This past week, my young art students completed a project based on the Blue Dog paintings by the late artist George Rodrigue. After talking about the artist and looking at examples of his work, students were instructed to create their own version of a blue dog painting. The idea was not to copy the original work exactly, but to give their own dog a personality by using color choices, background design, and any accessories they wanted their dog to wear.
The paintings were completed on canvas paper with initial sketches done in pencil. Students then traced over their pencil lines with black oil pastel. Acrylic paint was used to fill in color, and as a final step, black acrylic ink was used to go over the oil pastel lines that may have been covered up in the painting process. Works like this could also be completed using basic supplies such as oil pastel, tempera paint, or using colored pencils and crayons.
There have been several books for children written by the artist featuring Blue Dog, including Why is Blue Dog Blue and Are You Blue Dog's Friend?
As a writing exercise to complement the art, ask students to write a short story featuring their blue dog character. Where does he/she live? Who are his/her owners? What does their dog like to do? Who are his friends, and the question that might reveal the most exciting part of the story…why is Blue Dog blue?