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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
I love cutting paper snowflakes. It's one of my favorite winter-y art activities to do with the kids during down time. Today, on facebook, I'm sharing three quick tips that you can incorporate to take your snowflake cutting from beginner to advanced.
It's that simple. Not a fancy template you have to download or some crazy pattern to follow. Just some general guidelines to take your paper snowflakes from beginner to advanced. Happy creating!
More Snow Art Resources:
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I adore these homemade, paint-printed valentines with metallic gold details. They are made using gel printing plates from Gelli Arts and the result is a layered, textured, one-of-a-kind Valentine. I hope you enjoy the tutorial below!
Printmaking Valentine Tutorial
We started by picking a color scheme. We opted for coral, magenta, turquoise, and white knowing that the gold sharpie would be the perfect finishing touch. Gelli plates work best by layering pattern and colors, using masks each time you print so that the bottom layers peak through.
To make the masks, we cut hearts from the white drawing paper, making sure to keep both the positive hearts AND the negative mask. Both will be useful!
Since each layer has to dry a bit in between, we started by printing the bottom layer on all six cards. (You can work on one card at a time if you'd rather.) Each card was prepped with a center circle mask taped in place. Some backgrounds were gradients. Some were patterns. Some where solids.
Leaving the white circle in place on every card, we continued to the second layer. This is really something that ONLY makes sense if you play around with it! By placing a heart on a painted gelli plate, you allow the bottom layer to peak through on the card (in the shape of a heart). Conversely, but placing the negative mask on a painted gelli plate, you print the positive heart onto your card. Whew. Brainteaser.
You can do as many layers you want. Just keep adding patterns and masks to create depth to your prints. Use the q-tip to doodle a pattern into the paint before you print. Wipe your gelli plates off in between paint colors, especially if they are complimentary, so you don't end up with brown!
For the final touch, we removed all of our masks and added gold detailing and lettering.
Since the heart masks are so textured and gorgeous, we decided that they needed to be saved! So, we used glue to collage a few on our final cards.
If you want, you can also add a varnish on top of the paint to create a glossy shine to your finished card. Be sure to let it dry COMPLETELY before putting in envelope!
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More Valentines Day Arts & Crafts Activities
More Printmaking Art Activities
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Host Your Own Fairy Camp
We begin with a look at architecture. We look at photos of different houses and discuss what we see. We talk about windows and window frames. Types of siding. Types of roofs (rooves?). We notice trim. And gutters. And eaves. Only after we've OBSERVED the world around us, we can begin to create.
We use these little wooden birdhouses. They come in different sizes and I feel like over the past six years, we've used them all! Most recently, we used these ones. They are only about 1.5 inches high and are perfect for fairies! Plus, they fit really nicely on our saucers and leave plenty of "yard."
Our artists use sharpie markers to add architectural details onto their fairy house. If we have a particularly young crowd, we usually discuss the difference between DRAWING and COLORING before we had out the sharpies. We're going to be painting these with watercolors, so DRAWING is all we need here. Not coloring.
Our favorite paints are liquid watercolors. And our favorite liquid watercolor for this is Colorations GLITTER Liquid Watercolor. Because it's washable. And it has glitter. Duh.
The liquid watercolor is perfect to stain the wood a beautiful, sparkling, rainbow of color while still allowing for all the sharpie details to show through. Bonus: it drys really quickly.
Once the houses are dry, we invite the artists to glue even more details onto their wooden houses. These details could really be anything you have laying around the craft closet, but OUR favorites are sequins, faux flowers, and gemstones. You could use regular glue or modpodge for this, but hot glue is the real winner. (Yes, we let our 4-5's use low temp hot glue guns. It's something we're pretty proud of. But that's another blog post for another time.)
The video below show our artists hard at work on this step. We also offered glue and glitter shakers at this camp. :)
Our artists create gardens for their houses using a terra cotta plant saucer. The gardens are made from moss, glass gems, and faux flowers. Some of our older artists use popiscle sticks to construct bridges and fences.
If we have an older crowd it's fun to just put out a variety of supplies to see what they can come up with. Things like twine, ribbons, cardboard, washers, buttons, thread spools, sea shells, and toothpicks make for wonderful tinkering materials. Again hot glue is your friend. In longer classes, we've even put out the polymer clay so kids can sculpt miniature forrest animals and tiny home funishings.
Once the garden is done, we add the houses and the fairies. Our "fairies" are battery-powered led lights. They are the perfect size for placing inside the tiny houses. (Tip: Tie a string to little loop on the light if you want to be able to get it back out of your house easily to turn it off.)
Enjoy this video of Miss Sara introducing our artists to the fairy:
When the fairies are inside the houses, they make a perfect little night light!
So, there you have it! Our guide to a successful and artful fairy house class, camp, or group project. Of course, you could do this with just one kiddo too, but we love the creative energy of a group.
If you get a chance to try it out, send me some pictures or tag me on social media, okay? I'd love to see!
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Watch here for our best tips:
Our Favorite Scissors:
Here are the links for the scissors mentioned in the video above!
Need some inspiration? Check out our preschool class in action--cutting up herbs and flowers!
I hope these tips inspire you to get out the scissors a home with your little ones. The right tools make all the difference...it will give YOU peace of mind and it will set them up for success!
More Fine-Motor Activities for Preschoolers:
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I also think that screen printing BLACK INK on a white shirt is probably not the way to go on your first print! This year's design with WHITE INK on dark orange seemed so much less stressful!
Since our design as some pretty intricate details, we choose to create our screen using the photo emulsion. The kit also comes with the drawing fluid and screen filler that you can use to hand paint your screen if you have a simpler design.
The instructions that come with the kit are extensive--and for good reason! They are well-written and easy to follow (provided you read them). Understand that you're probably not going to get the kit and print tshirts in the same day. Preparing the screen takes a little time.
First step is mixing the photo emulsion and spreading it nicely on the screen. You want a thin layer that fills the screen evenly and doesn't have any globs or drops. This isn't as easy as it sounds--since you're spreading a liquid over a porous screen, the green goop kinda ends up everywhere. Do this over the sink.
The photo emulsion is light sensitive once it dries, so it needs to be kept in a dark space until you're ready to expose it with your transparency. I put ours inside a empty dresser drawer in the girls bathroom and then taped that drawer shut with half a roll of duct tape (along with some sharpied words-of-warning for anyone who dare open it).
The Speedball instruction book suggest putting the wet screen inside a black garbage bag if you can't find a dark closet or room. I wouldn't recommend that. We tried that the first year and ended up having to redo the screen when the emulsion dried with plastic stuck all-bunched up next to it.
I had our design printed on transparency by Office Depot because the inkjet in the office makes a smudgy mess when printing on film. Plus, then you don't have to buy a whole box of transparency papers.
Next step, is making a sandwich. This sandwich is made with the screen on the bottom, the transparency in the middle, and a piece of glass on top to hold everything in place. Then, the whole sandwich is carefully placed outside onto a black sheet of paper. The paper's important so that the light doesn't reflect off the sidewalk and expose the underside of the screen. (Tip: We took our glass out of a picture frame. From the dollar store.)
The sun hardens the photo emulsion where the transparency ISN'T. Where there is ink on the transparency, the screen will later rinse clean. I recommend checking the exposure time table in the instructions. And then adding just a few more seconds. A slightly over-exposed screen can be salvaged with a little extra elbow grease. A slightly under-exposed screen just washes down the drain!
I know it seems like a lot of work up to this point, but I promise with was downhill from here. And I was able to print about 30 shirts in under an hour (for under $100) so it's all worth it.
Once the screen was rinsed and dried (and cured briefly in the sun again), I was ready to print.
I glued four pennies to the corners of my screen so that it would sit slightly above my t-shirt. You can see that I didn't attach them last year (see video below) and spent the a great deal of time trying to get them lined up with the frame for each print. Duh. #thingsyoulearnthesecondtime
Make a practice print on paper first. Heck, make LOTS of practice prints. Screenprinting is an ART. With practice, you'll get a feel for how much ink and how much pressure.
Here's me printing four shirts for this year. You'll notice I don't put any cardboard or anything inside the shirt. I did that the first year and then realized that the ink wasn't bleeding through and the extra step was causing finger prints and smudges.
If you need a bunch of matching shirts and you want to save a little money with a DIY, I highly recommend you try screen printing your own! The screens can be saved for future printing of the same designed or completely cleaned and reused with a new design. (Any budding entrepreneurs who are interested in a design and printing biz...this would be make a great gift!)
More DIY-ing Fun:
It's no secret that we make a lot of slime here in the studio. So, naturally, I have a favorite kind to make. It's stretchy. It's squishy. It's marshmallow-y. It's fool proof. If you've struggled to make a successful slime in your home...try this recipe :)
My Favorite Slime Video Tutorial
Is this Art?
So, is slime art?
We understand that some may question a slime activity as part of an art lesson. It's not your traditional art form. ?
But, in it's process we get to exercise so many of our maker skills that are important for art. We make decisions about color and texture. We have silly ideas and the freedom to try to bring them to life. We test out theories and change our plans when things go awry. We gain confidence when we have success.
There is so much joy in the process. Maybe fine art needs a fine product at the end to "count." But we don't. ?. The act of creating is what matters to us. We're growing artists and makers and creators who will change the world. One slime recipe at a time. ? #theworldneedsmoreartists #makesomething
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.