Thursday, November 17, 2022

Thanksgiving Pop-Ups!

 We made Thanksgiving Pop-Up Turkey cards!
These pop-ups could be given as greeting cards or serve as perfect centerpieces for the big Thanksgiving feast!
          Check out smART Class: Pop Up Turkeys to learn how to            make your own!

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Scientific Illustration

This month our teen artists have been working on their drawing and observation skills. They took on the role of naturalists and, through careful observation, drew detailed specimens such as those found in a field guide.                                                                      We decided to illustrate insects and bugs, since they are small, colorful, and have interesting shapes and designs. Also, we have plenty of resource photos of these little critters, so we didn't have to go out in search of them. Here are the how-to's:


First choose and study a resource photo of the subject to be drawn. We have a large file of old calendar photos (animals, insects, birds, fish, landscapes, you name it) as well as Zoo Books, reference books, and pictures found online. Use photos for your resource images, not paintings, drawings, or other artwork.

Using a drawing pencil, carefully sketch the shape and form of your subject on drawing paper. Do not make it too small! You want to make it large enough to add plenty of detail. 


Study the colors, including the highlights and shadows in the photo. 

Decide what art media you will use for this subject. Colored pencil works very well for scientific illustration. If you have large areas of color (such as the basic yellow of a tiger swallowtail butterfly) you might fill them first with soft pastel, then rubbed gently with a finger for a nice smooth background of color.

Select the colors and fill in your subject, layering colors as needed. 



Take your time. Start with larger shapes and distinctive markings first, then add smaller or darker details on top of them. You can also try using ultra fine Sharpies for the finer details and to define things like feathery antennae, hairy legs, transparent wings, and so forth.

Once the illustration is competed, be sure to label it with name of the specimen.


One student went further and completed this little fellow at home in graphite pencil. 

Please see our earlier weblog post, Drawing Bugs! for more about 
Scientific Illustration.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Spooky Halloween Art Fun!

Halloween watercolor painting

We love Halloween! 

Our young artists always look forward to spooky, creepy, scary arts & crafts-making, and who can blame them???

Not me. I feel the same way.




Here are some very spooky projects we created this Halloween, and how you can make them too. 


Wacky Witch's Legs!

This painted collage is so much fun to make!

First you paint the stripy background. We used cake tempera paint for this.

While the background dries, you cut out and assemble the legs and the witchy dress and shoes. 

We used lots of sparkly washi tape and sequins for some extra 'stylin' on our witch's big night!


We got this great idea from A Faithful Attempt, where you'll find the full instructions for this great Halloween mixed media project!


Moveable Mummies

We make these mummies every year for Halloween. 

They are super bendy, so they can display any mood or assume any position! 


You never know where you will find your mummy! 

One young artist said her mummy is just like a spooky Elf on the Shelf!

Visit Crate and Barrel Kids for step-by-steps to make your own Moveable Mummy.


Do you have some scrap lumber laying around? I cut a few 2 x 4 scraps into square blocks and viola!  Halloween Blockheads!!! 

All you need are a few random art supplies, craft paint, and glue. We used fun foam, twigs, artificial leaves, craft sticks, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, feathers, and anything else we had on hand.

So cute -uh- I mean, scary! And kids love to make them!!!



This is a mixed media collage that is similar to ones we've done in the past for older kids, which were oil pastel watercolor resist paintings. This version is slightly simplified, using a silhouette cutout glued on top of the spooky watercolor sky background, and details added using a white pencil and a black Sharpie. 




Draw it (here's how) trace it with oil pastels, add watercolor -- and you've got a spooky cat painting for Halloween!!!

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Charcoal Jack-O-Lanterns

These charcoal Jack-O-Lanterns are just what we need for a good
Halloween haunting! 

Our teen drawing class completed these spooky scenes while learning how to work with various charcoal art media.



We started by toning a piece of 9"x12" drawing paper to a middle value grey. We did this by laying the charcoal on its side and rubbing lightly, while leaving a white border. 




We then rubbed over it down with a soft paper towel to create an even middle grey tone.

We then used our willow vine charcoal to sketch in the shape of our pumpkin, and added a shadow below and to one side of it. We also learned how to use a white eraser to remove charcoal to add lighter areas and highlights.




Some of our pumpkins were strange in shape and quite scary!






Details were added using charcoal pencils, which included medium, soft, and extra soft charcoal lead. Excellent for drawing spider webs!



We also used our white charcoal pencils to add highlights and reflective details, such as a little shine to the bodies of our very-spooky spiders!






Some artists also chose to add a bit of color using soft pastels, such as an 'inner yellow glow' or a slightly pumpkin orange color to their Jack-o-lanterns. 

Take a look at our earlier post, Spooky Jack-O-Lanterns to learn more about this charcoal art project. 

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Owls in Oil Pastel



These oil pastel owls are clearly a favorite, especially around Halloween! You would never know it, but the teen artists who created these beauties are new to oil pastel as an art medium. Most have never used them before. 


The artwork was created on black sulfite paper using a reference photo. A piece of white chalk was used to lightly sketch in the owl shape, which, from the frontal view, is basically the shape of a thumb. 

Easy peasy! 



Next, the eyes and beak were added and any other prominent features, such as a row of dark feathers around the face or "ear" feathers, etc. No tiny details are necessary at this stage; they are added with oil pastel later on.



Now our artists created their palettes for this project. They pulled colors from the pastel set, hold each one up to the resource photo. If it matched a color in the subject, the pastel stick is set aside for the project. This step saves tons of searching time later on! 

Each artist was also given a piece of black scrap paper for testing colors, textures, and special effects. Sometimes colors need to be layered to get the right shade or tone, so testing colors is important during the palette selection process. Black and white are always added to the palette as well. 


To begin filling in the owl, we first created the most expressive part of an owl - the eyes. 

Artists tried a practice eye first on their scrap paper. They found the right color or colors for the iris and made a good solid dot. Then they added a black circle or "owl eye" shape around it, and a good solid black pupil in the center of the iris. Now the eye is given life by adding a nice white reflective highlight (dot) somewhere in the eye. 


Now they were ready to create the owl's eyes, adding that white sparkle to the same spot in both eyes (both to the left or both to the upper right or whatever). 


The beak was then added and the feathers in the face were added as short lines radiating outward around the eyes and from the center of the face. 


Beginners find that it becomes easier and easier to add textures, patterns, colors, and larger feathers as you work and become more accustomed to using the oil pastels. I also believe the lifelike eyes give young artists an instant boost of self confidence right from the start - and as they proceed to complete the image.  




These artists were so proud of their owls! 

Fortunately I had extra black paper for them to take home to practice making even more oil pastel owls. Which they did.

See our previous weblog posts to learn more about oil pastel owl-making : 
                  Homeschool OWL ART!