See the Girl with the Pearl!

1016985_10100350334963188_588805922_nSometimes known as “The Dutch Mona Lisa,” Johannes Vermeer’s The Girl with a Pearl Earring is one of the world’s greatest masterpieces. The mysterious yet beautiful face of a young woman dressed in colorful silk cloth with her glinting pearl drop earring as the focal point, is a breathtaking sight to behold. No, not her…



Sorry about that…this is the one I was talking about…

Girl_with_a_Pearl_Earring (1)


The Girl with a Pearl Earring is in Atlanta at the High Museum of Art from now until September 29th. The exhibit includes many other beautiful works by Dutch masters including Rembrandt, and it is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about art history and art appreciation with your whole family. If you cannot make it to the exhibit, visit the High Museum’s website to learn more about The Girl and even use the Go Girl app to have some fun putting yourself into the painting, just like Mrs. Bearden!

Math-e-Magical Tessellations by M.C. Escher

This year, students at Euharlee Elementary School are learning to make connections between math and other disciplines like art and music. Each nine weeks, we have a math-themed art lesson on “Wildcat Wednesday” for each grade level. On our first Wildcat Wednesday math lesson in art class, we learned about tessellations. Tessellations are amazing patterned designs made from one shape repeating over and over without overlapping or leaving any gaps. Like a tiled floor or a brick wall, a tessellation is an interlocking pattern that fits together perfectly like a puzzle. The artist M.C. Escher created some tessellations in the shape of animals, people, reptiles, and fantasy creatures. You can view some of his artwork here:

The students each colored and cut out a single lizard to fit into a giant tessellation made by all of the fourth graders. Later, they used these templates to trace and create their own.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

One Fish, Two Fish, Paint a New Fish!

This First Grade lesson comes from Deep Space Sparkle, one of my favorite art lesson resources. I thought it would be a great color theory and line project to start out the year. The first graders remembered learning about the primary colors last year in Kindergarten, and this was a great way to review mixing primaries to create  secondary colors. We also discussed creating patterns by repeating various types of  lines.


  • 12×18″ paper
  • Individual palettes for each student with red, yellow, and blue
  • Oval templates (large and small)
  • Black Sharpies
  • pencils
  • Large and small brushes
  • Water cups for rinsing brushes
  • Black and white paint


I followed the same procedures as Deep Space Sparkle. We read One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss and talked about rhyming words and opposites. The students traced 3 large ovals and 3 small ovals onto their paper using a Sharpie. They added eyes, fins, tails etc, but I told them they didn’t have to add scales or other details yet. They painted the large fish with the primary colors first, and then moved on to mixing secondary colors for the smaller fish. If they wanted to, they could use all three colors to make brown for sand or rocks. I gave them some white and blue paint to mix a tinted color for the water.

On the second day, we finished painting all of the fish and water, and talked about lines. Lines can be horizontal or vertical, they can cross or intersect. They can be curved, zigzag, dotted, broken, curly or bumpy. Using a small paintbrush dipped in black paint, the students outlined their fish, and added a pattern of lines to each one. They enjoyed having two class periods to work on the project, and the black outlines were really worth the extra time.

The results: Click on the image to enlarge.

Creative Color Wheel Cutouts

Third Graders are learning about intermediate (tertiary) colors and how to create them. Each student painted a color wheel given only red, yellow, and blue paint (the primary colors). They mixed the paints on their Styrofoam plate palette to create secondary and intermediate colors.


  • Color Wheel Template (photocopied large circle divided into 12ths)
  • Styrofoam plate with red, yellow, and blue paint and small paintbrush for each student
  • Water cups for rinsing brushes
  • pencils
  • scissors
  • black paper (cut into 9″ squares)
  • glue sticks


On the first day, the students look at a color wheel and learn how it works. They can reference the color wheel to find out how to mix secondary and intermediate colors. They begin by labeling their color wheel chart with each color in the right location. I suggest that they start with yellow and then paint the blue and red areas on the wheel before doing any mixing. Next, they can work their way around the wheel, painting each area as they go. Once they have mixed orange, for example, they can use the leftover paint to make red orange and yellow orange (intermediate colors).

On the second day of the project, we discuss positive and negative space, symmetry, and radial balance. We fold up the circular color wheel into fractions (in half, in half again, and then in thirds) until all 12 pieces are layered on top of one another. It looks like a single slice of pizza, and their scissors take “bites” out of the slice on the sides, tip, and outside edge. Cutting through the layers is tough for some students, so I tell them to make sure they have a strong pair of scissors and open them up wide to start each cut. We also cut a blank design first before cutting on their painted color wheel. The fnished designs are glued onto black paper to highlight the negative spaces. Now the uniform painted color wheels are each a unique work of art!

The results:


Tints and Shades with a Cherry on Top!


Second Grade artists are learning about values and how to create a range of values in their art. They learned how to mix paint to make tints and shades of a single color to create a value scale. Tints are light colors, or colors mixed with white. A shade is mixed with black, and it looks dark. You can also mix black and white to make gray, and mixing that with a color is called a tone. Tints, tones and shades are values. Each student mixed tints and shades to create 6 different values of a single color. After they dried, the students cut out each different value or “flavor” of their color to become a scoop of ice cream in paper collage. It was so much fun to create, and I loved seeing the students discover how the paint mixed before their eyes. Many students came up with names for their various ice cream flavors.


  • 12×18″ paper
  • 6×18″ paper
  • pencils
  • brushes
  • paint palette with one color (student’s choice) plus black and white paint
  • scissors
  • glue
  • scrap paper
  • crayons
  • hole punches
  • texture plates

Procedures:On the first day of the project, the students fold and divide their paper up into 6 equal sections or squares. They select one color, and I give them a mixing palette (Styrofoam plate) with black and white paint to mix with it. I instruct them to paint one square with their chosen color (unaltered) and then begin mixing it with white to make lighter and lighter tints. After making a few tints, they may add a small amount of black to create shades. Finally, they can mix up the remaining paint on their plate to paint the last square. I remind them to make sure each square look different than the others, like each one is a different “flavor” of that color (value).


On the second day, the students cut out all six values and drew a large, round scoop of ice cream on the back of each one and cut them out. I showed them that they can cut out more than one at at time and trace one they have already made to make it a little faster and easier for them. Next, we make an ice cream cone by cutting out a paper trinngle out of light brown construction paper and adding texture with a crayon and a texture plate underneath. The texture rubbing makes it look a lot like a real waffle cone. If you don’t have texture plates, you can use plastic embroidery canvas for the rubbing, or simply draw a pattern on the cone with crayon. They glue the cone down first on a long piece of white paper and then begin gluing on the ice cream scoops one at a time (making sure to overlap) from darkest to lightest. The overlapping makes it appear that each scoop is on top of another. They may add any topping they like by cutting out shapes themselves or using a hole punch.

The results: They really remind me a lot of Eric Carle’s illustrations.


Back to School and Wild About Color!

The 2011-2012 school year has started, and we have jumped right in with some fun painting projects in K-3. Here is a sneak preview of what we’ve been working on, and I will write an in-depth post about each project coming soon. Fourth and fifth graders are still in progress.

What we’re working on…

Kindergarten-The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. We can draw lots of different kinds of lines.

First Grade-We can mix the primary colors to make the secondary colors. We can use a variety of lines to create patterns and textures.

Second Grade-We know how to create tints and shades of colors to acheive a variety of values. We understand how to use overlapping in our art.

Third Grade-We understand how the Color Wheel works, and we can use the primary colors to create the secondary and intermediate colors.

Fourth Grade-We can use complementary colors to create art with contrast. We can use contour lines and shading to create the illusion of 3-Dimensional form.

Fifth Grade-We can describe the difference between realism and abstract art. We can use a color scheme such as analogous colors in art. We can use symbols to add meaning to our art.

Flag Story Quilt


This project is inspired by the artist Faith Ringgold and her work entitled, Flag Story Quilt. The class learns about the history of the American flag and the meaning behind the design. We also look at how Faith Ringgold used the flag in her own artwork to express her ideas about living in America. She created a flag using tie-dyed fabric instead of plain red and blue, used 50 faces instead of 50 stars, and wrote a story in the white stripes of the flag. The students were asked to create their own Flag Story Quilt using cutouts from magazines and added their own words to express their thoughts about America. I like how this lesson incorporates language arts and American history with visual art.

Zebra Collage


The first graders are learning about African wildlife, culture, and art. We began with learning about animals of the African savanna. For this project, we talked about my favorite animal, the zebra. We discussed the zebra’s diet, habitat, and predators, and how the zebra’s unique stripe pattern acts as camouflage in the shadows of tall grass of the savanna. Each student got to use one of the zebra figures or stuffed animals from my collection at their table to help guide their drawing. We drew the figure of the zebra with black oil pastel, and then created the stripes with torn stripes of black paper to give it a fuzzy texture. the backgrounds were created with layers of tissue paper. We used warm colors (red, orange, and yellow) to represent a sunset. Finally, strips of green paper were cut and added to the bottom of the page as grass. Great job First Grade!

Tags: , ,

Radial Name Designs

These colorful designs were created by 5th grade students. Following careful steps, students repeated the letters of his or her name in a radial design and traced it with a black marker. The letters reflect and connect with each other forming lots of interesting repeated negative shapes. All of these shapes were carefully colored in with markers in a symmetrical pattern. Look closely to see if you can find the names pictured in each design.



Poinsettia Prints


This week the fourth graders created some colorful poinsettia paintings using petal-shaped sponges and tempera paint. This is another great lesson I found on Deep Space Sparkle. The students had cups of red, white, and yellow paint and used a paintbrush to coat a sponge stamp and print petals on their paper. I used regular kitchen sponges and cut out a petal shape for each student. They were encouraged to mix the colors to create orange and pink as well. After printing a few petals, they re-coat the sponge and continue printing in a radial pattern. Next, they used cotton swabs dipped in paint to add a center to each flower. I encouraged them to balance out their paper with flowers and could even have some petals run off the edges of the paper. Next, they used a clean paintbrush to add green leaves and could fill the rest of the negative space carefully with blue. The cool colors in the background contrast the warm colors of the flowers. They results were quite beautiful, and I am happy to have a holiday themed project that doesn’t exclude students who don’t celebrate Christmas.