Tag Archives: texture

Hopewell Culture copper tooling

28 Oct

The inspiration for this lesson comes from the Eastern Woodlands native Americans – who Mrs. Ware’s class has been learning about recently. Specifically the Hopewell culture. The Hopewell culture describes a group of related communities located in the Eastern Woodlands area. The most well known Hopewell site is located where the state of Ohio is today.

07_Hopewell-interaction-sphere-OAHopewellians were skilled artisans and crafters and had a trade network that spanned hundreds of miles to exchange goods they created with those of other tribes. They worked in materials such as mica (a flaky, clear mineral), human & animal bone and metals such as copper. These materials came from many different places as a result of their vast trade network.

11_dbb988a5b31258b4ec2d4f5f70161ff2Today we can see the evidence of these early people in the earthen mounds they built almost 2000 years ago. Scientists haven’t agreed on what purpose the mounds serve but some of the mounds were burial sites. They buried artifacts and treasures with the bodies in these mounds and many interesting things have been found.

This project is based on these copper artifacts.
{discuss} What is copper and how did they form it into these shapes??  (a naturally occurring reddish-orange metal found in the earth that is quite soft and can be worked by hand using tools and heat. The Hopewell people pounded the chunks they mined from the ground into flat sheets. Then they cut out shapes and carved designs into the surface.17_Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 3.50.29 AM

{discuss} how we use copper in our lives all the time – in water pipes, motors, batteries, electronics and cooking pots. And something we all carry in our pockets sometimes used to be made of copper – Pennies were 95% copper until 1983.  Why does some copper appear shiny and orange and other copper looks brownish and green? (patina – metal reacts with oxygen over time and creates a crust that protects the metal underneath) 23_hopewell-falcon-effigy-granger

Many of these Hopewell artifacts had similar motifs (recurring theme or design) ie – weeping eye, thunderbird, spider, serpent, mirrored symmetry. These motifs were things that were common or important in their lives and their culture so that’s what they chose to adorn their art.

Students will make their own copper artifacts using thin copper sheets and a stylus (like a pencil without lead). Copper is very soft so they will be able to draw on it to create a grooved design. Because this piece is flat and they aren’t adding colors to it they are creating interesting visuals with texture. Fill in areas with line patterns or motifs. Use motifs of the Hopewell culture or design you own.

photo (31)Students can “draw” on either side (or both!) to create your piece. Decide if they like the raised look or the indented look or maybe do both. Practice first in pencil in the notebook to layout design ideas. These copper sheets are expensive there is no extra if they want to start over. In order for this to work they must have a soft surface under your copper so do it on top of your notebook – NOT directly on your desk. {demo embossing technique – good video here} Press hard! Be careful of the edges of the metal – they can be sharp. When they turn them in have them indicate which side is the back and put a piece of tape with the student’s name on it.

Optional patina –  once completed students can decide if they like the look of shiny copper or if you like the old, weathered, greenish patina. Outside of class docents can treat select pieces to have the old patina look.

.004 copper tooling foil (cut into 6” squares) available at craft stores & online
wooden stylus (I used dowels, cut short and sharpened like pencils)
notebook (kids have them)
tape & marker for names
patina solution (optional) I used this one
clear coat lacquer spray

photo (33) (1)Patina process:
– I cleaned each piece with acetone and a scouring pad scrubbing in one direction only to clean the surface of any factory coating or fingerprints and to buff the surface to make the patina “stick” better.
– Rinse with water and dry thoroughly.
– Fill a flat, shallow plate with a small amount of solution and place the copper piece face down for about 5 minutes. Agitate slightly to make sure all of the front surface is touched by the solution. * note: solution becomes less potent after time and copper exposure. Use sparingly and refresh or replace solution every 5 pieces or so.
– Drain copper of excess solution drips and lay flat face up to develop. I left them for a whole day but the color starts to come up in minutes.
– Lightly brush each dry patina’d piece with a soft brush or dry soft cloth to remove any patina that is flaking off. Use a clean scouring pad to lightly scrape the surface to expose a little of the copper highlight on raised areas of the design.
– When pieces are free of dust spray them with a thin coat of clear lacquer to seal in the patina and let dry.

Note: Because the scouring of these pieces will make them flatter & smoother than any non-patina’d pieces you might want to burnish the shiny copper ones a bit. I used the side of a stylus to rub them flat just a bit.


Wayne Thiebaud – color & multimedia art

16 Jan

cupcake1 cupcake2

(born November 15, 1920) Wayne Thiebaud is an American painter whose most famous works are of cakes, pastries, boots, toilets, toys and lipsticks.

While he was with the Navy, Thiebaud spent time in New York (on leave) and began painting the pastries and other “American” food that he would become known for. He was very interested in creating realistic paintings and he did this by using thick paint in exaggerated colors. When he painted cakes, for example, he applied the paint like a baker would spread frosting. The food in his paintings looks real enough to eat.



Multimedia artists are contemporary artists who use a wide range of media to communicate their art. Multimedia art includes, by definition, more than one medium, therefore multimedia artists use visual art in combination with sound art, moving images and other media. Multimedia artwork also frequently engages senses other than sight, such as hearing, touch, or smell.


What dessert would you draw? And why?

How would your frosting look? Any bright colors?

Beginning of lesson…

(names on front of paper in pencil) Students will arrange the tissue paper scraps on their paper, then brush the vinegar/water mixture over the scraps until they are wet and transferring the color to the paper. Volunteers will remove the tissue paper and let the pieces dry. Make compound/paint mixture at this point. Discussion time, then continue with the lesson.

cupcake4 cupcake3


12” x 8” watercolor paper

Tissue Paper scraps

Mixture of distilled vinegar and water

Paint brushes to brush vinegar/water mixture

Colored paper for cupcake “liners”

Wall compound (powdered form #90) mixed with tempra paint (4 colors) and water

Micro beads and sequins for on top cupcake

Black oil pastels for texture on cupcake liner

Popsicle sticks

Scissors & Glue sticks

Paper plates to mix wall compound

Paper to cover desks


  • Choose colored paper and cut two cupcake liner shapes, rounding edges. And glue to paper leaving space for “frosting”.
  • Draw black lines on the cupcake liners
  • Choose “frosting” color and spread with popsicle stick.
  • Embellish with beads and sequins.
  • Let dry overnight.

2nd grade, Ms. Schroder, Room B3
Art Docent: Marcie Guthrie
Art Elements/Principles/Artists Reviewed: Texture/Color/Wayne Thiebaud
Print used: various paintings of his desserts

Installation Art

21 Sep

Installation Art


A Collaboration by B4
– working together to achieve a goal, or in this case, a work of art.

In this lesson, we used a needle and thread (sewing) as our main tool. Kids sewed parts of their GUTS then stuffed them with poly fiber and felt pieces of food.
Room#, Grade, Teacher: B4, Mrs. Vaagsland
Docent/s: Debi Boyette
Art Elements/Principles/Artists Reviewed: Texture/Form/Shape/Proportion

Andy Goldsworthy – Art in Nature, using found and natural objects

24 Apr

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slideshow of kids nature art

Objective: To introduce the works of naturalist artist Andy Goldsworthy, and to create art using natural elements in and around the school, after which their art will be photographed


**MAKE SURE YOU’VE TOLD THE TEACHER THAT YOU’LL BE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM FOR THE ART EXPERIENCE. Maybe scope out with teacher a suitable outside area to scavenge/set up the art.

Ask the students if they have ever made a sand castle or drawn designs in the sand? Have they ever made a snowman or snow angel? Sometimes creating art is very much like playing and exploring. Many artists are inspired by the beauty in nature: the colors, lines, shapes, textures and compositions. Some artists use paint or clay as their medium to make art; others, like Andy Goldsworthy, use nature itself.

“I enjoy the freedom of just using my hands and “found” tools – a sharp stone, the quill of a feather, thorns. I take the opportunities each day offers: if it is snowing, I work with snow, at leaf-fall it will be with leaves; a blown-over tree becomes a source of twigs and branches. I stop at a place or pick up a material because I feel that there is something to be discovered. Here is where I can learn.” -Andy Goldsworthy

This is also a great lesson to use to introduce a few elements of art: composition (the way the artist chooses to arrange his subject), balance, and color. Ask the kids, as you show the slides, what they notice about how Andy Goldsworthy uses color, composition, and balance. (Look for contrast in colors – compositions all seemed very balanced – lots of circles, or patterns that looked like they were inspired by nature).

Show power point slides of Andy Goldsworthy’s work. http://www.slideshare.net/GeorgeKellyArt/andy-goldsworthy-5236621

If roaming the school grounds for materials: Have the students pair up in groups of three or four. Take the students outside. Have them gather natural materials that are visually appealing. Look for different colors and different size leaves, rocks, sticks, dirt, etc.

If AD’s have collected their own materials, go to a central area where kids can spread out enough to have a space that is their own.

Have the students create an arrangement out of the natural things they have found. Take close up pictures of their completed work, with written name on white strip of paper near piece for identification.

Element/Principles of Art: Texture, Color, Shape, Balance

Vocabulary: Environmental Art: site specific work in the landscape using nature itself as a “found object”, as both subject and raw material. Composition: the way an artist chooses to arrange subject.


Start early gathering a variety of materials to have on hand:

All colors of beans and dried green peas, Birdseed, Sand

Pea gravel or other larger amounts of small to medium rocks

Leaves – fall or evergreen

Colorful petals or flower heads (dandelions ok), Grass fronds (ornamental grass trimmings)

Seed heads from the fall, Twigs – any shape or size (cool mosses on them all the better)

clumps of moss, Beach glass, Shells, Small pinecones, Berries

• Bowls to carry their items

• White strips of paper for kid’s names – will put next to art piece before photo taken.

• Digital camera to take pictures of final finished pieces before clean-up

Print used:

Book on Andy Goldsworthy’s work, plus Scholastic Art April/May 2005 issue

Conclusion: This was the most fun I have had at a lesson. And I’ve had some fun over the years. The kids LOVED being outside, they connected with nature, found their own creative way to express their form of art and in the end understood that this style of art is temporary. They enjoyed what the created and were ok when it was swept up. Beautiful pictures were taken as memories of a fun afternoon.

Art Docent: Marcie Guthrie and Jim Bargfrede
Lesson Title: Andy Goldsworthy – Art in Nature
Room 7, 3rd Grade, Ms. Saltsman

Charley Harper Shapes and Pattern

6 Nov

Charley Harper – 1922 – 2007
American Modern Artist
Felt restricted by “realism” – didn’t like to have to add shading, and make everything look 3D on paper. He felt limited.
Wildlife art was dominated by “realism”. He wanted to be different. He liked simple, flat, hard-edged shapes.

His favorite subjects of art was wildlife. Particularly birds. He observed them. Their environments. Their behavior.
His art was a combination of: SHAPES, COLOR COMBINATIONS, PATTERNS, TEXTURES that showed us, more about the animals in his art.
Where do you see shapes? Color combinations? etc.???
How do those elements of art (texture, shape and color) show the animal’s behavior, environment, or shape?

Ideas to get the creative juices flowing:
caterpillar on a leaf, a bird in a nest, an eagle with a fish in it’s claws, a bee on a flower, a sandpiper with it’s beak in the sand, birds on a wire, a robin with a worm in it’s mouth, blue jay on a branch, a woodpecker on a telephone pole…

The kids used cut paper and glue to layer their pieces of paper. They sketched their idea first to make sure that they were incorporating the chosen animal’s environment in to their design as well. The sketch was used to make sure that their animal was the right shape and fit well on the paper. The sketch also helped the children gauge how large to cut their paper pieces. Pattern was encouraged.

Closing Comments: I lead this lesson in both rm. 6/1st grade and rm. 7/3rd grade. The results were similar in ways and in other ways quite different. The 1st graders had a much more relaxed organic approach. Where the 3rd graders dove more in to the details and some struggled with just letting the piece come together even if it wasn’t “perfect” in their eyes.
Website: https://www.charleyharperprints.com/
Print used: Charley Harper 2012 Calendar
Room#, Grade, Teacher: Rm. 6, 1st, Wilson and Rm. 7, 3rd, Saltsman
Docent/s: Marcie Guthrie

Email: mar_seegu@comcast.net

Art Elements/Principles/Artists Reviewed: Texture, Shape and Color, Charley Harper