Printmaking with Kindergarten

Teaching art to Kindergartners is super fun but can be challenging.  At the beginning of the school year one of the lessons I like to do with kinders is printmaking…well actually this is more of a mixed media lesson; but we get the ball rolling with print making.

Why do I like to start with this lesson?

  1. Students start observing and talking about elements of art in an artwork where they can identify the subject (the castle) but it is also abstract enough that they develop their own ideas.
  2. Students start with the most basic art element: line, and use it to make basic and complex shapes.
  3. Students start experimenting with color mixing.
  4. This lesson gets the kiddos using art vocabulary right away.
  5. Students start using homemade tools (a piece of cardboard) to make art.
  6. Students start learning how to use materials safely and responsibly.

Materials List:

  1. Heavy drawing paper.
  2. Cut up cardboard, I cut my pieces in rectangles about 3 inches long. Cups for making the sun/moon
  3. Watered down acrylic paint.  I used tempera paint one year and when it came time to paint, the tempera smudged.
  4. Trays to put paint on
  5. Crayons…this year we used them to create a resist.
  6. Liquid water color…I love Dick Blick!  I usually dilute it a bit.

We start the lesson by looking at Paul Klee’s Castle and Sun. 

I found this image here:

I start by asking the kids what they see…they come up with so many great observations, not just shapes and colors, but a few will talk about texture and the type of color…YAY!

I give a short demo on how to print, not paint, with the cardboard.  Each year I usually end up with a few painters, but I just roll with it.  I do not have any photos of the printing process…but here’s an example of what the kiddos create before they start painting.


We usually don’t start painting until the next lesson so the lines and shapes can dry.

We started the next lesson talking about the color in Klee’s work and  identifying some of the colors he uses.  Students used crayons to add some texture before hand to see the magic of a resist.  I love day two of this lesson because of the excitement of mixing colors!  Here are some of the results of the kiddos hard work…..




Take care and thanks for reading!


New Work On Wood

I got excited the other day about my recent finds at my neighborhood thrift store…wood plaques.  You see I have been thinking about mounting some of my works on wood to solve the framing issues involved with works on paper and perhaps more appealing to those that want to purchase them.  So I was overjoyed to find something that I could reuse, that was solid, and came in varying sizes.

SO…………I started my first piece, which was pretty fun to make, although it was a bit on the smallish side for me……

Anyway, I learned a whole lot in this process such as:

1. Even though a pen says it is permanent, it is better to test it out…meh

2. Make sure the hole in the back of the plaque is correct with the orientation of the work…duh

3. If you are going to seal your work with varnish, don’t use water-color to paint with, use ink…damn

So I completed it just a bit ago.  It’s not my most favorite piece (I feel like it is a bit too cute…yes?  No??), but it did teach me the lessons above and a few more things.    Anyway, I am excited to try again, this time on a larger format.

Oh, I almost forgot, here’s the work:

Take care and thanks for reading!


New Work: Blobs and a Tutorial

The best part of a long weekend is when you wake up on Saturday and realize…IT”S SATURDAY!

It has been a lovely weekend, I have been productive art-wise.  Cutting out circle skirts in some funky new fabric.

I started a ginormous paper cut and did these funny blobby ink drawings that turned into little mixed media portraits.

The ink blob drawings are really fun, require little time, and are a great thing to do when you get stuck creatively.  They don’t require much at all…

1. Multiple  pieces of heavy weight water-color paper (after you make one, you’ll want to make more)

2. Eye dropper

3. India ink

4. Paper towel or toilet paper

5. Water colors, colored pencils, collage stuff…anything you might want to use to add to the blob drawing after it’s dry.

Step 1:  Get a piece of paper and load up your eye dropper with ink.

Step 2: Put the tip of the dropper on your paper and gently squeeze the bulb as you begin to draw what ever is in your imagination or from a reference.

*Work quickly and don’t try to capture everything…you should be drawing 1-2 minutes tops.

*I had to refill mine a couple of times because my dropper was a bit small…

Step 3:  Lie the paper towel or toilet paper flat over your drawing.  Watch the ink get soaked up (it looks a little scary but don’t worry) and quickly remove it.  Admire your work 🙂


Step 4: Go have an ice cream (it is a long weekend) and let your drawings dry.

My favorite 🙂

Step 5: Admire your work again and start adding the fun stuff.

I added torn paper, candy wrappers, water color, these rub off thingys….go for it!  They are really fun.  I can’t wait to do these with my students, my friends.  They would make great cards or a quick handmade gift.  They’re supposed to be quirky and goofy…not all art has to be beautiful, but it should be fun to make.

Here’s two of mine finished:


Portrait of Everyday-ness

If you make some of these beautiful blobby drawings, send me a picture, I would love to see them.

Now back to my paper cut, which I’ll show you real soon.

Take care and thanks for reading!!

New Work: Mixed Media Canvases

This past week I have been working with my students on small experimental pieces that incorporate text into their work.  The idea is for them to build up a surface before they begin putting imagery on the canvas so they get some exposure to different materials.  There is no prescribed way of working, it’s all about looking to see what happens when certain materials are combined.  It’s really fun to watch them test ideas out and to try out new things.  We made up a motto for the week: “If you don’t like it, cover it.”  I like this motto because it teaches them to be resourceful and that really there are no mistakes when you’re creating art. Some students have 5 or 6 layers of all sorts of stuff on their canvases and they have become thick, rich, and interesting.

Here are the two that I made.  Next week when my students have finished I will post some of their works and attempt my first tutorial of how to build up a surface.



These canvases are 8×8 inches and layered with a bit of everything, paper, acrylic paint, book pages, thread, graphite, water colors…there’s a lot on there….I just love mixed media!

Happy Wednesday!  We have a long weekend…YAY…which means lots of art…double YAY!

Take care and thanks for reading.



New Work: …I need help with a title.

Well, as you may remember I mentioned in my last post that I actually finished an artwork.  Motivated by my recent need to get organized gave me the energy to complete a work I was struggling with.  I wrote about beginning the draing below in an earlier post that you can revisit here.  It is my first illustration type work and I started it with the idea that it could be the basis for a children’s book…maybe.

I have a couple of things to fix, but overall I am pretty pleased with it.  It’s quite large, 50 x 70 cm (sorry I am in Euro land now so I gotta stick with the measurements I know :), and size of it is what made finishing it difficult.  Let me tell you a secret…I got bored…yes, I said it BORED!  That does not usually happen when I work on something unless it is knitting or sewing (the repetative nature of both).  But man oh man, those bricks!  All that freaking cobblestone made me a bit cray-zee.  So note to self, when I work on the other pieces that belong with this story, make them a wee bit smaller if they involve cobble stone or any repetitive object again.

Another issue I am having is figuring out a title.  Right now I refer to it as Girl with Birds…..zzzZZZzzzZ….boring and it does not say anything about the story.  The idea behind the work is escape.  The little girl is trying to entice the birds to help her escape her reality.  I just can’t seem to put the right words together to create an interesting and thought-provoking title taht is not a sentance long.  SO I am hoping that some one that reads this post might come up with a clever idea and if you do, you can have this drawing…ha ha, just kidding, but I’ll think of something to reward the fact that you are a faboulus Wordy!

I hope you have a great day!  Thanks for reading and take care!

New Work: “Wondering What We Are Made Of”

I started this piece the night I found some dear friends had lost their child as a way to connect to them when I could not be there physically.  I began rather spontaneously, thinking about him and what he would’ve been like when he was older, what he would see and experience.  I wondered what he was seeing now, how he saw the world.  I used his curiosities as inspiration and my own wonder of what we are made of to create this piece.

I used a Chinese newspaper and shopping receipts to cover cardboard and then covered it with a watercolor and graphite wash.  After that the papers started to curl and come off, I liked the effect so I decided to leave it.  The drawings are done in graphite.  Here are some details:

With all the positives and negatives happening in the world and in my immediate environment, I am often left in wonder, longing for a simple life, similar to the one I had as a kid, where really the only worry was where I was going to explore next.  Thanks for reading and take care.

What Inspires Me: Travel

The past few months have been a WHIRL WIND of life, which has caused me to neglect my creative life and unfortunately this blog….sigh.  Working hard has its benefits and in this case, it came in the form of VACATION…YES!  I just spent the last two weeks at home in Asheville, in my eyes a little slice of heaven.  Spending time with my sweetie and other loved ones, was good for my spirit, and it has given me the energy to bring my life and work in Brussels to a positive end.

What a wonder it was to do the most simple things…walk barefoot, plant flowers, cook, hike, play with the cat, hold hands…everything I have been missing and can’t wait to get back to.  While this trip was not to an exotic location to experience new things and meet new people, this trip reminded me of what’s important and it has given me direction in both my personal and professional life.  I have come to learn that travel does not have to mean exotic to be meaningful, but it does have to challenge me to think in a different way, and that is exactly what this vacation has done.

Mixed media work:  “Tell me, where are we going again?”  Paint, collage, ink, graphite on paper.  Inspired by travel, challenges, and moving forward.

Finding Time to Breathe

Lately, I have been just trying to find enough time to breathe and my art has consisted of the examples I have done in art class, like this one…

This is a photo of mine printed on photographic paper on an inkjet printer.  The first thing I did was take some bleach and flick it with a brush on the photo.  This created some distress marks on the picture.  When I went to wash the photograph, to stop the bleaching process,  much of the black ink that was in the tree got washed out and I smeared it with my hand.  To get it to dry faster, I ironed it on a high setting.  If you do this, do it in a well ventilated room and put a piece of paper over the photo or you could ruin your iron.  Ironing it caused it to crack.  I repeated the bleaching, washing, ironing process a few times.  I ironed on some small bits of plastic and then added some packing tape transfers.   I titled it “Evidence”

This is what I love to do, experiment, and keep asking “what if?” as I am going along.  When I finished, I knew that I had started to “breathe” again.

Take care and thanks for reading!



New Work: Mixed Media

This morning I completed a new mixed media work based on one of my previous characters that has shown up in my doodles and in my other mixed media work.

He and his cat showed up during one of professional development days.  Like many people, I listen much better when I can draw at the same time.


I started my mixed media piece by covering some card with paper from the yellow pages and then covered it with this cool wall paint that I found that is a little bit chalky.  I like using telephone paper because of its texture and the way it soaks up paint. After the white paint dried I scratched some of it off and then started putting down thin layers of water-color.

Once I was happy with the surface I drew the boy and his cat using my favorite pen the Staedtler pigment liner (I love these pens!!).  At school we get newspapers to use for whatever purpose and as I was getting some out, I came across these lingerie ads that looked very pop arty and thought one of them would look good on the drawing with the boy.  So I made a tape transfer of it (in another post I’ll explain that process).  I continued with another transfer, the airplane, a light drawing of the blimp, and added some other bits and pieces.  In the end this is what I came up with…

I wanted to create an awkward scene of this boy and his thoughts.  I liked the plainness of the woman and the airplane.  I liked his cat and the possible link that could be made to the woman.  I thought back to a time in my 5th grade language arts class when were learning to use dictionaries.  The teacher asked these boys what they were looking up because they were giggling so much…”Sex,” they said.  Her reaction was: “What would your parents say if I told them that?”  So this is about innocence and how far away we are today from those simple innocent situations that we once experienced.

Take care and thank you for reading!

Friets with a side of mayo

Sometimes I just gotta create, even when I don’t have ideas or perhaps they are not very profound,  I need to make something every couple of days to keep from twitching, or at least that is what my friend Lauren says.  When I am in that mood and don’t know what to create, I make a little mixed media piece based on something that has happened during the day, be it some thing I saw or phrase I heard, it’s just enough to get the creative juices flowing….

This piece entitled “Dear Diary”, is about feeling out of place, like a fish out of water or in this case, a black bird on a bicycle.  The text in the back is a diary entry that deals with just that notion of being out of place and isolated.

During meetings I have this tendency to draw these goofy characters, more and more they are making their way into my work.  Here these characters just don’t know what to say, “Blah, blah, blah” is that moment in time when you want to say everything but can’t say anything.

“My Boots are Heavy Without You,”  I read the phrase “my boots are heavy” in the book Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud, (way before it became a film) and fell in love with it.  I have been away from my sweetie almost 6 months, and my boots are real heavy.

One day at school I was messing around with a release print after printing an image of a heart on a transparency.  By the time I got home I saw the heart as a head, and drew a portrait. The rest of the imagery just started pouring out as I was creating.   I call this piece “A Portrait of What it Looks Like to Think with Your Heart.”

Many of these pieces were done in a day or even in a few hours.  It’s my belief that not every artwork has to take weeks and months to create in order to be special.  Each of these pieces helped me deal with issues I have been having that come with being away from the ones I love.  Some people write, some play music, I like to make stuff.  I hope you all have some kind of outlet that allows you to move through your challenges.

Take care and thank you for reading.