As much as we love the art made here at The Messy artist, we love the PROCESS even more. We strongly believe in the value of experimentation and happy accidents, and taking the time to really explore the medium being used. This goes for all of our artists, starting at 18 months and going up to adults.
For the very youngest – who are often exposed to these creative materials for the very first time – what a treat to behold! They approach their supplies with no preconceived notions of a finished product. They are living in the moment and investigating what they have in front of them. What is this? I’ll try this to see how it looks. What happens if I do this, what if I add that? We encourage our student artists to maintain this open minded and expressive attitude as they approach every project we do here at our studio.
And one very effective way to do that is to introduce unusual objects to create art with. Maybe the completed artworks are not especially “professional” looking, but the experience the children have – and more importantly – the ability to encounter the projects with their minds wide open is a skill they will always treasure. To overhear children explain how they made their artwork to their parents after class is always fantastic, as they get excited all over again about the process of creation.
Here are three recent painting projects we did over the summer, introducing unusual objects to the process. They also utilized working together as teams to create their art.
Pool painting is a project we did in our mini-camp with children ages 3-5. This is one of those projects where the cost is quite minimal, but the payoff is great.
We took a kid’s play pool, added paint, golf balls and a bunch of kids and – wow!
The teacher lined the pools with 8×11 sheets of paper, then added some tempera paint to the bottom inside edges of the pool. The children all stood around the pool, holding it up by grasping the edges. With cooperation, the children were able to roll the golf balls through the paint and across the paper in the pool. Once they gained some additional skills in working together, they were able to aim for certain colors of paints and roll the balls through them.
The children really enjoyed the physicality of this project, and along the way they learned about the properties of liquid paint, gravity and working together. Cleaning up together was also incorporated into the project!
In guitar painting we took the concept of a guitar – and added paint! Shoeboxes were lined with paper, then strung with a few rubber bands. Now, they were ready for the final touch – the paint. Students dabbed paint onto the rubber bands with paintbrushes, then pulled or strummed them to splatter the paint. It created splatter paintings inside the box, and as these two students noticed, outside of the box too.
They purposefully put their faces close to their ‘guitars’ so that when they pulled the rubber bands their faces got as much splattering as the pictures. That was part of the creativity and joy of the project – just look at their faces!
An old magnet set in our studio inspired this magnet painting project. We took the set of magnets (one on a plastic handle, and one just a nickel-sized disk) and used them to create paintings.
A 9×13 foil tray was fitted with a piece of cut-to-size paper. The pairs of students worked together and took turns. First one would select the paint colors and glop them onto the paper on the tray. The partner would then hold the tray while the artist got to move the magnet around and create shapes by moving the magets through the paint.
When the first artist was finished, the other member of the pair took a turn. Science and art working together to make paintings!