Thursday, November 10, 2011

Peacocks with shimmer and bling - grade 2

I recently blogged here about Alex Beard's "Monkey see, Monkey Draw" book and the associated art game.In this game, my 2nd graders traced their hands and turned them into something, but NOT a turkey. Students had some interesting results, including several peacocks. Meanwhile, I had been bookmarking some lovely peacock projects that I'd seen on other blogs. So I thought it was time that we actually make our own peacocks. Here's what we did.

While the lessons I had bookmarked had produced lovely results, I decided to do things my own way, with decidedly varied results. We began by watching a video of peacocks fanning their beautiful displays, and we examined some authentic peacock feathers. We looked carefully at the shape of the bird's body and their unique features.

The kids drew their peacocks with pencils, outlined the birds and the 'eyes' on the feathers with Sharpies, and then began to paint. We used some liquid watercolors in blue, turquoise, and sparkly 'black' (more of a dark green, really) and some Prang metallic temperas I had leftover from a Klimt project a couple of years ago.

We completed the peacocks with white oil pastels for the stems of the feathers and the stripe above and below the eye, other color oil pastels for the feather lines and anywhere else appropriate, and finally sequins for 'bling'. By the way, don't you love the pigeon-toed peacock on the left below?

Some peacocks were quite successful, and others, well, I'll show you some of them too.

Below are two unique peacocks. The painting on the left was unique in the choice of a limited color palette. Good job! The painting on the right was, well, exuberant to say the least. I love the shape of the bird body.

And then there's a peacock that looks like it got caught in a windstorm, and another with colorful pine tree branches instead of feathers.

And did this peacock on the left below get his feathers stuck in a revolving door? I guess he doesn't want to be recognized, since it looks like he's wearing dark glasses.

I think the peacock on the left below is having a 'bad feather day' perhaps, and the one on the right is attempting (successfully, I guess) peacock camouflage. Where's the peacock?

Blogger insists on rotating the images below, but I had to share them anyhow. We've got, first, the Jackson Pollock action painting version, or maybe a 2nd grade attempt at abstract expressionism, then a bird with, instead of eyes on his feathers, I think they are calamari rings, and finally a beautiful bird with feathers that have been scared straight.

By the way, below is the metallic paint. It came in a set of several colors, metallic green, blue, violet, red, copper, silver, gold, and a steel blue color. They look gorgeous in the bottle but are very disappointing paints. They have a gelatinous consistency and do not have much coverage. You need to layer them to get any real vibrancy, and therefore require more patience than that of an average 2nd grader. But the kids are happy with their peacocks, so I am too.


  1. These are all lovely, but I think what I like most is the subtlety of the colors. Usually I am partial to bright, vibrant colors, but the grays, peaches and soft greens are really appealing in all of your kids' work. On another, related note, do you have a particular brand of metallic paint that you would recommend? I have never used them with my classes, but am considering a couple of projects where they would be great IF they were thick and very opaque. Thanks in advance if you have any advice.

  2. Funny you mention the grays - I didn't think about warning the kids what would happen if they mixed the metallic orange and the metallic blue and the gold and violet ... so we have many grays!

    As for brands, I obviously don't recommend what I had. I have been mostly disappointed with metallic paints, other than some tiny sample bottles I got with unfortunately no identifying labels. But one thing that I got that works a bit was a set of metallic glue (NOT glitter glue). The bottles are relatively large and we have found that we can paint things, and then squeeze the glue on our fingers and rub it on, and it leaves a marvelous metallic sheen. I'm saving what I have left of it for some stuff I have planned for later this year.

  3. These are just beautiful Phyl! I love how each one is entirely unique.I agree with Christie, the muted colors are so pretty and refreshing for peacocks. I think I like the "exuberant" one best!

  4. Sono bellissimi! Complimenti ai bambini e all'insegnante.

  5. Every one would be on my wall if my kid brought these home. You can totally tell you let them mix, make choices and express themselves all with unique results. I am in loveeeeeeeeeee. I bet they had no fun with the sequins;)

  6. Erica, ironically, I think they were so 'done' by that point that they used less sequins than I expected, and were really good with them except for one table that kept dumping them.

    Tatiana, I do not speak Italian but I can tell what you are saying! Thank you!

    By the way - I realize I left one step /material out of my description in my post. After we outlined w/Sharpies, before we painted, we used some metallic crayons to color the eyes on the feathers. THEN we painted.

  7. Oh my goodness, you're soooo funny! Sometimes I take my job & students' work so seriously. I'm so pleased that you find the humor in their delightful expressions and help us to laugh and enjoy them. I love the paintings, they're charming!

  8. I really like these and you've given me a great idea. Just yesterday I was rummaging around in the storage room of one of my buildings when I found a bucket of large rhinestones. I thought, "What can I do with these?" solved! I am also happy to see you post the success and the... surprise results!

  9. These are adorable- And even the "messy" ones are quite beautiful in their own way!

  10. These are beautiful, nicely done. I really enjoy the layers of materials, thin and thick.


  11. What cute and whimsical peacocks! You're right that many brands of metallic tempera are so transparent and thin. So far, the brand that I prefer, is an Italian brand called Primo. My local art supply store carrys it. It covers well in one coat.

  12. What do you find is an easy way to distribute liquid watercolors? Little cups? Art pallets with little dips in them? Are your kids pretty good about rinsing their brushes in between colors, or do they get muddy and mixed fast? I've only recently started using some liquid water colors... I always used the regular watercolor sets... but liquid ones looks so much brighter. I just haven't perfected my distribution of them.


  13. Janet, honestly I'm fairly new to liquid WC paints too. Mostly I just have blue and turquoise (and I had some little samples of other colors). I put them in little cups or small plastic bowls but added a bit of water. When we're using just the blues, washing the brushes is not such a big deal. But they are definitely a little harder to wash out than regular watercolor sets. Like you, I've generally used the regular sets when using multiple colors. Sorry I'm not a bigger help!