Monday, February 28, 2011

Drawing with Children

Today we did drawing. I got my ideas from Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes, founder of the Monart method. I like her book, it's very encouraging, but I find it HARD to use as far as getting lessons from it. I found a site that has her program broken down into easier to read lesson plans, you can get them here.

We did several warm up exercises because it has been a long time since we just focused on drawing. We talked about the 5 basic elements and then did some pattern drawing. Then we practiced drawing these recognizable objects.

These are Levi's. The original is the lighter version, Levi's is darker. All is done in pen
so you can't erase. Helps you make better observations.

Then we did the guided drawing of a bird. I read from the book what he was to draw and he followed my directions to finish the bird. Then he added the tree and colored it all. It's a very basic bird style. It helps reinforce the basic elements: dot, circle, straight line, angle line and curved line.

Robin and bluebird in tree by Levi

Be on the lookout for more drawings to come.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Levi's first watercolor painting

This was Levi's first ever watercolor painting, done at age 6.

I thought he might like to try watercolors so I just told him to think about something he would like to paint. I think that he chose birds because he was sitting at the dining room table and we get a lot of birds in the trees just outside.

I instructed him to draw lightly on the paper with a pencil so that he would know where to paint. If I remember correctly I also encouraged him to add leaves to his branches, but other than that he came up with the composition on his own. When it was time to paint, I gave him a few pointers about mixing colors and about wetting the paper first if he wanted the color to flow more in some areas.

As kids will do, he gave me quite an explanation of his picture when he was done. He was sure to point out that the father, brother and baby boy birds were the brightly colored birds and the mother and baby girl were the brown birds.

Thank goodness I had scanned his art right away as the original is quite faded now. I learned the hard way that watercolors fade quickly when they are in the bright light.

Levi was awarded a blue ribbon at our county fair in 2008 for this painting.


More adventures with Flat Brendan

Well, it's time for Flat Brendan to move on now. We had fun while he was here. It snowed Thursday and school was canceled for the day. Levi played outdoors for 3 hours. Cole slept in and then did indoor things. By noon the snow was pretty much melted so Levi did some work in a few of his subjects. Friday life was back to normal with Cole and school and Levi doing his home school work.

We took Brendan out again on Friday afternoon. We went to the UofO to see On the Rocks perform. It was fun to see them in person after having watched them compete on the Sing Off in December. Unfortunately, due to the crowd, we were not able to get a photo of Flat Brendan with the group.

On Saturday Levi and I took him to the Oregon Logging Conference. It was sort of interesting. It was fun to see the big equipment and to watch some talented artists carve with chainsaws. Wow, Flat Brendan is pretty small compared to the size of a truck tire!

Here is a pictorial recap of our visit with Flat Brendan.

Best wishes on the rest of your travels.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Hearts inspired by Jim Dine

After seeing many beautiful hearts inspired by the work of Jim Dine as I cruised the blogs last week I just KNEW I had to do some with Levi. I must say he wasn't thrilled about doing a heart but went along with the project and then enjoyed the process.

I cut a heart from a piece of file folder and then traced it onto the center of a 7.5 inch square of watercolor paper. Then we used crayons to layer our colors on for the hearts. We layered cool and warm colors. I just kept piling the layers on mine, trying to fill in most of the little divets in the paper. We used an old rag to buff the surface so that you couldn't see individual crayon strokes. Mine got pretty glossy because of all the layers of crayon.

Then we added the watercolor background. I used some rubber cement to mask areas of my background between colors. Levi chose to just layer up his colors. We created the idea of movement with our brushstrokes. Lastly, Levi added the black outline to bring definition back to his heart. I matted them onto black and then white to fit a 10x10 frame. (I thought I had bought 8x8 frames, but found out they were larger so added the white.)

I love the way they came out and will proudly display these in our home.

You can look at some of the sites that inspired me to do this project:


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Projects from last week

Ok, I know I'm kind of going about this backward but I am just going to put things from the past on as I have time and work to stay up to date with what we are currently doing. So, that means I will skip around a bit.

Our first project after I did my blog surfing was Compass Mandalas (click here for instructions) from the blog Teach Kids Art. We tied this in with a math lesson by:

  • Reviewing the formula for finding the circumference of a circle (if you don't know, you can google it)
  • Reviewing the definition of diameter and radius.
  • Proving the formula by using a 5 cm. circle cut from a piece of manila file folder and measuring the distance it traveled when we rolled it out on a piece of paper.
After completing the math portion we got on to the art. Levi chose to color it with crayons. As he colored, I did my own but filled it in with patterns. When he saw that I was using patterns he decided to use a pattern on the outer portion of his mandala.

(Levi's first of several mandalas.)

On his second mandala he experimented with markers, doing some solid color sections and others with patterns. (not shown on this blog)

(My mandala, traced with black Sharpie marker and colored in with Photoshop.)

We both really enjoyed this project and both of us have done others since then. I colored one in with watercolors and Levi demonstrated how to make the mandalas in his classroom at Classical Conversations this past Tuesday.


Our adventures with Flat Brendan

We got a visitor on Tuesday, February 22nd. Flat Brendan, from Blacksburg, Virginia, came to us by way McAllen, Texas where he was visiting with the Crossler family. We'll spend a couple days showing him around Eugene, Oregon and then send him on to someone else. After a whirlwind trip he is due back in Virginia no later than March 21st. I wish I could just squeeze into the envelope and travel along with him!

Today we braved the cold wind to visit the following locations:
Our first stop was the Sheldon Branch Library where we picked up a bunch of books we had on hold; many of them about art and music. We got a picture of Brendan with some books. (I thought it so appropriate that they had a book titled The New Friend right on the top shelf.)

We stopped by Autzen Stadium (home of the Oregon Duck football team, #3 in the nation after losing the BCS Bowl to Auburn University) just to get a picture out front. Then we headed across the street to The Science Factory. I'll bet you don't have a building painted like this in your neighborhood. It was shocking when they first painted it, but now I've grown to like it.

(You can click here to see a picture of the whole building.)

We headed downtown to hit an art gallery, the Opus VII. This was our fist visit since they reopened with their new name and concept. I was impressed! The lady working there was super nice and let us take photos of Flat Brendan and also told us about some of the neat programs they have.

(Levi & Flat Brendan in front of a work by Marcio Diaz)

By this time we were pretty hungry so we headed over to Burrito Amigos on Hilyard for some lunch. It was delicious!

We stopped by MacArthur Court to get a picture of Brendan in front of the U of O's former basketball stadium. Their teams played in that stadium for 80 years. Our family has been to several games there over the years.

While in that area we got some photos in front of Hayward Field, the home of the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Track and Field Trials.

From there we walked across the street to the William W. Knight Law Center to see a display of photographs by a Portland artist. While there, we introduced Flat Brendan to our friend, Mr. Seno, the Assistant Dean of Admissions.

We then walked about 4 blocks up Agate Street to Prince Puckler's Ice Cream parlor, where President Obama had mint chip ice cream while he was here in 2008 on a campaign visit. (You can see a picture here.) By now we were getting a little tired so we headed home by way of the new Matthew Knight Arena, home of the Oregon Duck basketball teams.

Flat Brendan is now resting and Levi is anxiously awaiting the snow which has been forecast for this afternoon/evening. You know, I think I'm a little tired too. I better go rest.


Japanese Haiku and Cherry Blossom Art

Yesterday afternoon we reviewed syllables and how they are used in haiku poetry. Levi then wrote his haiku about cherry trees/blossoms and then we did the art project to go with it. He blew India ink onto white paper, trying to make something that would resemble tree branches. After it dried he added little tufts of tissue paper for the blossoms. This morning he wrote out the haiku with a quill pen and India ink. This was no easy feat because the quill pen he bought has a very fine point and it sure got hung up on the paper; he managed to get a pretty good copy after some practice.

Fluffy cherry trees
Covered in bright pink and white
Colorful blossoms.

Here are the links to some blogs that featured this project. They all used paints for their blossoms, but I liked the 3-D effect with the tissue paper.

Blowing India ink across a piece of paper with a straw is NOT as easy as it sounds. It frequently forms a big bubble which then bursts, spraying you and the surroundings with little black ink spots. Levi had lots of black freckles last night. I chose to wash all mine off so as not to embarrass Cole when I went to a meeting at his high school. I don't know if there are any particular tricks to this, none of the blogs seemed to mention any, leaving me with the impression that this would just be a piece of cake. We had some good laughs as we worked!

I also wrote some cherry blossom haiku poetry.

Trees all dressed in pink,
Their blooms float down to the earth.
Look! I see pink snow.

Beautiful pink trees
Covered in bright blossoms,
Telling us it's spring.

Looking forward to the blossoming of the trees here in Oregon. For now we are expecting some rare snow in the next day or so. Kids are praying for the closure of school and a day to play out in the snow. If it does snow I hope it amounts to enough to actually sled on.


The painting that got us fired up again

Papa Richard had hip replacement surgery last Thursday. The day before he went to the hospital I got out painting supplies and had Levi paint a picture. I gave him a choice between doing a bug, fish or flower. He chose to do a dragonfly type bug. He lightly drew the outline onto the paper and then painted it in with acrylic paints, filled the background with lots of short strokes for texture and then added the thick black outlines. I really like how he used highlights.

After the painting was dry I scanned it and then used Photoshop to add a black background and the text. Then I uploaded my file to the Walgreen's down the street and ordered 4x6 prints. I picked those up a couple hours later and layered the photo to some coordinating papers to make the finished card. Papa (and Grams) LOVED the card! I also loved the painting and ordered 11x14 prints at Costco so we could both hang it in our homes.

It was while Levi was painting this bug that my friend, the teacher, stopped by. Our conversation about children's art led me to the various blogs and web sites (mentioned in my first post) that sparked my excitement for what I could do at home with Levi.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Our adventure journal begins

My 9 year old son, Levi, is one of those kids who loves to draw (and draw, and draw some more) as well as paint and make craft projects. I haven't always been good at fostering his creativity as we sometimes just get caught up in the busyness of life. (And I must admit that I don't always like the mess involved in crafting.)

I have decided to work hard to change that and to give him every opportunity I can to express himself through art and also to teach him more about the arts. This will require me to be constantly learning as well, but that is what we home schoolers are used to, isn't it?

I asked a good friend who teaches art at a local school where she gets her ideas and she gave me the names of some blogs that she loves. I looked them up and I swear my family didn't see me for the next day or so. (Well, it wasn't that bad but I spent hours and hours over the next few days just following links from one blog to another and bookmarking so many neat ideas that we might have to do art 4 hours a day to complete all the projects I have found.)

You are probably wondering what blogs and web sites she told me about so I will give her short list here. From just this short list you can be linked to dozens and dozens of cool pages.

We have stocked up on supplies, organized said supplies and even created him a studio in his bedroom where he can work on some of his projects. Others we will continue to do in the kitchen or, when it's warmer, at the table in the garage. (Our main supplies are not in his room but in a location more accessible to me, the teacher.)

I made him the cute "STUDIO" banner from instructions I found on this neat blog: mrspicasso's art room.

These are samples of the earliest work that I saved. He enjoyed drawing people and did it often on whatever paper I gave him. Fortunately for me he never drew on the walls or furniture.

This blog will serve as my journal of our adventures in art and as a gallery where I can display and share his art (and maybe a little of my own from time to time) with others. I'm not looking to get loads of followers or to be an expert on kids' art, I just want to share our passion and give him a record of these adventures.

As time allows, I will add in more of Levi's early art as well as what he is currently working on.

Well, gotta go dream up which project we will do next.