Monday, October 15, 2012

up to our necks...

in patterns.

The first lesson I did with the 2nd graders this year was inspired by the work of Portland based artist Jennifer Mercede. Jennifer makes paintings with a rather sweet color palette. Her most recent work focuses on a variety of animals. The creatures and patterns she includes in her work are defined by delicate contour lines.

I found Jennifer's work on pinterest last summer, and since then I have seen a number of other lessons also inspired by her work. I think it is pretty cool that she is having such a positive impact on art education programs around the country.

I used her work to introduce students to contour lines, pattern, and creating light and dark colors.

We drew our giraffes out together, traced them with black markers, and then added color to them by pressing either hard or softly with our crayons. Once that was done, we added a few horizontal lines to the background and drew patterns in those shapes. We did not trace those lines, and when we colored the background patterns we did the opposite of what was done in the giraffe. This is a deviation from Jennifer's work, but I wanted the students to see how they could make parts stand out from one another by handling the tools they used differently.

The students did a great job with this project. Most classes had a good handle on making things bold or light by applying more or less pressure with their crayons. This will serve them well when we move on to making things look 3d and round later on when we focus on shape.

If you are reading this and you have a lesson based on Jennifer's work or you know of another one, please feel free to share in the comments section:)


  1. Always a fun project, and haven't they done lovely work? I love the patterns!

  2. Beautiful work kiddos! Love the liberty one student took to make the neck curvy! Fun patterns, very inspiring.. XO

  3. Jennifer Mercede has been on my radar for quite sometime now. I'm happy to see that you used her work for inspiration and that the kids did such an amazing job with their Giraffe projects. Nice work!


  4. Love the colored in patterning on the giraffes.
    Here is my lesson from last year!