Cathing up…Tigers!

Before Christmas break my first and second graders were working on a project inspired by Henri Rousseau. They loved watching the video below where they got to jump into a painting…I tell you they were mesmerized!

After the video I did a guided drawing of a tiger, inspired by the one in the video. This one is slightly less “creepy” I’m told and the kids really enjoyed it. This ended up being a mixed media piece. They used sharpies…oh the excitement that comes from handing SHARPIES over to 6 and 7 years olds! They also used watercolor paints, acrylic paint and tissue paper (lots of technique talk here). We played a lot of “your turn, my turn” to get this one done and the results were amaing!  Here are a few of the pieces from one of my first grade classes. I just love them!





Leaf Relief

You know when you have a good art project?

When it is repeated in MY class!

I’ll admit, I like variety. I get bored easily and I like to try new things. So needless to say my lessons plans are CONSTANTLY changing. But sometimes you have that one project that just clicks. The children love it, YOU love it and the results are amazing.

I saw this one first on the ever so popular Cassie Stephens blog. If you don’t follow her you are definitely missing out. In fact go there right now and check her out because the inspiration there is off the charts!

The leaf relief part of the project I’ve done before. When displayed I always get questions and folks are shocked to learn that it isn’t some fancy metal.

It’s just plain ol’ aluminum foil ya’ll.

This year I did something a little different with the backgrounds. To incorporate an artist I introduced Mark Rothko and his color field paintings. The students were encouraged to develop their own color story. They ran with it and the end products did not disappoint.






Mixed Media Trees

This year I decided to try something a little different with my fifth and sixth graders at the start of the school year. Instead of doing a bunch of smaller projects during our 45-minute classes, I thought we’d try tackling a long-term project and see how that went. This group of kiddos tends to be a little…how do I say it…chatty and distracted

Sometime over the summer, I saw a painting pop up in my facebook sidebar. You know the stalker sidebar that somehow reads your mind and knows what to show you? Yeah that one. Well it inspired me so I did a little research and I found that someone else had done something similar on this blog here. I tweaked it slightly and made a mixed media project of our own.


The squares were colored with oil pastel and textured with a plastic tool that is now called a “scrape daddy” thanks to my sixth graders. They watercolored over the piece, painted the tree with black acrylic and added detail to the tree with metallic sharpie. It was a successful long term project. I can’t wait to start the next one with them!

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!




Modern Dragon Trainer

Once upon a time (about fourteen years ago) a new couple moved into a house ready to have their first child.  They wanted the perfect nursery with realistic animals and painted something like this.

Cute right?  There was the crib, the bamboo ceiling fan and it was perfect FOR A TODDLER!

Fast forward fourteen years and guess what, it’s still there!  I haven’t been able to paint over it and my tween son had to live with it until he moved into the teen room that I wrote about last year.

So my little guy moved into this room and while he loves animals, he was over this space.  He wanted dragons and more specifically he wanted “How to Train Your Dragon” bedding.

Character bedding.

Not my favorite thing to work with.  So I got to thinking and planning (around the same time I planned the other two rooms, A YEAR AGO) and started collecting items.  First up, the bedding.  Ugh.  And then this month I got to work.  I painted over all of the animal murals (after taking 10,000 photos) with a more modern blue. Selected an accent color to keep it fun and added in the fun stuff.


The toothless decal came from this shop.  The gentleman there was really great to work with and took time to write up installation instructions and everything.  So helpful.  And then the fan blades came from this shop.  I purchased a regular black and chrome fan from the store and switched out the blades.


This is the bedding that I had to work with.  Fortunately with the “treehouse bed” (that’s what we call it) it’s not on display as much as if it were a standard style bed. Down the road when he’s tired of this the decal will peel off and I can switch out the bedding/accessories.  Definitely less of a commitment than the safari murals (hello learning experience)!


To know me to to know that I can’t stand empty walls.  Over the summer I collected How to Train you Dragon artwork from various shops.


This little corner is a little busier than I’d like but he need a bulletin board to display his artwork. He also has lots of lego folks so the letterpress tray holds them nicely now (once HE fills it up).  He also inherited the bookshelf below that I technically should have painted white but I got lazy.  🙂


And then the little plush dragon are hanging on fishing line with alligator clips at the end.  Quite possible his favorite part of the room. He can unclip them whenever he’d like to play.

It’s quite a makeover but my dragon trainer is pleased.  And it’s a little more modern looking so his parents are pleased.


Watercolor snowflake

I so love the internet. I could sit and read blogs for hours, learning and soaking up all kinds of fun art projects and techniques that I have yet to try!  If you haven’t visited this guy yet, go now. He’s great.  From tips to techniques, art projects…and he seems like a super fun guy…there is lots of inspiration on that blog!

So speaking of inspiration, I saw (on his blog) a snowflake lesson.  It involved black oil pastel and watercolor paints.  I did this with my first and second graders.  We talked about symmetry and snowflake patterns.  I showed them how to prep their paints and they sang the ever popular watercolor paint song…

“dance in the paint, don’t dig in the paint”…

it’s much cuter when they’re singing.  And they came up with some really fun designs and color patterns!


Some went heavy handed on the color, others chose a watered down look.  And the salt…boy did they love the salt!


Check out the eyeball design on the yellow one above…these little people are so creative!



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.