Our Storybook Art class combines two favorites activities: reading and making art. Each week we read a new children’s book and create art inspired by the story and its artwork. We savor the words and analyze the illustrations in each book, enjoying them completely at the start of each class.
We focus on books that have a particular relevance to the season or some other aspect of an event currently occurring in the children’s lives. In our long and snowy winter, we read Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. This gorgeous and evocative book called for a special winter-themed project.
We found it in a project on a website we admire: Art Projects for Kids, run by Kathy Barbro. This Winter Birch Trees Project is a watercolor tape resist project that results in multi-textured and layered artworks. And wow, did these ever turn out great!
One of our head teachers, Fran, did this in her classes one week and adapted it slightly for her sessions. Here is what she had to say:
I followed the main ideas of the project, but did a few things a little differently:
- When we taped the borders of the paper, we actually taped them down to the table. This helped by keeping their projects in place while they were taping their trees, etc.
- We tore the tape to create the trees (this gave them a more natural look); though a couple of the younger kids cut the tape because they had too much trouble tearing.
- Everyone cut the moon out. Since it was too difficult to cut the tape into moon shapes (it kept sticking to itself), we first stuck tape onto contact paper. Then we cut the moon shape from that, and the slick surface of the contact paper allowed us to peel the tape from it and then stick it on the paper.
- We used pure liquid watercolor paint (not watered down) to paint the whole thing – to achieve a dark night time look.
- We sprinkled the sea salt, to change the texture and create “sparkling stars” in their night skies.
- We blow-dried them so we could finish it in one class period (the paintings need to be dry before you can peel off the tape).
- We splatter painted the snowflakes at the end: the kids used slightly watered down white acrylic paint, and while holding their brushes above their pictures tapped the brushes against their free hand to put some snowflakes into their pictures.
This was a really great project to teach, and for the kids to experience. I particularly loved that it involved using several different watercolor techniques, all very achievable even for my youngest students, giving a great finished painting for each and every student. It was also an opportunity to talk about positive and negative space.