How to adapt Great Artist Curriculum to meet the needs of your students

merrie-monarch-hula-posterI am in my fourth year of teaching the Great Artist Program in Hawaii. The first year went really great. The students loved the projects and they looked forward to me coming in to teach them art. The second year was met with a little less enthusiasm. During this second year, I brought in some of my own art projects, and they really seemed to like those, but the projects from the Great Artist Curriculum, seemed to leave them disappointed.

Now in my fourth year, the students lack excitement when I come in the door with a new Great Artist Poster. So, I asked the kids what were their likes and dislikes. It seems that there is a lack of creativity in projects, that are copied exactly as presented. This works well, when students are young, and need a lot of guidance, or with students that are not that “into” art. The main dislike was that the Great Artists are all from Paris, and their works from the 1800’s have little relevance to students today. I see the same sort of thing happen when Shakespeare is introduced.

So, I decided to teach the program a little different. I would read to the students about the Great Artist of the month, in this case Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and then show their art. Then using the concepts of the lesson, in this case silhouette, line, bold colors, and poster print elements, we adapted it to something relevant. The Moulin Rouge was a cabaret club in Paris, not really something the kids could relate to. The greatest hula show of them all is the Merrie Monarch in Hilo, which goes on for several days and features all the different forms of hula from ancient to modern, even the boys can relate. So we decided to use it as our subject.

It was amazing what happened next. Students that never said one word to me all semester, were asking questions and chatting with me. Students that had struggled with paint and pastel were drawing perfect lines. Students that never completed a single project were coming up with creative reggae color combos. Every single student in the class produced a beautiful poster, and they were all different. It was like magic.

Here are some of the hula posters that the kids created.



How to make watercolor blooming hearts

watercolor heart craftIn this video tutorial, I show you how to make these beautiful watercolor hearts. This is a great Valentine’s Day craft for kids. Each heart is one of a kind.

What you will need for this craft is high quality watercolor paint. I recommend winsor newton. In the fall leaves craft tutorial, I mentioned that this craft will not work with cheap paints. That means that you cannot use those little dry cakes of watercolor; you must use a professional grade paint. You also must use 140lb cold pressed paper. This paper has more grit or teeth and creates the nice effects that you see here. As far as paint colors, choose 1 or 2 reds and one blue. I use alizarin crimson in the video but cadmium red is fine, and french ultramarine is a lovely blue. In the heart pictured above, I use a tad of Q gold.

This is a wet in wet technique. Your paint should be prepared ahead of time and mixed with water until you achieve the texture of heavy cream.You will tear your watercolor paper into 4″ X 6″ pieces (or smaller) and draw a heart with a pencil. Then use plain water to wet the paper only inside the heart. It should be wet but there should be not puddles (you can suck up extra water with the edge of a paper towel. Then simply drop in your colors and tilt the paper to mix.   To dry the hearts, you can use a hair dryer, but beware that little puddles of paint may blow across the page. This is a great project for the art classroom.


DSCF1340DSCF1347photoSacred Heart in watercolor IMG_7535



How to make 3D Paper Christmas Ornaments


How_to_paper_Christmas_Ornament_pinIn a post last year, I showed you how to make three-dimensional paper Christmas Ornaments. This year, I decided to put together a little video showing you how to do it. The ornament template come from the Three-Dimensional Christmas Ornament Coloring Book and Papercrafts, BUT, you can make these ornaments with construction paper, using simple shapes like circles, stars, and hearts. They are fun and easy to make.

Lucid Publishing offers a free version of some of these ornament templates on their website.

Happy Holidays!


Family Coloring Activity

family-coloring-activity-pinWe all know kids love to color. Many adults now love to color. Why not do it together?

Here is a little activity I like to do with my kids. We look for an interesting image on the internet or in a book and then we sit down together and draw it. I let my kids watch me so that if they are having trouble, they can see how I am working it out. In this case we each drew a fish.

My son drew the fish on the top, mine is on the bottom. In case you are wondering, it is a flame angelfish. Anyways, when we are done drawing, we switch papers and color each others’ drawings.



This activity would work in a classroom setting as well using guided drawing and then having the kids turn in their drawings and asking one of the students to hand out the papers. Then having the kids color in the drawings. Collaborative art in the classroom is always fun.

If you like to draw fish, I recommend a site called marinelifephotography. Keoki Stender and his wife take some amazing underwater photographs!

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