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1 | FEATURE | Color Palette Tips

A detailed look at color schemes.

| CLASSROOM How To Print Our Posters

Sometimes we give out posters for your classroom. There’s an option to print them large on 4 sheets of copy paper. Here’s how to make that work.

| ARTICLE Understanding Copyrights

Students need to know important legal things that will protect them and their artwork before they do any kind of paying work.

| MATERIALS Good Brush, Bad Brush

Most people can’t stand to throw away something that seems useful. However, a bad brush is not only not useful, it is damaging.

| GRAPHIC | Principles Of Design Poster

This month’s graphic is a printable poster (see section 2 for how to print). The 6 Principles of Design are presented in a colorful and teachable display.

LESSONS What’s Coming Up

This month’s lessons – overviews for each week.


Here’s a crisp Spring color scheme. It’s a great example of how 2 complementary colors look good together, but are not standard basic colors like you’d see on a football team.

There are 5 colors in the square, but only 2 basic colors to the scheme. White is a neutral, and there are 3 greens to one red.
On the Colors Wheel, both the red and the greens we used, sit a bit towards the counter-clockwise direction of basic red and green. That keeps them directly opposite each other.
Here are some variations. In this one, we’ve lightened the pink. The circle became lost because it was the same value so we lightened it as well. It creates a similar feel but is softer due to the pastel colors.

In this variation, we only changed the pink – to an intense warm red, changing the scheme both in value, and in hue. It’s still the same red/green complementary color scheme, but has a completely different feel.

In this last variation, we rotated all the colors clockwise. Interestingly, we went from Spring to Summer even though the greens all went cooler. This is due to our association with yellow green foliage and pink flowers being more prevalent in the Spring.

How To Print Our Posters


With a regular desktop printer, you can print and assemble large classroom posters.

Step 1

Open the poster PDF file on your device or computer. Make sure you have print capabilities.

The example above is available below in our graphic section, and this is the version that has a white border on a letter-sized sheet of paper. There are 4 versions:

  1. Letter sized (8.5″ x 11″)
  2. Letter sized edge to edge printing
  3. 4 letter sheets Large sized that can be taped together. It’s about 16″ x 20″
  4. 4 Sheets Large with edge to edge printing.

Step 2

Choose the right settings for your print. This is easier for the letter-sized versions. If you’re using the edge to edger versions, make sure you choose edge printing and have a printer that has this function.

Sometimes the prints will come out in the wrong direction. Look at the settings and make sure you have it set up correctly and that things match. If printing a “tiled” version (the large 4 sheets that fit together), print all 4 sheets, which will have some overlap.

Step 3

After printing a tiled large version, you can trim some of the overlap and then match the graphics carefully. Also make sure the edges are straight in line with each other.

Step 4

Once all the pages are lined up, you can use tape on the back, or the front.

We used regular magic tape and pressed it down well to disappear as much as possible.

The finished poster taped together. This was printed with the edge to edge version.

Understanding copyrights

All students should have a general understanding of copyrights and how it can affect them, their artwork, and others.
By Dennas Davis

Use the information here to understand what copyright is and how it works. You can impart that information to older students as needed. Decide how much you think they can digest at one time, because it can quickly become overwhelming.

With copyrights, there are two issues for artists:

1. How do I protect my own work?

2. How do I make sure I don’t infringe upon others?

The questions are really two sides of the same coin, and both are about protecting you; you don’t want to be sued for infringing on someone else’s work any more than you want someone to steal yours.

Before answering these questions, we need a quick understanding of the basic idea of copyright. There are many misconceptions about it.

Copyright is not about physical work. I can own a painting but not the rights to reproduce it.

Intellectual Property

Current copyright law awards all copyrights to the original creator even without formalities (registering the work). However, registering does help when dealing with infringements in court.

Work For Hire

This seemingly innocuous phrase carries enourmous meaning and consequences for all artists. If this is included in a contract, then the artist is considered to be an employee for the contracted work, and can never claim copyrights. For the scope of the contract, the artist is not the creator, the company or purchaser is. Therefore the copyrights are originally granted to that other person or company.

Work for hire only applies to certain compilations where other’s have contributed, but it can and does apply to children’s books. This is an abuse of the intentions of the law, but has become a standard practice due to large companies power over individual artists.

Anyone who is not an employee, and does not enjoy the benefits of such, should not sign work for hire contracts if at all possible.

Any one piece of artwork may be reproduced billions of times. It can be printed over and over, and placed on objects like cell phone cases. It can be part of a website, a book cover, or on the front of a box of cereal. It can be in the background of a big blockbuster movie, or become the basis for a TV show. Any number of these copies may be able to make money or help sell another product. This money-making potential of the unlimited number of copies from an artwork may not be something you can touch, but it is very, very real.

It is called Intellectual property. It is property, just like a car is, but it is not the car. It is the way the car looks. You can buy a Ford Mustang, and you’ll own that car. However, you can’t go out and make a car that looks just like a Mustang and sell it. The look and design of the Mustang is the intellectual property of Ford, and it has great value because they worked hard to create it and promote it.

Copyright laws were created so that people can protect their intellectual property from other people taking it. Why would Ford do all that work on the Mustang if Nissan, Chevrolet, and anyone else for that matter, could start making Mustangs too? No, it makes sense that Nissan should create their own car design. Chevrolet makes the Corvette. No one else can make those because it wouldn’t be fair.

There is therefore a feeling that copyrights are a thing, just like other things. People decide that they should be able to sell a copyright, and that once you have it, you own it forever.

This is actually not quite true.

This is concept art for an animated show I worked on several years ago. Nickelodeon didn’t pursue it, so I still own all the rights. You might notice that the line work is similar to the Edd, Ed, and Eddie cartoon series. The studio that created the cartoon called me for concept work before-hand, and my line style was used.

We only have copyright law to ensure that creativity is rewarded properly.

The idea of copyright law is not to make intellectual property just like other property. No, it is intended to make sure that artists will create new artwork. If we have laws that protect artists from being taken advantage of, then artists will be able to make a living creating art.

If we didn’t have those laws, then artists would not be able to control and benefit from their creations; so why would they bother? Why would you create a book if a big company is going to take it and make all the money selling it? You would see your book in the stores and online, making money for that company but not for you. Then you’d see it made into a movie maybe. If you didn’t get any of the money it made, and you didn’t have enough to pay your bills, It would make you never want to make a book again.

Our culture would have fewer books; fewer movies; less music. It would be bad for everyone.

So copyrights are given to creators so they will create, and so we all get to have new movies and new music.


Copyrights do not last. Eventually, they move into the Public Domain, where everyone can use them freely.

Creators can and do sell the copyrights, but eventually they expire. They stop protecting the ability to profit from copies.

After a creator dies, even if they sold their rights, the copyrights die too, but not right away. copyrights expire 75 years after the creator’s death. That way the family of the creator can benefit from the work too.

You can sell all the copyrights, or you can sell limited rights to your work. For example, musicians and book authors get a percentage of the sales from their work because they only sold the rights to publish, not to own the copyright completely. That way the percentages will go to their family for 75 years even after they die.

That’s a great incentive for creators to continue to create. And that is good for everyone.

How do I know what I can paint from?

So what can you paint? If you see a photo of a famous musician, can you paint it?

The musician, being famous can’t prevent you from using their photo, but the photographer owns the picture. That means you need to ask the photographer if you can paint it. They might want money to give you that right. If you have a contract that states that you can paint it, then you own the copyright to the painting.

A well known artist, Jeffrey Koons, once made a sculpture from a photograph of some people holding their 6 puppies. The sculpture looked just like the photo, and because the sculptor artist was famous, he sold it for a huge amount of money. The photographer sued the sculptor for stealing his intellectual property, and won in court. He got the money from the sale and even some more for all his trouble. This is different than just copying the original photograph, but the sculpture obviously could not have been made without the photo. This is called a derivative work, and most countries have laws prohibiting such works. Small sections of art or photos can usually be used without infringing upon the original, but you have to be careful.

Fair Use

If you don’t sell a painting, but make it only for yourself, or for learning how to paint, that is ok. It’s called fair use. It’s only when you are making money or promoting something that makes money, that you are in danger of taking someone’s copyrights.

Some companies let you know that you can paint from their photos by posting a copyright notice. The photos in The Art Instructor lessons have all been paid for, so you and your students are free to paint them.

Morguefile.com is a site that has a collection of photographs that are free for artists to paint as well. Click the “free photos” tab and do a search. There are also a bunch of tabs for paid photo services. Don’t use those. Select a photo you like, and make sure you read the permissions on the download popup box. It will probably state that you can’t use it in a “stand-alone manner” which means you can’t print it out and just sell the photo itself. You can still use it as part of a website, (give a credit if you do), or to paint from as reference.


Bad brushes kill art

Here’s the deal. Bad brushes cause bad artwork. Bad artwork makes artists feel bad. Artists who feel bad, stop doing art.

Bad Brushes

If you have any brushes made with cheap plastic bristles…

Throw them away.

If you have any brushes made with the kind of hair that is so soft that it does not spring back to the straight position after being used…

Throw them away.

If you have any brushes that lose bristles while you paint.

Throw them away.

Even if you have 5 year olds. Do not allow them to use a bad brush. It affects their abilities, and they will attribute this to their own skill, not the brush.

Get over it and just throw them away. They harm artists. You are not wasting a resource. It’s like throwing away old spoiled food that will make someone sick.

Good Brushes

A good yet inexpensive brush will almost always be made of nylon. It will have either white or brown bristles. Brown is usually stiffer than the white. A stiff brush is good for oils and acrylics. A softer brush that still has good spring, is good for acrylics and watercolors.

The best deal comes from multi-packs of 8 to 12 brushes in varying sizes. We get the 12 packs and split them into 3 sets of 4 brushes, mixing up the sizes for small, medium, large and extra large.

Round brushes have a round opening on the ferule (metal sleeve) and a pointed tip. These are good for details and watercolor, but are also great all-around brushes. A watercolor brush is best when it’s larger yet still has a great point.

Square brushes are best for covering large areas, like a background, a sky, or an underpainting. They can leave noticable square marks in the paint.

Filbert brushes are basically flats, with the corners rounded off so you don’t see the squareish marks in the paint. These are also good for versatility, but don’t have a point for fine details.

Super Wash

Paint that is left to dry inside the bristles will push the bristles apart, making the brush fan out and frizzled. The point cannot be resurected on a frizzled brush that has been used with acrylics, because the dried paint is way up inside, near the metal part.

The only way to prevent brush frizz, is to Super Wash them at the end of your painting time. Even washing well, in a fairly clean water bucket, DOES NOT WORK. There will be residue, and that will ruin the tip quickly by spreading the brisles.

Place the brush under the running water in the sink, and gently but firmly spread the bristles as much as possible, twirling the brush so that the water can reach the tightest places. When the water looks completely clean, and a paper towel shows no color after drying, then you have a clean brush. Kids love the term, Super Wash!


We designed a colorful poster to communicate the Principles of Design. With branding, a headline, 2 subheads, 7 ideas in the content, and illustrations, there was a lot going on. To arrange it in a way that was clear as well as concise, took some time – and we used the 6 Principles extensively. Read about them below.

Tap the image or the button to go to our poster download page which has 4 different versions in 2 sizes for you to print.


You can use the poster to teach about how to use the principles. One thing to also convey, is that artists seldom start out thinking about these things. Instead, we do things intuitively at first, and then whenever things are not looking as good as we want, these principles help us analyze what’s wrong and tell us how to fix it.

1. Position for Emphasis & Balance

With 2 evenly weighted sections, it made sense to create a centered and symmetrical design.

2. Contrast for Emphasis & Harmony

We used color contrast in several ways to clarify what was most important, and what was least. By making the only dark area at the top, we have a strong spot for our headline. The yellow circle is the only yellow, and one of only two warm colors, so your eye heads to that first, and then travels to the headline. All of the rest of the poster uses lower contrast in both value, and color. Everything is medium value and cool colors. Only the words have any real contrast so they can be read easily and are the third thing to look at. The illustrations along the bottom are downplayed so they don’t fight for attention until you’ve started to understand what they mean as you’re reading.

3. Repetition for Harmony & Balance

Circles are in line vertically. Squares are in line horizontally. The squares are also equally spaced and all the same colors, to connect the left and right sections into one element. Making the numbers very bold, also makes them easier to distinguish.


Our MAY curriculum

Read an overview for this month’s lesson plans below.

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Week 35: Starry Nights
Students enjoy working with two fun ways to create stars. Realistic star patterns are made by splattering white paint on a dark paper background, and expressive stars are made with thick paint and by copying Van Gogh’s Starry Night. If time, early finishers get to make a star logo for themselves.


Week 35: Creative Collage
Students will use pages and clippings from magazines to create collage images that tell a story about themselves. They are also given the choice to work on a detailed pencil drawing with freedom to choose their subject matter.





Week 36: Lizards & Desert
A Desert scene is created using oil pastel resist with watercolors. Then the students will draw and color a lizard using a mock bark-painting technique using kraft paper (brown paper bags) black marker, and oil pastels.


Week 36: Journal Painting 1

Combining a sketch, writing, thinking, and painting, all on one canvas, this technique appeals to everyone. Students will draw and sketch on the canvas with their colored pencil (other colors may be used if available, but we use a dark gray that mimics graphite.) Anything can be drawn or written, just like in the page of a journal or sketch book. Washes of color are added for a soft visual effect. This lesson will continue and be finished next week.




Week 37: Big Box Painting
Students will cover a large cardboard box with butcher paper and masking tape, and then paint it as a group, making up things along the way but collaborating so the box has a theme. Then we finish with artists’ choice in watercolors or oil pastels.


Week 37: Journal Painting 2 
Students will continue working on their journal paintings from last week. Early finishers will work on any paintings or color journals that are not yet finished. If all is done, then they’ll have artists’ choice.




Week 38: Party Animals 
Students pretend they’re going to an animal party. First, they use blank masks to pretend they are animals, then everyone finds reference and paints their mask to match a chosen animal. Pretend play and a game take up the middle of the class time, and then there is a marker drawing project of animals having a Summertime party. We have one extra class next week if you need it.


Week 38: Group 3D Installation
A Bunch O’ Boxes project has everyone collaborating. Everyone must work together as a team and combine a few boxes into a 3D sculpture and/or installation that has a theme and incorporates everyone’s efforts and style into one final work. Classes can be divided into teams of smaller groups so that everyone can work at once. Boxes are covered in white paper and painted for display in the summer or for an art show.





Week 39: Toon Animals 
Our last class is all about cartoon animals. We use simple shapes to build characters and then apply some funny expressions. The last project is a one-page, 4-panel comic book they create on their own using printed templates. If time allows, they get to make a colorful cover for the comic “book”


Week 39: Toon Attack! 
An entire class devoted to learning the basics of cartooning. Students develop a character and learn how to make different facial expressions using “keysigns” (symbols that convey extra meaning or action). A finished ink and watercolor cartoon is created in the second half of the session.

KidsART is for grades 1 & 2

Foundations has two versions: grades 3 – 5 and grades 6 – 12

Working to make the art classroom more rewarding for teachers and their students.

1710 General George Patton Dr Ste 108
Brentwood, Tenneessee 37027

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