Make Color Spray Murals this Summer!

by Anna Reyner

Welcome back to Art & Creativity in Early Childhood! I’m excited to be blogging about art activities again, after a two year writing break. Thanks for joining me!

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It’s summertime, and the living is easy….especially if you have cool outdoor art activities up your sleeve! Like filling spray bottles with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ and letting everyone have a go at it. Spray painting is quick, easy and a great group activity.

When was the last time you took spray paints outside, and invited open-ended play?

You know you want to make this summer memorable, right?

Maybe it’s time to grab your Liquid Watercolor, get your camera ready, and give it a try. After all, even the idea of a spray bottle full of color in your hand sounds exciting, or maybe even intimidating. But I know you can do it….because you have the lesson plan to print out. And the bonus is, while kids are having fun with this, the process is doing wonders for their brain development.

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Art activities not only stimulate creativity, they also build brain capacity by providing many new problems to solve, all with colorful materials that are safe and abundant. Fluid materials like Liquid Watercolor are particularly good for early brain development because they are easily set in motion and provide a rapidly changing experience that requires the child to actively engage. If a child is passive with fluid materials, the art making stops. With fluid paints, the image making moves forward only when the child is moving it along. That’s the understanding educators have when they say ‘open-ended art’ is a process where children construct their own learning. The more children direct their own art activities, the more learning and brain development takes place. I think it’s pretty cool that something this much fun could be so good for you too!

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I love this snapshot of a 3-year-old boy, from Pressman Academy in Los Angeles, working on a color spray mural that other classmates participated in too. He’s clearly lost in the moment. Imagine his body and brain working together as he actively builds a new understanding of what is possible in his world.

Since this was a toddler class, I invited children out onto the playground two at a time. With older children, I invite four children to spray paint together at the same time, all facing the same direction so they don’t spray each other! But if they accidentally do…this paint is completely washable. Yay!

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If you’re feeling adventurous, try doing a color spray mural at your staff in-service for back to school. There’s nothing like a group art experience to bring people closer together. I bet someone at your school would be happy to lead this creative activity (maybe even you!) and help start the new school year right. Here’s a lesson plan to help you out.

Happy Summer! Anna

Product Recommendations:
Colorations® Assorted Liquid Watercolor Paints

Colorations® Classic Colors Liquid Watercolor Paints, 8 oz. – Set of 13 (13LW)

Colorations® E-Z Pull Extra Large Clear Trigger Sprayers, 12 oz. – Set of 6 (TSBOT)

Colorations® Animal Shape Stencils, 8″ – Set of 12 (EANST)

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Fall Art Ideas for Young Children

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Fall is here, the leaves are starting to turn and the air is becoming crisper. Hooray! It’s time for the scents and smells of autumn. Here are some fun ways to bring autumn themes into YOUR home or classroom.

Small gourds and Indian corn make great additions to your sensory bin and inspire children to observe, compare and explore nature and its many attributes. This sensory bin promotes STEM learning foundations, as does the observational painting that you can introduce with the same gourds.

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This 3-year-old is painting with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ as she observes and documents a gourd. Observational drawing and painting is an important way to facilitate critical thinking and brain development in early childhood. Drawing and painting from nature can also slow children down, reduce stress and promote self- regulation. These are important skills for children to learn that go way beyond the more obvious benefits of art-making.

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Leaf Punching is a great way to incorporate nature into your fall art activities. Use large hole punches that are easy for young hands to manipulate and punch shapes out of leaves that are at various stages of drying out. You can also let colored leaves dry out completely and crunch them into “leaf glitter” to use in collage work.

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Tree bark makes a good natural painting surface. Look for fallen bark pieces on a nature walk this time of year. These chunks of eucalyptus bark made for wonderful paintings by 2- and 3-year-olds. Painting on bark calls for an opaque paint, like acrylic paint.

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Don’t forget how much fun it can be to add Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ to soil and paint with it. This Writing Center incorporates color-tinted soils to Twig Books, a variation of the Paper Bag Book lesson plan from Smart Art Ideas.

Thanks for checking in and have a wonderful autumn.

Materials Used:
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™, 8 oz – Set of 18 (LW18)

Colorations® Acrylic Paints, 8 oz – Set of 8 (CACRYLIC)

Giant Paper Punches – Set of 8 (BIGPUNCH)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

* For more ideas, visit Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education

Favorite Art Ideas from 2013

Anna Fave Art 2013 1December is here so I’d like to reflect back on 2013 and share some innovative art ideas that came from YOU and never made it into a blog post.  The above photo is Printmaking with BioColor® on painted spaghetti, and other innovations follow. I hope you are inspired to try some of these soon.

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Leaf Punching with Giant Paper Punches

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Mud Painting with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ Paint added into the mud with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ paint on Cooperative Mural Art Material.

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Color Spray Mural Team Building (click here for lesson plan) Staff Development Team Building at Pressman Academy.

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Toddler Messy Art with Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera.

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Community Paint Run by Ugly Dog Events using Colorations® Powdered Tempera.

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Leaf Mobile on branches using Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ paint on Liquid Watercolor™ Lovely Paper Leaves and beads

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Fabric Flower Mobile on branches with beads

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Painted Pinecone Mobile with Stringing Straw Beads on a branch.

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Pipe Cleaner Sequencing with assorted buttons

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3-Dimensional Pot with Colorations® Super Lightweight Air-Dry Putty

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Air-Dry Clay Impressions with fresh flowers

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Collaborative Quilt from the recent NAEYC Conference in Washington, D.C., using Classroom Canvas Quilt squares

I’m very grateful for the opportunity to write this blog, it’s always fun to be on the lookout for innovative art ideas. My thanks go out to Discount School Supply® for having the vision to start this blog five years ago. Their intention was to have me collect and share ideas on how to use Colorations® products with continuous innovation, and I work hard to live up to the task. More importantly, my thanks go out to you, the parents, teachers and early childhood program directors who read my monthly posts. Without you there would be no Arts & Creativity community. I love that you join me in sharing your own ideas and spreading the word about the value of art in education. Thank you.

PS – Special thanks to Monica Marshall and Kathy Walker from College of the Canyons CDC, the always innovative Danielle Monroy of Creative Care for Children and the awesome Mona and other ECE staff of Pressman Academy.

Materials Used:
BioColor® Paint, 16 oz – set of 13 (BIOSET)
Giant Paper Punches – set of 8 (BIGPUNCH)
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™ Paints, 8 oz – set of 18 (LW18)
E-Z Pull Extra Large Clear Trigger Sprayers, 12 oz – set of 6 (TSBOT)
Cooperative Mural Art Material – 4′ x 10′ (LWMAT)
Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera, 16 oz – set of 11 (SWT16)
Colorations® Powder Tempera Paint, 16 oz – set of 10 (CPTSET)
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor™Lovely Paper Leaves – set of 72 (LEAFSET)
Best Value Bead Bucket (BDBKT)
Fabulous Fabric Flowers – 200 pieces (VIOLET)
Stringing Straw Beads – 1 lb (STRS)
Pipe Cleaner Classroom Pack – 250 pieces (PCPACK)
Assorted Grandma’s Buttons (PTBTN)
Colorations® Super Lightweight Air-Dry Putty (CPUTTY)
Air-Dry Clay – 25 lbs (AIRDRY)
Classroom Canvas Quilt – 12 pieces (CLASQLT)
Classroom Picture Quilt – 12 pieces (CLASPIC)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®

Group Art Activity: Tennis Ball Painting!

anna tennis ball painting 1Summer is almost over and here in Los Angeles school has already started. But for many children, there’s still a final stretch of summer freedom and the joys of outdoor play.

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Here’s a creative group art idea from Danielle Monroy, who own and operates Creative Care for Children in Santa Barbara.

Let Danielle’s children inspire you to take advantage of the final stretches of summer weather with messy art in the great outdoors.

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Ingredients:
1 small plastic pool
Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera, poured into plastic tubs
An equal number of tennis ball
Salad tongs
Cooperative children
Large sheets of white paper

Stir together and serve with a smile!

Reports Danielle: Some of the great things about this project? It was a truly cooperative activity – it only works when everyone works together and the more they do, the more giggles are produced!

During outdoor play sometimes children need more large motor play. This is a wonderful large motor activity that includes art, collaboration and concentration!

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Danielle and I will be co-presenting on Science and Sensory Play at the CAEYC conference in April 2014. We’re calling it STEM to STEAM – combining art and science in the early childhood classroom. We’ll post new handouts on that topic on the blog here, so you can also try them out. Stay tuned, and thanks for checking in!    It’s a pleasure staying connected with people like you who actively explore new ideas and embrace their own creativity.

Materials Used:
Colorations® Simply Washable Paint – set of 11 (SWT16)
Butcher Paper Rolls (P4018)
Sand & Water Activity Tubs – set of 4 (TUBS)

* Brought to you by Discount School  Supply®

Gazebo Park School at Esalen Institute

Photo courtesy of Esalen Institute.

Photo courtesy of Esalen Institute.

The month of May is beautiful in most parts of the US, and California is no exception.  These photos are from a recent trip up the California coast where I took an art class at Esalen Institute. A place my cousin refers to as “that famous meditation retreat.”  Followed by, “You are so lucky to be going there!”  Indeed, I did feel lucky to be going there, especially because I was going for ME – for pure, personal replenishment.  And replenishment was something I sorely needed. Have you heard the term “compassion burnout” at conferences lately? I was beginning to relate a bit too much to that expression, and I longed for relief.

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The Esalen grounds were bursting with color, and the Gazebo Park School was there to accommodate parents attending classes. Every day I walked by the nursery school on my way to class and marveled at children playing in this unique, natural environment.  There is no cell service at the retreat, and that helped me stay present. My iPhone stayed packed in my suitcase for all 5 days, imagine. That factor alone helped my eyes re-focus outward.

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After a particularly good day of painting, I stopped to take pictures of the Gazebo Park School. The children had gone home for the day. I was first taken with the overall beauty and simple aesthetics of this outdoor school. Then my eye picked up several recycling ideas that I fell in love with and thought I’d share here. Like these planters made from plastic milk jugs, hanging from nylon ropes. How can I have been in so many schools over the years, and not seen this before? My eyes must have missed it, this is such an obvious and simple idea…and it’s free!

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Or how about this empty picture frame set up in front of the garden? At first I thought this frame was abandoned or waiting to be trashed. Then I realized it was intentionally positioned in front of the garden, as a “view finder” so that children could position themselves and look through the frame from different angles, creating different garden “paintings” in their imaginations. How clever is that? It’s also free, and a good way to repurpose old picture frames.

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The music area was created from a combination of bells and kitchen pots and pans.   Are you inspired yet? I read and agreed with the school’s mission statement about the natural environment.

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Simple, cheerful artwork covered the walls of the schoolhouse buildings. Don’t think you’re not artistic enough to pull something like this off, because it’s children’s work combined with some adult organization skills. Your own outdoor playhouse could look just as nice, even if you live and work in the city.

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Last of all, how’s this for a clever recycling idea?  It’s an old rubber tire, turned inside out and used to contain a garden hose. Who thinks of these things? Ahh….creativity.  It’s so exciting to see it in action.

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I do love my iPhone, my laptop, and my other tech gadgets. They make my life easier in many ways. But the more time I spend looking at a screen, the more time I need to balance my psyche with things that inspire me on a deeper human level. I feel incredibly fortunate to have taken time for myself at Esalen this spring. Are you planning something for yourself soon?

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Graphic courtesy of Tutorials for Inky Hands.

PS – Three months internships are available at the Gazebo Park School, see website here for more information.

Resources:
The Painting Experience

Materials Used:
Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera Paint, set of 15 (SWTALL)

* Brought to you by Discount School  Supply®

Painting and Freedom

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“There is no ‘must’ in art because art is free.”  Kandinsky, 1911

Freedom is a powerful concept in our culture. We want our children to experience freedom, yet we continuously impose rules and limits on them. Art is an activity where freedom can be experienced directly, and many rules can be set aside. Through open ended painting experiences, children can safely take risks and enjoy the sense of freedom that comes from acting spontaneously and making their own choices.

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I just noticed how the message on my coffee mug matches what I’m writing. I’m drinking coffee from a mug designed by Cambria artist, Fred Babb, who states “art is working on something til you like it, then leaving it that way.” Try a Google or Pinterest search of Fred Babb quotes and you’ll find delightful poster sayings like this one:

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Such is the simple and pure relationship of art to freedom. This wonderful splatter  & drip mural created at Creative Care for Children, illustrates the freedom and power of open-ended painting. Children of various ages are visibly engaged in “learning by doing.”

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Anna Freedom 5 The black background paper adds an unexpected surprise and provides contrast for brightly pigmented paints. This oversized black photography paper was donated to Creative Care. If you can’t find a donation source, try a black fade resistant Colorations® Prima-Color™ Paper Roll and be sure to use Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera for brilliant colors and washability.

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I’ve always been impressed with the art program at Creative Care for Children, which is owned and operated by Danielle Monroy in beautiful Santa Barbara, California.  Danielle is a passionate arts advocate whose expertise in delivering play based learning is inspirational. Danielle let parents know to dress their children for a day of painting.  She also directed children to the water tub for sensory play, or any easy and playful way to encourage “clean up.”

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Anna Freedom 9 Print out this “Why Worry?” mini poster from Smart Art if you’d like help getting parents on board for open ended painting at YOUR school. Because once parents understand the positive skills children learn through art, they won’t worry when children come home with paint on their clothes.

Thanks for checking in!  We’d love to hear your comments.

Anna Freedom Why Worry

Materials Used:
Colorations® Simply Washable Tempera Paint, set of 15 (SWTALL)
Colorations® Flourescent Simply Washable Tempera Paint, set of 7 (FSWTSET)
Colorations® Prima-Color™ Fade Resistant Paper Roll, black (RESIST)
Smart Art and More Smart Art Ideas, set of 2 (ARTY)

* Brought to you by Discount School  Supply®

Fun and Affordable Holiday Art Ideas

I love to spray paint. Whether I’m working with children or adults, it’s exciting to watch people experience freedom and leave their inhibitions behind by spraying liquid paints onto paper. Let’s think about making Color Spray Murals for the winter holidays, it’s a spray paint process that creative, affordable and makes for great gifts and festive decorations.

At the NAEYC Conference in Atlanta last month, Peter and I made a video of “How to Make a Color Spray Mural.” Here’s a photo of the artwork I made in the video, I draped it outside my studio so you could see how nice it turned out when it dried. The paint I’m using is Colorations® Liquid Watercolor, which is super easy to use in spray bottles and is also 100% washable, always a plus.

Here the same artwork folded and used as a coffee table runner. (Notice my sweet dog Abbey on the sofa , awww). Color Spray Murals are a great way to dress up your home or classroom for the holidays and this one used just a third of a sheet of mural paper so it cost very little to make, including the paints.

Best of all, Color Spray Murals can make you feel over-the-top creative. To the adults and teachers I work with, I like to say “you will feel like an instant artist!” and this quick YouTube video will prove just how and why that is. Take a look!

The “fabric-like” paper I’ve used is called Cooperative Mural Art Paper, and it’s the key to success with Color Spray Murals. Notice the soft drape and spongy textured surface in this plain white one that’s ready to be painted. Cooperative Mural Art Paper is a actually a special 2-ply paper drop cloth that’s sold in some hardware stores, but it can be very hard to find. It’s available from Discount School Supply® for $8.99 and is an oversized 4’ x 10” sheet with plastic backing. One sheet will make 2-4 small murals or 20 individual works of art. I recommend this paper over any other surface to spray paint, and I’m certain you’ll agree.

Check out this Wrapping Paper station, using the same Color Spray Mural from the video. Gifts look so beautiful when wrapped with swatches of a Color Spray Mural, and imagine having 4 x 10 feet of brilliant colored paper that you made by hand. For truly affordable gift wrap this season, consider a few other bargains from our ribbons and trims such as my personal favorites: Satin Ribbon in eight colors for $11.99, or Printed Craft Tape in 10 colors for $15.99, or wonderfully soft Textured Craft Yarns in eight colors for $17.99. All are an affordable way to reflect CREATIVITY and personalize your holidays.

You can also cut Color Spray Murals into smaller pieces and make scrolls, using dowels or chopsticks on the top and bottom. These make wonderful holiday gifts. You can leave them as art only, or mount a child’s poem or message or drawing on top. These beautiful scrolls are unique and easy to make, and use about 50 cents worth of materials. 

Handmade gifts are such a personal way to show you care. I found some ideas on Etsy the other day that I wanted to share:

Handmade Work has Authenticity and Soul.
There is JOY in handmade.
Nothing’s better than having a little piece of someone’s passion.

If you’re working with young children, you may wonder where to start with making ideas like these. Sometime a fence or wall outside is the best place to start.  

Notice that the sprays of paint are not running down the paper, like they would be if you spray painted onto the usual white butcher paper. The children are spraying Colorations® Liquid Watercolor onto spongy, fabric-like Cooperative Mural Art Paper so the paint is staying on the mural and reflecting back a lot of color.  

 

Here’s a picture from a 3-year-old classroom where we created a collaborative mural outside on the playground. The children used ferns and large leaves as stencils and sprayed on top of them to make leaf shapes. The bright drizzles are Colorations® Gold and Silver Liquid Watercolor, which was dripped on top of the sprayed areas.

Because Cooperative Mural Art Paper (LWMAT) has a plastic backing, you can do these murals inside also. Just be sure to put newspaper under all the edges. You’ll find these and other tips in my Color Spray Lesson Plan from Smart Art Ideas Activity Book.

(click here for the lesson plan)

Here are some girlfriends who came over to play. I spray paint on the weekends for relaxation sometimes, and when my friends hear about it they often want to join me. It’s very therapeutic and is a great activity for people who think they’re “not artistic.”

In Conclusion:
After a lifetime of being passionate about art and experimenting with every art material imaginable, I think I like to make Color Spray Murals the best of all. Why? I love the sensory and physical freedom of spraying color. I love that I am forced to work quickly and spontaneously and not over-think anything. I know I don’t have to be afraid of the final outcome or “how it will look in the end” because the color and texture will carry it, no matter what I do. I can suspend judgment, trust the process, and allow the incredible combination of light and color and movement take form in front of me.

Have a wonderful holiday season and thank you for checking in.

Materials Used:
Colorations® Liquid Watercolor – set of 13 (13LW)Colorations® Gold and Silver Liquid Watercolor (MLWG and MLWS)Colorations® Washable Glitter Paint – set of 11 (GLPA)Cooperative Mural Art Paper (LWMAT)Smart Art Ideas Activity Book (SMARTART)
Satin Ribbon – 16 spools (SATIN)
Printed Craft Tape – 10 rolls (PRINTED)
Textured Craft Yarn – 8 skeins (TEXYARN)

* Brought to you by Discount School Supply®