Friday, June 30, 2017

Still Life Drawing

This week in the art studio we spent time working on still life drawing. The children got to choose between shells, fruits or vegetables. Black Sharpies were used to draw the objects and create contrast on the paper. Then the children used either chalk pastels or oil pastels to bring their drawing to life. Pastels produce brilliant colors without the drying time of paint. One student told me that she especially likes drawing with chalk pastels because of the rich colors. Chalk pastels are powdery and oil pastels are creamy. Students can experiment with the chalk pastels by drawing lines and squiggles with the tip, the side of the tip, the corner of the tip, and the side of the chalk. Both chalk and oil pastels blend easily on the paper. Fingers, tissues, Q-tips, and dry paint brushes (chalk pastels only) are great tools for blending. When colors are too vibrant, they can be toned down by using white or blending. Color on top of color can add depth to an object. You can add texture by using feathering, cross hatching, and thin lines going in the same direction. Encourage students to experiment with pastels and take the time to evaluate with them what was successful in their drawings. 

Chalk Pastels

Oil Pastels

Fruit for Still Life Drawing

Shells for Still Life Drawing




Painting on Rocks

I love rocks and have a small collection on my bedside table. I appreciate their natural beauty and marvel at how perfect they are in their raw state. Normally, I don't like to alter natural materials. However, rocks are everywhere and often go unnoticed. So, this summer I decided to see what my art students could do with a rock. I've seen rocks with simple painted or drawn designs that are really beautiful. Cavemen painted on rock and those images not only have great historical significance but are gorgeous in their simplicity. Rocks are another great canvas for children to unleash their creativity. 

Assorted Rocks
On the first day of art class a pile of assorted rocks were waiting for the children on the work table. The rocks were all different. They came in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes. I kept my instructions simple. The first step was to pick out a rock and examine the rock very closely. Where would their design fit best? Where was the top of their rock? Where was the bottom of their rock? What type of design would they put on their rock? Quickly the children came up with a variety of design ideas. Some ideas were inspired from books and images I had in the art studio, but many came from their imagination. 

Before the children could begin painting on their rock they were required to draw their designs on paper. This step was necessary in the planning process. In some cases the design was too big or small to fit on the rock and needed to be re-scaled. Or, designs needed a background color before the motifs could be painted. Children discovered that rocks often needed two coats of paint in order to have a completely opaque background. One child decided that a sharpie would work better than paint to execute more detailed work. In many cases the painting process took several classes to complete. The children had to be patient and could not rush through the painting process. After the children completed painting or drawing on their rock they used Mod Podge to seal the art. 

I asked the children what they were going to do with their rock after they took it home. One child said, "I am going to play with my rock" (their rock had been transformed into a cat). Another child said, "I am going to give it to my mom, her name is Mary."  (See the rock with the letter "M" below). The end results were well worth the children's hard work.


Partially Completed 
Completed Rock

Completed Rock 


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Creativity Exercise

Challenge Envelopes
Creativity can be nurtured over time with exercises. A new exercise that I have incorporated into my art classes is called "Challenge Envelopes." I fill white, letter size envelopes with materials I have in the art studio. Recently, I used feathers, foam shapes, tissue paper, colored paper cut into chips, and scraps of paper left over from other projects. Then I put the envelopes into a bag. When the envelopes are all together they look so similar that it's hard for the children to figure out their contents. I also give each child a piece of card stock and Elmer's Glue. The children really like the art challenge. Quickly a variety of art begins to emerge from the materials in each child's envelope. One child rolled the card stock into a tube and decorated it with pieces of tissue paper. Two children broke the plane of the paper by having the paper come off the card stock. It was exciting to see how the children used the materials. The mystery envelops are a great way to engage children and challenge them creatively. 

Work In Progress



3D Art

3D Art 



Sunday, June 11, 2017

Inspiring Quotes: To Be Your Best & To Do Your Best

"Integrity is choosing courage over comfort. It's choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy. It's choosing to practice your values rather than simply professing them."

BrenĂ© Brown

Dr. BrenĂ© Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past thirteen years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Brown is the author of three #1 New York Times Bestsellers: Rising Strong, Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection. 

"We are born into a single room. Our first door opens and we crawl through it, expanding our universe. For the rest of our lives, that is what happens. More doors open, but some doors close. Each new gate opens on some new room that we may inhabit for a while and move on again. At the end of our lives, we look back at all the rooms...All we can hope for is that the total home we construct will have integrity...we are builders of homes in the wilderness of time."

- Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman

Lawrence A. Hoffman is an American Reform rabbi and a prominent scholar of Jewish liturgy. He is known for his liberal religious views.