Art Class - Thanksgiving Still Life

I decided to do a Thanksgiving still-life - in sepia, if they were up for it. So I had to go out and buy a bunch of vegetables that I don't normally eat (translate: know how to cook). Thankfully my wife could make something out of it all after the class - the big vegetable on the bottom left ended up in turkey soup.

Oddly enough, the younger class had better luck with this than the older class. They just took what they saw and ran with it. The older class was trying to draw it as accurately as possible, so very few of them finished the drawing. I don't really fault them for that - it's not like they didn't finish because they weren't trying, it's more that that were trying too hard - but I do want to see if they can loosen up in future classes.

From the younger class:

I actually liked that this was off center. There's a nice compositional balance to it all compacted in the bottom corner.

And this one I loved. She just took the basic idea of what was there and ran with it. The basket handle is huge, and it works really well. And why not add a rainbow, I ask you. It's practically a Thanksgiving wonderland she's drawn here. Great way to pump up a still life!


Art Class - Color Mixing

It looks like this should be called "Art Class - Leaves," but the leaves were just the excuse to follow up on my color mixing class. I limited the colors they could use to yellow, magenta, cyan, and white. They did really well on it - in fact, I taught this before the pumpkin painting class, which is probably how they were able to get a whole painting done in an hour! This class took two sessions to complete (these posts are slightly out of order, but I wanted to put up my Jack O'Lantern pic before it got too far from Hallowe'en).

Since it was color theory, I had initially planned to have them paint the same leaf in complementary colors, like I did as well. But after two classes on just one leaf, they were ready to move on, and the pumpkin paintings were a lot more fun. But I like my purple leaf for it's own sake, so I'm glad I painted it as well.


Art Class - Halloween

The kids in the class wanted to do something for Halloween, and they wanted something substantial for a decoration. So I thought, why not paint on tiles? They're considerably substantial, as I remember from carrying boxes of them around when we were working on the kitchen floor. But the class is only an hour, so I figured I had to be able to paint one in that time if I was going to ask them to do so. So this is my one-hour painting of a Jack O'Lantern.

You'll notice that the pumpkin in the photo actually isn't carved. I did that on purpose - the kids are really in to being creative, so I wanted a blank pumpkin (as it were) so they could make their own face on their painting. Some did it in reverse - made the background lit in orange, with a black pumpkin in shadow with glowing features, and one just painted the pumpkin as itself, which came out really nice.

And on a related note - I found an explanation of why Halloween pumpkins are called Jack O'Lanterns. It comes from the story of Stingy Jack, told here on the History Channel web site!


Art Class - Prepping and Teaching

Some pics from preparing for art class, and the art class itself!

Halloween banner for the younger class: The object of the class is not to have them copy everything I do - I try to give examples so they can be inspired to do it themselves. On the board you can see how I'm giving them examples of other expressions they could give their figures. Kind of an emoji class for the younger group!

Here's the older class:

Color theory: I wanted them to learn that red, yellow, and blue aren't primary colors, at least not in painting. Rather, yellow, cyan, and magenta are (my time spent in print was not wasted! Translates well to the canvas). Above were my examples - below are the kids finding it out for themselves.

They got into it! Especially if they knew the color wheel before, it was interesting to see how it actually worked with real paint, instead of a theoretical color wheel.


Art Class - Emojis

In the art class I'm teaching, I wanted to teach them how to draw expression. And it seemed like a relateable way to teach it by having them do emojis. So I did an example to show what I had in mind:

They totally got into it, especially after seeing it rendered digitally (I showed it to them on my phone). So they made several of their own. I told them to pick the one they liked best, and I would render it for them. Here are the ones they created:

And here's how I rendered them:

We have class again tomorrow - I'll show them these then. I love the work they came up with, especially the guru and the really hungry guy!



I based this drawing on a sketch I did while camping (same camping trip that I came up with the Hobbit Day idea. Did a lot of sketching that weekend!).

One evening we went down to the lake to go fishing, me with sketchbook in tow as well as tackle. At first, my daughter tried fishing. Then, she tried skipping rocks. THEN, she decided it was more fun to just take big rocks and hurl them into the water.

Surprisingly, we caught no fish that night.


Hobbit Day 2015

We all went camping, and one night before bed my wife checked her phone to see what the weather would be like the next day. When she woke up, she couldn't find the phone. She was looking around the sleeping bag saying, 'Where is it? Where IS it?" so insistently that I imagined her following with, "Nasty theiving Hobbitses!"

So I drew the first draft of this cartoon in my sketchbook sitting around the campfire that morning.

It probably helped that the kids watched The Fellowship of the Ring in the car on the way to the campsite!

Happy Hobbit Day everyone!


Prepping for Art Class

I'm teaching an art class starting this Sunday at the Chinese School. And when I was coming up with a subject for the first class, I remembered my first class from art school. We had to draw our initials, in a way that would represent us. It was a way for the professor both to see what we could do, and also learn a little about the students. So I wanted to do it in my class as well!

To kick things up a bit, I'm also having them make this the cover of a sketchbook that they can use. And, so they could see what could be done, and how it would look at the end, I made one myself to show them:

Anyone who reads this blog won't be surprised at the fairy tale reference for the S! And since we just went camping, I wanted to try something different for the V.

It was fun putting it together - never tried stitching a sketchbook together before, and it came together well. I also asked my kids to try the same assignment. They're working on it now - coming up with some interesting work! I'll show it tomorrow as more examples, to help generate ideas.


Go Math Academy - Part 2

More Go Math Academy artwork, this time for the older grades. More down-to-earth, as it were (especially since the other screens for this level were in the clouds, and they wanted to keep them distinct). This was a definite challenge, in a great way. If you've seen the other work on the blog, you can tell I usually go for more a cartoony or children's book style. So this was a fantastic way to really get into more painterly, detailed art. I definitely will be bringing this type of sensibility to work in the future as well!


Cartooning for a Cause

Allisa is the daughter of a friend of mine. She's in second grade, and unfortunately is struggling with brain cancer. She's responding well to treatment, but it is expensive.

So there was a huge fund-raising event - people around here are awesome, everyone was willing to help - where people could donate things for others to bid on to raise money. My offering was a cartooning class.

One of her fellow second-graders was very excited about getting to do cartooning, and convinced her mother to bid on it and win. She got to invite friends with her as well, and, since it was such a nice day, we got to hold the class outdoors:

Is there such a thing as Plein Air cartooning?

After teaching them how to create their own characters, I also wanted to show them how to draw those characters in action. They all voted to see super-hero action, naturally:

Apparently, I gesture dramatically when I draw dramatic things. As one should.

I liked this one too - along with superheroes, they wanted to make their characters spies. So I had to show them how to draw one scaling a building, to break in and do spy-stuff:

The mask was their idea. A creative bunch!

One of the best things about the class was that I was just giving examples here. They didn't all copy my hippo character, they made their own - dogs, penguins, tigers, monsters. Their creativity made it a great class to teach.

Also, if anyone out there wants to help Allisa, you can go to the donation site here. Thank you!


Go Math Academy - Part 1

Go Math Academy is an online math program for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for kids up to grade 8, and I really enjoyed working on it! Here are some backgrounds I did for one of the lower grade programs. I always liked science fiction as a kid - if you had told me then that I would grow up to draw giant space stations as a job I would have been incredibly happy. Come to think of it, that was the case when I was working on it, even not knowing that as a kid!


Bates Elementary School book talk

Got to talk about The Silver Rings at the Bates Elementary School today. They were great kids! They asked a lot of really insightful questions - in fact, it made the talk go better because they would often anticipate some of the topics I wanted to talk about. Also got to give them a drawing demonstration, which was a lot of fun for them (and me)!

And then afterwards, signed some books - even two to the library! So many kids asked to read it that they ordered the two. A really fun school to speak at!