Snowmen with Tempera

Crop­ping and a unique point of view make this “not your every­day snow­man”!  I first saw this com­po­si­tion idea on Art Projects for Kids (done with oil pas­tels) and then on Deep Space Sparkle (done with tem­pera paint).  I used this les­son to teach my first graders about crop­ping and the 3/4 view por­trait.  They loved it when I told them the por­trait they would be paint­ing was of a snow­man instead of a person! 

  • 12x18 blue con­struc­tion paper
  • pen­cil
  • black oil pastel
  • tem­pera paint in white, red, yel­low and blue (we use turquoise for our “blue”)
I began by show­ing exam­ples of por­traits (I chose sev­eral by Vin­cent Van Gogh) in three dif­fer­ent for­mats: straight on, pro­file, and 3/4 view.  I explained that with the 3/4 view, you see both eyes but only one ear (if the ears are show­ing) and you see one side of the nose.  I told them our por­trait would be of a snow­man, so we would see his car­rot nose from the side.  Then we talked about how we could make our snow­man look BIG… either by putting him next to a house and mak­ing him big­ger than the house, or by crop­ping — show­ing just a sec­tion of him with the rest going off the page, like he’s too big to fit on the paper!

1.  With your paper in the ver­ti­cal posi­tion, first draw your snow­man with a pen­cil:  Draw a large semi-circle that starts and ends on the left edge of the paper.  Start about 2″ down to leave room for his hat!
2.  Now draw a curvy line begin­ning about 2/3 of the way down on your semi-circle and end­ing on the bot­tom edge of your paper, near the right side.
3.  Next add all the details your snow­man needs: two eyes, a car­rot nose, mouth, but­tons, hat and scarf.  Don’t for­get a stick for his arm!  When draw­ing the car­rot nose, be sure to place the car­rot so that it begins between the eyes, to get the cor­rect angle for a 3/4 view!
4.  Trace all your pen­cil lines with a black oil pastel.
5.  With white tem­pera, paint your snowman’s face and body, paint­ing around the oil pas­tel lines.  Add some snowflakes in the sky.
6.  Then, paint your snowman’s nose by mix­ing some red and yel­low to make orange.  Mix more col­ors to paint his hat and scarf. 

(Quote of the day.… We don’t ever see real snow where we live, so after my demo one of my first graders announced, “We don’t need snow to make a snow­man — we can just make one with ART!!”)


4 Responses to Snowmen with Tempera

  1. Miss December 11, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    These are adorable! What brand of tem­pera do you use? It looks nice and opaque.

  2. TeachKidsArt December 12, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    I use “Sar­gent” brand tem­pera… just the reg­u­lar one, not the wash­able ver­sion. I find it to be the best for opac­ity and color, and the best for mix­ing, as I only give my stu­dents the pri­mary col­ors plus black and white!

  3. jaeartworks December 15, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    Love these!

  4. Sleepyhead Designs Studio December 29, 2011 at 7:13 am #

    These turned out sooo won­der­ful! I also wanted to thank you for all the read­ers you sent me this year! Hope you have a great 2012. See my lat­est post @

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