Monday, August 17, 2015

Why Doughnut Art??

Well, I could say that the reason for making doughnut art is to practice tinting and shading to create the illusion of depth; 

or I could say it is to reinforce the study of shapes; or I could say it is to experiment with color or different media; or learn about Wayne Thiebaud's art . . .  One could go on and on. 

One could also say that I wanted a good excuse to visit my favorite donut shop in Costa Mesa, California (right next to Newport Beach) and buy a bunch of their cinnamon crumb cake donuts -- YUM!! 

After using these as inspiration for art I would, of course, have to eat them. I actually make the trek to this shop (one hour drive each way) often, just to buy the donuts. I eat a few and then wrap the rest singly and freeze them for when the craving strikes. Seriously, these are JUST THE BEST!!!!

But I am digressing -- back to the ART.

This project starts by having students use a ruler to divide a square paper into fourths. That is a whole lesson in itself for some. (How to start measuring at the end of the ruler - or where the zero would be if we considered the ruler as a number line -, how to hold the ruler in 2 places so it doesn't wobble, how to measure and mark in two places so the lines are equal distances apart, etc).

(For younger students, or to accommodate time constraints, you could have each student draw just one donut instead of four.)

Then, using photos of donuts (or the real thing), kids sketch and shade their 4 donuts. Notice that each donut just about touches the edges so that the donut "fills the space." Sometimes I have students use a little photo icon of a light to remind them where the light source is and where the shadows will be as they are shading. (see here for example:

Then comes the color. Instead of using just one media I like to put out crayons, oil pastels, colored pencils and paint so that students can experiment with each. This is a good way to introduce use of materials at the beginning of the year and it is a good way for students to discover for themselves the variations that can be achieved with different media. Oil pastels definitely work best for making the "sprinkles" because of their strong color!

 Once these are done, they can be framed as individual pieces of art . . .

. . . or they can be combined into arrays as collaborative works. I actually like this because it opens up lots of possibilities for integrating with math!!
Here we have 4 X 4 = 16.

And here is 4 X 6 = 24 or 6 X 4 = 24 or "What fraction of the group is Jelly Donuts?" or "If you eat half of this box of donuts, how many are left?"  You get the idea:))

A great Literature Connection for this lesson would be to read Homer Price by Robert McCloskey.

 Just think of all the great math questions one could generate with this illustration!! I can remember hearing this story as a read aloud in, I think, my own 4th grade classroom decades ago!!!
On that note, I think it is time for me to go eat a doughnut or two:))


  1. Such a good post! (And those cinnamon crumb cake donuts look pretty good too! Around here, especially in the fall, the preferred donut is a fresh cider donut -with cinnamon - from the shop at the apple orchard.)

    Anyhow - about your post - I recently taught a couple of art teacher workshops integrating math, and it amazed me how much math scares many art teachers. We talked about so many of the same things as you - how to read a ruler (and find the zero), however to mark off even intervals, and even how to hold the ruler in place to trace a straight line! You've touched on so many math concepts that should be easily understood and related by art teachers, with this one simple lesson. Thank you!

  2. Thanks so much, Phyl. Oh my gosh, those apple cider donuts sound AMAZING!!!
    This year I am going to be doing some math coaching at school, so I guess I have math on the brain!!

  3. I love the pop art-esque feel to these and the opportunity to explore some different techniques and mediums!

  4. Your donuts look scrumptious! Love the use of different media. Did you venture down behind "the orange curtain" just for those delicious looking cinnamon crumb donuts? I better give that spot a try!

  5. Love this project! I'm going to do this with my summer art campers this year! Thank you!!!

    1. Hope you have fun with it. I had forgotten how much the kids loved "decorating" their donuts!!