When worlds collide

This summer I read about the artist Ron Burns and fell in love with his painting of shelter animals. I knew that I wanted to do a project with my third and fourth graders inspired by this artist as they are quite a talented group of kids. With 9/11 approaching, it seemed like a fitting time to introduce Mr. Burns.  I selected a dog painting by Ron Burns and we did a grid drawing on colored construction paper. Then focusing on highlights, shadows and chalk pastel techniques they produced some amazing results.


I love that we all started with the same dog as an inspiration piece and ended up with such a variety of dogs (and these are only a few)!

For the backgrounds, I introduced Kandinsky and his abstract style. I was inspired by another teacher here on this one and jumped at the opportunity to remind them about oil pastel resist with watercolor paints.

Thanks for looking!



Laurel Burch

Every summer my family vacations to Arizona.

Yes the desert.

In June.

We love it there for a million different reasons but one thing that I love to do is visit the shops in Old Scottsdale. They have art galleries featuring some fantastic artists, old and new. And other shops that feature high-quality junk that only my kids would enjoy. During one of our shopping trips, I saw a display featuring artwork by Laurel Burch. There were cats on everything from change purses to t-shirt and her style was beyond unique and perfect for my cat obsessed third and fourth graders.

After discussing her unique style I did a guided drawing and the children used oil pastels and chalk pastels to complete their pieces.

Each cat has a distinct personality that oddly enough matches the owner. I love that about art!




Mondrian twist

I wanted to do this project last year with a group of my kids after seeing it on this blog. This year I made sure to allow enough time to properly introduce Mondrian to my third and fourth graders.  They are my most adventurous artists this year and take challenges head on.  So when I suggested the Mondrian twist, they were ready to go.  Between the classes I only had a couple repeat animals, the monkey and the owl.  Otherwise they were all about being unique which is music to my ears!


I love their interpretations and variety in cube size and color patterns.




City Prints

I recently did a project with my third and fourth graders that involved print making.  I saw the project here and thought with some minor tweaking it could work in our classroom.  We reviewed warm and cool colors, watercolor techniques, stamp making and print making.  I inherited several stacks of foam trays so we used those (along with dull pencils) to make the stamp.  The kids were very creative with their city drawings and proud of their finished pieces.  I definitely think that we will do this one again.


Many “selves”

I find portraits to be tricky.  Perhaps that’s because I don’t do them often, or I favor a more cartoon style with gigantic eyes.  Either way I wanted to teach the children the basics on self-portraits so I turned to Deep Space Sparkle for help.  She teaches portraits in a way that breaks down the basics.  Eye spacing, lip width, hair lines, you name it.  She was my assistant teacher for this class.  😉 And because portraits aren’t challenging enough, we used chalk pastels to color them.

The results were amazing!  I’m getting ready to hang them, without names. They ended up being that accurate and the children want to show off their pieces.

Hello Mr. Calder

I was doing some reading about Alexander Calder and found him so inspiring that he had to be added to some projects this year.  This one specifically was for my third and fourth graders.  It came from the Dick Blick website (even the wire that I used).

I found these two videos really helped the children get excited about Mr. Calder.  The second clip is a little creepy with the music but they found it oddly interesting (I can’t blame them).

Before we started with the wire I had the kids so a quick drawing exercise. They sat across from one another with a sheet of paper and a marker.  They had to draw the person across from then without picking up their marker or looking down at their papers.  It was so fun and the children ended up with amazing abstract faces that would be really hard to reproduce if our analytical brain was watching!

The children did many drawings and I had them choose a favorite.  From that drawing they’d add the wire overtop, twisting at bends or intersections and using masking tape along the way.  At the end they remove the paper and hang their work.

The top left is a grandma, can you tell with the curly hair?  And the bottom right has pigtails.  I wish I could show you them all!





Recently my third and fourth graders learned about LeRoy Neiman.  We studies his pieces and admired his use of color.  With him as our inspiration, the kids sketched out a lion face and traced it with sharpie onto acetate.  From there they had the freedom to paint with acrylics, bringing their pieces to life.

I love the variety of expressions and color within this group of six!