Egypt is one of the places in this world that I’ve always wanted to get to, and hope that I get to go to in my lifetime. It’s full of ancient relics, buildings and tombs. Ancient Egyptian culture was highly decorative and was intent on making things last. And last they did. Pyramids, temples, sphinxes, tombs, have all lasted thousands of years, still holding on to their ancient beauty. The study of ancient building and artistic styles is an avenue of art. This video takes you on a brief tour of some of Egypt’s most notable sites.
Shadow tracing is a way to use toys as tools. It’s really rather simple. You take your paper outside, or by a window, and create your composition using their shadows. Keep in mind, it won’t show ANY detail. After all, it’s a shadow. See how objects interact, what happens to shadows when they overlap. Have you noticed shadows are sometimes a little bigger than the toy? Trace and finish the picture however you want. You might have to move your body and trace from the top or sides in order to be able to reach. You can even combine shadow tracing with a background that you already made. Shadow tracing requires experimentation and play, it doesn’t always behave how you thought it was going to.
Watercolor Squirt Guns
Summer weather is upon us, and that means heat! Here’s a short watercolor project involving squirt guns. If you don’t already have cheap ones, you can pick up small ones at Dollar General for less than $1 usually. The only other thing you need is food coloring and water. Add a few drops to your water and fire away at a piece of paper or cardboard. The more drops you add, the darker the color. The fewer drops, the lighter the color. See what you can create with the drip patterns, can you get the drips to go the same place twice?
You can even get creative and draw a picture with crayon beforehand. I teach my kindergarteners how to create an invisible picture with white crayons, and then paint over it, but you can use any color. The key to using the crayon is to press FIRM. Firm means harder than normal, but not hard enough that you’re snapping the crayon in half. Your lines in your drawing have to be FIRM, not necessarily THICK. Thick doesn’t matter if the lines are super soft. Play around, have fun, see what happens!
Ickabog Illustration Contest
J.K. Rowling is one of my favorite authors. During this seemingly world-wide quarantine, she has decided to revisit a fairytale she had created called The Ickabog. She has also decided to reach out to young artists to help create the illustrations for this book, to be published in the fall. The contest is open to students ages 7-12. She has created suggested prompts from excerpts of the book, but leaves it open to your creativity. Below are direct links to various parts of the contest, but all can be found on the Ickabog main site (https://www.theickabog.com/home/), including the chapters of the story. Make sure to read the chapters of the story to understand what you are illustrating. Illustrators need to understand the characters and world they are in charge of depicting. Specific directions are found on the Scholastic page. You must follow their guidelines in order to enter into the contest. Please make sure you have parental permission, and you will need their help to submit.
Ickabog Illustration contest:
Scholastic Publishing rules:
Another look into the professional art world, this video takes us inside Disney Animation Studios and looks at the inside world of the artists involved in making animated videos
Designing a Zoo
We’ve talked a little before about how being an artist doesn’t limit you to just drawing pictures or making paintings. The art field can take you in dozens of different directions. One of those directions is in the path of a landscape architect. Landscape architects design outdoor spaces. Things that they plan could include walking paths, tree types and placements, gardens, fountains and ponds, parks, courtyards, estates, and zoos. This video visits with a landscape architect who works at the Smithsonian Zoo in Washington D.C., and she talks to you about what she does at the zoo.
How to Draw the Child
Since it’s the end of the week, here’s a fun little video. Give it a watch and try your hand at drawing the Child from the Mandalorian.
How to Draw Spider-Man
Another part of the Disney Animation Studios drawing series on Youtube, here’s a video on creating the popular character of Spider-Man. An artist from Disney Animation Studios takes you through the steps, introducing you to methods of guidelines and contour lines, moving from a light sketch into a finished piece.
Virtual Tour of Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is located in California, and was founded in 1890. It is well known for its giant stone cliffs, glaciers, giant sequoia forests, and abundant wildlife. Almost 95% of the park is considered “wilderness” and popular activities include rock climbing, backpacking and wildlife photography. Artists and photographers have long been fascinated by this park’s beauty and vast amounts of subjects. Several different environmental zones are present in the park, providing many areas of interest. Take a look around this virtual tour of some of the park’s key features.
Virtual Tour of Yosemite National Park
Keeping with the Disney idea, here’s a how-to-draw video of Stitch. It’s part of Disney’s How-To-Draw series from Disney Animation Studios. In the video, one of the animators takes you step by step through drawing one of my favorite characters. How to Draw videos are great ways of learning skills and ways of seeing, you can take what they teach you and apply it to everything else you draw. So yes, she’s teaching you how to draw Stitch, but afterwards, take what she taught you and apply it to say…..your dog, or the chameleon from Tangled. Don’t look up another video! Try the skills she taught you, and apply them to a new subject.
Yesterday I zoomed with one of my first grade classes and we drew the salamander from Frozen 2. I recorded the call to post here. I did crop out my kiddos’ faces, so you won’t see them, but their teacher and me did talk to them now and again. It is sped up slightly, so if you’re one of our students, you’ll notice we sound a little funny haha.
Here’s a photo of this cool little guy, and a screenshot of our final drawing. Have fun!
How They Made Mummies
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is located in New York City and is the largest museum in the United States. It contains over 2 million pieces in its permanent collection. Sometimes museums trade artifacts amongst each other, so people from around the world get to see relics that they normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to see. The Met opened in 1872, and houses collections from these many areas of study: Ancient Near Eastern Art, Art of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, Asian Art, Egyptian Art, European Paintings, European Sculpture, American Art, Greek and Roman Art, Islamic Art, Arms and Armor, Costumes, Drawings and Prints, Medieval Art and the Cloisters, Modern and Contemporary Art, Musical Instruments, and Photographs. Just for this post, Met Kids interviews one of the museum curators about how the ancient Egyptians made mummies, and gives a look at some of the artifacts that have been discovered.
Natural History Museum, Washington DC
It should be no surprise to anyone who knows me, I like dinosaurs. Coming from Pittsburgh, Pa, I grew up with a great collection of dinosaur fossils at our museums. DC has a new setup featuring these amazing creatures. Things are constantly being discovered about these animals, such as the recent discovery of a spinosaurus tail, leading to the realization that it swam. Paleoartists are constantly reconfiguring their artistic depictions of long extinct animals based on the constant discovery of information about them. Until we can visit these exhibits on our own, take a look at a walking tour of the dinosaur exhibit at the Natural History Museum in Washington DC.
Leaving Your Mark
Often when people think about making art, they think of pencils and paints, clay, canvas. Expensive materials and special setups. This isn’t always the case. A lot of people find themselves locked down at home. Not everyone has, or has access to, the supplies that we often feel associated with art. One way to create is to use materials that you find around you. Many artists have taken to nature to find their supplies, and as a canvas to create their art. They collect pine cones, sticks, leaves of the correct color or shape, and they use these to create their masterpieces. Some stack rocks into specially balanced formations, and others draw intricate designs on the beach. The unique things about making art in the natural world is that they are rarely permanent. They are designed to disappear. Take a look at some of these exaples:
All of these images are made using materials found outside. No glue, no scissors, nothing was bought. Take a look around your yard or in the woods in a park, see what you can find to use. Never pick anything off of a live plant, and make sure you ask a parent for permission to use things found in a garden, or to use bigger rocks (which can be heavy). Look for colors and shapes, and see what you can create from them. Keep in mind artwork like this is designed to disappear eventually.
Home to Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, Monticello sits just outside of Charolettesville, Virginia. Sitting originally on 5000 acres, Thomas Jefferson designed his own home after inheriting the land from his father. He used elements from several classic architecture models, with a few of his own ideas tossed in. He started building in 1786, and “finished” it in 1809, but he continued working on it until he died in 1826. Thomas Jefferson was also well known for remodeling people’s houses around Virginia when he would go and stay with them. Berkeley Plantation was one such location. In 1923, a non-profit group bought Monticello, and it later became a National Historic Landmark.
Monticello is offering a free virtual tour of the house currently. You can click around and tour different rooms, as well as click on descriptions of some of the artifacts to learn some more about their significance. Architecture is a detailed and complex branch of the art field, so take a deep look and see what elements go into the design of a building. In the last few years, my interest in architecture has increased. Seeing monuments and buildings built by people long gone, and learning the stories of those who made them, is fascinating to me.
Click here for virtual tour of Monticello
The link will open a black screen with a logo on it, just click center, and it will open the tour starting with the Entrance Hall. Menus are on the left by room, and you can navigate by turning around the screen. There are dots and audio links throughout each room.
The British Museum
Art classes are sometimes met with a bit of an eye roll or a sigh of frustration because people don’t view themselves as an artist. Well, the art world is a lot bigger than the actual people who do the painting or make the sculpture. You have archaeologists, curators of museums, people who restore paintings and sculptures, the list goes on and on. Museums are full of artifacts, clothing and relics of the past. People clean them, study them, display them, promote them, trade them, sell them, and on and on. Museums are also part of the art world. The British Museum in the U.K. has offered a virtual tour of some of their artifacts. Once the page loads, there are 5 categories on the right to choose from (art and design, living and dying, power and identity, religion and belief, and trade and conflict), from places all over the world. Once you select a category, a series of dots appears for you to click and explore. Each dot will supply you with an artifact and a bit of history about it, it even has an audio button if you need it. Click around and enjoy! See what you can find!
Click here to access the British Museum tour!
Dinosaurs filled the earth 65 million years ago. We all are familiar with dinosaurs from popular shows and movies, such as Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. However, dinosaurs were a lot more complicated and diverse than those movies have come to portray. Many dinosaurs had feathers, a lot were more bird-like than reptilian, and they were not fierce monsters. Instead they formed complicated social groups, had distinct adaptations for their environment, and were warm blooded.
No one is entirely sure what killed off the dinosaurs in the mass extinction event that wiped them from the planet, but the popular theory is a giant rock that struck the earth in the Gulf of Mexico, causing world-wide climate change and destruction. Other theories rely on mixtures of continental movements, tectonic shifts, and volcanic activity. In the prime of dinosaurs, there were species as small as a hummingbird to ones as large as a blue whale, and came in all shapes and varieties. Jurassic Quest has recently put out a variety of coloring pages that cover 26 of the dinosaur species. They are linked here. You can download them and color in any way you feel like. Being 26 of them, they are also alphabetical. One dinosaur species for each letter of the English alphabet. You can also try drawing them yourself, or even use them as a spring board into researching and drawing various dinosaurs on your own.
Dropbox folder of alphabetical dinosaur coloring sheets
Artists are all crucial in the study of paleontology. Paleoartists reconstruct extinct species and civilizations, to show what the world would have looked like. They cover everything from Pompeii, native tribes, to dinosaurs, to the very first recorded species on this planet. Some paleoartists also combine their artistic rendering with their surge of imagination. One of my favorites is James Gurney, who combined his love of archaeology, his love of paleontology, and his artistic skills to create the world of Dinotopia, which has spanned to include many books, tv series, and a tv miniseries.
I grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, surrounded by woods. We’d explore the forests, find abandoned things, learn our environment. We’d make treehouses and learn how to navigate where there were no paths. Coming up through school, we were captivated by stories of explorers, discovering new lands, or ancient cities that time had forgotten. This interest was rekindled when I went to college and started studying ancient art history. I got to learn about these ancient groups of people, where they lived, how their nations worked. I learned there were more than I had ever known about.
I was on a zoom call with some of my second graders and found out they were learning about the continents. I set out for this page to be more than art projects. Some of my interest in art came from places and things I learned about, instead of just always making art projects. I found this site that lets you explore the 7 continents. It starts with each continent listed with pictures, but if you click on the continent, it tells you a lot about it. It tells you about the oceans that border it, some major national landmarks, ruins or monuments, major animals that live there. Some have even more things to click that you can actually go explore- such as Machu Picchu, the Giza Pyramids, the penguins of Antarctica.
We would have learned about some of these places and people this year in art class, or maybe we already did. So have fun, click around and see what you can find!
Explore Some Landscapes
Google Earth has offered a glimpse at many of our country’s national parks. Each of these has some unique lookout points, as each of these are located in a different type of environment. Take a look around and explore these different places. You can use the web version, or you can download the Google Earth app if you’re allowed.
Google Earth Tours of National Parks
If you want to try your hand at some art, you can pick several different landscapes and draw each one, focusing on the physical differences of each. A forest has different details than a beach, a desert is different than an arctic tundra, a sandy beach is different than a beach along the cliffs. You can finish them out by tracing it with a sharpie (if you have it, it gives it a nice line), and coloring with whatever materials you want.
If you had me in class, we learned in 4th grade how to do a value scale, how to begin shading. If you did not, it’s really rather easy. To shade, all you have to do is adjust the physical pressure you are putting out. If you want a light value, or shade, you have to be able to press very easy, very light. The lightest value seems to be the hardest for students, because it requires a lot of concentration to keep your pencil pressing easy. To get a dark value, you press very hard (not hard enough to rip through your paper, and you might have to make several passes at it. If you haven’t shaded before- try filling in the value scale below. A value scale is simply a set of boxes where you practice changing from light to dark. The lightest box is easy, it’s the white of your paper, you don’t have to do anything. The darkest box is at the other end, and it’s as dark as you can get it, you might have to make several passes. The boxes in between should change gradually. If you cannot tell the difference, you should spend some more time on it.
When you feel comfortable, go ahead and take a look at this video lesson. We’re applying the same idea of a value scale, but taking a look at Stonehenge.
Free Online Art Classes from The Kubert School
The Kubert School, an art school located in New Jersey, known wide for its specialization in comic illustration techniques. Due to the quarantine mandated around the country, they are offering live art classes on Saturday mornings in April. Taking place from 10am to 11am EST, you can log on to their Facebook Live to take part in the lessons.
All you will need is paper, crayons, pencils or markers.
The schedule of guest artists who will be teaching are:
4/11/20- Maria Sanapo (10 am)
4/18/20- Sergio Cariello (10 am)
4/25/20- Lee Weeks (10 am)
You can learn from anyone, and getting to take lessons for free from someone in the illustration industry is a rare opportunity. Log on and have fun!
***Make sure you have parental permission to log on Facebook***
During the worldwide lockdown that we’re all living through, it can be kind of tough. We want to see our friends, go out to eat, run around outside, go to the beach. But we can’t. We live in an age of technology, however, and this gives us eyes all across the globe. One of the coolest things I’ve seen are photos and videos of animals showing up in cities and towns that are shut down. Mountain Lions in the suburbs, wild boars walking down the meridian, dolphins beside the docks in the bay. It makes my imagination run wild. A unique thing about art, is you can find ideas and inspiration from anywhere.
New York Times article:
Using whatever supplies you have available, look out your window and draw what you see. Draw your town, or the buildings outside of your window. Don’t forget the horizon line (where the sky touches the ground- this will look different for everyone). Do buildings overlap? Are there trees poking out from behind houses? After you have used your observation skills and drawn what you see, plug in some animals that you don’t usually see outside of your house. Is there a pride of lions walking down the street? A giraffe in the backyard eating from your trees? Maybe there’s a triceratops eating the rose bush in front of your house? Some kangaroos jumping from the cars in the driveway? Use your imagination, remember, this is supposed to be wild.
I’ve always loved sea turtles. This is a lesson that I use with my kindergarten students, and they do really well, however, any grade level can certainly do this project. Use whatever materials you happen to have at home. If you don’t have any art supplies of any kind, look for old junk mail (to draw on the back of), envelopes, or pens. If you use a pen, take extra care, because you cannot erase a pen.
When you’re done drawing, use whatever coloring materials you have to add some color to your sea turtle. I taught my students to pick two colors, use an A-B pattern on their shell. Then I had them pick two colors for their body. Be sure to color each shape different, don’t just scribble over all the details you spent so long putting together!
Tour The Louvre
The Louvre is located in Paris, France, and is the largest art museum in the world. The Louvre started as a castle in the 12th century (~the year 1100). When they stopped using it as a military fortress, it became a home for kings. When the museum was built, the old castle became part of the basement. It opened as a museum in 1793 and houses works of art from Ancient Greece, Egypt, Eastern Antiquities (Asia), Etruscan and Roman works, Islamic art, Decorative arts, as well as paintings drawings from all over the world. One of the most notable additions to the Louvre is the double glass pyramid. There is a glass pyramid outside that extends into the sky, as well as a twin that goes down into the ground and can be seen hanging from the ceiling inside the museum.
While I haven’t had the opportunity to visit the Louvre myself, I look forward to the day that I get the chance to go. My favorite sculpture in the world is housed in the Louvre, The Nike of Samothrace (also called the Winged Victory of Samothrace). It used to stand in the Samothrace temple complex, and depicted the goddess of victory, Nike. It was designed to resemble the prow of a ship (the front). The head, arms, and right wing were never recovered, lost to time. The right wing that is connected now, is a copy of the left. It is a gorgeous work of stone.