Almost all kids are familiar with the process of putting a pencil to paper and drawing. But drawing over those pencil lines with glue, or maybe even skipping the pencil altogether, can get really exciting! Glue drawing adds a third dimension to drawing with a pencil.
This project can be easy or intense and can be easily adapted to any age or skill level. The glue is not always predictable. Sometimes surprises happen when the glue is drying. That’s part of the fun. The glue outlines are solid foundation for chalk pastel to come in and make their impression. Interesting results are practically guaranteed.
I did this project with younger elementary age kids. We discuss what a self portrait is and make their own self portraits consisting of very large, simple shapes. The hope is that the kids have shapes large enough that all the details won’t fill in and become solid areas of glue. Sometimes that happens, no matter how we try to prevent it. I try to prepare the kids that glue drawing isn’t a perfect art. Surprises happen and we roll with them.
We worked on black construction paper. When white school glue dries clear it leaves a nice glossy black outline. Any colors that get added with chalk pastels will show up beautifully and the black outline serves to unify the whole thing. But that’s just preference. I have seen glue drawing done on many colors of paper and they are always striking!
I pass out old cardboard for the kids to put under their paper as they work and leave it there while the glue is drying. The glue has a habit of running to the side and could cement itself to the table. (Don’t ask me how I know this!)
Good ‘ole Elmers
Before I pass out bottles of glue I talk about which muscles they will use to control their glue while they are drawing. When a child draws or colors they really only need to move their hand, not their entire arm. When squeezing that glue bottle they will use fine motor skills to squeeze the bottle and large motor skills to keep their arm moving across their paper, following their pencil lines. That is a lot for a kid to think about it! Thanks goodness its fun! Watching that white glue line stretch & wiggle across the paper is good stuff, especially because its something you’re usually not supposed to do!
I like to use plain old Elmer’s school glue. When I’m teaching more than a couple of kids its worth it to invest in this gallon size jug. It isn’t that much more than a couple of bottles of glue and it goes way further! Elmer’s School Glue, Washable, 1 gallon.
(Update; I’ve found that using Elmer’s Gel glue makes an even nicer outline when dry. Because it is clear the black paper shows through even better. Either one will work. Use what you have!)
Bring on the color….
By next weeks class the glue is dry, the lines are shiny, and the drawings with glue are ready for color! This part is so fun! For most of these kids this is their first introduction to working with chalk pastel. Chalk pastel is messy (which means extra fun, right?) but its vibrant color is what calls my name!
Creating detail with chalk pastel can be tough, especially for little hands. But saturating a previously outlined area with color can be the perfect place to learn about blending colors and even to touch on the idea of analogous colors. (Colors that are next to each other on the color wheel and blend together easily.)
I used these Mungyo Non Toxic Square Chalk, Soft Pastels. They come in a pack of 64 so there are plenty of great colors to choose from. All those choices allow the kids to have some really sophisticated color combinations without having to work too hard at blending. And with 64 in a package I can get away with only using two packages for my class of 12 kiddos. I encourage kids to fill in all the black paper. The only black left should be the black glue lines.
Glue Drawing Success
Finished products are frame worthy, I think! (But as a teacher and a mom I may be biased!) There is a variety of ages in my class and that is evident in the final results. I love what a sensory experience working with chalk is for any age level. The kids really got into it; using their hands to blend and spread the chalk out.
Glue drawings, it’s not just for portraits…
This same technique can be used on any subject, not just self portraits. Below you see an example of an abstract glue line with the spaces colored in with chalk pastel.
There are two things I love about this method.
Number one is the glue is super fun to apply in this whirly manner. (Whirly manner is a real art technique, right?) Not having a true subject makes messing up that much harder.
Number two is that having many, small closed areas makes a great place to learn to blend colors. Try having students use two analogous colors in each space and practice blending. (Analogous colors?!? If you’re saying
“Huh, what?” check out my color theory printable here!)
Show me what you made today! And if you enjoyed this glue drawing project then please share it on social media! Every single share helps me to bring you more fun projects and free printables!