Sunriver Landscapes

Family Reunion art bannerFamily reunion with lots of kids?  Make art!

At our recent 48-people family celebration, we made art on the porch of our rented Circle 4 Cabin in Sunriver, Oregon.  What a perfect setting!  And a fun, downtime activity for the 15 kids in our group, ages 5-16.

For our first lesson, I adapted “Cool and Modern Landscapes in Chalk” from Deep Space Sparkle.

Chalk pastelsSasha, age 7

SuppliesWe used 12×18  black paper, black oil pastels and Sargent Art Square Chalk Pastels.  Afterwards, I sprayed the pieces with hairspray and covered them with newsprint.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I read that it’s possible to laminate chalk pastel pieces with no ill-effects.  My daughter’s piece will make a terrific momento of our trip.

Most of us replicated our family reunion logo, designed by my aunt and uncle.  I also displayed prints and postcards by Northwest artists Paul A. Langquist and Susan Luckey Higdon, which I purchased at a local gift shop.
Family Reunion Logo

CP Landscape 6CP Landscape 8Chalk pastels landscape 9Chalk pastel landscapeIMG_7649CP Landscape 5Chalk pastels Landscape 4



CP Landscape

Spring Owls

These bright-eyed owls were made by my daughter and her first-grade classmates.

Crayon rubbings over texture tiles imply feathers and the cut trees were modeled after Henri Matisse’s “painting with scissors” technique.

Michaels and Party City both carry Duff Goldman’s texture tiles for fondant.  I’m not a baker so I wasn’t aware that such things existed, but they are very cool (and pricey).  Any time I have a coupon, I pick up a set.  Lakeshore Learning carries a 6-pack of tiles that aren’t quite as sophisticated but are more reasonably priced. 

I brought the tiles to class, along with my collection of peeled and broken crayons and 12×18 sheets of spring-colored paper.  I had drawn outlines of owl wings, ahead shape and a body on white paper and made a set of copies for each student.

The children started with the crayon rubbings, which were a hit all around.

Then the cutting began.

“Painting With Scissors”
As the children cut out their owl parts, I talked about Henri Matisse and his paper cutouts.  How he called his technique “painting with scissors” and did it freehand – no tracing or templates.  Relevant, I thought, as many this age are quite concerned with doing things exactly the right way.

But the children were too busy wrestling with scissors and owl wings to pay much attention.

After a quick, silent apology to Matisse, I explained the next steps.  Choose two sheets of 12×18 paper in different colors – one for the background, one for tree branches.  Cut out branches for your owl to sit on – try rectangles or Y-shapes.  Use scraps to cut out eyes, beaks and feet.

The freehand cutting was a real challenge to a couple of kids.  All in all, everyone did a great job, but it took loads of encouragement and many still looked skeptically at the imperfect edges.

Finally, I encouraged them to lay out their pieces (Matisse took great care in arranging his cutouts before gluing them), but these children were READY TO GLUE.

I absolutlely love the results, but with only 40 minutes, start to finish, this one could’ve been simpler.

Very Nice Cats

One of my favorite art teacher sites, Art Projects for Kids, includes a wonderfully simple lesson, “How to Draw a Cat.”  Because of Kathy Barbro’s clear instruction, I was able to help 22 first graders make the most charming cats, which their teacher promptly dispayed in the hallway.

To ensure bright colors, I added a brief explanation of complementary colors.  And because I only had 40 minutes with them, I limited their color selection to pairs of oil pastels that I’d bound together before class.

I’d also hoped to find a basic color wheel that I could give each child – a tool for them to take home.  I searched online and at local art and paint stores to no avail,  so I made my own – my husband made the graphic, I printed them on cardstock and added game spinners that I found at Michaels.

Since then, Art Projects for Kids has posted a free color wheel download.  A great tool – thank you!

Finally, I found a great explanation of complementary colors here, and made labels for the children’s artwork that included the color wheel and a place for the kids to sign their names.

The children were thrilled with their results!

Andy Warhol Lesson

I had great fun teaching a pop art lesson out of this terrific book, Discovering Great Artists, to 21 kindergarteners.

In their “Lots of Me!” lesson, the authors give clear instruction for teaching Andy Warhol’s style of pop art by using photographs of the kids themselves.  I simplified the lesson just a bit because of the kids’ ages and my allotted time – about 40 minutes.

Before Class
My daughter’s teacher that year posted pictures on her class website.  I downloaded a picture of each student’s face and, per the book’s instructions, cropped it into a 6″ square and made 6 photo copies.  I brought the photos and 12″ x 18″ sheets of construction paper to class.  The teacher confirmed that the kids could use their classroom crayons, markers, glue sticks and scissors.

I did some research on Andy Warhol, hoping to find info that a kindergartener might retain!  I also found copies of his famous Campbell’s Soup Cans and pop art-style pictures of Hannah Montana and Barack Obama (we’d just had a presidential election).
Background for the Kids
I held up the images of Hannah Montana and then Barack Obama and asked if anyone knew who they were.  Most kids did, so they understood when I explained that Pop Art uses subjects that are popular or familiar to most people.  We also talked about the repetition and bright colors.
What a 5-Year-old Will Remember About Andy Warhol
  • Andy Warhol’s mom liked art, too, and gave him a candy bar every time he finished a page in his coloring book.
  • Later, when he couldn’t decide what to paint, a friend suggested he paint his favorite things in the world, like soup (he had been sick a lot as a kid!).

Delighted with so many photos of themselves, the kids went to work.  Some made intricate designs on each photo, some copied my sample exactly, and others just colored.  But they loved it and at the end of class most of them could tell me something about Andy Warhol and pop art.

Changes For Next Time

  • Attach a brief explanation for parents on the back of the finished artwork.
  • Give a candy bar to each child when he finishes!

Self-Portrait with a Twist

This lesson comes from the Incredible Art Department, where it was submitted by Jeryl Hollingsworth, who also gives credit to Susan on Long Island (a Getty TeacherArtExchange member).  I used some of Jeryl’s suggestions for simplifying the project, as I was working with 22 first-graders and 45 minutes.

Ahead of time, I cut out a cardboard oval template for each child.  Then I played with photos of the children – as Room Parent, I’d had many chances to take photos in the classroom -until I had a closely-cropped head shot of each child that was just a little smaller than the oval template.

Grandma Layton’s story for 1st graders
Elizabeth Layton was sad almost every day.  She was 68-years-old – a grandmother already – when her sister suggested she take an art class.  She drew self-portraits by holding a hand mirror in one hand and drawing with the other.  The sad feelings went through her hand and onto the paper, so her early pictures show a lonely, old, sad-looking woman.  At this point I held up one of Grandma Layton’s earliest works, Void.

But she kept drawing and she started to feel better.  She used basic colored pencils and crayons.  She drew over 1,000 pictures and some of them even ended up in the Smithsonian.  One of her latest works, Untitled, shows her with her husband – they look happy and they’re surrounded by pretty, colorful flowers.

Elizabeth Layton believed that art changed her life.  The next time you feel sad or have a bad day at school, try drawing a picture about it, and see if it will help you feel better.

With a black Sharpie marker, the students drew two ovals – one for the head and one for the mirror.  I really wanted them to be able to look in a mirror to see the backs of their heads, but to save time I told them to turn their backs to a friend and ask:
–Can you see the backs of my ears?
–Can you see the back of my neck?
–If my hair were lines, would they be straight or wavy lines?

They drew the back of their heads, the mirror’s handle and an arm and hand holding the mirror.

Then I introduced them briefly to Vincent Van Gogh’s The Bedroom.  They were familiar with a simple horizon line, so they drew that and then added details from their own bedrooms.

Finished with the Sharpies, they colored in their pictures with basic crayons.  I told them only to make sure that the wall was one color and the floor was another color.  Then they glued their photos to the center of the mirrors.

I thought this project might be too complicated for first grade, but the kids really enjoyed it.  Thank you to both Jeryl Hollingsworth and “Susan,” as well as

Scroll down to see the explanation I taped to the back of each child’s artwork.