Elementary Art

| Circle Animals | Circle People | Color | Contact Printing | Crayon | Crayon Resist | Cut Paper | Faces |

| Free Shapes | Geometric Shapes | Gesture Drawing | Holiday | Motif | Negative Positive | Paper-mâché |

| Perspective | Photo Montage | Posters | Realism | Repeat Line | Texture | Toothpicks | Watercolor |


Examples of Elementary Art Projects 1966 - 1976


South Ward Elementary School
Caze Elementary School

The following art projects shown below you are about to see came from mostly elementary art classes of two different schools in Indiana. The first school was a much older building called South Ward Elementary School and located in Northern Indiana. In my recent research I discovered the school building has been turned into a condominium. I taught at South Ward in the early to mid 1970s.

South Ward was responsible for educating children from 1st - 5th grades. A few teachers had complained about the older age of the school. But it serviced a solid-blue collar community, students being taught values at home that reflected the 1950's America I grew up in and away from the liberal white collar communities.

The students I met were always well behaved, taught to respect their country's values and the authority of their parents. As a teacher, I could also count on parents always being involved in the education of their children.

Before going to South Ward I taught at Caze Elementary School in southern Indiana in the late 1960s. It had a similar demographics of South Ward, which also supported a mainly blue collar neighborhood.

So the art work seen below is from 1966 - 1976, representing ten years of teaching in these two educational communities. If you right click on any of these art project photos you will see the file name, which ends with the grade level the art work was created in. You will find some 6th, 7th, and 8th grade references. Since these slides were labeled during the year the art was created, one of these schools must have had some older classes from the middle school, although today they all show teaching students from 1st - 5th grades.

Finally, teaching art for me was to convince children not to be afraid of having fun in the art world, that there are no winners or losers only hard work with the reward of a creation they might not be aware they were capable of producing. Their appreciation of these art topics could help them as they grew into adults and sought out their careers in life, from choosing the style of home they might buy to decorating a living environment or office.

Again, these art projects are from 35 to 45 years ago, with some of these students now turning more than 50 years of age.

- Webmaster / Art Educator / 3/10/2011



Public Use of these Images

These art projects are owned by their respective young artists and are copyrighted under Freedom is Knowledge to protect unauthorized reproduction.

Fair use is allowed as long as these drawings are used ONLY to encourage other young artists to see the possibilities of their creativity through divine providence, not limited by bureaucratic rules that assign capability in early education to age and not individual potential.

Therefore use of these images is limited to the above restriction with the following copy to accompany any reproductions.

These photos of art projects are the property of Freedom is Knowledge and the young artists who created them, and may not be altered in any way. They can be found in their entirety at the URL http://www.freedomisknowledge.com/allsites/elementaryartchildver.html



(Right click on any of these posted images to view the file name, which gives the grade level of each young artist.)

Circle Animals -

Creating animals with circles and ovals helps children to experiment with the relationship of the shapes found that make up individual animals.

Among these drawings you first have giraffes located at the top represented by tall necks and elephants with fat bodies in the lower drawing.

For these two examples, the students were not only required to do their best on figuring out the relationship of the parts of different animals but also try to show them in a natural environment.

In the top drawing this sixth grade artist was very clever, figuring out that the animal in the rear would be in hiding in the weeds. Therefore we would only see his head and long neck poking out of the tall wild brush.

The second young artist obviously understood the size of the elephants, realizing they might be too heavy to be floating on the page, instead having them walk securely at the bottom of the paper where they wouldn't fall off.


Circle People -

One of the most difficult objects to draw is the human body. Any misrepresentation of the size of any part of the body to the other parts can be seen in an instant; an arm being too long, a leg too fat, a head too large, eyes too far apart, mouth too big or small, fingers too long or short, etc.

To help all students work with the human figure, I developed the concept of circle people where students could take all parts of the body and exchange them for different sizes and shapes of circles and ovals.

The results can be seen to the left in the five examples.

Look at how the astronaut figure on the left made first of circles by this fifth grader, could be then created into a single figure against black where the individual circles cannot be seen as part, only as a whole.

In the end it looks as if a real person is floating in space. Any student accomplishing this image would feel they could draw a human form with their existing talent by simply breaking it down into its logical parts using the elements of circles and ovals.

The top figure is 100% opposite of the astronaut, it made up entirely of circles over white. It gives the impression of a sitting child, where the head is usually a bit larger for the entire body when compared to a grown adult figure.

The third drawing shows a circle person positioned as if hailing a bus or cab. I helped this fifth grader see the relationship of the circle person in a potential real world, my drawing the sidewalk the figure might be standing on, placing it into a logical space it could exist in. Suddenly, drawing a human figure becomes possible without needing to mentally draw on a natural talent that might not be available for the individual.

In the final drawing, you will see where the student was creating a circus act. Not only are the performers reduced to circle people, but they're resized to show relationships of objects close to far.

The beauty of this piece attempted by an eighth grader is that the background has been rendered into a water color, a scene one might view while looking at the figures performing on the high wire, the crowds and objects below meshed into clouds of active moving color.


Color -

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this first grader has captured it in its most innocent form.

This was a simple assignment taking the three primary colors and putting them on paper for us to enjoy. In this example the child made a hot red house, a warm yellow sun, and a cool blue ball ready to kick off the paper and maybe expected to roll off onto the table.

Note this young artist understood that smoke wasn't a hot red, a warm yellow, or a cool blue, deciding he needed a different color to show it disappearing into the paper.

The simplicity of this drawing is wonderful, much like sipping on warm tea and enjoying the aroma without knowing why it tastes so good. You just know it's from a perfect world without interference from any controlled agenda.

The next project was to create objects around one color so that the color would dominate the picture while the motif of the dead-like trees danced around inside the confines of the paper, which all the elements have in common. Taking a previous assignment, the tree-like objects were set to different sizes to give near to far space, the one single-color object looking as if a moon sitting by itself being danced around in the night by worshiping objects.

The next two drawings were done by fifth graders in an attempt to get an appreciation of the difficulty in creating different colors, the first taking yellow and mixing it with other colors and black to see the different shades that might be realized.

The next one tried to make a color wheel, the green having trouble being born. But the lesson learned was that a little too much of this or that hue and the attempted green could not be pulled out no matter what you did. However, it was a good experiment in seeing how difficult it was to control the color using the medium of watercolor and tiny dabs of color.

The last color wheel is in several parts. On the outside are the pure colors of the color wheel in primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, the student then attempting to create lighter colors in the second inner ring and then darker colors on the third inner ring, with opposites on the final inside ring.

While the colors are obviously not always mixed correctly by this 7th grader, the lesson was learned on how colors can be varied on four different levels giving us 36 variable hues from 12 colors that had been created from just three; red, yellow and blue with splashes of black and white.




Contact Printing -

An amazing world can be created with relief art in the form of creating negative space by digging into a material, in this case using a variety of curved shaped tools that were meant to chisel into the medium of small, square flat linoleum tiles.

This media was limited to the upper grades because lower grades did not have the strength to not only dig the tool into the media but keeping it from slipping, which could result in cut fingers.

The first one was created from a previous assignment using two-point perspective, this simple imagined cityscape as modern as you might expect from a city center in 2010, yet this contact print was created forty years earlier.

This is further proof when you allow young minds to explore complicated ideas, you never know what will pop out from the mind and onto the two dimensional space.

The other works are self explanatory, showing five other ideas for creating a contact print, one that could be stamped over an area once or one-thousand times to create a pattern either at the same angle or rotated as in the face in the second example.

This medium shows how children can create their own art to print on a piece of paper and then write a story around it, combining art and text.

One of the most interesting examples on the left was a student trying to create a scene from inside a store where a clerk might be making a soda for a customer.

To me the final one, a horse race, was a technical achievement for this eighth grader, hopefully destined to become a great illustrator.





Crayon -

Crayon to me can be as basic as cave man art.

However the crayon factory in Easton, Pennsylvania, is one not to be missed when your kids are young. Watch this video with your kids and I bet you think about making vacation plans to stop by and see the Crayola Factory during your travels.

The first crayon drawing on the left shows that the medium can be an excellent way for an older child to express himself, this one completed by an eight grader.

I believe the student made his blue crayon follow a outline that would allow the formation of white flower petals, and then used watercolor (crayon resist) to put a dab of yellow on them not worrying about the yellow blending with the blue crayon. The blue wax of the crayon "resists" the watercolor and hence the name.

The second crayon drawing done by a third grader is as innocent as the red house in the Color category I talked about earlier. The figure fills the paper with its unusual personality, as if strutting down a street just searching for trouble.

I thought the stylized hair with one stroke of the crayon was simple genius. Note the figure is wearing a turtle-neck sweater over a dress, the student making the feet into a black streak to represent shoes. The artist obviously had trouble with the fingers, simply using the same technique that created the feet.

It all comes together in a perfect collection of shapes and colors to form what this third grader must have seen one time in his life, maybe a bully sister or tough teacher but obviously a woman figure in high heels.

The last one is from another third grader, this assignment asking the student to draw a clown. Note this third grader shows a better understanding of the facial features and their proper size than the figure above. However, the attitude of the drawing above it is what makes it work better from a creative perspective.


Crayon Resist -

As noted above, crayon to me can be as basic as cave man art.

But here we modernize it in a technique called Crayon Resist, where the student creates the object he wants in crayon and then allows watercolor to flush the rest of the paper. The crayon's wax base prevents the watercolor from finding its way to any part of the paper where the crayon strokes have been laid down.

The top three drawings had the students, 2nd through 8th grade, create geometric shapes using colored crayons on white paper. Once completed, the fun begins as the students allow the deep colors of the water color to flow wherever they want them to go, never worried about covering up the crayon.

The visual results can be stunning as shown. I wonder what these would look like on a 12 x 8 foot wall in a home. Note in the second drawing with rectangles over smaller rectangles with only small spaces allowed between the lines, the watercolor hues easily flow onto the empty spaces of the white paper giving us dramatic color contrasts.

A different effect is created in the third drawing, as if eggs floating on a wall of vertical colors. You can't tell if the eggs are rising or falling or standing still. You also can imagine the vertical lines moving behind them. The visual effect is stunning, created from this simple effect seen from the eyes of a second grader.

The final drawing is amazing, a ghost face appearing out of the morphing of colors in the background. This one, again, is done by a second grader.


Cut Paper -

Teachers have told me children can't cut shapes with scissors until they are older. But as I have said, I let the children decide what they are capable of, not the teacher's handbook.

For example, when I was a student teacher in 1964 in Kentucky, I was requested by the college professor to shave off my mustache because it might affect the students. I did what was requested because I needed to graduate. But that is the kind of stuff that comes from ideologies that control, be it strict religions or liberal progressive control freaks. I say let the market determine the needs, or in my case the children who entered my student-teaching classroom.

First of all, the scissors used for the early grades have round edges. A first grader who is able to cut with this kind of scissors is a miracle in the first place. What is ironic is that this first grader, probably 50 years old today, would be taken to jail by the TSA for carrying them in a pocket while trying to board an airplane. **

The first cut paper design is one of my favorites coming from a first grader. Can you guess what it is? From the mind of a first grader, the image is innocence perfected where instead an adult would be running around in ten different directions trying to figure out the arrangement of paper objects.

Give up?

It's a train filled with people traveling down the track at night with stars shown in the sky. The top line is for the blue sky the student knows is up there but can't figure out where it went.

The next two cut paper examples are produced from a piece of colored paper (the thinner the better), folded several times into a square. Then the student (6th - 8th because of the needed dexterity) draws an intricate design on one side of the folded paper and begins to cut along the lines with excellent cutting scissors and a lot of patience.

Once done the paper is carefully unfolded, giving the resulted designs seen above. The colored paper is then glued to a different sheet of paper of another color or white.

The flower design of cut paper is a simple technique of creating three identical images and then gluing one over the other, using crayons or watercolor paper for the leaves. Put it over black, and the result is dramatic.

The last drawing is much like the first, this one done by a third grader. Can you guess what it is after my explaining the first one above? This one should be easy.

Give up?

It's a rocket ship ready to go into outer space. This drawing was created not long after NASA flew a man to the moon. The moon is obvious in this creation, as is the rocket ship. I asked the student about the red at the bottom, thinking it might be flames. He said, "Those are the astronauts ready to board the rocket." Hey, I knew that.



Faces -

I taught my classes, when viewing the human face, to think of the head as if it were an egg at Easter that they would decorate. Unless the human head is malformed, the forehead, eye brows, eyes, nose, mouth, chin, ears and then hair or an optional beard would always fall at similar locations on the skull.

However, because those placements would always be very subtle around egg shapes that would vary from fat to thin or high to squat-like, human faces on this earth would be so unique, computer-tracking systems in 2010 would be able to find a single face among a crowd of millions. And that is why the study of the face is so interesting.

Students were encouraged to simply divide the face into quadrants on the front of the human skull to determine the approximate location for all the aforementioned characteristics that make up a human face.

On the left are two examples of where the facial features have wound up in approximately the same area on the egg shape of the face, yet these faces are so different from one another, you would never mistake one for the other.

And from that you can explain to students why the 25 to 30 faces in the art class are unique. Then take those faces and compare them to the other student faces in the school. Then all the student faces in the town. Then all the student faces in the state, then all the student faces in the country. Then all the student faces in the world, still having trouble finding one face that would be exactly like the other except in the matter of twins. But even in twins their personalities can affect the face and how it reacts to emotion.

Now go into the animal world, and the faces are not so easily distinguished. While, for instance, one elephant face is different from another, only the trained eye can quickly identify one from another.

And so it goes for the human fetus in the womb, where only life can be viewed and all look basically the same. It is only when life is allowed to find its freedom that that life becomes unique from all the rest in the world.


Free Shapes -

Free Shapes is one of my favorite sections. My blue-collar students proved that advanced education of the elites doesn't mean they're going to create a better chassis.

When the human mind is allowed to explore its world of creativity through how it has been developed through its years of circumstance to see the world differently from another student across the table, you get art pieces that are so original, you might thing they came from an exposition in a museum.

The ultimate simplicity of the first drawing is amazing. The shape is so perfect it almost wants to move on the page. In fact is looks like it is moving on the page, reminding us of the early European Bauhaus movement.

Paul Klee "Picture One."

Paul Klee, Picture One

For instance, look at the fourth image down created by a 6th grader. I didn't teach any art history to my elementary classes, but look at the similarity of this student's art to the professional art work shown at the right created by Paul Klee. Similar concepts for shapes can also be seen in the next section, Geometric Shapes.

The second image down on the left is simply wonderful in its use of what looks like dismantled bug legs, the circle shape on the lower left always bringing your eye back to that one different shape in this drawing, which is done by a 5th grader.

The free form of the drawing directly to the left is amazing, the student using shapes from a cut paper assignment and picking a few that almost look like shapes you might have found thirty years later in space from photos taken by the Hubble Telescope.

The next free-form drawing was done by a second grader. He simply created free-form lines and then drew across them as if looking at three simple roller-coaster shapes dropped onto the paper.

The final construction below is cut paper representing a single selected free-form geometric shape, when combined in different sizes almost looking like something you might see under a microscope of a living organism designed by Mother Nature.




Geometric Shapes -

In this category we again see a similar design that could have been attributed to an early work by Paul Klee, the fourth drawing down created by a 7th grader and similar to the one shown in the above previous section from Klee.

Gives new meaning to "The more things change the more they remain the same."

The first drawing here caught my eye. This eight grader probably didn't realize he was redesigning a aircraft insignia used by Germany in World War I.

By adding the orange circles he had almost taken it back into what could have been a design from early Irish History. It is amazing how the human eye over thousands of years still creates similar geometric shapes that when used by adults become symbols of power, durability, and national pride.

The next geometric shapes also used cut paper, showing small to large, front to back. The tiny circle positioned by this second grade student almost visually demands as much attention to the larger one it faces because it just barely doesn't touch it, leaving a touch of daylight between the two shapes.

This gives us a perfect art lesson from this young student about what draws the eye into a composition. And of course the main dessert here is art served up in its simplest visual form.

The next Geometric design is again formed by cut paper using similar geometric shapes combined to form repeated designs that almost dance across the page, leading from the upper left and then down so our eye moves to the lower right where it can wander back to the first triangle shape that started it all.

The crayon geometric shape drawing below the cut paper project again could be from an early Paul Klee as already mentioned above.

The next design using cut paper with open circles is reduced from the complicated crayon circles already discussed. The use of putting a light blue horizontal line across a dark blue paper allows this piece to transcend from a rectangular work of art to a horizontal one. The light blue with the cut paper circles becomes the object, while the dark blue background simply gives the horizontal cut-paper circles something to attach themselves to so they don't roll off the page.

This is totally different from the cut paper below, the shapes actually bent upon each other so that they could almost stand up in three dimension looking like bows on a present. The cross shape used by this 7th grader is a tease, forcing the eye to stay within the piece and not allowing it to wander to an adjoining work above or below.

Einstein's theory that objects in our universe bend the space they sat in as if a ball forced to roll to the center of a depression that captures it forever.

The complicated optical drawing that follows, reminds us of Einstein's theory that objects bend space within the bounds of the universe, in this case almost creating a wormhole effect. This was also from the early European Bauhaus movement and called Opt Art or Optical Art.

The final three geometric-shaped drawings are an example of using another media to illustrate the one being created. In this case, crayon resist is used to create the repeated geometric shapes while the watercolor grabs it, forcing it to float on a contrasting background of sweeping colors.

I love the first of the three with the thick golden lines as if trapping us from being able to escape to the dark space beyond. It reminds us what a tiny piece of pollen might see trapped in a spider's torn web.



Gesture Drawing -

Gesture drawing is almost impossible for the lower elementary children to accomplish.

First they have to concentrate to keep their pencil on the paper at all times. The name gesture drawing implies one long line and is similar to the early art work from the Science Channel's "How It's Made" Series. Those who have seen the series may remember the artist drawing at the beginning of each program, which is a perfect example of gesture drawing. Each manufactured product illustrates its early history, represented by an animated single moving line crossing the TV screen, but later colored in to reveal the final image.

So the way I taught early gesture drawing was to force students to use one long piece of string. Once done, they could see how one long line would create an unusual picture of an object's lines that began in one place and only finally ended in another, as shown in these three examples on the left, done by eighth graders.

Once students understood the free-flow drawing created by a single string, they could then translate that to a pencil line by making the pencil touch the paper at all times.

Of course there is gesture drawing where the lines look as if they are all one, but are not like those in a rough drawing. But this advanced art is for high school art students who plan a career in modeling, rough sketches for the film industry, or animation styles. Only the well trained eyes of older students can grasp the exact shapes needed, which are quickly fashioned through moving the pencil so rapidly that the eye of the viewer may be challenged to keep up.

Again, if you can catch an early version of the Science Channel's Series, "How It's Made," you can experience the quickness and stunning realistic shapes created from gesture art, the shapes looking like nothing then suddenly coming to life.


Holiday -

In the 1960s and 1970s, art teachers were allowed to let students express the religious traditions passed onto to them by generations of parents that included immigrants who came to this country for freedom from oppression in the early 1900s.

In the three examples below, these harmless works of art allowed students to create holiday art that represents their family's beliefs, later taking them home to display during the Christmas holiday.

These works don't need explanation, the visuals are self serving and innocently done by children simply sharing what they had been taught by their parents since birth.



Motif -


1. A recurring subject, theme, idea, etc., especially in a literary, artistic, or musical work.

2. A distinctive and recurring form, shape, figure, etc., in a design, as in a painting or on wallpaper.

One sixth grade student literally took my word about a motif being a central recurring theme in creating a work of art and chose a fried chicken leg for his overall design. Using a previous lesson in Crayon Resist, we see chicken legs floating on a dark blue background as if several Enterprise Chicken Leg Space Ships were being lead by Captain Kentucky Fried Kirk.

You can see how the a reoccurring theme is not boring, but can be very visually different from other shapes, as shown in these weight-driven classic clock shapes, these created from a former study of cut paper by this first grade student. Yes, a first grade student. As I had said, if you don't ask, you'll NEVER discover a student's potential.

I also love the third work of art in this area of motif created by this 7th grader who used cut paper to create a variety of same shape bottles in different sizes to show near to far.

Note the mirror effect the student achieved as if these bottles were mirroring themselves in a reflection, a very clever design. Since these cut papers are glued to a white background, the bottles become the only subject matter with the mirror effect allowed to run free without interference from other colors or shapes not used behind the bottles.

From there, the next Motif uses safety pins, probably not very common in 2011 with baby diapers exclusively being manufactured with taped tabs.

Note the safety pins use a previous crayon resist project, using two similar shapes of some closed and some open. The only other difference is sizes that again show near to far.

The next drawing is another crayon resist. The students love the technique because once the crayon is used they don't have to worry about crossing borders and overwriting the wax crayon mofit's image.

In this case the motif seems to be little alien faces you might find in an older Daffy Duck cartoon where little aliens run around with no bodies and multiply like rabbits. Again the students learned to love the different sized shapes, which always gave their work some kind of depth.

The final motif is by a second grader, using cut paper glued to a single color background. The shapes represent the simplest of forms in construction of basic walls and a roof. No other details are needed since that's all you require to keep the structure standing and the rain out.

Note these shapes are so simple, the 2nd grader using different sizes to create depth, that it almost brings us a feeling of peace and quiet in the world, not at all what we live in today in a world being set on fire. You almost want to say, "Let me in. I want to get off!"



Negative / Positive -

This special and unique art work shows negative and positive space in a way not usually seen.

Note the challenge to this 7th grader was to put black lines where they didn't exist and never let one meet another.

When looking as this creation, it is as if the flower is in front of the positive space and then suddenly, no, it's not; it's behind it. You're never really sure what space it is part of.

And that is the genius of this piece and why I chose to put it in this art series.


Paper-mâché -

Paper-mâché art projects are time consuming. But the real fun is in creating works of art out of things you would normally throw away -- a paper towel center, a toilet paper card-board cylinder, a used up oatmeal containers, etc.

And of course those wonderful balloons that allow you to start an animal or face and then add on to it until the circular shape is gone, hidden by pieces added day by day after being allowed to dry.

In creating these paper-mâché pieces, I had an incident I will never forget. I sometimes allowed hard-working students to bring in their work by finishing them at home to meet deadlines.

One such event caused a problem, a student bringing his smaller paper-mâché head from home in one hand while carrying the mail in another. In his rush, he dropped his head into the mail box and brought the mail into class. We wound up waiting for the mailman to come and empty the corner mailbox so the student could get his head back.

The top image shows a giraffe created with paper towel cylinders and an empty box of oatmeal, all held together by cylinders with small cut pieces of orange tissue paper glued around painted black circles. Note this final art work is probably three feet or more high, so the final creation can be a lot of fun to exhibit in the classroom or in a trophy case in the hallway.

The next paper-mâché project was done with tiny balloons all tied together and then covered with wet newspaper dipped in the paper-mâché's liquid.

When using balloons, you have to be fast because the cool paper-mâché once covering the balloon will cause it to try to deflate into a smaller shape. So time is important for the first thick coat when the student artist begins a piece. Put on a too thin coat and the next coat will wet it and cause it to lose its dried form, and the student will have to start all over again.

In this finished piece, the student created a poodle with trimmed hair and a bare body, as with a real poodle. I don't know why the brown color was used, but I didn't create the pieces, just monitored their construction.

The next piece is one of my favorites, an alien head with feet created by a 7th grader. The use of the paper-mâché covering is uneven, but the added pieces make up for it as your eyes focus on the personality of this little green man.

The butterfly that follows was unique in that the weight of the cardboard wings along with the attached slender long cylinder body had to all be held up by paperclip legs pushed into the body and glued. The wing span, I believe, was almost three feet with all of it looking like a real butterfly from a distance ready to take off and fly to the next elephant-ear flower. I know that doesn't exist, but it's a nice thought that it could have existed in the prehistoric world this huge butterfly might have flown in.

Finally, the bottom project is shown so you can see other possibilities in creating animal shapes and their extended features, as in the eyes and hat of this obviously patriotic American brown bear.


Perspective -

One of the hardest concepts elementary art students have trouble understanding is creating objects in perspective. Perspective is how any object looks to the eye when going back into space, where space is always represented by a horizontal line. The line could be hiding behind a distant landscape or simply an invisible horizontal reference point that is always there for positioning all objects on the same plane, be they people, telephone poles, rail lines, or buildings.

I found early perspective drawing could be accomplished first at the fifth grade level where enthusiasm seems to be at its highest level for experimentation and new ideas. I always limited the teaching of perspective at this level to two-point.

This can be seen in the 5th drawing down on the left in the drawing of a simple ranch house. Note how the house is located just below the line of the horizon, which means we are looking down at the home and not directly at it or up to it. (Note: It is called a ranch house not because it is out on the fruited plain, but because a ranch house is one that sits on a single slab with a single story and no basement.)

When the sidewalk and driveway follow the edge of this ranch house, they are easily shown in perspective when going back into space as the distance between the outside edges looks smaller.

Also note that in drawing the front door, this 5th grade student has learned to show thickness in that the door is inset into the wall, giving the impression of substance.

Note another 5th grader in the perspective drawing below the ranch house, the sixth one down, shows his home is much lower from the horizon. Here the student has added steps to the front door along with a chimney that sits in perspective on the roof to the rest of the home. A small bit of realism is dropped into the scene by the addition of a tree, mountains in the background, and smoke coming out the chimney simulating that someone is home burning the midnight oil.

With students in middle school grades, I moved up to include the teaching of perspective in three-point. And instead of drawing a simple representation of a ranch home, I demanded they create designs from their minds, resulting in the extremely modern structure displayed in the top drawing.

You can see a similar creative design in the eighth drawing down, which looks like something you might see in an abstract drawing hanging in an art museum.

The third drawing down is more reflective of mechanical drawing, where the object's design is not only something you might build to create a jig in manufacturing, but instead of being flat as shown in mechanical drawing class, (three views), this one is a single shape in two-point perspective.

Drawings eight and nine are examples of three-point, where your eye is looking at the object going back into space in three dimension; in other words, the left, right, and up down are now going back into space.

Drawings two, four, and seven show two-point perspective adding to a previous assignment in watercolor that allows the objects to float over a multi-colored background.

The final two drawings below are in three-point, showing a display of boxes and bottle shapes with their outlines made in crayon. Therefore, the rules of crayon resist apply again, allowing the student to be free with the watercolor hues without worrying about covering up the perspective art he has created for the vertical format designs.


Photo Montage -

Photo Montage has less to do with artistic technique and more to do with design placement of existing photographs and designs formed around a central theme.

The first Photo Montage is extremely creative using an underwater theme. In this case, the student has cut out different photos of fish. But here is where the creativity kicks in.

While it's not obvious, the student has used a large piece of blue tissue paper to create depth with the objects glued in front looking closer while the objects glued behind the tissue paper look further back into the water and naturally blurred.

The use of a photo of a submarine approaching us out of the depths adds drama to this art work. Note this design follows a principle in art that students will use again and again as adults within a career. I have always called it "Less is More," noting the use of only a few objects needed to create the theme.

The next photo montage is formed around an engineering theme, where you see people at work around items that includes manuals and electronic equipment, in this case an oscilloscope.

The following themes in examples three and four show the use of images to address political issues, in these cases poverty and the lack of opportunity that rides along with it.

Note the strong line of copy the student used in the first example, "Poverty: A Long Cold Road To Nowhere," then added black and white photos that look like they were taken during the dust bowl in the United States.

The other photo montage scene displays the word HELP, done in a style one might see on a cardboard sign written by a drifter hoping for some food or money when standing or sitting at a stoplight.

The last two photo montages are related to clothing and hair design for women. The first one uses blocks of colors to highlight different styles of clothing, while the sizes of the human models were chosen to add depth to the piece.

The final example has an "understood" theme, where the photos themselves clearly show this photo montage is dealing with only hair styles. No copy needed. Notice the excellent placement of smaller and larger human heads to create a design that forces your eye to move around the piece.

I taught students that the best way to "see" the potential final best design was to step back from the piece and its elements and then to move the individual pieces around the paper.

It can be difficult and frustrating, as pushing one cut photo can quickly move another one out of position before the artist realizes what has happened. But when the student gets a feeling for where he or she wants the largest of these objects, he can then begin to glue down these pieces and then slowly position the rest for their final resting places.

In the end, the photo montage can be an effective way for an art student to make a statement without having the need for specific artistic talents, instead relying on existing copy and images and a trained eye bent on creating an excellent design to help others form an opinion about a passionate topic.




Posters -

Posters are an effective way for an art student to help the school by teaching about healthy choices, such as the examples on the left on the importance of students brushing their teeth each day and when after eating to protect teeth from cavities and/or gum disease.

The first one is very clever with its message, "A Toothbrushing A Day Keeps the Bullies Away," in this case the bullies flying around the head of the student as if evil bats.

Note the showing at the bottom of a glass of milk and an apple, encouraging the intake of good foods for bone growth and the need for fruit in a healthful daily diet.

The next poster shows how to use a simple theme students can easily remember, such as "Join the Smile-In." The figures used are smiling leprechauns dressed up and looking like they're ready to sing a song with their mics in their hands to encourage the importance of a healthy mouth.

The last drawing encourages brushing. But here the student got it right, showing a student brushing his teeth in front of a bathroom mirror, giving the impression without lecturing that good tooth health starts in the home before coming to school.

Again these simple posters placed around on walls in school hallways are simple yet effective ways for students to see a message within seconds, showing again the importance that "less can be more."




Realism -

Drawing or creating realistic scenes or designs are really for the more advanced students and not for elementary art. But I have them here so you can see the accomplished techniques created by more experienced students.

Mastering watercolor, as shown in this drawing, takes years since too many stokes in watercolor can quickly ruin the light and bright effect watercolors allow. Again the rule of "less is more" is very important when creating a watercolor painting.

The second art work below attempts to take a realistic figure and break it down using abstract shapes. While the shapes stay faithful to the figure, they illustrate how an artist can use realism to obtain a different visual outcome.

In this cut paper project, a student takes the well-known face of Spock from the TV series Star Trek and breaks it down into complicated puzzle pieces using two colors, a hue of one color, plus black.


Repeat Line -

As seen here, creating art design using repeat lines is only for those who are not faint of heart.

The resulting designs can be extremely complicated yet effective as shown in the first example.

The second example looks as if a student has created complicated tiny pieces of wood parquet to form a wall of detail that goes on in a way similar to that of an artist during the 15th century.

One of the problems of creating a repeat line drawing is that it is very easy to smear the lines. I always had students put their hands on a piece of Kleenex that kept the hand from moving on the lines already drawn. You can also use a stray that helps to seal the lines that have already been finished. Without using these protective techniques, the art work can be ruined without realizing it until the smears have taken over the project.



Texture -











Texture is another example of artistic creations from available materials that are not flat but instead have subtle raised levels on their surface called texture.

These textures could represent photos of textured wall material or nature's own materials such as those found in the veins of a variety of leaves during the fall season.

And there are also textures found in man-made materials such as woven cloth. A perfect example of this is in this sample art provided for a texture art design using remnants of a variety of tiny squares of cloths. Note how the variety of samples can provide an interesting art design for display. The design can be for aesthetic purposes or created to provide an overview such as the history of a mill's output over the years.

Click here to see a larger more detailed view.

To the right is an actual example of a textured design from available materials of silk, velvet, cotton and more to demonstrate "practice stitches" by my wife's great grandmother, most likely made as a young girl, between 1866 and 1876 around the time of the Civil War.

This wonderful original work of textured art features materials her great grandmother worked on and later used to clothe her family.

Early Dutch peasant art.

This work could be viewed as similar to art found from poor peasants as sometimes shown in the paintings of the early Dutch masters.


Toothpicks -

One of the more popular art projects in higher grades of elementary and middle school art is the creation of projects using everyday toothpicks.

Talk about toothpick design and one usually thinks of bridges, as shown in the example at the bottom of this section.

But why not pianos? Why, because this top example proves not only can it be done but if you can make a piano out of toothpicks you could create an entire room of tiny furniture.

However, if you can create tiny furniture items with toothpicks, why not an amusement park as shown in the Ferris Wheel below.

One of my favorites was created by an 8th grade student who glued together a WWI biplane.

But this student went one step beyond into the Twilight Zone, hanging his creative toothpick creation over a scene representing what the ground might look like when flying in his wooden aircraft.

Note in the project seen below, the student added in clouds above the ground colors on the flat piece that is lying on the table, giving the impression his plane is flying high in the air. And according to this slide, it still is today.






(Note: A 10th grade example of advanced work in watercolor art.)

One of the toughest challenges in art is watercolor design. It is one of the fewest mediums where if you don't stop, you'll never finish.

Image from the Hubble Telescope, as if a watercolor painting shown on the left.
Image from the Hubble Telescope, as if a watercolor painting shown on the left.

In fact, people were never able to see the beauty of watercolor design in real life until the placement of the Hubble Telescope in outer space.

Those images, two shown on the right, prove that if God was an artist, He would have used watercolors to paint the universe. And maybe he did.

Watercolor is a wonderful medium that best represents what freedom looks like. With it, artists are able to bring out colors and simplicity of design found in few mediums.

Notice how the 7th grade art on the left is not far from what Pollock was producing in America in the 1930s on America.

The freedom of the watercolor design that is the fourth one down is not unlike what Jackson Pollock created 40 years earlier in America. This 7th grade student was never exposed to Jackson Pollock in my classroom, although he could have seen it at a museum in travels with his parents. But I believe his creation is quite original, as Pollock's work was more involved and didn't leave much white space on his canvas.

The resulting other four watercolor designs are perfect examples of the freedom of using watercolor without overdoing the brush strokes.

The first watercolor in this section is almost genius, its lightness and brilliance outstanding. But look at the file name and you will discover this wonderful piece was created by . . . a 5th grader!

Again, if you don't inquire, you won't find out a student's hidden potential.




















I added this final watercolor completed by a high school student. Note the light strokes that pick up texture from the mountains, giving the impression of snow on the far left peak while the sun sets on the peak to the right. The foreground paper is left without color, giving the impression of new fallen snow while a cold stream, partially frozen, heads down the hill in its natural course.


- End of Elementary Art Series -

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