Tried & True Tips for Art Teachers is a monthly roundup of advice and wisdom
from fellow art teachers, put together by the intrepid Glenda Lubiner.
The Courage to Try
“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”
— Vincent van Gogh
What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything? Well, we have a lot to look forward to and a lot to attempt this month. March brings to us Women in History Month, Youth Art Month, and Music in Our Schools Month. Wow! That’s a lot to take in.
This is a great time to celebrate all the famous women in art and women artists. For Youth Art Month, hang artist’s quotes and their portraits around your school. This is also a great time to educate the students and parents on the importance of art education. Compile a list of careers that art education can lead to and have discussions or even debates with your students.
March is a great time to collaborate with your music teacher to have a night of the arts and be sure to invite your community leaders. This month our focus is on drawing, color media and projects inspired by books, literature, music, and dance.
Tip # 1
Baby, Baby, Baby Oil? Try using baby oil to soften the look of a colored pencil drawing. The key, however, is not to use too much oil. There are two ways of using baby oil in your drawings. First, draw as you normally would. The next step is to dip a cotton swab in some baby oil, blot it on a paper, then smooth over the colors in your drawing. It will give your drawing a smoother look, almost like using watercolor pencils.
An alternate way to do this is to start by applying a light layer of baby oil on your paper with a cotton ball or a wash paintbrush, then add your colored pencils. This will produce a smooth, rich look to your drawing.
Watercolor made Easy. Have your students use a limited palette, especially if they are using watercolors for the first time. Make sure they do a light sketch first on their paper, as planning for whites and highlights are essential, particularly if they want to draw something realistic. I have my students start with an abstract piece until they are comfortable with different techniques of watercolor.
Color Application. There are many ways to apply color and depending on the area you want to cover can depend on the medium you use. If you have a large area to cover, have your students use broad tipped markers to lay down color. The broad tips make it go faster and smoother. Once completed the students can add colored pencils for detail, highlights and shadows.
If students are working on a large-size drawing, they can start with a watercolor wash and add colored pencils, markers, or pastels to add details.
Another color medium my students love to use are water-soluble oil pastels. We have done everything with them, from watercolor monoprints to Georgia O’Keeffe–inspired watercolor flowers.
Books a Million. I have used many books to inspire art projects in both my elementary and middle-school classrooms. One of my favorite books for all ages, is Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. The primary grades made their own wild things in a two-dimensional format using paper cutouts, paint, oil pastel, or crayons.
The upper grades also make their own wild thing as well, but their lesson was one using pen and ink. The students learned about hatching, cross-hatching, and stippling, then they created their wild thing. When it was completed, they were instructed to use a watercolor wash to add color.
Any Eric Carle book is a great start for an art project as well. Students can paint multiple sheets of paper (older kids can use tissue paper) to create their pictures. Giraffes Can’t Dance, by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees, is a great story to discuss character traits. Students can make Gerald dancing in drawings, paintings, or even puppets.
The Cave Painter of Lascaux, by Roberta Angeletti, is a great book to start introducing art history. One project I like to do is watercolor cave paintings on paper clay. The kids love it and they are always successful. Oh, and don’t forget to play music in your room!
Happy Birthday to Oskar Kokoschka (March 1, 1886), Piet Mondrian (March 7, 1872), Rosa Bonheur (March 16, 1822), John Frederick Kensett (March 22, 1816), Francisco Goya (March 30, 1746) and Vincent van Gogh (March 30, 1853).
Arts & Activities Contributing Editor Glenda Lubiner (NBCT) teaches art at Franklin Academy Charter School in Pembroke Pines, Fla. She is also an adjunct professor at Broward College.
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