Portrait Painting Project + TPT Sale

Don’t miss the last TPT sale before the back to school sale running May7th-May 8th (2019). Scroll to the bottom to learn more!

Portraiture has never come naturally to me. I have always struggled with correct proportion, shading, and accurately mixing skin tone. As the daughter of a very gifted portrait artist, I never understood why the gene seemed to have skipped a generation. Despite lessons from her, I never seemed to grasp it and was too frustrated to really give it a try.

As an art teacher I realized early on that I would have to face my fear of portraiture. I couldn’t teach a well rounded art class without including portraits in it. I was thrown into my biggest art fear my first semester with my Intro to Art students and their hero projects.

Jump ahead nine years to my current teaching year. For the first time I taught portrait painting to my students with confidence. I have been dabbling in portraits over the years, but this year I committed myself to honing my technique through three portrait projects. I participated with my students in creating a portrait for the Memory Project (blog post on this coming soon). I jumped into the Night of 1000 Fridas and created this work of art. And I painted two portraits of my sweet babes for my husband’s birthday (blog post on this coming soon!). After successfully completing these project my confidence grew enough for me to really lay out and document my process to share with my students and my TPT buyers.

Although I documented my Frida painting, this was used as an example for a self-portrait project in my painting class. Each student got an 11″x14″ canvas to create a self-portrait with a design element added (inspired by Barack Obama’s presidential portrait by Kehinde Wiley and Michelle Obama’s first lady portrait by Amy Sherald). They could use paint or introduce another material for the design.

First step was to create an accurate base drawing. They could paint an underpainting or work on the white canvas. Since this project focuses on properly mixing skin tone and applying paint to capture a realistic portrait, I allow my students to use the grid method or the connect the dots method (punching holes through a print out and marking them on the canvas at key spots) to draw their base.

After completing a sketchbook activity using a handout to guide which colors and how much to mix to create skin tone (available on my TPT here), students start on the painting. I encourage them to mix a substantial amount of midtone, then use the midtone as a base to mix shadow and highlight colors. Students then block in midtone, then blend in the shadows and highlights to create depth.

From there they continue to layer their skin tone color until they have nice variation in color and a three dimensional, realistic quality. I tell my students they can take artistic license with the colors, but it needs to capture the sense of the skin tone. They block in the hair by focusing on chunks of highlights and shadows rather than individual strands of hair.

From there they need to start considering how to incorporate their design elements. For the assignment they had to incorporate a pattern or design into the background or clothing.

I chose to create a floral design, referencing the floral crowns Frida Khalo often adorned. I painted the flowers on separate sheets of watercolor paper, then outlined them using black pen once they dried. I cut them out and intentionally left a white border to emphasize the collage look when I put it all together.

I used hot glue to tack the flowers down, then sealed it with Mod Podge. I have plans to add a coat of resin once I find the courage to do it.

I was thrilled with the end result of my Frida Khalo portrait. I was greatly encouraged by the ease in which I painted her. It only took a couple of hours from start to finish to paint the portrait. The flowers added much more time on top of that, but I have never so quickly created a portrait I was proud of.

It was a Frida-ful year as my sweet baby girl Kennedy dressed up as her for Halloween. This was prior to me finding out about the Night of 1000 Fridas event. The sweet Frida Khalo book can be found here.

Looking for teaching resources to make your life easier? Don’t miss the last TPT sale until the back to school sale in August! It starts Tuesday, May 7th (2019) and runs through Wednesday May 8th (2019). You get 25% all my products with the code GIFT4U. This is the best time to save big money on my bundles, I never mark them lower than 25% off. You can read about some of my recent bundles in my last TPT sale post here.

Follow my store to be notified of new products! Tomorrow my portrait project with the lesson plan, PowerPoints, and all the handouts I use to introduce this project will be uploaded to TPT. Also check out other ways to follow me by clicking my social media icons to the right.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and read about my most recent art class projects! Spread the word about my blog by sharing with others.

TPT Winter Sale: 25% off

It’s that time of year again, the winter TPT sale! My entire store will be 20% off, with an extra 5% off at checkout, just enter the code: ticktock. As usual, I have been working hard on developing new products and I have a new curriculum bundle ready for you to save big money on tomorrow and Wednesday.

Intro to DSLR Photography Curriculum

Since August, my talented and wonderful coworker, Meagan Brooker, and I have been working on an Introduction to DSLR Photography curriculum. This bundle is a hefty 100 dollars, but is worth every penny. It includes 18 photography projects, 13 critiques, 9 artist research assignments, a focus on the history of photography, semester long timeline, how to set up a class blog, and more.

With this bundle you will not have to plan a single day of the semester in your photography class. If you have never picked up a DSLR camera, you will also be able to teach yourself with the step by step instructions in the lesson that teaches aperture, f-stop, ISO, manual mode and more.

Plus, in addition to all of the lessons and activities, there are also eight printable posters to decorate your classroom with examples of important photography basics. Save $25.00 on this bundle during the sale, tomorrow (2/26/19) and Wednesday (2/27/19).

Zendoodle Worksheet Bundle

Another bundle that has come together between August and now is my zendoodle worksheet pack. This pack includes nine worksheets that cover tips, techniques, and how tos with zentangling. These worksheets are a perfect introduction to adding patterns to a project or end of an assignment early finisher handout.

Each worksheet includes examples of different types of zendoodles on the front (scallops, triangles, organic, adding color, combining multiple techniques) and a space for the students to practice on the back. At $14.40 you can get it for just $10.80 on TPT the next two days.

Printable Art Supply Labels

The last product I will share with you is my most recent, my art supply labels that were posted this afternoon. I have been working on these for the last few weeks and am so excited to finally share them with you.

My students always ask where supplies are located, even though every single cabinet and drawer in my classroom is labeled. One day the light bulb went on, maybe by adding a visual students would have an easier time tracking supplies down and finding their places when they are cleaning up. After all, artists are visual people.

After making a list of every single supply I would want a label for. I got to work. I drew art supplies, painted watercolor blobs, scanned them both into my computer, and combined them together. They are bright, modern, and easy to read. I think they are perfect for K through college, readers and non-readers, and any style art classroom.

These are listed for $25.00 and you get two different style labels, in two different sizes, of 46 different art supplies. There are a ton in this pack! Tomorrow and Wednesday you can get them for just. $18.75 on TPT.

Today I have been preparing for the big TPT sale and settling back into reality. My little family and I returned home today from a brief Florida visit for a wedding. Cooper and Kennedy spent the weekend with my in-laws in Tampa while Nick and I continued on to the Florida Keys, Islamorada. Is was sunny, hot, gorgeous, and turquoise. I am not ready to be home but I am excited for tomorrow!

If you want to see some other resources I have been working on since this time last year check out my August sale blog post hereand the cyber Monday sale blog post here.

Thanks for taking them time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about my blog, my TPT art resources, and the big sale tomorrow by sharing with others! Thanks for stopping by.

Visual Journal Page 41: Already on Edge

I was already on edge.

I had woken up early, showered, carefully selected my most professional outfit. I was driving on 285 en route to an interview.

It wasn’t just any interview. It was an interview at a well regarded private school that happened to be across the street from where my husband worked, we could carpool. I would have an actual budget to teach art. I would have small class sizes. I would work in a building dedicated to the fine arts. I could move on from my current job where I felt worn out, unappreciated, overworked, and like I was only a warm body available to proctor standardized test after standardized test.

A lot was weighing on this moment. I had to crush it. I couldn’t stay in my current job another year. Something needed to change.

All of these thoughts circled my head when suddenly taillights flashed ahead; the sound of crunching, and squealing tires followed. I glanced quickly to my right and miraculously in that split second the lane was open, I jumped over just in time. I had just missed being another car in a string of crushed metal.

A few seconds earlier or later and I could’ve been stuck on 285 while my interviewees awaited my arrival. I felt a wave of relief followed by the anxiety of almost being in an accident.

I was already on edge.

By the time I reached my interview my nerves had calmed, I had collected my thoughts, I was ready. I walked onto the school’s campus and was overwhelmed by how beautiful it was. I sat through five different interviews, and while intimidating, they were all so welcoming and nice. It felt like a place I could belong.

Seven years later that 285 corridor has become my commute. Hopefully I will continue to avoid accidents on my way to my beautiful campus and cushy private school job.

Supplies:

  • Visual journal,
  • Rubber cement or Mod Podge
  • Scissors
  • Watercolor
  • White paper
  • Book pages
  • Thin sharpie

How To:

To create this visual journal page I wanted to recreate the scene of the accident. As I drove past and glanced to my left I saw at least three cars had rear ended each other, but quite a few were stopped. I decided to stick with that number, after all odds are more pleasing in art.

I sketched out the crunched up cars on a separate sheet of paper and filled them in with watercolor. While the watercolor was still wet I blew it where the cars made contact to create a splatter effect. Once the first layer of watercolor dried, I add more detail and some shadows and highlights. I cut it out once it was dry.

Next, I cut out triangle shapes from two different colors of book pages. I wanted to create a graphic, loud symbol that would somewhat blend into the background. I glued the smaller triangles on top of the a larger triangles, then carefully placed them in the book. Once I was satisfied with their placement, emphasizing the cars hitting each other, I glued them down.

The watercolor cars were added next, then a few more book page triangles to the bottom. Last but not least I added the text using a thin sharpie.

Challenge:

Create a visual journal page about a stressful moment in your life. Incorporate cut up book pages somewhere in your image.

Check out more of my visual journal pages here. Interested in teaching visual journals? Check out my TPT lesson here.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about visual journals with others. Thanks for stopping by.

A Super Wings Birthday

It’s a blessing and a curse being an art teacher mom.

A blessing because I always have art supplies on hand, ideas to fill rainy days, and I can make most of the decorations for events (such as a three year old’s birthday party).

It’s a curse because when it comes time for said birthday party I start planning craft project after craft project, decoration after decoration, thinking all the time, “I can do that, I can make that, I have time for one more thing, I can do it all.”

I went all out for Coopers 1st birthday. His second party was a lot more low key, as I was nine months pregnant with our little girl. So by the time his third birthday came around I felt well rested and ready to plan another party.

After many discussions Nick and I decided a playground birthday party was the way to go. Cooper has a November birthday, so it was a risky choice as weather is questionable in Georgia that time of year. But, it was worth the risk to not have to host a slew of three year olds in our little house. We looked at a couple of locations until we discovered the Dunwoody Nature Center.

It was a playground in the woods. A hike from the parking lot, but it felt magical. Plus, I could visualize it on a birthday invitation.

For months all Cooper talked about was a Donnie birthday party; more specifically a Donnie themed birthday cake which quickly translated into the theme of the day. If you are unfamiliar, Donnie is a character from the show Super Wings. What gets me is the fact that Donnie is a fairly insignificant sidekick to the main character, Jet. He doesn’t even show up in every episode. But for some reason my little man had his heart set on this yellow airplane.

The birthday invitation was the start of it all. I decided to do a quick watercolor of the playground for the front. After all, my painting class was in the middle of a watercolor project, so it was perfect timing to work along with them. I then drew a Donnie and filled him in with Sharpie. Next, I scanned the drawing and painting into my computer and compiled the images together in Photoshop to create the back and front of the invite.

I was very happy with the look of the invitations and was relieved to finally send them out to his classmates. That feeling was short lived as I began to realize we now had to actually plan the day.

I decided to keep it as simple as possible. We would throw some tablecloths on the picnic tables, pick up Publix subs, chips, juice boxes, the usual odds and ends for a lunch birthday. I was keeping decoration to a minimum with a handful of balloons and a easy to make birthday banner.

To create the banner I found pictures of all the characters online and saved them to my desktop. Next, I found a banner outline that I liked the shape of. I opened the banner outline in Photoshop, dropped a character in, and saved it. I repeated with all the characters and each letter in Cooper’s name. I then printed them on card stock and cut them out.

I laid the banner pieces on a table and cut two long pieces of twine. I evenly spaced each banner piece before laying the twine in the fold and sticking it in place with hot glue. I then added a dot of hot glue to each tip to hold the folded pieces closed.

The banner was an easy (and cheap) way to decorate and to section off the picnic tables so other playground goers knew that this was a separate event. Because the playground was set back from the parking lot we used balloons to help guide everyone to the playground area.

I found the Super Wing themed balloons on Amazon, but of course since Donnie is a smaller character, we could only find a big version of Jet. Cooper did not seem disappointed, he was too excited about the fact that we had a car full of balloons.

I also outsourced the party favors. Nick and I debated between a few options before discovering a popcorn shop, Poppa Corns just down the street. Cooper got to select his own flavors to make a customized birthday mix. Between Cooper’s love for popcorn and the personalized touch, it was a done deal. Shortly after placing our order my sister sent a recommendation for a baker ( I Canita Cake) who makes amazing custom cookies. I reached out to her and very quickly placed an order to have every Super Wing character’s face on a cookie. They were adorable.

The project I ended up overdoing myself on was the cake. After all, the cake was all Cooper talked about when we brought up his party. He didn’t request presents, or a birthday at all, he just wanted a Donnie cake.

I thought about making it myself. I brainstormed ideas, procrastinated, brainstormed more, and procrastinated again. As the big day got closer I started to chicken out and called every specialty bakery in the Atlanta area. If they could just sculpt the Donnie, I could stick it on a cake that I made. But I had waited too long. I made my bed, it was time to lay in it.

I went to Hobby Lobby and raided their cake supplies. I got a sphere cake pan, colored fondant, and an edible black pen.

On birthday party eve I started baking. I opted for boxed funfetti cake mix. I didn’t have the time to make a cake from scratch with the decorating looming ahead and funfetti is just fun, especially for a three year old.

While the cake was baking I rolled out my first batch of fondant and cut out clouds and the letters for his name. It wasn’t too bad! My confidence was building.

The rounds came out of the oven, once they cooled I began stacking them, I added my blue (from scratch) buttercream, and stuck the clouds around the side. I was feeling good.

Then I started the Donnie topper.

Issue #1: funfetti is very light and does not bake well in a sphere form. It didn’t hold it’s shape.

As quick as I could I stuck the two cake halves together, slapped on some buttercream and draped my carefully rolled out fondant on top. Immediately the cake started crumbling, the fondant started cracking. With one hand propping the mess up, the other was trimming and smoothing the fondant.

Around this time Nick walked into the kitchen, looked at the cake, looked back at me and asked, “So what’s plan B?” But I refused to give up. I cut out the details from blue and white fondant and strategically placed them to cover up mistakes. I reminded myself that Cooper would be looking for a yellow blob with eyes, it didn’t matter if it was perfect.

I used food color to add the tongue and eye details, and was still frightened. I then pulled out the black edible pen and it was a game changer. I got everything outlined, the mouth filled in, the eyes emphasized. Donnie wasn’t perfectly round and was cracking, but it looked like him.

I carefully added him to the top of the cake, and placed his wing on top. For the wing I cut the shape out of cardboard, coated it in buttercream, then wrapped it in fondant. I used a skewer to hold Donnie onto the cake and the wing onto Donnie.

The icing on the cake was at 1 am when I realized the four layer cake plus a six inch character on top meant the cake did not fit in my cake carrier. I threw together cut up cereal boxes, plastic wrap, and crossed my fingers that it didn’t collapse. I would not see it again until we arrived at the playground.

Other than a small section of icing that was scraped off, the cake survived. Cooper was over the moon and everyone was impressed. My first fondant experience was stressful, but for the most part successful. My favorite part was Cooper insisting he eat Donnie. It was his birthday after all.

The birthday was a huge success. Cooper had the time of his life and the location felt so special. Although we had to haul coolers, food, and decorations through the woods and back, it was all worth it for my three year old big boy.

As soon as Cooper’s birthday was complete, I started working on Kennedy’s first birthday party, which was scheduled the weekend after. More to come on that soon!

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word by sharing it on your social media site of choice. Thanks for stopping by!

Visual Journal Page 40: A Part of Me

A visual journal page about using a hot glue gun so much it became an extension of myself.

While in college I began creating large scale paintings of women in fancy dresses. I would paint the figures and background in oil paint, then construct intricate dresses out of fabric. I would often take these very high class, traditional looking ladies and place them into an unpredictable scene. A glass might be smashed, someone may have fallen down the stairs, chaos was ensuing. Not a typical scene for a lady.

While on this “clash of two worlds” journey I was struck with inspiration to create a dress completely out of beer bottle caps. Something about the juxtaposition of a traditional woman in a dress made entirely out of beer caps, not very lady like, was very appealing to me. I enlisted help from friends, family, and friend who worked at a bar to start collecting bottle caps and the project was underway.

It tok a few years of planning here and there before I finally took the plunge to put it all together. I had recently reached out to a local restaurant, Carroll Street Cafe, to inquire about displaying my work at their establishment. When I was added to their monthly rotation this became my motivation to finish the monstrous work of art.

It felt like every hour I wasn’t at work I was at home hot gluing bottle caps to fabric. My hands started to ache and clench after bending and cutting cap after cap after cap. My glue gun in one hand, pliers in the other, I felt like a machine. For a time it felt like the glue gun became an extension of myself.

A mixed media work of art constructed from oil paint, encaustic, fabric, mat board, and beer bottle caps.

I was very happy with the end result and the piece was well received at my mini art opening. It felt good to take on such a large project and see it through to the end. For years she lived in our back bedroom, stored away until I could find her forever home. When push came to shove, with Cooper on the way and a need to clear out the room, I practically gave her away to a couple who lived in my area.

Although I hated to see her go, and not earn the amount of time I put into back, I am glad she is on display, not stuck in a back room.

You can read about this piece in a post I wrote shortly after making it here. You can also check out more from my ladies in dresses series here. Although I have moved on from this focus, I still incorporate so much collage, layering, and mixed media in my artwork. My focus is now on encaustic, I have plans to post about my massive encaustic carving undertaking in the near future.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement, Elmer’s glue, or similar
  • White paper
  • Watercolor
  • Sharpie
  • Pastels
  • Charcoal
  • Spray fixative

HOW TO

When planning this visual journal page I wanted to emphasize the repetition and the overwhelming feeling I had somewhere in the middle of this big undertaking. I decided to create abstract looking bottle cap shapes to layer in the background. I started by painting loose color circles in the main colors I used in the dress: blue, green, black, and yellow. Once they dried I outlined them in sharpie and added a wiggly line around the outer edge to reference the look of a bottle cap.

After the bottle caps were complete, I cut them out and glued them down using rubber cement. Next, I started on the hot glue gun hand. I had a rough image in my head of how I wanted this to look. I sketched out an arm and hand, then started working the glue gun shape into the fingers. I used pastel to fill the color of the arm and the hot glue gun, then blended them together. Once this was cut out I glued it on top of the background.

After layering all my pieces together I decided the overall image was just too bright and colorful. It looked silly, as opposed to exhausted, overwhelmed, and in joint pain. I decided to darken the entire image by coloring over the background with charcoal, then smearing it, thinning it out in areas, and rubbing it over the hot glue gun hand. I added charcoal details back into the hot glue gun to sharpen it back up after smearing it.

Once I was satisfied with the overall feel of the page I began planning out the placement of the text. I ended up erasing a line out of the charcoal to create a spot where text would show up. I then added the text with sharpie. The final step was spraying the page with fixative to prevent it from smearing.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about a challenging time in your life. Incorporate charcoal somewhere in the image.

Interested in more visual journal stories, tips, and how tos? Check out my visual journal blog page here and my visual journal bundle on TPT here. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help spread the word and get involved with visual journaling by following, sharing, and commenting!

My first girl in dress painting, the dress looks a bit like a mattress. Made in 2007.

My first girl in dress painting, the dress looks a bit like a mattress. Made in 2007.

Mixed media painting created in 2008.

Created in 2008.

Created in 2010. This was the start of my transition into encaustic. The birch trees were layered with encaustic, carved, dripped, and painting into. 

Created in 2010. This was the start of my transition into encaustic. The birch trees were layered with encaustic, carved, dripped, and painting into.