Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1928. His parents had only recently moved to the United States from what is now Slovakia. As a child Warhol, was often sick, or thought he was sick, so he spent a lot of time in bed. During this time, Warhol drew many pictures. He also listened to the radio and collected pictures of celebrities.

After studying fine art in college, Warhol moved to New York City and began illustrating for magazines and creating advertisements. He became very popular, especially for his drawings of shoes.

During the 1960s, Warhol began creating the paintings he is best known for today. Warhol loved pop culture and he decided to paint what he loved. You may have guessed that he was a Pop Artist like Roy Lichtenstein. Warhol painted large pictures of Coca-Cola bottles, Campbell’s soup cans, and dollar bills. He also painted pictures of celebrities.

Because he was creating pictures of mass-produced items, Warhol thought it would be fitting to mass produce the artwork. He did this by creating screen prints rather than painting each picture separately. This allowed him to make many copies of each painting, but each copy was an original Warhol painting. Click here for an example.

Warhol founded “The Factory” which was his studio. At the Factory, he was always surrounded by people. Some of these people were in films that he made, some were writers or artists, some were celebrities. Warhol wanted to create an image for himself and he chose carefully the people in his circle.

Andy Warhol was criticized for turning art into a business. Many people didn’t like the idea that he was just making copies of the same picture to sell and make money. Warhol believed in what he was creating, though. He continued to make screen printed paintings of celebrities.

Warhol died in 1987.

Check out this great website all about Andy Warhol: Pop Mag Children’s Activity Book. I love the idea of a magazine about Andy Warhol because Warhol founded his own magazine, Interview. This is also a great place to see some of Warhol's artwork.
EDITED TO ADD: Create Your Own Andy Warhol Portrait,

Create Your Own Andy Warhol Masterpiece,
Fantastic Fiction Friday Starring Andy Warhol

Return to main page.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Stolen Renoir Painting Has Been Recovered

Sorry for last week's lack of posts. I've been sick. I still haven't completely recovered, but I think another day of rest will do the trick. I'm feeling much better.

You may remember the series I posted about art theft. Today, I'm pleased to share with you a case that has been solved.

In 1975, a Pierre-Auguste Renoir painting was stolen from an art restorer's lab in Milan, Italy. The private owners of the painting had sent it to the restorer to have some repairs done. The painting is not one of Renoir's most valuable but would still sell for about $735,000 today.

During the summer, the people who had the painting contacted an art critic. They wanted to know what the painting was worth. They probably thought they had waited long enough (33 years) that no one would remember that the painting had been stolen, but the art critic called the Italian police. When the theives took the painting from a back vault in Italy, the police were waiting.

After 33 years, the owners will get their painting back!

Return to main page.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Create Your Own Setting Sun Pencil Holder

We’ve all settle back into the school routine and that probably means homework. Set this cheery setting sun pencil holder on your workspace at home to keep your school supplies close.

Supplies Needed:

Round container cut down to size
Construction paper (blue, yellow, orange, and pink)
Glue stick
White glue
Ask an adult to cut an empty Pringles container (or container of similar shape and size) down to about 8 inches. I used a bread crumbs container.

Cut two strips of blue construction paper. You want the strips to be the same height as the container (about 8 inches). It’s okay if the strips are a little too long. You can cut them shorter or allow them to overlap.

Cut thinner strips of orange and pink. Cut a wavy line across the top of the pink strip and attach it to the orange strip.

Glue one of the blue strips around the outside of the container. Glue the other to the inside. Use a glue stick or white glue for this step. You may wish to apply a small piece of double-sided tape to the end of each strip to help it stay stuck until the glue dries.

Trace the bottom of your container onto a piece of tag board and two pieces of yellow construction paper. Cut out all three circles. Glue the yellow pieces to either side of the tag board (like a sandwich with the tag board in the middle). This is to give the sun some strength so it will stand up.

If you’re feeling creative, draw a face on your sun.

Finally, glue the sun to the top of the container. You’ll want to use white glue for this step.
When the pencil holder has dried, fill it with pencils and enjoy!

Return to main page.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Create Your Own Salt Ceramic Decorative Ball

Sometimes it’s fun to paint on something other than paper or canvas. This project gives you the chance to do just that.

Supplies Needed:

Corn Starch
Measuring Cup
Wooden Spoon

Wax Paper
Mod Podge
Newspaper (optional)

First, ask an adult to make the salt ceramic for you. It takes fewer than five minutes to make. The adult should mix 1 cup of table salt, ½ cup of corn starch, and ¾ cup of water in a sauce pan. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly. The mixture will get sticky and quickly form a ball. At this point, remove it from the heat. Wait a few minutes for it to cool enough to handle, then kneed the ball to soften it. At this point, the salt ceramic can be wrapped in wax paper and placed in an air tight container for storage, or molded into a sculpture.

Cover your work space with wax paper. As the salt ceramic dries, it gets sticky but it will not stick to wax paper. To make a ball, crumple up a piece of newspaper and mold salt ceramic around it. If you want to use your decorative ball as a paper weight, just roll out a ball without newspaper stuffing. If you don’t use newspaper, the ball will take longer to dry.

Salt ceramic is just like hardening clay. You can mold any shape so feel free to use your creativity.
Allow your ball to dry. This will take several days.

When the ball has dried, brush a layer of Mod Podge over it to seal it. Mod Podge dries quickly. You’ll only need to wait about 5 minutes before you can paint.
Choose colors and paint any pattern or picture you want.

Finally, when the paint has dried, brush another coat of Mod Podge over your creation.


Return to main page

Friday, September 19, 2008

Create Your Own Roy Lichtenstein Starburst

If you really liked Roy Lichtenstein’s artwork, try this project and make your own Lichtenstein-inspired drawing. This project is best for kids in upper elementary grades or higher.

Supplies Needed:

White paper
Graph paper
Tag board
Hole Punch


Gather your supplies and cover your workspace. You’ll want to color all the way to the edge of the paper and this could get messy.

First, create a star stencil out of tag board. (You can choose any shape you want but I chose a star.) Then create a stripe stencil. Just cut a thin strip from your tag board. Finally, use a hole punch to create a Benday dot stencil. Punch holes in every other square of your graph paper. Make two rows of holes. Then, line up the graph paper with the edge of your piece of tag board and punch through each hole.
Trace your star in the center of the page. Draw some diagonal lines from the edge of the star to the edge of the page. Begin to fill in the spaces on the page with either stripes (using your stripe stencil) or with dots (using your Benday dot stencil). Choose any colors you want to fill in your designs.
Continue until you’ve filled every space.

Check out Roy Lichtenstein: Artist at Work by Lou Ann Walker.

Enjoy your weekend!

Return to main page.

Roy Lichtenstein's ABCs by Bob Adelman

Roy Lichtenstein’s art stars in Bob Adelman's Roy Lichtenstein's ABCs. This is a great ABC book. If you have young children you should check it out.

Each letter, taken straight from a Lichtenstein painting, occupies its own page with a short list of words that begin with that letter. On the facing page is a painting that contains the objects listed. Kids can search for the items in the painting while studying a great artist’s work and learning their ABCs.

Adults who like Lichtenstein’s work will enjoy sharing this book with their children.

There are lots of ABC books out there but this one is special.

Return to main page.

Roy Lichtenstein: The Artist at Work

Welcome to Fantastic Non-Fiction Friday!

I didn’t tell you much yesterday about how Roy Lichtenstein creates his giant Pop paintings. He uses some unusual tools and techniques. For example, after he has sketched what he wants his painting to look like, he uses a projector to make the image larger. He then copies the larger picture onto his canvas. He also uses tape to help him paint sharp, clear lines.

It’s not often that we get to watch an artist at work in his studio but Lou Ann Walker gives us that opportunity in Roy Lichtenstein: The Artist at Work. Walker tells the story of how Lichtenstein creates his paintings, from the idea to the sketch to the finished product.

What I really love about this book is the photographs. You get to see Lichtenstein in his studio, studying a canvas, sketching, taping, and mixing paint. He looks joyful as he paints. You can’t help but smile at the pictures.

Check back later in the day for another book recommendation!

Return to main page.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein was born in 1923 in New York. He went to a high school that did not offer art classes but he liked to draw and did so in his free time. After high school, Lichtenstein went to Ohio State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in fine art.

He taught art classes as Ohio State University, State University of New York at Oswego, and then Rutgers University. His art evolved during this time from Cubism and Expressionism to Abstract Expressionism.

In 1961, Lichtenstein created his first Pop Art painting. He liked the way commercial art looked and he liked the sharp, black outlines in comic book art. The Pop paintings he is known for combined the two styles.

Lichtenstein used thick, horizontal stripes and Benday Dots in his paintings. Benday Dots were originally used for printing pictures inexpensively. By spacing four different colors of dots close together, far apart, or on top of each other, all the colors can be made. Lichtenstein liked the way the dots looked and so he borrowed the technique. You’ll notice that the faces of the people in many of his paintings are made up of Benday Dots.

Lichtenstein’s Pop Art portrays things from popular culture. That’s why it’s called Pop Art. He drew inspiration from cartoons, newspapers, advertisements, and things he saw in real life (like his art studio). He used this inspiration to create enormous paintings as well as sculptures as you can see in the pictures here, here, and here.

At first, critics didn’t like his work, but today Lichtenstein’s Pop Art can found in most museums that house modern art.

Lichtenstein died in 1997.

Check back throughout the day tomorrow for two Fantastic (Non)Fiction Friday posts and a bonus third post!

Return to main page.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Create Your Own Bobble Head Self-Portrait

On Friday I shared a book with you that was all about self-portraits done by famous artists. Then I found this 3D self-portrait project and I couldn't resist telling you about it. This project is so great--create your own bobble head self-portrait.


Return to main page.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Create Your Own Fuzzy Painting

Have you ever seen those books that have pictures you can feel? Sometimes there are fuzzy ducks or smooth egg shells or birds with feathers. Today, make your own fuzzy picture.

Young children can enjoy this project too. Focus on using lots of colors instead of on making a recognizable picture.

Supplies Needed:

Construction Paper
Paper Plate (to use as a palette)

Choose what colors you want to use in your fuzzy painting. Wrap a length of yarn around your fingers about twenty times. Slide the yarn off your fingers and snip it into tiny bits. You don’t want any pieces to be larger than half an inch. Repeat this process for each color. Pile the yarn colors on your paper plate palette.
Use glue to draw the outline of your picture. Press bits of yarn onto the glue. Draw the details in glue and press more yarn onto your page. Continue this process until you have filled in your picture.
When the glue dries, you’ll be able to pet your fuzzy creation!

Return to main page.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Here's Looking at Me by Bob Raczka

I went through all the trouble of naming Fantastic Fiction Fridays and today’s book is non-fiction!

So today is Fantastic (Non-)Fiction Friday.

Bob Raczka’s Here’s Looking at Me is the perfect introduction to self-portraits. Raczka tells the story of 14 self-portraits, beginning with the very first self-portrait ever painted and ending with a photographer who is still creating art today.

You’ll recognize many of the artists in Here’s Looking at Me, such as Jacob Lawrence, Henri Rousseau, Vincent van Gogh, and Jan Vermeer. You may also discover artists you never have heard of.

Each story that Raczka tells is engaging and fun. Do you know why Marc Chagall gave himself seven fingers in his self-portrait? Do you know why Francisco de Goya used to put candles in the brim of his hat? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

This book is a great resource if you’re studying self-portraits or even autobiographies. And it’s an interesting book for anyone who likes art. I highly recommend it!

Return to main page.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Classifying Animals in Art

While we’re talking about classifying animals, here’s an activity that uses art to practice this skill. Younger students should focus on grouping similar animals together (birds, mammals, fish). Older students can group animals in more specific categories (animals in the cat family or the dog family). This activity is especially good for groups of 2 or 3 kids.

Kids who are studying zoo animals will benefit from this activity because they can look for similarities and differences between the animals they are learning about.

At the end of the post are some pictures you might want to use for this activity. There are many more examples of animals in art so you shouldn’t have any trouble adding to the collection if you choose to do so.

Supplies Needed:

Computer Print-outs of animals from art
Construction paper or poster board
Glue stick

Look at the animal pictures you have in front of you and decide on what categories you will sort them into. Cut the animals out of the pictures and sort them. Make sure all animals fit into one of your categories. If you have some left over that don’t fit, you either need another category or you need to rethink the categories you have.

Write your categories on your sheet of construction paper or poster board. Arrange the animals on the poster board and glue them down.

Do you notice anything about the artistic style of the animals? Were most of the birds painted in the same style? Did all the sculpture end up in the same category?

Return to main page.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Charles Wilson Peale's Science

Yesterday you learned about a great painter from the America’s revolutionary days. But Charles Wilson Peale did more than just paint portraits of famous Americans and foreign visitors. Peale is also known for his natural history museum and his contributions to science.

Peale put together the first scientific expedition in America. He and his crew went to New York and dug up a full mastodon skeleton. The mastodon is extinct, but it was kind of like an elephant. Below is Peale’s The Exhumation of the Mastodon. This painting shows Peale’s crew trying to dig the mastodon out of the ground. They are using to the buckets and wheel to empty the water out of the hole.
Peale also collected living snakes, toads, turtles, and fish. He stuffed other animals, including several species of birds. He classified everything using the Linnaean taxonomy. The Linnaean taxonomy is the same system we use today to classify living things (though it is much more complex today).

Charles Wilson Peale gathered all these animals and created a natural history museum in Philadelphia. He placed each animal in its own natural habitat. He put the mastodon’s bones back together to create a full, 3D skeleton. Neither of these things were common in natural history museums in the 1800s but you’ll notice skeletons and animals in natural scenes when you go the museum now. Above is Peale’s The Artist in his Museum. It shows Peale pulling the curtain to reveal his natural history museum. Notice the mastodon skeleton behind the curtain and the stuffed animals lining the walls.

**If anyone knows of a good site about Linnaean taxonomy for kids, please tell us about it in the comments. I couldn't find one to link to here, but it would be very helpful. Thanks!**

Edited to Add: Thanks to Ms. Julie for the link: taxonomy for kids. This site is very long but it's written in easy-to-understand language.

Also thanks to Peter for the classification link. Here you'll find a simple illustration of how to sort colored shapes the way we sort living things.

Return to main page.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Charles Wilson Peale

Art is a great window to history. I haven’t posted a lot of paintings of historical America and it’s time to change that.

Charles Wilson Peale was born in Maryland in 1741. When he was thirteen, he became an apprentice—but not to an artist. Peale learned how to make horse saddles. He then taught himself to silversmith, paint signs, and upholster furniture. Peale was interested in a lot of things, as you can see.

He went to London in 1767 to study painting. When he returned to America (the colonies) two years later, he painted the first portrait of George Washington (shown below). Peale painted almost 60 portraits of Washington over the course of his life.
Peale went to Philadelphia in 1776, a date you know as the year the colonies declared their independence from Brittan. In Philadelphia, Peale painted portraits of many members of the young American government.

In 1777, Peale joined the Continental Army. During his service, he captured the officers’ portraits in miniature paintings which he later copied onto larger canvases. Shown below is a portrait of Arthur St. Clair that was painted during this time. St. Clair tried to defend Fort Ticonderoga but was forced to retreat. Later, St. Clair was with George Washington when the British surrendered at Yorktown, the last major battle of the Revolutionary War.
Throughout his life, Peale painted portraits of many of the most influential people in the making of America. Below are some of Peale’s portraits.

John Adams who served as the 2nd president of the U.S.:
Thomas Jefferson who wrote the declaration of independence and served as the 3rd president of the U.S:

Meriwether Lewis (left) and William Clark (right) who explored the west:

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about Charles Wilson Peale’s love for science.

Edited to Add: Ms. Julie has an art lesson posted at her site which uses Peale's portraits to teach about the Lewis and Clark expedition. Go check it out!

Return to main page.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Picasso and the Girl with the Ponytail by Laurence Anholt

Welcome to another Fantastic Fiction Friday! (Yes, I finally thought of a decent name for it.) Two things before we get to the book:

Happy Birthday, Mom!! Check out these artist palette birthday cakes!


One more cool link (in case yesterday’s link madness wasn’t enough). This one is really fun. At Mr. Picasso Head, you can create your own Picasso-inspired portrait.

I have recommended Laurence Anholt to you before. Remember The Magical Garden of Claude Monet? Today, I’d like to tell you about another book in the same series: Picasso and the Girl with the Ponytail. This book is also based on a true story.

Sylvette is a shy girl whose neighbor happens to be Pablo Picasso. When Picasso sees Sylvette he decides that he must paint her. He loves her face and her ponytail and thinks Sylvette would be a beautiful subject. She agrees to pose and Picasso creates many paintings and sculptures of his lovely neighbor. When the artwork becomes famous, Sylvette must really put aside her shyness. Eventually, Sylvette is able to achieve her own dream.

But you’ll have to read the book for yourself to find out what that dream is.

I love Anholt’s illustrations in this book. He did a great job of showing the way Picasso’s artwork changed over time.

This picture book has a lot of text and takes about 15 or 20 minutes to read aloud.

Return to main page.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Art Games

This has been a light posting week, huh? I know. I'm busy with my first weeks back to school and I'm sure you are, too. Soon everything will be back to normal, though. When you have a little time, enjoy the fun, interactive art games posted below.

Check out these interactive art games first. If you click on the guitar, you can interact with a cubist painting by Juan Gris. When you've finished, click the menu button. Then click on the picture next to the guitar to learn about portraits. At the end of the tour, the tour guide will paint your portrait. It's pretty funny. I was a pirate art teacher who lived in outer space! Try it for yourself!

Here's another interactive site I think you'll like. An alien lands in Manhattan, New York and decides to go to the Museum of Modern Art. You must give him a tour of the museum. Each exhibit gives you a little history about the artist, shows you a piece of art, helps you to explore the art, and gives you an idea to help you create your own artwork.

Older kids can check out this site that helps you create your own video about art. The site gives you some video clips but you can add pictures of your own artwork (just make sure to get permission first). You can also add your own writing to the video.

Finally, travel through time to Leonardo da Vinci's studio in this ArtEdventure. Someone has used a time machince to change history. You must figure out who and stop him or her from erasing one of da Vinci's paintings.

Return to main page.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fun Links!!

I found a great cubism project that you might like. It looks like a fun, simple project to do with a group of kids. Create a Cubist Fall Tree.

Also, I added a link to the list in my sidebar but I forgot to tell you that I had done so. In case you haven't already found it, Jenny at Little Acorns has put together a
36-week art curriculum for her daughters. She has obviously put a lot of effort into it and it is fantastic. She has posted it free on her website. I hope some of you will use it this year. I look forward to reading about Jenny and her daughters' art explorations!

Return to main page.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Create Your Own Cubist Photo Collage

If you missed yesterday’s post about cubism, go read it before you try this project. Cubists took everyday objects and (in their minds) took them apart and explored the pieces. Then they put those objects back together in a new way. In this way, cubists were able to show many sides of the same object at the same time.
Supplies Needed:

Digital Camera
Construction Paper
Glue Stick

Make sure you have permission from a grown-up before you start. If you don’t have a digital camera, try drawing your object from several angles instead of photographing it.

Take pictures of an object from many angles. I choose to photograph a tree. The great thing about digital cameras is that you can take as many pictures as you want and choose which to use later. I think I took 30 pictures of my tree but I only used 5 of the pictures.

Print out about five or six pictures. Regular computer paper will work better than photo paper for this project. I printed three pictures in grayscale (black and white) and two pictures in color. You can decide for yourself if you want your collage to be completely black and white, complete color, or a combination.

Cut your pictures into pieces. I really wanted to use the trunk and branches so I cut those out first. Also, I got a picture with the sun shining over the tree. I knew I wanted to use that, too.

Once you have arranged the major pieces of your collage, begin to fill in the rest. For me, that meant adding leaves.

When you’re pleased with your collage, glue everything down.

Just like the cubists, you may find that your collage is more than just a picture of the object you started with.

Return to main page.

Monday, September 1, 2008


In the early 1900s, some artists became interested in African and Native American art. The styles of those cultures inspired cubism.

Cubism began in France in 1907. Pablo Picasso and George Braque began painting figures that were made up of cubes, spheres, cylinders, cones, and other geometric shapes. The paintings looked like someone had cut them up and glued them back together.
And that’s exactly what the cubists had in mind. Just like the ancient Egyptians, cubists wanted to show the most important parts of the things they painted. Look at the face in Juan Gris' Portrait of Picasso (above). Gris shows you every detail of Picasso's face even though you would never be able to see all sides of his face at the same time. The cubists took this idea much further than the ancient Egyptians, of course. Cubists wanted to show all the sides of an object in the same picture.
Some cubist paintings were extremely abstract. In Picasso’s The Guitar Player (above), it is difficult to see the person in the painting.

At first, cubists used very little color in their paintings. They used mostly browns, greys, and blues. In 1912, color re-entered the picture and some artists, like Picasso, began using more then just paint and canvas in their art. You may remember reading about Picasso’s musical collages in which he used paper and cloth in his paintings.

Return to main page.