Tag Archives: drawing

5th Grade Projects

Flowing Line – Op Art

Art with Mr. E’s blog has many fun and inspirational projects and I couldn’t wait to start the year off with this fun optical illusion!  Op Art was a significant art style that arrived shortly after the era of Pop Art (the 1960’s).  Victor Vasarely and Bridget Riley have been considered the king and queen of Op Art, creating illusions that convince the audience they are moving and have depth.  It really is amazing the illusions that can be created by altering the size, shape, repetition, and colors of lines

I have put a pause on this project as it was taking more weeks than planned, but we will DEFINITELY get back to it – we have such a great start!

Our Learning Targets:

I can follow the process of creating this “illusion”, being careful to follow the same lines every time, to and from the dots.

I can use shading techniques to further the illusion of depth.

A glimpse at the process – for a closer look at how to get started click “Art With Mr. E” above 🙂

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Sugar Skulls: 2-D vs. 3-D, and Symmetrical vs. Asymmetrical 

These Sugar Skulls (calaveras) inspired by Dia de los Muertos were an extended study of two-dimensional versus three-dimensional art, as well as symmetrical versus asymmetrical design.  Because our students have the privilege of learning the Spanish language throughout elementary school, they are already familiar with the holiday of Dia de los Muertos, and it’s interesting to see their knowledge expressed in a tactile way. We practiced drawing sugar skulls using this website.

We created our 2-D, symmetrical designs by folding our skulls in half lengthwise, filling only one half of the skull, flipping over and tracing the other half with a light box (like those that display xrays – but are awesome for seeing through paper to trace!) to get a perfectly symmetrical design.

We began our 3-D, asymmetrical sugar skulls by crumpling up newspaper, wrapping with masking tape, then using paper towel strips dipped in mod podge and/or paper mache mix to create the hardened shell.  We then painted, added design with permanent marker, and sealed with gloss medium. (I loved this idea of the 3-D skull when my practicum teacher taught it!)

Our Learning Targets:

I understand the art and practices of Dia de los Muertos.

I understand that Sugar Skulls are made for Dia de los Muertos.

I can create my calavera using symmetrical design.

I can explain the difference between 2-D shapes and 3-D forms.

I can demonstrate my understanding of symmetrical and asymmetrical design.

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Abstract Color Wheels (Preview!)

I feel it’s extremely important to study color theory at each grade level, whether it’s learning basic vocabulary, mixing colors, or both.  I found this idea for an abstracted color wheel in the monthly Arts and Activities magazine.  In addition to the tints, shades, and primary and secondary colors we use in this project, we familiarized ourselves with additional color vocabulary: intermediate colors, neutral colors, warm colors, cool colors, analogous colors, complementary colors, and hue. To get to know each color on the color wheel (and a few neutral colors) a little better we did this stick activity as a whole group then in partners.

To create these abstracted color wheels students made 6 areas of roughly the same size on their whole page (we traced over the lines of these areas with colored pencil to eliminate confusion later), then within each area 5 sections were made.  Each area would then feature a primary or secondary color and two of its tints and shades.

So: 6 areas, with 5 sections each – in one area: 1 hue (main color no mixing), 2 different tints of that hue, 2 different shades of that hue – 1+2+2=5 sections

Our Learning Targets:

I understand the primary colors can be mixed to make almost all other colors.

I can mix primary colors to make secondary colors.

I can use white and black to mix tints and shades of colors.

I can use color vocabulary.



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4th Grade Projects

Lego Self-Portraits

What a fun way to start off the year!  A modern spin on a self-portrait.  Fourth grade were my guinea pigs on this lesson – I saw the idea on a blog (and can’t remember it now!).  Legos have always been a favorite toy ever since their inception in 1949 in Denmark.  Growing from basic colored bricks, there are now sets related to movies, cartoons, careers, cars, princesses, super heroes, architecture, etc., and entire amusement parks dedicated to these creative little bricks! Though we explored basics of creating realistic faces, the fun part was adapting these features to that of the Lego Mini Figure with its geometric body, and cartoon-like facial expressions.  I am very impressed and look forward to doing this in the future!

Our Learning Targets:

I can follow the step-by-step process of face-mapping to draw and accurate and proportional face.

I can draw my Lego self-portrait using the figure and steps I was shown, and make it resemble my hair, clothing, and facial expression.

I can draw a Lego figure that looks like me, and fill it in smoothly and carefully with colored pencil.

I can draw a neat background that fills the page and is related to my Lego-Me.

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Color Wheel Balloons

This project took a few more days than planned, but the results definitely speak to the student’s understanding of color theory and color mixing!  Understanding color theory, color terms, and knowing what colors make others, is not only essential in the world of art, but other walks of life as well.  Some great examples students came up with were those such as hair dressers, decorators, if you’re painting your house, if you’re painting a sports field, if you do fashion, if you’re designing logos, designing video games – and so many more – what can you come up with?!  Our emphasis was truly upon familiarizing ourselves with color vocabulary and working the with colors of the color wheel, including the primary, secondary, and intermediate colors.  Though it only covers the primary and secondary colors, one of my favorite videos to show (K-6) is this one by Ok Go, originally made for Sesame Street.   We also did this stick activity to identify colors as a whole group, then in partners.

For the project we were inspired by the penguin image below and the movie Up, about a  house being carried away buy a large bunch of balloons.  The kiddos were only given blue, red, and yellow, and were required to mix their own secondary and intermediate colors in the creation of their own balloon bunches. The bunches needed to contain seven balloons – 6 around 1 center balloon.  The six balloons need to be the primary and secondary colors in the correct order of the color wheel.  Where these balloons overlapped (like a Venn diagram), the appropriate intermediate color was painted.  These balloons then represented the 12-color color wheel painted in the correct order.  The center balloon could be an intermediate color of the student’s choice, and where that chosen intermediate color overlapped with the balloons surrounding it – the students mixed the result of those two colors as well.

They were given freedom as to which animal (real or imaginary) their balloons would be carrying away – I think they turned out GREAT!!

Our Learning Targets:

I can demonstrate my understanding of color mixing in class discussion, partner activities, and painting my balloons.

I can use the correct terms and vocabulary when talking about color.


(Our inspiration)

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Sticks for Color Activity mentioned above.

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Color identification partner practice and color mixing practice.

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Keith Haring Positive/Negative Moves!

Taking inspiration from our field trip to the Pappajohn Sculpture Park in downtown Des Moines, we decided to create people frozen in motion in the artistic style of Keith Haring.  After taking a closer look at some of Keith Haring’s images and his unique way of creating the cartoon figure of a human, we took turns posing and sketching only the outline of the person in action.

To make the actions and movements more realistic for our final image we incorporated the wooden mannequin – a drawing tool.  We go through a drawing process of a person with semi-complex details, to a simplified silhouette (outlined shadow or shape) of a person.  The mannequin helps artists to draw humans in an accurate and proportional way because the ‘joints’ can move in the way a human’s does.  To begin the drawing, it is easiest to draw each wooden piece as you see it in front of you, then once that is done, outline the basic shape to achieve the first outline shape, and then alter the outline to your preferences to achieve the final shape of the silhouetted person in motion.

Because some of Haring’s images are so simplified, using only two colors in some images, I thought this would be a great way to introduce the idea of positive and negative space.  We took a closer look at something that would be positive in an image (the first thing your eye sees, the main object), and the negative space of an image (the space around, behind, or between the main object), then explored positive and negative space with the Seeing Outside the Box cards, as well as the clever silhouette advertising of Apple products.

To refresh our memories about silhouettes and positive and negative space we studied more Seeing Outside the Box cards, and read the book Mother, Mother I Feel Sick… by Remy Charlip.

Our Learning Targets:

I can draw a human figure in the cartoon style of Keith Haring.

I can use the wooden drawing mannequin to draw the first stage of my person in motion.

I understand the difference between positive and negative shape and space.

Haring’s sculpture at the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, downtown Des Moines:


Here is a quick look at our process – final project pictures to come!


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3rd Grade Projects

Klimt Trees of Life

The 3rd grade students received SOOO many compliments when these were up in the hallway!  Their hard work was really evident in the carefully painted and drawn swirls reminiscent from the original Gustav Klimt Tree of Life.  We discussed the concept of the tree of life and how it is depicted in many different cultures.  We noted Klimt’s fondness of gold and intricate patterns and details, while making careful observations of the patterns and shapes seen in Klimt’s Tree of Life.

Our Learning Targets:

I can demonstrate my understanding of Gustav Klimt‘s painting style by producing my own version of the Tree of Life.

I can take my time to carefully paint the swirls of the tree, and demonstrate my understanding of Klimt’s style by creating symbols similar to his.

I can use pastels to add pattern and design to my tree inspired by Klimt’s symbols.

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Meet Me in the Middle Self-Portraits

This project was borrowed from my practicum teacher and her blog.  The kiddos are so proud of their results, and I am honestly blown away with their confidence and abilities to rise to this drawing challenge. Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most influential artists to develop and identify universal facial proportion (among his other extremely famous paintings and inventions), was our inspirational artist for this project.  We really took our time to practice and grow comfortable making portraits with correct proportions in order to make them look realistic.  We concentrated on specific features, perfecting them as much as we could before beginning our final portraits.  To help our shading practices we created a value scale to help us match the correct values for different parts of the face – what truly impressed me with these self-portraits was the amazing shading that really communicated the realism the THIRD GRADERS were aiming to portray.  These are amazing! Bravo!

Our Learning Targets:

I can follow the face-mapping process to create a realistic portrait.

I understand that realistic faces aren’t just one color, tint, or shade.



Warhol “POP” Cans

After closely observing the face to produce their amazing Meet Me in the Middle self-portraits, I felt it only natural to continue this great practice of observing and recording with an everyday object.  Andy Warhol is one of the most, if not the most famous, Pop Artist of all time.  Pop Art was really influential in the 1960’s, bringing the mundane, everyday item to the fine art world.  We got to know Andy Warhol and his series of Campbell’s Soup Cans to find inspiration in our own mini series of pop cans.  (Pop can and “Pop” Art is also a fun play on words :)).  One of the two drawn cans needed to be colored with the exact colors of the real pop can, while the second can could be colored however the student chose in order to simulate the bright colors often found in Pop Art. Here’s a link to this project on my old blog.

Our Learning Targets:

I can draw a pop can from observation.

I can create a realistic looking cylinder.

I understand the ideas, colors, and objects used in Pop Art.

I understand that Andy Warhol was a famous Pop Artist.

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Filed under 3rd Grade