Monthly Archives: April 2014




Saw this easy way to create mandalas at Art Walk. I may just need to try this with some of my students.

Using card stock, acrylic paint, a cake topper or other plastic stencil, you can have a lovely mandala in a very short amount of time.


Start by tracing a circle. Then drop 3-4 drops of 4 different colors of paint anywhere on that paper. Fold the paper diagonally then open. Repeat with the opposite side. Fold it across horizontally, open/repeat until the paint is well distributed.


Using another color, stencil a pattern on top of the mandala and add a center gem.


For an impermanent version, they had mandalas you could make in sand with twigs, shells, stones and other objects then take a picture of.

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Art Walk Little Italy



What does an Art Teacher do on her day off? Go see art of course.

This weekend was Art Walk in Little Italy. Such a great yearly event. This year marked the 30th year that the streets are closed to traffic and food, music, art and activities were spread throughout our downtown’s Little Italy. The bonus is that if you have kids, there is Kids Walk a little enclosed park with make and take items from various groups in the county and the Sophie Isadora Circus always has a performance or two.

A friend and I love to go to these events. Our weekend had been filled with must-do’s so we got to Little Italy late afternoon on the last day. It was just enough time to zip up and down the streets, snack on a bag of kettle corn, see the art, made a mandala, grab a taco at TacoRey and head home.


So many fantastic artists and so many things to do. I have seen several of the artists before at other art events: Angela Dallas (no website). Ray Street ArtistsSpanish Village Artists, Nancy Tokas, Betsy Shaw, etc.  Always a treat to see artists and their work and see what new things they are creating. There were hundreds of artists to see and many of them were donating a portion of their profits to Art Reach a group that brings art into schools that otherwise would not have art.

Today, I met a new to me artist-Iris Scott who FINGERPAINTS with OIL!!! So cool. We got to watch her finish up a fish painting. I talked to her and told her I was an art teacher. She directed me to her video. Really an amazing style of painting.

It was such an inspiring afternoon, Makes me a little sad that we only have a few art classes left this year.

Gelatin Printing


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In the 1880’s a gelatin plate printing method was developed in Germany to make inexpensive copies. Some say it was designed for church bulletins and student tests. It was called a hectograph.

A special ink or pencil was used to write on a piece of paper. That paper was laid on the gelatin for a few minutes and lifted off. Then a clean paper was laid on the gelatin. To make more copies, one would place another clean paper on top of the gelatine and continue until all the ink was gone. The name hectograph came from the idea that you could make 100 copies from the one image.

Today, we use gelatin plates primarily for art project-monoprints or monotypes. You can buy a product called a Gelli plate that will supposedly last forever. Since the cheapest “classroom kit” which contains 4 12×14 plates was more than $250 and way out of my budget, I made a semi-permanent plate using gelatin, glycerin and water. The plate cost just about $7 and was made in a 9×13 glass pan. Recipe is below.

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I had my after school group try it out. They were a little heavy handed with the paint but loved it. I will probably make another couple of plates and let them do this again. Not sure how long the plate will last but it held sturdy with only a few nicks through 25 2nd-5th graders making 2 prints each.

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I found this how to video on youtube. The video is about 30 minutes and she tells you how to print with it as well. The Frugal Crafter has an original version of the recipe.  I read some disaster stories on the web about the contents becoming gloppy and not useable so I used a whisk and blended the gelatin and glycerin quite well before adding the hot water.

Gelatin Plate-no refrigeration needed

6 Tablespoons of gelatin (7 packets)

Mix the gelatin into 1.5 cups glycerin

While mixing, add 1.5 cups boiling water

Pour it into a shallow pan to set-I used a 9×12 glass baking dish and it was perfect.

You can remove the air bubbles with a piece of tissue paper or newsprint.

If it gets nicked or damaged, you can microwave for a minute and let it set back up.




Preschool Pulling Paint and Making Patterns


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The 3 year old preschool comes to see me at the end of the day. Today, the kindergarten classes created barns and farms with tempera paint. Not one to waste my supplies, I thought about how the amazing 3’s could use the leftover paint. I thought about all the things we work on in pre-k, eye hand coordination, using different tools, using different mediums, creating patterns, etc. etc. So I created this  pulled paint, plaid pattern lesson.

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First they dipped a scrap of cardboard into the paint and pulled it across their paper. They could go both horizontally and vertically if they wanted to.

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They loved it! Then used forks to add texture and added dots and lines. They had so much fun that I think I will do it again with the pre-K 4’s!

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Kindergarten Barns and Farms


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Kindergarten will soon begin a unit on animals. To tie into that unit, we did a guided drawing of a barn in oil pastel. They could add a silo if they wanted to. They could put doors or windows or both on the barn. They could paint it however they wanted to.

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They filled in their picture with farm animals, tractors, scarecrows, plants and anything else they thought should be on their farm. Once they completed the drawings, they painted them with tempera paint.


I was so happy to see this student scratch into the paint (sgrafitto). He told me he remembered doing it when we made the leaves for the hydrangea prints. I LOVE when students take something they learned from one lesson and adapt it to another!

When I was walking around the room, one student was covering her drawing ( the one below). She did not like it. I asked why? She said the horse looked weird. She had made the horse head round. I pointed out that horses have elongated heads and pointy ears, so she adjusted her picture. She was concerned that people would still see where she had made the round head. I reminded her that horses have manes and she could simply paint over it if she chose to. A great example of my philosophy that there are “no mistakes in art “!


Tissue Paper Collage



Laurie Kmen is a favorite of mine. I love the texture and the colors she chooses for her art.

She often has her studio open during First Friday Liberty Station. When I saw her earlier this month, she was doing a community art piece. I learned that she used to be an art teacher.

A few weeks ago, a family donated a large box of colored tissue paper. I wanted  a lesson to use it with. Students always love to see their donations at work in the art room and this donation was not exception. The students began by looking at Laurie’s work. We discussed the work (texture, layers, mixed media, etc.) . Then they began working.


They could create an abstract piece or a landscape. I showed them how to spread glue with a paint brush. Students also learned that layering creates different colors and textures and that different result is seen when you tear the paper rather than cut the paper. The biggest struggle was not wrinkling the paper when they spread the glue.


I think they came out rather nice. I love that they are all different and unique.

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Elements of Art Book



I did this project with my after school group. I did a small book several months ago at Ray at Night at the San Diego Art Department and knew my students would enjoy making a book.  The students range from grade 2 to grade 5.  I have no budget for copies so I wrote definitions on the board and students wrote them in their books and illustrated the pages as they chose to. We used donated paper and markers and colored pencil. They could orient the book horizontally or vertically.


The created a simple origami book by folding the paper into eighths then cut the center and refolded.



Magic Treehouse



First Graders love the Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne.

For this project, students started by coloring their background with oil pastel: the tree, the sky, the ground. They choose all the colors, the tree type and size. They can also create whatever house shape they want to . Most things we do in the art room are like this. I throw out the idea, show them how to use the tools and they run with it.


We talk about what things you might see in a treehouse-rope ladder, tire swing, door, window, balcony, etc.  Once the background is in, they create the house and details with collage.

I have a giant box of scraps-mostly sample paintings that I have chopped up or scrap donations from other teachers.


Here are a few finished treehouses. I love how each one is a little bit different.

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It’s Cool to be a Square


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Students in my K/1 classes are always working on art concepts. Today was all about warm and cool colors and patterns.


For this lesson, students used a quarter of a square drawn in the corner of their paper as the starting point.

Students painted their square in cool colors with the background in warm colors. Color mixing was encouraged. They could add additional patterns if they chose to.


Once complete, we put them together to make giant squares.


Bubble Wrap Flowers Printing


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Bubble wrap printing has been around for a long time.My children have done bubble wrap prints for Miss Rumphius’ lupines. I have done snow with my students.

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These flowers are just one of many variations on bubble wrap printing.

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Students were given paint in red, white and blue. I showed them how to use the bubble wrap to print a flower shape. I showed them that if they dipped it in white first, then red, they would get pink, if we dipped it in red and printed then dipped it in blue, we get purple and so on.

They could make as many or as few flowers as they wanted to.


They could make them whatever color they wanted to. Color mixing was strongly encouraged.


When the flowers were complete, students were given green paint and a paintbrush to create leaves. I showed them how to “draw” into their paint (sgraffito) with the brush handle to make the veins in the leaves.