Monday, August 22, 2011

An Ode to Tempera Cake Paints

Oh tempera cakes, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.. 1. You are easy to use, 2. You are easy to clean up, and 3. You look brilliant on white paper.

I love when new tempera cakes arrive. Their round little disc shapes fit perfectly into all sorts of fun containers. I prefer a chip dip tray that can be found at dollar stores. I know of others who use small metal containers like tuna fish cans.

This week I'm reviewing lines with my kindergarteners. We discussed and drew all sorts of lines last week, but that bored them to tears. To keep things exciting, three weeks into school I went out on a limb and did something rather scary. We painted!!
I decided to use lines, specifically curved lines, for our rainbow paintings.

First, we drew with crayon the curved lines for our rainbow so that we would have the right guide. We used Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, and Purple crayons in any order I felt like. Everything is up for interpretation! 

Then we painted over each line one at a time with the corresponding color paint. We start with yellow and progressively go through darker and darker colors. (This keeps my paints clean)

I think these turned out lovely. Not too shabby for three weeks in and our first time painting.

Disclaimer: I prefer the Richeson brand of tempera cake. I've used others that do not have as beautiful results. Beware cakes that are soft... they get gooey when a wet brush touches them and that's a whole other mess to deal with.
One problem have with tempera cakes are that they can be brittle. Beware the children that like to hammer their paint brushes into the cakes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Discards = Free Crayon Mosiac Art!

At the end of the school year I will collect all sorts of odds and ends that other teachers normally throw out. Short nubby little crayons have become a large collection in my room filling two copy boxes. I've heard of people melting them in various manners to create batiks, or even new crayons, but melting isn't something I'm comfortable with. I wanted to do something safe with my 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders with minimal chance of bleeding and blistering.

This idea originated at a conference years ago where an expert art teacher told me how she would use marker tops to create small scale murals. I didn't have a lot of marker tops at the time, but I did have tons of nubby crayons. Hence, I would give it a try!

I assigned this project to a small group of fourth grade girls, however I think with proper guidance much younger ages could also accomplish this. We used the following materials: one side of a cardboard box, crayons, and glue-all.  I would not recommend school glue because it doesn't have the permanent quality needed.

We drew out a pencil sketch of Van Gogh's Starry Night on the cardboard, then we poured glue in lines across one section at a time, placed the corresponding color crayons on the glue, then continue forth across the entire image. I think the results are rather impressive considering all the materials used to create this work were discards.

Our interpretation of Van Gogh's Starry Night

A couple of pointers about making something like this: I recommend shaving one side of the crayon to create a flat edge that will rest parallel to the cardboard base. I've found that many will pop off easily if they remain cylindrical. This project takes a while and a lot of crayons. If you are working small then I would expect you could finish quicker, but this particular piece is over a foot and a half wide. Lastly, use a lot of glue. Pour it on seams, fill in little gaps.

So far I have a crayon mosiac started at my primary school (K - 2) of our mascot, a giraffe. I would also like to create one at my intermediate school although I'm not quite sure what we should create yet. If anyone has any suggestions feel free to share them!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Neighborhood Landscapes

The beginning of the school year can be a bit boring for me because I spend the first week explaining the rules and procedures (27 times) then my 4th and 5th graders spend two weeks taking drawing assessment tests. Thankfully this upcoming week my third graders are ready and raring to go. A fun project I like to start the year off with is Neighborhood Landscapes. This project is great to review 'line' and a nice simplified way to introduce space and perspective. This can take between 2 or 3 forty minute classes for us to complete.

We begin by discussing different kinds of lines, then how lines like 'horizon lines' can show distance in space... foreground, middle-ground, and backgrounds.  (I slip in a bit of reading in our textbooks, identifying parts of landscapes in various visuals, and discuss proportion in space)

Then we get to the fun stuff...what kinds of things we can find in our neighborhoods: houses, apartments, street lights, mailboxes, sidewalks, streets, cars, etc. I like for the students to call out all their ideas and I write this list on the board so they can look back to it later.

Then we begin using horizon lines. We don't want flat landscapes here in Alabama, so we draw 3 wavy hill side lines. 1 in the lower half of the paper for the foreground, 1 in the center for the middle ground, and 1 near the top for the background. (I sometimes have a wavy cardboard template for my students with special needs) Students then draw all their neighborhood objects. ** I remind them that the objects at the top will be smaller and the objects at the bottom will be larger to create that perspective.

When their neighborhoods look full and active, students then trace with a permanent black marker. We don't want our lines to get washed away later.  Students then use crayon to color all object except for the sky and grass (Press down hard with crayon!). Lastly, students can paint their sky and grass using liquid watercolors. In person, the resist is lovely.

I love these works because each one will be different and my students will come up with some incredibly fun ideas that I could never have thought of on my own. Here are some from the 2010 - 2011 school year.

Love the dog walker and Walmart truck.

Great perspective and love the lost balloon

There is a horseback rider in this one.

So many different kinds of  interesting houses

Materials used for this project: Pencils, Erasers, Fine pt sharpies, Crayons, liquid watercolor in blue and green (also tempera cakes work great for this resist), 12 x 18" white paper

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Plans to Update

I haven't blogged since May because we school teachers have the blessed opportunity to take the summer to recover. I am going to try to pick up the blogging again and post ideas/art projects that have worked out well. A few people from Pinterest have commented about the marker watercolor paint and I so very much appreciate your input! (Thanks TexasDaisey and Deborah from TeachPreschool)
Give me a little time to get settled in and I'll get back to it.