Happy Earth Day, everybody!
Sometimes the simplest things are the best, like these toilet paper rolls by my Little Artists (inspired by Wassily Kandinsky).
I gave the 3-year-olds some paint (primary colors and black), watercolor paper, paper rolls and 20 minutes. The amazing pictures above are the results. I love how different they are. Some kids kept it very neat and clean, others made a messy, overlapping art and one boy even used the paper roll to color all of the circles.
And the best part? Sometimes the tempera paint made a huge bubble and it popped on the artwork. The kids love that! I mean, who wouldn’t, right?!
When we were talking about warm and cold colors last week, we visited one of my favorite German expressionist painters: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
We have learned about German expressionism: about the way the artists painted emotions rather than reality, how they distorted or exaggerated objects and used vivid and shocking colors. We talked about all the emotions they were trying to capture, from anxiety and fear to peacefulness. We even mentioned Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (click here to watch this 1920s marvel)!
We explored Kirchner’s landscapes and looked how he used warm and cold colors to express his emotions.
Then we looked at pictures of different landscapes for inspiration.
Then kids got a big black paper and used white chalk pastel to sketch their landscape. Then they divided it into segments and started coloring them in. They used only warm colors for the land, cold for the sky – or vise versa – but did not combine them. When they were done (it took them a little bit over an hour) I sprayed it with a hair spray to help the chalk pastels stick to the paper. Stunning results, don’t you think?
Secondary colors and George Seurat go together more then well! That’s why I like to combine this concept and this artist whenever possible.
First, I talk to kids about mixing primary colors to get secondary ones:
And then we talk about optical color mixing: meaning, some artists did not mix their paint on the palette but rather let the viewer (his eyes and his brain) to do the mixing. Seurat, for example, used small dots of paint close to each other to create the illusion on mixing colors. We talked about similarities of pointillism and mosaics and digital photography as well.
Of course, we also looked at a lot of his work and since we noticed, a lot of his paintings captured the ocean and boats, that was our focus as well.
We sketched the scene, talked about composition and colors… and then used q-tips and tempera paint to fill the whole page with tiny little overlapping dots. It took the kids a little over an hour to fill the whole page (letter size). When they did, they were very pleasantly surprised by the results.
Primary colors are the most important colors of them all – yellow, red and blue. They cannot be created by combination of any other colors. They are the most basic ones.
And what better artists to introduce to the kids when talking about primary colors than Piet Mondrian?!
Piet Mondrian was born towards the end of the 19th century in Netherlands. During his life he worked towards a not-so-simple goal: painting only the most important truth:
the real essence of all things, as he called it. He kept simplifying his work until all that remained were horizontal and vertical lines, primary colors and black and white. The style was called: De Stijl (Dutch for ‘The Style’) and it is a great example of complete abstraction.
Like these busy streets of NYC:
Our project, though, was a little bit less abstract. We created Mondrian animals.
We used pencil to sketch the animal, traced the outline with a sharpie and divided it into several parts with horizontal and vertical lines. Then we colored the animal with primary colors, cut it out, glued it onto a black piece of paper and created a border out of colored papers. It took us about an hour and the kids were 5-10 years old.
Are you an art docent?
Teach kids about Joan Miro this month! This project introduces Joan Miro & self-portraits and it is recommended for kids in K-2 grades.
Silly Self portrait
Start with a presentation.
When you introduced Joan Miro and his work to the kids, ask them to sketch a head (with a sharpie). Show kids that they can do whatever shape they want (you may even sketch those on a blackboard – oval, square, heart…) and then show them how to make the eyes and the U-shape nose.
Then the kids can create whatever body shape they want. Just remind them to keep it simple and when they are done to ‘divide’ it or ‘visually cut’ it into several segments (they are going to be coloring each of them differently so they want to have several of them).
When they are done, give them the oil pastels (yellow, red, blue, green, black and white) and ask them to color the picture (not the background). The ones that finish early can add their favorite animal or something they like to do (soccer ball, books, etc.).
In the end, ask the kids to bring the picture over and spray it (with them) with the watercolor spray (just some watercolors in a spray bottle). For this part, make sure you have something covering the surrounding area (newsprint, mat, shower curtain or old plastic tablecloth). And be careful when you lift the picture – the watercolor may drip a little.
Here are the labels to print out for this project and attach them to kids’ artworks.
Handmade quills dipped in ink. There beautiful birds were made by students from Lake Stevens and inspired by arTree’s February issue dedicated to Charley Harper and birds. The kids looked for simple ways to capture the birds – the least amount of elements that still made the bird recognizable: minimal realism. Aren’t they beautiful?!
Little Artists explored texture this week. We have learned about Claes Oldenburg and his funny sculptures. From fuzzy Popsicle to the ice cream cone on top of a building (he is always a super easy sell to the kids, no matter how old they are).
Then we explored different textures and created a mixed media collage of a burger. Kids loved to cut and glue all the different materials onto their super-tall burger! I pre-cut the pieces to make it easier for the kids. We had papers with punched holes for cheese, green plastic bags for lettuce, red streamer for ketchup, foil for fish… a lot of stuff for everybody!
After that we started working on one more project: cake candle holder. I love engaging kids with clay. It is very different that play dough and I believe it is important for them to be able to explore that difference. They pinched it, rolled it, squeezed it and when it resembled a shape they wanted, they added small details with a stick and stuck a candle in the middle. When the creations dry in a couple of days, they will paint it.
If you would like to learn more about Oldenburg, clay cakes, paper food and much more food-related fun – check out October’s issue of arTree.