Tag Archives: bird


So what does an art teacher do with the leftover clay? How to spend the time when students are absorbed in their clay building?

I confess I got the idea for the hand from a local artist who sells at a boutique downtown. Hers are better, of course, but this design is mine. It feels like me. It will hold necklaces or scarves.

I plan to hang this mommy owl and her four babies from a stake in a large garden pot.

What would you do?


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Filed under Art, Creativity

Odds and Endings

I have been too busy to post faithfully each art project, so I thought I would do a wrap-up with a few from several projects. Kindergarten was introduced to impressionism through Monet, and used oil pastel and water color to create their own simplistic Monet bridge.

First and second grades designed their own birds. Like they did with fish in kindergarten, we discussed the parts of birds and the different shapes they come in. Some students spent a lot of time detailing their bird. Others had time to incorporate backgrounds. And a few even had time to glue in tail feathers. The whole project had to be completed in a single, 40-minute session.

This second grade student has truly grasped the concept of filling the space.

First grade is still working on that concept.

first grade

second grade

A second grader who had artist’s block at first, but whose finished bird is just lovely and unique. I hope she painted in a background at home.

It seems that’s all I have pictures of. It’s been a fun year, and I learned a lot. I hope the kids did, too!

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

The Age of Brain Fog

True confessions: I am so glad my art classes stop at 6th grade now. Something just happens around 12 or 13 to kids that appears to others around them as if huge segments of their neural networks have been posted “road closed.” Sometimes there are detours that leave bystanders scratching their heads in wonder and confusion, and sometimes it seems as if traffic has shut down altogether.

My youngest son is, well, over 12 and a half. He isn’t much for sticking to the well-worn path when his neural network is a beehive of smoothly operating roads. But now… let’s just say he isn’t always tracking with me. And guess what? He is one of my art students! He has created a number of fun art pieces for me, mostly as my student, and often only loosely guided by the project goals. (Some kids are just scouts, you know?) One of them is currently in the Gathering of the Talents in Nebraska, waiting to see if the judges there are as excited by it as they were the one I sent for him last year. But sometimes his unique spin on a project is more the result of working while “road closed.”

Remember the student brush art roosters? From a reference photo? My son was zoned for the description of brush art capturing the idea of the subject, lines suggesting wings and tail feathers. He seemed to pay attention as we walked through an observation of our subject together, yet he ended up asking me and his neighbors, “What am I supposed to do? I don’t get it. What am I painting?” He didn’t even follow what his fellow students tried to tell him. And this is his brush art rooster:

Essence of Rooster

Honestly, I love this rooster. I love how he blends color into color, yet maintains control of his overall figure. He still has no idea what we are looking for in a sample of this era of brush art, but he has so little fear of any medium. He rarely likes his own artwork, and I rarely see anything to dislike. I wish I could get more out of him.

His fellow 6th grader:

Definitely strutting his stuff.

Two views, one chicken.

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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

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

Peacocks for the Holidays?

Really, no. They are just the first and second grades’ wrap-up of India.

Anything with gold and/or glitter paint is popular with this crowd. This project has both. Lots of oohs and aaahs.

many peacocks, like this one, didn't connect their feathers at the base of the tail. Interesting!

I love this bird's expression.

One without eyes...

...and one whose eyes match the ones on his feathers! Awesome!

I really love how all these birds turned out so different and interesting. I turned them loose with tempera and photos of the national bird of India, and got these vibrant paintings. I would be interested in seeing some American eagles from the class at some point!

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Filed under Art, First/Second Grade, Teaching

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

Introducing India…slowly, one feather at a time

So far in our world “travels,” I have had no trouble at all giving a taste of a region and its people, and connecting them to the sort of art they create. After all, it only has to be at a very superficial level even a 6-year-old can begin to relate to. With India, not so much. I really wrestled with the contrasts of this region. And where will we take our inspiration, since the vast majority of India’s art is inspired by Hinduism, not God’s creation? They sure picked an extraordinary national bird, though! So our younger artists started with the peacock. In fact, Kinders started just with a peacock FEATHER. We practiced our guided observation, and how to translate what we see to our own papers, and these luminescent feathers are the result.

First and second grades are working on whole peacocks and learning a lot about tints and how dark colors affect other colors. Some are almost finished, but will miss next week’s class due to Thanksgiving, so it will be a bit before I can get their peacocks up. Kindergarten has started on spiral pattern snakes, but this year we will add a hood to make them cobras, like the ones in our Rikki Tikki Tavi story. I actually just retold very very briefly the Kipling story accompanied by some of the beautiful illustrations of Jerry Pinkney. The kids cheered when the mongoose saved the family!

Third through sixth grades are doing a glue resist batik with acrylic paints. Their subject was an Indian animal of their choosing, but for most of third and fourth, that was the peacock. Designs were drawn in Sharpie on wax paper, and set under our fabric, then traced on fabric with Elmers blue gel glue. Monday we begin adding color!

Little by little we are making inroads into exotic India.

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

Chicken Envy

My life-long friend Lauri got chickens this year. She doesn’t even like chickens, but her daughter and husband went to the feed store at the irresistible chick season, and couldn’t resist bringing home a bunch of Rhode Island Reds.

 She built them a coop and cares for them dutifully, but she doesn’t CARE for them. I, on the other hand, would LOVE a half dozen hens wandering about. My neighbors would no doubt call the city down on me, so I don’t attempt any urban farming, but I find them very peaceful.

My older daughter knows this about me. She knew that I raised them when I was younger. Hence this birthday present from her.

Extraordinary Chickens 2012 Wall Calendar She didn’t know that when I was about 10 or 11 I had a pet topknot chick that I carried in a shoulder bag and let it ride on my shoulder on occasion, until it was more pullet than chick. This is so extremely redneck a childhood story that this gift made for gales of laughter on both our sides. I wish I could show you the photos of the crazy chickens inside! This feathered friend is quite tame in comparison.

Well, I’m only in my 40s, so presumably I have time to possibly again know the peacefulness of little hens pecking and scratching and making their soothing questing noises. But they won’t look like this one. And it won’t be in this particular suburb, or anytime soon. But who wouldn’t love to throw scratch to a few of these little faces every morning?

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