Tag Archives: nursery rhyme

Nursery Rhyme Art Project: Painting!


This is the last post on my latest art project based on the nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence”.  You can find the earlier posts here, here, and here.  I hope you are ready for a lot of pictures!  I tried to catch each step of the painting so you can see what I did.  (If you feel impatient, just scroll to the end.)  First up, preparation!

Nursery Rhyme Art Project:  Painting!  (Pattern and Branch)First I had a friend cut some hardboard/Masonite into a circle for me.  I traced the Hex sign from the first post to get the circle shape and size that I wanted.  I gathered advice on how to prepare the surface, and then sanded it a little bit and covered it in gesso.  I also painted an X on the back in gesso to keep it from warping. (Thanks, Tanja!)

Nursery Rhyme Art Project:  Painting!  (Pattern and Branch)Once that was dry, I transferred my sketch onto the prepared board.  You can see I did this before I colored in parts of my large sketch.  I wanted you to get an idea of the process, even if things are a bit out of order.

Nursery Rhyme Art Project:  Painting!  (Pattern and Branch)

I also made myself a little color key.  Once I found the colors I liked in pencil, I tried to match them to paint colors.  Because I don’t usually paint, I wanted to avoid having to mix colors in order to keep things consistent.  I was pretty fortunate to find the colors I wanted fairly easily.

Nursery Rhyme Art Project:  Painting!  (Pattern and Branch)Finally getting started!  I’m usually behind the camera, but I love to see pictures of people working on creative projects, so I had my husband shoot a few pictures of me painting.

Nursery Rhyme Art Project:  Painting!  (Pattern and Branch)Here are the center circle and the second circle.  The center is an imaginary sixpence.  I took some elements from real sixpences to create the image.  The second circle is the rye in the nursery rhyme.  I liked blue as a background because it made me think of a blue sky over a rye field.

Nursery Rhyme Art Project:  Painting!  (Pattern and Branch)Next was the yellow stripe on the blackbirds’ wings.

Nursery Rhyme Art Project: Painting! (Pattern and Branch)Then came the bottom of the pie.  I tried to apply the color on this ring in order from lightest to darkest.

Nursery Rhyme Art Project:  Painting!  (Pattern and Branch)

Nursery Rhyme Art Project:  Painting!  (Pattern and Branch)

Nursery Rhyme Art Project:  Painting!  (Pattern and Branch)

Nursery Rhyme Art Project:  Painting!  (Pattern and Branch)

This was the beginning of the outer crown ring.

Nursery Rhyme Art Project:  Painting!  (Pattern and Branch)

Nursery Rhyme Art Project:  Painting!  (Pattern and Branch)

I liked the red jewels, but wasn’t sure about my second color.  I knew I wanted two jewel colors, so I tested out the idea on my color key (several pictures above) before trying the green on the actual crown.  I was happy with how they looked in the end.

Nursery Rhyme Art Project:  Painting!  (Pattern and Branch)Here it is before the final varnish.  I got nervous at this point.  What if the varnish somehow messed everything up?  I would have to give the library a photo and say, “Well, here’s what you were supposed to get!  Sorry!”  Luckily, my vivid imagination doesn’t often play out in reality (Thank God!  Do you know how many bridges would have collapsed just behind our car or how many medical emergencies I would have lived through?!)

Nursery Rhyme Art Project:  Painting!  (Pattern and Branch)Getting ready to varnish…(Having a child in preschool taught me that produce trays make great paint/craft trays.)

Nursery Rhyme Art Project:  Painting!  (Pattern and Branch)Finally finished!  It took awhile for that to sink in for me.  Here’s one more shot.

Nursery Rhyme Art Project:  Painting!  (Pattern and Branch)

Do you think it looks slightly convex?  My husband and I think that every time we look at pictures, even though the surface is flat.

I sort of wish I had added up the hours that this took, but sometimes I’m glad I didn’t.  It made my life very busy, but it was so great to be busy with something I loved.  It made me excited to get up each morning.  I haven’t always had that feeling, so it was a real gift.  I hope the library and the kids there like it.  I loved working on it.



Nursery Rhyme Art Project: Test Sketches


Hi, friends.  Today I’m going to share some of my test sketches from my current art project.  Last week I talked about the influences that went into it, and today I’ll show you how I began to bring the project out of my head and onto paper.

The first step was to break down the nursery rhyme (“Sing a Song of Sixpence”) into different parts.  I chose four:  the sixpence, the rye, the birds in the pie, and a crown to represent the king.  I used Google Images to look for inspiration in each of these areas.  Then I did little test sketches to see how it felt to draw each image more or less as I had found it online.  After that, I began to change the image to suit my purpose.  Check it out:

The sixpence:

Nursery Rhyme Art Project: Sixpence (Pattern and Branch)


I did a little bit of research on the sixpence, but really wanted my own take on it, so I tried to limit my information (I can tend to go overboard in the information department, so this was important.).

The rye:

Nursery Rhyme Art Project:  Rye (Pattern and Branch)

I came up with my idea for this image fairly quickly, so there aren’t many initial drawings.  If you look in the bottom right corner, you can see what I decided on.

The blackbirds and the pie:

Nursery Rhyme Art Project:  Blackbirds (Pattern and Branch)

In my limited research on this nursery rhyme, I found out that there were cookbooks around the time this nursery rhyme originated that explained how to make a bird pie and keep the birds alive so they would fly out when the pie was opened as a surprise for the guest!  I also read that there are versions of this nursery rhyme where it isn’t birds baked in the pie, but naughty boys.  Seemed good to stick with birds.


The crown:

Nursery Rhyme Art Project: The King (Pattern and Branch)

I don’t have a lot of confidence in drawing people.  One of my college portraits of my husband, then my boyfriend, made him look like he was from the movie “Planet of the Apes”.  (That should probably be a Craft Fail…).  Instead of drawing a king (or another character from “Planet of the Apes”) I decided to use a crown to symbolize the king in the nursery rhyme.  I had more trouble with this section than you might expect, but I finally settled on a good option, as you’ll see in future posts.

I hope you liked this little peek.  Next week I’ll show you how I put all these together to get my full-size rough draft.


Nursery Rhyme Art Project: Influences


Hi, friends.

I know it’s been quiet around here….I’ve had my nose to the grindstone working on my latest project.  I want to share it with you in stages, so here is the first installment.

Our local library recently received a grant to fund an early readers’ program for children ages 0-2.  They invited 10 local artists to make an artwork around a nursery rhyme in any medium.  I chose this one:

Sing a song of sixpence,

A pocketful of rye.

Four-and-twenty blackbirds

Baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened,

The birds began to sing.

Wasn’t that a dainty gift

To set before the king?

There are further verses, but these are the ones I am working with.  (Later verses and other versions have naughty boys baked in the pie and people getting their eyes pecked out.  I decided to skip those.)  My inspiration came from a friend’s young son who loves this Amish barn sign (I think that’s what it is called) that I have on our wall.  (If anyone knows more about these kinds of round signs, I’d love to read it in the comments.)

Amish barn sign (Pattern and Branch)

His favorite part is when we spin it (it has a nail through the center).  I liked this circular format, so I traced this shape and a friend cut it out of hardboard/Masonite for me.  Then I went to work researching the objects I visualized for the finished piece.  I also liked the idea of a flat, slightly folk-art feel, so I tried to incorporate that.  I’ll share more with you next time.