MONDAY MORNING was the easiest lesson. It's been a little while since we painted, so we got started by pulling out all our painting supplies and reminding the kids how to use them:
- drop water into each paint pot to get the paints wet
- rinse and dry your brush between changing colors
- lay your brushes flat to dry (even if you're using cheap brushes, good care is vital)
- use big brushes to paint large areas, and smaller brushes for details
- let a wet area dry before coming back to paint around or over it
- keep a washcloth nearby to blot if your watercolors get too runny or start to bleed (many tears are saved with quick blotting!)
- lay paintings flat to dry
I made the materials available and let them paint whatever they wanted all morning. I gave them some of the cheaper paper this morning reserving the good paper for later. And that was a good idea, because they went through a lot of paper. I would occasionally show them how to do something (like fill in a large area, or carefully paint around an edge without touching the wet paint next to you, or blotting, or mixing skin and hair colors) - but mostly I left freedom reign.
They had a lot of experimenting with brushes, mixing colors and just generally painting all kinds of stuff. By lunch time, the floor of our space was covered in wet paintings. This was a great start to the week, because they quickly became familiar with how the materials worked and they had a lot of fun doing it. Rooster Dog, shown below, was one of the many creative inventions that was developed during free painting time.
MONDAY AFTERNOON I gave each child an egg carton and sent them out to find textures. I encouraged them to find 12 things inside or outside that each feel different. I gave them plenty of time to do this while I finished some of my chores. They collected some really interesting things, but finding 12 different textures was ambitious for this age group. When we sat down together, I asked them to each pick their 4 favorite textures.
I drew a grid on a piece of paper for each of us creating 8 boxes, and we put their favorite textures in 4 of the boxes. We discussed what they felt like like and tried to find a word to describe each texture. We came up with words like: smooth, sandy/gritty, rough, bumpy, mushy, grassy and grainy. And then we talked about how we could paint the empty square next to each texture to look like the texture - not to look like the object, but the texture. How do you paint smooth? rough? gritty? grainy? We made not of which brush to use (a wide flat brush for smooth, and a stiff round brush for gritty), how wet the paint should be (a dry brush made drag lines for grainy, and wet brush worked well for mushy). We made fine lines for grassy, and used many layers to make rough. This was a fun activity, with more experimenting, but this time in a focused and guided way.
When we finished I chose some coloring pages from this Masterpiece Coloring Book from Art Projects for Kids (also check out these). I chose pages that had good opportunities for texture. We looked up the originals online and talked about what textures we saw, and then I gave them the pictures to paint with texture. This was more challenging for them than I expected, because their tendency is to paint the whole picture with one brush, and just fill in each block of color. But they were able to stop and consider how they might paint water or feathers.
And so ends day one! By the end of the day, and every day after, we had wet paintings strewn across our school room. It was really a beautiful mess. Each morning, we'd stack up the dry paintings into a pile for each child, and start again.
Monday: Experimenting with Materials and Textures
Tuesday: Landscapes and Space
Wednesday: People and Portraits
Thursday: Storytelling and Comic Books
Friday: The Exhibit