Saturday, December 17, 2022

Wintering Birds

If you are a bird watcher (like I am) you know that many birds do not "fly south" for the winter.

They spend their winters in - and thrive in - cold, snowy climates. 

Black-capped Chickadee, painted collage

Last Thursday, I spent a good part of my day observing birds in my own Idaho backyard. There are about three inches of snow on the ground and the temps were about 20°F.

I saw: several flocks of starlings, a house wren, a scrub jay, two magpies, a northern red-shafted flicker (a type of woodpecker), and a robin!

Blue Jay, watercolor and acrylic on paper

Our goal as artists was to illustrate backyard birds that winter in cold climates such as ours in southeastern Idaho. Our artists used mixed media for their illustrations, including tempera paint, oil pastels, collage, watercolor, and acrylics. 
Blue Jay with Northern Cardinal, oil pastel and tempera collage

You can learn more about how to create this wintering bird mixed media collage on our original weblog post, Backyard Birds

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Christmas Ornaments Galore!


We've just made Christmas ornaments galore! 

Using patchwork, felt, wood, paint, buttons, and more!

Here's a striped Christmas blockhead! 

And cute scratch art stars!

There're Grinches down chimneys, to steal what's not theirs!

Here's Santa's log cabin,
and a penguin snow globe! 

We've got painted wood critters, and a snowflake that glows!

A small painting easel, and snowman art too!

More snowflakes, a tree, and a gift just for you!

We have buttoned up snowmen!

And Santa is here!

And a wood cookie Rudolf, to bring you good cheer!

Yep, you can make Christmas ornaments from whatever you have on hand. Tip: a hot glue gun is very helpful. Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 03, 2022

Folk Art Santa

This week we celebrated Santa through the ages and as he appears in other

Also known as St. Nick, Kris Kringle, and Father Christmas, he brought toys and goodies to children on Christmas Eve just like our present day Santa. 

However, early images of Santa looked quite different than the Santa we know today. He wore long coats of various colors and ornamentation. 

He often carried Christmas trees and things like food and toys in baskets. He sometimes had large pockets, belts, and ornate shoulder bags. 

The children were very interested in these nostalgic images of Santa Claus and wanted to create their own. 

We originally created this type of Santa artwork in December of 2019. 

You can see more about this project and how we made it, including step-by-step instructions, on our original weblog post: Santa Folk Art.

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!

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Magic Potions!

We artists love Halloween! So many spooky fun opportunities for art! 

This year I wanted to try something a little different: why not combine wizards and witches and mad scientists and alchemy and magic potions and moonlit nights and ghosts and spider webs all into one amazingly eerie painting?  

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.