Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Favorite New Watercolor Technique

Last September I attended a watercolor workshop in my hometown where we learned to embrace the loose, flowy nature of the medium using Japanese techniques. We started by sketching the focal point and using masking fluid to cover it. It’s also nice to let some drops of masking fluid fall on the Negative space to create some highlights. When that was dry (do not use a blow dryer to speed it up), we wet the paper and just waited for it to lose the sheen. Next, we applied red, yellow, and blue watercolors (we mixed tube watercolor with water in little cups aiming for a medium value), allowing the colors to mix and bleed together. We added more paint in certain areas trying to match the light and dark zones from the reference picture. As the paint dries you can go back and work to define the negative space. An example would be making the background darker around the shape of a leaf. This is usually more interesting than just painting the positive space. Eventually you remove the masking fluid and paint the focal point in a more controlled manner.

I really enjoyed this technique and since I realized I needed to do a better job of selling watercolor  to my students, I made a small watercolor painting part of our painting bootcamp. I have the students 5x7 inch pieces of watercolor paper and asked them to choose a simple subject for the focal point that could have a flowy background, like a flower or an animal. We used sax liquid watercolors dispensed I go palettes and I also let the students sprinkle salt on the wet paint if they wanted to try out that effect. We have table salt at school but lately I’ve been adding a bit of sea salt or kosher salt at home and I like how the bigger crystals make a different look.

I enjoye this process so much that I used it as the hands-on portion of a TSB workshop I co-presented at the 2018 Kansas Art Education Association fall conference.


Masking fluid can be kind of expensive but I’ve found that you really only need 2 or 3 bottles since the students will be ready for it at different times and can share. I’ve also been told that it doesn’t last forever so you shouldn’t really buy more than you’ll use in a year.
What is your favorite watercolor technique to teach?
One of the art teacher workshop participants created this flower.

Here are a few of the small paintings I've created practicing this technique.

My student's finished clownfish

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

I'm Not Just a Scribble

Have you heard of the book "I'm Not Just a Scribble"? If not, and you teach early childhood art classes, you should totally check it out. Not only does the book embrace our youngest artists' scribbles as valid, it has a message of inclusion.
I see my PreK students once a week for 40 minutes. I've started using a book to kick off most classes and I'm glad to have added I'm NOT Just a Scribble to that collection. After reading the book we talked about the message and then the students used crayons on 9x12 inch paper to make a scribble and to add other details (friends) for the scribble to play with. 

 The book comes with stickers but when those run out, you can just switch to google eyes! I had the students come over one at a time to choose their eyes and place them where they wanted before I used a hot glue gun to attach. Bottled glue would work as well, but the hot glue dries a lot faster.

What are your favorite books to use for PreK? We'll be using Mouse Paint next week as the students mix colors and Mouse Shapes the week after to introduce collage.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Middle School Ceramic Gargoyles

My 8th graders weren't yet ready for too many choices  when it was time to do clay. I wanted to choose a topic that would get them interested and cover a bunch of different sculpting techniques. I remembered that my high school students had made gargoyles at League Art in the past and that other students were always intrigued with the results so I chose that topic.
We looked at a bunch of images and discussed the history of gargoyles and grotesques both practical and symbolic before brainstorming a list of features we saw in the images. The students used the list to help them come up with ideas as they sketched out a gargoyle they wanted to make.
The next day I demonstrated combining pinch pots to make hollow forms, attachment techniques, and several sculpting methods. The students set off to work on their sculptures.
When they were ready for glazing, I showed how you can dab on black glaze then wipe it off with a sponge to create a stone effect. All the students chose to glaze their gargoyles with this technique and they turned out great! A few didn't wipe off quite enough so they just have some black shiny spots instead of a matte finish. The 8th graders impressed the high school students who kept asking about the projects and who had made them. The students have steadily shown more work ethic and responsibility since we moved to 3D projects so they have shown me they are ready for a theme which is how we'll finish off the semester.




Saturday, September 22, 2018

8th Grade Koru

In June 2017 I attended the NAEA western Region Leadership Conference and one of our breakout sessions was a lesson on koru- spiral designs representing new life, growth, and peace to the Maori people of New Zealand. 
I taught a similar the lesson to 8th graders last year and ended up changing a few things and leaving it for the beginning of this school year when I was in maternity leave. 
There was a slides presentation to introduce the culture and concept to the students...

Then they start to design. This year I asked the students to trace their designs with glue on black paper and add color with construction paper crayons. They turned out pretty cool, especially after the students chose a color of construction paper to mount the work on for display.