Welcome to Art School!
A New Column
Hey guys, Jen here with a brief introduction to today’s post. Folks, I’m super excited. Why, you ask? Because today, Deborah of My Life at Playtime is here with a new bi-weekly column on Classic Play: Art School!
You may remember Deborah from our very first creative family feature. While she wants me to tell you that she’s not ‘technically’ an artist, I’m going to tell you that when her kids’ school had to cut art class from their budget, she volunteered to go in and teach it. She studied, created lesson plans, tested them out and has hands-on, real world, art teaching experience. So, um, heck yeah, she’s qualified!
Like me, you’ve probably read that many schools across the country have cut art programs. And many parents are wondering what to do. We can’t let arts education die. Am I right?! [feel free to insert a fist pump with me here].
I thought, hey, I have this here blog, and a bunch of readers who are looking for things to do with their kids. Let’s create our own art class!
So I went out and found a great teacher to help. Everyone, please help me in extending a warm welcome to Deborah who is starting off with a great art project for elementary grades: A Wild Thing of Your Own
Supplies: watercolor paper, water, watercolor paints, brushes, pencil, black sharpie/permanent black fine tip marker
This lesson links literacy and art, two of my most favorite things.
Maurice Sendak, illustrator and author of Where the Wild Things Are, is a huge inspiration in our house. This project is a great one for all grades and can be tweaked slightly depending on your children’s age.
For upper grades, this would be a great opportunity to learn what an illustrator means, and explore the life of Maurice Sendak. I highly recommend The Art of Maurice Sendak by Selma G. Lanes which chronicles his journey as author and illustrator of some of the most beloved children’s stories of all time. Particularly his first picture book in 1963, Where the Wild Things Are.
One of my favorite quotes from the book, “If I have an unusual gift, it’s not that I draw particularly better or write particularly better than other people…it’s that I remember things other people don’t recall, the sounds and feelings and images…the emotional quality of particular moments of childhood.” Use this quote to engage your older children, grades 2-5, in a discussion about what this means to them. How art is not about hard and fast rules, about being the best or the most qualified. But instead, this quote is about transferring feelings and images onto paper.
For lower grades, I recommend reading Where the Wild Things Are before you begin this lesson.
Point out the pages without words that focus on the images of the Wild Things, how they make Max feel in the story and how they make us feel. Take the opportunity to study and explore what the characters in the story look like, their similarities, differences. I always like to take note of their large heads, interesting eyes, and varied hair and horns.
Have the children begin with their paper vertical and eyeball the center of their paper with their finger(easiest to use the hand they don’t normally write with). With their writing hand, use the pencil to begin from that center point and make a circle for the head covering the top half of the page.
Once they have a nice large head the children can begin to envision what their own wild thing would look like. How many eyes will it have, will it have horns, hair, teeth showing, only one nose, a smile?
Once the details in the face are completed with pencil the children can move on to add other details to a body, arms, legs, hands. Will there be claws, one leg or five, scales or fur, have a tail?
Once the pencil drawing of their wild thing is complete, have the children trace over their pencil lines with a black sharpie or permanent marker. This skill is great for younger kids’ fine motor skills, be sure to stress that you will only see the black lines, and the pencil markings will disappear, so every line needs to be traced.
They can go back with a pencil eraser and erase their pencil lines.
Now it’s time to watercolors. I love having the kids be able to do whatever they want with the paints, the only rule I give is there can be no white showing of the paper when they are finished. This will ensure the picture is vibrant and full.
And there you have an easy and fun way for each child to create their own wild thing.
Here’s an example of a kindergartener’s wild thing.
And a 7 year old’s.
Lastly, a 10 year old’s creation.
Deborah will be back in two weeks with another art lesson. Can’t wait!