Tag Archives: Animals

A Beautiful Day for a Stroll in the Garden

I’m just going to post pics of the lovely Jardin des Martels. We spent hours wandering the many gardens, including water gardens and an animal farm.

Welcomed by dancing water.

Welcomed by dancing water.

Yellow fall color is strong against fading purple blooms.

Yellow fall color is strong against fading purple blooms.

Purple surviving in the shade. This palette really seems French to me!

Purple surviving in the shade. This palette really seems French to me!

I offer more garden photos here, to reduce the homepage load time, a little anyway:

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Filed under France, home & garden

How to Really Freak Out Your Art Students

and truly, I did not anticipate the reaction our gyotaku would get from the fifth and sixth graders. I started out reminding them that in Japanese culture almost EVERYthing can be an art. And printing in Japan was a long-established art, as we had already experience with our lino block prints. Japan is surrounded by ocean, so it has a serious fisherman tradition also. So is it surprising that something that began as a way to record your great catch long before the Kodak became a beautiful fine art? I thought not.

So when I pulled out our whole semi-frozen tilapia, why were the kids shocked? Did they think I would practice fish printing with potatoes? (And let me add that the difficulty of acquiring that fish in the midst of the heartland of America was a surprise to me). We watched a video of someone printing a fish, and they were totally grossed out. Ewwwww!

Excuse me?! I picked this art because this class 80% male! Do you not fish, boy students? What do boys do nowadays?!

When we daubed ink over our fish, pulling out the fins, the female part of the class was cool as cucumbers. A couple of boys weren’t touching my fish. It was certainly memorable!! This was my first time printing a fish, and I would have loved more time and paper to perfect our technique. Our prints show just gloppy ink in places, and we seriously should have had a Qtip to clean the eye of ink, rather than tissue. Sometimes making do doesn’t work. We will go over our fish prints with Sharpie to make a live eye before I mount these for the art show, but I wanted to to share now.

fish print by 6th grade girl


fish print by 6th grade boy


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Filed under Art, Fifth/Sixth Grade, Teaching

Brushing up on Chinese Brush Art

All grades but Kindergarten spent the month of March learning to watercolor with Asian tools and methods. Well, not really…. There is far too much involved; but they have been introduced to the bamboo brush and its very different, rollable fingertip hold, as you saw in some of their bamboo paintings. After gaining a little familiarity with some of the brush strokes, and practicing with bamboo and Chinese characters, the third through sixth grades gave a little attempt at one certain Chinese style popular for a short time among the academics. I chose this not only for its goal of capturing simplicity and essence, but also for the strong influence this one school of Chinese painting had on our NEXT country, Japan.

A few brush art pandas:

This third grader's drips actually enhanced the subject.

Note the chops the students signed with; these were REALLY challenging for them!

This and the previous panda were fourth graders. This one seems to be standing, with hands on hips. Adorable!

We also had some colored roosters:

This fifth grader's rooster was painted from a reference photo of a very colorful bird.

this fifth grader's rooster seems very fierce to me.

We are finally through China, and after some free art this week, we’ll look at Japan. I am especially interested in how our first ever lino prints turn out!

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Filed under Art, Fifth/Sixth Grade, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade

Ushering in Spring

My homeschool students have done their spring-themed projects, kicking off their spring session. My older students had a rare experience with acyrlic painting, and a first experience on canvas paper. We observed sheep and lambs together, then worked through a loosely guided drawing, in a neutral paint color with our brushes, of a lamb. Although the lamb’s head and the background were painted traditionally, the wooly body was acrylic with medium added, painted with plastic spoons. We definitely created some fluffy lambs!

Third grade homeschool student.

Another third grader.

A second grade homeschooler.

Kinders painted a garden of spring flowers, in a lesson introduced by Deep Space Sparkle here, although we didn’t take time to spatter. We dripped puddles of watercolor, then turned our papers up over newspaper and let the drips paint stems. We then read the book Ish, by Peter Reynolds. Afterwards, we returned to our flowers to add details with chalk pastels. I think they were very flowerish!


Filed under Art, First/Second Grade, Kindergarten, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade


Line drawings from the homeschool class on Groundhog Day. Our reference photo was Bing’s photo for that day.

Second Grades:

Third Grades:

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Filed under Art, Teaching

Mister Seahorse, Kindergarten-style

School kinders recently finished a collage project based on the Eric Carle book Mister Seahorse

We painted warm, textured papers for our future seahorses, and cool, wavy watercolor papers for our sea background. Then we walked through a guided observation of real seahorses in photos, noting the curvy lines and the spiral in the tail, similar to our cobras. I took liberties and loosely tied our seahorse to Mexico. All that coastline, you know. Then I turned them loose to draw, on the back of their warm painted papers, their first SOLO drawing from observation! A few were afraid to try, but as they watched me encourage and praise the braver students who applied curved lines to paper and tried to create the contours of a seahorse, my timid artists jumped in after them. We cut out and glued our seahorses to the watercolor sea, with the exception of one fellow who got the papers mixed. Either way, the results were striking, I think. A few Mister Seahorses:





A mister seahorse with a baby.


a big-nosed mister seahorse


the warm-water seahorse...love that smile!

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Filed under Art, Kindergarten, Teaching

Finding Brain-space

I haven’t written a blog post in three weeks. It’s not because I am no longer teaching art. It’s not because I’m not living a life I feel like commenting on. I’m just crazy busy. I stayed on at the department store I wrapped for during the holidays, selling women’s clothing. All told, it’s as if I’m working full-time now, plus doing the Mom and Wife thing, plus serving in my church. And oddly enough, I find that I need empty space in my schedule for writing. I’m calling it “Brain-space.” It’s that quiet time that is left AFTER you have used up the planning time and the to-do list and the needed conversations, when your brain can be quiet for a bit and dream up new things. Apparently my own art uses that same “Brain-space” as well.

But, here I have a strangely sleepless night, having tossed and turned a couple of hours, and I’ve finally reached my Brain-space. So I thought I would use this time to show you a little of our Mexican wrap-up. My focus on Mexican art was its folk-art, and especially its bright colors and patterns. Third through sixth grades tackled form in the medium of paper mache, inspired by Oaxican alebrijas. Paper mache is NOT something I am skilled at, and apparently even less at teaching it. However, it was an introduction to something new, and the students who were willing to be patient and careful were quite successful, I think.

A 4th grader's alligator.

A 5th grader's cameleon.

6th grade butterfly

Kindergarten practiced a guided observation of a Mexican toucan, followed by a guided drawing. These were fun!

a homeschool kinder toucan with a grape

another homeschool kinder

I’ll add a school kinder toucan as soon as I find where I put those photos!

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Filed under Art, Fifth/Sixth Grade, Kindergarten, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade

More Student Batik

I’ve gotten more student batiks washed out, and some of these illustrate why I regret offering so many color choices. I definitely want to do some work with them on color theory and schemes next semester. I do think, however, that several of these have just beautiful composition and design. Gel glue is a challenging new medium for any artist, and the students rose to the challenge.

third grade peacock

third grade elephant

third grade elephant, had several like this

fifth grade peacock

fifth grade elephant. If I had had more time, I would have encouraged him to do the 2nd layer of black over the whole background.

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Filed under Art, Fifth/Sixth Grade, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade

Indian Batik, the Kid-friendly Way

Third through sixth grades have been creating art on fabric, in the Indian style. I’m not a fan of hot wax around children, though, and dye has no washability with student messes, so we did our batik the kid-friendly way. We used Elmer’s blue gel glue and acrylic paint. I first saw this technique on That Artist Woman’s blog, here. Some adjustments I made for my students are drawing their design on the wax paper with sharpie, then tracing that pattern on the fabric set over the wax paper using the glue; and for my older students, we added more glue design over the acrylic paint once it dried, and then added a second layer of paint over that in the background. I encouraged light colors for the underpainting for them, and we allowed the second layer of acrylic to only MOSTLY dry, so that some washed away as we washed away the glue. This created a much more batik-y look.

a third grade peacock

a fourth grade peacock

another fourth grade peacock

a sixth grade elephant

a sixth grade monkey

I think these turned out very well. The medium of glue was very new to the students, who couldn’t really forsee the results after it all washed out, and kept trying to paint the dried glue as if the lines would stay this painted color. The washing out step was a revelation to many! I also offered a much larger palette than I usually do, and some of the kids just went crazy with color, in spite of my warnings to select a few to work with. Those are a little harder to discern, but I’ll post a couple of those later. The water to wash out the glue really does need to be hot, so we only did a preliminary wash at school, and I took them home to really wash them completely and press.

I plan to finish these squares by mounting them to foamboard backing. Maybe. We’ll see how it goes!


Filed under Art, Fifth/Sixth Grade, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade

Twisting Their Brains…Bwahaha!

Yes, the evil art teacher did ask the first and second grades to do something ridiculous, even, dare some say? Impossible?

Or at least you would think so from the reception I got when I unveiled their drawing image. After explaining that we were going to trick their brains to help them draw better, and not to name what they see beyond line and curve and dot, I told my young students we were going to do something some of artists do as a warm-up exercise. And then I showed them the image of a lioness line drawing–upside down! They were charged to draw the lines they saw, not the image, and I walked them through the process of observing the starts and stops of lines, their curves, where they meet, etc.  A few tried to be sneaky and draw turning their own heads upside down, but most gave it a go. I think they turned out great! Then they were asked to add shapes for the mane, and fill them with lines and patterns, a la Deep Space Sparkle, as envisioned by That Little Art Teacher with lions. I think my students were really pleased with their results, once they got through the pain of focusing!

Some first grade lions:

And some second grade lions:

We could have used about 10 more minutes for paint time, but I told the kids to paint the most important parts first, because our time was limited. And I have NO idea why the scars all over some lions, but it totally cracks me up!


Filed under Art, First/Second Grade, Teaching