is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and Latin American on Nov. 1st and 2nd. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to remember friends and family members who have passed on. I like how the festivities include lots creative imagery with patterns. This project was inspired by a Day of the Dead postcard which featured a very patterned skull drawing.
1. Students could draw their own outline of a skill or use a template that I have posted HERE.
2. I gave each student a silver Sharpie marker and had them trace their lines. They could then draw in whatever patterns they wanted, I just stipulated that all shapes must be balanced to make the drawing symmetrical. If they drew a flower on a left cheek, they had to draw the same flower on the right. I think this is a good introduction to symmetry for those as young as first grade. Older students can get the idea reinforced,
3. The students were instructed to fill the face with as many symmetrical shapes as possible. When spaces got smaller, they could make lots of circles, and when the spaces were smaller still, they could fill them in with dots.

CA Visual Arts Standard: Grade Four
2.2 Use the conventions of facial and figure proportions in a . . . study.
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A Positively Negative Pumpkin

I tried this with 2nd and 4th graders, and they both seemed to enjoy the puzzle aspect of making a whole pumpkin from cutting out just a half. I like how this is an example of using both positive and negative shapes, and positive and negative colors.
1. Give each student an 8.5" x 11" sheet of cream paper and a 5.5" x 8.5" black sheet of paper. With my sample, I first aligned the black paper on the left side of the cream.
2. Starting on the middle edge, students draw a large half of a pumpkin. Next, one eye and one half of a mouth are added. When complete, the eye and mouth are cut out, all as complete shapes, not in bits and pieces. I show students how to cheat with the eye triangle by cutting a line over to it and then cutting around to get the triangle out. The little slice will seal itself back up when glued.
3. The negative shape is glued down on the left, and the newly cut shapes are to be flopped from their cut out positions, and then glued down with a glue stick on the right.
4. Finally, the students could add some detail to their pumpkin, using black marker on the cream side, and white colored pencil on the black side.

CA Visual Arts Standard: Grade Four, Creative Expression
2.6 Use the interaction between positive and negative space expressively in a work of art.
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Halloween Monster Gloves

OK, so maybe this is more craft than art, but Halloween can be a great time to challenge your creative muscles. And if I could inspire even just one person to make something instead of buying that awful ready-made stuff in stores, I will be a happy camper.
1. The key is finding fake fur from fabric stores that matches the color of some knit gloves. I think that all black or all white are the easiest to look for. I cut the largest square of fur possible for the top of the glove, and hand-stitched in place. I think you could glue, but would need to put some kind of divider inside the glove to keep both sides from gluing together. If you really want to get "hairy", also add a small strip on the top of the thumb.
2. Once the fur is on, you need some stiff craft felt in the color of your desired fingernails. These are cut out and glued on also, taking care to keep the glue just on the top of the glove. Try making the nails really pointy for an extra scary look!
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Bone Letters

You could make this a lesson about anatomy and what the different kinds of bones in your body look like – or you could just make some creepy looking name signs for Halloween!
1. I drew examples of some typical bones on the board. They generally look like sticks, but have large bumps on the end. I gave students long pieces of paper and had them write their name lightly in pencil, using just stick letters.
2. The students can then turn those letters into little sections of bone as they see fit. Curved letters can be made from several short straight ones, or something that looks like a rib bone, which has just a rounded point on one side.
3. Trace all the pencil lines in marker and add shading by using cross-hatching to one side.
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Black Cat with Glowing Eyes

These glowing cat eyes are made from blending a few layers of pencil crayons. White on the bottom, then yellow, and for those interested in more detail, a bit of brown. Please note though, that the average pencil crayon and black construction paper won’t deliver these results. You need crisp black art paper and soft pencil crayons, such as the Prismacolor or Dick Blick brand to get the rich color against a very black background.
1. I gave the students a 7" square of black art paper, and had them follow my drawing steps, as shown above.
2. When complete, they traced all their lines with a white pencil crayon.
3. The students added a heavy layer of white pencil crayon around the pupils, and then added a golden yellow on top. Older students were shown how to add a bit of brown near the top edge to create a bit of a shadow.
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Halloween Pasta Skeleton

A fun way to teach students how to apply basic anatomy to art is by creating skeletons from pasta.
1. To make a sturdy pallet, the students arranged 20 popsicle sticks horizontally and secured them with 4 sticks glued vertically to the back.
2. A variety of pasta shapes were needed. I started by briefing the students with a simple sketch illustrating the proportions and the placement of shoulders, hips and joints.
3. Using white glue, they started by placing the head, spine, ribs and hips. They then added the shoulders, arms, legs, hands and feet and let dry until the glue turned clear.
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Jack-O-Lantern Painting in the Round

Most kinders have trouble drawing large free-hand circles on rectangular paper. For this project, inspired by a window decoration I recently spotted at a paper store, I pre-cut the paper to help guide them to make a better circle.
1. I started with orange 65 lb. card stock and used my circle cutter to cut out the circles approximately 8" in diameter. Printing and cutting by hand is of course and option.
2. In pencil, the students drew their circles about an inch or so from the edge and then added the stem and the rest of the features.
3. I gave each student a sheet of plastic canvas and a peeled black crayon to do a light rubbing over the entire surface to add texture. They then added shadow by doing a rub around the outer edge of the paper.
4. With a small paintbrush, all of the detail lines were painted white with either tempera or acrylic paint.
5. The insides of the mouth and eyes were painted in dark orange.
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Halloween Drawing

I love the layering technique behind this drawing, which I learned from a colored pencil tutorial. Please note that not just any colored pencil will do this, just ones like these from Dick Blick. The average school-quality brand are just not soft enough to blend together.
1. Last Halloween, I found some colorful clip art images for the students to use as inspiration. Trees with wiggly branches, crow silhouettes and and funny monsters can all be drawn in different configurations to make a very interesting picture. I asked the students to sketch out their own designs in pencil on black paper. Note: It pays to buy some serious black paper from an art store, the average black construction paper is too soft and fades like crazy.
2. After the design is done in pencil, they are to pick the large shapes in the foreground, and color them all in with white pencil crayon. Press hard to make the white very bright.
3. When complete, the foreground shapes get their final color on top of the white. Firm coloring is needed again to cover all the white.
4. The background is colored in with just one layer of pencil crayon, which makes it a little dull and thus visually recede. Encourage the students to keep some shapes black, which adds a lot of contrast and interest to the picture.
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Designer Wallpaper Skulls

I recently received a large wallpaper donation at my school, and have decided to show the students how to cut out “designer” skulls.
1. Students use a sheet of wallpaper approx. 8.5" x 11". They are to fold it in half the long way, and draw 1/2 of a skull on the fold. You can download my skull template HERE.
2. The nose and mouth are cut out, still on the fold. For the eyes, just cut straight over to the eye, and then around it. The slit that was made disappears when glued down.
3. The skull is glued down to a sturdy piece of white paper with a glue stick. Students color in the background of the skull with Sharpie makers, repeating any of the design elements they see in the paper.
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Glue and Pastel Spiderweb

This basic glue and pastel process can be used with a variety of subject matter - this spiderweb worked well for little hands that were just learning how to control a glue bottle.
Week One: Distribute 9" x 12" sheets of black construction paper to each student. Ask them to make a dot with a pencil somewhere near the center of the paper. Show them how to draw straight lines out from the center, going to the edges of the paper: about 2 lines up, two to the right, then the left and the bottom edge. Next, they need to draw a series to concentric circles around the center dot. Encourage the students to keep the lines simple, with lots of space in between. Distribute a bottle of white glue to each and show them how to trace all their pencil lines. To keep control of the glue line, it helps to keep the nozzle dragging on the paper when they squeeze.
Week Two: After the glue has dried, give the students chalk pastels, and show them how to color on the paper, and then blend the powder in with their fingers. Rubbing is essential as it blends the chalk into the paper, and cleans it off the glue.
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Witch Hat Drawing

A Halloween stock art image inspired me to make this witch hat drawing. It’s a good example of using positive and negative space in a very seasonal manner.
1. I started with a 6" x 9" piece of black drawing paper. I made a dot on the top center, and drew a hat that touched it and the two bottom corners. A band and star were also drawn in pencil.
2. I traced all the lines with a white Prismacolor pencil, and then shaded in the outside (negative) areas white. Sometimes this is also called “underglazing” a drawing. Note: Crayola pencils will not work for layering, they are not soft enough. Test your pencils before you try this lesson.
3. Orange and yellow pencil color went on top of the white, and also on the band and star. I experimented with adding pressure with all the pencils to get the maximum burst of color.

CA Standards of Visual Arts: Grade Four
2.6 Use the interaction between positive and negative space expressively in a work of art.
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Geometric Landscape

Would you like to make sure your students know how to mix a color, in this case green? Then give them one of Crayola’s Watercolor Mixing Sets (which basically only has shades of primary colors) and tell them their job is to figure out how. I asked my students to not only make green, but at least three different shades of green for a simple but colorful abstract landscape.
1. To begin the drawing, I set up a lot of limitations just to keep students from getting hung up on drawing flowers or animals or even a sun. They were to draw at least three triangles trees, with simple trunks, and a wavy ground line.
2. When the pencil drawing was complete, they had the option of tracing their trees and coloring their trunks with brown or black crayons.
3. Next, the fun part, making green. Once the students figured out that the cyan + yellow made a pretty turquoise green, some realized that yellow + the dark blue included in the tray made a nice mossy green. From there, proportions of color could change, or white could be added to make a tint of a color. I encouraged students to leave the ground white, but it was optional. They sky could be painted any color ( I hate to make too many rules).
4. As a followup, small white paper circles made with a hole punch were glued on top to make a sprinkle of snow.
I plan to use this art for our holiday fundraiser, as it makes nice seasonal art that all may enjoy.
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Drawing and Shading Lesson

This project was a big success in my after school drawing class today. I started at Michael's where I found an assortment of bright red gourds and a marbled pencil crayon that matched their coloring perfectly, simplifying the process of coloring and shading for any age.
1. The gourds come in small sets. I scanned a handful and made color printouts for my youngest students. I wanted them to observe the shaded edges of each piece, but all students had the option of sketching from the real models. I demonstrated how to look carefully at the shape of each gourd, and had them draw several randomly across their paper. The stems were filled in with pencil, as the gray matched the real thing pretty well.
2. When the drawing was done, each student got a Koh-I-Noor Hardmuth Magic Wild Pencil (about $1.50) to lightly color in each gourd.
3. The students sketched firmly around the edges with their pencils, making a soft transition from dark to light, without hard edges. For added dimension, a small amount was erased to highlight the contours of each shape.
Medium shades, plus dark shadows and a little highlight can put any student on the road to more realistic drawing.
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