Art is Basic has moved!

Art is Basic has moved!
Visit my new blog location by clicking on the Art is Basic logo.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Art is Basic has moved!

Hi friends!

I moved Art is Basic to a new location:
If you follow on Google Reader, your feed should have been updated when I transferred everything over.  If you follow on another reader, you *may* need to update your feed. 

The feed is:

If you saw my last post about the Native American paper mache rattles, then you are already updated and don't need to do anything.

Thanks for being a reader.  I appreciate everyone who has commented on my blog, encouraged me and shared their own ideas for teaching art. 

Digital Hybrid Art Journal page by Marcia Beckett

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Valentine's Art Projects from the Past

Each year, I tend to try something different for Valentine's Day.  I like to spice things up, don't you?

Here are some from the past that I have done.

1.  Valentine's Heart Collages

 2.  Cool Hands, Warm Heart

3.  Easy Clay Hearts for Kindergarten 

    I have made these for Christmas presents, but they would be perfect for Valentine's Day.

4.  Maps of My Heart (by Kindergarten)

5.   Styrofoam Printed Valentines

P.S.  My new blog design is at  Check it out if you would like to get a sneak preview before the RSS feeds are moved over.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

How to Paint Gorgeous Clouds with Watercolor-- 5th and 6th Grade

Clouds. Aren't they amazing? 

Cloud photography by Carolyn Cochrane  (visit her Etsy shop by clicking on the link)

Two years ago I took a very helpful watercolor painting class.  One of our assignments was to paint clouds. 

Painting by Marcia Beckett

Connecting Art with Science

I love to make connections with other subjects.  This one is perfect for my 5th/6th grade because in Science class they study cloud identification.  They come into my class with a broad understanding of clouds which makes my lesson richer.  

Clouds and Art Resource

The Clouds in Art Gallery is amazing.  This gallery features famous paintings (for example, by Van Gogh, Constable, Turner, Renoir) with the clouds identified.  To start this lesson, I downloaded the powerpoint from the website to show my students.

The One Tool I Can't Live Without for Watercolor Painting

Hands down, my favorite tool for watercolor painting is the fan brush.   Buy fan brushes in a variety of sizes.  If your budget is small, start by buying a small assortment every year.  They are indispensable for creating texture! 
Blick Scholastic Wonder White Fan Blick Scholastic Wonder White Fan
Blick's White Taklon delivers the texture and responsiveness of Red Sable, yet holds up to the caustic nature of solvents and acrylic paints with greater durability, making these brushes a must-have for the classroom. The selection of shapes and sizes available means there's a Wonder White brush for every media and application. The sharp point has good spring. Long handles are finished in blue gloss with nickel-plated brass ferrules.

Tips for Using the Fan Brushes

1.  Find reference photos of clouds to use while painting.

2.  Use the paper towel to dab your brush so it is not dripping wet.  A dry brush will create a nice texture.

3.  Use a light feathery technique to make the texture in the clouds or grass.  Look at this video to see what I mean.  For the clouds, hold the brush flat and dab it up and down.  

4.  When painting the sky, remember to leave the cloud areas white, unpainted.  Paint the sky around the clouds.  While the blue paint is still wet, add other colors (different shades of blues, purples, etc) on top and it will blend the colors together.  Creating variations in the shades makes a more realistic effect.  

5.   Go back in to add depth to your clouds with light touches of grays, pinks, purples.. the sky's the limit! 

Additional Tips for Watercolor Painting Landscapes

  • If you can afford it, don't skimp on the quality of the watercolors for kids.  It does make a big difference, in my opinion.  Every two kids can share the paints.  So if your highest count of kids in a class is 26, buy 13 sets if you can.   Simply instruct them to place the watercolors in between them.  I also find that this helps them to monitor the muddying of the colors.. no one wants all their paints to turn black from careless mixing.   
  • Use a sea sponge for rocky or sandy texture.  
  • As for paper, I have experimented with a lot of paper and I am still on the never-ending quest to find the perfect, non-wrinkly, affordable watercolor paper for kids.  PLEASE let me know if you have any recommendations.  What I have used recently for painting with watercolors and tempera is White Tag Board from Nasco.  I find that it takes paint well and looks pretty nice.  I have not been afraid to get out the iron and carefully iron paintings that have buckled.  Another option is to take a stack of heavy books and place them on top of the dried paintings.  What do you do?


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cross Hatched Animals by the 3rd and 4th Graders

2013-01-07 02.52.16
These lovely cross-hatched animal drawings were made by my 3rd/4th grade class. The students used pictures from Zoobooks magazine for reference and practiced hatching and crosshatching techniques.

I love using illustrated books to connect with our curriculum. For one, it gives a real life connection. Second, it might spark their interest in reading more quality books.

We looked at the beautiful cross hatched drawings by Brian Selznick, author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck. Those are both awesome books. Many of the students had already read or seen these books, so it was a great way to connect with interests they already had.

drawing by Brian Selznick

2013-01-07 02.52.23 

  2013-01-07 02.52.33 

  2013-01-07 02.53.19 

  2013-01-08 02.12.09 

 2013-01-08 02.10.24  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

5 Fabulous Things I am Loving Right Now and 1 Thing I am Not

1.  How to Make Trillions of Dollars... or why American all tired and unhealthy and vaguely dissatisfied with their lives.  It explains a lot!

2.  Fingerprint Artist Judith Braun

3.  Crayon Engraving with Oil Pastels-- Great lesson plan for kids.. so beautiful!

4.  You just never know...
      or why you should try to be compassionate in all your interactions...

5.  Best Art Journaling picture I have seen lately!   LOVE.

And the one thing I am not loving right now...

1.  Anthropologie's racist candlesticks...  I saw this and have been following this story.  Thankfully they decided to pull the candlesticks off their website.  But, really?  Do they not have a design/editorial team that would have realized this could be perceived as racist?   What do you think?  The story interested me in particular because after my grandpa died we sold thousands of his "collectibles" on Ebay.  He was a flea market dealer hoarder and had rooms and rooms of fun stuff.  We came across a collection of mammy dolls.  I think I actually still have them in a box somewhere because I did not want to sell them if they were considered a racial stereotype.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Veteran's Day Poppy Posters

This past fall, my 5th/6th grade students participated in a join project with the Senior Center in our town.  The poppy is a symbol of sacrifice and is worn to honor the men and women who have served in war.   They created poppy posters in remembrance of the veterans.  These were displayed in the Senior Center and the students attended a very special Veterans Day program.  The students sang patriotic songs and were recognized for their posters.  A local singing group also sang and the veterans that attended were honored.  

In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Back to School

After the long winter break, we are back to school!  The week before school got out, I was home sick on that Tuesday and Wednesday.  Then, we had a snow day on Thursday and Friday, so it's been about 3 weeks since I've been at school.

When I came back there were some holiday presents given to me by students.  Here are two adorable ornaments I received.

My daughter loved this beautiful bird!

Handmade ornament by a student.  Isn't this adorable?  Love it.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Celebrating 2012-- Highlights of My Year

I read Carin's post today about her creative achievements of 2012 and it got me thinking "what would be on my list if I were to make one?"  At first I thought, well, I don't have a whole lot to say, but then I thought back to all the little things I am proud of, that made me happy and experiences I had this year that were fantastic.

I'm not going to lie, this Christmas season I was not fully in the mood to celebrate the holidays.  I pay a lot of attention to the news and read many of the stories that come across my way.  Of course, there were the big tragedies in Newtown and the movie theater and the one in my own state at the Sikh temple.... and many more smaller tragedies that I hear about all the time.  All of the bad things in the world have really weighed on my heart and I have just not felt right celebrating when the world is so broken.  How can there be such evil in the world?  It really has thrown me for a loop.  I try to keep my blogging light and happy and positive but it just seemed like one after another this year.  Because of this, it has really made think about how I treat other people and how I need to be a positive force.  I need to keep perspective and not let the little things irritate me.  I need to focus more on the big picture rather than the day to day.  Letting things go that are really not a huge deal!  We all need to be kinder to each other because we do not know the burdens another person bears.  And I'm not just talking about a random act of kindness thing, but overall a shift in perspective for myself.

It's important to not take the little things (and the big things) for granted.  It easy to let things slip by without really celebrating them.  It's easy to focus on what you don't have or what you are not, rather than the things that you do well or the things that make you happy.  I encourage you to make your OWN LIST of things that you are proud of or great memories you have from this year.  Celebrate them!  Embrace them and be proud of them.  Carin had 60 things on her list! 

Here are some of my creative and personal highlights of this year:

1.  Participated in a fun online workshop from Strathmore with Traci Bautista.

2.  Showed my students artworks in the Youth Art Month Show at the Hilldale Mall and the State Capitol. 

3.  Created some amazing collaborative canvases with my students (2 of which were auctioned off and 2 of which are hanging in my school.)

4.  Conducted several fun and messy afterschool art classes for kids.

5.  Went to New York in March for the National Art Education Conference and had an amazing time!
I got to hang out with some of my favorite art ed bloggers in person, and saw Peter Max and Chuck Close give speeches!

6.  In January I started working with Marit and the team on a new mixed media art magazine called Featuring.  The first issue came out in April!  I interviewed artists and wrote 3 articles for the first issue. 

7.  Put out another school yearbook successfully with the middle school kids at my school.

8.  In June I volunteered at the Re-Art Swap at a local art store in Madison where you can drop off unwanted supplies and then pick up new ones.  Amazing!  I am so volunteering again next year.

9.  In June we also took a family trip (with Andrew's family) to Disneyworld!   Yeah, I want to go back.

10.  Had a lazy summer filled with art, friends, Daria time and relaxation.

11.  In August, I wrote a lesson that was published in Scholastic Art magazine.

12.  In August, I created a new logo image for our school's 30th anniversary that was printed into a big banner and used on our school t-shirts.

13.  In September, I launched the Weekly Doodle-- printable drawing prompts for kids.  I'm considering make some more e-packets for download.

14.  Had a drawing page published in the Doodler's Anonymous Coloring Book yeah!  It's so cool.  The book, I mean.. my drawing is nice but the other ones are so amazing.

15.  Sold a few things in my Etsy Shop!

16.  Bravely experimented with glass fusing at school!

17.  Got a new phone with a texting plan!! (Welcome to the year 2005, right?)  And I joined Twitter. Woah!  Technology overload.

18.  Was in the running for the Art Ed blog of the Year with The Art of Education.. did not place in the top 10, but still honored to be one of the 20 in the running!

19.  I had a few activities printed in 2 books in October.  The best part of submitting to these sorts of things is that you get free copies of the book!  And it looks good on your resume.  Not that I am planning on ever leaving my current job but it's still always good to pursue recognition in your professional field.

20.  Issue #2 of Featuring Magazine was released in the fall and I wrote 2 articles in this issue (one really long and intensive one and the other was a shorter interview.)   

21.  Continued to moderate the online group Artists in Blogland and continued to connect with more and more amazing, soulful and positive artists across the world.  If you have not joined us there, the New Year is the perfect time to commit to making more of your own art.  We have lots of fun challenges, swaps and interviews in the works.  

22.  Wrote an article for Art Journaling magazine by Somerset Studio which hits the newsstands any day now.  I am very (humbly) proud of it!  I have submitted to many, many publishers and contests this past year and received *many* rejections, but also a few acceptances. That is part of the process I have learned.  Maybe some people have an easy time with it, but I am simply proud of what has been accepted.  When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer for a magazine as my career.  Now I am simply satisfied with a few articles here and there.  :)  

23.  My husband started his foray into the world of blogging with a Lego blog.   It has been fun to share the experience of writing a blog.  There is a whole community of adult Lego collectors who buy and sell sets.  Very interesting.  

24.  Bought a binding tool to make my own sketchbooks:

25.  Kept several art journals and filled a few of them!

26.  Experimented with Gelli plate printing.

27.  Made several mixed media collages for fun!

28.  Filled two scrapbooks with Project Life style scrapbooking!

29.  Participated in an ATC swap where I received some beautiful cards in the mail and made some to send out.

30.  Read a whole bunch of inspiring books

Well if you have read this far, thank you!  I hope you will create your own list now and share it with me.  Going forward 2013 seems full of possibilities.  Happy New Year!!


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