Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall Leaf Stamping

Here in Florida we barely have a change of seasons from summer to winter. We don't have leaves that change to beautiful fall colors and fall off the trees, and we don't have crisp autumn air. Actually right now, the last day of September--- it's 90 degrees.

Ahhhh, welcome fall! I love to do this project on fall leaves, though, to demonstrate color scheme and printmaking all in one. My kindergartners love it and even my older kids reminisce once they see the rubber leaves come out. My fifth graders would do this over and over and over again if I let them...I think.

What you need:
Rubber stamping leaves (these are expensive, but non-consumable and have held up well for 10 years!)
Block tempera paints
Clothespin/sponge daubers (more on these in a minute!)
Brushes, water bowl, etc. for paint

Logistically, here is how I work it: I have 9 tables in my room. Each table has a colored piece of paper on it: one red, one yellow, one orange, repeat. When students sit at their tables they are ONLY allowed to use the color that is on their table. In the photo above, you see a yellow piece of paper on their table. Lookie there! She is using yellow paint. She has to paint and stamp 3 yellow leves.

After about 5-7 minutes to paint and stamp their 3 leaves (my classes are 55 minutes each) I have them move to the next color table. Three times moving and they have 9 leaves on their paper, three of each yellow, orange, and red. Yes, the kids are moving around the room, but it is VERY orderly, and it keeps paint colors from getting mixed!

To fill the negative space, I give the kids one of my inexpensive sponge daubers. I made these from scratch after washing 178,735 grubby kindergarten fingers when they freaked out about getting brown paint on their fingers!
I took old wooden clothepins and put a small 1/2"x1/2" kitchen sponge and put it in there. The kids get it "a little" wet and then use the brown tempera paint. The only part they are allowed to touch is the clothespin---and hands stay virtually clean! The only thing I have to worry about with the kids on this one is that they "brush" the sponge (like a paintbrush) instead of daub (up and down, up and down) to fill the negative space with brown.

And VOILA! A fun, easy, one-day project the kids love...and parents adore for their fall decor!
Happy creating!

Folk Art Sewing with Beads

I'm absolutely LOVING how these projects have turned out! Last year I ordered two bolts of black burlap for a project and I have ended up with SO much excess! I'll have to be creative and think about black burlap projects for (really) two or three years!

My second graders have recently asked me "is this art? Is that art? How did they get famous making that?" I love questions like this because it allows me to segue right into teaching about Folk Art (namely Southern Folk Art) which I have such appreciation for, you know, with them being self-taught and all!

What you need:

8x8" square pieces black burlap (or any other color, I just had extra (lots of extra!) black

about 3-4 feet colorful yarn per student

random beads, buttons, etc

metal yarn darners with a thin eye


We did this project proceeding a paper weaving project, so the kids were familiar with the "over under over under" portion of sewing. I knotted all the yarn and put the darners on for them (told them the first was a freebie, they needed to thread the needle if it came out!)

I put a ton of beads, buttons, and baubles in trays on each table.

The kids threaded buttons and beads (max 6) and stitched. They had to have 2 plain stitches between each bead thread. This eliminated their need to use 139,856 beads on each project (and it helped to fill in the negative space!)

This project took two days from start to finish. The kids worked really well sharing the beads and not fighting over soccer balls, letters, etc.

And hopefully they learned a little about self-taught artists like Bessie Harvey in the process!

Happy creating

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hula Girls and Surfer Dudes

While on our class "trip" to Hawaii we discussed foreground, middleground, and background while making these cute pictures of hula girls and surfer dudes.

I had students divide their paper into thirds: the top third was the mountainous terrain of the Hawaiian islands, the middle third was the wave, and the bottom third was the sand/ground.

The boys did surfers while the girls focused on hula girls. While I was teaching the boys how to draw their composition I had the girls working on a word search and vice versa.

What you need:

12x18 black construction paper

oil pastels

We really tried to blend the oil pastels together to make the "motion" of the wave using coloring strokes. They were to curve their coloring (like the letter "C") to make the wave look as if it were a giant pipe (in surfer terms!!!). The top should be colored using a white oil pastel, like the bubbles on top of a whitecap/wave!

There were so many variations on this project, but for me the emphasis was on teaching foreground, middleground, and the variations were just icing on the cake.

Happy creating!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


A couple of weeks ago I pulled down a pretty suspect box that wasn't labeled. Gah! It was filled to the max with scrap papers! This was VERY unlike me, I normally have everything labeled and sorted.

I was teaching my second graders about geometric and organic shape anyway, so we whipped out the book "When Pigasso Met Mootisse" (side note: if you have NEVER read this book, I highly recommend it. It is VERY funny and has some great artistic puns in it. It is by Nina Laden and I think I ordered it on Who better of an artist to work on than Henri Matisse and his colorful organic-shaped works of art?!

I had students use up those colorful scrap papers by letting their "scissors do the walking", there was no drawing involved in this project at all!
I thought some of my second graders were going to have heart attacks when I told them we wouldn't be using pencils. The thought of actually doing something without reservation is pretty tough for them!

What you need:
Tons of scrap paper
9x12 black paper (or white paper, it doesn't matter)
glue sticks (trust me---you don't want all that white glue squishing out everywhere!)

Read the book "When Pigasso Met Mootisse" and discuss how Mootisse uses large blocks and shapes of color to create images that jump off the page. Discuss the actual artist Matisse and how the book is loosely based on his life and art.

Show students how to use scissors to create organic shapes. I also showed them how sometimes the negative portion of a paper (aka- the SCRAP) is just as cool as the shape they cut out! They were pretty excited about that and started glueing those on too, just like Matisse!

The end products were amazing. The kids did a great job. It was really important to me that the kids just created without worrying about making things look "perfect". This is also a good project if you need to get rid of some scraps or you need a one-day lesson.

Happy Creating!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hawaiian Landscapes

As promised, a view of our "trip" to Hawaii! This year, my intermediate students are travelling around the US in search of Art From America. It could be recreating landmarks, landscapes, learning about regional artists, or emulating the work of artists.

While we were "in" Hawaii, my third graders did some lovely landscapes focusing on the grassy, mountainous terrain of the islands, complete with hot/cool color schemes. Funny how you can "teach" kids about certain things without them even knowing!

ohmigosh, sorry about the horribly blurry picture!!

What you need:

12x18 black paper


oil pastels


This project will take two days. The first is for drawing the landscape and tracing those lines with glue. Because you cannot do anything to the paper once it's full of glue, I had the kids do an acrostic poem about Hawaii and a word search while it was "drying"...which, by the way, takes 6-8 hours.

When the glue dries, it creates a resist area over the pencil lines. The glue dries clear so it takes on the color of the paper (black) and doesn't allow the oil pastel to color over it.

On day two I show the kids how to blend oil pastels to create tints (especially on the "white caps" of the water). The land and water are colored with "cool colors" while the sun is painted with "hot colors". Aaaaah, nice to squeeze a little color theory in there while I can!

The results are magical. Of course you don't haaaaave to do a Hawaiian landscape! I've done this project with glue scribbles, portraits, etc. It's just the technique, but the landscapes look pretty spectacular (and fit right in with our Hawaiian unit!)

Happy creating!

Friday, September 24, 2010

to 3-D or not to 3-D? that is the question!

My fifth graders had a wonderful time making these optical illusions!This is one of those "3 Ingredient Art" projects that require minimal supplies with great results! Here is what you need:
A Ruler
A Sharpie
2 colored markers
Colored Pencils

First start off by drawing 6 intersecting lines on your paper (with the ruler) to create the "spokes" on the paper. It is important that you keep your lines intersecting at the same exact middle point on the paper. I had some alligator tears from kids who kept "messing up". Sigh. I found that six lines fit nicely onto the paper.

Inside every other "pie piece" I had the kids draw four "smiley faces". Then I had them use one colored marker to color those pie pieces in (every other one) to make a white/color/white/color pattern. It is important to leave the other pie pieces BLANK! This only confuses the kids and trust me for your own sanity's sake, making this simple on them won't make you pull your hair out!!!

After we had that done, I had them fill in the blank spaces with "sad faces". This will create the crumpled effect on the final product. Have students choose a second color to color those new patterned pieces they just made. One time I had students choose the compliment to the first color. This time I had them choose whatever they liked. Of course they had more fun that way!

Lastly, use colored pencils to shade the edges of the white areas. This creates the 3-dimensional effect where it looks like the pieces are popping out or folding down. These projects look really impressive hanging on a bulletin board; and most adults can't figure out "how'd they DO that"?! But my students know that it's all about breaking artwork down into pieces to create that impressive final product. It's our little secret.
Happy creating!


Welcome to the "We Heart Art" blog--- a place for me to display work from my students at Garden Elementary, as well as archive lesson plans for future reference.

My name is Joanna Davis and I am the Art Teacher at Garden Elementary School in Venice, Florida. This is my 11th year teaching here. While I'd love to say that everyday is a SUPER FABULOUS and wonderful, we as educators, parents, and students believe in reality.

The truth is: we're all a work in progress...
An "artwork" in progress perhaps?! I love my job, I really do. I love seeing the "lighbulb" that goes off when a student "gets it". I love seeing their faces light up when they win a ribbon at an art show. I love how proud they are of their creations when they wrap them in 1,287 paper towels so they make it home in one piece.
I love solving problems each day, be it "dressing up a mess-up" on a particular project to solving life's problems over lunch or coffee, I couldn't ask for a better way to spend each and every day. I've been creative for as long as I can remember and love seeing creativity blossom in most of my kids.

'Cause you know, and let's be honest....some of them aren't feelin' the love in Art.

And that's okay, because I know they're trying their best and that's all I can ask for!

I am so excited to finally get this blog up and running, be sure to check back often for lesson plan ideas, updates, and exciting photos of the things we are doing in art class!