Friday, March 16, 2012

Creating Great Beauty, Together

There is no one who better understands how to make art with young children than Maria of Casa Maria's Creative Learning Zone. Not only does she understand that it's all about process, but her kids wind up with some of the most beautiful, beautiful artwork I see anywhere on the interwebs. You really need to click over there not only to take a look at how she did this project, but to have a browse of all the beautiful ways her children use recycled and natural materials. 

Now, we've used pipettes with liquid watercolor before. We've even squirted it on paper towels before, but it had never occurred to me to cover an entire table and make it a group project -- and oh how we love our group art projects at Woodland Park. Making beauty together builds community and elevates humanity: really, we should all do much more of it, be it in the form of painting, singing, dancing or putting on parades. It's the solution to so much of what ails us.

The way Maria did it was to cover the table with paper towels, turn the kids loose, then just lay a new layer of paper towels over the old when they were ready for more. I misunderstood this piece of information, reading "three layers" at the end of her post, and so instead of going one layer at a time, we started with 3 layers, which meant unfurling a full roll on the table to get us going. I'm assuming this means, with the paint absorbing more deeply, it took us longer to cover the entire table, but in any event we created great beauty, together.

The kids experimented with technique, verbally and non-verbally sharing what they learned: squirting horizontally across the table, dripping paint from on high, shaking, dripping, two-fisting . . . you name it.

As our first "canvas" filled, I challenged the children to eliminate "all the white" before we could call it finished. We then admired it for a minute or so, then I said, "Okay, let's get this into the recycling box and roll out some more."

The kids cleared the table on their own, then cleaned it in a flurry, creating a dry space for the next one. Look at them go!

I think we learned a lot about absorbency yesterday.

We worked together creating our new 3-layer canvas, rolling out the paper towels together, then got back to work painting. All told we went through 3 full rolls of paper towels and many bottles of liquid watercolor.

During the final run, Addison starting talking about wanting to take "his" home. Ah, a clash of agendas. One of the things we adults like about the group art project is not having to worry about curating the individual pieces, getting names on them, finding places for them to dry, and generally managing that end of the process. But then it occurred to me that the beauty of paper towels is that the paper is perforated perfectly for lifting out a choice section. To save the adult effort, I just got out the standing clothes drying rack we sometimes use to hang art to dry and told the kids they should just tear off whatever they wanted to keep and use clothes pins to hang them up. That turned into a project unto itself.

Only one kid tried the experiment of simply dumping his jar of paint. Today, we're doing this with the Pre-3 class. I'm assuming more of them will attempt this technique. Perhaps we should start with 6 layers.

By the way, this is my 1000th post on Teacher Tom. Woo hoo!

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Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your 1000th post!!!! I LOVE your blog.

Maria Wynne - Casa Maria's Creative Learning Zone said...

Being thought of in such a nice way means more than what a “thank you" can say. I sincerely appreciate being linked to your very lovely 1000th post. You really brightened up my day!
Your children surely did such beautiful art. Congratulations Teacher Tom, I look forward to reading more of your amazing posts.
Thank you again!

Aunt Annie said...

Spectacular! And 1000 posts- fantastic. Thank you for your contribution to our children's world.

Deborah said...

Tom - this is such a wonderful process and it is so fun when the entire class can work to create something so beautiful together!

Play for Life said...

Woah! ... What a way to celebrate 1000 post Tom. I agree Maria is as beautiful as the artwork her children (and yours) create.

Congratulations on writing your 1000th post my friend. You truly are inspiring, passionate and ... what's that other word? ... Oh yeah IRRESISTIBLE! xx

Donna :) :)

Laura (The SEEDS Network) said...

Congrats on #1000! We also did Maria's liquid watercolor idea on paper towels at our school and had a blast with it too!

Morah D said...

Wow! This looks incredible! And congratulations!!

Unknown said...

I have linked to this post in my new round-up of paper towel art. Thanks for the inspiration!