Archive for the ‘Painting Projects’ Category


I was recently invited to a North London primary school’s art club to present a painting workshop. I decided to revisit the exciting theme of anthropomorphic animals; Anthropomorphism is making something which is not a human, more human-like.

After a brief presentation about anthropomorphism and the history of animal/human shaped artwork (the oldest example of an animal/human-shaped work of art is the Löwenmensch figurine. It’s approximately 35,000 years old and is a sculpture of a human figure with the head of a lion or lioness), we looked at the paintings of two modern day artists who use anthropomorphism in their work, Ken Hoffman and Svjetlan Junaković.

The students studied photos of animals and chose one they wanted to base their painting on. Thinking about what era, style of clothing and setting they wanted to adopt, they began to sketch their initial ideas on an A4 sheet of paper. When they were happy with their idea, they were able to draw their anthropomorphic animal on artboard.

Students used acrylic and ready mixed paints for this project.

Many thanks to Weston Park Art Club for letting me use the images below. Photographs by Joanna Leigh.





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This creative project is a resource from Access Art. My art students really enjoyed making these. We began by experimenting with drawing inks, seeing what efffects could be achieved by creating washes, blending and mixing colours. Since we did this project just before the summer holidays, we kept to the same Access Art theme, which was ‘The Seaside’.

Students had fun practising drawing beach and seaside related things with the inks, creating some beautiful illustrations.

This project really engaged the children, we had an interesting discussion about what a bowl is, and for this particular art activity, a bowl didn’t have to be a traditional food recepticle. The wave bowls were constructed using equilateral triangles, and grew organically as the were glued together.


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It’s always lovely when artists are invited in to schools to lead a workshop with children. At my local village school where the Art Cabin is based, we had a a local Hertfordshire artist called Jean Picton lead a workshop with Years 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Using liquid acrylics, Jean demonstrated how beautiful poppy flowers could be painted. Jean’s trademark is her beautiful depictions of flowers especially poppies (take a look at Jean’s dress, which she had custom made).

To begin with, students experimented with black ink on plain paper, practising the techniques they had seen Jean do. After another demo, students were able to create their own poppy flower on a blank canvas.

Jean really is a character and the students thoroughly enjoyed her tuition style (which included lots of giggles). I think everyone was pleased with their painting and it was especially nice to see children who don’t always find art projects easy, enjoy the workshop and feel proud about their work.



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Drawing on plaster with wax pastels project


This still life activity is based on the ‘Drawing On Plaster’ project from the book Drawing Projects for Children by AccessArt’s co-founder Paula Briggs.

Leading up to this activity, I had spent a couple of sessions getting students to do obsevational drawings, learning to look is an important factor when doing still life study and doing something like this is a good warm up exercise. Each child had a view-finder and a magazine page; they could select an area of the magazine to copy.

Young student with still life drawing

Using a view-finder to select an area of a magazine to draw


We set about making the mould for the plaster canvas and once completed we mixed the plaster and poured it into the mould.

Drawing on plaster with wax pastels project

Creating a mould for the plaster


Drawing on plaster with wax pastels project

Plaster setting in the mould


After a week to dry out thoroughly, the mould was removed to reveal the plaster canvas.

Drawing on plaster with wax pastels project

Removing the plaster canvas from the mould


I set up a screen on each table so each student could set up a still life composition (we used fruit). It’s a good idea to discuss complementary colours and making your still life visually pleasing.

Drawing on plaster with wax pastels project

Looking at composition


Once the friuts were in place, students had the chance to practice their observational skills using watercolour paints. We discussed highlights, midtones and shadows, looking at all the different colours and tones we could see.

Drawing on plaster with wax pastels project

Practising observational skills using watercolours


When students were ready they began to illustrate their fruit still life on the plaster canvas with water soluble wax crayons.

Drawing on plaster with wax pastels project

Sketching on the plaster canvas


Adding water to a cue tip and gently rubbing it on the wax pastels will encourage the blending of colours.



This activity was a total success, the paintings were superb and the students really enjoyed the opportunity to draw on an unusual surface.

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Miro project

Getting the arrangement just right


This super Miro project incorporated a game, drawing, collage, construction, modroc, painting and composition. We worked on it over a period of nine 1 hour sessions.

Miro project

A lovely book to introduce children to the art of Miro.


After an introduction and discussion about Miro and his work, we played the ‘Roll A Miro’ game, you can find many print-outs on Pinterest. I used the ones from Once Upon an Art Room and Pinterest. Children roll the dice and the number rolled tallies up with a shape, the students eventually build up their Miro image. I have to say this game went down really well.

Miro project

Playing the ‘Roll A Miro’ game.


Next the students cut coloured card to create a large collage of shapes, this activity is credited to AccessArt. Once the collages were complete, I read a nonsensical poem pitched at different sound levels (that was interesting!). The children had to draw over their collage in response to the words and sounds with a black felt tip pen.

Miro project

Creating the Miro inspired collages


To show the children how the same set of painting directions could lead to many variations, I devised a quick painting session. I read out half a dozen actions, for instance:-

  1. Paint two yellow circles.
  2. Paint two red lines from one side of your paper to the other.
  3. Paint three blue wavey lines touching the red lines etc….

The students loved this activity and the enthusiam for painting did lead to some children painting more shapes/lines than necessary. But hey, we were having a good time!

Miro project

A Miro inspired painting.


After a talk on shapes (regular & irregular). It was time to plan the sculptures.

The brief was to create two large shapes from cardboard. One shape from clay (although some children made more as it would be asthetically pleasing to their design idea). Up to six small wooden sticks or two cut lengths 1cm x 1cm wood.

Each child had a white mountboard plinth to arrange their sculpture on.

To make the large sculptural elements, the students cut two pairs of different shaped card. To create depth, two small pieces of bubble wrap were sandwiched between the cardboard and taped in place. The cardboard shape was completedly covered in masking tape, ready for modroc-ing.


The Modroc was cut into small strips, a single piece of Modroc was then dipped in water and carefully placed onto the cardboard shape. To activate the plaster and cover the bandage, the Modroc had to be gently smoothed with a finger.


Once the Modroc had dried and the students had made their small clay sculptures, the painting could begin.


It was great fun getting the students to think about how their final sculpture’s elements should be arranged. Trying different placements to create a pleasing balance. I was very impressed how the students approached this part of the project, all their hard work was coming together and they wanted to get it right. All the elements were glued in position using either PVA or a hot glue gun (which I was in charge of for safety reasons).


Here are the finished sculptures. As a last minute thought, I asked the students to title their sculptures.

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Anthromorphic character painting

Anthropomorphism – The showing or treating of animals, gods, and objects as if they are human in appearance, character, or behaviour.

In this project the students began by making their own canvas board from scratch (see photos for how to do this). Students chose an animal they liked (I had photographer Brigitta Scholz-Mastroianni lend me some fabulous photos of pets that she had taken), some children brought in their own pictures or used libary books for reference.

The students had to think about their animal’s character, the shape of the human body that would suit it, what setting/era and what sort of clothes it would wear? The children researched their ideas and when ready, they drew their anthromorphic character in pencil on paper as a practice (some chose to paint theirs too).

When they were happy with their idea, they drew their character onto the canvas board and painted it using acrylic paint.

The paintnings went on display around the school and looked amazing. I only got few photos because without thinking, I handed the paintings back to the children at the end of term and later realised I didn’t have many photos of the finished work. I’m hoping that some children will bring the paintings back in September, I can then take a few more pics and add them on here.



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How to construct a Minion


I just couldn’t resist making Minions when I caught a glimpse of one on Pinterest by mollymoocrafts.com

Using toilet roll card cylinders, paper maché, newspaper, card, wool and acrylic paint, you too can make a Minion.

Firstly we rolled up half a sheet of newspaper into a ball, then placed that in the centre of the other half of the newsprint and smoothed the paper over the ball, then scrunching the paper tightly at the base of the ball to create a lollipop shape. The paper ball was inserted into the card toilet roll cylinder and pushed so that it poked through the end to create a dome shape, this was taped in position (this makes the body/head).


A layer of paper maché was added to the body/head. When this was dry, we gave it a quick undercoat of white paint to cover the newsprint. Once dry the body/head was painted yellow.

To make the arms we rolled up a sheet of newsprint tightly then rolled it in another sheet. Masking tape was wound around this to secure the paper. The ends were cut at an angle.  Tape was added to the ends where the hands are painted. Some children wanted bent arms, and for this we inserted a short piece of wire into the rolled up newspaper, the arms were bent into shape at the elbow. The arms were painted yellow, with black tips for the hands. We used PVA glue to stick the arms onto the body.

How to construct a Minion

Make the arms from newspaper & masking tape

For the goggle we used a piece of cardboard cut into a circle, with a hole cut out in the centre (we drew around the circumference of the googly eye to get the correct size). The black goggle strap can be painted on or a piece of black paper can be glued around the head.

Drawing the Minion’s expression and clothes are the really exciting bit, we drew these in pencil, then painted with acrylic paint.

Lastly, hair was glued into position and details, like stitiching on the dungarees, were added with a Sharpie pen.

We carried on this project by designing Minion homes, what a blast! The best bit was, the children took their Minion characters home and played with them, some children even went on to make more Minion friends.





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