My friend and recent Aussie TV celebrity Jenny over at Let The Children Play was the first one I saw offering her kids the fun of making super sized marble paintings, then Scott at Brick By Brick picked up the baton and has posted about his variations (such as using a real canvas and golf balls). I'd recently picked up a pair of large, pre-stretched, primed canvases for a very nice price, so I thought we'd give it a try as well.
This is a fantastic multi-age project and, as you can see, we had two going at once. The photos are mostly blurry because there was barely a pause in the action as the kids kept those balls and marbles rolling for the better part of an hour and a half, adding layer after layer. My only innovation, I think, was to construct an even higher cardboard wall around the canvasses in order to allow for the extreme discrepancy in height between the 2 and 6-year-olds in our summer program, not to mention even wilder cooperative painting action. Scott mentioned that his classroom stapler was inadequate for attaching the cardboard to the edge of the canvas, so I made sure to bring a staple gun from home.
No photo I can take could possibly do justice to the results because the depth of these paintings is really what makes them amazing, but here they are:
We make a lot of group art at Woodland Park, much of which is admired only for a moment before heading directly to the recycling bin because it's simply too "overworked" (e.g., paper too soggy to pick up without tearing, already shredded, just a big gray blob), but I've discovered that when we get pieces like this that I can bring before the whole group, it often sparks fascinating artistic discussions that for once address the issue of product over process through the kid's eyes, as with our volcano or our giant nutcracker.
We decided as a group, in a conversation appropriately dominated by the 4 and 5-year-olds, that we're not finished with these paintings. Several of the children were disappointed that our warm colors are "buried" under the dark, so we're going to spend "just 20 minutes" rolling the balls around in yellow and orange paint next week. I think I'll use the more brilliant acrylic paint for that instead of the usual tempera and hope they don't get it on their clothing.
And on a meta note, as the older children are starting to demonstrate their aesthetic interest in product and developing the capacity to plan how they can use the process they've learned to bring their artistic visions into reality, the chain from Jenny to Scott to Woodland Park demonstrates the wonderful creative process that takes place here on the internet as we share our experiences with one another.
I can't wait to see the next link in this chain.