Tuesday, November 28, 2017

sequence observational drawing

Nothing seems to make me more popular than when the kids get to eat what we draw.

And I'm not above bribing to hear children sing my praises!

I decided to have the K-Grade 3 class work on observational drawing. Gingerbread men seemed like the logical choice given we are now officially into the holiday season.

We started by doing a couple of warm up exercises. First I had the students create a large continuous line drawing using the blind contour method. Giggles ensued at the weird gingerbread men drawings created when they couldn't see their papers while drawing.

grade 1

Each child had their permanent black marker poked through a paper plate so they couldn't see the lines they were drawing.

They then created line drawings using their non dominant hand.

grade 2

And finally I had them create a quick drawing using a tonal view finder where they just colored the darks they saw in their cookies before adding the lines.

grade 2

Then we got down to business, pulled out three sheets of watercolor paper and began final drawings.

First they drew their gingerbread men whole. The young artist did careful looking to make sure they captured all the details along with the darks and lights.

grade 2

Then I asked them to take a bite.

Only one bite.

Anywhere they wanted on the cookie.

Then painfully they put the cookie back down without taking another bite and drew it again.

grade 2

They quickly caught onto the drill and were happy to hear they could now eat the entire cookie. I asked them to make sure they left all the crumbs on the paper towel they were using to place the cookie on while observing so they could draw what was left. I also told them they were welcome to leave a bit of the cookie to draw if they wanted.

The choice was theirs.

And then the children did their final sequence drawing and if they had any cookie left promptly ate it.

grade 1

At this point I gave them some graphite pencils that activate with water. I asked them to again draw in the dark areas of their cookies (using the lone surviving cookie to observe lights, darks and details)

The children didn't realize the pencil activated with water until I handed out some jugs of water and paintbrushes and asked them to go over their lines. I love surprising them sometimes.

I then placed out colored pencils and water-based markers to add color to their drawings. Again they had the opportunity to paint the markers with water to create a watercolor effect.

When they had finished adding the color I put out a bit of white paint for them to go back and add the icing and then they added some black pencil lines to bring back any details they wanted.

Finally using the colored markers one last time, they added back the color to the candies and sprinkles.

I mounted their drawings in sequence onto one piece of paper as a warning to all gingerbread men this holiday season to be diligent and to never forget.....

Run, run as fast as you can cause if you don't this is what happens when a child catches the gingerbread man.

Monday, November 27, 2017

watercolors inspired by "winter" animals

A lovely young girl had her eighth birthday party here at the studio a couple of weekends ago.

She loves watercolors and wanted to do something with animals that live in the snow. In past workshops and camps, she has gravitated towards penguins so I wasn't that surprised she chose to do an animal theme picture and winter animals to boot!

I pulled out reference for polar bears and penguins. I then had a couple of request for arctic foxes and snow bunnies. All easy request for me to fulfill.

I taped down large sheets of watercolor paper and gave the party guest time to work out their sketches on practice paper before transferring them onto the watercolor paper.

We discussed finding the shapes of the animals to begin a sketch and also how they could make artist choices to simplify their compositions from what they saw on the reference and even a bit about abstracting their animals and what that actually meant.

They then traced over their drawings with sharpie pen.

I gave a quick demonstration on some of the techniques they could utilize with the watercolors, wet on wet, scratching, salt, and blooming.

I then handed out a palette of primary colors and black.

Before they started I shared with them how they didn't have to paint their animals realistic colors, they could paint "crazy" colors that evoked feelings, temperature or was just their favorite color.

The birthday girl was using a diving polar bear for reference and she created an amazing sketch but was unhappy with her upside down polar bear, as she wasn't quite sure she wanted the bear diving underwater. Together we discussed and brainstormed all the different reasons her polar bear could be upside down.

birthday girl

And here is what she came up with, pretty fabulous.

grade 3

grade 3

These two friends used the same snow bunny for reference but I love the how interesting the compare/contrast is between the two artworks. Although the sketches are very similar the artist choices made afterwards are unique to each child. From choosing different directions for their paper, background and how they painted their rabbits.

grade 2

This arctic fox created by the youngest party goer was fun to watch. At the start, she used her watercolor paint as regular paint and had put it on thickly on one side and declared she needed more. I challenged her to see if by adding water she could get that blue paint to cover the entire paper and she was quite surprised to see that she actually could do it. She was then lost in adding more colors to the blue, trying her hand at using the water to bloom the color and of course, had a lot of fun adding salt. Her fox was a very solid blue at the end when she told me she was finished and so I handed her a bit of paper towel and asked her to find the highlights on the reference and blot them out with the papertowel. Love her use of brushstrokes around the fox to lead the viewer into her artwork.

grade 3

The simplicity of this diving penguin is in my opinion genius. I love that the young artist was brave enough to leave out the facial features even and look at the way she used her brushstrokes in the water to created a downward motion with the penguin!

grade 3

And this happy, leaping polar bear painted in pink! How sweet. Again we brainstormed a bit about what might be in the hand of that bear and she giggled at some of the ideas. No surprise this happy bear ended up holding a present while being created at a birthday party.

grade 3


And then there were these two penguins. I am so impressed at the restraint each used when using color and although these look simple, they took just as much time for the young artist to create.

At the end when it comes time to sign their names, I always give a little talk about making a mindful decision on how to add their names to the pictures. After spending an hour and half creating the pictures, we don't want the name that was written in less than thirty seconds to be the first thing the viewer notices in the artwork.  Children quickly catch onto this concept and I am always amazed at some of the creative ways they implement their names into the artwork afterwards.

Happy 8th Birthday Miss T!! Thank you for letting me share in your special day.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

water based marker monoprints

These lovely monoprints were created during a warm up activity to an acrylic landscape painting project in the teen class.

A warm up exercise!

Created with the humblest of art supplies, Crayola markers and a piece of acetate.

Each teen had picked a reference photo they were considering using for the acrylic painting. They put this photograph under the acetate and then drew the elements they were thinking of including in their painting onto the acetate with the markers.

We had talked a lot about how artist are always making decisions about what to put in and take out of their paintings. What to simplify, what the focus should be and how to move things around to create an interesting composition.

This quick exercise gave each of them a chance to begin making some of those decisions without getting bogged down in getting things "just right" in a sketch.

As they were drawing with the markers onto the plastic, and any old plastic will do for this project, there was some concern that it wasn't working as the ink just kind of balled up on the surface. It was hard to convince the artist that it was OK the marker wasn't covering the surface as expected but since it was a warm up exercise there wasn't too much stressing and they continued forward.

I then gave them a piece of damp paper and they turned their ink drawing face down onto the paper and rubbed.

When they pulled the acetate up, they were all pleasantly surprised with the results.

I was too.

I thought they were so stunning that I matted all of them for the teens to take home.