I've been teaching an after-school art class and am loving working with young kids again. One of the first lessons we did was inspired by one of my very favorite artists, Brian Wildsmith and specifically his book, BIRDS. I am in awe of his use of color and texture and could look at his images for hours. I'm including some reference links at the end of this post if you are interested in finding out more about him.
This lesson was with 7 - 10 year olds and took about an hour and a half. We looked at the book BIRDS and discussed the general shape of each bird by outlining it with our fingers and talked about the many layers of color and how different marks were used to create texture.
The kids decided what kind of bird they wanted to make and drew the basic body shape on a piece of corrugated cardboard. Try to make sure the channels inside the cardboard are running vertically. If they wanted, they could also add three dimensional elements such as wings and eyes from separate pieces of cardboard. Since the cardboard is thick some of them needed help cutting them out.
Besides looking beautiful, oil pastels blend well to achieve those multiple layers of color that we were going for. Texture marks were added at the end.
They had several options for eyes: cardboard, color directly on their bird body, or white paper with black marker.
Feathers were poked into the channels of the corrugated cardboard and glued onto the body.
The feet were made from one chenille stem. Cut the chenille stem into six equal parts. Bundle three pieces and twist together half of it, leaving the untwisted pieces to be the toes/claws. Separate the three pieces - two toes in front, one in the back - and bend horizontally so the foot will stand up. Poke the twisted end of the foot piece into a channel of the corrugated cardboard on the bottom of the bird. You can use a pencil or such to make the holes a bit bigger if needed. Squeeze some glue in the hole too. (You can alternately tape or glue the feet to the back of the bird.)
While the feet are drying, the kids made the base for their bird to stand on. The swan stands on a dock while others are on branches in the sun and grass.
To finish, glue the birds feet onto the cardboard base and let them dry.
If you do this lesson I'd love to hear about your experience and see the results!
I created the Book and Activity Advent on my other blog, Bella Dia, in 2007 - hard to believe it was that long ago! Anyway, I thought it was time for an update, so throughout the advent this year you will see some new books and project ideas but the original ones will still be available too.
Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening is the first new book of the advent and I had a lot of fun creating an art project to go along with it. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening is of course one of Robert Frost's most well-known poems and his beautiful words are brought to life with the gentle illustrations of Susan Jeffers.
If you have the opportunity to go for a walk in snow covered woods then that would be great inspiration for this project, but you can also look at photos on the internet along with the art in the book.
I took the close-up view; standing in the woods you don't always see the tree in full, merely the trunks layered one after another. In the project, you'll notice that the bottom of the trees are staggered while the tops go fully to the top of the card.
I created two versions, one for younger kids and one for older kids and adults. The younger version uses black acrylic paint while the older one uses India ink. It's a great project to do as a family and I think they would make beautiful homemade greeting cards too!
Step 1: Tape the cardboard down to your covered surface; cover about ½" of the edge. Creating this mat around the edge adds a bit of sophistication to any art plus it holds it in place. Younger Version With Acrylic Paint Step 2: Squeeze out a small amount of paint in a jar lid or similar, and paint vertical lines (tree trunks) with the stiff paint brush. The bottoms should be staggered but the tops should go up to the tape line. Don't worry about making a solid black line, it looks better with some of the background coming through. Emphasize that the trees that are closer to the viewer appear wider than the trees that are further away. Let dry.
Older Version With India Ink Step 2: Apply the India ink with an eyedropper. Use it to make straight vertical lines to represent the tree trunks. Stagger the bottoms of the trees while the tops should meet the tape line or go past it. Trees that are closer should be wider than the trees that are further away.
Step 2a: Use a toothpick to drag around the ink to create a more textured tree trunk. The ink will thicken as it drys and the toothpick will ultimately be removing some of the ink. Keep a paper towel in your hand to wipe off the excess ink from your toothpick. It's a bit like scratch art with less scratching! Let dry. The ink will be shiny and have a slight raised texture when it's dried.
Step 3 for both versions: Remove the art, including the tape, from your surface and put it in the bottom of your cardboard box for splatter painting.
Squeeze some white paint in a small dish and add a bit of water. Use the soft paint brush for splattering. The paint should hold on your brush but flick off easily.
Start splattering paint onto your tree trunks. Hold the brush and gently tap it with your other fingers. You can decide how long you want to "watch the woods fill up with snow"!
Step 3a: You can add more snow at the bottom, if you like, either while it's in the box, or remove it, and put it back on your covered surface.
Let it dry. If you're in a hurry, use a hair dryer.
Now the best part (you know it is!) - gently pull up the tape!
This is the acrylic paint version all finished...
...and this is the India ink version. I love the texture of the India ink!
If you like this project I hope you'll share it on your favorite social media channels!
The original post for Day 4 of the Book and Activity Advent featuring The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco and tissue paper silhouette ornaments can be found here.
*This post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links I will receive a small commission without it costing you anything. Win win! I only recommend products that I like and think that you will like too. Thank you for your support!
Petunia is one of my favorite characters in children's literature. In this story she falls in love with a handsome goose but unfortunately he is to be Christmas dinner! Find out how she saves the day in this heart-warming story!
Have you heard of International Dot Day? It all began with the book, The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds. It's a story about a little girl who didn't believe she was an artist and an art teacher who inspired her by telling her to "make a mark and see where it takes you".
After reading this book to his class, teacher Terry Shay decided to make his own mark and established International Dot Day on September 15th - a day to celebrate your own creativity and share it with the world. There are tons of ideas and inspiration around the web but I have gathered some of my favorite ideas here. Click over to International Dot Day for more information and a free teacher's guide with even more ideas and a printable certificate to hand out to students.