You've seen the videos on facebook for this one right? They make it look so easy! So I thought I'd pick up some nail polish and some eggs and give it a try. You know, ON A WHIM for this week's facebook live broadcast.
My whim turned into pretty much my whole afternoon.
Let me tell you, the results are stunning...
...but the learning curve was LOOOOONG!
After much trial-and-error. And a little googling. I figured out a way that worked best for me. And I'm sharing it with you here:
The nail polish that I used was on sale at Walgreens (2 for $5). It's the cheapest I could find and to do my dozen eggs, I probably used less than half a bottle of each color. I mentioned in the video that I had used real eggs. I tried the dye-able plastic ones, but those little buggers float. So I ended up with it bobbing all around the surface of the water (picture a ping pong ball) while I struggled to grip it properly in order to submerge it into the marbled paint. After expressing my frustration in the video, one of the really smart parents at our studio shared how she managed to give those plastic-floaty-eggs a handle:
"We always use plastic eggs. I poke a hole at the top with a push pin and then insert a toothpick. That way the kids can dip them in the polish and not get as much on their hands. When they are finished, they take the other side of the toothpick and push it down into a piece of recycled Styrofoam of flower foam."
Seriously, smart people hang out at the art studio. (Thanks, Marianne for this tip!)
I hope you try this out at home if you're looking for a unique way to dye some eggs with a pre-teen or teen (or adult) crowd. Watch the video above. And be patient. As you can see here by looking at my eleven eggs (I dropped one), my last three eggs are significantly better than my first eight! Gimme another dozen and they'll be even better!
On a youth basketball team, some kids are there because they love the game and can't get enough of it. Some are there because they are really good at it. Some are there because all their friends are on the team. Some are looking for a place to fit in. Some aren't sure why they're even playing but they are hoping something clicks.
When we sign our kids up for a season of basketball, we're looking for an EXPERIENCE. Yeah, we'd definitely like to see some growth...maybe in better dribbling skills, higher game IQ, better teamwork or just increased confidence. We judge the success of the season NOT on the end-of-the-season tournament, but rather by looking at how the entire experience positively impacts the development of our children.
Our weekly art classes are an experience that encourages the same kind of growth as that baseball season (or baseball season or soccer season). We're looking for increased skills--in drawing, painting, printing, sculpture, etc. We're working on a better understanding of abstract concepts like composition and balance. We improving on our vocabulary and our critique skills so we can support our classmates. We're creating together and making connections with fellow makers. We building self-confidence and resiliency.
Just like the basketball team, our kids are come to the studio for ALL different reasons. Some have a natural talent that they are looking to grow. Some have a LOVE for creating and are just looking for an outlet. Some love the freedom of the studio environment. Some have friends in class. Others are looking for friends.
Our jobs as parents and coaches
Our instructors' job is to help each one of our students get what THEY need out of class. For most our our students, that still involves making an amazing piece of art. But, we also understand that not everyone NEEDS to finish their final project. Some have zero interest in finishing their artwork because that's not what THEY are looking to get out of the class. They may never truly finish anything in our eyes, but if they are getting what THEY need out of their studio session each week, that's what matters.
So, parents--especially Orange Easel parents--please look at the season, not the score. Look at the practices, the teamwork, the connection, and the experience. Not just the finished artwork that they walk out with at the end of the month. Because for some of students, what they are working on isn't as tangible as something that can be painted on a canvas. And for ALL of our students, that's not the full story.
Anyone who knows me well, know that I'm as competitive as they come. I like to win. And I like pretty art. But--at this age, at this level and in the big picture--the "score" in so unimportant. What we learn along the way is what matters.
My 10 year old daughter takes classes on Thursday night. This is her third year doing our Pet Portraits class in February. And every year she has chosen to paint a picture of one of our Great Danes. This year is a painting of Sophia, my 7-year-old blue merle.
Why we offer the "same" class
We repeat a lot of our curriculum year after year and I hear some parents express concern that their kiddos have "already taken that class."
Couple points to keep in mind:
Here are a few more portraits from our Thursday night class.
You know what's impressive? These 10 and 11 year olds had to DRAW their pet on their canvas first before starting their painting. They worked from photographs to design an interesting composition, get the scale right, and render their pet accurately. There's no paint-by-number here...they started with a blank canvas and a pencil!
We could make "prettier" art.
Our instructors could design out an already-balanced composition, pick out the colors that we know go best together, and outline each step exactly for our our artists to follow.
And the art might look prettier.
But our objective is NOT to see how well they can execute the teacher's instruction.
And in the end, THIS IS ALL THEM.
Could I make it prettier? Probably.
Could I make it better? I don't think so.
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The result from these bubble prints is a delicate lacy pattern (see above). The fish print was done in a second step using printing foam; we'll get a blog post written about that step next week!
The best part is seeing how BIG you can get your bubbles to grow!
It's a little bit science, a little bit art (and a little bit of soapy-mess)...and a whole lot of fun!
If you want to make these bubble prints at home, we've put together a short tutorial for you that appeared first on our facebook page.
After your bubble prints dry, you can cut or tear them to use them in collages or use them as backgrounds for more drawings, paintings, and prints. In our next post, we'll show you how we made our glittery fishy prints to go along with the story, Rainbow Fish. Stay tuned!
More Bubble Activities:
This is one of my favorite projects that we've done during our mixed media month! Admittedly, I'm a sucker for a good self portrait project, especially one that allows our teens and pre-teens to do some reflecting on what makes them unique AND avoids the anxiety that comes from telling them they are going the have to draw their own face.
This project incorporates the art form of a selfie and photo filters instead of drawing and painting, so it's perfect for our older artists who are already super familiar with the technology!
Step One: Prepping the photos
We've learned that our inkjet office printer doesn't print on transparencies well--they are wet and smudge really easily--so we always have them printed at Office Depot.
Step 2: Create the collage
Once they've got a good collection going, they can start laying the pieces out on their canvas. Here's where it's a good idea to have your photo transparency handy. We tell our artists to make sure that their favorite collage pieces lay underneath the negative space on the transparency.
Step 3: Assembling and finishing
If you need a great self portrait project, or a unique mixed media project, I encourage you to give this one a try!
Unique Self Portrait Art Projects
Ideas from other brilliant teaches and students:
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Once they were done, we stapled them to cardboard tubes so they could stand up.
Since this was a process art invitation, there's very little work on our part. All we had to do was set out the supplies and facilitate the dialogue!
Before class started, we traced a template and cut our paper dolls from heavy white paper (get our template here). If you're not up for cutting out your own, or if you REALLY need a lot of them, you can always purchase a pre-cut pad of blank doll figures (check out these ones).
Other supplies that you could use: washi tape, googly eyes, yarn, ribbon, fabric scraps, etc.
Our kiddos pretty much dove right in with very little hesitation or need for direction. But our students visit the studio weekly and are used to these types of process art invitations (In other words, they've learned not to ask, "what are we supposed to do?" because they know they are just going to get a smile and a shrug from their instructors!)
If your students are having a hard time getting started, here are some conversation starters:
Try not to let them get hung up on the perfect shape of a shirt or the perfect shape of a shoe. Rectangles make great shoes. Torn bits of paper layered together will be a wonderfully unique shirt.
Do you see the doll on the left with the big smile and pointy teeth? He's dressed in a dinosaur costume. The mask is folds down to reveal the human face underneath. How amazing is that?!
I hope you try this out with your artists at home or in your classroom. Let me know how it goes for you!
More Figure & Portraiture Art Activities
Art History Matters
Our preschool classes have a monthly Art History focus that goes along with the art concept that we're learning and the stories that we're reading. When we're studying CONTRAST (the difference between black and white, shadow and highlight)d in January, we look at VanGogh's Starry Night and we read the books Flashlight and Where the Wild Things Are. We don't look at VanGogh's Sunflowers because they don't fit into our curriculum. Don't feel like you have to teach the entire breadth of an artists' work or the entire art movement; it's okay to simplify it.
It's also important to note that our lessons and our activities that follow are PROCESS ART. It's never about the product that is created, but rather the learning that took place in the process. When we're learning about Seurat and then offer an invitation to try pointillism by making fingerprints on giant stamp pads, it's perfectly acceptable for our artists to make handprints instead. Or even foot prints. Our art invitations are just that--invitations. It doesn't mean that the lesson was a failure or that they don't understand Seurat's art. Maybe our artists just really, really needed to feel their whole hand on that stamp pad.
Our Top 10 Favorite Famous Artists to Teach Kids
Additional Preschool Resources
We hope that our Top 10 gets you thinking about YOUR Top 10 list. And inspires you to incorporate some art history into you ABCs, colors, and shapes lesson. There are so many tie-ins between famous artists and famous paintings that you can use in the preschool classroom. Happy teaching!
I thought it would be fun to go live on facebook and share some watercolor painting with you today!
I'm going to be painting with three different types of watercolor-ish paints (okay, the last one is technically an acrylic ink, but it's my favorite!). I hope you enjoy this little heart tutorial!
Process Art is not about us. It's about them.
TIP #1: Set the expections up front
At the beginning on the year, send home a flyer about the types of activities you'll be doing in your room and WHY. If you need a template to get you started, I've got you. Click here to download a one-page document that you can personalize for your class.
TIP #2: Take pictures
Capturing the actual creation will help parents to visualize what exactly happened. Video is even better. See how focused they are? See how they are smiling?
TIP #3: Stop sending the art home
Stop worrying about HAVING something to send home. It's okay if they don't take something home. If the process is what really matters, the product created isn't needed as proof. Don't feel like you need to keep everything. Often times in our art centers, those small quarter sheets of paper get used and left there, with no name or way of knowing who it belongs to. We usually pile them all up and save them until the end of the day JUST IN CASE someone comes back for it. If not, it get's thrown away. If the kids don't care, why should you?
TIP #4: Make collaborative art instead
Giant collaborative art is wonderful for the classroom because it's easier to prepare, uses fewer resources, and encourages communication skills between students. Plus, when the art stays in the classroom, it can be revisited over and over (and none of the parents have to figure out what to do with the day's art.)
TIP #5: Document what the children say about their art
Write a note quoting the child's explanation of their art. Drawing for preschoolers is more about communication than it is about making something pretty. This way parents can continue the conversation at home.
I hope that those tips are helpful. What's your best tip for advocating for more PROCESS ART in the preschool classroom? I'd love to know!
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More Process Art for Preschoolers
Content inspired by the artists and art created in our studio.
Orange Easel began as a small art studio in my basement and continues to grow and serve our community. Read more about our story here.