Andy Warhol, Pets and Printmaking

Andy Warhol was certainly a unique artist. The Factory,  Pop Art, his wig and crazy life-style… there are so many things one can talk about (or not like talking about). But when it comes to introducing his art to the kids, I believe his love for animals (especially his cats and his stuffed great Dane) are the easiest and the most fun way to go.

Of course, we need to print those images so that’s why I’d like to introduce:

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This is really fun and easy for the kids. You can purchase the Styrofoam plates (or use some of the ones you may have at home – from food items). Then you just need to use a pencil or wooden stylus to draw your picture (mirror image). Then spread some ink over it with a roller, put a piece of paper on top and use a roller to press down. Done.

You can learn the basics as well as some little-bit advanced option (like the one for the fish right here) in this short video.

I have taught this lesson in the 1st grade but to make it even more fun for the kid,s I asked them to bring their stuffed animal. We put them on a table and painted their portraits (just like Andy did with his stuffed dog). The results were really awesome! Each child made 4 prints onto 4 different-colored papers and we mounted them onto a large piece of paper. Here they are, what do you think?

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Of course you can use this technique and the lesson to print portraits of kids as well. One of our schools did an amazing job with self-portraits. They printed them on 6 colored papers and then cut them out and mounted them onto another colored papers. Easy and definitely fun to look at.

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Visit our gallery to see even more images and ideas!

If you want to teach this lesson to your kids, here are some links to get you started:

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Northern Lights Art Project

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This is now officially one of my favorite winter lessons. I created these pictures with first-graders in about 60 minutes and it went really well. We started talking about Ernst Kirchner and Expressionism. We noticed that he uses warm and cool colors and created a bold contrast in his work. So, we looked for warm and cool colors in other artists’ paintings, talked about how the colors make us feel, and what do they make us think of.

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Then, I showed them pictures of the Northern Lights and we talked about how we could paint them like Expressionists – focus on our emotion rather than reality and to exaggerate the colors and sharp lines:

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And of course, we had to add some animals that could see the Northern Lights (the first-graders are now talking about animals, habitats and are starting to explore the world on maps… so it tied nicely to their science lessons). We got everything: from polar bears and arctic hares to musk ox and a high-jumping killer whale.

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Mondrian Animals in primary colors

Primary colors are the most important colors of them all – yellow, red and blue. They cannot be created by combination of any other colors. They are the most basic ones.

And what better artists to introduce to the kids when talking about primary colors than Piet Mondrian?!

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Piet Mondrian was born towards the end of the 19th century in Netherlands. During his life he worked towards a not-so-simple goal: painting only the most important truth:
the real essence of all things, as he called it. He kept simplifying his work until all that remained were horizontal and vertical lines, primary colors and black and white. The style was called: De Stijl (Dutch for ‘The Style’) and it is a great example of complete abstraction.

Like these busy streets of NYC:

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Our project, though, was a little bit less abstract. We created Mondrian animals.

We used pencil to sketch the animal, traced the outline with a sharpie and divided it into several parts with horizontal and vertical lines. Then we colored the animal with primary colors, cut it out, glued it onto a black piece of paper and created a border out of colored papers. It took us about an hour and the kids were 5-10 years old.

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Australia in art

Australian Aboriginal art is very fun project for the kids of all ages.

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We have talked about the dream-like qualities of the artworks, about the symbols and hidden meanings in them, the patterns and colors… and then every child picked one Australian animal and cut it out of black paper. They glued it onto an Earth-tone paper and used q-tips dipped in paint to fill the rest of the page with fluid shapes and patterns. It was a little challenging for the smaller kids (5-6) to fill the whole page but they all did it… and spent the rest of the time trying to make a paper boomerang that would fly.

Warhol’s animals

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Today my Little Artists learned about Andy Warhol, Pop Art and the Factory! The last couple of weeks we have talked about colors and today we focused on colors in animals. We found an animal for each color and then looked at Warhol’s paintings/prints to see how differently they looked.

Each child then chose one animal print to decorate and color and got four copies of it – to really see the difference. We traced the animals with sharpies, added patterns or shapes and then colored them with different crayons. It was a very easy project and it was very interesting to see how differently the kids approached the project. It was fun!

Chestnut Animals

Fall is here! It is getting windy, cold and rainy. Leaves are changing colors and chestnuts are falling to the ground. Yesterday on our walk home, we came over an amazing chestnut tree. It was huge and in a place where nobody walks so there were so many chestnuts, we could not pick all of them up even if we tried.

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Today as soon as my kids came home from school we started working on them. Chestnut animals are our family tradition. We do them every year.

This time, we created a caterpillar, a snowman (my kids cannot wait for Christmas), a guy, a turtle and a cat. We used a big needle to make it easier for the toothpicks to get into the chestnuts. We also played around with gold and silver sharpies – and found out they look pretty amazing on the dark brown nut!

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Now we cannot wait for the leaves to come crumbling down. What can I say, we love this season!

 Some fun chestnut fact: Couple of years ago Crayola created a chestnut-color crayon. I should look around for it 🙂

Sketching at the ZOO

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My kids always love to go to the zoo, especially since we found one that has sharks! My son usually sits in front of the glass and watches them swim for a long time… and then he draws them at home. Ever since he was three, he was obsessed with ocean creatures (especially these).

This time, we took some pencils and papers with us–to try to sketch the animals as we were observing them. It was quite fun (and challenge). The sharks kept swimming wherever they wanted and it was difficult for him to keep up with them. But he figured it out pretty soon. We observed them together and talked about what we see–shape and number of fins, shape of the tail, size, etc. He loved it.

Then we went outside to look at other animals and drew more of them (camels, armadillo, sting ray, fox)… and then it got out of control. He decided that the best thing would be to fill the remaining space with other things we saw (like bubbles and ice cream) and of course, animals he would love to see here as well–from mountain goats to shooting dinosaurs. After all, he’s five.

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