Earlier this month I started to write a post about "snap painting," but the children grew quickly bored and/or frustrated and turned it into a pirate ship painting party. In fact, ever since that day whenever there is black paint outside, the boat's exterior gets a further touch-up, although the interior has remained clean.
So while boat painting has been on the children's minds, snap painting has remained on mine. It is just too good a concept to let drop: painting rubber bands then snapping them on paper to create these cool, spidery, freckly splats.
I was working on the theory that I'd made this simple concept too complicated the first time. Not only did the kids have to paint the rubber bands, a challenging target, but then hold the entire frame down with one hand while pulling up on the rubber band with the other. Then, as a reward, they received a backspatter of tempera paint in the face. Is it any wonder that most of the kids only gave it a single go before wanting to do something else?
I sought to eliminate the "holding the frame down problem" by building larger PVC frames that hooked under the bottom of the work bench on either side, which would allow the kids to stretch the bands as far as they wanted without lifting the entire apparatus.
I designed them to be a little bit loose so that as the paper got filled with paint, an adult could carefully move the frame to unpainted parts of the the paper, hopefully without smearing what we'd already done. I even provided milk crates and step ladders for the kids to stand on when they wanted to reach the middle of the table.
I was imagining that when we covered the entire sheet of dark blue paper with white dots and squiggles, it would look like a starry night, an appropriate image for us to consider during the run-up to the long night of the winter solstice. And, in all honesty, I thought by limiting the paint selection to white (pirate ships, I'm told, are "black"), I'd avoid having it turn into just another boat painting extravaganza. I really wanted to give snap painting a fair chance.
To address the "face full of paint" issue we got out our safety glasses.
So now it would just be about painting those rubber bands and snapping them. Of course, if you look closely at the photos, you'll see that kids lost patience with the process almost immediately, and while there was a little more snap experimentation than the last time, the frames and rubber bands were really just in the way of a painting project.
After about 20 minutes, we got the frames out of their way.
Darn it! I'm still not ready to give up on snap painting, there is a good idea here, but we just haven't figured out the execution.
The reliance on paint brushes is part of the problem. It's too tempting to just use them to apply the paint directly to the paper without hassling with the intermediary of a rubber band . . .
But I'm also starting to think it's too much of a one trick pony -- one or two snaps and you're done. Maybe there needs to be more to it, like a target . . .
Or maybe I still need to work on the frames. Of course, I'm already imagining a giant one involving massive amounts of paint and butcher paper on a wall some feet away, kind of like a huge paint slingshot. If we can make an "everyone clear out event" from each snap it could be a blast . . .
Or, going the other direction, maybe we need smaller, hand-sized frames so the kids can move them around easily and quickly on their own, letting them "dip" their rubber bands in paint rather than painting them . . .
And thinking about the back splash issue, maybe we need to be doing this in Halloween masks . . .
So far I've failed to succeed, but that's how we learn.