As the children arrived in class, they found easels with pre-drawn dragon faces like this:
I only do this twice a year, pre-drawing figures to serve as targets for paint. (We also spend an art session just before Halloween painting jack-o-lantern faces.) I have mixed feelings about this, of course, coming from the perspective that the best preschool art projects tend to be those that involve a certain set of supplies and a place to work, then letting the children do with them what they will. On the other hand, I've found that providing "targets" like this often attracts kids to the art station who don't ordinarily take the time.
I've experimented with pre-drawing various styles of dragons over the years, finally settling on this loose, cartoon-y version. The more artful and fierce looking types made some of the kids uneasy, and the ones with identifiable emotional expressions seemed to steer their imaginations too much. I like that some children see this as a happy face, others an angry one, some surprised. It's not exactly a blank canvas, but close.
Whatever it's relative merits as an art project, the real purpose of this activity is get the children dreaming up their own dragons.
We used my favorite undiluted liquid watercolor and regular, fat classroom brushes. I posted the book Demi's Dragons And Fantastic Creatures on the wall, open to the four-page fold out of the Heavenly Dragon to remind the children of our conversation. In a comment to yesterday's post, Maya reminded me of what Katherine said about this particular dragon: "Maybe that's the dragon that keeps all of our memories." What an amazing thought.
Anyway, on to the paintings.
Ella has been the leader of our superhero play this year along with Josephine who dressed as a "purple superhero" for Halloween. We have caped crusaders in class every year, but this is the first time it's been driven by the dramatic play of girls. Ever since the swim goggles, faux mobile phones, and electric tea candles came into the class room last week, the "princess pony" game has been entirely supplanted by superheroes. Ella painted a number of dragons, but it's no surprise that her first one was the Superhero Dragon:
Finn V. likes his dramatic play action-packed. His prolific storytelling is full of tanks, monster trucks and jets. It's fitting that he painted the Lightening Dragon:
Lachlan has always been a guy deeply interested in and connected to emotions. His Storm Dragon may have been inpired by Finn V.'s dragon, but I also want to consider his piece in the context of emotion. I'm interested in how carefully he painted to the edge of his paper on one side, while leaving the other side virtually untouched.
Chalie L., however, did paint an emotional piece, in this case the Mad Dragon. I like the angry energy of his brushwork.
Dennis' Silly Dragon inspired several other silly dragon paintings. He also left one side of the paper white. He was painting on the same easel as Lachlan did. I wonder if it is something about that particular easel that leads to this. In any event, I'd have to say that this painting expresses Dennis, who loves silliness, quite well:
Sarah painted two Daisy Dragons, both of which were heavily worked canvases, using a lot of dark, cool colors. Daisy, she explained, is the name of her "favorite" stuffed doggy.
Here is Anjali's version of the Storm Dragon. That fiercely orange mouth is amazing:
Here is another one by Anjali, the Ship Dragon. I like the way she used similar colors, but sort of reversed their positions on the paper:
Finn P.'s purposeful use of color here is impressive. It's difficult to keep these paints, especially when applied to a vertical surface, from running down the paper, but he obviously took great pains to segregate his colors and change brushes. Unlike many of the kids, he only painted one dragon, but he clearly took his time on it. This is the Fighting Dragon:
But lest you fear that princesses have disappeared from our classroom, Alex came through with her Princess Dragon, making sure that everything is right in our preschool world:
Our international tape-off challenge has moved onto another continent. Check out this entry from Australia. As you'll note Jenny has a clear advantage in terms of "length" of tape being used given that she's moved the playing field outdoors (where she likes everything). This might prove to be an insurmountable development.
The Woodland Park kids continue to debate about whether they are making a tape dragon or a tape house. I've given them several squares of chicken wire to use as targets, which I'm assuming can at some point in the future be shaped into whatever we want.