Friday, March 18, 2011
Our "Tall Paintings"
Several days ago Deborah Stewart posted this incredible video of artists at work making "tall paintings" on her Teach Preschool Facebook page and challenged teachers to come up with a way to make it into a preschool art idea.
My initial thoughts were, "Way cool" and "There is no way to make this into a manageable, affordable class room project." It was at about this time, however, that I received some shelving I'd ordered by phone, that came with far too much packaging. In fact I wound up with something like 40 pieces of perfectly good corrugated cardboard cut into nice 12" by 10" pieces that had been stuffed into the box to fill up the empty space. That's when it began to occur to me that if the "tall" part were small enough, the paint thick enough, and the pouring containers small enough, it just might work.
I had several pieces of scrap 2"X2" cedar around the school which I cut into 2" to 3" lengths, then hot glued to the center of the cardboard. I wanted to thicken up the tempera paint so it wouldn't run all over the place, plus reduce the cost, and white glue seemed like the perfect answer, so I pre-mixed roughly 3 parts glue to 1 part paint. And finally, to increase the odds that the "paint" wouldn't just run right off the cardboard and onto the floor as it dried, we used small specimen cups to control the quantity the children had for each pour.
We figured out that each painting was "done" after 5-6 cups. Fortunately, we had plenty of tall painting "blanks" to just keep going.
The kids didn't always stick to pouring on top of the wood and, naturally, there was other kinds of experimenting, like mixing our own custom colors (primarily "preschool gray," which is what you get when you try to mix a "rainbow").
I'd removed all the chairs, thinking the kids would have better "aim" on their feet, but several chose to work sitting anyway. My camera was acting up or else I'd have a lot more photos to show you. But you get the idea.
For whatever reason, the project was dominated by a small group of girls for the first part of the day, only attracting the boys as we were coming to the end of our indoor free play time, so we took it outdoors and kept going.
I'd call this a complete success, even without having seen the dried pieces which are currently scattered around the classroom on every available horizontal surface, slowly spreading, dripping off the edges and otherwise succumbing to gravity, possibly adhering themselves to the table tops in such a way that no one will be able to take them home. But that's hardly the point. The kids really seemed to enjoy watching how their paint flowed, oozed, and mixed, and that's the point. They got to tinker with the idea which is where the learning takes place.