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!
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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!
The base for the dollhouse were these wooden dollhouse from Ikea.
Technically, Ikea lists them as shelves, but they work great for a floor toy. They are BIG...standing almost two feet high. They also take a minute to assemble. If you're putting together one dollhouse, no biggie. When you have 20+ that need to be assembled, it's a little more daunting.
Thankfully, we have a great team here:
We never have any fun.
Our artists started their blank house and a design book. We got our book template from another incredible art studio, Make Art Studio (Heather creates the the most beautiful handouts and downloads). The book helped us to organize our ideas. There's only four rooms so each artist needed to decide on their floor plan.
We had a special guest visit the studio on the first day of camp. Toska Tiemann, an interior designer and color expert from Unique Painting, met with our artists to talk about the task ahead of them. They had so many design choices to make...interior and exterior colors, wallpaper or paint, accent walls, flooring, etc.
In addition to designing the walls and floors, our artists also had to create all of the furnishings for inside their houses. The studio's closets were empty this week because every single art material in the studio was sitting out in the large classroom. We used polymer clay, fabric, cardboard, beads, string, mosaic tiles, wire, pom poms, and recyclables. And lots and lots of hot glue.
The results were incredible. I love all the details. We've got pillows. And house plants. And even perfume bottles.
It was an epic week. This is how art camps SHOULD be: A whole week filled independent and passionate creation.
This is a project that could be completed in the home studio to whatever level of intricacy you desire. After you get everything painted, it would be fun to have as an ongoing project--something you continually add new furnishing and details too (just like our real homes!).
I hope you enjoyed seeing pictures from our camp in the studio and that you get a chance to try this one out with your kids!
If you want to see more, we took a live video tour of each of the houses. Our artists explained their choices and their favorite parts.
Watch our facebook live broadcast for a step-by-step instruction on how to make these sweet butterflies:
Once you've finished your butterflies, you can hang them from the ceiling, attach them to a window, or even use some floral wire to have hover above a houseplant!
I hope you enjoy this simple summer craft!
This pink stuff is made by speedball and can be cut to any size. For this project, we used pieces that were about 2.5x3.5". The smaller you go, the harder it is to carve!
I drew our design--three simple pots and three simple cacti--directly onto the rubber using a ball point pen.
Then I carefully cut around each using a lino cutters and a small "v" knife. The "v" shape works great for details. I switched to one to the larger "u" shape knifes when I needed to remove the surrounding area. The cutters we use in the studio come with all the little knives we need and the extra knifes store in the handle when not in use!
Remember, the areas that you remove will be WHITE (or the color of the paper. Art teachers, this is a great time for a lesson in positive and negative space ;)
(I didn't take any picture of me carving my cacti, but here's an image of one of our students during printmaking month. See how she keeps her fingers back and out of the path of the blade? Safety first!)
For printing our cacti, we used block printing ink. The real stuff. Yes, you can use paint, but it just doesn't produce the same crisp, clean lines as the sticky ink. You can also use these stamps with just a regular stamp pad (these are our favorite washable ones) but the prints will be a slightly washed-out version of your stamp.
After you spend all that time carving, you going to want the best print possible--and block printing ink is definitely the way to go.
We roll our ink out on glass plates (just the inside of some thrift store picture frames) using a brayer until it makes that signature kissy sound. (The kids love that reference).
Then, we used the brayer to roll the ink onto our stamp. You can also just press the stamp into the glass plate if you want.
However you do it, you want to make sure that your hands stay as clean as possible!
The pots and succulents are interchangeable and can be mixed and matched. For the green ink, I rolled some with a little but of added yellow and some with an little bit of added blue to give me slightly different shades of green.
I think I like the pots best in the simple black and white.
But I also had some fun on black paper. The white ink for the pots wasn't quite "WHITE" enough on the black--it read as light grey. While the white ink was still wet, I sprinkled it with cooper embossing powder and used a heat gun to turn it into a raised metallic detail. (That will have to be another blog post though!)
I hope you have fun trying this project out with your students or for some creative time for yourself.
Our favorite printing supplies:
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Today's lesson was to nail down what a horizon line was in a landscape picture. To help us teach the lesson, we shared the book, Freight Train by Donald Crews.
It's a simple book with not very many words which enabled us plenty of time to talk about the illustrations. After reading the book, we took turns adding to a large-scale, collaborative drawing of a horizon with a train. Then each artist got a chance to make their own drawing on a smaller scale in their journals.
We returned to our art tables to find paint, pencils, markers, brushes and sponges:
We used 11x14 inch paper which is larger than our typical drawing and painting paper. Using a marker, our artists began by drawing a horizon.
Artist worked so intently to create their trains.
The sponges we're using are just inexpensive kitchen sponges that we had cut into simple shapes. They shape could be combined to make cars, wheels, smokestacks, and roofs.
In addition to how wonderfully functional the sponges are, squishing them in paint is just fun.
The creativity on each artists' train and background was really fun to witness!
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For older artist, the results are stunning and the design possibilities are endless. For younger artists, the process of squirting out the shaving cream and dropping the color is great for fine motor development (not to mention, it's fun to play in the colored shaving cream when your done!).
For a edible version, try whipped cream instead of shaving cream. The colors aren't as bright, but it's safe for the really young artists to put in their mouths.
See below for detailed, written instructions. But here's a super quick tutorial that we did live on our Facebook page.
Step One: Squirt the shaving cream into the pie plate.
You need complete coverage but it doesn't need to be deep. We usually look for about half an inch. You can use a spatula to spread it evenly around when your done squirting it out.
Afterward, you can drop in more color, swirl again, and repeat the printing process. Or, you can just enjoy the shaving cream as a sensory play invitation.
We recently use our shaving cream prints to make planets. We splatter painted a piece of black construction paper with white paint and then glued on the marbled planets.
These printed papers are perfect for collages (think spring flowers, fall leaves, etc). They also make a beautiful set of notecards!
Not everyone can make it over to the studio over Christmas Break so we brought some art ideas to you via Facebook Live. All of these tutorials use the basic art supplies and stuff we figured most people have around the house. If you need a new activity to keep the kids occupied, check out our tutorials and let us know how they go!
MONDAY - Paper Mosaic Art
TUESDAY - Ice Art
WEDNESDAY - Salt Dough Sculpture
THURSDAY - Fun with Weaving Art and Pom Poms
FRIDAY - Griddle Art
Our regular May classes are exploring art with metal all month.
We began our month with a metal tooling project using aluminum foil, tacky glue, and shoe polish; and, we're wrapping up our month with continuous line drawings turned into wire sculptures! The challenge in working in three-dimensions is that we have to abide by the laws of gravity!
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.