Wednesday, February 27, 2013

In the Art Room: Totally Tubular Castles

Unlike most students, this fourth grade dude opted for a moody evening sky. I love how well it works with this haunted looking castle.  
I recently discovered that if I need something, all I have to do is ask. For instance, I totally underestimated how much glue we would consume, er, use in the art room this year and only ordered one gallon. When that well ran dry, I simply sent out a school-wide email and within hours I had enough glue to put back together all of the dishes I've managed to break over the years. Thank goodness! My dishwasher is simply devouring those styrofoam plates!

  This is also how I managed to acquire the four million toilet paper tubes we used for this castle building project. The only slight draw back to asking for stuff: you just might receive far more than imagined (shoot me an email if you'd like to become the proud new owner of six garbage bags of toilet paper tubes! They make great gifts -- the expression on the recipent's face is always one of pure confusion which I like to interpret as joy).

Because our castle was apart of our study of Germany, I also incorporated some of Grimm's Fairy Tales into the mix. This young artist dude obviously was inspired by Rapunzel.
Okay, I'm dying to ask the artist about the story behind this drawing. Just why is the knight in shining armor high tailin' it out of town? Did he find out just how high maintenance those Rapunzels can be? "Climb up my hair, now braid my hair, make that a french braid, ouch, stop pulling, that hurts! Climb down my hair and get outta here you big ape!"
This artist had his work on display at our local art museum, The Frist Center for Visual Arts. Pretty sweet. My mom once taped my drawing to the fridge. Okay, I taped it to her fridge.

Just exactly how where these amazing castle pieces created by fourth graders, aside from a gallon of glue and a ton of tubes? Well, lemme tell you:
  1. Like I said, this project was a study of castles in Germany. We focused on Schloss Neuschwanstein (where you can see a super brief history here) and the landscape of Bavaria. During our first couple of art classes, we talked color theory and sky painting. 
2.  Next up: Cloud painting. We use a bristle brush to create the cloud texture with an emphasis that clouds have a flat bottom (hey, just like the art teacher!) and a fluffy top (ha! art teacher wishes). I also chat about showing space by painting the clouds near the horizon smaller and have them increase in size as they climb up the page.
3. After a big fat hairy chat about the landscape of southwestern Germany, we tackle the land. The students were given three pieces of 18" X 6" paper in the following colors: white, light green and green. They were instructed to crumble each piece, smooth it out, and rub water based oil pastels over each. Then each piece of paper was given a stroke of water with a paint brush to help blend the oil pastels. I have found the Crayola Portfolio Oil Pastels work best for this.

4. Once those were dry, each of the three papers were torn lengthwise. Some students opted to create three-dimensional mountains. This was done by taking a small torn piece of paper, coloring it heavily in oil pastels, laying it on the mountain and smearing the oil pastel from the paper to the mountain. From there, the land was glued to the sky painting.

5.  After all of that landscaping, we were finally ready for our castle building. I kept the directions very basic because I was curious to see what the students would come up with. What I did tell them was to cut a slit up the back of the tube and fold each cut line about 1/4". This would be where the glue would go to attach to the landscape. This is also how the gnomes were glued down in my project posted last week.

6.  For the top of the castle, short cuts were made and every other one was folded down. Easy.

7.  The kids came up with the idea of the draw bridge. When one got the idea to glue a "chain" to hold the bridge, the rest just had to do the same.
In case you mustache, this is Mustache Kingdom.
8.  Here's how they were shaping up after a couple of days. Once glued down, they were ready to be painted.
 9.  Students were to paint a base coat onto their castles. I offered them black paint but a handful wanted something a little more colorful. And sparkly. What's a castle without glitter, after all?
 10.  After the base coat was applied, students sponge painted gray paint onto their castle for a rock like texture. When one student used the back of his paint brush to create bricks, the rest of us all had a "why didn't I think of that?!" moment.
Yes, that's a flying PopTart/Taco/cat-with-a-rainbow-shooting-out-it's-butt thing. Not sure if that's from some cartoon or imagined. Most likely the effects of glue consumption.
 11.  Once castles were complete, the real fun began. Our castle either had to have a flag and/or a shield. After a chat about Grimm's Fairy Tales, I encouraged the addition of characters to the scene. Those that decided to not include characters and finished early wrote stories about their kingdom.
I'm kinda on this kick where I add that super fine glitter to all of the paint. You can see that shine in this pair of castles.
These kids have the funniest imaginations. I love their silliness.
Last photo, I swear! This little amazing artist had the genius idea to add puffy paint vines to her castle. I'm rather smitten with her dragons.
And there you have it! Many moons, tubes and a gallon o' glue later, you've got some of the coolest castles in all of Tennessee. Now, that I've got all the glue a girl could ever want, I'm thinking of sending out an email asking for coins. Tell me what you think of this:

"Dear Teachers, The students will be using loose change. Would you mind sending any and all pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters to the art room? Thank you!" 

With all these generous teachers of mine, this outta easily cover my Spring Break vacay to Daytona Beach. Art Teachers Gone Wild, here I come!


  1. Fabulous, as usual. Can you tell us how many art classes it took to do this project?

    1. Well, geez, I shoulda mentioned that! I just assume the rest of the world has hour long classes (ah, the thought!) whereas I have to break it all down into 30 minute baby bites. So! I'd say 2 classes for the sky, 1 for clouds, 2 for land, about 3 for castle building, 2 for painting and 2 for extras. 5 hours total? A lot, I know...but that's just how I roll.

    2. I always had 40-45 minute classes, a happy medium I guess. Do you see them more than once a week? I had my students twice in a 6-day cycle, which helps on long-term projects.

  2. Priceless! Those dragons and that Rapunzel hair! Loved every detail of this one.

  3. Haha, the flying poptart cat is Nyan Cat ( No idea what the taco is about, though :)

    These posts make me wish I was an art teacher... or that I was taking an art class. Either will do. ARTTTT. I forgot how much I missed it!

    1. You would be an awesome teacher! I need you as my sewing/knitting teacher as your skillz are nutz. Seriously. Lemme know how much you charge ;)

  4. Excellent castles! I just love the dragon chasing its tail, actually made me giggle fairly loudly in public! Awkward!! :) I too need to know why the knight is legging it? Did Rapunzul have a beard? Was she mean? Was there a tiny little mouse that he was afraid of? too many theories on this I'm afraid! I do so love seeing your little ones art work. Oh and the coin thing? Brilliant, what about asking for dollers for a paper mache project (see what I did there?) Nice!! Haha!

    Jerra xx

    1. Yes, that artist who creating the dragon chasing it's tail is quite awesome. You'd love her. She's very much her own person even at 9! Wow, the thought! it's taking me decades to be comfy with my own person ;) I know, i'll collect coins for a trip to the UK! Sounds lovely to me!

  5. I hope you see this as I have 2 important questions for you!
    1 - Did you just use regular ole school glue to attach TP rolls to paintings?
    and 2 - do you think you pull this off w/ 2nd grade?

    1. Yes, school glue...which took a lot of patience on the kids' side of things as the glue needs a minute to sit up. However, once the kids have left, I would tack down pieces that didn't stay put with a hit of hot glue. Now...2nd grade...I think they would enjoy it and I think it's doable. Just emphasize that they are strong enough to cut through the tube AND to fold a little "ledge" for the glue. I hope that helps! Please keep me posted!

  6. You really should publish a book with your project ideas or set up a website like Patty Palmer's Deep Space Sparkle. Your ideas are just fantastic!


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