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Marker Art Project Ideas

Make the Mark!
Submitted by: Denise Pannell
Lesson: Still life Camouflage "Find the Tea Pot"
Grade Level: Fifth grade on up



"Where's the Teapot?" is a lesson adapted from Arts & Activities from several years ago. Use with a lesson on Bev Doolittle (camouflage watercolor artist from California) The students have several bottles, mugs, vases, and a teapot to study. Sports equipment might make an interesting theme, too. They do a contour line drawing of each object, turning the page after each so that they are all going different directions on the paper. They also may overlap  (and may run off the edges). The students then use curved lines to break up any large areas remaining on the paper. This creates a shattered, puzzle-like appearance. The students will color each piece of the puzzle (no matter how small) with marker and add pattern on top using a variety of markers and pens. No two pieces can be the same! (Use patterned textiles for inspiration). Either the color or the pattern must change.


marker art      marker art
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The end result is a pattern camouflaged drawing. When displayed, Denise,  posts a list of items for the viewer to hunt for. Some of the markers they used for this project are Gel Pens., Crayola markers, Sharpies, Metallic Markers., white-out pens, Crayola Overwriters, Color Changeables, fine-tip pens, etc. Sample shown is by Denise - but the students' work turned out just as good.



Peter Max it! Go for contour figure studies and fill in with a variety of patterns and bold colors. Alter the lesson by only using black and white - developing strong contrasts only with patterns (including positive negative pattern designs)


Variation for younger students:

Submitted by MaryAnn Kohl: Here is a popular idea: Cut out shape (s) from tag board or poster board. Trace onto larger paper overlapping shapes. Break up negative space with lines. Outline with watercolor markers. Draw patterns within shapes - vary pattern and color within each shape. Brush over drawing with water to blend and blur colors. Option: trace and overlap more than one shape within the same artwork.  Try brushing designs with thin watercolor or food coloring instead of water. For added interest,  sprinkle salt on the wet painting to cause an exciting crystal-blurring effect. Note from Judy: This idea also works very well for hand designs. Trace hand in over lapping positions. Try with a contour study of shoes - repeat shoe (or any object drawn from observation) several times. Break up negative space. See Robin Singer's fourth grade shoes drawings. I saw this lesson first in 1987 presented by Lima City Schools art teachers.

Submitted by Ann Heineman
Lesson: Pop Art a la Roy Lichtenstein

One project my 5th graders looked forward to (and can be adapted up for M.S. and H.S.) involves using the marker tips to makes lots of dots  a la comic strip dots. I made it an enlarging project by the grid system.  They could change colors, add new images/details to their comic panel as long as it kept the "look" of the printing process. I told them about Benjamin Day, the printer after whom the dots are named, and shared the work of Roy Lichtenstein who was inspired by the comic image. All of that stippling motion had a rather hypnotic/therapeutic effect on the kids and they could do this for hours if I let them. Student could enlarge comics - or high contrast photographs for Pop Art portraits.


Tip for using dried up watercolor markers

(I read this tip on Funding Factory web site.)
Set out dishes (or small jars of water). Dip the dried up watercolor marker in the water and draw/paint with it. Don't leave the marker in water too long. If any one tries this idea, send in a sample of student work.

Jerry Vilensky adds the following advice: I have used the technique of dipping markers in water, but I find they run out very fast. Because of the capillary action of the markers, a lot of the ink bleeds out of the end of the pen right away.  The rest of the ink is still in the barrel of the pen.  I have been successful using a couple of techniques, but all have something in common that determines that success: decent paper.  I try to use a hard surfaced paper that will not absorb too much marker too quickly.  Soft papers such as construction are simply too soft and do not contain enough sizing to retard the absorption of the ink.

I use 90-120 lb. tag stock, or when not available, a good quality 80-90 lb. sulphite Drawing Paper. will do. I usually have the kids sketch a drawing in Sharpie marker, lay a wash of clear water to an area, then touch the marker to the paper. Having water already on the paper gives the painting a swirly, watercolor effect, not unlike using liquid watercolors. Another idea is to remove the back of the marker and add a few drops of water directly into the barrel end so the water liquefies any ink still in the pen. Capillary action will move the water to the drawing tip.



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