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.

Then, "Go!"








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.




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28 comments:

Sherry and Donna said...

Well I do hope they dry out beautifully Tom and can be taken home ... They look fabulous!
Donna :) :)

Scott said...

I would definitely say it was a success. I haven't tried it yet, but your post makes me want to jump in soon.

Madre Adoptiva said...

What a cool project! Looks like the kids loved it. I am sitting here wondering where they all went to dry and how long it took. :)

Barbara Zaborowski said...

I've been experimenting with this same project, pouring paint over plastic cups until I get it right for the kids to try. My tempera seemed to be too thick. The later layers were overrunning the earlier ones, not pushing them along. I didn't think it needed to be thicker, but perhaps it did. Thanks, Tom!

UP Early Childhood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
child central station said...

It looks like the glue worked out great too!

Deborah said...

Genius Tom! You have me chomping at the bit to try this! I love it!

Rachele said...

I love that you actually did this! I keep forgetting to ask my dad for left over wood. I know he must have some lying around so we can do this too! Thank you for sharing your experience!

Melissa_Loves_Broccoli said...

we'll be doing this soon at the home daycare, the kids and I thank you!

Betsy said...

Please come back and shows us what it looked like once they have dried! So cool!

B.Z. said...

I'm calling my local house painter and putting in a call for left over paint! I'm going to try this at our all school field day this spring. Outside, recycling latex paint, old and young enjoying the amazing process. Jackson Pollock with limits. I'm going to experiment with different height pieces of wood as well. Thanks for the tip. Love your spirit!

Leigh @ Toasted said...

Awesome! I saw that video a while ago and was mesmerised but thought no more about it. My kids have got some fun ahead of them now!

Iacovina Alipranti said...

Amazing!!!!!!
I HAVE to try it!
Fantastic job you do Tom!

carly@LearningParade said...

Nothing short of fantastic. I'd say the glue will make the work dry into rubbery sculptures! Cool! :)

Teacher Tom said...

I'll post pictures of the dried paintings next week, along with some thoughts on what I would do differently next time.

I will say that they're losing some of their vibrancy as they cure. That has nothing to do with the kids' experience, but now the artists part of me is getting kind of fixated on how to perfect the process!

D'Lynn Smith said...

These are fantastic! I am so envious of how your brain works!

debe said...

What if a painting medium was used to both thicken and to sustain the vibrancy?

Marie Z. said...

Tom, such a neat project! Our special needs students do art creations that we sell at our school's fund raising action to support our programs. I think we may give this a try. this is a wonderful site! Marie Z.

Marilyn623 said...

I wonder if Biocolor paint would keep the color integrity without turning into Preschool Gray.... I'm just too cheap to let this flow... but now I do have to try it!

MessyMissy said...

Fantastic. I wonder if I could try this at the craft time I host at my library with preschools/toddlers.....Thanks for the inspiration!! :-)

WindandHoney said...

Thank you for this. I saw the Tall Painting video on msjuiliesartschool blog and immediately began trying to figure out how I could adapt it with my children's class. Then I saw the link she gave to your blog. How lucky I am that you've already done the work for me. Thanks!! We'll do this in May to use up our paints.

kristen said...

I did this today with my art class-we used house paint-worked great!
http://pepperpaints.com/2011/04/05/our-holton-rower-tall-paintings-aka-pour-paintings/

bioluminescence said...

Just did it with Biocolor and it's still wet but it worked great!

Amanda Morgan said...

Pure genius! I too wondered how to do this with kids after seeing the video. You nailed it! Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to try it!

Christie - Childhood 101 said...

They are fabulous. The bizarre thing was I had not seen anything about this pouring process until today but Immy was experimenting with pouring paint down her easel yesterday - it was completely self-initiated and she didn't really have enough paint to make it work but this has given me an idea of how to continue her exploration.

Sonni said...

Amazing!!! I will be trying this with my students. Thanks for sharing!

Yummy Mommy Mia said...

Thanks for your tips. I did this with my three year old and we had a lot fun. Totally more about the process then end product --although it did turn out pretty nest too!

http://logansbabyblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/preschooler-tall-painting.html

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

So, so neat! I'll have to see if I can "neaten" it up a bit for home use - either way, it looks like a lot of fun.

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