Friday, November 26, 2010

stage fright and oil pastel landscapes

Well in the last week I have amassed over 100 followers who now look at my blog. I also got put on another top blog list. To some this might mean blogging me it means stage fright. I started this as a place to keep my lessons and vent. Then as a place to record for myself what the students artwork looked like from year to year. I feel like the more people who read my blog the more awesome it needs to be, the more insightful the dialog, the more impressive the projects and end result from my students. That is not really pressure I am looking for. Hence my stage fright. I'm also feeling more hesitant to talk about my personal struggles at my school. The more people reading my blog the higher the chance that someone will suss me out and rat me out to my school/my district? Then again, it seems of all the people who read my blog who show their personal info the closest person is in Seattle...well aside from a few of my personal friends. So I'm probably being paranoid. For now I will try to pretend/hope that only 20 people actually read my writing and the rest just scan my photos for lesson ideas and move along.

Onto the art. The oil pastels I can buy from my district wear house drive me nuts. I've always been unhappy with their lack of vibrancy, lack of coverage, how absurdly fast they are gone and how easily they break and the fact that they wont blend. To me a major part of using oil pastels is their ability to blend giving you new colors and a painterly effect. With my district ones one color just slides over the other or balls up. Very frustrating. To my great joy the kindergarten teacher was cleaning out her closets between conferences on Tuesday and found some boxes of Crayola oil pastels that a parent had brought in years ago. She did not want them and gave them to me. I promptly tried them out (the octagonal ones) Wow! I hate to be a brand whore but those Crayola's are a LOT better than the school's generic ones. I know what I will be using my next five weeks worth of Jo-anns coupons buying.

To the project at hand. It is a good standby for teaching landscape, warm and cool colors and using up the little bits of old oil pastels. I usually do this project with 3rd grade as they have the small motor control to draw with the glue. This lesson took 1 20 min session and 1 35 min session. We started by talking about foreground, mid ground and background. We made a practice sketch on white paper. We make a wave line at the bottom of the paper. Then we added hills/mountains for the mid ground. Finally we made a circle in the background and used concentric circles to fill the sky area.

After they made their practice sketch I gave each student their black paper and had them make their final drawing with pencil. I then showed them how to go over their lines with white glue. I emphasize that the tip of the glue bottle MUST touch the paper or the will get a blobby mess.
Set the papers FLAT to dry. During the next session I had the kids use the left over bits of oil pastel to color the for and mid ground in cool colors and the sky in warm colors. In the past I have let the kids choose to use cool colors in the sky and warm on the ground. Either way looks good. Lots of people use chalk pastels for this lesson, but then you have to spray to fix.


  1. I really have enjoyed reading your blog. Your admin. sounds a bit like mine in everything by the book. However I thought it funny that they allowed the 'boobie" bracelets. Since the 7th graders, or anyone that wears them for that matter, is so "concerned" about breast cancer I probably would have started signing them up to do a donations only car wash on a Sat. and would look forward to seeing them there to show their true support. Yeah, right. My mouth often gets me in trouble.

  2. I will give it to my VP on the boobie bracelets though. They have already stopped wearing them. Maybe one or two kids still have them on. I guess he is right, if we had made a big deal out of it the would have worn them longer out of rebellion. I still don't think they wore them to support cancer research though (especially when they started getting knock offs at the gas station for $1)