This past week we were learning about the prehistoric era in art. Part of that exploration included the creation of rock people as masterpieces since so much of the work of the prehistoric artists involved creative use of stone as canvas.
First, we took a look at the Lascaux caves to get a sense of the way in which rock was used as a surface for creating art. Next, we went on a nature walk and gathered stones that attracted our attention. Finally, we went into the craft cupboard and pulled out yarn, googley eyes and any other materials that seemed relevant.
As you can see, it was really the cotton balls that brought our rock person to the next level. Suddenly one of our rocks was transformed into a particularly hard-headed political figure. After completing her work, Althea said “Look mama! It’s ‘Mister Trunk’!” Is it just us? Do you see the likeness?
Want to join us on our artistic adventures? Check out the spring semester at www.artsystartsy.com
Do you know what I love about this poem? It’s basically two separate images set side by side without any explanation. Ezra Pound doesn’t say the faces are petals or the crowd is like a wet black bough but by putting these two concepts next to each other, he elicits in our minds a greater overall sense of the scene at the station than if he had used the words “like a wet black bough.” I think it is just the most lovely poetry in existence because it suggests and doesn’t insist.
This same kind of artistic expression is at work in what underpins the idea of a preschool “easel starter”. Basically you do not insist or even suggest that your child create art. You simply provide the opportunity for poetry to happen! Here is a step by step set of instructions for how to do an easel starter with your little one:
- Prepare the easel or work surface.
2. Set out the materials of choice.
3. Say nothing. Wait.
4. When your child stumbles upon the materials, pretend ignorance.
5. Watch the poetry in motion.
A wonderful woman and friend once told me that the best way to help your little ones fall in love with art is to purchase quality materials. Now. My eldest was two years old when I first heard these words of wisdom and, at that time, I was happy enough to purchase art supplies at the dollar store but, of late, I’ve become really aware of what she was referring to. The masterpieces that my daughter creates have so much more impact when we are working with quality brushes, paint and paper. But I will stand by this statement too: nowhere can you get such awesome sparkle glue as the dollar store and it’s the only place I’ve yet to track down contact paper (without which we would be lost)! So it’s a balance I suppose.
I’ve also discovered another lovely truth about art in preschool. It is so much more meaningful for a child to work on a piece while keeping in mind the individual for whom it is being created. The last two weeks, we puttered away at our watercolour valentines with doilies (guess where I found those…) and she literally sang a song for each of her friends as she painted. Afterwards, she made sure I properly labeled each work so that the correct valentine would go to the intended recipient. She absolutely was injecting her heart into each of the pieces she made.
Althea also received the most lovely gift from her friend Morgan who worked with her mother to make these pretty little rainbow crayons in the shape of hearts. Nothing compares to creating art for a friend with materials made by a friend!
Well my heart is full as we start into this Valentine’s weekend! If you are thinking of starting a new medium with your little one, here are a few quality materials I can strongly recommend for beginning watercolour. In the case of the paints, a little dab’ll do ya and you will have these tubes for, well, in my case, it’s been over a decade. With respect to the brushes – remember always to use them with watercolour only since they are costly but worth every cent.
My recommendation with respect to technique is to wet the paper itself in a sink of warm water and squeegie out the excess with a sponge on your painting surface. This way the colour itself stays relatively dry in the paint pot and mixing colours on paper becomes more of an organic process than a concerted effort. At the preschool stage, colour mixing in this way becomes a lovely process of discovery. We work with primary colours only right now and with these we are beginning to learn about the different secondary colours – orange, green and purple as they suddenly appear in our masterpiece!
Keep refreshing a glass of warm water for your little artist so as to keep the paints themselves from getting muddled together and also because it’s fun to periodically check on how the work is progressing. Hopefully, each time you enter the room you will see your little one falling deeper in love with art and with the pride of self-expression it permits.
Today is the day! I’m relaunching the new and improved Spring Semester of Artsy Startsy and it is entirely focused around the ROAM curriculum and the feedback I’ve received from stay-at-home parents, caregivers, working parents, and preschool instructors. ROAM stands for Readers, Outdoor Explorers, Artists and Musicians. Why these areas in particular? I truly believe that preschoolers have each of these personas inside of them and they require only a bit of time each day with their caregiver to tap into each of these areas of the liberal arts and the natural world around them.
Also, as a caregiver, I have come to recognize that more than any other time, I most enjoy the moments in our day that are spent together with books, in nature, creatively expressing ourselves with art, and listening to classical music. By bringing these joys into our home I believe that I am creating both a peaceful and adventurous environment for my child and for myself. Quality time with my children is priority number one and this curriculum allows me to focus our days around that!
If you’re like me, you like to plan ahead and get yourself prepared for the season well in advance! For this reason, I am offering a sale on the Spring ROAM curriculum from now until March 31st! I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this sale which offers 20% off the Spring Semester and includes 8 full weeks of lesson plans for you and your little one!
I hope you will join us as we ROAM around learning about all sorts of wonderful subjects this spring! Making nature bracelets as the flowers begin to bloom, listening to Vivaldi, exploring the different sounds that the rain makes, touring the acropolis, keeping track of outdoor explorations with nature journals, sculpting with soap and so much more!!!
When we are not out in the woods near our home, here is where we will be undertaking much of this exploration of the liberal arts together. Our little solarium is where so much learning and quality time together takes place. It is a sacred little space for us! I will share regular updates with you as we undertake the lessons alongside you and your little one this spring.
Spring is right around the corner. So cozy up and start planning the upcoming season with us!
Freezing temperatures followed by a little melting and then some serious ice action is a perfect recipe for breaking your neck BUT (and here’s the great thing) it also offers an excellent opportunity to learn about the art of Jackson Pollock. No really! Bear with me here for a sec!
Check it… who knew that ice cube painting can teach your little one about the science of temperature and melting at the same time that it can be used to create works of art to mimic the “drip painting” style that Pollock is so famous for?
We talked a bit about drips falling off a brush and then we watched as drips began to fall from our own ice cube brushes! We used a quality watercolour paper so that we could truly see the full effect of the food colour paint as it dried.
To make your own drip paintings and to learn about melting – have your little one put drops of food colouring into an ice cube tray. Fill with water (carefully) and at the half way frozen mark insert short wooden skewers. In truth, I knew I would forget them as soon as they went into the freezer so I covered the whole tray with saran wrap and then stabbed each cube with the stick. I know there must be a better way … it will be an evolutionary process – maybe tin foil and popsicle sticks next time.
In any case! Simple simple and joyful masterpiece that requires everyone to learn the lessons of patience as you wait for the ice to freeze either outside or in the freezer.
To enjoy more quality time like this with your little Reader, Outdoor Explorer, Artist and Musician check out the ROAM curriculum at www.artsystartsy.com