Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pendulum Painting!

Pendulum painting is another of those activities like fly swatter painting and the balloon cage that we have been doing at Woodland Park since my first year as a teacher.


I build two of these rigs from PVC pipe . . .

Look, you can still see the splatter marks on the wall
 from our recent fly swatter painting sessions!

. . . string, a few links from our plastic chain set, and a plastic cup with a hole poked in the bottom.


I've learned that every gallon of tempera paint has a slightly different consistency, but you normally need to dilute it with water so it flows properly. The jug we were working off this week needed to be about 2 parts paint to 1 part water. Of course, it also makes a difference how big you make the hole in your cup. I used a Phillips head screw driver to do the job.

As the kids approach the table, the art parent puts her finger over the hole to prevent the paint from spilling out prematurely, fills the cup about half way with the thinned paint, and hands it over to the child saying something like, "Give it a swing."

The results tend to be frame worthy:












I've tried making the paint even thinner, but if it's too thin, the paintings dry "fuzzy" as the excess water tends to absorb into the paper as it separates from the paint a bit. Of course, thinner paint does nothing to reduce the child's experience, but this is one of those few art projects where Woodland Park parents say they really want to take one home to hang on their walls, so I go with thicker paint in the hope of creating a few of these keepsakes. Also, I usually pre-tear dozens of sheets of butcher paper to have stacked under the pendulum so that all the adult has to do is whip one away to reveal a blank canvas for the next artist. Not only does this help give kids their turn without a lot of waiting, but it also helps keep the table from becoming a big pool of black paint while you're changing out the paper.

Between the Pre-3 and 3-5 classes, we made at least 100 of these artworks over the course of the past two days forcing us to be very creative in finding enough flat surfaces to dry them (for obvious reasons they can't be hung to dry). We went through an entire gallon of black paint and had to resort to blue by the end of the day yesterday. By this stage, the only painters left were a clutch of hard core scientists who were being quite intentional in their efforts. I wanted to share a few of these because you can see more complexity and evidence of different swinging techniques being employed. I even heard Anjali say, "I'm trying to make a butterfly."




I think this is the butterfly.

Annabelle achieved this by, in part, holding onto the string and swinging the cup
in a kind of chaotic manner.

Not all of them turned out looking like something from an art gallery . . .



. . . but that was hardly the point of this lesson in physics.

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24 comments:

Scott said...

I'll just go ahead and admit it. You are my hero. (Cape and all!) I love this science/art/messy experience. And what wonderful results. (Although the point is not the product - I know - but these are great.)

Life with Kaishon said...

Oh my word. AMAZING. I love this. I want to do it with Kaish and Shoshi this weekend! : ) Outside on the grass though! Hope you have the most wonderful day with your little ones!

Amy said...

This looks like so much fun! Have you tried changing out the cups with different colors?

Bev said...

That is so cool!

Ms. Jessi said...

AWWWWW!!!!!!!!!! This has got to be the coolest project I've seen in such a long time! I'm in love, Tom. I'm going to the hardware store this weekend and making one of my own. You really need to market this. :) Way to Go!

p.s. Thank you for being a messy teacher!

Kat said...

Love these!

Sherry and Donna said...

We've done this with sand many times ... BUT HELLO ... why haven't we thought of using paint before?!? I think Annabelle's picture is awesome. All she needs now is a paint loaded flyswatter!
Donna :) :)

You're Invited... said...

Cant wait to put one of these together at my school!! Thanks Tom

Launa Hall said...

Another fantastic use of PVC pipe...and I think my favorite. Can't wait to try this!

Sheryl said...

Too cool! We did something similar, but much more "amateurish". We filled a mustard bottle, hung it upside down from the inside of a box turned sideways. Hard to explain, and no photos, but yours reminds me of it, but a thousand times better!

cheryl said...

How I love seeing what you do!!! I left teaching a few months before the birth of my first child. My 3rd is 4 years old and her older sister is going to help me build this pendellum. WOW, homeschooling my 3 girls gets a creative burst from you for sure.

Thanks!

(V.Kerr) School Time Adventures said...

Whoa. whoa. whoa. This was so cool I made my husband read the post with me and we both decided that we need to make this! I love the simplicity of the project and the radical results!
Thanks

pamela wallberg said...

These are beautiful! We need to make this - in the fall, one practicum student did splatter painting in the bathroom - we covered ceiling, walls and floor with paper, put the kids in adult-sized tshirts, and threw painting everywhere. This looks like a much more controlled version...

Ronnie said...

this is such an excellent idea i can see why parents would LOVE to take these home. i must try something like this with my little ones (and i like the idea of soing it outside on the grass - less stressful for me :)

Anonymous said...

where did you get the idea?
jk

www.pendulumpainter.com

Gabrielle Scott said...

Wow! This is really one of the coolest, most original ideas I have seen. Thank you so much for sharing! I saw this on Pinterest, so it's getting around!!

Anonymous said...

I have tried this , but seems I cant get the paint the right consistency, just makes dots, so no continuous stream??? Any advice.

Teacher Tom said...

Hey Anon, you just need to either add water to the paint or make your hole a little bigger.

Gexton said...

This is beautiful. Really enjoyed catching up with your blog. What a great painting. There were so many amazing views - I could have painted many more too
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Gexton said...

Striking painting, I love it. Her expression is so well captured.
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Mary said...

You do sound a little bit crazy! I like that!! I'm gonna follow your blog for more of this....

KSB said...

Thanks for the inspiration! I did this for my daughter's 4th birthday party. Due to the nature of the event, I wanted the kids to be able to do it more independently, especially when distracted by other activities. I was more interested in the fun creation than the learning process of figuring out how to cover the hole until just the right time, and I didn't want to need to buy bunches of expensive paint. I think my solution was brilliant, if I do say so myself :)
I had a collection of Dr. Brown's baby bottles that I inherited but didn't use. These are rather expensive new because they have a fancy self-venting device inside. I hung a cup much like you did, but cut the bottom out of it so it would hold an upside-down bottle. Then I filled the bottle with paint, made the hole in the nipple a bit larger, and just set out a selection of different colored bottles for the kids. It was very easy for them to switch out colors, and I was able to sit back and watch them start creating right away. The nature of the Dr. Brown bottles means that the paint comes out in a nice steady stream.
I experimented with conventional bottles and restaurant mustard containers. You can make these work similarly as long as you make a hole in the side halfway up to vent it and then of course only fill half way with paint.
Either way allows the bottles to be pre-filled with paint and not to leak until it is placed in the holster.

Anonymous said...

I tried this with my class and for some reason it is making drops and not a consistent stream. I tried adding water to make it a bit smoother but it still made it drippy. I also poked a hole so that air and get in and made the hole for the paint to come out the size of a Phillips screw driver... I also used a plastic cup.. And none of this worked.. Any other suggestions as to how I can get this to work? Should I use a different cup, change the hole size, or is there a formula as to how much water to add in a half a cup. Any suggestions will e greatly appreciated.. Thank you!

Teacher Tom said...

Just keep fiddling, anon . . . That's all I can suggest. Every gallon of paint I open has a different consistency and every hole we poke is a different size, so it's always a process of trail and error. Kids get a lot out of helping us fiddle around. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.

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