Are you looking for fun ways to get creative with your students in the new year? We put together a list of the top five art projects of 2021 to help you get started. Learn more about each project, download the free lesson plans, and browse all the materials you need to start creating.
1. Blind Contour/Optical Art Portrait Drawing
Created by artist and educator Karen Crosby, this art project is perfect for virtual and in-class settings. Students will apply the necessary techniques for developing a composition, including a blind contour portrait drawing with an optical art drawn background.
Before creating their own portrait, students will learn about the contour and blind contour drawings of American artists Alexander Calder (1898–1976) and Sophie Kipner. In the second part of the lesson, students are introduced to British artist Bridget Riley, and Hungarian artist Victor Vasarely (1906-1997), also known as the Father of Optical Art.
Watch Nasco Education Customer Engagement Manager Kris Bakke walk through the Blind Contour lesson plan with creator Karen Crosby.
Suggested materials list for the Blind Contour lesson plan:
2. Mixed Media Mail Art
Mail art is a collaborative art form with a long, fascinating history. Used by everyday people, as well as famous artists, the term “mail art” refers to pieces of art sent through the mail rather than displayed or sold in traditional venues. Mail artists often use inexpensive or recycled materials, including postcards, rubber stamps or photocopied images.
Developed by art educator Beth Allums, the Mixed Media Mail Art lesson uses a variety of art skills to help students express personal ideas, images, and themes through artistic choices of media, techniques and subject matter. Students will also be introduced to mail and correspondence art while learning about collage and mixed-media techniques.
Watch Kris Bakke, Nasco Education’s Customer Engagement Manager, create Mixed Media Mail Art.
Suggested materials list for the Mixed Media Mail Art lesson plan:
3. Line Designs Into Sculpture
The Line Designs Into Sculpture art project is a great way to introduce students to lines, textures, designs, and patterns, as well as movement, balance and rhythm in sculptures. The lesson creator, art educator Lori Taylor, has used the lesson with her special education students who enjoyed turning 2D line designs into original 3D sculptures.
Perfect for all levels of students, the Line Designs Into Sculpture lesson is also a perfect STEAM exercise.
Watch Kris Bakke discuss the Line Designs Into Sculpture lesson plan.
Suggested materials list for the Line Designs Into Sculpture art project:
4. Neurographic Art
Formalized in 2014 by Russian psychologist Pavel Piskarev, Neurographic Art is a creative method that engages emotional and aesthetic intelligence. Pavel believed that creative processes engage neurons in the brain, causing them to form new connections and enhance an individual’s ability to focus, acquire new skills, improve decision-making skills, and increase memory function.
Developed by Virginia art educator Cheryl Miehl, who regularly teaches workshops on Pavel Piskarev’s creative process, the Neurographic Art lesson plan combines both art and social-emotional learning in one project. The art form has become very popular on social media as many teachers share their own adaptations, as well as those created by students.
Watch Kris Bakke discuss and create Neurographic Art.
Suggested materials list for the Neurographic Art lesson plan:
5. Painting with Plasticine
Invented over a century ago, plasticine clay is a non-drying clay used to create sculptures. In this art project, developed with art educator Ashley Monks, students will be introduced to the works of painter Henry Hudson, and painter/sculptor Olga Fonina while learning about the importance of color, tone, tints, and dimensions.
Students will also explore the three parts of a landscape—foreground, mid-ground, and background—while gaining an understanding of the color wheel. Then, using plasticine clay, they will create their own 2D or 3D landscape, paint the landscape, and coat it to secure the clay.
Suggested materials list for the Painting with Plasticine lesson plan:
We can’t wait to see all the amazing projects you’ll create with your students in the new year! And, don’t forget to browse our library of free art activities and lesson plans for even more ideas and inspiration.