The Montessori school where I teach was focusing on the history and culture of Australia this year. Since the children are very young it is not always easy to come up with art projects that they are able to execute and still capture the flavor or history of a region. Sometimes I tend to overthink the process , but this time I decided to focus on using natural materials and to implement the dots of color that have been used by aboriginal artists. Two simple concepts. I liked the idea of gathering the sticks from my own yard and buying the little pebbles at a garden center.
We mounted the sticks and pebbles on the black Foamcore (Dollar Tree) using white glue. The Foamcore provides a nice, stable surface. The children composed the elements in any way that they found appealing. When everything was glued down, they added the dots of acrylic paint with the Q-Tips.
My husband used his band saw to cut some heavy cardboard tubing that I had been saving into various lengths. I had my pre-schoolers pick out different pieces and paint them with wild colors. We dipped some yarn in white glue and wrapped that around some of the piecs although that was a bit tricky for them. I used a glue gun to mount the tubing onto one large sheet of black foam core. It's quite heavy, so I have to figure out how I am going to hang it for our art show. It was good use of the tubing instead of tossing it out.
All the children that attend the Montessori school where I teach participated in this collaborative art piece that will be auctioned at their annual fundraiser next month. The children, ranging in age from three to six, are studying Australia this year. We used Aboriginal art and the animals of Australia as our inspiration. The Aborigines have a beautiful way of depicting animals in a simple, almost graphic style. The piece measures 36 x 48 inches.
Each classroom depicted a different animal. I created stamps from craft foam or stencils cut from acetate of the animal shapes. The children first did a rubbing of a pattern using oil pastel to establish a background. They printed or stenciled their animal and added some decoration with paint applied with a Q-tip. The parents will receive the original art on the night of the fundraiser. I made color copies and adhered them to the canvas with Elmer's glue and a sponge brush. I coated the finished work with Mod Podge.
It's almost the end of this nine weeks of art classes with three-to six year olds and I'm getting ready to send their work home. It's hard for them to wait all this time to show their parents and I begin to run out of places to store the art, but I think it makes an impression to see it all together. I have put aside two pieces from each child for our art show at the end of the school year.
I introduce children to the concept of making objects that are three dimensional by showing them how to turn strips of paper into sculpture. I show them how to fold the paper back and forth and to cut spiral shapes from squares. We use glue sticks to attach the paper to a base of corrugated cardboard. It is easier to attach the pieces and not have them pop off the base if they fold the ends before gluing. The paper can be twisted and looped through other strips. At first they tend to glue the strips flat onto the base, but they quickly grasp the concept of adding height. As they work, I encourage them to look at what they are making from different angles.
I came across this ugly placemat when I was looking through a supply closet at school. When I ran my fingers across the raised texture of the design, I knew immediately what I would use it for.
I applied printmaking ink with a brayer to the surface of the placemat and flipped it over onto white paper to make my impression. I let my monoprint dry for a few minutes and then added a wash of diluted light pink acrylic paint. The ink had not completely dried, so everything turned purplish.
Now, should I frame it or make some greeting cards?
I like to take ordinary objects that you might find around the house and turn them into art. Think of transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. I happened to have a bunch of little six inch square shadow boxes that a friend gave me when she was cleaning out her art studio. Plus I had a bag full of wooden odds and ends such as spools, clothes pins, small wooden blocks, knobs....because you never know when a use may arise for them. I used an egg carton to hold my acrylic paints. I painted the shadow box and objects in eye popping colors and used white glue to attach everything once the paint had dried. Now I have a conversation piece to add to my book shelf. This project is fun for children since they are thinking outside the box (ha ha) as to what constitutes "art".