Welcome to The Helpful Art Teacher, an interdisciplinary website linking visual arts to math, social studies, science and language arts.

Learning how to draw means learning to see. A good art lesson teaches us not only to create but to look at, think about and understand our world through art.

Please click on my page to see my personal artwork and artist statement: http://thehelpfulartteacher.blogspot.com/p/the-art-of-rachel-wintembe.html

Please contact me at thehelpfulartteacher@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Draw a Bird Day:STEAM in the middle school art room Using science to teach art


In the 1800's naturalists used their scientific knowledge to draw birds with great detail. If I taught my students to observe like naturalists would it make them better artists? The answer turned out to be yes.

Each one of my students drew a bird and cut it out for our 'Draw a Bird Day' group mural project. I started out by video taping birds in pet stores, taking a walk outside with binoculars and photographing my father in law's pet parrots. In addition to looking at my photographs and videos, my students and I examined bird paintings by the naturalist artists John Gould (1804-1881) and John J. Audubon (1785–1851) in the hopes of observing the common characteristics of all flying birds.  

First we watched this movie to learn how birds fly:



After making our observations, we turned to the US Fish and Wildlife Service Feather Atlas to find out more about the common characteristics of all flying birds. Using the information we gathered I created this worksheet:

 Students were given the option of inventing their own imaginary birds, drawing realistic birds, or creating whimsical cartoon birds, using the guidelines on the worksheet above. They were able to use the iPads in our classroom to look at John J. Audubon's classic book, 'Birds of America' and John Gould's stunning bird illustrations. Most students elected to invent their own birds and color them in a whimsical fashion. 


I created this time lapse video on my cell phone to demonstrate how students can use their new found knowledge to create their own birds.  



Before we colored our drawings we reviewed basic color mixing using the Bird Color Wheel


I showed my classes my own bird color wheel painting 
and encouraged them to experiment with blending colors. Since we would be cutting our pictures out, they were free to experiment with color combinations on the rest of the paper before deciding how to complete their birds. We used pastels and mixed the colors with tissue paper. I created a time lapse video using iMovie on my cell phone to demonstrate how to follow the direction of the bird's feathers and how to layer and blend the pastels.




As the students cut their birds out, I collected them in pocket folders to keep them safe. My sixth graders used fan brushes and acrylic paint to create clouds after I hung blue paper in the hall way. My 8th graders created giant trees to add to the mural and my 7th graders added grass. Early finishers in every class created flowers to create a beautiful environment for our birds to land. We were all set for the spring bird migration.




We hung our murals in the hallway near the cafeteria to insure that the whole school had a chance to enjoy the artwork. Several 6th graders gave up their recess in order to hang the trees and birds using loops of masking tape. My only rule was that everyone's artwork had to be included.














Finally, I typed up an explanation of our project and hung it in the corridor where it became a handy spot for our birds to rest from their long migration.




Who was John Gould and how did he inspire my students?
John Gould (1804 – 1881) was an English ornithologist and bird artist. He published many illustrated books on birds and is considered the father of bird study in Australia. His identification of the birds, now nicknamed "Darwin's finches", played a role in the inception of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. Gould's work is referenced in Charles Darwin's book, On the Origin of Species. Source:
All of Gould's books and drawings are in the public domain and available for free on the Internet.
Here are a few of his illustrations, drawn in the age before color photography,when naturalists could rely only on their pencils and the power of observation:

http://www.e-rara.ch/nev_r/content/pageview/2221191




For more information and resources on drawing and painting birds, please visit my earlier article on this subject: 
On Painting Birds, by clicking here.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

How to write and illustrate your own stories

An interdisciplinary lesson in collaboration with 6th grade language arts teacher Jessica Beerman
How did these students write and illustrate these amazing stories? This article will show you how to replicate these amazing results in your own classroom. 




Instructional Drawing videos by Mrs. Wintemberg














Directions for creating hand made books:

Student Art Gallery

Front cover, drawn by Anthony

 The back cover is WonderDog's cape

 Arianna's Illustration

Ayendy's Illustration
 Esmerelda, Itzel, Sheila and Jordan were so excited about their story that they actually stayed after school to type it.






Ethan and Emmanuel created these wonderful figure drawings 






Izaac, Alysa and Ronald created the wonderful illustrations below




Jesus Morales created the illustrations for the wonderful book below:







Friday, February 13, 2015

A garden of rhythmic lines




Illustration For Lady Of The Lake by Aubrey Beardsley



Rhythmic Line Design Instructions

1)   Start at the edge of the page or at a line you already drew.
2)   End at the edge of the page or at a line you already drew.
3)   When you get to a line you already drew, stop and go under it and then continue on the other side. DO NOT go over or through anything that you have already drawn. Going underneath instead will give your picture a beautiful sense of depth. It will also make your picture look like you cared about it and took your time.
4)   Repeat each line six times, putting each line next to the previous one. If you do this correctly your line designs will look like little roads. They will move together in a rhythmic pattern but they will not touch each other.
5)   Fill the page.
6)   Vary the width of your lines. If you put thicker lines in some areas and thinner lines in other areas your picture can take on a stunning 3-D effect.
7)   Take your time over your work and create something that you would be proud to hang up or to show your parents and teachers. The longer you take over your work and the more detail you include the longer people will take looking at your work and the more they will enjoy looking at it.



When you are done creating your rhythmic line design try drawing a magical imaginary garden, densely packed with different types of rhythmic, repeating lines.

Below are some of the imaginary gardens I have created using rhythmic line designs













 Here are some vintage illustrations of Edgar Allan Poe stories by the artist Harry Clarke. How many different types of rhythmic lines, patterns and textures does he use? When he repeats a line pattern over and over, it gives his drawing unity. When he uses many different types of patterns, lines and textures, it gives his pictures variety. To learn more about this artist, click on the link below:



Below is a fantasy drawing filled with rhythmic lines
 by Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss)




Illustration For Lady Of The Lake by Aubrey Beardsley



How to create a rhythmic line garden of your own:


Some animals for your garden: 
Create a spring snake using rhythmic lines




STUDENT ART GALLERY