Sunday, 21 March 2010


If you need to cover the artist Jackson Pollock in class but can't bear the mess here are two options.

  1. Do it in the Summer and use squeezy bottles filled with water on the playground. It doesn't create colour just the difference in light and shade that damp ground creates.You could also use pots of water and old brushes to splash around. Be prepared for children to get a bit wet but at least not covered in paint. Although the water dries it is possible to photograph it while wet.
  2. A more interesting option, (which I also think is quite therapeutic for stressed adults too) is a website HERE . Just press and click to create a picture. I couldn't find a way to save the picture, (although there may be one) I could only save a link to the finished painting, but the page does print.

If you need a good book to use with children try Jackson Pollock from "The Getting to know the Worlds Greatest Artistists Series." This book provides an entertaining and humorous introduction to the famous artist, Jackson Pollock. Full-colour reproductions of the actual paintings are enhanced by Venezia''s clever illustrations and story line.'

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Viking Art

If you need to study the Vikings why not have a go at creating some Viking, or Saxon people out of Fimo/Polymer Clay/Sculpy. Roll a ball of the body colour, snip two holes up the sides and push round for arms. Pop a pair of feet on the bottom. Out of flesh coloured Fimo roll a ball for a head and pop a small ball on for a nose, push something in (ie a pen) to create a mouth and eyes. Add a little ball by the arm for hands. Next all you need to do is add accessories, hair, helmets or shields etc. Bake in the oven according to instructions on the packet. It's easy once you get the idea, just take a look at the photos and let your imagination lead the way.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Salvador Dali and Dreams

If you find that you need to teach art on the subject of dreams or surrealism, there is a lovely children's story book about Dali called, "Dali and the Path of Dreams." There are lots of lovely pictures in the book that incorporate famous Dali images. The story involves various dreams that Dali had as a child; all the characters in them parade into drawers and are stored away until Dali took them out when he was an adult artist and painted them. I think it would be enjoyed by both key stage one and keystage two children.

  • One activity involves looking at Dali's lobster telephone and the children drawing an object with dream like combinations of parts. ie a car with loaves of bread for wheels.
  • Another dream related activity is that in the story of the, "Big Friendly Giant", by Roald Dahl, the giant stored his dreams in bottles. How about filling or decorating a bottle with favourite objects ,pictures or colours. Or designing a picture of a bottle filled with dreams.
  • Another dream related activity could be to make dream catchers.
  • This is also a good subject for mixed media collage. For older children let them use a mixture of paint, feathers, magazine pictures and any other collage material you have to hand. For younger children an effective way to get a good result if they are only likely to stick a few thing on, is to use wrapping /printed paper as a base. This gives a lovely surreal effect when other images or words are glued on.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Thumbprint Easter Chicks - free art lesson idea

This is a really simple Easter project. On a piece of paper just let the children make yellow thumbprints wherever they feel like. When the paint is dry put on eyes, beaks, wings and legs with a felt pen or pencil. For a nice Easter feel this can also be done on green paper. It can be cut into an any shape and stuck on card, or done on an egg shaped card to begin with.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007


Choose an animal and get the children to all draw the same animal, "doing" something. You can get some animals doing some quite "wacky" things.

You may want to give each child a verb to illustrate in advance. These can make a nice literacy display, all put together.

Some ideas are, a bear - pointing, jumping, crying, smiling, driving, dancing, flying, sailing, skateboarding, swimming, skipping, ect

Sunday, 18 February 2007


A series of books that is very useful for showing children paintings by a variety of important artists is the, "I Spy" series.
"I Spy Shapes in Art" has a collection of pictures of paintings by artist's such as Kandinsky, Matisse, Hockney, Homer, Torres-Garcia, and Warhol, amongst others. On each page there is a shape to look for in the picture.
Some other in the series are I Spy - Animals in Art, An Alphabet in Art, Numbers in Art, Transport in Art and Colours in Art.
I like this series of books because they can be used an a variety of ways: simply looking for the objects inside, using a painting as the basis for writing, and paintings such as Henri Matisse's snail can be used as examples to begin an art task. The book gives a reason to look carefully at different styles of art in a fun way.

Saturday, 17 February 2007


  • If you want to reinforce what "NOUNS" are this is quite a fun way to do it, and you also end up with some nice pictures to display.
  • Explain what nouns are and then let the children draw a picture, representing a noun, onto white paper using a white candle or a white wax crayon. It may help to get the children to write what it is on the paper.
  • It's quite fun to let the children swap pictures so that there is an element of surprise when the paint goes on to the paper to reveal the image. Or the children can paint over their own wax image with watery paint.

Tuesday, 23 January 2007


This is an old faithful, but a good one.

  1. Show the children lots of photographs of fish and underwater scenes. Discuss the different shapes and colours of the fish, and also what else is seen under the water, such as reeds.

  2. Let the children draw their own underwater scene with wax crayons or oil pastels.

  3. Encourage them to press hard, and to fill the fish up with colour, or else the fish end up looking like they have a hole through their middle.

  4. Reeds drawn vertically through the picture look effective too.

  5. Next, paint over the picture with a watery, blue paint. It is often a good idea to make one batch of, watery, paint in advance, as children tend to make the paint too thick, which sometimes covers over their drawing. You can use thin poster paint or water colours.

  6. If you want you can cut out a black circular frame for the pictures, from black sugar paper. Draw round two plates of different sizes, one inside the other, then cut out to create your frame. If you cut off the excess picture, this gives a porthole effect, and you can display the pictures in a row, making it appear that you are looking out on an underwater world from a submarine.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007


"If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples, then you and I will still each have one apple each. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."

George Bernard Shaw

  • Take an apple and draw or paint it.

  • Take a bite of your apple, and draw it again.

  • Keep taking bites and drawing your apple until you are drawing only the core.

  • Put core in the compost bin!

This is easy to do and is a fun way to practice drawing skills for adults and children. If you sketch the apple, get the children to look carefully at what shapes there are and how light and dark they are. Sometimes it's a good idea to screw your eyes up and look.

Children tend to get good results, and enjoy seeing their apples progressively "get eaten" on the paper that they are drawing on.

This is a good task to start using watercolour with, if you want them to paint the apple.

You can even try this in the UK with infant children's free piece of fruit in schools.

This fits in with, work on healthy eating in science, or a lesson on Adam and Eve.

Problems to watch out for in a school setting,

  1. Check any health and hygiene rules.

  2. "Painty hands" on the apple.

  3. Choking

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Show Children Works by Great Artists

A quote by T.S.Elliot,
"Great art can communicate before it is understood."

Often I would try to show children a some paintings by a famous artist before they do a piece of work. Let them realise that there are many different styles of painting.
  • One way of doing that, (that I have been told about), with a class of children, if you have an IT suite, is to let each child look up a painting by your chosen artist on the internet. Encourage them not to just keep the first painting that they come to. Next, let the children walk around looking at the computers and you have you own "Computer Art Gallery".
  • Use posters or save calendars that show works of art.
  • Get library books and look at the paintings in them.
  • Show the children paintings using an interactive white board.
  • If at all possible go to art galleries.

Colour Mixing Sunset - Blue and Red

For this lesson I would usually show children some of J.M.W. Turner's paintings. Let them look at the way he does skies and sunsets.

  • Encourage the children to start either a third or two thirds up from the bottom of the paper. Having either a space for a large sky or a large sea.

  • Explain that usually the sea reflects the colours of the sky.

  • Start the children with light blue paint. Let them put roughly two widths of paint on the larger section for every one width in the smaller section.

  • Carry on, adding tiny touches of red to the blue paint.

  • When the sunset is in place, let it dry a little and then put a dark line of rocks, maybe with a lighthouse, where the child decides the sky meets the sea. Usually in the first blue patch.

  • Some children may like to paint boats on too.

Don't worry if the children don't do exactly what you are asking. Let them explore the paint. Some will just enjoy painting the paper shades of blue and red. Let them enjoy the experience.

You can also do this with red and yellow paint to have a warm sunset. That works with looking at Turner's paintings as well.

Saturday, 13 January 2007

Primary Colour Mixing Red and Blue

A nice activity is just to let the children have some red and blue paint in a tray and print with it. I often let them have a little white too. Eventually it gets mixed around together and you have a nice mixture of red, blue and mauve printing. Print with anything that you have around, such as plastic bottle tops, corks, bits of sponge, cut fruit and veg, or ready-made printing tools.

TOP TIP: If you don't want lots of washing up, don't use rigid plastic palettes to put the paint in, but save the plastic trays that many vegetables, biscuits and cakes are packaged in. You can't recycle them, but at least they will have had two uses before they are thrown away.

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Blue and Yellow Colour Mixing Landscape

This can be to practice blue and yellow colour mixing, or to show that things in the distance appear lighter in colour. If you do it on light blue paper there is no need to paint a sky. It is always best to have a horizon starting either on the top third of a picture or on the bottom third of a picture, not midway. The one here starts on the top third.

  • Paint a yellow hill-like stripe starting higher on the left than the right.

  • Add a tiny bit of blue, then paint a stripe starting high on the right and going down to the left.

  • Keep doing this, gradually adding more blue all the time, until you get to near blue in the foreground.

With older children you can let it dry and then let them put on objects such as houses, trees, people, paths, animals and rivers, trying to show a sense of scale by making them the right size for each part of the landscape.

You can also do this with red and yellow to make a desert type picture.

You can also put something silhouetted in the foreground.

Pastels also work well, or a collage of torn paper strips in different shades.

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Children's Art - Primary Colour Mixing, Yellow and Blue

  • I recommend doing this project on pale, blue card as it means you already have a sky in place.

  • You may want to show the children pictures by Pissarro or Seurat and mention pointillism/divisionism. See, "links" for a Seurat painting, puzzle and worksheet. Really it should be just yellow and blue dots next to each other, to give the impression of green, for pointillism, but never mind! (If you are feeling keen, and want the lesson to be about pointillism you could do the whole picture in dots).

  • Get the children to paint a trunk of a tree using brown, you may want to do this in groups to let the brown paint dry slightly, or do the trunk during the previous art lesson. This prevents the leaves all turning brown).

  • Tell the children they are going to do "dotty"leaves, and to start by putting yellow on.

  • Let the children put a tiny bit of blue paint with the yellow and then put more leaves on in that shade.

  • Keep going until they are virtually using blue.

  • Let the children choose a shade of green to paint some grass as they go along.

You can also use this with red and yellow, to do autumn pictures, or wait until the leaves have dried to put pink blossom on for a Spring picture.

As before, many young children will just paint the paper, brown or green, but don't worry they will have hopefully enjoyed the experience. Also, don't worry what shape the trunks are, trees come in all shapes and sizes.

If all the children's faces haven't been covered in blue and green dots by the end of the lesson, you have done well!!

Monday, 8 January 2007

Children's Art - Primary Colour Mixing with Red and Yellow

Take some yellow and red paint. Demonstrate painting a thick, yellow stripe, horizontally, onto the bottom of a piece of paper. Emphasise to the children that they only need a tiny amount of red paint on their brush to mix into the yellow. Paint the next stripe of orange paint. Demonstrate how to gradually add more red into the yellow and each time paint a horizontal stripe onto the paper until you have a sunset.

Some options for the silhouette are;

  • Draw round large stencils onto black paper. Animals work well. Cut them out and glue them on. A strip of black ground, torn or cut looks nice too. If you don't have stencils you can print an animal using some free clip art, cut it out, draw around it onto card thus making your own animal to draw around. Alternatively let the children draw their own silhouettes onto black paper. (I find that they can't resist drawing faces though!)

  • Wait until the sunset has dried and then paint on any silhouettes that you feel like, with black paint. Trees, building skylines, mountains, people or animals all look effective.

If you are working with older children, this is also a good introduction to pastels. Use yellow at the bottom and gradually use darker shades of orange, until you get to just red. Show the children how to blend the pastel on the paper, with their fingers, between different colours to get even more shades. The silhouettes look best done with charcoal or black pastel. If you want to, you can fix the pastel with a spray fixative or hairspray, but that's best done outside, or after the children have gone, as the fumes are quite strong.

Some possible outcomes will be,

  • That the children don't have enough yellow showing once the black ground is glued on. So make sure that the black strip is thin, and the children know to have a thick stripe of yellow at the bottom.
  • Other children will put too much red into the yellow paint, so they don't have many shades of orange in between yellow and red.
  • Some children will just enjoy painting the whole picture orange and then possibly black, but that's fine. Remember the idea is that the children enjoy the experience of painting, not that you get something to display. Even the ones who end up with a picture covered in orange or black paint will have learnt something. Hopefully, that red and yellow make orange and painting is fun!