Monday, September 28, 2009

Until We Meet Again

Husband and brothers-in-law were pall bearers for his Uncle Richard's funeral today. The military touch adds so much. We had a special lunch yesterday with Mother's siblings and children at Brian and Dena's. Until we meet again.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Shakespeare Book Cover

We had to cover Daughter L's Complete Shakespeare book. After making the cover, I thought she would need to be able to tell which side was the front, so I doodled this "S". She outlined it in black pen, and might color on it during Lit class.

Hospital Visit

Husband and I had a day trip today to see my Sister Rose. She had an operation on Thurs. and was supposed to be in for five days. She's so tough, she went home today in 2 1/2 days. She is doing well.
(L. to R.-sisters and husbands)


More Leaves, Again

(left: sample project) My 4th/5th Class revisited this favorite fall project yesterday. Some of them had done this with me last year, but since they were younger, we did it then with markers for the medium. (See previous post.) This year we dipped into watercolors. Watercolor is condidered one of the most difficult mediums to master, and I think it is also one of the most beautiful and amazing mediums.

Outline pressed leaves (or larger silk leaves) so the leaf shape overlaps some part of each section of the quadrant lines. We outlined the leaf and quadrant lines with crayons. This allowed the students to concentrate on making the color washes flow without worrying about them bleeding together. Each student chose two colors to use, and then chose the crayon color accordingly. Be sure they press firmly on the crayon for good contrast.

Be sure to use watercolor paper if possible, and Prang Paints. When I teach early grades, I usually avoid making a sample project, since they tend to just copy what I did, or feel that their product is not "as good as yours." I remind them that I have had many years to practice drawing, painting, cutting, etc, and since the believe I am SO old, they "get" that.

We practiced mixing colors on the paint tray, and making primary colors richer by adding bits of other colors to them. A bit of orange or red in a yellow mix makes the yellow much richer, etc. We also worked at using light, watery washes instead of heavy, pigmented, thick paint. They turned out quite well. (Below, student work.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tissue Paper and Watercolor Leaves

We made these leaf compositions with my sixth graders today. The first two pictures were my sample, at two stages, and the last two pictures are the kids' versions. They turned out great!
Here is what we did.
We used watercolor paper, tissue paper, and pencil, pen or marker.
We used leaves and leaf shapes reference sheets to help in cutting our 3-5 tissue paper leaves. They arranged their leaves on their paper and then glued them down with a watered down white glue mix. (About 50/50.) Put a little more glue mix on top of each leaf. Try not to get too wet or tear the paper.
For composition, suggest that the leaves should look like they are moving-some might overlap each other, they should not all be in a line, and a few might go partially off the edge of the paper.
This was a chance to practice watercolor washes and mixing colors on the page. I helped them learn to mix up colorwashes in the Prang watercolor trays. (Use no substitutes! Prang is the best brand.) Then we brushed color onto the background around the leaves. They tried to keep a wet edge at all times and blend two or more colors for the background. We also tried to leave the edges of the leaves untouched by the watercolor painting, to avoid bleeding. Encourage and point out a loose watercolor style.
Some students used markers or black pens to add loose details. This is best done when all is dry.

A Different Look at Landscapes

Last week we looked at landscapes from another perspective. We looked at the work of Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and copied one of his works with a close up of a tree trunk. Hundertwasser was fascinated with spirals. He hated straight lines and called them "godless and immoral." His colors and shapes were related to nature. He designed buildings, coins, postage stamps, flags and clothing. He had unusal ideas about housing and art. We used his work to help us think about drawing and coloring things in a different way, realistic, but surreal. I found the base for this project on The second picture is the artpiece we worked from.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fourteen Years

Daughter L. is 14 today. When did that happen?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


We have often used dot-to-dot books as fun additions to our schoolwork. There are lots of beautiful, entertaining and challenging ones out there. Look for ones in a theme and level you child (or you!) will enjoy. I know we had some high numbered outer space and moon exploration ones when our son D. was young.

Message on a Pumpkin

Painted pumpkins in a new way! I saw this idea on the front of the Sept./Oct. issue of Midwest Living Magazine. They had two large pumpkins in a wheelbarrow full of fall gourds, etc. The pumpkins said "Welcome Friends"-one word on each pumpkin. I made Mother-in-law a set of these for her front porch. Today I made this one I plan to take to church.

I looked up tips for painting pumpkins online, and learned several helpful things. Acrylic paint works well, or black marker would too.

Some sites mentioned wiping down the pumpkin before painting with Clorox wipes or Clorox rag to kill bacteria and dirt that may make your pumpkin rot more quickly. While washing, do not get the stem end soaked or it will rot. Be sure the pumpkin is dry before painting.

I used a black kids marker to lay out the lettering on this one, and found that a thin paint brush worked better for more attractive and easier lettering. I painted right over the marker. All of the paint or marker will wash off if you make a mistake. (See above pictures.) Wipe carefully and fully, then dry before proceeding to fix the mistake. I did not test if you could wipe off Sharpie marker mistakes.

If your pumpkin will be outside, spray the letters with acrylic sealer to keep them from washing away. Find clear sealer wherever spray paint is sold.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The O Cousins

We ran in to babysit the O. cousins last night. Their mom and dad had a bible study. The kids had fun together. Watching Olive is like seeing my little sister as a baby again. (I was 16 when she was born.) Pix by L.

Grandma's Birthday Weekend

Grandma had her 78th birthday on Sunday. She requested that her kids sing in church. We had brunch at Brian and Dena's on Sat., and sang two songs in church on Sunday. There were about 23 of us there to honor her life. Her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren are all proud of her.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Al Fresco Massage

O my! I had the most lovely day yesterday. School was on track and lunch made. The weather was gorgeous. And, in the early afternoon, Daughter A gave me an hour (plus) massage on the back deck. Wow! It was the best. She and the girls loved the massage "assistants" that kept jumping up to recline on the table. Massages down on the farm.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Art Detritus

I cleaned out the markers, colors and colored pencils. I do this every once in awhile. I have to admit, I think it's kind of fun, trolling through the colors. We get a little overrun, and everything gets a bit thrown together when we pick up the house. The girls color most days while I do our read alouds. (See earlier post for coloring book recommendations, or go to Dover Publications or Ruth Heller.)
I realized my relationship with color might be a little odd when I was cleaning up the markers at Grandma's one day. My brother-in-law commented that I was very organized, because I was sorting them by reds, oranges, blues, etc. This is how we do it at our house: when 3 kids are coloring, it helps to be able to ask for the "reds" or the "yellows." Also, in this art house, the Mom likes to buy every avaliable variation of marker so there are various shades of each color to use. Besides, they look cool in the boxes!
My life is pretty much art, books and tea, with a heavy overlay of family and friends and a nice sturdy base of God to steady and balance it all.