Grecian Storytelling Vessels

Teaching Art

I love papier-mâché! Knowing I wanted to use papier-mâché to create a sculpture with Year 4, I checked to see what they were studying in class. Students were learning about Greek History and Mythology so I came up with the idea to create Grecian style earns or Amphoras using papier-mâché to make the forms.

Students began by covering a balloon with papier-mâché to create the body of the earn. Once dry, they attached a cup at the top and a hot glued a paper bowl at the bottom for the foot and covered it with strips of newsprint covered in the floor and water mixed. Lastly, students shapes tin foil to make handles, attached them them using tape and covered them in papier-mâché.

Using the artist Cleon Peterson as inspiration for the style, figures and designs, half the students painted their Amphoras black and the other half white. Introducing the 7 Literary Themes of Conflict, students began writing stories of conflict they would depict on their vases.

Using cut paper, students added either black or white figures and imagery to begin telling their stories of struggle on the surface of their earn. They then added white or black Posca paint markers for final details and designs.

I approached the Neilson Hayes Library in Bangkok to see if we could display the vessels at the library. With having a connection to storytelling, Greek History and mythology, the library seemed like the ideal place to showcase the vases. From Greek antiquity and classic literary themes to a modern graffiti artist and current themes and events, these storytelling vessels have figurative and literal layers of meaning.

Bangkok Shophouses

Teaching Art

Being in a new city, country and culture has really influenced my lessons. Wanting to connect to both the city and local artists, I reached out to Louis Sketcher who is an author, artists and illustrator. Interested in the architecture of the past and present, Louis Sketcher wrote and illustrated the book Bangkok Shophouse. Year 4 students looked at his work to create their own shophouse as well as connect to their units of inquiry in Humanities as they learned about different structures and buildings in various cities.

Students began by looking at the artwork of Louis Sketcher and copied his illustrations of famous shophouses around the city of Bangkok. Beginning with pencil, students worked hard to get proportions and perspective right before tracing over their lines in black fine liner marker. Once complete, I scanned and made copies of their shophouse so they could keep the original. Students then began painting their shophouse using watercolor.

I then scanned each class and made a poster of all of their shophouse together. The composition imitated the cover of Louis Sketchers book. Excited to connect, Louis Sketcher agreed to come to our school for a meet and greet and book signing. We displayed the students Shophouses for the event which was a huge success. The poster of the shophouses was so popular many faculty and staff have asked for copies for their homes and offices.

This experience has really inspired me to reach out to local artists and find ways to connect to the community and to my new city, school and home.

Starry Night Inspired Paintings

Teaching Art

With the Van Gogh Alive Exhibition in town, I wanted to do a Van Gogh inspired artwork with Year 2 students before visiting on our field trip. Combining several different techniques and ideas from Instagram and the amazing group of art educators I follow, I came up with a winner of lesson.

Working large, students used A2 sized black paper and began making lines using a fork and acrylic paint. I provided a few different tints and shades of blue and white. With an emphasis on lines, students looked at Van Gogh’s Starry Night to guide them in how to create movement using the lines with the fork.

For the next lesson, students used purple, white and blue oil pastels to add more lines in between the printed fork lines. Then providing gold, white and yellow acrylic paint, students started adding stars, a moon and the iconic lines around each to create a glow-like effect.

For the final lesson, students used a variety of green painted and patterned paper to create the foreground. Then they used more painted paper to cut and add houses and other buildings. Lastly, students using Posca paint makers to add additional lines on top of the green patterned paper and details to the houses i.e. windows, doors and designs.

This lesson allows every students to be successful by creating a beautiful work and making their own connection to one of the more famous works of art in the world AND they got to use gold paint which is always a crowd pleaser!

Pre-K Line, Shape & Color Paintings

Teaching Art

I was first introduced to this winner of a lesson by Claire Kirk who was my teaching partner from 2017 -2018 school year. I have facilitated this lesson in my Kindergarten classes ever since. Not only introducing the Elements of Art LINE, SHAPE & COLOR to our youngest artists but it also is obtainable to any ability level and serves as a helpful diagnosis tool to understand students spacial awareness, fine motor control and experience with different art tools. Not to mention they look fabulous once complete and even better as a whole group display.

I begin this lesson by gauging an understanding of students knowledge base of LINE by listing the different LINES they know together. Students are then introduced to Larry the Line (idea curtesy of Cassie Stephens) who shows us how to use our body to create LINE.

We then transition to the tables where students draw different kinds of LINES across their paper using a black marker. This is guided as to help students create enough LINES, have a variety of different ones and to make it all the way to the edge of the paper.

For the lesson lesson, I introduce SHAPE. Students begin to understand that a SHAPE in a line that connects at the ends. After practicing finding shapes within our LINE drawings, students use yellow liquid watercolor to paint 6 shapes that they find yellow. Once they have completed the 6 shapes, I provide them with blue liquid water color for them to make their own green. Students then paint 5 shapes green. I remind students to have yellow and the green shapes live far away from one another and for them not to touch.

I repeat the same instruction above and focus more on discussing COLOR and mixing our own using blue and magenta to make violet and yellow and magenta to make orange. Regardless of the carefulness of the color mixing, painting of the shapes, spreading out the color or painting ability, every students artwork turns out colorful, dynamic, and cheerful. SUCH A WINNER!

Compositional Landscape Using Image Transfers

Teaching Art

Image transfer is a fun way to teach students a useful and versatile skill all the while helping young artists learn how to create an effective composition. In Grade 2, we assess the standard related to creating composition and image transfer allows students to showcase that they can create composition without needing to be strong drawers.

For Grade 2’s compositional landscapes, students began by using various watercolour techniques to create landscapes with a foreground, middle ground and background and producing an interesting texture background to overlay images on top of.

Students used bubble wrap for the mountains and cellophane for the water and we kept the plastic on top while it dried overnight.

The bubble wrap and cellophane was left on overnight and once it was dry, it could be removed leaving only the texture behind.

After a discussion about what makes a ‘good composition’ students began placing images within their landscape. As they were doing so, I walked around asking questions and making notes to see if student could apply the following learning targets independently.

– Show distance by the specific placement of different sized items

– Create balance with the composition by spreading images out

– Place 3 – 6 images mindfully within the composition

Using a brush, students applied a layer of matte medium on to their landscape where they were going to place their images. These images were printed from an ink jet printer and then pre-cut by myself and my teaching partner to remove most of the white paper around the images.

Students placed the images upside down so the ink from the images came in contact with the matte medium. Using brayers, students flattened their images and made sure there were no air bubbles or creases. Then, the works were left to dry overnight.

For the next lesson, students used a soft sponge to wet each images and then gently rub the paper pulp away from the images using their finger tips. This is a slow process and took the entire 40 minute lesson. Students continue to reset images to soften the paper pulp and reveal the image. The ink from the printer adheres to the matte medium transferring the image.

For the final lesson, students removed more of the pulp as once the works are dry, the images still look cloudy and need more paper pulp removed. Lastly, students added a small amount of baby oil which absorbs into the remaining paper pulp to help with the clarity and contrast of the images.

Kindergarten Cityscape Collages

Teaching Art

For the last few years, I have partnered with Kindergarten’s Hong Kong unit and collaborated with classroom teachers to help students create a city skyline painting. The artwork then becomes a capstone of their learning from the unit and their year in Kinder. This year we tried something new and created a collage instead of a painting.

Students started the unit as employees of the Painted Paper Factory. Because the collage needed lots of brightly colored paper to use for the buildings and the blue backgrounds, each class spent an entire lesson painting as many pieces of paper as they could. Working in assembly-line fashion, 10 Kindergarten classes produced enough blue background papers for all 200 students and enough papered colored paper to use for the buildings.

Prior to painting, my partner and I mixed our own acrylic colors to ensure that they matched the Posca paint markers that we would use later and that the color combinations worked well together.

We then cut the colored papers into various sized rectangles and had students begin gluing them to their blue background. The Kindergarteners found it difficult to place the buildings with the understanding that more will be layered on top so this step was heavily guided.

Students then added the second layer of buildings overlapping the first and then finally filling any small gaps or spaces with small squares at the bottom.

Once all their buildings were glued using a glue stick, students added a layer of latex glue on top to help seal everything down as well as create a smooth finish to easily draw on top of with the paint markers. The latex glue also gives a lovely glossy shine finish to the surface.

The students then looked at different images of Hong Kong buildings and practiced drawing different windows, doors and details to prepare to add these items to their collage.

Students were then given Posca Paint Markers to begin adding windows to each building. Once every building had a different style window, students added more LINES, SHAPES & COLORS to the building to build pattern.

Lastly, students added different rooftops, chimneys, and observatories on top of their buildings and then finished the nights’s sky with a moon and stars.

The classroom teachers then scanned all of the artwork and had them printed on to canvas. Our hope is that having them on canvas will encourage the parents to hang them in their home.

Grade 1 Pop Art Flower Prints

Teaching Art

I love printmaking! I firmly believe that all Lower Primary students should experience some form of printmaking so they understand that artists use different tools and materials to create. I also find that for so students that have trouble manipulating drawing and painting tools, excel in printmaking as it pulls upon gross motor skills as well.

Here is one of my favorite printmaking projects to do with my 1st Graders. It ties in observational drawing, Pop Art and printmaking vocabulary. It also yields stunning final works that every student can be proud of.

After an introduction to Pop Art and using the video from the Tate Modern Kids Collection, students looked at the life and artwork of Andy Warhol. The three big ideas I wanted students to take away are regarding Pop Art and the work of Andy Warhol were:

  1. Pop Art is BOLD and BRIGHT and COLORFUL
  2. It’s ART FOR ALL

Students then began drawing flowers based off of pictures of flowers. This allowed me to review observational drawing techniques. Once finished in pencil students traces over their lines with black permanent markers.

For the second lesson, I helped students tape their flower drawings to a foam print plate the same size. Then, using a blunt pencil, students traces over their marker lines to transfer their drawing to the print plate. Many of them needed to go back over their lines to make the deeper but the key is to not push so hard that the marks go through the foam.

Students traces the shape of their flower onto another foam print plate so they would have one print plate with details and being just the shape of the flower. Then lastly students cut both of their flowers out and wrote their name and class number on the back using black marker.

Lesson three, students began printmaking. They can begin printing on colored paper or you can add a lesson and have students paint a background using acrylic paint. That it what we did for ours. The on top of the colored background, students print square using pre-cut square print plates to create a checker board patter.

For the nest lesson student print just the flower shape print plate using gold or silver printing ink and for the last printmaking lesson students use black ink to print their detailed flower print plate to print on top of each gold or silver flower shape. The purpose of the gold and silver is to create more contrast and add another layer of texture.

As a way to reflect on the printmaking process as well as assess students on their understanding of the Pop Art style, for the final lesson of the unit students completed a worksheet. Below are a few examples from the students.

Grade 2 Sharpie & Watercolor Self-Portraits

Teaching Art

Let’s face it! Drawing faces is hard for artists of any age. Therefore when I teach Portraiture to Lower Primary students, I always show them different techniques, trips and tools to make the process easier. In this Portraiture Unit I shows Grade 2 students how to use a simple transfer technique to trace a photo of themselves to as a starting port fro their Watercolor Portrait.

After taking a photo of each student’s face and printing them, student began by tracing the major shapes and lines of their face. Practicing careful mark-making, fine motor control and patience, student moved on the the next step once their entire picture was outlined with black permanent marker.

Students then used a large soft graphite pencil to draw over their markers on the backside of the their picture. Note that students do not need to cover the entire back with pencil but rather just the marker lines as the pencil is needed to help transfer to their paper below for the next step.

Have students tape their picture to a piece of paper which will become their fine work. The paper should be heavy enough to handle watercolor paint so use something heavier than copier paper. Have students at this time write their name on the back as well. Then students will retrace their black markers lines on their face using a normal pencil. The pencil will push the graphite on the back of the picture creating a copy of their lines on the blank paper.

Remind students to check often that their pencil lines are transferring or that they can at least see the marks made to be able to trace over with marker. Once the entire picture is copied onto the paper below, students can remove their picture and begin going over their pencils line with permanent marker.

Students then will begin adding watercolour to their portrait. I had student begin with values and shadows in the face with one color. They could also practice first on their picture if they wanted. After they added color to face, they added color to their hair, eyebrows, eyes, lips and neck. Lastly they painted simple patterns in their clothing and background. Only a minimal amount of the white of the paper was left to ensure students have large areas of color to build pattern on top.

Once they were dry, students began building pattern on top of the watercolor using Posco paint markers. From outlining large shapes, to creating pattern within them, students demonstrated their ability to use LINE, SHAPE, COLOR & SHAPE to build patterns and make mindful choices about color.

Students reflected on their Self-Portrait by creating a poem. This also served as an assessment to one of the standards of the unit which was to have students show how they were connecting to their artwork.

The Watercolor Self-Portraits below are from one class. This can give you a good indication of how this unit is obtainable for all ability levels. Although there are obvious differences between fine motor control and application of Elements of Art and mediums used, this project is obtainable for all students and each and every student with the class felt that they were successful in creating a Self-Portrait.

Stained Glass Rose Window Mandalas

Teaching Art

Grade 2 have been creating Mandalas for the last few years as a capstone of their journey in Lower Primary. This year, I wanted to do something slightly different. Using stained glass windows as inspiration, this unit not only focused on learning how to build Pattern using Line, Shape and Color but also allowed student to participate in a deeper discussion on why art is made.

Enduring Understanding: Art can be made to worship and give thanks to God.

After looking at the stained glass windows in the church we have on campus, students looked at the stained glass windows of many different churches and cathedral from around the world. Students then began gluing tissue paper to create a background for their Mandala. Using latex glue to seal the tissue paper done, the glossy finish was smooth to design on but also reflected the light like glass.

Once dry, students learned the step-by-step process of creating a an 8 point Mandala. I pre-drew a circle and guidelines on each canvas with white Posca marker to help students create symmetrical designs.

Students used black Posca marker to create their designs and then added white Posca marker to create Contrast.

Using black matte acrylic paint, students used a small round brush to outline the edge of their design before using a large flat brush to paint the edges and sides. The matte paint against the glossy finish of the Mandala helps to make it look like a brightly colored stained glass window design.

For an early finisher activity, student could work together to create a digital Mandala on an iPad. Using the website,, students used the Elements and similar techniques to create a Mandala in completely different medium.

Symmetrical Beetles

Teaching Art

I was introduced to this lesson by Claire Kirk & Katie Flowers. Both amazing artists and art educators I have had the honor of knowing and working with over the years. From observational drawing and simple printmaking to integration of mathematics and science, this lesson has it all! I have facilitated the lesson both with kindergarten and with second grade. Below outlines in how the lesson is taught and facilitated with the two different age groups.

I started by finding images of different beetles on the internet and used they as reference. My partner and I then traced the halves of six different simplified beetles on A3 paper. Then we photo copied them on to thicker weight drawing paper and folded them in half to create the line of symmetry.

*For second grade, we provided a print out of half of a beetle and drew the other side by observation. The challenge was to try and match their drawing to the images.

In class, we discussed with students that artists and scientists need to look at the world around them closely. We began looking at beetles both as artists and scientists and shared observations on what we see when we look at these shiny insects.

Based on our observations, we introduced the line of symmetry and how it can help us when we are drawing beetles and bugs. We then demonstrated how to use the fold of the paper as the line of symmetry. Using black India ink and small paint brushes, watched as we painted over the lines of the beetle, folded it over and then rubbed. The paint printed to the other side to begin to create the other half of the beetle.

Student repeated this process. Kindergarteners did have to be reminded to not paint on the other side, and that they were only to trace the lines provided, work in small sessions and rub firmed to ensure their lines printed.

Once dry, students added glittery liquid watercolour inside the shapes that were created by the printing process. Students also were encouraged to add lines and shapes to create symmetrical designs as you would see on the shells of real beetles.

This same process in creating the beetles could be used for other insects, plants, and animal prints. This lesson is very obtainable for primary school students and can be adapted in many different ways to align with standards and benchmarks as well as integration goals.