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.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Candy Still Life: Prismacolor Colored Pencils and Denatured Alcohol

My students started out by arranging their candy on a small blank index card. I required them to overlap the pieces of candy at least three times and to create an arrangement that went off the edge of the card on at least three sides. Each piece of candy had to either touch or overlap another piece of candy. They then took a photograph of their work with their cell phones so they could remember the set up for the next class.

They then enlarged the design on to 9"x 12" drawing paper. If a piece of candy touched the corner of the index card, students knew to enlarge it and draw it in the corner of their larger paper. If a lollipop stick went off the edge of the card in the middle of the right side of the card, they located the same spot on the larger paper before drawing it. In this way, they were able to scale their drawing up without needing to do any measuring.  

The video below demonstrates how to shade in the drawing, by following the three dimensional forms and using highlights, mid-tones and shadows.

The video below shows how to use Prismacolor colored pencils and denatured alcohol to add color to the shaded drawing. This technique does not work with other brands of colored pencil because they contain too much wax. It also doesn't work with isopropyl rubbing alcohol. You can get denatured alcohol at a hardware store.

Warning: denatured alcohol is flammable. Do not smoke in your studio or use candles while you are using it. It is also poisonous to drink, just like rubbing alcohol. Protect young children and pets by not leaving any open containers unattended. Only pour a small amount at a time and use Q-tips to spread it. Alternatively, you can dip a small part of a paper towel into the alcohol and wrap it around your finger. Then use it to blend the prismacolor. It is not poisonous to touch but it will dry your skin, so you may want to apply some lotion to your hands after you are done.

Overlay two colors and then blend them using  a paper towel wrapped around your finger and dipped in alcohol. The more thickly you apply the color, the more the colors will blend. Color lightly over both the light and shadow areas and use a Q-tip dipped in alcohol to smooth out the pencil marks. The shadows will be visible through the transparent colored pencil. When you are done, use a white pencil to re-establish the highlights. Watch the demonstration in the video to get more ideas. Paint brushes do not work particularly well with this technique because the alcohol evaporates too quickly.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Turkey With Dressing

Instructions: Please download this image of a turkey. To download a full sized version, click on the image below and open it in a new window, then hover your mouse over the turkey and click on the plus icon. Open the turkey in Photoshop, unlock the background layer to create 'layer 0' and delete the white background.

Your assignment is to dress the turkey. You may create an outfit for the turkey by finding images of clothing on the internet, re-sizing them and using the transform feature to warp them so that it looks as if the turkey is wearing them. You should also draw your own clothing and accessories to supplement the outfit. Each article of clothing should go in its own layer and you should name the layers accordingly to avoid confusion.

You decide if the turkey is male or female. You decide where the turkey is going and how it should be dressed for the occasion. 

The turkey must be fully dressed, including shoes and accessories. Next, surf the internet or your phone camera roll for a suitable background for your turkey. You may draw the background or use a photograph that you took yourself or one downloaded from an image search. 
Create a Google Doc and paste the URL of every picture you use from the web with a thumbnail of the image and a brief description of the picture and how you used it.
For instance: 
to give my turkey a sporty active look"

"I wanted my turkey to go out on the town so I used this picture of New York City that I found at https://pixabay.com/en/new-york-skyline-new-york-city-1590175/  for my background"

This doc will function as both your artist statement and your bibliography. Turn it in when you turn in your completed turkeys to Google classroom. Your final turkey should be 8"x10" and submitted in PNG format.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Fruit with Faces Photoshop Lesson

Anyone can use the lasso tool to cut out facial features, paste them on top of a picture of a piece of fruit in Photoshop and try to claim that they have fulfilled this assignment. 

The real challenge is to create a convincing enough optical illusion that your audience does a double take, followed by a 'Wow! Cool! How'd they do that?' In this tutorial I will teach you how to warp facial features so that they look like they curve around the fruit and seem to truly belong there. I will teach you how to make the features look like they are actually emerging from or embedded in the fruit.

Below are two video tutorials that give step by step instructions for this assignment. I have also included screenshots with descriptions of key steps in the process.

Video 1: Adding the mouth

Video 2: Adding the eyes and nose

Take a photograph of a piece of fruit with a cell phone. Have a friend take a photo of you (or take a selfie)
Upload both images to the computer and then open them in Photoshop. Use the Magic Lasso tool to cut out your mouth. It's okay if you leave a little extra skin around the mouth. Then paste the mouth into the fruit picture.
Use the move tool to position the mouth over the fruit.
Click Transform, Scale to resize the mouth
Experiment with all the transform options to see what works best. I found that the most useful transform option was 'warp' because it allowed me to make the mouth actually look like it was the same roundness as the fruit.
Go to the layer that has the apple in it and click on the clone stamp. Then position the cursor on the apple right underneath the edge of the mouth and click on the clone stamp, while simultaneously holding down the 'alt' key. This will select the area you want cloned (the surface of the apple). Next, go to the layer that has the mouth and draw with the clone stamp along the edge of the mouth to hide the skin and make it look like the mouth is literally inside the apple. You can adjust the thickness of the clone stamp the exact same way you adjust the thickness of your paint brush.   
Use the burn tool to make the shadows on the mouth match the shadows on the apple.

Use the dodge tool to make the highlights on the mouth match align with the highlights on the apple.

The instructions for adding the nose and eyes are pretty much the same as those for adding the mouth, with one exception. You want the mouth and eyes to be a different color than the fruit, but the nose should match the peel of the fruit as closely as possible. 

After adding the nose layer, I experimented with the different filter layers (visible over the filter window). Normally the layer filter is set to 'normal'. However, if you click on the world 'Normal' a pop up menu appears and you can experiment with different choices. The one that worked best for me is 'Overlay'. You can also mess around with the layer opacity, also located near the layer menu.
Next, use the clone stamp to hide the edges of the nose, just as you did with the mouth.

Finally, use the burn tool to add shadows and the dodge tool (looks like a little lollipop) to add highlights and voila! Faces on fruit:

A word about setting up studio lighting. Use a light colored surface, such as a piece of paper. Set up two lights opposite each other so that they cancel each other out and form minimal shadows or hot spots. 

I required my students to take their own photos of fruit with their cell phones.

Student Art Gallery

Avocado Face by Jarvis Batista
Gourd Face by Katherine Valdez

Potato Head by Johanna Leonardo

Annoying Orange by Paulino Gomez