Miss Katie's Art Class

My husband came across this video and I thought that I would share it with you! It’s hard to believe that Ed Emberley’s first drawing book was published in 1970! His drawing books were my favourite books when I was little. He demystifies drawing for children and gives them a format in which they can feel very happy and successful with the end result. On top of all that, Ed’s just a completely lovely human being!



Wow! Summer School went really fast this year! I can’t believe that we’re almost done, and that school is starting up again for the students by August 16th.

The 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students are painting their finished ceramic sunflowers. We talked more about Vincent Van Gogh, and his choice of colors. I gave the students paint palettes with the Primary Colors (Red, Yellow and Blue) and a palette with Neutral Colors (Black and white). I chose to have the students paint with acrylic paints, instead of watercolor or tempera paints because I wanted their finished work to have the same kind of bright, vibrant colors that Van Gogh used.

Students attached a wire with beads as a hanger before we started to paint the sunflower.

After adding the beads, students worked the wire back through the beads to complete the hanger.

Students painted the flower petals first.

Students shared paint palettes and mixed their colors directly on the palette.

When students had finished painting the top of their sunflower, they painted the sides.

A finished sunflower!

It's a little hard to see, but this student painted the sides of her sunflower blue. It looked amazing next to the bright orange of the petals!

The contrasting colors of this sunflower look fantastic!

We learned how to mix the color brown today. The easiest way is to mix two color complements. We used violet and yellow.

While the older students were finishing-up their ceramic sunflowers, the Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades were working on creating sticker collages and crayon rubbings!

Students had a variety of different sized geometric shaped stickers to work with.

Students had the option of creating a picture of 'something' or creating a purely abstract composition.

Some students got incredibly detailed! (Sorry for the slightly blurry picture!)

These pictures always make me smile!

Students used white paper and crayons to create rubbings of their finished sticker collage.

It started to get noisy once students began using the big chunky crayons!

The younger students really enjoyed this lesson. The stickers that I used can be purchased from Discount School Supply. The specific item is called “Super Value Sticker Shapes Pack-8100 Pieces”. In an up-coming post, I’ll show you how to create big chunky crayons that can be used for this lesson!

This week the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th graders began working on Model Magic Mandalas. The word mandala means ‘circle’ in Sanskrit. In the Buddhist tradition, they are called Mandalas, and in the Hindi tradition, they are called Yantras. In each of these traditions, Mandalas and Yantras are used for religious purposes. The Mandalas that we created in art class were not meant to be religious in any way.

This lesson was given to me by another art teacher (Thanks Cinamon G!) and it was so much fun to teach! While I didn’t choose to teach this lesson to the kindergarteners or the 1st graders, it’s completely adaptable for younger students!

This is a Yantra, which is related to a Mandala, but a little different.

This is also a Yantra.

Our Mandalas were a little different. Instead of drawing them, we used Model Magic clay to create them. It was a good time to practice radial symmetry and talk about fractions too!

This is the vocabulary and visuals that I had displayed for the lesson.

Some of the students were having a hard time creating the sizes of spheres, so I created some visuals to help.

After creating the spheres, we carefully flattened them into circles.

Using our 'pincher-fingers' to create circles!

We then cut our medium and small circles into quarters and eighths.

We then cut our medium and small circles into quarters and eighths.

Carefully placing pieces in a radially symmetrical pattern in her mandala.

Making a few small adjustments to get things just the way she wants them!

We used gel pens to create more radially symmetrical designs on the black background board.

I love how sculptural some students got with their work!

This design came together so well! Great color and composition!

While the older students were creating Mandalas, the Kindergarteners and 1st graders were learning about color theory. We learned about the Primary Colors (Red, Blue and Yellow) and that when you mix two Primary Colors, a Secondary Color (Green, Orange and Violet) is created! To start the lesson, I read the book “White Rabbit’s Color Book” by Alan Baker.

This book is amazingly cute and does an excellent job of illustrating color mixing to young children!

To finish our bunnies, we drew some faces on them!

These turned out so incredibly sweet!

I hot-glued the bunnies to a small piece of board for safe keeping! Almost every student wanted his/her bunnies turned so they could 'talk' to each other!

My apologies for not having more pictures of students working! This is a guided practice lesson, so it can get a little harried teaching the lesson and attempting to take pictures at the same time!

I had this song in my head this morning, and thought that I might share it with you! Enjoy!

My last class of 5th and 3rd graders finished their Van Gogh inspired clay sunflowers today. All that remains is for them to dry completely (not a very hard thing to do here in New Mexico) and to be fired. I’m going to fire about half of the sunflowers that are dry and ready tomorrow morning. I’ll post some pictures of them too, as soon as they’re done!

I love the little sun that's in the center of the flower!

I also snapped a picture of some of the Kindergarteners finished Henri Matisse inspired paper collages. They did such a good job on them! I love it when classroom teachers hang up their students artwork for everyone to see and enjoy!

Great Kindergarten Work!

This week the 4th and 5th grade students have been looking at the work of the Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890). Vincent had an interest in art from an early age, but didn’t decide to devote himself to art until he was 20. During his short life, he created over 2,000 pieces, of which 900 are paintings. The paintings that we looked at and used to inspire us for this lesson were Van Gogh’s Sunflower paintings which the artist painted during the last few years of his life, while living in Arles, France.

Vincent Van Gogh, Self Portrait, 1889

Vincent wrote to his brother Theo in August of 1888:

“I am hard at it, painting with the enthusiasm of a Marseillais eating bouillabaisse, which won’t surprise when you know what I’m at is the painting of some sunflowers. If I carry out this idea there will be a dozen panels. So the whole thing will be a symphony in blue and yellow. I am working at it every morning from sunrise on, for the flowers fade so quickly. I am now on the fourth picture of sunflowers. This fourth one is a bunch of 14 flowers…it gives singular effect.”

Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers, 1888

Instead of using paint for a picture, I had students create a sunflower in ceramic clay. I had not used this lesson before and have been excited about getting to try it out in my own class room, with my own students! One of the fantastic art teachers (Thank you Rebecca M!) that I work with shared this lesson with me during an Art Teacher Lesson Share last school year.

If you would like to learn more about Vincent Van Gogh, I found a great kid-friendly website page about him. It’s through the Kids Konnect website.

The kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students created paper collages inspired by the French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954). Like Van Gogh, Matisse became an artist a little later in his life, but once he did, he never looked back!

Henri Matisse, Self Portrait 1918

Henri Matisse, Portrait of Madame Matisse (The Green Line), 1905

Henri’s was given some art supplies to use while he was recovering from an appendicitis in 1889. He soon decided that he wanted to be an artists. While studying art, he was shown the work of Vincent Van Gogh, and it changed the way he used color in his own work forever. The above portrait of Madame Matisse caused quite a stir in the French art world at the time. Henri used bright, vibrant colors, regardless of whether the were correct or not. For this, he and some of his fellow artists were called “Fauves” which means ‘wild beasts’ in French!

As Henri grew older, he had a harder and harder time standing at an easel to paint, but he was an artist, and he found a way to work. In the late 1940’s, Henri began working on large paper ‘Cut-Outs’. He would have his assistants paint paper for him, and he would cut it out and arrange it into painted paper collages.

Henri drawing with scissors!

Henri Matisse, The Knife Thrower (from the book 'Jazz'), paper collage, 1947

Henri Matisse, Panel with Mask, Gouache and Cut Paper, 1947

Henri Matisse, Beasts of the Sea, Paper Collage on Canvas, 1950


We looked at Henri’s later collage and ‘Cut-Out” work to inspire us for our project. We also talked about organic and freeform shapes, overlapping, composition and color usage. The students had a lot of fun, especially cutting out the freeform shapes! “It looks like a dog!” — “NO! It looks like a #1!” — “You’re crazy! It’s a shark!” to be followed by “It’s a man walking down the street!” I love to hear students use their imaginations!

Wow! The first week of art classes went very quickly — and now we’ve finished the second week! The fourth and fifth grade students had a lot of fun finishing their Shrinky Dink project. I took a slight detour and decided to change the lesson from being centered around Gee’s Bend Quilts to lettering and typography, but the students didn’t seem to mind too much, and created some beautiful, wearable artwork in the process!

The first, second and third graders all got a chance to work on HUGE pieces of watercolor paper and use some tools that were new to them; rulers, protractors and compasses. We used the artwork of Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979) as our inspiration. She and her husband, fellow artist Robert Delaunay (1885-1941), were influential in creating the small art movement known as Orphism. Orphism was heavily rooted in Cubism, but favored the more colorful palette of the Fauvists. Sonia used bright colors and simple geometric shapes to communicate the meaning of her art to the viewer. As her work matured, recognizable subject matter all but disappeared in her compositions of line, shape and color.

The kindergarten students got to learn and practice with one of the most important tools that we will be using in the art room, scissors. I taught the “Shred Lesson”! We talked about how sharp scissors can be, and learned how to handle them very safely, how to hold them when we cut, what we can and cannot cut, then we practiced with our scissors, cutting small pieces of paper into teeny, tiny pieces of paper. Then we made a HUGE MESS, throwing all of our teeny, tiny pieces of paper up into the air! We covered the floors, tables and chairs in confetti paper cuttings! It was BEAUTIFUL! The art room became the home of a very temporary, one-of-a-kind art installation by the new kindergarteners! At the end of our lesson, we learned how to make sure that the art room cleaned-up and the tools and supplies put away once we’re finished with our lesson. The kindergarten students did a great job of cleaning up too!