Thursday, November 01, 2012

These Artistic Pioneers

I've used a 2-inch circle saw to cut a couple rather large holes in the bottom of our sand pit row boat, but the water still isn't draining from it. It must be that the sand beneath it has become so compacted that the water can't get through. This has not turned out to be a problem for the kids, especially the older ones, who are treating it like a huge mud puddle.

Over the last week, they've been positioning some long planks, first as wobbly bridges that shifted and tipped as the kids crossed them, then as a kind of teeter totter catapult, which they've used to launch buckets of water into the air by jumping on one end, hoping to land them in the giant puddle.

These photos really don't do justice to the kind of "risk taking" that was taking place.

It's the kind of wild, outdoor play that borders on too dangerous, with the the planks constantly shifting on their pivots as 2, 3, 4 and more children balance along them, constantly redistributing their weight along its length causing sudden tips this way and that. No one has gotten hurt, although a couple have taken seats in the puddle. We adults have been monitoring the play closely, expecting, I think to spy something beyond the pale, but instead seeing kids playing right on the edge of their physical capabilities, which is where, frankly, we always learn the most.

I mentioned yesterday that a couple of the children have been talking about the methods of artist Andy Goldsworthy, and in another recent post how Duncan taught us about the painting techniques of Jackson Pollack, which we interpreted as paint throwing. It was time, I thought, to try a hand at inventing our own way of making a painting, based upon the game the children had invented.

As the kids had been doing, we set our longest plank over a log so that it tipped like a teeter totter, then positioned a pieces of canvas under one end. We then added a splash of paint to some large yoghurt containers and swished in some water. (I suppose this would have produced a more spectacular finished product had we used undiluted paint, but we don't have the budget for that!) Putting a container on the canvas end of the plank we invited the kids to jump on the other end.

I had anticipated that they would use the ground as their starting point, but they opted instead to jump off a nearby table, queuing up for the opportunity, launching the paint into the air, often several feet into the air, sending plumes of color across the canvas. We quickly realized that much of the paint was being lost on the plank itself, so we added a second sheet of canvas over the top of the plank as well.

At first we were launching one yoghurt container at a time, but soon the children were requesting 2 and 3.

After a full hour, during which the teeter totter catapult was in continual use, we had three soaking wet, but wonderful canvases, created by a method that as far as I can tell was invented by the children of Woodland Park, these artistic pioneers.

We left the canvases draped over tables outdoors. The last two days of rain has washed them clean. I guess we'll be doing it again today.

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1 comment:

Kiera said...

I have a solution for you in terms of the waterlogged sand boat. The trick is to drill holes on the side of the boat, below the sand line. The water will be able to drain out of the boat because the sand doesn't compact well on the sides, and as long as the holes aren't too big, the sand won't come through and clog the holes up. We drilled our holes about an inch or so beneath the top line of the sand, and the water drained out fine. If you still have a problem with soggy sand, drill a few holes a bit lower on the side. Of course, this may not be what you want to do now that you know the kids love the puddle!