Saturday, April 7, 2012

Coloring a Drawing

Creating an environment during art offerings where it is both open ended and process based is my main goal when offering art in my classroom.  When children are able to experience art in this way, they are able to create their own relationship with both the art medium and the creative process. 

Today we added a second layer to our drawing with permanent markers: adding color to our drawings!  Liquid watercolors by Colorations, which can be found at Discount School Supply is my favorite means of adding color to many things.  It can be watered down for lighter yet still brilliant shades.  The colors mix well.  It's often the coloring agent I use with shaving cream, water activities, bubbles, wood, clay... really anything!

Here are the materials I used for our art exploration today:
* Liquid Watercolor
* Permanent Markers
* Baby Food Jars - 1 per child
* size 6 watercolor brushes
* White construction paper
* Water
* Painter's Canvas
* Towels

Set Up:
I like to gather all of my materials preferably in the morning so that they are available when we are ready to do some art.  For older children and activity like this could be left out on a shelf if you have an art area available.  Once they have had an introduction to the use of the materials, including clean up, an older child could choose to work independently, but for my toddlers a guided activity was the perfect way to start.  Once everything was introduced, then their independent art time began.
I love using transparent jars for holding just about everything.  I have been on a constant search for the perfect paint dish, but I seem to always default back to baby food jars.  I try to steer free of plastic as much as possible, so today I used a small baby food jar for each child.   As you can also see I used jars for holding the rest of my materials: markers and paintbrushes.  A small, beautiful pitcher holds water that will be mixed with the paint.
The painter's canvas goes on the table to protect the wood.  This is an essential material that I use at almost every art moment.  We have a stash of them here at Tumbleweed, and sometimes we use all of them, especially when our art occurs on the floor and becomes a full contact experience!  I always forget the towels, so I am writing them down now so that you won't!
Don't forget to include the children in as much or as little of the set up as possible.  Today everyone worked on covering the table with the canvas and then they each searched the classroom for an elephant before sitting down.  Having a focus point or a story to start off your project can help give focus or stimulate imagination, while scaffolding a current interest.

 Today we started off with large sheets of white paper and a permanent marker.  This is a familiar activity, but while I handed out materials to each child, I talked about how today we are going to add color.
"I have a new type of paint I want to show you today, " I said.  "It's called watercolor.  We start with this strong color and add water to make the paint we are going to use!."
Everyone agreed that blue was a great color to use today and I prepared the jars of paint while they drew.  It doesn't take much paint, so I added a few drops of paint to each jar then added about a tablespoon of water.  One thing I have learned through offering paint to children is a little bit goes a long way and when they have too much then they tend to focus on the sensorial aspects and today I was hoping to encourage focus on using the paintbrush.

It was our first time with watercolors, so everyone was very interested in the process of mixing the paint and then how it moved in the jar.  It sloshed and swirled in such a satisfying way that many of the children spent the majority of our painting time lifting the jar, dipping and stirring the paint with a brush and tilting it one way or the next. 

My goal for our first day of using watercolors was to set up a beautiful presentation that enticed the children, drew them in and spoke to them.  I knew that by using jars which catch the light, fine paint brushes that encouraged careful movement and beautiful touches like the fine pitcher showed the children the care I bring to our work.  When I take the time to arrange things and introduce beautiful objects to the children then they feel the mutual wonder that we share. 

Once each child began loosing interest, I invited them to return their paintbrush and cup of paint back to my tray and then we hung them up on our drying rack.  In my classroom the moment of hanging up on our labeled clothespins is another high point.  Everyone is very proud to display their art and they point to each person's work, often wanting to name each one and remember stories from when we were painting.  These conversations and references back to our art moment reoccur throughout the day, so having a prominent place to display the finished art, even to dry, can be as important as the creation of the art for some children.  
Everyone slowly moved on to the next thing, while others lingered.  There is no time limit with the materials and everyone can leave out their painting for as long as they like, as long as their hands are paint free when returning to the materials in the room.  

In my soul, I am still that small child who did not care about anything else but the beautiful colors of a rainbow.  
~Papiha Ghosh

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