Friday, 3 April 2015

Henri Rousseau - Rainforest Collages



The Great Kapok Tree has been the class text for my year 5 and 6 classes. This was such a great theme for the term I took the opportunity to link it with a bit of artist appreciation. I introduced the children to the work of Henri Rousseau through a Power Point. We looked at the way Henri Rousseau positioned his focal points within his paintings and looked at how the golden rule of thirds can help you arrange a good composition.

In the first session, the children were asked to choose two animals from the Great Kapok Tree story to include in the work. They then used oil pastels to draw their animals. I encourage them to draw the outlines in black so the animals would stand out in the finished pieces.

During the second week, the children cut their oil pastel animals out and arranged them on a larger sheet of green sugar paper. The children divided up the paper into thirds vertically and horizontally to create 9 squares on their page. The children then went about arranging their oil pastel animals in the four corners of the centre square. Once they were happy with the composition, they used coloured paper and textures card to collage around their animals using an overlay technique.

The collage stage was a great chance for me to give the children a free range. It was wonderful to see the children try to tell a story within their work.

Farmyard Animal Art Projects

With sprint in full swing, this term has been focused on plants and animals. My year 1 and 2 classes have been looking at the class text Farmer Duck. The story follows poor duck who has to do all the work around the farm while the greedy fat farmer sits in bed all day eating chocolate.

I decided to combined different techniques and media to create the different farm animals from the story.

Week 1, we collaged using feathers, practising laying them in the same direction. This activity seems simple but shows the children that not all collaging involves using paper.

Week 2, we concentrated on developing the printing technique. The children mixed water, washing up liquid and black paint in a bowl. Next, they used straws to blow bubbles (careful not to suck up the mixture). Once the bubble were high enough, they lay their sheets of paper on top of the bubbles. Once dry, the children cut out a cloud shape for a sheep's body and added legs and a head. We finished our sheep with google eye stickers but drawing eyes could extend the project.

Week 3 was the week of the chicken. The children had to fold their paper plate in half to create a chicken's body. This was a great opportunity to talk a little about maths and how two halves have to be equal or there not really a half. The children then added detail by cutting shapes from coloured paper. The children discussed the types of shapes they were drawing. It was fantastic to hear the children discuss the difference from geometric shapes to organic shapes that we had covered in a previous lesson. When I first introduced the vocabulary, I was concerned that the children may be to young but the risk paid off. 
Again we finished the project with some googly eye stickers. 

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Paste Resist

When studying the Tudors last term I wanted to introduce the children to the concept of negative space and the ways in which we can use it in our art work. Resist are always for this so I chose to cover paste resists. Unfortunately, we don't have a wax heater in school for the children to create wax batiks but another method of using a paste resist to create batiks is a easy and safe way for the children to part take in the process of batik.

I chose to use the design of the Tudor rose, not just because the children would be able to recreate the simple design but linking it to the idea of symbols and standards to represent noble families fitted with the history topic.  The children used a black Tudor rose outline that they could see through their thin piece of cotton fabric. I mixed a simple flour and water paste that I poured into squeeze bottles I bought of Amazon but old clean sauce bottles would do the same job. The children then trace the Tudor template with the paste making sure to apply even pressure to the bottle to get a clean even sized spread of paste. The paste will bleed a little into the fabric and can cause it to crumple a little. This is normal it's just the water content soaking into the fabric.

When the paste has dried, (at least over night) you can begin to add paint to the fabric. On this occasion, we used an acrylic paint that we added a small amount of water to. Be careful not to make the paint to watery as it will bleed into the fabric under the paste and you will loose the negative space created by the paste. The children can paint over the top of the paste or use it as guide lines so not to mix colours. Once the paint is dry, the paste can be removed by picking at it. Make sure all pieces are removed as it affects the finished look. Removing the paste should leave a clean white line in its place.

Finally we mounted our fabric between two art straws to give it a standard feel.

Georgia O'Keeffe Clay Flowers

The curriculum theme this term is centred around plant life and nature. My year 3 and 4 classes (age 7-9 year olds) have been basing their learning around book The Green Ship. 

I linked the requirement in the national curriculum for children to learn about artists and craftsman to this project. I chose to Introduce the children to the work of Georgia O'Keeffe and her large flower paintings. We looked at example of her work and worked through some of the activities detailed in my earlier post 'Art Activities To Engage Children'.

The children were provided with a handful of air drying clay each and chose an example of O'Keefe's work to create a model. They worked upon shaping their clay into a sphere then flattening it to create a stubby cylinder. Once the children had moulded a cylinder shape, they used modelling tools to mark and cut out petals.

After, I encouraged the children to use their tools to create texture on the surface of their flowers. Many used a basic clay slip (mixture of clay and water) to join leaves and stems to their flowers.

As we used air drying clay we left the flowers to dry and harden over night before painting with colours to match the O'Keeffe paintings.

This particular project gave me an opportunity to observe how the children creatively used the tools to shape, mould and add texture to clay. Some even totally abandoned the use of tools and created their shapes and textures purely using their hands. This type of activity can really help strengthen their fine motor skills.



Thursday, 19 February 2015



Tudor Portraits - Artist Study of Hans Holbein the Younger

During Term 3, my years 3 and 4 art group have been learning about the Tudors through their class text The Thief, The Fool and The Bog Fat King. The book is set in the court of King Henry the VIII. I took this opportunity to introduce the children to the work of Hans Holbein and take a close look at his portraits. By studying Holbein the children were introduced to not just Henry the VIII but his wives and children too.
We spent most of the first session looking at his work and completing some of the activities from my posts about how to engage children in looking at art. My classroom Facebook display also featured Holbein during this term. We played Ping Pong Critic (please see earlier posts) and looked for textures and lines in his work. Then the children had to recreate a portrait of one of Tudor family members.
I used the task to encourage the use of light sketchy lines to begin their work as many children especially in year 3 still press very hard with their pencils initially. We also looked at drawing facial features by sectioning the face in a cross and where to draw the nose from.
I did limit the children to using colouring pencils to add colour and texture as I felt that felt tip pens would destroy their opportunities to add texture. I know most children love using felt tips but they can easily ruin a piece of work if the children press to hard on thin paper it can create holes. Colouring pencils are much easier hen wanting to  create value and texture. Felt tips can to be blended.
You could extend the project by asking the children to create a pencil portrait then recreate it or up scale it using view finders then ask them to paint their portraits but it will depend on how much time you want to spend on a project. For the pencil drawings alone we spent two sessions (one hour a session).
Finally I created a Tudor display board of their finished portraits. I have found a great website which I have added to my useful website lists. is great for lettering for displays and has become my latest obsession. I have also updated the list with other websites I regularly use for displays.


WW2 Art


Anderson Shelter Models

As part of the curriculum my year 5 and 6 art group have been studying WW2. As part of their learning I though it would be good to come up with a project that would last a large chunk of the term. I came up with the idea for the children to create models of Anderson Shelters.
I didn't introduce the project until half way through the term because I wanted the children to of gained knowledge of their topic through their other subject lessons. By the time we started they had gained a lot from lessons plus a trip to the STEAM Museum in Swindon.
I specifically gave them a very broad scope to be creative and individual. I put out a full range of water based paints and brush sizes, a selection of tissue paper and card, glue, felt tip pens, tinfoil and provided each child with the same size cardboard base. They were free to take from a large roll of corrugated card which I got for a very reasonable price from the schools resource suppliers.
The only other aid I gave the children was a paper template for the two ends of the shelter. The use of this was optional. I gave no modelling or specifications on how to construct their models and this yielded surprising results. I did show a power point of other models made by children which they could gain inspiration from. I found that giving them this freedom really allowed me to watch their techniques and gain knowledge of their understanding of basic techniques. As basic as brush control and understanding of properties of paints and materials. As a teacher, this was a really useful process of assessing gaps in their knowledge that we can cover in future sessions.

One tip I will give is that standing by with a glue gun for fixing issues was a great help. If your brave enough, you could allow the children to use the glue gun themselves. I remember being allowed in primary school to use a glue gun to fix wood together but I was unsure how health and safety regulations play into this now. So, I would recommend checking out risk assessments etc if your allowing the children to use the gun.