Thursday, September 30, 2010

Floating Powder Paintings

It's been a long time since we last had to purchase powdered tempera paint. For the past several years we've been feeding off a the dozens of jars of the stuff donated by an artist who was clearing out his basement, but last year, down to mostly brown and black, we finally finished them off in a frenzy of mixing it up into a thick pasty, mud-like substance and applying it with masonry tools to a large piece of cardboard.

It's about 5'X3' and I still have it around. Maybe it should go up at Diva as well.

And while making "thick paint" is the main reason we like keeping powdered tempera around, the other is for making floating powder paintings.

We set our three pans of shallow water (I use the plastic drawers from a storage unit) and fill spice shakers with the tempera powder. The idea is for the kids to shake the powder onto the water, which will initially float on the surface, only sinking once it's completely saturated. 

The idea then is to float a piece of paper on top of the water and let it soak for a bit. I don't know if was the brand of the new paint we purchased or if we'd just grown accustomed to using ancient powder that had somehow become transformed with age in to something more absorbent, more easily dissolved. Or perhaps our old stuff was just of a much higher quality given that it had once belonged to a professional artist, but whatever the case, the kids had to let their paper float longer than in years past to achieve their results.

This period of waiting, naturally, lead to many of the children try shaking yet more powder onto the backsides of their papers as they floated.

The results were less swirly and marbled than in past years, but I kind of like chunky landscaped textures created by the tablets of undissolved powder that got trapped in their own crust on the paper. I suspect that if families hang these on their walls, they will enjoy many months of these mini time bombs releasing their powder onto walls and carpets when subjected to random breezes and bumps. 

If you click on the individual photos, you'll see detail.

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Barbara Zaborowski said...

Lovely, Tom. What would happen if you pushed the paper under the water from the edge of the drawer and then lifted it out straight up, "scooping up" the floating paint? It could be left under water for a while to let the paint absorb the water.

mica said...

Those are are most pieces that your children do! Maybe put a spray fix on them so they keep longer??

Scott said...

What cool textured art! I've not seen this technique before. Thanks for another intriguing idea.

Amy A @ Child Central Station said...

Another Aha! I'm not sure we have any powdered paint, but I'm sure we will find a way to experiment with other options.... or end up buying some. Stay tuned! Thanks for the inspiration!

Unknown said...

I love it! You have the best ideas : ) I want to come to your school : )

Deborah said...

These are very cool!!

Narelle said...

I love this idea! Will definitely be giving it a go! We've done lots of stuff with tempera paint before, love it!

Michelle Taylor said...

We are so going to try this.