Every once in a while we like to introduce our young artists to an important historical artist. This summer in our Printmaking week of summer camp we made an introduction to Jasper Johns, who used letters and numbers in his paintings and prints. It's important to us that the children still use their own voice in making when we create works inspired by another artist. That way they can get a feeling for the technique all the while learning about process and art history all at the same time. Looking and making go hand and hand.
We began by creating a surface to print on. Jasper Johns paintings are so lush with color and texture that I wanted to mimic that lushness by layering the prints with collage. The kids created the collages by choosing from many textured and colored decorative papers.
The kids then made their own printing plates using colored flexible foam sheets, cutting out whatever number or letter they wanted. Some chose to spell out their whole name in different shaped letters and some chose a favorite number. By cutting out the the foam and gluing it on cardboard made it easier to glue the shapes down backwards and talk about how all stamps and printing plates are mirror images of what is printed.
After everything was dry the kids were ready for printing.
Using water soluble printing ink the kids chose between 3 colors, black, gold and red ( I chose those colors because they are so bold and graphic and would stand up to the colorful collages). Pieces of plexiglass acted as our inking plates. We used brayers to roll the inks from our inking plates onto our printing plates.
The result were these layered and lush prints. The kids could see how the different inks on the different collages created a variety of artworks even though we used the same printing plate.
I often wonder when we do these types of projects inspired by well known artists what they might think of the work.
For our Potions and Spells week of camp we create soaps and candles, using essential oils, Bug Bite salves from basil and lip balm from mint to name a few projects. These are great for kids to learn the medicinal properties of herbs but we need to follow the recipes in order for these wonderful treats to work. It was important to us to come up with some exploratory projects in between the very structures ones so that kids could use their minds for observations and discussions amongst themselves. We came up with ice. It seemed like a great material for the kids to make a transformation to occur.
Okay so now where are we going to get 4 big blocks of ice? I decided to make them by using washed milk cartons, filling them with water and freezing them for two days. After frozen, I ripped off the outer milk carton to reveal a beautiful solid block of ice. We diluted some liquid watercolor for each little artist along with a pipette and poured salt into cups for each of them. They loved the salt so have a lot on hand. We use salt so much in the studio that I buy 25 pound bags from smart and final.
We then let the children explore adding the color and the salt, which sparked a lot of conversation and observation. They mixed colors on the ice to create new colors and watch it run off the ice. They melted the ice using the salt.
And boy did they explore. We had the children working in teams and they really spent the time working together with their peers as they melted and dyed the ice.
Parents ask me so often if there is a good book out there
that talks about being creative with kids. My answer is there are quite a few, but
this particular one is so wonderful for those who are interested in adding
creativity to many aspects of their lives and not just in art making.
Banish Boredom-Activities to do with kids that you will
actually enjoy by Rebecca Green
And I believe you will actually enjoy them. Rebecca Green,
was an attorney at law, who made the decision to become a stay-at-home-mom with
her two children. When her children became ready to explore the world outside
of the home, Rebecca searched the world-wide-web for all kinds of creative
activities with her children and began to blog about her experiences at
notsosahm.blogspot.com (SAHM stands for stay at home mom). Now she has written
this incredible book with some of her best experiences and ideas.
One of the things I really like about this book is that she
talks about adapting activities to your children’s personalities as well as
discovering what you, as a parent, would enjoy sharing with your kids. If we,
as parents, plan a full day of activities that we are not interested in, at the
end of the day we are going to become frustrated, which makes it difficult to
parent reasonably or patiently.
As you can see I have done quite a bit of earmarking in this well read book and I have happily used some of her recipes to the delight of my students.
Banish Boredom is divided into 5 chapters, art- making,
science exploration, sensory activities, outdoor activities and field trips so
there is definitely something for everyone. You can pour over each and every
project and activity or pick and choose which ones appeal to you. The art,
science and sensory projects are so clearly laid out with the ingredients and
supplies you will need. I know some are daunted by the idea of being creative
with your kids, but with Rebecca creativity comes in all kinds of forms from
squishing shaving cream to geo-caching (if you don’t know what this is you must
look it up right now) to going for walks. Creative thinking can happen on a hike
not just on paper with paint (although that is good too).
Rebecca writes so thoughtfully about experiencing things
with your children both at home and out in the world and if you find images
more inspiring than words, she has great images showing curious faces creating
mystical science experiments or jumping around playfully in a field.
If you are looking for a book to inspire your days with your children you can get Banish Boredom here.
I saw an image of interlocking discs on the Instagram feed of Corinne Amato. It's just so exciting to me to see an image from across the country that really speaks to you in some way. I knew this project would be great for our Architecture week of summer camp. Not only do I love the idea of the kids creating their own building materials to build sculptures, but I could just use cardboard boxes that sit in the recycling bins to make the circles.
Which is just what I did. I became that lady going through other people's recycling bins looking for cardboard. That and people who know me tend to drop things like milk cartons, mismatched socks and cardboard boxes into Purple Twig for me. We cut out 100's of circles (over time of course) of different sizes. The children chose their circles and cut the notches themselves.
The cardboard notched discs in themselves are quite appealing.
Believe me there was a lot of complaining about cutting the notches in the circles. The moaning and groaning was comical, but then came the fun part, decorating the circles.
We set up two tables - one covered with bubble wrap and the other with tempera cakes, brushes and water. We created bubble wrap prints using just tempera paints in squeeze bottles and brayers. I am obsessed with this process at the moment because the kids absolutely love the sensory aspect of this process and the layered results are gorgeous.
I offered florescent colors for the tempera cakes because they pop so beautifully on the brown cardboard. The kids added, mixed, and splattered paint onto the circles, creating a different pattern on each one.
The results are these bright colorful building discs which the kids can interlock to create sculptures.
This sensory project is one of my favorites. It's just so layered. If you have ever taken a class with me then you know there are a lot steps to our art making at the Purple Twig. Especially when we are working with ages 2-5. The kids know to ponder "What is the next material" When finished exploring the one they are working with. This is a color exploring project that results in these gorgeous prints.
These are the materials I used for these mono prints.
yellow, pink or red, and blue tempera paints
small squeeze bottles ( I put the paint in the squeeze bottles or get the IKEA ones)
brayers ( if you don't have brayers then the hands do just fine)
Oh the joy of just squeezing the paint onto the table covered with bubble wrap ( yes I just taped it down, covering the entire table). The texture of the bubble wrap alone was an enjoyable sensory experience, running their hands on it, popping the little bubbles. Oh so satisfying. First I gave them blue tempera paint to roll around and then yellow to mix with it. We then made a print with the green paint. The mixing of the colors themselves allows for the blues and yellows to still appear while the main color is green.
We then moved to a clean area on the bubble wrap and started mixing orange. Printing it on the same paper to give the print those gorgeous layers. Luckily tempera paints dry rather quickly so rather than a brown mess of a print, each color remains separate.
Look at the layers of different colors in this print, oranges, greens, pinks, red, purples oh my.
When they were finished with their color exploring I brought out the good stuff, shaving cream!!! They rolled it or moved it around with their hands, popping bubble wrap if they pressed really hard. We bring out the shaving cream a lot on the table but putting it on the bubble wrap was a new experience for them. The sensory play went on and on. It was a good day.