This is part two of my musings on art in the dark lately. We just finished our Light and Dark unit with our preschoolers (read more here) in the studio. I'm hoping THIS post inspires you to incorporate dark play into your home.
Although my kids are almost teenagers, I remember what winter was like with kids cooped up all day. I remember the post-nap, pre-dinner hours being the worst. It was cold. It was dark. And everyone was cranky.
On these short winter days, my kids would BEG to play in the dark. They would help me pick up the main rooms in the house (I told them it was for safety) and once everything was clean...er, I mean, safe, we would turn off all the lights in the house. Then, we would get out the different lights and PLAY.
The possibilities are limitless. Just normal play is novel when you have to use a flashlight to see it.
But of course, art is our favorite kind of creative play. And since we're an art studio, I've compiled a list of some of my favorite Art-in-the-Dark ideas for home use. No fancy supplies needed. Just some basic art supplies and a light source. (there's a light source list at the end too)
Capture the Shadows
Build a Light Box
Mess-Free Finger Painting
Paint right on top of the light and see those colors in a whole new way! Fill a gallon zip-top plastic bag with a few dollops of paint. Secure the edges and top with clear packing tape and tape flat to the light table**. Artists can squish the paint around in the bag to mix the colors. Older artists can even draw designs in the paint.
**You can do this same one in light too. Tape to a window or glass door and the sunshine will make a similar effect. Plus, the vertical work surface conditions those core stability muscles and shoulder muscles that all kids need for great fine motor skills.
Shadow Puppet Theatre
Start building your collection of illuminating toys! Here are some of our favorites:
This week, we tried something new in our preschool classes: We used sumi ink and brushes to draw.
Since our class was all about caterpillars today, we drew caterpillars. I think you could draw anything. Butterflies would be fun. And I can't wait to do self portraits like these (It's on the schedule for one of our summer classes).
We began by looking at photographs of caterpillars and talking about the different parts of a caterpillar. We learned that there are different kinds of caterpillars that have different features. I had the children give me directions on how I should draw a caterpillar on the white board.
Then we passed out large sheets of paper and invited the artists to find a spot on the floor to work. I feel like for the scale of the paper and the length of our brushes, the floor was the best place for them. We handed out a small amount of ink in individual glass jars (like a tiny bit of ink...a little goes a long way!).
There's something magical about preschool line drawings. They are bold. Their subjects are both simplified and amplified. Usually we do them with black sharpies. But INK is a whole 'nother level.
Sumi ink is rich, black liquid. It paints on so smoothly. And it covers the surface quickly (which is important for preschoolers). Unlike the sharpie, a brush gives us thick lines and thin lines. And even some scratchy lines where our artists were running out of ink.
Unlike our tempera paint, the ink isn't gloppy and thick. But it also doesn't run and drip like watercolors. It's the perfect consistency.
If you try out some sumi ink at home, make sure that you protect your surfaces and wear a paint shirt!
(And get those frames ready because you're going to need them!)
Our Fundamentals class has been studying dark and light, black and white, all month long. This week, we read the book Flashlight by Lizi Boyd.
To get warmed up for class, we traced shadows in a dark room by flashlight. How tricky it is to hold the flashlight in one hand and draw with the other!
er\\This picture book tells the story of a boys adventure through the woods with a flashlight. He discovers many animal friends using his flashlight. The illustrations are primarily black and white. Only the subjects illuminated by the beam of light are in color. The darkness surrounding his is illustrated in a lower-contrast grey.
Our artists enjoyed telling the story (since their are no words) and looking deep into the shadows to see if they could see what was happening behind the scenes, unknown to the boy and his flashlight.
In reading our story, we pointed out the uniqueness of the illustrations and the artist's use of contrast. Then, we gave our artists some charcoal to respond to the story in their journal.
We used both compressed charcoal, charcoal pencils, and white charcoal. We also had blending stumps.
Artists worked inside their journals which keeps a record of each story we read.
Blending and smudging the charcoal is the best part.
Our responses to the story show the same darkness, shadows, and low contrast as the book illustrations. Some of our artists chose to document the animals while other drew the boy.
Our journals each got a quick spray with fixative and a sticker to label the date and the story. And then we moved on to the next activity! (nothing in our 90 minute class lasts more than 15-20 minutes).
We've had out 3Doodlers for a month now and I finally feel comfortable writing a short review of the product. If you're not familiar with the 3Doodler, check out the video link below for the newer 2.0 models:
Our studio invested in a few of the 2.0 because they were quieter and lighter and not too much more expensive than the older model. We currently have three of the 3D printing pens. We've used them for two classes and the our instructors have had a chance to play with them.
Here's what we've learned:
Check out the video of the butterfly Miss Allison made from a translucent blue PLA plastic:
Want to play with a 3Doodler?
Our 2015-16 schedule will have a new class for adult artists who want to hone their drawing skills. Fundamental Drawing will meet once per week and will focus on skill development, exercises, and instruction.
And the best news, it's completely FREE.
Although, these are considered advanced classes, the desire to learn and grow is more important than the current skill level. You can be a beginner in these classes and be JUST fine!
Drawing Fundamental class will operate on a 12-week curriculum. We will repeat the lessons and drills every 12 weeks. (Repetition is a wonderful thing.)
Each class is 60 minutes long; following each class, the studio is open for another 60 minutes for practice and additional feedback. The second hour is completely optional.
WHO SHOULD TAKE THIS CLASSES:
The emphasis will be on drawing as REAL as possible--not because realistic drawing is better than abstract, but because realistic drawings demonstrate that we have command of our skill!
Our class meets four times per month (any "fifth days" will be taken as a day off). After these 12 lessons have been taught, we will cycle back through them. Artists may join at the beginning of any month, regardless of whether we are in Week 1, 5, or 9.
Below is the 12-week outline for our Fundamental Drawing class:
Week 1 - Drawing accuracy lesson 1
Week 2 - Drawing accuracy lesson 2
Week 3 - One point perspective drawing
Week 4 - Two point perspective drawing
Week 5 - Drawing from photograph (non-moving objects)
Week 6 - Drawing from photograph (moving objects)
Week 7 - Still life drawing (shading, highlights, textures)
Week 8 - Still life drawing (contour, scale, perspective)
Week 9 - Figure drawing lesson 1 (from photo)
Week 10 - Figure drawing lesson 2 (life)
Week 11 - Portrait drawing lesson 1 (from photo)
Week 12 - Portrait drawing lesson 2 (life)
Tuition is always free but registration is required.
The first thing to identify is the vanishing point. Your vanishing point is at eye level of the viewer. If you're creating a drawing from your own creative brain, this is important to know -- because where ever you set your vanishing point, you "put" your viewer there.
Take a look at the photos above. The vanishing point is higher and lower because the camera was raised and lowered. Notice that the bottom photo is the perspective of a REALLY tall person but the top photo is taken from the perspective of a small child. The vanishing point shifts up or down the depending on the viewer.
Once you have your vanishing point established, the rest of the lines radiate out from the center. Table tops, table legs, shelves, mirrors, picture frames, baseboards...anything that follows the walls of the room.
Assuming all of your furniture follows the walls, your drawing should be composed of only three types of lines: Vertical, Horizontal, and lines that radiate from the vanishing point.
Our Drawing Fundamentals class has spent the last two weeks focusing on ACCURACY. Accuracy in rendering a subject, either from a photo or from still-life, is one of the first skills that we work on. Angles and shapes fit together in the proper scale and proportions.
Talented artists who can render accurately have amazing EYES. It's not just the hands that draw. We would even argue that hands aren't even the most important tool in drawing. Drawing begins with the eyes and an awareness of how these angles and shapes fit together.
One of the best ways to train our eyes to SEE these relationships is through drawing on a grid.
Grids break up the large page into smaller, more-manageable spaces. They give us a roadmap to follow. It's easier to plot a point and hit the target if we narrow the playing field!
Below is an example of a simple grid drawing.
The original line drawing is on the left and the artist's rendering is on the right. Completing this drawing without a grid, is much more difficult! (We know. We tried!)
Click here to download a printable grid and simple line drawing that you can try at home!
(Easter-themed, because we're dreaming of spring!)
It's easy to skip over Thanksgiving and get straight into Christmas, especially with all the cute crafts and art activities floating around Pinterest. Let's face it, there's just MORE STUFF out there for the snowy winter holiday at the end of December.
Never fear, we've rounded up a few of our favorites for the November holiday:
Leaf Coloring Pages
Mayflower Step-By-Step Drawing
Turkey Step-By-Step Drawing
More Step-by-Step Drawing Resources
Check out our Pinterest Board! (yes, you'll find some Santas and Olafs on there too)
Here's a fun portrait activity for preschoolers and young elementary artists. It's a great way to reinforce the placement of facial features on future portraits!
Orange Easel is an Art School in Liberty MO.