Saturday, June 3, 2017

small acrylic paintings

I have been admiring the work of Australian artist Tamsin Ainslie. In particular her Instagram project,  A Pencil a Day where she creates one small painting for auction each day of cute little pencil stubs.

Tamsin Ainslie

As the after school art classes were coming to an end, I asked the Preteen class what they would like to do in the last few classes. I find when I give something that open ended, it causes the kids to draw a bland so I then showed them a couple of artist I was admiring of recent and they all fell in love!! with these cute little pencil paintings.

We discussed the different elements of the paintings and then they went through my enormous pencil box and found some of the more "well loved" pencils and took them down to stubs with a pencil sharpener.

I happened to have some very small canvases on hand, so they created their very own little pencil paintings. I did give them the option of using any of the art supplies available for their paintings, like a watercolor tube, but each and every one of them wanted to make a pencil.

They were thrilled with their results. 

I put them on little easels at the end for them to display at home which was a very big hit.

The preteen class had so much fun that I decided to do a similar project with the Elementary class. This time I let them pick whatever subject matter they wanted for their acrylic painting.

"Mr. Fox" 6 year old

One young boy wanted to paint a fox. He had a lovely sketch on the canvas and the next time I walked by, the fox was wearing a very distinguished jacket. I was totally smitten and wonder what wonderful story could be created around this sweet little painting.

Dancing Bear, 6 year old

This is a new student who I found out after she created this artwork is quite shy to draw. I'm not sure why when you look at all the personality she created in this wonderful work!

7 year old

This beautiful bird was also created. I love to watch the focus this artist puts into his pieces. He always creates work that takes my breath away. And while there was a lot of interest in painting birds, there was a loud request for me to have the studio bird, Parakeet the Parapete, in for modeling.

I can't tell you how happy I am that I listened to the kids.

Parapete the Parakeet, 9 year old

Within the week, Parapete escaped in the most bizarre of circumstances. We searched endlessly for him for a week and have been absolutely devastated by his disappearance.

Parapete, 7 year old

We have finally had to come to terms with saying goodbye to this sweet little bird. Our family will miss his catcall whistles as we came down each morning, it was so good for the ego. Not quite as big as his ego as he constantly let us know what a pretty bird, a very pretty bird, a pretty, pretty, pretty bird he was as he finally capped his litany of pretties with a Parapete is a pretty bird.

I will truly cherish all the pictures in my records of the artworks he inspired in the children over the past year and I know not only our family but the studio artist will miss this little guy.

Love you Parapete.

Friday, June 2, 2017

preschool acrylic paintings

I had so much fun in May running two preschool classes.

Working with this age group is so rewarding as everything is exciting and their enthusiasm is contagious.

With the Wednesday group, I had each child bring in a favorite toy. This was inspired by one little boy in the class who brought a wooden pull toy each week that was his "dog". I truly thought he would paint that dog, but surprised me by bringing a corduroy stuffed elephant instead named Ellie.

This little boy had a wonderful time mixing colors in his background but what really excited him was adding the corduroy lines. He first ran the back of his brush through the thick wet paint and then once dry used the black oil pastel to highlight it again.

4 year old

I placed all the toys in the center of the table so they could "model" for the young artist.

I handed the children woody pencils and asked them to sketch the shapes of their toys.

Once they had all their sketches finished, I traded their pencils for black oil pastels. I made sure they knew that they only had to trace over the lines they were happy with and could ignore anything they didn't want as the paint would cover it up.

Why do I have them use oil pastel? Well when they start layering on the paint, the pastel seems to hold up against it so they don't completely lose all their sketching work and can still see their original idea.

I always use painting projects as an opportunity to explore mixing colors with this age group and they LOVE mixing colors!

4 year old

Just look at the rainbow spotlight behind Sophia the doll! And that hair, be still my heart. Each and every new color she mixed was excitedly announced to me, "Jeri! Jeri! Look what I made!" It was so stinkin' cute.

4 year old

I had them paint the background first that way if they went over their subject drawings, and they did, they would be able to paint over top the background so the subject was the star. This is not Bunny Buns first appearance in this young artists' work and I believe it is her most beloved companion. One time it use to be pink but as she stated numerous times while mixing her colors to paint, she is now grey and you can see this young girl reference that fact in the very thoughtful color choices she made in the painting.

Are these not the most precious keepsakes of toys that have a special place in their young lives?!

The Monday preschool class created flower paintings again with a focus on observing and exploring mixing colors.

I had some yellow gerber daisies left over from the preteen flower project and put one flower in a vase in front of each young artist.

Using the same steps as above, I had them first really look at the flowers and observe the shapes and details.

4 year old

You can see the details of their observations in their artwork too. The round circles in the center of the flower and the smaller petals surrounding the larger ones.

4 year old

I spoke to them about "artist choice" and told them that although the flower was  yellow by no means did they need to paint a yellow flower. They could choose their favorite color they wanted and guess what? Every four year old chose pink! Who knew?

They also had the choice of whatever color they wanted for their background but once the first little girl announced she wanted turquoise, they all wanted turquoise. These colors were all mixed directly on their papers using the primary colors. I truly love the movement of their brushstrokes and the variety of beautiful colors they created.

4 year old

When finished they had the opportunity to go over their black oil pastel lines and for fun I handed them white china pencils to play with and explore. You can see they all had fun using them in the center of their flowers.

I think people underestimate the capabilities of this age group. They are quite excited to try observational drawing and trying some of the "big kid" techniques.  I find by offering open ended projects, that allow them to interpret what they are observing however they want along with the opportunity to create their own unique colors by mixing primary paints together still offers up lots of process based learning. 

As I tell the parents, the objective is never product but I'm continually amazed that when left to do what they want while at the same time giving them the choice of using some "artist tip secrets" as they are called in the studio, they come up with some amazing works of art that only young children seem to be able to capture.