"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge."
- Albert Einstein
I had an interesting experience yesterday. One that I am now 100% certain was divinely designed so that we could talk about something in this space. I was chosen to co-host a weekly theme challenge for a popular early childhood education account. Please note that this is something I am really looking forward to doing. I had thrown my hat in the ring along with some suggested themes that I was jazzed about (at the top of my list: FELT... guys, you can make anything with felt). Only the theme that I was paired with on this co-host selection announcement was PROCESS ART. HUH? I was confused because it wasn't one of the themes that I threw out. Then I realized that I had # a post that was promoting a Process Art Webinar that a friend was leading. So it totally looked like an official entry for the theme search. What came after I put 2 & 2 together is what I want to talk about.
Here is what followed: I am not allowed to host a process art theme because some of my projects end in a "product". Some of my projects are crafts, or DIYs, I almost always provide tutorials therefore, this isn't a good fit. Because it's Process or Product and I don't want to ruffle any feathers. There are teachers and studios who identify as Process Based and I am not one of them so I gotta tell them that this probably isn't a good theme fit for me.
Gratefully, at the age of 39 there is a pause that generally comes after this kind of fear-fueled reaction. So I did not send a rash, "there's been a mix-up" email. I took a breath and then I remembered MY TRUTH: I hate labels and I hate rules. Hate is a strong word. Let's say that I am highly allergic to things which define and segregate. It extends far past my teaching approach.
Q: What do you do? My husband can answer: accountant. We all know that that is 1/100th of what he does, but that is a short, acceptable answer. A small, tidy, easily digestible box. What do I do? I am a mother, an educator, a painter, an interior designer, an illustrator, a business owner, a blogger, a collage artist, a mixed media artist, a cook, a photographer, a graphic designer, a writer, a print maker, a crafter, a DIYer, a stylist, a poet, an event planner...I seriously do all of these things but we live in a society where we are supposed to dilute ourselves down to a sound bite. We have to choose a title. Only I'm not willing to play that game. Seriously, I was designing my business card the other day and I was struggling to fit what it is that "I do" into that sweet little space under my name and after 2 days of going back and forth I thought: this struggle is telling me something. This resistance is speaking to me. Why don't I listen? I am a creative being at my core and I have been breaking the rules and veering off "the delineated path" to make my own way since the day I was born. Why don't I just own it? So I did.
This could easily turn into the beginning of my memoir so I am going to try to wrap it up. If you are still reading, thank you. After 20+ years of teaching here is what I know: there is not one approach that is right or better. There is value in open-ended art exploration and there is value in learning technique, method, color theory, and steps. In my "camp" there is room for all of it. I have seen students shine when exploring materials with very little framework and I have seen students soar while learning how to build a project step by step. Both add value and there is process, creativity, and room for individualism in both approaches. Just when I think I have "got it" my students show up and teach me something new. I think the art of a healthy educator, a good parent, is to stay flexible and present to the beings in front of you. I cannot tell you how many times I have gone in with a a plan and ditched it because it wasn't what my students needed on that particular day. All inclusive art making with varied approaches and techniques is where I want to be. Color me that.
We had an art session that turned into a really fun exploration with "loose parts". I gave my little friends a tray and let them hunt through our found objects and supplies for any little bits and pieces that sparked their interest. H really wanted to add some colored pasta into the tray but we were out so this desire for painted pasta took the art experience in a magical direction. Check it out:
Here are some examples of loose parts:
- flower petals
- bits and pieces
- nuts and bolts
- recycled containers
- fabric pieces
Painting the pasta in a new way. We happened to have some pre cut black card stock out from another project. I just grabbed a stack, the girls picked some pretty paint colors, we added a blob to the center of the paper and they started rolling the dried penne noodles through the paint. This created two cool effects: brightly colored painted pasta and the unexpected bonus of abstract shape against the black background that looked really stunning. The ridges of the penne also added some great texture. Lots of messy fun!
We placed the penne on wax paper and let the background and the penne dry for 15 minutes. You could speed up drying time with a hair dryer. We just played mermaids while we waited.
Once our penne was dry we added it into the loose parts tray and started playing with our materials.
We used clear school glue and craft bond sticks to attach the loose parts with the exception of the felt dots which came with sticky backs.
Stacking parts and color was popular with this group
This is a really fun one. I hope you give it a try!
"The artist's vocation is to send light into the human heart"
- George Sand
To bunny ear or to bonnet... THAT is the question. The girls said bunny ears... wait, no, flower crowns! Then my creative mash up brain said: BUNNY EAR FLOWER CROWNS. I thought I was a genius for a day and then my Pinterest feed was flooded with bunny ear flower crowns. But have you seen a recycled egg carton flower version? I think not! (If you have, don't tell me.)
I had big plans to make the girls oversized wire bunny ears this year like this ^ but then the Art Gods threw me a bone and I scored these pre made wrapped wire bunny ears at Target a few weeks back. So my fully handmade idea turned into a quick and easy up-cycle. Love when that happens!
We are big fans of the egg carton flower. So it was our first choice material for our bunny ear blooms.
Speaking of egg carton florals...remember our V-day flower wreaths? Well they work beautifully as Easter wreaths too! The girls have had their heart wreath hanging on their bedroom door since the end of January and I don't see it coming down anytime soon.
When we started making our blooms we all agreed that the petite flowers looked the best on our ears. The big ones were fun but they just didn't fit the band as nicely. Be sure to make plenty of leaves because they really make the flower crown come alive.
1. Cut your egg carton flower shapes and leaves. 2. Paint your blooms and leaves with a bright spring-y palette. 3. Tempera and acrylic paint dry really fast especially on egg cartons. We painted some of our centers and then my brilliant R suggested we use some dot stickers for the centers and they really made them pop!
Pretty spring time flowers made with just egg cartons, paint, and flower stickers!
4. We started in the center gluing down a single bloom. 5. Then added leaves and blooms, more leaves, more blooms... 6. A little dab of hot glue easily secured the flowers and leaves to our bands.
"I have always thought of accessories as an exclamation point of an outfit."
- Michael Kors
If you are reading this will you do me a quick favor? See that little subscribe box in the upper right corner? If you are reading this on your phone it will be at the bottom of this post. Yeah, the really cute one with the mint green subscribe button? If you enter your name and email and hit SUBSCRIBE we will be "official" and you will get sneak peeks, VIP content, unicorn kisses, and golden tickets. It will be 100% worth it and never annoying. Seriously, I hate annoying. Look: I didn't even use a pop-up just an old fashioned plea. Thank you, my official Art Camp friend!
The girls are on Spring Break this week and Easter is just 6 days away, so you probably know what time it is. IT'S TIME for a....
Seasonal, wearable, artsy, accessory... or 2... or 3. We have so many we want to do and so little time (I hate when that happens).
H is 5 years old going on 25. She is really into purses, and wallets, and carrying her "coin money and dollars" everywhere she goes. She generally leaves the house like a blinking, neon exclamation point, if you catch my drift. So it got me thinking that she would probably really love a little bunny purse to go with her Easter dress and her flower necklace and her flower power ring(s). May I present (carrot stick drum roll please) the fuzzy, no sew, pom pom bunny purse and her sidekicks: sleepy lamb purse and flower crown bunny purse.
1. Take your felt square and fold the bottom half way up. This fold will be your purse section. 2. Draw a bunny head on your fold and ears on the top section above your fold. 3. Cut out your bunny shape. 4. Cut out two little eyes out of a darker felt color. 5. Add a little oval nose. 6. Add two skinny, straight lines for your little bunny mouth. 7. Two round, pink circles for the cheeks. 8. Whiskers! 9. Add a finishing touch... a felt flower, a little faux flower crown (scroll down) or a button bloom (pictured on sleepy lamb).
"Believe there is a great power silently working all things for the good, behave yourself, and never mind the rest."
- Beatrix Potter
This post is dedicated to my art teacher friend Shannon from Hatch Art Studio in Pittsburgh. Shannon is a Goddess who changed my life with two simple words: Scroll Saw. If you, like me, have been cutting mountains of paper and cardboard by hand for the past 20 years, you know what a literal pain in the... ahem... wrist it is. If you are just doing small batch cardboard projects, get yourself a ceramic blade. If you run an art studio or lead a class of 30, invest in a saw, friends. Art teachers with power tools = absolute bad *$$ery.
Here are three Easter crafts that will take your celebration to the next level without breaking the bank. They are easy enough for the very littles but cool enough for big kids too.
Craft 1: Swipe Paint Easter Eggs
Start with a few dabs of paint. Start with 2-3 colors. It is easy to add more paint, harder (and messier) to take paint away. Swipe, pull, push your paint until you are satisfied with your egg shell texture. Ideally, you will let your paint dry before adding the stickers and tape. If you are short on time you can add the stickers and tape to the wet paint and they should set as the paint dries.
Craft 2: Cardboard Collage Bunny
Trace and cut a simple bunny shape out of cardboard. Color your bunny base with paint sticks, dot markers, or paint. Then start layering on your collage pieces. You can add a cotton ball for a fluffy tail or felt pieces for fuzzy ears. SO many possibilities!
Craft 3: Straw and Button Necklace
These materials are perfect for little hands and great for strengthening fine motor skills!
"Adopt the pace of nature,
her secret is patience."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Facebook reminded me that this time last year the girls and I were farm sitting for friends in Helvetia, Oregon. Oh, take me back to wide open spaces, big blue sky, and green as far as the eye can see. Take me back to air so lush and fresh (unless you are standing in the chicken coop) that you get a little heady when you breath it in. Take me back to the place where the green grows green and lichen and moss hang from every tree.
If I can't click my heels and land in the Emerald Forest I am going to "go there" in an art lesson. This week's mixed media project is an homage to the art of primitive pastoral landscapes and a study in color. Are you ready? These little artists made some big, bold art.
Sort your materials in color families. We had 4 tables: blue table, green table, purple table, and red table.
blue table - tempera cakes, oil pastels, craft paper
We started our landscapes by sketching out our underpainting in pencil. For this project our foreground (pastures, rivers, animals) took up most of the page. Our middle ground (houses, trees, shrubs) started 3-4 inches from the top of the paper. Our background (mountain range and sky) was 1-2 inches from the top of the paper. This is not your average landscape composition but we had so much fun with it! After we sketched we explored a monochrome color scheme with tempera paint and water.
Let's talk color. What is a monochrome color scheme? Monochromatic color schemes are derived from a single base hue and extended using shades, tones, and tints. What is a complementary color scheme? Colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel (example: red and green). The high contrast of complementary colors creates a vibrant look, especially when used at full saturation. We achieved this high contrast with cut paper. The student work below is a gorgeous example of both of these color schemes combined.
"And all the colors I am inside have not been invented yet."
- Shel Silverstein
Guys, do you ever look at random objects and think that would make a really great...... WILDEBEEST! I am guessing that if you are on this page your imagination is probably firing on all cylinders so the answer to my question is, TOTALLY yes. Which means that you're in good shape because people who have really active imaginations live longer. It's true, I read it in the I Just Made That Up Britannica. If you don't believe me you can ask my squirrels, R and H. They know everything. I don't always follow the rules I learned in How To Be a Really Great Parent-volume 88. This one time I was trying to make a phone call and my kids were bouncing of the wall so I yelled "Go watch a show!". I have also been known to bribe my kids. I am sorry. It doesn't happen often but when it does it usually works. Don't report me to the elders. So the other day I found myself at a serve yourself fro yo spot ponying up on a bribe when suddenly my eyes fixed on the stack of clear plastic fro yo lids and I saw a school? (googling)..a smack (whaaat? so cool!) of bright floating jelly fish dancing through my head. See? It pays to bribe.
- plastic fro yo lids
- strips of old canvas curtains
- strips of pink and white tissue paper
- metallic tissue paper
- trash liner strips
- pipe cleaners
- hot glue gun
- acrylic paint
- neon tempera cakes
- transparent glitter paint
- opalescent paint
- 1 egg cup from a carton if you want to add a crown
- Sharpie and chalk markers if you want to add details to the face
- dot markers