Sunday, February 5, 2017


Many Art I students or absolute beginners at the high school level require a great deal of practice when learning how to shade forms. That said, I’ve assigned to eighth graders the two exercises described here. And nearly every one of them enjoyed triumph with both! Performing the tasks required of them, my students, um, drew on their knowledge of essential art concepts.
It was fun to go loopy and bundle up, too!   
how-to, art+element
This might be too challenging for fifth or sixth graders.
GETTING STARTED   Before class, I had cut white drawing paper into 4.5” x 12” strips, one for everybody. Using transparent tape, I affixed one end of a paper strip to a drawing board to show the students how to start. Then I twisted or curved the strip toward the center and fastened that portion down, too. A final bump or curl, taped down at the paper’s end, makes the form even more interesting. I asked the class to create their own unique, "unboring" forms directly on their desks, but to leave work space on their desks for themselves!  

Before my demonstration on the board, we held a discussion on the element of form, with emphasis on its three-dimensionality and the use of light and dark to depict that. Then I drew an enlarged sketch (outlines only) of my bendy, taped-down example for everyone to see.

I passed around several finished works to exemplify our objective. My own shading on a whiteboard didn’t have the quality I wanted, so I used a piece of 18” x 24” white drawing paper and charcoal instead. Nattering away about values, gradations, and hills and valleys, I smeared charcoal from dark to light to transform my outline drawing into a form with mass. Then the kids began their own works with soft pencils, and I was able to walk the aisles to assist. I directed the artists to include the cast shadow on their desks, to ground their subject.
Guhin, art+blog
A form that takes up space!
I reminded the students to try to use their blackest blacks and their lightest grays—a full range of values. The class members were reminded of several fundamentals with the “wavy strip” lesson. ART TIP: Imaginative kids might poke a hole in their paper forms. I had one who even left a pencil in!

A BUNDLE OF FUN The second, related activity is best for another day, especially if class time is only 40 minutes or so. I had been given scraps of flexible foam rubber padding, so I shared a piece with each student. I instructed them to squeeze and squash their foam any way they wanted, and then tie a piece of string tightly around the bunched-up form.
tute, how-to, draw, form
Charcoal and white chalk on blue paper.
They could roll it, pinch it, and fold it any which way before tying it into an interesting form, but they should keep in mind that they would be drawing the bundle! If it was terribly complex, they could be quite challenged.

WE BEGAN very lightly with charcoal pencils on light blue construction paper.  But you could use any toned paper (not too dark), even brown wrapping paper! Following the contours of their bundles with their eyes, class members completed line drawings first.

Then we modeled the sketches with shading, just as we had done in pencil shading the drawings of the wavy paper strips. Again, including in their drawing the shadow cast on their desks was part of my message. “It helps to anchor the drawn form to the page.”
Guhin, MixedMediaManic
Ask a carpet-layer or re-upholsterer for foam scraps!
Lastly, here’s the reason for the toned paper: We added highlights anywhere the light would strike, especially the rounded tops of bulges. That finishing touch helped to illustrate the volume of the forms very well.
  • White and toned drawing paper
  • Soft drawing pencils
  • Transparent tape
  •  Charcoal pencils
  • Upholstery foam scraps or carpet foam padding
  • String or rubber bands
  • White chalk or white pastels
LEARNING OBJECTIVES: to earn the importance of drawing what they see by using the elements of form and value, & to create a realistic work of art presenting the illusion of mass.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

BOOK ART: Anyone Can Do It!

I'm not one to fold book pages into fabulous, complicated designs, but I admire those who do.

Guhin, mixed-media This is a terrific way to create beauty from unloved, unwanted books.

I'm the free-form type, decidedly not methodical, so the project detailed below was just my style.

I filled a large pan with a little acrylic medium and a lot of water.  White glue would be a good substitute for the medium. I also collected thin pencils, thicker ones, and fat rolls of waxed paper. These would serve as armatures. Remove hard covers from the book unless you want a straight "stem."
mixed-media, art+blog
Oh, but wait, there's more!
Dipping pages--still attached--into the pan (sometimes just one or two, sometimes more!), I wetted them, removed from pan, and rolled. I varied the directions and amount of curve, as you can see in the photo above. And yes, this takes awhile, since I only recommend doing a few sections at a time. I left the supports inside until dry, but the diluted mixture dries fast. 
art+blog, mixed-media
Took a couple of days, but so fun and simple to do!

I used spray paint and a touch of brushed-on acrylic paint on  mine. Then I photographed it from above. I suggest either white, gray, or black as a background.

Here's another idea to try, if you're more precise and meticulous than I: a butterfly!

                (Art teachers might find discarded books and try this with fast-working kids who always seem to need more to do. If not photographed with a digital camera, try scanning.)

Thursday, January 19, 2017


This simple non-objective painting (done with acrylics) needed a finishing element or two, so I
painted a piece of sewing thread and dropped
it onto the surface in a couple of places.
painting, P.Guhin
Pretty much primary colors!
Originally intended as a background for collage, and who knows?
Maybe I'll still use it that way!   Here's a link to a more interesting mixed-media work I did with the same thread method:

Sunday, December 25, 2016


Duplicate prints and downright bad shots
 can be put to good use...I've said it before.
In this first example, a large print served as the support (or background, if you will). Then I found other, smaller prints to cut up and arrange to make the work more interesting. Do try this, but only glue the pieces down when you're happy with the composition. I like the complementary colors together.

collage, montage
Good method for hiding the worst parts!
This next idea is the "more" mentioned in this post's title. My so-called example below is a straight photograph, with no manipulation or mixed-media. But it gave me an idea! Make your own "trellis" with thin chart tape, fine-line tape, or other colored tape! So easy, and yet you can be as creative as you wish.
how-to, tutorial
Copyright Paula Guhin
Our third photograph has been manipulated a great deal!
It's a weaving, of course, with yarns, wallpaper strips, and more.
I worked around the figure...she's not simply pasted on top!

I've featured other fun photo projects on this blog. Check out this photocopy fun page and this painted collage post. Also another painted collage page here. AND 3 photomontages, fun and cool.
Happy New Year, everyone!

Friday, December 16, 2016


They go together, don't they? The holiday spirit just makes me glow.

A very gifted gal gave us a kind mention in her latest blog post, at
Meera Rao was such a peach to take part in a post here some time ago, and I can't say enough good things. Take a peek at her lovely poinsettia painting below:
painting, mixed-media 
In the same post, she also experimented with some Pebeo paints, which I just bought myself and haven't yet used. Her result is very mixed-media and fantastic!
Thanks, Meera, for your generosity!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Assemblage, The Legend of Theseus

The myth of the Minotaur always fascinated me, and I had this boy doll, see. Found a single bookend (not a pair, mind you!) with a bull on it, and then a wooden shelf-hanging thing at the thrift shop. I had to take out one of the shelves, then add my very own "grotto" or cave from the labyrinth. Foam insulation from a can did the trick.
Some cutting, glueing, and painting ensued, as well as a few Halloween decorations and yes, those tiny swords that spear olives in a bar! Not that I drink or anything, heh heh.

copyrighted, art+blog
Lots of texture!
This can be wall-hung or free-standing. Why not try your own interpretation of a myth or legend? Pick one that really inspires you!

Friday, November 25, 2016


photo, how-to, mixed-media-manic
Scratched first, then the color was enhanced with markers.
Got any old processed prints that just aren't the best? Did'ja go through old albums with relatives at Thanksgiving (or maybe you WILL, at Christmas), and found or will find some duplicates or just plain bad shots? Here's some ways to have PHUN WITH PHOTOS! Even with kids (see my caveat below)! One or two can even be done with inkjet prints, while a couple of others require commercially-processed pics.

First, for the scratching activity (the photo above with the leaded glass), dip a processed print in lukewarm water about a minute, blot, and use scratch tools or even sandpaper on the parts you wish to lighten or remove. If the emulsion hardens too quickly, just run warm water over the picture again.
If you want, add color back in with markers, watercolors, or inks. This project is a great way to re-work photos that contain distracting elements! Here's a link to another scratched example.

Next, bleaching the print is best done on a commercially-printed photo, since rinsing afterward is a good idea. Inkjet prints would run with a water rinse.) Try a bleach pen if you want to write words or numbers or symbols. Then wipe with a damp paper towel, rinse under water, and dry. Young children should not attempt this project.
tute, how-to, mixedmediamanic
Shot inside an old house to "frame."
In the photo above, there was just too much dark and my view wasn't great anyway.
BUT, here's another way to use household laundry bleach with photos! Mix a solution with half water, half Hilex in a tray. Dip part of the photo in and watch the colors change! You can even protect parts of the photo with a wax resist product first if desired, and then dip the entire thing into the tray of bleach solution. See example below. Also see "Dodg" at this link.

tutorial, photos, Guhin
Partially bleached in a tray.
Cutting and rearranging the parts is nothing new, but it IS easy and sometimes the results are striking. I've also previously discussed stretching two similar pictures into one, discarding the most boring strips. (See another example here.)

how-to, photo, art
Of COURSE it works with either
horizontal or vertical strips, even
angled pieces!
Finally, coloring photos the easy way, with markers: Try buffing or smoothing out the streaks with cotton balls. Go for unreal colors and psychedelic effects.
tute, photography, how-to
Markers are just so easy!
Thanks for viewing this post! I appreciate it.