You just can't go wrong with Laurel Burch! Any time I've ever taught a lesson on her art the students are really engaged and excited. There must be something about her lively cats, fun colors, and wild patterns that really captures the attention of children. This year as a quick 2-3 day project I decided to have my first and second graders make oil pastel and watercolor resist cats.
First I showed the kids a PowerPoint on Laurel Burch with brief tidbits about her life. We discussed the concept of folk art and how artists create artwork for all different reasons including religious, political, personal, social, etc, and how some artists create art simply because they love working with different materials and to make themselves and others happy. The universal appeal and quality of Burch's work really makes for a great example to illustrate the idea of youth, nature and harmony and my students really seem to like that.
After learning about Burch I do a demonstration on how to draw a sitting and jumping cat and then brainstorm with my classes different patterns and designs they can create to fill the cat and background of their paper.
The following session we review how to use watercolor paints and how to change values using various amounts of water. I emphasize to the kids that in order to really see the cat and the designs that lighter values work best, however, many of them being so enamored with watercolors, end up dowsing their paintings in deep tones of almost every color in the palette. Except for brown, not too many students use brown, lol!
Other than that I encouraged students to try any ideas they had and have fun. The results were great!