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Fun Project Ideas for Summer Art Camp

written by: thatbluegirl • edited by: Patricia Gable • updated: 6/30/2015

Are you teaching a summer art camp and don't know where to begin? Here is a basic plan to get you started that combines elements of art with some fun projects.

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    Making Portfolios

    Start your summer art camp off by having students create portfolios with personalized covers to store their work. Portfolios can be as simple or elaborate as you'd like to make them. Two sheets of 18 x 24 construction paper stapled or taped on three sides makes a good basic container. For something more duarable consider card stock or other heavier paper. As they work, discuss with students the importance of portfolios and what they are used for (storage, keeping work clean, seeing growth) and get to know them better by talking about their portfolio covers.

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    Project 1: Line (Continuous Line Drawings of Leaves)

    Materials:

    • leaves
    • pencils
    • white paper (9x12)
    • craft or jewelry wire or Twisteez bendable wire or chenille stems (optional)

    Technique:

    It's always fun for students to go outdoors and select their own leaves, but if this is not possible, have a collection of leaves students can choose from. If leaves are not an option, you can easily substitute any object for this lesson. Have students remove one of their shoes and place it on the table in front of them. Younger children can look at and draw, their opposite hand.

    Begin this summer art camp project by discussing line drawings with students. They will be creating a continuous line drawing of a leaf. A continuous line starts and ends only once, meaning students will create the drawing without lifting their pencil from the paper. Have them look closely at the leaf they are drawing, and move the pencil in the same way their eye travels over the shapes they see. They may repeat or correct a line, but should not lift their pencils or try to erase a line they've already made. Younger children or students with disabilities might find this technique difficult. You can modify the lesson by tracing shapes with a continuous line using tracing paper. Have students draw more than one leaf. If they are drawing their hand, have them change the position of their hand for a second drawing.

    A good artist to use as a reference is Alexander Calder. Calder is best known for his mobiles, floor sculptures called stabiles, as well as paintings and wire sculptures.

    To take this lesson a step further, have students create wire sculptures using their drawings as a basis. Bend, twist, and shape the wire/chenille to trace their image.

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    Project 2: Shape & Space (Positive and Negative Drawing)

    Materials:

    • markers or crayons
    • pencils
    • erasers
    • white paper (9x12)
    • trees or photocopies of trees
    • clipboards (or cardboard)

    Technique:

    Positive spaces are made up of the main subjects of the work. Negative spaces are the areas around and behind the positive spaces also known as the background. For this summer art camp project, students will be creating positive/negative space drawings of trees. Children love any excuse to go outside. If it is possible, have them do the first part of this summer art camp project from "real life". If you don't have any trees nearby, some good photocopies will work.

    Students will do a contour drawing of a part of the tree. They should pay attention to the shapes created by the negative spaces and press lightly as they draw so they can erase any lines they do not want later. They should erase the lines where tree branches overlap to make one shape. Using markers or crayons, students color the negative spaces one color and then color the positive space another color.

    For younger students who might have difficulty drawing trees, you can modify this lesson by having them trace overlapping hands.

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    Project 3: Light & Shade (Nature Scenes)

    Materials:

    • white paper
    • ebony pencils
    • pencils
    • erasers
    • rulers (optional)

    Technique:

    This project begins with students creating a value scale from light (white) to dark (black). See the example below. Depending on the age of the group, students can either draw their own scale to fill in, or you can prepare a scale of ten blank boxes for students to fill in.

    Once students complete their value scale of light to dark-they will draw a scene from nature (trees, creek, still life, etc.) and shade concentrating on the values they just created. If students are unable to be outdoors, have them select a nature scene from photocopies.

    value scale 

    Click on the image for a larger view!

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    Project 4: Texture (Realistic Animal Drawings)

    Materials:

    • pencils or ebony pencils
    • white paper
    • erasers
    • animal references (books, photocopies, printed from computer)

    Technique:

    This lesson plan begins with a concentration on texture. Explain how lines and patterns can give us clues about texture and ask students to point out examples around the room. A fun way to show examples of texture and lines is to read students Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and view the illustrations in the story.

    Have students find and draw ten examples of textures on a sheet of paper. For smaller children, a simple modification is to have them find and make ten texture rubbings.

    Once students have completed the texture drawings, they will work on a realistic animal drawing. They should select an animal from a reference. On their paper, draw basic shapes lightly before adding detail. They can start to define shapes through line, texture, light and shade.

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    Project 5: Color (Color Mixing)

    Materials:

    • acrylic or watercolor paint (red, yellow, blue)
    • brushes
    • pencils
    • rulers
    • paper

    Techniques:

    colorwheel 

    Students in the summer art camp program will learn about color mixing. The vocabulary should consist of primary colors, secondary colors, and complimentary colors. Show students how to mix primary colors to make secondary colors and discuss the pairs of compliments. Students will create a basic color wheel. On a sheet of paper, have students draw a triangle (it should fill almost the entire page) using rulers. They will over-lap this triangle with an inverted triangle. The three points of the first triangle will be where students paint red, yellow and blue. The points of the inverted triangle are where the secondary colors will go.

    For older students, they can take the lesson one step further by creating tertiary colors within the color wheels. A finished wheel would look like this image.

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    Project 6: Painting (Impressionist Style)

    Project 6: Painting (Impressionist Style) 

    Materials:

    • acrylic paint
    • brushes
    • pencil
    • canvas paper or canvas board

    Technique:

    This project is a concentration on color, light and shade, and texture. Students will study the Impressionism movement in art and its importance. Show them examples of Impressionist artists. (Monet, Cassatt, Renoir, Cezanne, etc.) Discuss with students what thoughts the paintings bring to mind, or what emotions they might evoke. Explain to the students how different paintings can stir different thoughts and emotions.

    Next, ask students to select an environment or scene to recreate with paint in the Impressionist style. Have them look at the scene they select, studying how light and shadow are related and think about how they will recreate it in paint and what types of lines, shapes, or textures they might use. Students will start their painting by creating a basic outline on their canvas.

     
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    Project 6: Painting (Impressionist Painting)

    Materials:

    • acrylic paint
    • brushes
    • pencil
    • canvas paper or canvas board

    Technique:

    This project is a concentration on color, light and shade, and texture. Students will study the Impressionism movement in art and its importance. Show them examples of Impressionist artists. (Monet, Cassatt, Renoir, Cezanne, etc.) Discuss with students what thoughts the paintings bring to mind, or what emotions they might evoke. Explain to the students how different paintings can stir different thoughts and emotions.

    Next, ask students to select an environment or scene to recreate with paint in the Impressionist style. Have them look at the scene they select, studying how light and shadow are related and think about how they will recreate it in paint and what types of lines, shapes, or textures they might use. Students will start their painting by creating a basic outline on their canvas.

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    Additional Projects

    Here are a few fun projects which can be mixed in and relate to the topics covered in the summer art camp curriculum.

    Mini Impressionist/Color Mixing - Have students draw a picture on heavier card stock with washable markers. Fill up the entire page with color. After the drawing is complete, have students use a tooth brush dipped in water or spray bottle to get their drawings wet, just until colors begin to run. Lay flat and let dry.

    Animal Pinata - Using balloons, newspaper strips, flour, cardboard and paint, students will create a pinata of an animal, fish, or reptile. They build the pinata with the newspaper strips and when it's dry, use cardboard to create appendages like ears and teeth. Students can paint and use other materials like streamers, feathers, glitter, etc. to decorate.

    Tangle Texture Drawings - Using a black pen, Sharpie, or ink, students will draw a continuous line that fills the paper, weaving in and out across the page. They will create separate sections with interesting shapes and fill the sections with patterns of lines, shapes, or both. Students should try to fill each section with a unique pattern. Color can be added.

    Scratchboard Drawings from Scratch - Students will use oil pastels to fill an entire page of heavy cardstock paper with blobs of varying color. When their paper is filled, they will paint over the surface with acrylic paint. When the paint dries students can use toothpicks or skewers to scratch in a design. This is a great summer art camp lesson to practice texture or to draw a still life or leaves.

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