Art Auction Projects

For seven years I’ve been helping the schools where I’ve taught with their annual auction fundraisers.  At my school in Nashville, we have an auction each spring and the highlight is the eight classes’ collaborative art pieces that are sold via live auction (very exciting).  Here are some of my favorite pieces from over the years, with a few steps for how to recreate them.  I think the best projects have an elegant color palette or composition, but show the mark of the child (i.e. they did more than just finger prints- however that’s pretty much unavoidable with infant – two year olds).  Another characteristic I love is when they incorporate elements from the Montessori curriculum.  ** Many of these were not my idea!  Some come from Pinterest or my colleagues’ brilliant imaginations- I just help the kids create them.

PRO TIP: Have the auction pieces professionally framed!  Download my framing guide here!

Made by 3-6 year olds.  You can make up a composition or use any painting from history as a reference!  This is especially fun if the children have been learning about the artist.  Inspired by Matisse’s Still Life, Flowers and Fruit

  1. Lightly (very lightly) sketch the large shapes on a colored piece of pastel paper
  2. Working with one child at a time, show them the example and ask which part they’d like to do (until close to the end when only a few areas are left)
  3. Help them select the appropriate chalk pastel color, and remind them what part/how they will add color to the group drawing

This one was made by 2 year olds!  Our school had just made a beautiful vegetable garden, so we had some veggie themed pieces at the auction.

  1. Give children plenty of time to cut the mosaic pieces (in the Montessori classroom the teacher added paint chip cutting work to the art shelf about two weeks before we needed to glue these)
  2. Have children paint the background of a canvas panel (or four) and let it dry, then lightly draw the shape of the veggies so you’ll know what color to glue where
  3. Working with one or two children and a very small brush, let them paint a small section of mod podge (about the size of a quarter) and add a mosaic piece (or a few if there is still glue showing), then paint mod podge on top
  4. Once it is mostly finished, the teacher can cut some specific pieces to fill in the last empty cracks

Made by 3-6 year olds.  This one doesn’t necessarily have the “mark” of the child, but they sure made all of it and loved every minute.  It was one of my all time favorite processes because I brought the loom and yarn into the classroom each time we worked on it and kids would gather around and try to pet the soft yarn.  When I cut extra pieces off for trash they would ‘steal’ them and sneak them into their backpacks.  It was really fun to see this one come together and the colors were inspired by March Chagall’s stained glass windows.  I recommend choosing a color palette carefully!

  1. Use this video and maybe this loom (we loved it, especially the dowels that prevent the sides from being pulled to tight) to get started
  2. Continue adding yarn for what seems like forever 😉
  3. Use this video to learn how to finish/tie off yarn and add hanger (dowels are easy to find at Michael’s and cut with a little gardening saw- you can also order fancy ones from Etsy)

Inspired by the sun celebration mat in Montessori schools.

  1. Kids use acrylic paint to add color to the background (we used birch cradled canvas panels)
  2. With recycled paper, kids cut mosaic pieces, and since this one is made by 3-6 year olds, they were able to cut more specific shapes than the toddlers in the veggie collage
  3. Using mod podge, arrange and glue all the pieces down!

Inspired by the Montessori puzzle maps and pin punching works.

  1. Using canvas paper, kids paint whole sheets in colors that you like or that match the puzzle maps
  2. Either trace the continents from the puzzle onto the paper (with pencil), or use copies for pin punching and tape them over the painted paper
  3. Kids pin punch the continents
  4. Use yes paste to glue to a background (we used reclaimed wood)- if you use a more traditional background you could use mod podge instead

  1. Know someone in the tree business so you can get some great stumps 😉
  2. Mandala designs are the easiest with this round stump situation- you can draw something out or let the kids organically create one
  3. Use mosaic tiles and mosaic glue with a paintbrush as they work (it’s helpful to have the colors sorted) ** make sure they are gluing right side up (tiles have a back!)
  4. Add grout- this one is easy to work with, and then when it dries wipe up the tiles

Also inspired by our new (then) school garden.

  1. You need a simple white fabric and I recommend doing a small test of the whole process before having the kids begin- I bought just a simple cotton from Walmart…it may have been muslin (can’t remember- do a little test!)
  2. Teacher uses gel glue to draw the veggies (everywhere you see a white line or dot was gel glue)
  3. Once dry, kids can begin painting (one or a few at a time) with watered down acrylic paints
  4. Once all paint is totally dry, run under luke-warm water to dissolve glue
  5. Iron once it’s dry again

Paper Mache Animal Heads

Materials: pencil, paper, chip board or cardboard, wire, masking tape, bowl, water, flour, newspaper or recycled copy paper, tempera or acrylic paint, (I love these, especially if you can find the neon colors!)

  1. have pictures available of a variety of animals or an ipad/printer for viewing them as children decide which animal to be inspired by (you could also tie this in to a culture or geography-inspired unit and study specific animals)
  2. draw animal face/head with pencil- think about all the parts of the face and details for each part
  3. using the cardboard as a base (I cut the pieces into about 5 inch rectangles (you could also do ovals, or U shapes kind of like little shields) crumble newspaper to create the head form and any snout/ears/etc.
  4. tape the pieces together, and use wire as needed. make sure all is securely taped to your base
  5. trim any extra cardboard (especially if you have corners sticking out) from the base
  6. add paper mache (aboouuut 1 tablespoon of flour to 1/2 cup of water) all over the newspaper/wire form by dipping 1 inch (doesn’t need to be exact) strips of copy or newspaper into flour+water mixture, sliding fingers down the strip to get excess water off, and draping+pressing onto the form
  7. repeat until front, sides, and back of form are covered in paper mache
  8. when dry, you can add paint
  9. add a small screw eye to a discrete place near the base so that you can hang the animal flush with the wall

*I also showed the children examples of Abigail Brown’s paper mache animal heads

Toy Drawings from Life

Materials: toys, white paper (9×12 or so), colored pencils, black drawing tool such as a china marker

  1. set toys out at each spot along with paper and pencils
  2. model the elements of a drawing as well as drawing one of the toys using those elements (straight line, angled line, curved line, closed dot, opened dot)
  3. call children one by one to choose a toy (have extras in case the last few children don’t like the last available toys)
  4. begin observational drawings of the toys with black pencil, then add color- children can have their toys be sitting on the table like a still life or can include an imagined setting

Salt Drawings

Materials: chipboard or cardboard (I use the back of art paper pads), chalk pastels, white glue, salt, liquid droppers, liquid watercolors, cups or muffin/paint tray

  1. color chip board with chalk pastels, just to add background color!  could plan something fancy like using only cool colors with chalk and warm with watercolors, but I just let them choose from all
  2. drip glue designs (older kids could make shapes/pictures) on chip board
  3. sprinkle salt all over glue, then shake excess in trash
  4. drip liquid watercolors carefully onto salt, and watch it spread along the salt trail magically 🙂

Hot Air Balloons

So, I’m obsessed with the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque.  My husband and I went in October (book yourself a ticket for next year ASAP), and absolutely loved it- the festival, and New Mexico in general.  We also went to Ghost Ranch, where Georgia O’Keeffe visited and painted (and eventually bought a home near), so stay tuned for a few O’Keeffe-inspired lessons too.  Here is a paper mache hot air balloon lesson, complete with pics from our trip to show your students!  I can’t figure out how to upload a video I created, so contact me through my site if you’d like me to send it to you (it shows the balloons in action, being inflated, and landing).

Materials

bowl, water, flour, balloon, tempera paint, (I love these, especially if you can find the neon colors!), newspaper or recycled copy paper, string, berry basket (I bought these), OPTIONAL–> masking tape, cup, fishing wire, brad

  1. mix flour and water in a bowl- I have never measured this and it has always worked (sorry!), but it’s aboouut 1 tablespoon of flour to 1/2 cup of water
  2. cut papers into about one inch strips (can be any length, for little hands I wouldn’t do larger than 12 inches)
  3. blow up balloon as big as you want! and if you need to keep it still and from rolling, tape it to a disposable (or not) cup or bowl as a stand
  4. dip a strip into the mixture, scoot extra mixture down off of strip so that it drips back into bowl, and drape the wet strip onto the balloon
  5. repeat until the whole balloon is covered (maybe even twice, definitely some parts overlapping)
  6. let it dry! should take about 8 hours or overnight
  7. paint, and let that dry
  8. attach the basket – I wrapped the string around masking tape, taped that inside the ballon, then covered the masking tape with duct tape and tied the loose end to the basket
  9. if you want to hang them from the ceiling, you can push a brad through the top and use fishing wire (tied around the brad) so it looks like it’s floating

*Neon tempera paints make this really cute.  You can talk with the children about different designs and patterns ahead of time, using my pictures (scroll down) as inspiration.  Also, when I used newspaper I actually painted them with a coat of white chalk paint so the temperas would have a fresh bright base.  With the white recycled copy paper, there was no need so that saved some time and paint.

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The fiesta lasts a whole week and starts each day with “Dawn Patrol,” where the first balloons take off before sunrise and they GLOW.  It’s … so beautiful.

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My kids loved seeing the different kinds of balloons, as well as learning about the gondolas (the baskets hanging from each balloon).  There is so much you could do with this lesson- the gondolas are hand-woven with wicker so you could also incorporate weaving.

It was wild watching so many trucks just drive through the open field (which was full of festival-goers), unload, ask people to scoot back, and inflate their balloons!  Balloon Fiesta forever!

 

Easy Printmaking

Materials:  plastic baggies cut in half (or other piece of flat plastic), water soluble block printing ink, paint brushes, white paper, brayers

  1. paint a picture or design on the plastic bag with inks
  2. press face-down onto paper
  3. roll over the baggie with a brayer to press ink onto paper, then peel off
  4. repeat to make a “ghost print” or make a new design on a clean baggie and continue printing on the large paper as many times as you’d like!

Imagination Drawings

Materials:  large white paper, bingo daubers or dot markers (the Sunsational brand is much brighter than Do A Dot, and the sponges don’t break as easily), oil pastels, glitter (I really would only use the kind in little shakers and make sure the lid is taped on!), collage papers or foam shapes, plastic gemstones, scissors, glue sticks, white glue, glue brushes, printed black and white pictures of each child’s face

This is inspired by Hatch art studio as seen on Art Bar.  The super-fun prompt is “What does your imagination look like?”  You can have children try and describe what an imagination is, or also ask: If you close your eyes, what do you imagine?  What colors, shapes, or pictures represent your imagination?

  1. decorate the whole white paper – use oil pastels and daubers first so you don’t get glue from collaging and glitter in your dauber sponges
  2. for glitter, paint white glue in a small section, then sprinkle glitter (only on wet glue)- kids can shake extra glue into the trash
  3. try to keep a small section blank around the bottom of the paper for the face, and when the whole paper is ready add glue with the glue stick to the back of the cut-out face and stick on
  4. definitely hang up on a wall 🙂

Easy Sculptures

flower arrangement foam or styrofoam cut in small cubes, pipe cleaners of different colors and lengths, beads, foam paper, scissors

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  1. push a pipe cleaner into the styrofoam- can leave straight, or bend into different types of lines, can also poke the second end into the styrofoam too
  2. decorate with beads
  3. cut shapes from foam paper and push them onto pipe cleaner like a bead
  4. repeat!

These are so simple and the children are really engaged in the process.  Michael’s sells little jewelry boxes and the last time I did this with kids, I cut the foam to fit inside the box for a finished touch.  (I also bought a styrofoam cutter but it is possible to cut with a knife!)

Frozen Watercolors

liquid watercolors, popsicle sticks, ice trays, watercolor paper, salt

This is a fun summer (or any time!) activity, especially if there are real popsicles involved as a reward for making great art!

  1. freeze liquid watercolors (can dilute with water) in ice trays, and after about 15 minutes in freezer put a popsicle stick in each ice cube hole
  2. place watercolor popsicles (not for licking!) on a tray since they will slowly start melting
  3. let children choose from the different colors and draw on their papers- as time goes by, the paint will melt and release more and more color
  4. LAST step is to sprinkle salt (not piles, sprinkles) on the wet paint and then be amazed when they are dry! (you can shake off salt into trash)

Contact Paper Mural

contact paper, masking tape, windows if you have them handy 😉 , sequins, tissue paper shapes, decorative paper shapes

  1. pre-cut tissue and decorative papers into shapes- I did rectangles, squares, and triangles, and with the decorative papers I also made some circles with a punch
  2. place all items in little bins/bowls on a table (or floor) near the windows (or just spread them all over the table…)
  3. cut contact paper to fit window, and peel open
  4. tape contact paper sticky side out to the window
  5. add beautiful shapes!
  6. seal with either a second piece of contact paper or a piece of clear plastic film (transparency sheet)
  7. trim edges if needed, and send home with kids – for these, I cut each piece in half so each child could take one home