Monday, December 1, 2014

Great Book for the Art Room

Time for some animal fun!
Reindeer with Jingle Bell
I think it is impossible for me to walk through a Book Fair without buying something and our school's recent sale was no exception! I often think, "so many books to read and so little time." One of my "finds" for the art cart was Creature Features by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. They take a close up look at 25 animals and comment about why they have certain unusual features.

I noticed that the illustrator made a point of having white highlights in all the animals' eyes and that that added a spark of life to each illustration. So, with that in mind, the animal drawings began. I always like to try out any lesson before doing it with kids, so this was an experiment in using different media, but I sort of got carried away and did more than one!!

The bearded seal (from the book) makes a good starting point for practice:
 The seal's body is done with cake tempera.
The eyes and nose are crayon (note the white highlights). I think it helps to make the eyes and nose separately and glue them onto the body. It is easier to make the eyes the same size this way.
 It helps to plan this part holding up the paper to the painting.

 I thought this was finished . . .
But decided to add cut string to add some dimension to the whiskers.

This project is a nice way to integrate art and science and technology as kids choose different animals and research an unusual fact about their animal. With Google images to capture pictures of animals, the possibilities are endless:))
 The red-eyed tree frog shows its red eyes when it is startled.
This is crayon with water color resist.

This little chipmunk was at my brother's Montana house, gathering seeds for winter. The top example is marker eyes and nose with pencil sketch. The bottom example has colored pencil added.
This turkey is a marker sketch with watercolor and acrylic.
And finally, this reindeer is marker eyes and nose with oil pastel and baby oil for the rest. 
Did you know that, according to some reindeer, native to Arctic regions (scientific name of Rangifer tarandus), actually do have red noses due to a "dense array of blood vessels" located around the nose to regulate their body temperature in their extremely cold habitat?


  1. I love the seal's whiskers, but I think your turkey is my absolute favorite! Books like that are such a fun find! Kids love any book with good pics of animals, I think.

    1. Our kids are having fun drawing robins today. The only thing I have trouble with when students draw animals is their inclination to get caught up with making the animal look "exactly right" in their view. Here I am emphasizing "free" drawing and "interpretation" and somebody is near tears because the tip of her beak isn't quite right!! Argh*gh!! Anyway, I do love this book -- I shared the title with Mary (at Marymaking) because she does so many great charcoal and pastel animal heads with her students.

    2. One of the best animal drawing times we ever had in the classroom was several years back, when introducing Audubon to the kids. I found a parent who did taxidermy and had an extensive collection, and for a couple of weeks we had in my classroom a pheasant, a gray fox, a and a rather fierce looking fisher. The kids LOVED drawing from them directly, and each morning when I walked in the room I was totally freaked out at the fisher baring his teeth at me! For some dumb reason, I didn't take a single picture the whole time, not of the taxidermy animals, or of the kids' artwork, which was so incredible.