Up, Up and Away!

In the past, a hot air balloon was a common sight to see at local state and county fairs.  We ended our fair unit with 5th graders creating the patterned balloons with analogous liquid watercolor backgrounds. Our inspiration was from Ginger over at paintbrush rocket who’s talented students created a beautiful mural containing balloons.

Week 1
We looked at various hot air balloons, then created our shapes. First, students drew the shape of the hot air balloon on 12 x 18 drawing paper.  I did have tracers of balloon shapes that helped them get started and then bold patterns were added in pencil.

Week 2

Next came the painting. We used tempera paints and painted the shapes and patterns, starting with the lightest color and eventually ending with black.  I demonstrated how to clean brushes on the placemats so the students NEVER rinsed their brushes.  The students are pros with this concept and it keeps the paints vivid and opaque. Lastly, students outlined in black tempera paint.

Week 3

Students cut out their balloons then glued them onto the pre-painted watercolor paper.  Once we glued them down, the balloons seemed to really pop!  Next, students added the baskets using oil pastels to created the woven effect and added more painted paper details such as clouds.

These were so fun to see the kids create.  They loved making them and I loved seeing the bright, fun patterns in my classroom! 



  • Rina k6art.com

    September 23, 2012 at 2:26 am

    I like how your students clean their brushes on the placemats. I always wondered how you got such colorful painted mats! Very colorful and fun project. Thanks for posting.

  • Elizabeth – Dream Painters

    September 23, 2012 at 3:22 am

    Gorgeous colors, and I love the mixed media approach to bring in different textural elements 🙂

  • Phyl

    September 23, 2012 at 4:38 am

    Did you see my most recent post? All about hot air balloons! (This weekend was the annual hot air balloon festival in my town – a major event!)

  • Pat

    September 23, 2012 at 7:41 am

    I just need a little clarification about “cleaning” brushes on a placemat. Do you mean there are moist sponges alongside the placemats or do they just wipe their brush off between colors? If so, don't the paints get muddy? The balloons are great and I really like the textured baskets.

  • Paintedpaper

    September 23, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Yes! I thought of your when I was uploading my photos. 🙂 I really loved the birthday cake one!

  • Paintedpaper

    September 23, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Pat, I teach them to keep the paint on the tip of their brush. No scooping paint like ice cream! lol I start this in 2nd grade, they love painting any excess onto their mats, but really they become pros. We start with the lightest colors, then move to the darker colors the “rule” is you can't go backwards only forwards. This painting technique has really taught them about the color wheel and what happens when you mix complementary colors vs analogous colors. When they are ready for black or small designs they get a small brush, At the end of painting students put their brushes in a little bowl in the sink to be rinsed.
    No sponges, no water. I have back to back 45 minute classes, so I want them working as long as a have them. Hope this helps! 🙂

  • coralvssalmon

    September 23, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    What a delight! We have a running joke in the art room that I drive to school in a hot air balloon everyday. I'm not sure how it started but I still get little ones telling me they were looking for my hot air balloon in the parking lot at recess but couldn't find it! Teeheehee!

  • Patty Palmer

    September 23, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Love,love love!!!! These are beautiful and I love your approach to painting light to dark. And wiping the brushes on the placemats? Brilliant!

  • Ana

    September 23, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Adorei este trabalho e todos os outros. São muito criativos!
    Um abraço
    Ana (Brasil)

  • The Modern Art Smock

    September 25, 2012 at 1:48 am

    Love these Hot Air Balloons! We do them in our classroom and these just pump it up a notch!! Also, Just wanted to say THANK YOU for referring people to my little ol'blog.. It means a lot!!


  • Heather Clark

    September 25, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    I absolutely LOVE your blog and the projects you do. I have done a few, but have difficulty with clean because I too have back to back classes. This has always made painting difficult. You should write a book that details how you teach children to paint. I would love to know more about your procedures.

  • Susan Bivona, Art Teacher

    September 26, 2012 at 1:36 am

    I TOTALLY AGREE with Heather – I really do wish you would write a book or e-book or downloadable PDF about how you paint with your students! Seriously – you are amazing and I would be more than happy to pay for this info!
    Smiles – Susan

  • Hannah- Art.Paper.Scissors.Glue!

    September 26, 2012 at 2:06 am

    Those turned out beautiful!

  • Paintbrush Rocket

    September 28, 2012 at 12:55 am

    LOVE the way these turned out Laura!!!

  • asillisa

    January 26, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    I agree with Heather! There's no doubt you would make the most brilliant (in every sense) book on color and painting in art class! I would treasure that resource like I do your blog!

  • Allen jeley

    December 25, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    I read your article and also see painted paper picture and its give us good idea how to make new design on paper and its painted thanks for sharing good info professional personal letter .

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