Tuesday, January 7, 2020

DragonWing Arts Students 'Discover' Treasure!

Our theme for the fall DragonWing Arts session was Discover!  My five students (two 3rd graders, one 4th grader, one 5th grader, and one 6th grader) did three projects - the first was the creation of a treasure map.
And the second was a papier-mache project.  (I'll tell you about the third project later.)  I asked the kids what they'd like to build with papier-mache - perhaps a newly 'discovered' creature, a box of buried treasure, something from outer space, a discovery under the microscope or deep in the sea, etc.  My five students unanimously said "We want to make TREASURE CHESTS!"  So we did.
We began by constructing the boxes and their curved covers, out of cardboard (from shipping cartons).  We covered them with a coat of papier-mache, and when dried, we gave them a base coat of black acrylic.
The students painted their treasure chests and bedazzled them with some jewels.  They used a colorful air-dry clay and made some tentacles and such to be emerging from the their treasure chests, and also added felt and more jewels and strings of beads as desired.  We cut 'hinges' out of sparkly felt and such, and I hot glued them together for the kids.  I think they came out great!

For the treasure maps, I had experimented with dark brews of tea and coffee to stain the paper, but it just didn't 'take' the way I wanted, so we used liquid watercolors.  I mixed brown with green, with orange, with  yellow, and with black, and after they had torn the edges of their paper, they painted them with the watercolors, blotting and wetting as desired to get the effect they wanted. They discovered that dripping water on the papers looked really cool.
 The kids learned how to make a simple 'compass rose', and also how to make a scroll for a key on their maps.  I printed out sheets of typical map symbols and then let them go to work making their maps truly their own inventions. The started with pencil, and then used a combination of fine-tip black markers and India ink with dip pens.  They loved working with the pen and ink!!  Afterward they used tiny amounts of red, white, and gold acrylic ink to embellish.
Somehow I forgot to take pics of the third project, so here's some more views of the treasure chests! 

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Funky Fun with Chalk Pastels

I recently taught a workshops at my state art teacher's convention called Funky Fun with Chalk Pastels, and I want to share all about it here!  The hands-on workshop was intended to share unusual and innovative ways of using chalk pastels, especially for people who don't like the dust and are fearful of chalk.  The room was set for about 30 people; about 60 attended.  We squashed people everywhere!  Some were even sitting/drawing/painting on the floor!!
Nevertheless, it was a great workshop, with everyone creating enthusiastically.   All photos in this post are pieces created by the workshop participants.  I was blown away by the work they did!
 In the workshop, we mostly used bogus paper, an inexpensive and highly absorbent thickly fibrous ugly gray paper.  I purchased it through Nasco but it can also be purchased elsewhere.  I soaked the bogus paper in a tub of water.  Workshop participants used a variety of soft pastels drawing directly onto the surface of the wet paper.  The chalk pastels become paint-like on the wet surface, creating luscious vivid color!
A second technique was to paint lines in black acrylic on white (or bogus) paper.  Then, areas of the paper could be painted with water, and colored with chalk. 
Or, chalk could be colored and then blended with liquid starch, using your finger, a paintbrush, or a Q-tip. 
An additional technique is called 'chalk dips', and was done on colored or black paper.  Participants dipped their chalk pastel sticks in white tempera paint and worked in bold strokes of chalk.  The paint 'outlines' the chalk color, as in the photos below.  Any color tempera can be used for this technique.
My favorite thing that happened in the workshop was the way the participants combined the various techniques and materials.  Chalk dips were added to the chalk drawings on wet bogus paper, and on the white paper with liquid starch. 
And some people combined the chalk on wet bogus, the white tempera chalk dips, and also added the black acrylic.  Can't you see some of these pieces, such as the ones below, re-interpreted as giant abstract paintings in oil or acrylic?
When the pieces dry, they will turn chalky again  (unless the colors were blended with liquid starch, which 'fixes' the chalk).  To restore the vibrancy of the colors and prevent the dry chalk from smearing, you can paint over the artwork with Mod Podge, or some other acrylic gloss varnish (or also Sax Gloss Tempera Varnish) to seal them.  But this needs to be done carefully to prevent smearing the chalk.  I recommend painting the gloss over one chalk color at a time, and rinsing/wiping the brush in between colors. 
 Here's a few more pieces from the workshop.
I taught a shorter version of this same workshop three years ago at my state convention.  You can find a blog post about that workshop by clicking HERE.  And click HERE for a link to a post where my after-school students used chalk and liquid starch as part of a project they were doing.