Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Begin this project by painting many different styles and sizes of guitars (and other stringed instruments too) using black tempera paint. Don't paint any details on the guitars yet, just basic outlines and holes in the center of the instruments. After painting the guitars, add interesting lines connecting the guitars to one another and to the edges of the paper.

Paint all the guitars using warm colors.

Keep going!

Paint the background spaces using cool colors.

Stick with it!

Now paint the details onto your stringed instruments.

Have Fun!

Do your best!

Display for all to see.

Fantastic Work, Hawks!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Begin this project by adding a dot of blue to some white tempera. Paint a small circle in the middle of the paper. Make sure to leave the very center unpainted as this will be the full moon.

Continue adding a little more blue to the paint in order to create darker tints of blue. Students love to mix and stir the paint! At some point you will switch to pure blue. Paint a ring of pure blue, then begin gradually adding very small amounts of black to create different shades of blue.

While the paint is drying, cut or tear the silhouette of a tree using black paper. Glue the tree to the painting so that it overlaps the moon without covering it up.

Encourage variety in the shape of the trees. Some of my students added silhouettes of owls, bats, and ravens.

Display for all to see and discuss. Review key words like value, tint, shade, gradual, gradation, concentric, subtle, etcetera.

Monday, October 29, 2012


This project was a blast! My students started by sketching only the most basic shapes found within Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream". Then, while looking at small photocopies of the painting, they colored the picture as closely as possible to the original.  They used oil pastels and colored each section with a thick coat. After they finished coloring their work, they applied a coat of black tempera paint over the entire picture.
 When the paint was dry, we passed each picture through a tub of tap water in order to loosen up the black paint which was then wiped off with a damp cloth. Some of the black paint is left behind which adds an interesting appearance to the overall piece. Each student then used a pair of closed scissors to gently scratch into their piece revealing the brilliant pastels beneath. (Large nails work too!)
 Finally, they cut their own Scream portrait out of a 4x6 print and trimmed it to fit into their picture and glued it to the place where the original spooky image was found.

Each final piece is a little different, and this project is a show stopper on the bulletin board in the hallways of our school. Excellent Work Kids!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


 Copper Tooling is a fun and sophisticated project that requires relatively few materials. Here is a list of what you will need.
-Copper Foil (or substitute)
-Metal Tooling Kit (or ball point pens, popsicle sticks, wooden stylus, be creative!)
-White Paper
-Liver of Sulfur or India Ink
-Small cup
-Steel Wool

Wrap a pre-cut piece of foil with plain white drawing paper to determine the size of your image. Unwrap the foil and set it aside. Carefully draw your image into the box on the paper with a pencil.
We chose Mimbres animal images that can be found on the internet. I work with Hopi students, so some of my kids chose Hopi images.

Now wrap the foil again so that your image is directly over the foil. Place the paper and foil on a magazine or some newspaper and trace all of your pencil lines with a ball point pen. Press hard and go slow so that you emboss all of the lines in your design.

 After you have traced all your lines, unwrap the foil and begin further tooling. Keep working on top of a few magazines as this provides a soft surface which allows the foil to be deeply embossed.
Decide which areas you would like to have relief (stand up), and working from the back, push those areas out using the appropriate sized tool. Popsicle sticks work well for this.

 After you have finished all of your tooling and embossing, you can apply a coat of Liver of Sulfur or India Ink. Try painting it over the entire surface and then using steel wool to polish out some desired areas, or carefully paint the LOS or India Ink only where you would like it.

 When you have completely finished all of the steps then you can choose how to display it. We have glued then nailed some of our copper pictures to blocks of wood which we then painted with decorative borders. We have also wrapped them around mat board, or matted them like you would a drawing or a painting.
 Good luck, and please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. Thanks!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Radial Symmetry Name Designs

This is a project that gives students a fun and successful start to the school year. It requires some spatial reasoning skills and you will find that your students will be quietly engaged. I love when that happens! The directions might seem confusing until you try it yourself. Then you'll see that it's really quite easy.
MATERIALS: 8 1/2" X 8 1/2" white computer paper that you have pre-cut for your students, pencils, black or blue sharpies and classroom markers.
 Here are the steps:
1) Fold the paper in half twice to create 4 boxes. OPEN IT.
2) Fold the paper in half diagonally twice. OPEN IT and you will have 8 triangles.
3) Pencil sketch your name into ONE triangle. Use block or bubble letters that you can color inside of later. Make sure that the letters "grow" as you move across the triangle.
4) Trace your name with a sharpie.

 5)Fold the paper in half so that your name shows inside of a new triangle and trace it. This can be done up against a sunny window.
6) Keep folding the paper and tracing your name until all triangles are filled with your name.
7) Color the entire design in your very own interesting pattern using fresh and brilliant markers.

~ You can see in the completed designs that every other name is backwards, hence the symmetry. Be careful to put all of your names on the same side of the paper.

When displayed all together it is a visual delight.
Nice Work, Wildcats!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Mud Cloth or Bogolanfini/Mali, West Africa

We started this project by taking a look at the Bamana tribe of Mali, West Africa and their stunning textiles called bogolanfini or mud cloth.
The process of making this textile is incredibly complex beginning with the growing of their own cotton and also the gathering of mud which is left in jars to ferment for about one year before use. If you want to learn more about this intricate process and some of the symbolism found within the different shapes and patterns, just google "bogolanfini" and read up on it. It's impressive!

For this project we used brown craft paper and tempera paint to make our own imitations of mud cloth. Some of the students folded their paper 4 times to get 16 squares to use as a guideline for their designs. I allowed my students to either come up with their own pattern or to replicate one found online. The results were very satisfying for all, and the students thoroughly enjoyed working with a limited palette of black, white, shades of brown, and even some ochre. My older students worked in groups to create larger sized mud cloths.

Creating our mud cloths was a great way to slip in some math and spatial reasoning skills, social studies, and multicultural awareness. But if you're an art teacher, you know that almost every art project has great potential for this and so much more!

Monday, August 27, 2012


Robert from Fourth Grade
is hard at work on his painting. He took the extra time to add some interesting visual texture by applying small dots with a paintbrush.

Three Fourth Graders proudly display their wonderful Landscape Paintings. Behind them is a mural that was painted by Fred Kabotie back in the early days of Hopi Day School.


Excellent work, Hopi Day School Hawks!