Displaying Children’s Artwork – Budding Artists!

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Wait until you see this exciting display of children’s art from the College of the Canyons, and how open-ended preschool art looks when it’s beautifully displayed. This unique art exhibit was coordinated by CDC Director Monica Marshall and master teachers Kathy Walker and Faby Marton. You’ll see a wide range of creative paintings, weavings and collage, and some unique 3-D art applications. Get ready to feast your eyes!

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I was particularly moved by the branch weavings that were inspired by reading Margaret Musgrove’s The Spider Weaver, a legend about Kente cloth weaving. The exhibit included children’s thoughts about the story itself. One of the branch weavings was done on burlap and a second version was created without burlap. Here Kathy Walker shows off the branch weaving without burlap, and comments that the burlap inset made it much easier for young children to weave. That’s something I wouldn’t have thought of, but it makes good sense as the burlap offers a large, loose fabric that big needles can carry yarn through. Nice to know!

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These process paintings and 3-D constructions show that you can paint and collage onto practically anything. See if you can find the cardboard fruit inserts or paint stir sticks in these photos, they are the foundation for two of these wonderful creations.

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Thanks to Monica Marshall, Director of the Child Development Center at College of the Canyons and to the Fine Art Department and Art Gallery Director that made this campus collaboration possible. The exhibit will was up for six weeks and included a beautiful color postcard called Budding Artists.

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This awesome exhibit made me think of a story I recently heard from Anne Broussard, the delightful and highly experienced Child Care Coordinator at County of Orange. Knowing how much I love art, Anne told me this thought provoking story.  As part of her job at the County, Anne was assigned to entertaining foreign diplomats and teaching them about early childhood education in the US.  One afternoon she had guests from Iraq who were very interested in our preschool education system, so she was giving them a classroom tour. Her guests noticed some abstract art on the walls of a preschool classroom and asked her if a visiting artist had taught the children how to paint. They found it surprising to find so much art on the walls of the preschool, and were curious about it.  She told them preschool teachers in America are taught to give children the opportunity to make art naturally, to follow their own instincts without imposing adult rules or values. The educators from Iraq were stunned, they really could barely believe that children would naturally create art that looked so “artistic”!

As this Budding Artist’s Exhibit illustrates, children’s natural creations are indeed very “artistic,” and it is precisely this open-ended discovery that gives art its true value. As children make their own choices with messy art, they discover the emotional pleasures of sensory and tactile play while developing important cognitive and social-emotional skills….skills that will help them in life.

As Abraham Maslov has said, “Art education is important not because it turns out artists or art products, but because it seems to turn out better people.”

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®

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®

CD Photo Frames

Recycle old CD’s and turn them into colorful picture frames, using BioColor® and your favorite photos. Since BioColor® sticks to plastic and other slick surfaces, it’s easy! Simply collect used CD’s and choose photographs with images that are small enough to cut out, glue down, and still leave enough room to add BioColor® paint. This recycled art project is easy, inexpensive, and unique!

This first example shows a wedding photo created with a BioColor® design that lets the shiny CD peek through. After gluing down the picture, I used gold BioColor® to create a circular border, then I applied black and yellow BioColor® around the photo into a star shaped design. It hangs in a prominent spot on my wall at home, and is often a conversation piece. People love it when they realize the picture is simply glued onto a CD then painted. No other tempera paint will stick to plastic, so this recycled art project makes good use of BioColor®’s unique property of sticking to slick surfaces.

These next two photo frames are simpler examples of the same process and could easily be created by younger children. Apply BioColor® using pre-filled plastic Nancy™ Bottles. When making a photo frame, it’s important to have something to hang the frame from. The easiest way to create a hanger is with a loop of yarn. Slip a 12” strand of yarn through the center of the CD hole, and tie it at the top. Now glue on your photo using tacky glue, and begin applying BioColor® any way you like. It’s easy to make dots of various colors, and a little more challenging to create lines, like the blue and white heart shapes shown here. Start with dots if you want to start easy. Drag a toothpick through the dots to create little swirly designs if you like.
Apply BioColor® in dots and lines directly from Nancy™ Bottles, or use a paintbrush, or combine both. In this close-up you’ll see that dots were applied from Nancy™ Bottles first, then a paintbrush was used to spread around the paint and change the surface texture. You want a fairly thick layer of BioColor®, so make sure to lay it on a flat surface to dry overnight.

Another fun idea for Recycled CD’s is to make Dream Catchers using BioColor®, feathers, and collage materials. Traditional Dream Catchers hang over beds and “catch bad dreams” before they bother your sleep. Authentic Native American Dream Catchers can be very intricate and beautiful. These playful imitations, or what I like to call “Urban Dream Catchers,” are a fun way to imitate the real deal.

Lastly, here’s a picture of my workspace before I began making some of these samples. This recycled art idea has easy set up, and uses very affordable supplies, probably no more than 10 cents per project. And if you’re like me, you have dozens of old CD’s stacked around, just waiting to come to life as something shiny, fun and artful.

Materials You’ll Need:

CD Photo Frames:
Used CD’s
Yarn – 5LBR – Remnant Yarn, 5 lbs

Urban Dream Catchers:

For more ideas on how to use BioColor® on slick surfaces check out this video!