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Valentine Monster, drawing, oil pastel and wash, girl age six, Berkeley Child Art Studio.
Valentine Monster, tempera, girl age five, Berkeley Child Art Studio.
Drawing the Valentine Monster
Age Group:
5 to 12 years old.

Drawing monsters is fun for children as there is no predisposed idea of what a monster looks like. There are many books that tell stories of children’s monsters, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, Mercer Mayer’s There’s a Nightmare in My Closet and others. Process: Drawing the Valentine Monster is a special activity for Valentine’s day. It counteracts the extremes and provides a female anti-hero. First read the following story to the children. Then discuss the possibilities of what the monster looks like reassuring the children that no two monsters will look the same so each child can freely invent his or her monster details. Does the monster have claws, or wings, or teeth, or fur, or scales or a tail? Does he or she walk or slither or fly? To draw their picture instruct the children they must first draw the monster in oil pastel using whatever colors they like, then they should use the brushes and wash to fill the page with diluted red paint for a complete composition. The oil pastels will not smear with the watery red paint. They will resist and provide a bright contrast to the red wash.

Materials & Tools:
White drawing paper, oil pastel crayons with many reds, red wash in ice cube trays (red tempera paint watered to very thin wash) water color brushes and rinse water.

1/2 hour

Once upon a time there was a little girl who was tired of all the nice, sweet, happy hearts that came out on Valentines Day. She thought all this was very silly, and she was tired of being nice and sweet and happy all the time. She didn’t want to make hearts that said, “I love you” and she didn’t want silly boys giving her hearts that said, “I love you.” So she set out to find a monster who would be the Valentine Monster and eat all the happy red hearts up. She went to the forest where she knew that there were many monsters because her brother had told night time stories about the monsters in the forest. But she wasn’t afraid because she knew there was one thing all monsters liked to eat. Can you guess what that is? Anyway she filled her pockets with it and whenever she met a monster in the forest she held out her hand full of this wonderful food and the monsters grew very tame and would listen to her while she asked them if they would like to be the Valentine Monster. Most monsters, however, are very lazy and afraid of the daylight. They don’t like to leave the forest. So they all said, “No!”

Then one day when she was walking through the forest with her pockets full of the magic food, she came upon a monster who was curled up in a tree asleep. His big claws were covering his eyes and his hairy legs were tucked up under his chin. He had funny looking ears, and his nose wiggled. He had some sort of tail too, but the little girl couldn’t see very well cause it was dark and the monster was asleep. But she thought he also looked somewhat like a dragon too cause he had scales. He was sort of a medium size monster so she thought he might like the job of being the Valentine Monster. So she woke him up.

“Grrrrrr,” said the monster, “who’s waking me up before February 14th?”

“Do you always sleep until February 14th?” asked the little girl.

“Grrrrr” said the monster, “February 14th is the only day I wake up all year because that’s the only day I get really, really hungry and have to hunt for my food which is a big bother. Chasing rabbits, and catching birds and digging up roots, is a lot of work. I would much rather sleep.”

“Oh,” said the little girl, “I have a much better idea. How would you like to eat hearts? Nice yummy red hearts with little arrows through them and flowers on them that say, “I love you”. You wouldn’t have to hunt them at all because all the kids leave them out on the table. They are all just waiting for you to gobble up.”

“Well,” said the hairy scaly monster, “I would like to eat hearts that I didn’t have to chase. The only thing I would like better is some of that magic food you have in your pocket.” So the little girl gave him a big handful of the yummy food and they became friends. Monster promised to be the Valentine Monster and eat up all the hearts he could find on Valentine’s Day.

And that is how the Valentine Monster became the Valentine Monster who only comes once a year on February 14th and gobbles up all the hearts that kids have cut out. . . unless the kids leave some of that magic food in a bowl outside the kitchen door. Then the Valentine Monster will fill up on the magic food and be too full to bother with your Valentines.

Can you guess what the magic food you have to leave outside your door is?

(answer is: dog food)

Draw the Valentine Monster:
Think about whether he has scales, or fur or feathers. Will you draw him with long claws or flippers? Will he have a beak or long teeth? Does he have a tail? Does he walk on two legs or four or six legs?