Saturday, July 20, 2013

Complex Color Wheel 2013

Complex Color Wheel, Art 1

This is a very cool project to introduce basic color theory to Art 1 students. I love this assignment because it has simple color mixing but it also looks pretty awesome when the design is complete. Painting in the black background in particular really makes these color wheels POP!   ^ - ^

The concept of this project is to use the primary colors to mix and create all the other colors of the color wheel. Students must also create a value scale of tints going in toward the center of the color wheel. Pure colors are on the outside edge. By gradually adding white the colors get lighter in tone as they move toward the center.


  1. Square Painting Paper
  2. Paper plate ( To trace circle on paper)
  3. Ruler (To find the center of circle and divide the sections)
  4. Protractor (To divide the circle into 12 sections)
  5. Printer paper (for tracing design onto circle)
  6. Tempera paint (Black, red, blue, yellow, and white)
  7. Palette of some form.
  8. Variety of paint brush sizes
  9. Plastic cup for water
  10. Paper towels


  1. Take the square painting paper and use the paper plate to trace a circle in the middle.
  2. Use the ruler to find the middle of the circle. This step is very important for the rest of the process to work correctly. Make sure your students take their time with this part. If they are having trouble getting things to line up later in the process it's possible they didn't center their design in the beginning.
  3. Use the ruler to draw a line through the middle to divide the circle in half.
  4. Next, use the protractor to divide the circle into twelve 30 degree sections.
  5. Then take the printer paper and trace one of those 30 degree sections. Use the section you traced as a template to brainstorm sketches. 
  6. Now it's time to come up with your design! Use the printer paper template. When drawing your design you can just do sort of random lines that divide the section into 6 smaller sections. Your lines should go from side to side never top to bottom. 
  7. Once the student has their design drawn out then they use the template to trace their design over and over into each of the 12 sections to create the complete circular pattern. Note that every time the students trace into one sections, they will have to flip the paper over to trace in the next section.
  8. Once the entire design is drawn out in pencil, the student will use their paint to begin mixing colors and painting in their designs. The goal is to create all of the primary, secondary, and tertiary colors on the outside edge of the design and then as the colors go towards the center of the circle, the students add white to create a gradual tint of the outside color.
  9. The last step is to take black paint and paint all of the background. I find that the colors all pop and stand out more when you add the black background.
  10. Now stand back and let everyone take in the complexities of your awesome complex color wheel.
If you want to see pictures of the same project from the year before then click the link below :)

Student Examples

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Illustrated Dictionary Pages

Illustrated Dictionary Pages, Art 3

This art project was inspired by the very awesome art of Kristy Patterson. She has a blog at Flying Shoes Art Studio with tons of her artwork on it. Much of her art is centered around beautiful illustrations on old discarded dictionary pages. This approach to her art is intriguing to me because it shows the complexities and beauty of seemingly ordinary objects. There is a layer of depth and authenticity that is brought in by the aged and textured dictionary page background.

I loved doing this project and I think it's one of those assignments that my students also enjoyed. The cool part is that it's a short project with nice creative results. It's a pleasant break from the more labor intensive stuff we've done.

The concept behind this is to take a dictionary page and illustrate one of the words from that page onto the page itself. It was funny to see my student's confusion when I told them they could actually tear pages out of the dictionary.

 For the most part this project was done with ink pen and soft pastels. Although, we used colored pencils for small details as well. Each student completed 3 different pages and illustrations. I gave them one full week and a weekend to complete all three illustrations.


  1. Old dictionary to tear out your pages from
  2. Soft pastels
  3. Colored pencils (for details)
  4. Ink pens (for outlines and details)
  5. Glue sticks
  6. Black construction paper (to glue your pages onto when finished)
  1. Attain an old dictionary
  2. Have students tear out pages and decide on the word they'll be illustrating.
  3. Brainstorm layouts and ideas
  4. Lightly sketch in pencil 
  5. Outline with ink pen
  6. Color with soft pastel
  7. When it's complete, use a glue stick to glue the dictionary page onto some black construction paper to give it better stability. 

Comment below with your thoughts and suggestions. ^-^ 

Teacher Example

Student Examples

Spray Paint T-Shirts

This was one of those things we did with our very last days of school when there were very few students left in class. Grades were already done and the kids were asking for something fun to do. Several students kept asking to do some t-shirt designs so we gave it a go. This was purely for experimentation and not for a grade but we got some fairly descent results. I'm not sure how I would tackle something like this with an entire class, but it is fun with a small group. 

I got the idea to try spray painting the t-shirts from this site.

  • cardboard (to go inside the shirt to prevent paint bleeding through)
  • Spray adhesive
  • Newspaper or scrap paper to put at the edges of the stencils
  • Stencil (handmade or store bought)
  • X-acto knives for handmade stencils
  • Some poster board to create stencils on
  • Fabric spray paint or fabric spray dye ( I liked the dye better because the spray didn't last long) You can find a lot of fabric paint options at Hobby Lobby including fabric markers.
  1. You can start by making your own stencils. We used poster board and x-acto knives to create ours.
  2. Take your 100 % cotton t-shirt and put a piece of cardboard inside to prevent paint from leaking.
  3. Spray a lite layer of spray adhesive across the shirt.
  4. Lay down stencil and make sure its attached securely. Put scrap paper at the edges to prevent over spray.
  5. Carefully begin spraying the shirt. Start off the stencil, continue across, and finish off the stencil. We found that when you are using the spray dye that it's important to only spray just enough to cover the area because if you spray too much it will bleed through. 

You'll need to a place to set the wet stencils once they've been used. I took some large white paper and rolled it out at the front of the classroom to keep everything out of the way.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Monochromatic Painting

Monochromatic Painting, Art 2

Well, its been an awful long time since I did my last blog post but I've got a plethora of new project pictures that I've compiled from an entire year of school. The first project on the agenda is monochromatic paintings. I really like this project because it's one where the students can choose almost any kind of content to include in their painting as long as they make it monochromatic. More advanced students can choose something more complex and struggling students can find something a little simpler. I find that when a student is personally vested in the imagery they're painting then they'll put forth more effort into the completion of the project.


  1. Acrylic paint (The ones I did last year were with tempera but acrylic would have been a lot better)
  2. Variety of paint brush sizes. ( If you want consistent quality from your students then get a full range of decent brushes)
  3. Water cups
  4. Paper towels
  5. Palettes
  6. Thick painting paper 


  1. I did a short practice assignment before beginning the actual project because this was the first painting assignment we did in my Art 2 class. I had the class complete 6 color value scales. These were 1 inch squares, 7 columns wide and 10 rows long. The fourth row was pure color and above that were shades of  the color and below were tints of the color. This assignment worked well to show students what colors they had to work with for their new project and how to mix them. 
  2. I told students a few days before beginning our paintings that they would need to find a personal photograph that they or a friend had taken. 
  3. I reserved some computers in the library computer lab. 
  4. Most students brought their photos in on a thumb drive or on their phone. From there we put them on the computer and played with the setting until they had a monochromatic photo in a color they liked. If a student brought in a printed photo then we just used a scanner to get it into the computer. 
  5. Once they acquired their photo then I let them choose what size grid they wanted to work with and they grided their photos and painting paper. 
  6. Next they simply began painting their project using only shades and tint of one color. I will warn you against using tempera paint. We used tempera for these projects you see pictured below and got some nice results but it was a real pain in the butt. You can't really work in layers with tempera paint the way you can with acrylic, and layers are a real big part of these monochromatic paintings. The tempera paint seemed to absorb each layer you tried to put on top so it took tons of layers to get the shade or tint that you wanted to achieve. Just use acrylic paint.

Comment below and let me know if you have suggestions, advice, or tips for this art project.  ^-^ 

Student Examples

Practice assignment/ value scales

Friday, October 19, 2012

Emphasis drawings 2012

Art 2, Emphasis Colored Pencil Drawing

      I did this same project with my students last year. The concept with this assignment was to use observational skills to draw an artist mannequin and then to use colored pencils to create a sense on emphasis in the background. 

I love this project because it allows for a lot of creativity in the background. The students seem to go for it more when there is already something drawn on the paper. I also love how colorful these drawings become by the end. ^-^

     I did this project with my Art II students. It was their first serious project at the beginning of the year. We started off by simply completing an observational drawing. I gave each student an artist mannequin to draw from as well as an HB drawing pencil and eraser  For the lesson, I demonstrated how to sight with a pencil and how to block in a drawing. Then I let the students pick a position for their mannequin to stand. Each student spent two or three days drawing their mannequin in pencil.
     After most had completed the first stage I gave the student's another lesson which was a lecture on emphasis. For this lesson we looked at a PowerPoint with several examples of ways to go about creating emphasis in a work of art.  After the emphasis lesson, I explained to the students that next step in their project would be to design a background for their mannequin drawing using colored pencils that would create a strong sense of emphasis on their original pencil drawing. Before they could start on the background the students had to complete 3 thumbnail sketches and have one of them approved by me.   I also gave a short demonstration about using colored pencils and how to blend and layer them.

Comment below with your ideas and thoughts. ^-^

Student Examples