Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In the Art Room: Hump Day

After a long chat about fore-, middle- and background, we glued our camels into our Egyptian Landscape Collages. Here's a kid that really got the concept of objects diminishing in size.
What would be more appropriate to chat about on this here Hump Day then a one-humped camel (which are called domedary in case you didn't know) and his habitat? My first grade artists finished up these Egyptian Landscape Collages last week and I thought I'd share them with you. I've been doing this landscape collage lesson for years but always with a connection to our current theme of study. With Egypt being our theme this year, a desert landscape was what we created.

Image pulled from
We began our lesson with a nice long chat about sunrises and sets. We looked at photos, artist renditions, and discussed personal experiences before creating our own. Each student was given a 12" by 18" piece of paper folded in half lengthwise. On the top half of their paper, students painted their sunsets. During their second art class, we discussed the horizon line and how objects near that line appear to be smaller. With that in mind, we painted our clouds, small near the horizon, gradually growing in size as they approach the top of the paper.

Would you like one hump or two? The two-humped camels (called bactrian) are found in Central and East Asia. So apparently this one migrated to Egypt.

The following art class, we began the textured paper for the desert sands. This time we had a wee chat about creating tints of colors and textures. Each student was given a new sheet of 12" X 18" paper folded in half lengthwise. They were to create a tint of brown on each half of the paper and create a texture with the texture combs. If you don't happen to have texture combs, you can easily make them from stiff pieces of card stock with small notches cut out of the bottom.

It's just not a kid's landscape unless something is levitating. I totally dig the floating pyramids.

Once both paintings are complete, the collage process begins. Now, I've done this project many times and the first time I did it, the collage portion made me want to whack my head against the wall. So to save you some head-whacking, lemme tell you how I explain it to the kids:
  1. Tear a strip of paper off of your textured and tinted paper lengthwise.
  2. Put glue around the edges of that paper. Place it directly on your horizon line (this way, no white space can be seen between the sky and the horizon).
  3. Continue to tear strips and glue down. Overlap the brown papers so there are no white paper gaps.
  4. When you run out of paper at the bottom to glue the land to, you are finished!

This idea to create pyramids came from the book Dynamic Art Projects for Children. If you teach children, this book is a fantastic source for art project ideas.
Once the landscape was complete, we began creating objects for the land. We kept these bits and pieces in an envelope labeled with our name until we were ready to glue them down.

To create the pyramids, the kids folded a rectangle in half, cut across it diagonally, opened the paper and viola! we had a triangle. To make it look three-dimensional, we laid a piece of scrap paper over the triangle, drew a heavy brown line in oil pastel and then smeared the pastel toward the edge of the triangle. We used oil pastels gifted to us from Paul deMarrais. You must see his beautiful pastel landscapes (and pick up some of his hand crafted oil pastels!) here:
The How-to-Draw sheet that I made multiple copies of and had ready at the tables.
Once our pyramids were complete, we began our study of camels. We read a book about them, looked at this amazing stuffed one that our librarian happened to have and proceeded to draw together. I firmly believe in guided drawing (meaning, I draw something on my paper, the kids attempt to replicate on their paper). Art teachers that I have met are either firmly for or against this idea. My rational is this: you wouldn't hand a kid a math worksheet and just tell them to have at it without explaining to them the concepts first, right?
I love how the little camel's legs are firmly rooted as if to say, "I'm not taking another step! This walking on three legs business is just too complicated!"
So as we are drawing the camels together, we are looking for the shapes and lines within the object, discussing what we see and drawing them. After we have created one camel together, the students were given the above How-to Draw sheet and asked to draw as many camels as they'd like in their landscape. They used the sheet as their starting point and them proceeded to draw walking legs, multiple humps, etc. Again, we kept them in our envelope.
Another beautiful Egyptian sunset. I shared similar images with the kids to help them understand the concept of a silhouette.
On our final day, students were given back their envelopes and their landscapes. We had a chat about fore-, middle- and back ground, diminishing size and silhouettes. Then the students proceeded to assemble their collages. Finally, we were finished! I have this habit of creating the World's Longest Art Projects...but I have myself convinced that it's okay. We learned: painting, color mixing, texture, collage, drawing, shading, etc. So, it's really about five projects packed into one, right?
As I said earlier, I've done this project many times before. When we were learning about Japan, the landscape was vertical and filled with origami houses. One year we learned about Medieval times and created a green landscape full of castles. The original idea came from a SchoolArts article many years ago. That teacher had created a sea scape, using blue textured papers. The possibilities are endless-ish!


  1. I LOVE this lesson, especially the way you show the students how to shade the pyramid. I think I am going to do this lesson but I might use tissue paper for the sunset...hummm

  2. Loved this lesson so much! It took us a long time to complete, but soooo worth it!!!! I blogged about it here:
    Thanks again for a great project!!!!

  3. Anonymous11/11/2014

    Nice drawingz

  4. Thank you for such awesome explanations! Love this. Perfect...again!

  5. I love this project! I will be having my students give it a try in a few weeks. You did not mention how you got the multiple colors on the pyramids... did you use special paper or was that another step in the painting process? Also, when you mentioned the students folding the 12x18" paper in half and painting tints..Are they supposed to create two variations so that they stand out from each other when torn? Did you require them to use a different texture for each side? Thank you so much for explaining in detail on your blog, it is very helpful!

  6. Love this project! I have done something similar with a seascape for third grade. My first graders are doing Egypt for Multicultural Day, and this will perfectly tie in to what we have been working on, horizon line and creating depth.
    Thank you so much!


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