Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Fun was in the Process....

Let me say this right up-front.  This post is not about wool, or felting.   I am somewhat allergic/sensitive to wool.  It makes me very very itchy and makes my eyes water.  I can smell it, and I can feel it's nasty little prickly fingers stabbing my skin right through a shirt worn under a wool sweater, so I never ever wear wool, and haven't for decades.  So this post is NOT about wool.
And this post is not about a success story.  It's about a project, an experiment you might say, that was a lot of fun in the early steps, and then got rather challenging.  And the results, were, um, less than spectacular.  (Isn't this pile of fiber, pictured below, pretty?)
This is a tough thing for me, having the results be unsuccessful.  While I'm all about giving kids an exciting exploratory process, I also feel that art is made to be seen, to be experienced visually, just like music is made to be heard, to give the listener a distinct auditory experience.  So making a product that looks good is equally as important to me as the process itself.  I know this can be a controversial topic, but that's been my outlook for a long time, and I don't expect it to change.  Plus, I am teaching in a private business, and my students' parents pay for their children to attend, so I feel an obligation for the kids to produce a product that they can show off at the end of a session. 

Anyhow...  A couple of months back, someone posted a project on Facebook that looked a lot like felting, but without wool, and I was instantly intrigued.  It was based on a project that had been shared in the United Art & Education booth at the NAEA convention in Chicago, but somehow I hadn't seen it there.  It is available on line, and here is a link to the original Project PDF, courtesy of United Art & Education:  Fiber Painting - Project #197.

I looked at the original project, and I looked at the adaptations made by the person who posted on Facebook, and I made some other adjustments to hopefully make it easier for me and my young students to do.  My DragonWing Arts students were doing projects based on the theme of "Scapes" - Landscapes and Seascapes and so on.  I thought this project would fit in perfectly, for layers of mountains and cloudy skies.  The method uses polyester fiberfill, and I have a monstrous 10 pound carton left over from my grand experiment building a duct tape dummy.  (You can read about that crazy misadventure right HERE.)
But back to this project...   I gave my students one rubber glove each, so they would end up with one clean hand to turn on the water at the sink at cleanup time.  I put small amounts of acrylic paints in disposable cups, and put out a big bag full of the fiberfill.  The kids then pulled off small hunks of fiber, dipped it in the color paint of their selection, and then pulled and twisted it in their hands, mixing the color into the fiber.  It was an enormous bunch of fun, and the kids made a huge pile of colored fiberfill, to use in our fiber landscape paintings.  The stuff in this bucket is just a small portion of what the kids created.
As you can see in the following pictures, the kids loved every minute of making the colorful fiber.
 But then, we had this huge bin filled with colored fiberfill, and it was time to make it into pictures.  It sounded like a simple proposition. But it was not.  It was extremely challenging.
The kids drew simple landscape images onto pieces of mat board, and then used pop sticks to spread tacky glue on an area where they wanted to place a certain color of fiber.  The fiber was then pressed into the glue.  And it was NOT EASY.  The most successful piece (or maybe I should say the ONLY successful piece) is the one of a tree (in case you couldn't tell) pictured at the top of this post.  The others... not so much.
The kids tried hard.  One kid tried to do a sky with a sun and clouds, but it just looks like blobs of color.  Another attempted a volcano, but again, it is unrecognizable.  And I don't think I was ever sure of what the 4th student was making.  In the end, you just couldn't tell what the heck the pictures  were.  I even had a hard time being successful.  Below is my unfinished sample.  My sad little lollipop tree looks like it popped its top!
And now, the multi-week session is over, and the kids have taken home all their work.  I can't seem to find a single photo of any of the student pieces besides the one at the top of the post, unless you want to look closely at their mini "art show" pictures, found in this post HERE. The lack of pictures wasn't intentional; we just got so busy I guess I missed taking pictures of them all.

How do you feel when you do an art project with kids where the resulting product is not at all what you intend or expect?  Are you satisfied that the process alone was worthwhile, even if the product is not successful?  And now what in the world do I do with the mountain of leftover colorful fiber that I have, as well as the rest of that 10 pound box, which still seems just as full?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Layered landscape collages with textured watercolored papers

The theme of this 8-week session of DragonWing Arts was "SCAPES - Landscapes, Seascapes, Cloudscapes, Dreamscapes!".  My students completed several projects, including the toothpaste batiks I previously told you about in this post.  This week we finished another project, that I've been planning since the first class.  But, as usual, we ran out of time, so these fun layered landscape collages, with textured water-colored papers, were assembled in less than one hour.  This explains why I was not too picky when the kids sometimes didn't layer the landscapes properly.  We just didn't have time to nitpick!  The lively colorful piece pictured above was made by a third grade boy.

 We were in such a hurry to get done, I didn't get great photos of the completed projects, so these pics will have to do.  I especially loved the decision of the second grade girl who made the piece above, to work vertically and let her waves extend beyond the frame of the page.

 The landscape above was created by a third grade boy, and outlined with black Sharpie.  The papers used for these collages were created in prior art classes.  The base paper, which became the sky, was made using tube watercolors, on watercolor paper, textured with salt.  Below is a sampling of what they looked like.  We used some kosher salt for the first time, along with regular table salt, and it was rather strange.  It stuck to the watercolor paper and wouldn't come off!  So we left it there!

The mountain landscape below was created by a second grade girl. Papers used for the collages were created by marbling with liquid watercolors and shaving cream, and also using watercolors with bubble wrap, wax paper, or saran wrap applied to it.

Below is a sampling of some of the papers my four students created.  We used tube watercolors on watercolor paper.  I had experimented with liquid watercolors and wasn't satisfied with the results.  I had several sample tubes of liquid watercolors, and these worked great, since there was enough pigment to really make the textures show up.

 I think I need to invest in a drying rack! 

Back in April, we marbled some paper using shaving cream and liquid watercolors.  I wrote about the process here.  In that post, I didn't divulge what we were going to do with the marbled paper.  Which was a good thing, since we ran out of time to do everything I'd planned.  But I can tell you now that my original plan was to do landscape silhouettes with black ink on the marbled paper.  Instead, we incorporated the marbled papers into our landscape collages. 
 I had planned to have more time for the students to make these magical landscape collages, to look like some imaginary or fantasy landscape.  But we just lacked the time to add some of the extras I had intended.  Still, I love the way they turned out, and I'm proud of my kiddos for digging in and getting them complete in time for their final "art show" with their parents!

Here's my proud students showcasing all the work they completed this spring!
Like I said earlier, I've previously told you all about those circular "toothpaste batiks".  In a subsequent post, I promise will explain the colorful cityscapes and the two other smaller pieces the kids are showing, one of which was great fun in the making, but not exactly as successful as I'd hoped.  Live and learn!! 
 Look  under the table in the picture below.  There's a photo bomber!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Immortal Jellyfish, Watermelon Oceans, and Other Cute Drawings!

Yesterday and today I subbed in my former classroom.  I thought I'd share some sweet drawings done by the a few of the delightful kindergartners and first graders I got to see.  They were "between projects", and with only a half hour, I thought these kids would enjoy a little time to just imagine.  The only rules were NO scribbling and NO blood or weapons.  The pic at the top of the post was a collaboration between two first grade girls.  It is a "good zombie" out to protect people.  One girl made the "zombie" and another made the background, which I believe was a sunset.

 Above, a fast swimmer has flames shooting out to show how fast she is swimming.  On the left is another swimmer, who was wearing a lot of bracelets, which unfortunately went flying off.  All the colorful lines throughout the drawing are the bracelets.

Below, more bracelets.  The girl in the pic is wearing them from her wrists to shoulders!

A lot of the boys in both grades decided to draw trucks, trains, and cars.  The first one below is, according to the 1st grader who drew it, "my truck with my dad's bags of garbage in the back".   I've always been fascinated how boys somehow innately know how to draw vehicles of all sorts.

 The 1st grade boy who drew the pic below told me "I know everything there is to know about arachnids". 

And from a kindergartner, somewhere in the ocean below is an "immortal jellyfish".  I loved the stories behind these little drawings!

 And of course, there are always some rainbows and flowers!!

 And happy pretty girls!

Below, the rainbow colored bottom is a "watermelon ocean", according to the Kindergarten artist!
 And another sweet kinder heart. 
 Below, an owl and birds; both kinder pics were made for Mommy.
 A kindergarten family, below.
I don't recall the kinder story behind this pic below, but I believe it was also a pic of her family.  Favorite colors, perhaps?
 And finally, I'll close with this cool 1st grade dude who was really rocking his hairdo!  Gotta love the commitment of anyone willing to have mom do this to his head every morning.