Every art teacher could use a little boost
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Here’s a crisp Spring color scheme. It’s a great example of how 2 complementary colors look good together, but are not standard basic colors like you’d see on a football team.
In this variation, we only changed the pink – to an intense warm red, changing the scheme both in value, and in hue. It’s still the same red/green complementary color scheme, but has a completely different feel.
How To Print Our Posters
With a regular desktop printer, you can print and assemble large classroom posters.
The example above is available below in our graphic section, and this is the version that has a white border on a letter-sized sheet of paper. There are 4 versions:
- Letter sized (8.5″ x 11″)
- Letter sized edge to edge printing
- 4 letter sheets Large sized that can be taped together. It’s about 16″ x 20″
- 4 Sheets Large with edge to edge printing.
Sometimes the prints will come out in the wrong direction. Look at the settings and make sure you have it set up correctly and that things match. If printing a “tiled” version (the large 4 sheets that fit together), print all 4 sheets, which will have some overlap.
We used regular magic tape and pressed it down well to disappear as much as possible.
Use the information here to understand what copyright is and how it works. You can impart that information to older students as needed. Decide how much you think they can digest at one time, because it can quickly become overwhelming.
1. How do I protect my own work?
2. How do I make sure I don’t infringe upon others?
The questions are really two sides of the same coin, and both are about protecting you; you don’t want to be sued for infringing on someone else’s work any more than you want someone to steal yours.
Before answering these questions, we need a quick understanding of the basic idea of copyright. There are many misconceptions about it.
Copyright is not about physical work. I can own a painting but not the rights to reproduce it.
Work For Hire
This seemingly innocuous phrase carries enourmous meaning and consequences for all artists. If this is included in a contract, then the artist is considered to be an employee for the contracted work, and can never claim copyrights. For the scope of the contract, the artist is not the creator, the company or purchaser is. Therefore the copyrights are originally granted to that other person or company.
Work for hire only applies to certain compilations where other’s have contributed, but it can and does apply to children’s books. This is an abuse of the intentions of the law, but has become a standard practice due to large companies power over individual artists.
Anyone who is not an employee, and does not enjoy the benefits of such, should not sign work for hire contracts if at all possible.
It is called Intellectual property. It is property, just like a car is, but it is not the car. It is the way the car looks. You can buy a Ford Mustang, and you’ll own that car. However, you can’t go out and make a car that looks just like a Mustang and sell it. The look and design of the Mustang is the intellectual property of Ford, and it has great value because they worked hard to create it and promote it.
Copyright laws were created so that people can protect their intellectual property from other people taking it. Why would Ford do all that work on the Mustang if Nissan, Chevrolet, and anyone else for that matter, could start making Mustangs too? No, it makes sense that Nissan should create their own car design. Chevrolet makes the Corvette. No one else can make those because it wouldn’t be fair.
There is therefore a feeling that copyrights are a thing, just like other things. People decide that they should be able to sell a copyright, and that once you have it, you own it forever.
This is actually not quite true.
We only have copyright law to ensure that creativity is rewarded properly.
If we didn’t have those laws, then artists would not be able to control and benefit from their creations; so why would they bother? Why would you create a book if a big company is going to take it and make all the money selling it? You would see your book in the stores and online, making money for that company but not for you. Then you’d see it made into a movie maybe. If you didn’t get any of the money it made, and you didn’t have enough to pay your bills, It would make you never want to make a book again.
Our culture would have fewer books; fewer movies; less music. It would be bad for everyone.
So copyrights are given to creators so they will create, and so we all get to have new movies and new music.
Copyrights do not last. Eventually, they move into the Public Domain, where everyone can use them freely.
After a creator dies, even if they sold their rights, the copyrights die too, but not right away. copyrights expire 75 years after the creator’s death. That way the family of the creator can benefit from the work too.
You can sell all the copyrights, or you can sell limited rights to your work. For example, musicians and book authors get a percentage of the sales from their work because they only sold the rights to publish, not to own the copyright completely. That way the percentages will go to their family for 75 years even after they die.
That’s a great incentive for creators to continue to create. And that is good for everyone.
How do I know what I can paint from?
The musician, being famous can’t prevent you from using their photo, but the photographer owns the picture. That means you need to ask the photographer if you can paint it. They might want money to give you that right. If you have a contract that states that you can paint it, then you own the copyright to the painting.
A well known artist, Jeffrey Koons, once made a sculpture from a photograph of some people holding their 6 puppies. The sculpture looked just like the photo, and because the sculptor artist was famous, he sold it for a huge amount of money. The photographer sued the sculptor for stealing his intellectual property, and won in court. He got the money from the sale and even some more for all his trouble. This is different than just copying the original photograph, but the sculpture obviously could not have been made without the photo. This is called a derivative work, and most countries have laws prohibiting such works. Small sections of art or photos can usually be used without infringing upon the original, but you have to be careful.
If you don’t sell a painting, but make it only for yourself, or for learning how to paint, that is ok. It’s called fair use. It’s only when you are making money or promoting something that makes money, that you are in danger of taking someone’s copyrights.
Some companies let you know that you can paint from their photos by posting a copyright notice. The photos in The Art Instructor lessons have all been paid for, so you and your students are free to paint them.
Morguefile.com is a site that has a collection of photographs that are free for artists to paint as well. Click the “free photos” tab and do a search. There are also a bunch of tabs for paid photo services. Don’t use those. Select a photo you like, and make sure you read the permissions on the download popup box. It will probably state that you can’t use it in a “stand-alone manner” which means you can’t print it out and just sell the photo itself. You can still use it as part of a website, (give a credit if you do), or to paint from as reference.
Bad brushes kill art
Here’s the deal. Bad brushes cause bad artwork. Bad artwork makes artists feel bad. Artists who feel bad, stop doing art.
If you have any brushes made with cheap plastic bristles…
Throw them away.
If you have any brushes made with the kind of hair that is so soft that it does not spring back to the straight position after being used…
Throw them away.
If you have any brushes that lose bristles while you paint.
Throw them away.
Even if you have 5 year olds. Do not allow them to use a bad brush. It affects their abilities, and they will attribute this to their own skill, not the brush.
Get over it and just throw them away. They harm artists. You are not wasting a resource. It’s like throwing away old spoiled food that will make someone sick.
A good yet inexpensive brush will almost always be made of nylon. It will have either white or brown bristles. Brown is usually stiffer than the white. A stiff brush is good for oils and acrylics. A softer brush that still has good spring, is good for acrylics and watercolors.
The best deal comes from multi-packs of 8 to 12 brushes in varying sizes. We get the 12 packs and split them into 3 sets of 4 brushes, mixing up the sizes for small, medium, large and extra large.
Round brushes have a round opening on the ferule (metal sleeve) and a pointed tip. These are good for details and watercolor, but are also great all-around brushes. A watercolor brush is best when it’s larger yet still has a great point.
Square brushes are best for covering large areas, like a background, a sky, or an underpainting. They can leave noticable square marks in the paint.
Filbert brushes are basically flats, with the corners rounded off so you don’t see the squareish marks in the paint. These are also good for versatility, but don’t have a point for fine details.
Paint that is left to dry inside the bristles will push the bristles apart, making the brush fan out and frizzled. The point cannot be resurected on a frizzled brush that has been used with acrylics, because the dried paint is way up inside, near the metal part.
The only way to prevent brush frizz, is to Super Wash them at the end of your painting time. Even washing well, in a fairly clean water bucket, DOES NOT WORK. There will be residue, and that will ruin the tip quickly by spreading the brisles.
Place the brush under the running water in the sink, and gently but firmly spread the bristles as much as possible, twirling the brush so that the water can reach the tightest places. When the water looks completely clean, and a paper towel shows no color after drying, then you have a clean brush. Kids love the term, Super Wash!
Tap the image or the button to go to our poster download page which has 4 different versions in 2 sizes for you to print.
You can use the poster to teach about how to use the principles. One thing to also convey, is that artists seldom start out thinking about these things. Instead, we do things intuitively at first, and then whenever things are not looking as good as we want, these principles help us analyze what’s wrong and tell us how to fix it.
1. Position for Emphasis & Balance
With 2 evenly weighted sections, it made sense to create a centered and symmetrical design.
2. Contrast for Emphasis & Harmony
We used color contrast in several ways to clarify what was most important, and what was least. By making the only dark area at the top, we have a strong spot for our headline. The yellow circle is the only yellow, and one of only two warm colors, so your eye heads to that first, and then travels to the headline. All of the rest of the poster uses lower contrast in both value, and color. Everything is medium value and cool colors. Only the words have any real contrast so they can be read easily and are the third thing to look at. The illustrations along the bottom are downplayed so they don’t fight for attention until you’ve started to understand what they mean as you’re reading.
3. Repetition for Harmony & Balance
Circles are in line vertically. Squares are in line horizontally. The squares are also equally spaced and all the same colors, to connect the left and right sections into one element. Making the numbers very bold, also makes them easier to distinguish.
Week 35: Starry Nights
Students enjoy working with two fun ways to create stars. Realistic star patterns are made by splattering white paint on a dark paper background, and expressive stars are made with thick paint and by copying Van Gogh’s Starry Night. If time, early finishers get to make a star logo for themselves.
Week 35: Creative Collage
Students will use pages and clippings from magazines to create collage images that tell a story about themselves. They are also given the choice to work on a detailed pencil drawing with freedom to choose their subject matter.
Week 36: Lizards & Desert
A Desert scene is created using oil pastel resist with watercolors. Then the students will draw and color a lizard using a mock bark-painting technique using kraft paper (brown paper bags) black marker, and oil pastels.
Week 36: Journal Painting 1
Combining a sketch, writing, thinking, and painting, all on one canvas, this technique appeals to everyone. Students will draw and sketch on the canvas with their colored pencil (other colors may be used if available, but we use a dark gray that mimics graphite.) Anything can be drawn or written, just like in the page of a journal or sketch book. Washes of color are added for a soft visual effect. This lesson will continue and be finished next week.
Week 37: Big Box Painting
Students will cover a large cardboard box with butcher paper and masking tape, and then paint it as a group, making up things along the way but collaborating so the box has a theme. Then we finish with artists’ choice in watercolors or oil pastels.
Week 37: Journal Painting 2
Students will continue working on their journal paintings from last week. Early finishers will work on any paintings or color journals that are not yet finished. If all is done, then they’ll have artists’ choice.
Week 38: Party Animals
Students pretend they’re going to an animal party. First, they use blank masks to pretend they are animals, then everyone finds reference and paints their mask to match a chosen animal. Pretend play and a game take up the middle of the class time, and then there is a marker drawing project of animals having a Summertime party. We have one extra class next week if you need it.
Week 38: Group 3D Installation
A Bunch O’ Boxes project has everyone collaborating. Everyone must work together as a team and combine a few boxes into a 3D sculpture and/or installation that has a theme and incorporates everyone’s efforts and style into one final work. Classes can be divided into teams of smaller groups so that everyone can work at once. Boxes are covered in white paper and painted for display in the summer or for an art show.
Week 39: Toon Animals
Our last class is all about cartoon animals. We use simple shapes to build characters and then apply some funny expressions. The last project is a one-page, 4-panel comic book they create on their own using printed templates. If time allows, they get to make a colorful cover for the comic “book”
Week 39: Toon Attack!
An entire class devoted to learning the basics of cartooning. Students develop a character and learn how to make different facial expressions using “keysigns” (symbols that convey extra meaning or action). A finished ink and watercolor cartoon is created in the second half of the session.
Foundations has two versions: grades 3 – 5 and grades 6 – 12