Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Crayon Resist

It has been awhile since my last post. Summer has come and we have been visiting grandparents, going to camp and spending lots of time outside. We are of course still finding time for art. One of my favorite art experiences for this time of year is crayon resist fireworks. Crayon resist is one of those classic art techniques that is just, for lack of a better word, cool. It is so very simple. You need watercolor paper, watercolor paints, a paintbrush and crayons. The basic instructions are to color or draw on the paper with the crayons (press hard) and then paint over the image. The waxy crayon lines resist the wet paint and show up nice and bright along with the paint. For the most fun, try light or white crayons and dark paint. You may wish to do this the day after you see fireworks so that the concept and images are fresh in your child's mind. Just use bright crayons and black paint. Oooh, Ahhh!

So simple and guarenteed to be a crowed (or child) pleaser.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Not Too Messy!

I know that most parents are not up for a mess all the time (or ever!). Cutting, manipulating and gluing paper is a great way to have a meaningful art experience without much mess.

Some little ones will just want to cut or just want to fold and may not wish to "make" something at all. That is OK. Resist the urge to guide too far. If your child is happily cutting and does not wish to glue, allow them the freedom to do just that. Try not to teach too much. Young artists do not need their work to look like something. Help only when asked.

I gave Hollin a sheet of red 12" x 12"cardstock for the base. The size and color do not matter, but it should be sturdy. Then, I grabbed some scraps from our scrap bin--repurposed art projects, cut-up greeting cards, scraps of construction paper etc. I did control this a bit by selecting fairly sturdy pieces and cutting them into long strips and basic shapes. I showed her how to wrap a strip around a pencil to make a swirl and how to fold a strip back and forth to create a zig-zag. I made a few other folds and cuts on my own then left her with the glue and scissors and with a sheet of round stickers. She got really into this. She created a playground with slides and stepping stones and all sorts of interesting playthings. At one point I had to hold myself back from committing a major creativity killer. She was telling me that tiny little children would have so much fun playing on the slides and walking on the bridge. She was deep in play. I almost grabbed some little stickers of animals or people for her to use but thankfully I held back. She did not need that, she had everything she needed to create a magical playground in her head and on the table. Little images would have destroyed the aesthetic value and more importantly they would have sent the message that you need to have all the props in order to play. I hope this makes sense and that I am not sounding like a lunatic!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Shaving Cream Prints

Is it messy? Yes. But it is SO much fun. I am certain that there is not a child out there who does not love to do this. Whether they simply run their little fingers through it or make a thousand prints, they will want to do it again. This is a favorite project in my toddler art class. Even the parents ask if we can do it again. Although it is a great tactile experience for the littlest artists, it is also well received by older children. Everyone seems fascinated by the swirling colors and the amazing way those swirls are captured with a quick press of paper.

To do this you will need a tray of some kind. I like to use foil baking pans but have used all sorts of things. You also need shaving cream, liquid watercolors, a plastic egg carton (or other paint tray), a popsicle stick, an eye dropper, white card stock (blank index card are great for this) lots of paper towels and newspaper to cover your work space and a place to put your wet prints.

1. Cover your work area and fill the tray with shaving cream.

2. Squeeze some liquid watercolors into your palette--you can dilute with water for softer colors.

3. Show your child how to use the dropper to "pick-up" paint and drop it in the shaving cream. Encourage them to make lots of drops using the different colors (3-5 colors is all you need).

4. Use the popsicle stick to swirl the shaving cream around (fingers work too and they will get their hands in it eventually--take a deep breath, it will wash off!).

5. Now that you have beautiful swirly shaving cream, press a piece of card stock into the cream and lift it up. It will be covered in shaving cream. Wipe it off with paper towels and ooh and aah!
6. Just keep doing it!

When the paper dries it can be used to make greeting cards, collages, or enjoyed as is. As you can see, I did not include any pictures of the final result, you will just have to make some to see!

Freezer Paper Stencils

I first heard of this wonderfully fun and beautiful way to transform clothing in this book, The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule. http://amandasoule.com/book/. I tried it immediately and loved the results. The other day I pulled out my trusty freezer paper and fabric paints and got to work. There are way too many stained shirts in my children's drawers, I had to do something! The Artful Parent, one of my favorite blogs, has a great post on freezer paper stencils right here--http://artfulparent.wordpress.com/2008/05/10/freezer-paper-stenciling-so-fun/
Everything you need to know to do this is there.

This is really more of an adult or older child project. I do not recommend doing this with your little one, rather FOR your little one--or for yourself. The paints will obviously stain clothing and you certainly don't need to teach a 4-year -old how to use an x-acto knife just yet.

The seahorses came out really well, very crisp lines and a cute image. I did cut out 2 stencils. I have not tried to reuse a stencil, something I should try. The wheels on the dump truck ran a bit. I plan to touch them up. In my experience, bigger less detailed images work best. I find my images using google images. When I was looking for a seahorse image I typed "seahorse silhouette". Then enlarge the image you find and print. Then all you have to do is trace the image onto the freezer paper (no "I can't draw excuses!). It is also important that you use a sharp blade. Send me pictures if you do this! I have a few more to do. I will post them as well as the touched up wheels some time soon.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Streamer Barrettes and Headbands

For awhile now I have been thinking about the cute streamer barrettes that girls wore when I was in early elementary school (early 80s). I remember loving these barrettes. On various occasions I have looked online for instructions but never found any great hits. Well, this weekend I decided to reinvent them. It only took a few attempts of twisting the ribbons to figure it out. I made little felt flowers and sewed them on to cover the otherwise bald spot on the end. My daughter loves these and they look so cute in her hair. She requested that I jazz up a few headbands as well. I am not going to post instructions--if you really want to know how to make these, let me know and I will put a step-by-step tutorial together.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Vegetable Prints

I have always felt a bit uncomfortable using food to make art. I cannot help but to cringe and think that we should be eating our produce, not printing with it. But, I decided to go ahead and spare some produce for the sake of art the other day. You want to use tempera paint for this. Cut some interesting fruits and vegetables and set out some paper (we used a huge sheet of newsprint). Simply press the friut or veggie into the paint, then onto the paper and repeat. We used primary colors and I did not impose any rules regarding which fruits needed to be with what colors. I let her just go with it.

I did not use much, half an apple, a strawberry, half a brussel sprout, a small hunk of red cabage and the stumps of a green onion and a carrot. The carrot was not very interesting, the cabage fell apart. The green onion and brussell sprout were beautiful and the apple was Hollin's favorite to work with. Peppers and mushrooms would also be fun to try. The objects do tend to get slippery with paint, making it a challenge for little fingers to hold, so try to wipe your child's hands (and the object) from time to time to avoid frustration.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


We went strawberry picking the other day and came home with 6 pounds of delicious juicy berries. The berries reminded me of a painting I started a year and a half ago. I was very pregnant at the time, but wanted to have a painting included in an exhibit at a local gallery. I don't recall the exact theme of the show, but it had something to do with the Eastern Shore, a local theme. One of the many things I love about the Eastern Shore is the strawberries in late spring, so I started a painting of just that. Well, Waylon came a week early and I never did finish the painting or enter the show. That painting, along with the rest of my artwork, eventually got packed up and has been sitting in our basement ever since (waiting patiently for a permanent home). So I dug out my strawberries and finished it up this week.

Perhaps this is why I have such a hard time letting go of my work, every painting is tied up with my life at the time it was started or completed. This painting will forever remind me of a two-year-old short haired Hollin, our little rancher in Woolford, wondering who our second baby would be, and of course, STRAWBERRIES.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Wet on Wet

Wet on wet is a classic watercolor technique that is not only fun and exciting for the artist, but the results are incredibly beautiful. There are unlimited variations-using salt, no salt, a dropper, a brush, wet on water, wet on another color, the list goes on and on. It never gets boring. I have mentioned in previous posts that liquid watercolors are a must have for young children. I believe that traditional trays of watercolor paints are really intended for children over 10. It is too difficult for little ones to remember to keep wetting their brush, the trays become a mess, the colors are less intense and most importantly, you cannot use a dropper. Before I go on, if you are wondering where to get liquid watercolors and which ones to get, I recommend Blick brand. I buy all of my materials from Dick Blick.

That link should take you right to the liquid watercolors. You also need to use quality paper for this project. Watercolor paper can be pricey, but regular papers will not hold up and you will have a frustrated little artist and a soggy mess of paper. You can also get great watercolor paper through Blick intended for little ones. Sturdy enough for lots of water yet very reasonably priced. It comes in a big pad of 50 sheets--The pad I always get is the Biggie Junior by Canson.

You will also need a medicine dropper, a palette (plastic egg cartons are PERFECT for this), a big watercolor brush (optional) and a shaker of salt.

(hmm, I think Blick should be giving me a discount:))

Cover your work area, fill your egg carton with paint. I usually fill the egg cup halfway and add a little bit of water. 3 or 4 colors are all you need. Try to choose colors that will mix well and won't turn into mud.

Wet the paper completely. There are several ways to do this. Run it under the faucet, have your child paint it with a big brush (just water), give them a spray bottle to spray it wet, dip it in the baby pool, ...you get the picture!

Now, set the wet watercolor paper down in front of your child (who is wearing a smock or paintable clothes). Show him or her how to use the medicine dropper (you can find these at Blick as well, or at your pharmacy (they will often give them to you if you ask). The drops of color bleed beautifully on the wet paper and the colors melt and mix together. Every child (and most adults) absolutely love the effects. I encourage little ones to cover up all of the white paper. You can let them use a paintbrush, but the dropper is usually the preferred method. It is also fun to squeeze a few drops on dry paper to show them the different result.

A few sprinkles of salt on the wet paint will create crystals. Most will want to shake out tons of salt so let them--remember, it is the process not the product!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bubble Prints

Today we made bubble prints. This is a messy one, but oh so much fun! I have done the straw version in the past, but today we tried blowing colored bubbles on paper as well. First, I filled a bowl with a bubble solution. You can use the store bought kind or make your own using about 2 tablespoons of dish soap to about 1 cup of water. I then added a good squirt of liquid watercolors (probably 2 tablespoons worth). I have mixed in tempera paint in the past and it does work, but liquid watercolors are ideal. Mix it up, and bring it outside. As I mentioned before, this is a messy project so cover your area or do it somewhere that can stand a few spills. I made two bowls of colored bubbles, one red and one purple. Give your child a straw and let them start blowing bubbles. Hollin turned 4 last month and can do this without drinking the solution, I would suggest that you blow the bubbles for anyone under 3 and watch your child carefully at any age--it is not uncommon for children to accidently (or purposefully) taste the solution. Once they have blown enough air into the bubble solution that is has risen above the surface you simply press a sheet of paper onto the bubbles. I like to use blank index cards for this. You can make lots of small prints that can later be used as cards or for collage projects. You can repeat this process with different colors and multiple times with each sheet of paper. Hollin wanted to immediately wipe off any bubbles that transfered onto the paper which is okay and totally optional. The results are amazing. Do as many or as few bowls of color as you wish.

We also tried to blow colored bubbles onto paper. I added a few squirts (I am rarely exact in any sort of measuring) of liquid watercolors to bottles of bubbles. We made one orange, one blue and one green. It worked really well. It was fun trying to get the bubbles to land on the paper. The ones that got away did not make a mess as I had thought they might. Hollin did spill an entire container on the concrete patio that has not scrubbed out just yet despite the paints being washable, so be careful! I used newsprint paper for this with plans to use it as wrapping paper. If have also heard of people placing paper in a big box and blowing the bubbles into the box--great idea if you plan on doing this indoors.