Saturday, April 27, 2013

6th Grade - Best Likeness Awards

Here are 2 out of 4 "Best Likeness" awards that I gave out, along with the photo that each student was copying. 

New Record!

This made my day, folks. Thanks for checking out Teaching Art! I hope that you continue to find content here that is interesting & helpful to you.

Friday, April 26, 2013

1st Grade Portrait pt 1

This is how I would show my first graders to start putting their face together. They would have already had individual lessons on each facial feature & be acquainted with some basic facial anatomy.

To see some examples of how my first graders did on this project, go to

Canopic Jar Heads!!

Jenipher came yesterday and I showed her how we were going to do the heads. She was responsible for showing her two groups how to do Hapi and Imsety. I showed my two groups how to do Qebehsenuef and Duamutef. 
They did better than I thought they would! Jenipher was a huge help. Clay projects require a smaller student to teacher ratio (especially with younger children). 

Here are the results! 

Qebehsenuef- Hawk (holds large intestine)

Hapi- Baboon (holds lungs)

Imsety- Person (holds liver)

Duamutef- Jackal (holds stomach)

Didn't they do a good job? I'm so proud of them :) 

Speed Drawing!

Jonathan had his private lesson today. I had him speed draw from the Basic Proportions video 

We went back over some sections after
the video was over. He took about
12 minutes total. He's 10 years old and in 4th grade.

As he was drawing he kept saying, "Miss Mathews, I can't do it!" & I kept telling him, "You ARE doing it! It looks great, just keep going!" I actually took his eraser away from him because he was trying to be a perfectionist. He cracks me up.

I asked him if he would like to comment on the experience, he said: "It's hard, but
eventually you'll get it."

"Do you think it helped going faster?"
"Were you nervous?"
"Oh yeah!"

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Yauna Painting

Evelyn's Mermaid pt1

This is Evelyn's lesson from today. I picked something harder to challenge her more. I still think she did really well! We're going to add more details and some value to it next week. She is 6 years old, and in 5K. 

Colorful Fairy

Evelyn showed me this today. She had taken it home and colored it on her own. 
I think she did well with her color choice and pretty well with her draftsmanship!

Previous Related Post- 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

First Portraits-6th Grade

Here are two more 6th grade portraits that turned out pretty well. 

I can tell that these two students worked hard and I think they learned a lot. 

First Grade Oohs & Ahs

Yesterday in teacher's meeting we discussed the ideas of Charlotte Mason. I realized that I have not been showing my students examples of good artwork like I should be. To fix this oversight, I compiled several famous works of art along with several works of art by my friends for my 1st graders to look at. 
The idea is to expose students to quality 
ideas and materials. 

Out of the pieces by my friends, these got the biggest reaction from my 1st graders. 

"Wooah Cool! They're a really good drawer."

Child#1-"Who is that?" Indignant Child#2-"It's Kristopher Robin!" 

After viewing the previous two works to this one & trying to figure out what the boy was doing, they saw this painting- "Haha! Woah!"- "You would die if you really did that." - "Why is there a bird?! haha"- "Look at the sock monkey, he's scared!"
"A sword!"

"Robin Hood is cuute "- "He's going to shoot 
an arrow!"

 A unified, "Aww!"-"There's blue in her hair!"-"I like the flower."-"Someone famous!"

Just for fun I had students guess whether they thought each painting was by a famous person or one of my friends and whether it was done on the computer or not. They really couldn't tell, but they had fun trying.

All of these artists are really worth checking out! Use the links to contact them or view their artwork. You'll be impressed! 


This is one of those "two books in one" books from Companion Library.



These are the two books from which I have been reading stories to my students. 3rd, 4th & 6th have started the first steps towards their watercolor illustration (thumbnails then sketches). I want them to spend two days on these watercolors so that they'll slow down and do a better job. 

3rd grade is illustrating Hansel & GretelGrimms'
4th grade is illustrating The Girl Who Trod 
on a Loaf, Andersen's
6th grade has a choice between Hansel & Gretel & The Cat & Mouse in Partnership, Grimms'

I can't wait to post the sketches and paintings!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

3rd Grade Illustration pt1


The third graders will be doing a watercolor illustration of Hansel and Gretel. This is a 3 part project. 
The first step was for them to come up with ideas/thumbnail sketches.

 I read the original story to them and while I read, they sketched. This student did the best so far in making interesting thumbnails that use the space well.

 I really liked the one of Gretel pointing at the house in the first photo where only half of Hansel is showing. It's a mature composition for someone her age, and I didn't even have to suggest it. 

I'm emphasizing that their picture should be of something happening, about to happen or something that has happened; not just a portrait or something static. I'm also emphasizing that they should not waste their space and that whatever is important in the picture should be the biggest (Background details shouldn't be equal or more prominent than what's happening.)

The next stage will be a sketch of their best idea. 
If they don't use the space well the first time, 
I will come by and "crop" it by folding their paper or drawing a box around the necessary part of the picture. The final stage will be a watercolor of that idea. 
I will keep you posted. (No pun intended.)  ;)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Difficulty Scale--Classroom Lessons

***** Low 
(10%--25% of class requires some 
one-on-one instruction.)

***** Low Medium 
(30%--45% of class requires some 
one-on-one instruction.)

***** Medium 
(50%--55% of class requires some 
one-on-one instruction.)

****High Medium  
(60%--75% of class requires some 
one-on-one instruction.)

***** High 
(80%--100% of class requires some 
one-on-one instruction.)

Canopic Jars-Bases and Organs

See "Canopic Jars for 2nd Grade" under >"Special Lessons" for project instructions.

Both sections of 2nd grade have finished the bases of their canopic jars and the organs that go with them!
Each student completed one of the four "sons of Horus" (there are 29 second graders). The organs from left to right are the second grade version of the: stomach, liver, colon & lungs. (The numbers and letters are just our code so we know which child did what.)

The first class didn't get the clay packed into the cups very well. I don't think I stressed it enough. The second class did much better though because I really stressed it and showed some of them individually.

I had an adult volunteer to help me with this project (which was wonderful!) but had I not had a volunteer, the students wouldn't have been able to complete this in 50 minutes. You really do need one person to cut the foam cup "molds" off of the cups while another person shows them how to make their organs. 

Mouse Discovers Mouse pt2

Here's Evie's mouse after another lesson. Next time we'll finish the mouse, do the touch ups & be done! She has the opportunity to practice mixing different values of the same color on the mouse & next time we'll use the values to blend that area on the mouse's stomach & on his right leg.

Previous Related Post-

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Drawing Lips for 1st Grade

I accidentally took a 3 hour nap earlier and now I cannot sleep . . . Therefore I made this video. As you have probably gathered, I'm working up to doing the whole "First Grade Face." Then I'll skip a couple grade levels to show you how I step up the instruction for different grade levels.

Friday, April 19, 2013

One of THOSE Art Teachers

Today, I took both 5th grade classes outside on the porch because it was raining. They silently drew pictures of whatever they saw in the landscape ahead of them. Then I had them take their shoes off and we played in the rain :) 
Every once in a while, it's important to be one of those art teachers that fuels creativity 
and playfulness through adventure and discovery. 
Most of the time my lessons are very structured and 
logical and traditional, but I don't want the kids 
to lose their love for art in the process 
of becoming excellent at it! 

There's something so thrilling about playing in the rain. They're also at the age where they're not worried about messing up their makeup or hair or trying to be too cool.

I had 3 or 4 of them come up to me and say, "Thank you!" One of the moms of my students that teaches at our school actually saw and thanked me for letting her daughter run in the rain haha.

(I didn't think it entirely through and if I do this again I'll probably have them bring a dry change of clothes ;)

Spring Into the Arts

This is just a small part of the art that's up all over the hallways. All of the blue matts are portrait anatomy pieces. On the other side of the wall are black matts that frame the students' choice pieces. This just gives you a feel for what the hallway looks like now. It's wall to wall art! 

Canopic Examples

We did the bases and the organs for one class of 2nd graders. The project took more than the 50 min. class period and the kids didn't stuff the clay down into the cups well enough. I'm going to have to come up with a better way of explaining how to pack the cup and maybe get one more volunteer to help. The organs turned out well though and were right on the students' level. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Oh clay projects...

I was at work until almost 7 last night and until about 8:30 tonight prepping for this Canopic jar project.
I know it's a lot of extra work, but I'd rather stay late and have better looking projects come out than simplify it more.

The tables are all prepped for tomorrow. The tools are set out and their smocks are ready on their stools. I assigned seating so that whoever is doing a certain "son of Horus" will be sitting together. 
I realized after prepping the whole room that I have another class coming before the clay project . . . 
Instantly I decided that it would be a good idea to take that class outside tomorrow! I'm not de-prepping, no way haha. 

Brave Works by Callie

Callie is 6 years old and recently took private lessons from me.

Callie's first lesson: Girl in her nightgown
(from a how to book)

Third or fourth lesson: Hansel 

(from a still life toy)

Three or four lessons in, Callie asked me, 

"Are we always 
going to draw out of a book or can 
we draw something else?"

I thought she was brave the first lesson 
when she decided to do a full figure!
Most of the lessons after that I had her 
looking at still lives. 

 Six or seven lessons in: Elephant 

(from a still life figurine) 

Love the trunk ^_^

New Student!

Isabelle the Fairy- by Evelyn

8.5x9? Graphite on paper

Just this morning I was blessed to get a new student for private lessons. She is in 5K and her name is Evelyn. I'm told that she has been drawing at a level above her peers for a while and showing a lot of motivation on her own to draw and color. Since today was the first lesson I asked her what she likes to draw; immediately she said, "Fairies!" 
I really like getting to work with 4 and 5 year olds because it's something I don't normally get to do and because they're learning absolutely everything so there's a lot of explaining to do (and I love to explain). 
Isn't this a great fairy for a 5 year old?

Fourth Grade Illustrations

Excerpt from 

"The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf" 

Anderson's Fairytales, Illustrations by 3rd Graders

. . . . "You really ought to go and visit your old parents, little Inger," said her mistress. "Here's a large loaf of wheaten bread to take them. They'll be pleased to see you."

So Inger put on her best dress and her fine new shoes and lifted up her skirts and walked very carefully, so that her shoes would stay clean and neat. Now no one could blame her for this. But when she came to where the path crossed over marshy ground, a great part of it was wet and muddy and she threw the loaf into the mud to use as a steppingstone to get across with dry shoes. 

But as she stood with one foot on the loaf and was getting ready to take the next step, the loaf sank deeper and deeper, carrying her down until she disappeared entirely, and nothing could be seen but a black, bubbling pool! Now this is the story.

But what had become of her? She went down to the Marsh Wife, who has a brewery down there . . . Little Inger sank into this brewery, and no one could stand being there long. A scavenger's cart is sweet compared to the Marsh Wife's brewery . . .
The Marsh Wife was at home. Old Bogey and his great-grandmother were visiting her that day. The great-grandmoter is a very venomous old woman . . .

When she saw Inger, she put up her eyeglass and looked at her and said, "That girl has got something in her. I should like to have her as a remembrance of  my visit. She will make a very nice statue in my great-grandson's outer corridor." So Inger was given to her.

This is how little Inger got to Bogeyland.  People don't always get there by such a direct route; although it's easy enough to get there in more roundabout ways . . . . 

I really like reading this story to the kids. It's too long to post the whole thing here, but it teaches humility, penitence and repentance, all while being really fun and imaginative and beautiful. (I was told that the great -grandmother above was inspired by Nanny McPhee.) 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Love it

I absolutely love my job.
Now that we're moving into illustration it's really fun to see what the kids are coming up with.
It was also refreshing to see both 6th grade classes totally engrossed in the stories I was reading today!

This first grade artist wasn't here last week when I read the story, so he just made this up. It's an elephant tangled up in his own trunk, a giraffe seeing what's up and I guess I kid who's just startled by the whole situation. I think it's so cute when a kid raises his camo cast covered hand and asks me "How do you spell 'What'?" 

Canopic Jars for 2nd Grade

This is my first year teaching at this school, and one of the traditions is for the second graders to make canopic jars in art class as part of their history curriculum. Normally, they are just solid sculptures that look like the jars--Something about this just bothered me.  

I like things to be functional. So I had them make little hollowed out places in the clay by having them scoop some clay out with a spoon. Inside of the hollow they will be able to put the corresponding "organ" that they make for each egyptian god whose head is on top of the jar. 

Following are the pictures of my examples. This is my interpretation of second grade level canopic jars.
This project is fairly simple if you split the class up so 4 or 5 students are each doing one type of head.

Duamutef--(Jackal) stores the stomach

 Hapi--(Baboon) stores the lungs

 Imsety--(person) stores the liver

 Qebehsenuef--(hawk) stores the large intestine

Backs of heads. The jackal and the person have the extra line around the top (left). 
The baboon and the hawk do not (right). 

Details on How To

This lesson is tested! I have made revisions based on what made it simpler for my class.
(For complete Difficulty Scale, see

Three 50 minute class periods with one adult volunteer to help. (15 students)

Day 1: Bases and Organs 
Day 2: Heads
Day 3: Glazing (In this case the home room teachers will be helping them glaze.)

Supplies Needed
Foam Cups
Plastic Spoons
Pencil / Pencil like tool
Water / Water containers
Foam/plastic Plates / non porous disposable work surface (Not paper)

Tip: Pre-roll balls of how much clay students will need for the bases and for the "heads" and put them in separate labeled gallon ziplock bags.

Difficulty Scale of ***** Medium 
(50%--55% of class requires some one-on-one instruction.)
For the base,  cut foam cups down to the height that you want and have students stuff them with clay, pressing firmly to minimize air bubbles. They should completely fill the cups then level them off with their  fingers (or a tool). 
Draw a circle with a pencil in the surface of the clay as a guide for them to know how much to scoop out. Have them take a plastic spoon (can be dipped in water), and scoop out this area then go back with a wet spoon and smooth out the hollow area. Have them set aside the scooped out clay. *
Have an adult cut off the foam cup carefully. (I cut the cup in 1/4's down the side so it looks like a banana about to be peeled.) Carefully remove the cup.

Difficulty Scale of ***** Low 
(10%--25% of class requires some one-on-one instruction.)

While adult(s) are removing cups: Have students make their "organ." They should take 1/4 to 1/3 of the *clay that they scooped out (a ball about 1" in diameter) and roll it into a ball then pat it once or twice in their hands making a fat hamburger shape. Continue with the steps below for individual organs.

Stomach (Jackal): Pinch one end of the hamburger shape and bend it slightly in one direction. 
Lungs (Baboon): Wet tool and cut hamburger shape in half. Pinch one end of each half slightly.
Liver (Person): Pinch both ends of the hamburger shape then draw a "Y" in the middle.
Large Intestine (Hawk): Pinch firmly past the middle of the hamburger shape (see photo with hawk). This will offset the clay, leaving a thin bit of clay between your fingers. Remove any clay left between your fingers. Tip: This is better than forming a cylinder and bending it because students will struggle with making the cylinder thick enough and when they bend it it's likely to crack. 

Have students set their organ aside.

Place the base upside down and instruct students not to pick it up. Have them wet their finger and smooth out the bottom and sides of the base without picking it up. 


Difficulty Scale of ***** Medium
(50%--55% of class requires some one-on-one instruction.)

Prep Work: Draw a circle on your surface, using an upside down cup (same size used for base). Pre-roll large potato sized clay "ovals." Each potato will be two jar "heads." 30 min-1hour before class, cut each potato in half. Then, using a pinch pot method, make it fit into the circle that you drew. (This will make the jar "head" the same size as the base.) Depending on the type of clay, you may need to cover the prepared pieces with saran wrap until students arrive.

Teaching Tip: While you are showing one group of students how to sculpt their jar head, have the other students stand up and watch. This keeps them from having to "twiddle their thumbs," and gives them the opportunity to learn how to do the other jar heads. 

Jackal: With a pencil, lightly draw a rectangle where the nose will go. Have the student push down firmly with their thumb on each side of the rectangle so that it is sticking out. Then have them push down the rest of the face area so that it's even and just the nose is sticking out. 
To form the ears have them make a big pinch with their index finger starting on the middle of the top of the jackal's head and their thumb down on the side of his head. Do the same thing on both sides, leaving his ears "hamburger thick." (Stress that they have to be thick.)
Draw the jackal's eyes, nose and mouth as shown in photo, poking in the eyes with a pencil. 
Draw a line like a girl's headband from one side of his face, up behind his ears and down the other side of his face for his "head dress." Add lines on the back of his head that you see in the "Backs of heads" photo. The jackal follows the example on the left. 

Baboon: With a pencil, have students draw eyebrows onto his face and poke the pencil in pretty deeply under each one for his eyes. Then they can draw a curvy "M" shape for his nose and poke the pencil in for his nostrils. Next they should draw a broad straight line across his face for his mouth (leaving room above and below it) then draw an oval or rounded rectangle around it for his lips. Have students make an impression on both of his cheeks with their thumbs. 
Draw a line like a girl's headband from one side of his face, up above his face and down the other side of his face for his "head dress." Add lines on the back of his head that you see in the "Backs of heads" photo. The baboon follows the example on the right. 

Person: Draw a triangle lightly with pencil where his nose will be. Have the student push down firmly with their thumb on each side of the triangle so that it is sticking out. Then have them smooth down any ridges. Have them draw on eyebrows then generous football shapes for the eyes. Scoop out clay to form the long pupils with the pencil. Guide them in drawing the large lips. 
Draw a line like a girl's headband from one side of his face, up above his face and down the other side of his face for his "head dress." Add lines on the back of his head that you see in the "Backs of heads" photo. The person follows the example on the left. 

Hawk: With a pencil, lightly draw a circle where the nose will go. Have the student push down firmly with their thumb all around the circle so that it is sticking out. Then have them push down the rest of the face area so that it's even and just the beak is sticking out. Have them barely pinch the beak so that it's a little pointed. (Remind them it has to stay thick.) Draw two circles for the eyes then push the pencil fairly deeply into the middle of each. On the beak they can carefully and very lightly make an upside down V shape (see photo) and nostrils on top. Draw in a headband shape from one side of his face, up above his face and down the other side of his face for his "head dress." Add lines on the back of his head that you see in the "Backs of heads" photo. The hawk follows the example on the right.
Optional: If the student wants to, they can add the two lines that make the triangle area above the eyes (see photo). 

Finishing: Have an adult mark/initial each piece that students created so that it can be identified easily. Put all of the pieces in a safe place to dry. Have fun cleaning up with the kids! Clay projects are soooo messy. :P 

First Grade Illustrations

The Elves & the Shoemaker

Grimms Brothers
Illustrated by 1st graders

There was once a shoemaker, who worked very hard and was very honest: but still he could not earn enough to live upon; and at last all he had in the world was gone, save just leather enough to make one pair of shoes.

Then he cut his leather out, all ready to make up the next day, meaning to rise early in the morning to his work. His conscience was clear and his heart light amidst all his troubles; so he went peaceably to bed, left all his cares to Heaven, and soon fell asleep. In the morning after he had said his prayers, he sat himself down to his work; when, to his great wonder, there stood the shoes all ready made, upon the table.

He cut out the work again overnight and found it done in the morning, as before; and so it went on for some time: what was got ready in the evening was always done by daybreak, and the good man soon became thriving and well off again.

One evening, about Christmas-time, as he and his wife were sitting over the fire chatting together, he said to her, ’I should like to sit up and watch tonight, that we may see who it is that comes and does my work for me.’ The wife liked the thought; so they left a light burning, and hid themselves in a corner of the room, behind a curtain that was hung up there, and watched what would happen.

As soon as it was midnight, there came in two little dwarfs who didn't have any clothes; and they sat themselves upon the shoemaker’s bench, took up all the work that was cut out, and began to ply with their little fingers, stitching and rapping and tapping away at such a rate, that the shoemaker was all wonder, and could not take his eyes off them. And on they went, till the job was quite done, and the shoes stood ready for use upon the table. This was long before daybreak; and then they bustled away as quick as lightning.

The next day the wife said to the shoemaker. ’These little wights have made us rich, and we ought to be thankful to them, and do them a good turn if we can. I am quite sorry to see them run about as they do; and indeed it is not very decent, for they have nothing upon their backs to keep off the cold. I’ll tell you what, I will make each of them a shirt, and a coat and waistcoat, and a pair of pantaloons into the bargain; and do you make each of them a little pair of shoes.’

The thought pleased the good cobbler very much; and one evening, when all the things were ready, they laid them on the table, instead of the work that they used to cut out, and then went and hid themselves, to watch what the little elves would do.

About midnight in they came, dancing and skipping, hopped round the room, and then went to sit down to their work as usual; but when they saw the clothes lying for them, they laughed and chuckled, and seemed mightily delighted.

Then they dressed themselves in the twinkling of an eye, and danced and capered and sprang about, as merry as could be; till at last they danced out at the door, and away over the green.

The good couple saw them no more; but everything went well with them from that time forward, as long as they lived.

(I'm teaching first grade a little about composition and illustration. I'm reading Grimms' Fairytales and Anderson's Fairytales to them and having them illustrate. They did sketches last time and today I went around and "cropped" them by drawing a box to show them all of the unused space they could get rid of and told them to "zoom in" on that part of their picture. They re-drew it on a clean sheet then colored it. These three were particularly successful so I asked them if I could scan them.) 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

First Grade Birds!

Here are two watercolor resists that turned out really well. 

I stepped the kids through a simple drawing of a bird then had them trace it with white crayons and add designs of their choice. I helped them mix any colors they didn't know how to make. 
(They work from red, blue and yellow only.) 

Last Night

There was a really loud and scary domestic disturbance on the other side of the wall from me last night. I ended up calling the police and was up until 5am.

Since there was no way I was going to sleep anyway, I worked on this, my blog! 

No one got hurt I don't think. I slept until 12pm but I'm still so tired . . .
At work tomorrow I'll get to look at all the artwork that was up for the Spring into the Arts festival.

Now that the stress and hurry is over, there will be time to enjoy :)

This is the best drawing from the Upper School (in my opinion). It sums up this Sunday perfectly.