I have long had an appreciation for Louisiana cajun artist George Rodrigue (1944-2013), famous for his colorful and graphic blue dog paintings. Here is a short video about him if you're interested.
My 7-12 year old students in homeschool elementary classes and Afterschool Art Club created their own giant blue dog paintings, complete with unique backgrounds. I walked them through the steps of drawing a blue dog, first in their sketchbooks, and then enlarged onto 12x18 thick paper. We taped off the edges so we would get a crisp white frame in the end. The kids used bingo daubers filled with India ink to create a bold outline around their dogs, then they used acrylic paints to add bright colors. We talked about color choice to create contrast and visual interest. What a fun project! Check out the slideshow of their work.
I love taking my elementary students on an exploration of different media, subjects, and ideas. These first 6 weeks have seen us blowing around blobs of paint with straws, drawing llamas, making yarn tassels, coloring foxes, embossing metal, and creating glowing night landscapes! I often share a personal story or read a story to whet their imaginations, and we often warm up with a guided drawing in our sketchbooks.
My favorite project so far has been these fabulous foxes. The kids used oil pastels to build up the layers of fur, then they smudged chalk pastels to make a magical background. Instead of guiding them step by step as I sometimes do, I gave them a photograph of a fox and let them translate that into their own art. I love each of their interpretations!
My classes always seem to enjoy foil embossing, and this year we explored a seasonal theme. My Tuesday class made 4 small squares representing each season and mounted on a long panel. My Wednesday classes did one large fall scene based on their idea of a perfect fall day. Students draw their designs on paper first, then tape the paper to the back side of the foil and press the design into the foil. I teach them several ways to create interesting texture.
For Halloween week, we enjoyed glow parties in all the classes. I dropped the blackout shades, turned on the black lights, and put on my glowiest costume...a "glow troll." We used black and fluorescent paints to create these beautiful, VanGogh inspired landscapes. Some of the kids wore costumes and we ended the class with a bowl of popcorn and candies. Enjoy our slideshow!
I LOVE working with my teen students in homeschool intermediate art! They run the gamut of lively to shy to serious to lighthearted, and their personalities come out in their art. We have started the year with skill building exercises, focusing on drawing from observation with the "right side of the brain," and improving our shading techniques using ink, graphite, charcoal, and pastel. Our first project was to decorate their sketchbook covers with "expressive hands" and then we moved into still life contour drawings and still life value (shading) pieces. Next up are graphite dragon eyes!
In addition to our creative endeavors, we spend 10 minutes of most classes discussing an artist or painting. So far we have discussed the work of Imanuel Leutz, Thomas Cole, and Otto Dix. All of the art we study this year will be on exhibit at the Marine Art Museum of MN in Winona, where we will visit in May.
I will soon let them loose to play with color, but for now, we're in the black and white phase, and next up are "Dragon Eyes!" Here is a slideshow of their work so far:
Here are their sketchbook covers, based on the lesson "Expressive Hands." The students were asked to create hands that somehow illustrated their interests and personalities. I found the final pieces fascinating, especially when they explained the symbolism to me. It helped me get to know them a bit more.
We did play around with some colors when we had our Halloween Week Glow Parties under black lights. We used black and fluorescent acrylics, and taped the edges down so we would have a nice, crisp frame when the tape was removed. So fun!
The students did a great job on their "finish the picture" homework assignment. I was delighted with their work! Some of them put hours of work in at home each week to create incredible work.
When I choose an art project for my students, I think about what new vocabulary and drawing skills they could learn, what new media they could try, and how they can connect to the subject. Sometimes I pull themes from literature or science. This "Llamas in Perspective" lesson, adapted from a Deep Space Sparkle lesson, had it all!
First we talked about the life and talents of the llama, particularly the Peruvian llama...how they are pack animals who help humans, how they spit when they are agitated and sit down stubbornly when they are overburdened. I told the kids I use llama poop on my plants because it's a great "unscented" fertilizer!
We practiced a llama drawing in their sketchbooks. I love that many of the students said they drew them all week long at home. We then talked about drawing and painting tricks that fool the eye into perceiving depth as we drew our scene together, step by step, and went over the lines with Sharpie. Students were free to add their own little details, decorations, and paint colors to individualize their work. We used tempera cakes, which are similar to watercolors, on heavy duty Bristol paper.
Finally, we "embellished" our mounted picture with handmade tassels. I told them that tassel-making is a "handicraft" that the Peruvians would do to decorate their llamas. The lesson took two 90-minute class periods. Check out the slideshows below.
Afterschool Art Club is something new I've added to the schedule this year, and it's been a blast! Twelve lively students gather on Thursday afternoons to create wonderful art, and for our first project, we created optical illusion "agamagraphs." Pioneered by the artist Yaacov Agam, this kinetic style art changes as the viewer moves. Two of Agam's pieces can be found in the Mayo Clinic art collection. I'm a big fan!
This project took 3 weeks of 75 minute classes to complete. Each student created a starburst name picture on and an optical illusion "wormie" picture, which they colored with sharpie and watercolor on 140 lb. watercolor paper. Then we cut both into 1 inch slices and mounted them alternately to an accordion folded page. The final effect is so cool! If you stand to the left, you see one image and when you move to the right it morphs to the other image. Check out the slideshow below!
I feel so very fortunate to have over 70 homeschooled students come to my studio each week, in 5 different classes, to create art and build friendships. These kids are respectful, eager learners who are endlessly creative and thoughtful. And as a 20+ year homeschooling veteran of 3 kids who have blossomed into creative, high quality humans, I can say, "I GET homeschoolers."
In the first 2 weeks of art classes, we have played with paint, practiced drawing skills, analyzed Leutz's "Washington Crosses the Delaware," played games, and created sketchbook covers. Here are some slideshows of our time together so far. I'll post photos from the intermediate class when we complete our sketchbook covers.
Elementary Splatter Sketchbook Covers:
Elementary "Llamas in Perspective" project:
Teaching watercolors to young, curious, enthusiastic minds is among my favorite things in the world! This week at camp, the kids learned all kinds of watercolor techniques as they explored their new supplies. New vocabulary like glazing, scumbling, masking, salting, lifting, and mopping were taught and tried out. The girls painted in the studio and outside in nature, and they completed many pieces by the end of the week, including transparent lotus flowers, a landscape & seascape, a bohemian owl, and more! Here is a slideshow of the week...
This is my 3rd summer of offering Crazy Art Camps, and all year long I am on the look-out for art projects that are going to WOW my campers! I think this year's projects were a hit. I had 16 talented, enthusiastic kids, ages 7-12, ready to try anything!
Projects 1, 2, & 3: When the kids arrived, they stained and beaded wooden name tags, which my husband and I designed and etched on our Glowforge. They also colored two big Crazy Art banners. Then we went into the studio and viewed a slideshow of the work of artist Peter Anton, who makes giant, hyper-realistic food art. We made pinch pot cupcakes with coiled frosting out of air-dry clay, then painted them a few days later and boxed them in adorable bakery cupcake boxes. I have a policy that I won't do for the kids what they can do for themselves, so I let them figure out on their own without instructions how to fold the origami-style boxes. Some of the kids loved the challenge and figured it out quickly and others had to persevere and get a little assistance from their neighbors. It's definitely a spacial skill.
The kids also enjoyed some outside play time in my WonderYard each day! Here is a slideshow of our first few projects...
Projects 4 & 5: We watched a slideshow of the Pop Art prints of Andy Warhol and then proceeded to make our own using gelli plates, texture items, and acrylic paints to pull our mono prints. The kids printed on black & white photos of themselves that I had snapped on Day 1, then put them all together on black paper to make them POP!
We also learned about artist Georgia O'Keefe, who is known for her giant, close-up flowers. The kids sketched their own designs, outlined them with India ink-filled bingo daubers, then painted them with acrylics. They even sawed a piece of trim with a miter saw to use as a stylish hanger. Here is the slideshow...
Projects 6-7: Friday was the BIG DAY! We blacked-out the studio, turned on the blacklights, and painted with fluorescent paints. There were lots of oohs and ahhh! The kids loved how my wall mural and their Crazy Art poster glowed under the blacklight. We designed and painted mad scientists in a cartoon style, with chalked bubbles in the background, and then I let them draw their own design and fill it in with glowing ice cream salt that I dyed with fluorescent paint. They also had a chance to paint their faces and made fluorescent balloon hats. Such a sensory experience for the kids! We invited families into the studio for a Glow Show at the end. Here is the slideshow...
Jill Pearson, owner & instructor at Riverwood Studio, Oronoco, Minnesota