Charcoal Self Portraits

After practicing charcoal drawing with the teen class when they drew paper bags, they were ready to move on to something more challenging: self portraits. Personally, I have never enjoyed drawing myself.

I think it is extremely difficult because beyond drawing faces, you are representing yourself. However, the teens did such a great job and I am so impressed with how hard they worked and how they turned out. A few of the students drew half their face and used a photo for the other half, but most drew full self portraits.


They started by drawing their faces with pencil using a lesson we taught about the measurements of the face. Then they put in the darks and the lights and worked on shading. See some of their results below.







Exploring Charcoal: Paper Bags

A few weeks ago the teen class drew paper lunch bags using charcoal to practice value. We really wanted them to be able to look at their bags, find where the darkest areas and lightest areas were and use charcoal to express these values.


Many of the students had never used charcoal before and we were so impressed with how well they did! They were a little uneasy at first but quickly gained confidence in their drawing and they all turned out so well. Proud of our teen artists!








Elementary Abstract Landscape Watercolors

All age groups have been studying perspective and learning about watercolor this month.  The youngest elementary art students applied their new knowledge and skills to complete Abstract Landscape Watercolors.


We started by looking at the work of Ted Harrison.  He is a Canadian artist who created beautiful colorful abstract landscape of the Yukon Territory.  Follow the link above to see some of his work.

We talked about one point perspective, foreground, middle ground and background.


Then we completed our own landscapes.  I encouraged them to use expressive colors in the style of Ted Harrison.


I love how they turned out.  Hope they brighten your homes during this gloomy Seattle winter. IMG_1160

Elementary Art Watercolor Landscapes

The Advanced Elementary Art class created winter watercolor landscapes.


First, they were introduced to how to use watercolor.


We practiced some basic watercolor strokes and learned how to set up our work area.


We also had a lesson one-point perspective.


And we incorporated what we have learned about value.


We put this all together to create watercolor landscapes.






They did such a great job!



Teen Value Ornaments

This week the teens learned about value and made value driven ornaments.


Value Lesson

Value: Value is the amount of light reflected from the surface. Value creates depth in a picture making the object look 3 D.

We started by sketching a basic sphere and a five-value scale.  We talked about the different kinds of values such as:


Highlight: Brightest spot where the direct light hits the object.

Light: As the surface curves it gets less light and thus becomes darker.

Shadow: The side away from the light source that does not receive any direct light. It is not completely black because it does receive light from the surroundings.

Reflected light: The light that bounces off the surface the object is sitting on.

Cast Shadow: Darkest dark that gets lighter as it moves away from the object.


We then created our value ornaments with chalk pastels.


We cut them out and glued them to black paper and added finishing details with a gold sharpie and oil pastels.  They turned out beautiful.




Value Paintings and Polar Bears

We had fun creating winter value landscape paintings and drawing polar bears in the Tuesday Elementary Class this week.


In the process, we learned about value. Value creates depth in a picture making the object look 3 D.   We looked at photos of the moon at night and saw how the circle around the moon is lighter and how the sky gets darker as you move away. We then created value circles around the moons on our project moving from pure white to dark, dark blue.

We also learned about horizon lines, foreground and backgrounds while we had fun painting our backgrounds.

We then very patently drew polar bears, cut them out, glued them on and added a few trees as we talked about shadow and perspective.  For the last step, we added snow to finish off our pieces.


I am so impressed by their work.



Grid Drawings – Elementary Art

The oldest Elementary Art students worked super hard on the grid drawings.


We started by talking about the left and right sides of the brain and how the left side performs more logical tasks, such as science and math.  While the right side performs tasks that have do with creativity and  spacial relationships and art.   You can make art using either side of the brain, but it will flow more easily if you let go of the logic and flip on the right side.  To illustrate this, we practiced an upside drawing of a man in a chair.  The idea being to not think about the fact that it is a man, but to think more about the lines and their relationships to each other.

We took this a step farther, and completed grid drawings.


The students picked out smallish (3 x 3 inches) images from books and then using the grid system enlarged and transferred the images to 10 by 10 inch paper.  While doing this they could only see one little square at a time, forcing them to focus on the spatial relationships.


Once the images were drawn, they erased the grid lines and completed their projects based on whatever medium worked best with their images.



These are so impressive!



Painted Papers and Zentangle Hands

For our first project of this year, (I am a little late posting this one) the Wednesday Elementary Art Class completed a two-step project of Zentangle Hands and Painted Papers.


Color Lesson and Intro to Acrylic Paint:

We completed the Background Papers for our Zentangle hands while learning about color and with a brief introduction to acrylic paint.

We talked about warm and cool colors, and how cool colors recede when you look at them and warm colors come towards you in a painting.

I also wanted them to be able to “play” with acrylic paint as we will move into using it in more directed ways as the class proceeds.

What we did after we put on our aprons:

  1. Paint on a solid color. Paint off the paper with long strokes.
  2. Add second color paint  in swirls, circles, stripes
  3. Add texture with:
  • sponges
  • clay scrapers – just one time through or lines disappear
  • rollers
  1. Splattering with white paint and added other designs.

Zentangle Hands:

The painted papers were the backgrounds for our Zentangle Hands.


I picked this project as a nice easy starter project to get them drawing and an introduction to line.  It also incorporates the PTA Reflections Contest theme “Within Reach.”

We started by talking about Zentangles as an expressive art form.

  • Use of repetitive basic drawing patterns.
  • We looked at some of the 110 Official Zentangle Patterns
  • There are more than 300 Certified Zentangle Teachers

We then talked about how our drawings can reflect the theme “Within Reach.”   We wrote down 5 things that these words mean  and then translated those things into small zentangle patterns.

We traced our own hands and we were off and drawing.

I love their creations!


Off to a Great Start

So great to be back in the classroom this week with the Elementary Art Students!

We are working on some fun projects.


There are still a few spaces left in the Tuesday class.

Elementary Art Classes,  Grades 2nd – 4th, Tuesday 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm Registration is Open.  Students can begin at any time.  REGISTER

All of the other classes are full.


Charcoal Still Life Drawings

We are on summer break. As one of our last projects, we worked on Still Life Drawings with Charcoal. I want the students to have fun and to learn the basics of art. This lesson let them do both, and they loved it.

We started with drawing your classic sphere.  This teaches value and depth.  They learned the different “kinds” of light.

Then they moved on to their still life drawings.  They picked the fruit and set up their own arrangements.


They did an amazing job!