Saturday, April 30, 2022

Critters in Oil Pastel!

Every once in a while we've just gotta break out those oil pastels!

This medium is just so exciting and the results are so satisfying, I try to regularly work them into our schedule, especially for newer students. Even absolute beginners can be successful!

This particular animal art project is one I've done several times over the years. We sketch the image of a bird or an animal on a 9" x 12" sheet of black (sulphite) construction paper, and then we fill in the colors and textures with layered oil pastels. 

We don't focus too much on drawing skills - this project is more about learning to work with oil pastels to blend colors to create shades and highlights, and adding texture such as fur, feathers, softness, roughness, etc. to the image. 

To remove the stress of drawing a 'perfect' image, we transfer the image that we've chosen directly from a photographic resource (usually a calendar picture) to the paper using tracing paper and carbon paper. (Click here to find out how we do this.) This really does allow the student to move on from the drawing phase and get the business at hand - learning to paint with oil pastels. 

Once the basic outline of the model has been transferred the paper, the fun begins! The resource photo is placed on an easel for easy reference, and oil pastels are held up and 'matched' to the colors in the model. These chosen pastel sticks are then set aside as the color 'palette' that will be used for the painting. 

The artist then begins filling in the figure with color - and determining along the way whether to press firmly or lightly, use long lines or short lines or dots of color, and how to layer colors to create shadows, or layer white to create highlights, or create textures atop colors.  

We also learn how to use a sgraffito technique to scratch or carve textures (such as fur) into heavily applied oil pastel. 

In this post is shown an always-favorite subject for oil pastel critter paintings: owls. In the past, our homeschool art club in particular has enjoyed creating oil pastel owls around Halloween time.

Here are some 'kitty' portraits. 

I've have found that art students of any age (even adults!) can find success and great satisfaction painting birds and animals in oil pastels. 

All of the paintings shown in this post were created by young artists ages 8 through 12, all of whom were trying oil pastels for the very first time!

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Rabbits and Wildflowers

To celebrate Spring, we painted these wild rabbits! 

Over the years, this wary little rabbit, venturing out into a meadow of yummy treats, has become a favorite painting project! 

Whenever we paint these wild rabbits our young artists particularly enjoy painting the dandelion seed pods floating around while their rabbits are munching on goodies. 

These little fellows were painted with liquid tempera paint on lightweight, rough (not slick) poster board, 16 by 22 inches. 

We used a variety of painting "implements" for the wildflowers, such as round sponges and frayed cardboard tubes. We used round stiff brushes and plastic scrubbers for the dandelion seed pods. After all, an artist is not confined to brushes alone! 

We used Sharpies for the finishing touches, such as a bit of outlining and (of course) whiskers! 

In an earlier weblog post, I included an original poem about our painted dandelion rabbits. My hope was, and is, to inspire young artists to write something creative about their artwork or to select some of their own creative writing to illustrate with a painting or drawing.

Friday, April 08, 2022

An ART Explosion!

This week we made   ART 
Also called Squash Books (because they are 'squashed' closed), these little art objects fit in the palm of your hand.

About 4 by 4 inches, the books are tied closed with a cord or ribbon.  When opened, they EXPLODE with bold, exciting ABSTRCT ART!

We started first by creating a large piece of colorful abstract art. First we used black Sharpies to outline a few basic shapes and areas in which to paint our colors. 

Then we worked with both liquid and pan watercolors to add color to our abstract artwork. We also added color to larger areas, filling in the entire painting with color. 

After the paintings dried, we added additional details using metallic Sharpies and glitter pens. We also added splattered paint, just for fun! (Yes, abstract art is not only fun to look at, it's fun to make!!!)
Once the artwork is finished and dry, it's time to cut it up! The artwork is cut into twelve 3-3/4 by 3-3/4 inch squares.

(Since our artwork was created on 12 x 18 inch paper, we ended up with leftover strips that we made into bonus book marks!)

Next, the artist chooses her favorite square to glue to the front (or the top) of the book. 

Then the interior structure of the book is created from three 8 by 8 inch pieces of black paper.  Here's a video showing how the book is folded, constructed, and attached to the covers.

Now four of the abstract art squares are glued to the inside of the book and the rest of the squares are cut diagonally and glued to the remaining triangular shaped spaces. 

The last square can be cut and glued to the back of the book and the artist signs it!

Take at look at our original post, Exploding ART Books, for more great 
                             ART EXPLOSIONS!                          

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Cherry Blossoms!


These cheery little vases of cherry blossoms remind us that spring is here!

These are tempera paintings on grey paper, painted in the style of early 20th century Russian artist Natalia Goncharova. 

You can learn more about how we did them on our earlier post, Cheery Cherry Blossoms! or you can download detailed instructions (pdf) from Painted Paper Art.

Monday, March 21, 2022

More Dragons!


Fantasy subjects such as, (and especially!) DRAGONS, are a popular art subject among many young artists.

We created these dragons within a border filled with symbols and patterns. 

The dragons were sketched in, painted with watercolor, and outlined with ink. Then details were added using Sharpies, metallic markers, and glitter pens. Finally, a background was painted in with liquid watercolors.
Take a look at our earlier Dragon post to see more spectacular dragon artwork!

Saturday, March 12, 2022

More Animals in Snugly Sweaters!

Wolf in a Snugly Sweater

Our last winter art lesson of the year:

Animals in Snugly Sweaters!

So cute, and such a great art lesson, too!

Students learned to observe and sketch wildlife and how to work with ink to create facial details and furry textures.

Then they designed a nice warm winter sweater for their furry woodland friends!

For more details and how-to's, see our original weblog post, Animals in Snugly Sweaters.

Squirrel in a Snugly Sweater
Bear in a Snugly Sweater


Thursday, March 10, 2022

Beautiful Snowy Alpines!

These mixed media Snowy Alpines are so gorgeous! 
        You can see how we made them on our original Alpine Trees         weblog post. For all ages, even younger artists!

Friday, March 04, 2022

We Love Penguins!


Who doesn't love Penguins?

Here's a cute little penguin saying hello!

This penguin is having fun as she hops and dances around in the snow!


This momma penguin watches over the little ones as the snow swirls around her. 

All of these penguins were created on white sulfite paper with charcoal, pastels, and black ink, then cut out and glued to a painted and splattered background.

You can find our original posts about making penguin art here and here.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Frolicking Snowmen!


What do snowmen do at night? 

They have FUN!

Skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and sledding! 

Rollicking, windblown snowmen, top hats and snowballs flying through the freezing wintery night!

Ahhh! Is this paradise? 

What could be better for a snowman family than a house made of ice?

These 12" x 18" artworks consists of soft pastels and pastel pencils on blue construction paper. See our original post, Snowmen Having Fun for details about how to create this artwork.

Friday, February 18, 2022

More Painted Hearts

This week in honor of Valentine's Day, we created these fun Painted  Hearts! 

This Paint Like the Masters lesson has grown to be one or our favorites. Our hearts are (loosely) painted like those of Jim Dine, a contemporary American artist who has painted oodles of colorful, playful abstract hearts,  many of which are gigantic!

Most of our hearts were painted on small  7-1/2 by 9 inch poster board, which was great because it allowed us more time to paint more hearts! 

We used liquid tempera paint for these heart paintings, but this project also works well with cake temperas, watercolors, and oil pastels. 

You can also go with mixed media; you can start by roughly outlining with oil pastels, then adding the paint of your choice. 

The main thing is to be playful and have fun making these awesome painted hearts!

Check out this step-by-step painting lesson in our original 2020 post: Painted Hearts. And here's a printable step-by-step pdf of this lesson. Have fun!

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Celebrating Polar Bears!

Who doesn't love polar bears? 

During the past few years, we have created a variety of polar bear-themed works of art to celebrate International Polar Bear Day on February 27. 

If you love polar bears as much as we do, you might want to try some of these polar bear art ideas yourself!

Great Big Polar Bears!

Our preschoolers were so excited to paint these BIG polar bears! All we needed was 22" x 28" blue poster board, black and white tempera paint, water, a big flat brush for the white paint, and a round brush for black details and outlines. 

Mixed Media Polar Bears

These fuzzy little polar bears were created using chalk, soft pastels, oil pastels, a splattered watercolor background, and collage techniques. 

Each little bear has a unique personality!

Polar Bear Mommas

These polar bear mommas and cubs are so sweet, and also colorful! We discovered reflected colors in the fur of polar bears and used our artistic license to show those colors. Fun fact: polar bear fur actually has no white pigment at all; each hair is hollow. Look closely and you'll actually see all sorts of reflected colors in polar bear coats, from oranges and pinks to yellows, blues, and violets.

Polar Bears in the Arctic

These polar bears are wandering the Arctic under the Northern Lights, which are made of blended soft pastels on black construction paper. We completed the background and while it dried we drew our bears, cut them out and glued them into their cold arctic homes.

Polar Bear Portraits in Soft Pastel 

Our homeschoolers created these furry polar bears with white soft pastels on black construction paper.  Then they cut them out and glued them to icy winter backgrounds that were made with wet-on-wet watercolor techniques and salt.

We hope you'll celebrate polar bears with us through your art! You might also want to consider supporting wildlife conservation organizations, which work hard to save some of the world's most endangered species - including these amazing arctic mammals.