Wednesday, September 13, 2017

"The Starry Night" Simplified Art Lesson

Using Vincent Van Gogh's "The Starry Night" as inspiration students will create their own experimental watercolor version.

My students are learning about Van Gogh this year and I wanted a fun project to get the year started inspired by "The Starry Night" - one of the most famous and well liked paintings in the world.

Using Watercolor washes and wet into wet, oil pastel, alcohol and salt resist students will make their own version of the sky from the painting.

You will need:
Liquid Watercolor in dark blue and purple
Watercolor paper
Water and brushes
Oil Pastels 
Isopropyl alcohol
droppers or Q-tips

I am going to discuss Van Gogh and his work with the students and in particular this painting.
This is a great painting to discuss warm and cool colors, energy in art, an artist's style, post impressionism, active/still, abstract/realistic, mood etc...

I'll demonstrate sketching an easy composition.
They can begin by lightly sketching the moon, stars, clouds and the horizon line.
If they choose to add the cypress or other details that's fine.  I'm just going to let them do what they want - as long as it's inspired by "The Starry Night"
Next add the oil pastel over the sketch and wherever else they want.
After they finish with the oil pastels I'll demonstrate the next step.
Using the dark blue watercolor with lots of water do a wash over the entire painting - so it's quite diluted. 

The Oil pastel resists the watercolor.
Add more of the blue in the painting, but this time don't add any water so it's darker.
Use big brushstrokes in the same style as the oil pastels to reinforce the energy in the painting.
Imagine being Van Gogh - is this how he would do it?
Working quickly so the paper doesn't dry add some purple brushstrokes as well.
Next add the alcohol in the areas you want to lighten.
This is right after I added the alcohol and a little bit of salt.
I want the salt to suggest other smaller stars so just used a little.
I like the way the alcohol makes the stars look like they are glowing in the night sky.

This is primarily an experiment with watercolor.
Students don't need any drawing ability so pretty much any age or ability level will enjoy this lesson.
As the painting dries the salt and the alcohol really react.
It's kind of like magic and a lot of fun, but also you're giving the students a few new tools to add to their art repertoire and the opportunity to simply explore in a loose manner.  
I'm going to have them sign it with their first name followed by Van Gogh : )

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Dandelion Watercolor Lesson Using Alcohol, Crayon Resist and Salt

This lesson is all about process - virtually anyone can do this!

You will need:
Watercolor Paper
Liquid Watercolor paint in yellow, blue and green
Pipettes or droppers
Table Salt
Crayons in green, yellow and orange
Brushes and water
I used:

The finished painting is inspired by a field of Dandelions.
The Crayon creates a wax resist for the stems and a few yellow flowers.

The alcohol creates the dandelion when it has finished blooming and has the ray of florets.
I know I used to play with these as a child, blowing the seeds away and making a wish.
The salt suggests these individual florets floating in the air.

Begin by drawing some random length and shape dandelion stems with crayon.
Add the yellow bursts at the top of a few stems.
Add a little bit of orange in the center of the yellow and then get the paper wet with at least two coats of water brushed over the surface.  You want the paper to be wet so the watercolor paint will be going onto wet paper, wet into wet.
If the paper starts to curl on the edges just pick it up and bend it to flatten it again.
Drop some yellow onto the paper in the sky and the foreground.  Just put it wherever you want.

Next add some blue into the sky and some green in the foreground and just let it mix with the yellow.
Now stand the painting up and let the colors run down the paper.
Drop some alcohol onto the empty stems with the pipette.  If you don't like the shape the drop makes you can draw the alcohol on with the tip of the pipette.
Sprinkle a little bit of salt around the painting.
When the salt dries you will get that crystal like effect.
I think it looks like the dandelion florets floating in the air.

 Now your students have done:
Wax resist
Wet into Wet
Alcohol reaction
Salt reaction

All in one painting which requires no drawing or painting skills.  
Great for any age and any level of ability.  
Process art is very relaxing and freeing - even for students who have a high ability level.

Have fun! 
Some of my students' work - if they like it, I like it!  I don't try and force them to do it a certain way, just give them options.

Cave Art Lesson Using Charcoal and Chalk - All Ages

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