We often think of mobiles as something for the nursery but truly mobiles are for all ages! Nobody knew this better than Alexander Calder who's wonderful mobile sculptures changed forever the way we think about what an art exhibit can look like! His wire sculpture embraced the idea of 3D art that could move simply with a small current of air which meant that everyone who visited the exhibit would view a completely different version of the same installation each time!
I love to show the kids the work of an artist before we start our study and so I set up the Calder website on the dining room table alongside the pipecleaners we would use to create our own mobile sculptures! However, you could just as easily show your little ones this short but lovely video clip!
First! Show them This Video!
Next! Simply set out the pipecleaners on the table - making sure that you have many sizes and colours available for them to form into different shapes. I propped up one that I'd formed into the shape of the letter A but that was just as a jumping off point!
This activity actually was a HUGE hit with my little ones and they spent the better part of an hour just watching the videos of Calder's mobiles moving in air and also twisting, bending and connecting the pipecleaners into abstract shapes that were alternately animals and any other twists of the imagination that came up!
Isn't it amazing how you can make great art with just the stuff you have around the house already? I love that and so do my little ones.
Now to go place this in front of the window and wait for a cool breeze. C'mon breeze! Actually I may just put this in front of the fan... Stay cool, guys!
For all Artsy Startsy's focus on process art and setting up easel starters for our kids to get them creating, I also believe strongly that children love to observe examples of great art and are stimulated by the challenge of recreating the style of a particular artist or period. For this reason, the program focuses on both art imitation as well as process art which we call easel starters.
“The little child, up to the age of seven, up to the change of teeth, is essentially imitative. He learns by doing what he sees being done around him. Fundamentally, all activities of the child’s early years are imitations.” ~Steiner~
Each weekly lesson in Artsy Startsy offers a new artist or period in art for a child to imitate allowing them to create their own unique version of a masterpiece! This month we have the April Showers theme going on so we tackled Jackson Pollock because he is the drippiest artist we know! Here are 3 activities for you to try!
Pollock was often photographed high up on a ladder splattering paint down to a canvas below! A tray of shaving cream, a step stool and some food colouring... What fun! We drip dripped colours onto the tray and then used the handle of a butter knife to make swirly designs in the cream. Once we had a design we liked we pressed a piece of heavy paper into the design, scraped off any remaining cream with the flat side of the knife and voila! Marbled paper to use for greeting cards!
Melting Colours Art
Frozen food colouring ice cubes are perfect for creating drippy art as they melt onto watercolour paper to create more droplet art!
This is a perfect, perfect, perfect easel starter invitation my friend set up in her childrens' lovely little creation corner and the end result looks just like a Pollock drip painting! Set out some yarn and as many paint jars as you like. Let your little one "draw" with the yarn!
More for Mama and Child: Action Jackson
Now cuddle up on a rainy afternoon with this lovely book called Action Jackson to find out even more about how Jackson Pollock worked in his studio to change the face of art forever!
8 Weeks in Spring
The Seasonal Lessons are designed to help you spend more quality time with your little one exploring the arts and nature. All Seasons are digital purchases which provide lifetime access to a secure, members-only section of the Artsy Startsy web site.
This Season Includes:
Would you and your little one like to explore Picasso's portraiture in a hands-on way that brings you closer and lets you reinterpret the idea of what a face "should" look like in art? Try these activities:
In the Mirror!
Grab a mirror with your little one and sit together to paint your own self-portraits! The goal is to make it as mixed up a face as possible. Next, leave the mirror aside and draw portraits of one another. Do NOT show each other until you have a finished product to make each other laugh!
Picasso Head: A Digital Game!
Visit Picasso head where you can drag and drop ears, eyes, lips eyebrows and hair in any manner you please! Next, have fun enlarging or rotating each feature to make your own unique Picasso head.
More for Mommy
I'm starting a new feature on this blog called "More for Mommy" where each time I provide a resource or idea for your preschooler to pursue their passion for the arts and nature, I will also provide something more for you as a parent or caregiver (you don't have to actually be a mommy to get something out of this). Here is the first more for mommy! Take a peek at this lovely and insightful article/gallery on Picasso's portraits called "Pablo's people: the truth about Picasso's portraits."
Summer means simple. Hula hoops, skipping ropes, wading pools, bubbles, and the good old stand by: sidewalk chalk. At this point if your kids have gotten into a big box of sidewalk chalk they are already well into it and the pile of chalk is full of broken pieces, smoothed down sides and dust! Messages have been written on the driveway for the birds to puzzle out as they fly overhead. Maybe sidewalk chalk is even getting a bit boring by now? Well... maybe it's just time for a new surface!
1. Sidewalk Chalk on Planter Pots
2. Sidewalk Chalk on Different Colours of Construction Paper
3. Sidewalk Chalk on Sandpaper
Apparently, even your little brother can be a new sidewalk chalk surface! (Poor fella)...
What fun stuff have you tried with sidewalk chalk (inside or out)?
As promised and just in time for the weekend, here is the second idea in our series on Easel Starters: Glittering Snowflakes! (All you require is pictured above). This time, you may wish to spend a little more time setting the scene depending on how ornate you want your snow flakes to be. If you want the result to resemble an honest to goodness snowflake, feel free to fold the coffee filter in half over and over until it is a smallish triangle for your little one to cut out with safety scissors. Normally, I like to be sure that my child simply stumbles upon the Easel Starter but in this case - it can't kill anyone if you take a brief moment to show your Little Artist how to cut neat shapes along the edges of the folded coffee filter - avoiding the corners.
Once you have a few shapes that resemble snowflakes- scoot! Leave the room quickly and maybe take the scissors with you. Now your child can enjoy the process of painting his snow flake with glitter glue and brush! I've found this to be a beautiful, mindful masterpiece for your little one to create. The delicacy required to paint the coffee filter without ripping it encourages a certain gentleness and focus that is just right for this age. The fine motor skills required to apply a gentle brush stroke and the thought processes required to determine how much glue to add to a thinner surface are all opportunities for growth, judgment and patience. If you need to help on occasion to ensure that the process remains a positive one- don't hesitate to do so!
Et voila! Hang the masterpiece in the window and get ready for more snow... sigh...
This entry is the first in a series I will be doing called Easel Starters. In each case, I will provide a visual of the easel starter and simple instructions for you to use to introduce it to your preschooler.
What are Easel Starters?
An easel starter is a simple invitation to create art that you set up while the child is away (either out of the house, napping or doing quiet time in another room). It is important that your child not see you setting up the easel starter since its magic lies in the discovery that the child makes both in terms of finding the materials sitting out and also in terms of learning about how those materials can create a piece of art.
Why Easel Starters?
How to Introduce Today's Easel Starter: Orange and Yellow Study with Feathers.
It's harvest time!!! The bounty at our local farms is bringing us so much joy! We are so lucky to have a little "Potager" (as they call them here in Quebec, Canada) that is about a ten minute drive from our home and that we have been visiting weekly. The harvest came in slowly but surely starting with strawberries and asparagus, next cucumbers and deep purple onions, on to plump tomatoes and ruby red potatoes, and now we are beginning to see the squash and, of course, the corn abounds!
If you are an Artsy Starter you have probably already been busy exploring veggies in art with us this fall semester! In particular my Little Artist loves the work of Arcimboldo during this season. Grab a seat with your little one and take a peek at this Smithsonian video of Arcimboldo's work:
Got a taste for vegetables? Well, here's a little bonus vegetable activity that is both easy and delicious. Veggie stamping!
Starting this week, my Little Artists will be separated during the days while Althea makes her foray into Kindergarten. If you've been there, you already know that I'm both terrified and elated beyond reason. I'll be sad to see her go in no small part because they have truly enjoyed each others' company this past year and also because .... well who the hell is going to entertain my toddler now??
One activity that the kids enjoy immensely is "Communal Colouring" - taking time to create a work of art together independent of my direction or instruction. The only times I intervene are to soothe frustrations and bring them back to the idea of a work of art built together. Responding to wails of, "Mom! He's ruining it!" and little grabby toddler hands means reminding them that during this special time no area of the canvas is any one artist's territory and that materials are to be shared. Sometimes it is also necessary to keep one particular artist from eating the chalk. Sigh. So crunchy. So blue. Blech.
We got the idea for communal colouring while looking at Pieter Bruegel's paintings. It seemed to us that many of his works involved villagers working and playing together. Sometimes the participants in the paintings work at cross purposes to one another and some are lazier than others but the spirit of the paintings are lively and communicate a sense of "togetherness" that we like. Everyone in the paintings is an individual but stuff seems to be getting done or at least fun is being had. Click on the image below for an incredible tour of Bruegel's work at the Met!
Murals are good fun to take on as a communal masterpiece! This communal mural was undertaken on a hot and sunny afternoon when the kids decided that the gray bricks just looked bored with themselves and needed some colour! They look much happier now! Don't you agree?
Hand tracing is one of those fundamental preschool activities that we just never ever tire of and it's really no wonder. Tracing hands as an artistic expression dates all the way back 31,000 years when artists were using their hands as stencils by spraying paint through a reed around them, by pressing their hands in paint and making imprints on walls, and by brushing ochre around the hand as it lay against the rock's surface.
And when we see these ancient impressions we feel something. We see the hand raised in class. "Present! I know!" We see the "hands up" gesture of good will and vulnerability. We see the statement "I was here." Every time our little artists trace their hands they are saying the exact same thing today. "I was here."
Hand tracing develops a child's fine motor skills and it also works that part of the brain that allows us to multi-task. Holding one hand still as the other carefully manipulates the charcoal, paint brush, crayon or pencil around each little fat-knuckled digit requires real focus!
Once the hand is immortalized on paper there are so many ways to manipulate it artistically: colour around the hand, colour in the hand, add jewelry, cut the hand out, do family portraits in traced hands, turn the hand into an animal or leaf, add the arms and send it is a hug in the mail!
Most importantly, keep in mind - this is not just some random craft that your child has made. Sure it goes on the fridge and will ultimately end up in the bin but by undertaking this simple act of tracing their hand, your child has become part of an artistic movement that dates all the way to Here. Now.
This past week we were learning about the prehistoric era in art. Part of that exploration included the creation of rock people as masterpieces since so much of the work of the prehistoric artists involved creative use of stone as canvas.First, we took a look at the Lascaux caves to get a sense of the way in which rock was used as a surface for creating art. Next, we went on a nature walk and gathered stones that attracted our attention. Finally, we went into the craft cupboard and pulled out yarn, googley eyes and any other materials that seemed relevant.
As you can see, it was really the cotton balls that brought our rock person to the next level. Suddenly one of our rocks was transformed into a particularly hard-headed political figure. After completing her work, Althea said “Look mama! It’s ‘Mister Trunk’!” Is it just us? Do you see the likeness?