Thursday, March 11, 2010

Portraits, Pre-school, Paint and Cookie Cutters...What do these have in common?

The common link between portraits, preschoolers, paint and cookie cutters are that they can all be used to create a very fun image using different shapes to ignite a child's imagination. Preschool children are also at the age where they are distinguishing faces and shapes already, so this project builds on those interests.

What you will need:
Small cookie cutters (shapes that your child may already be interested in are fun, such as stars, circles, butterfly's, etc.)
Larger cookie cutters for face and body
Canvas board
Acrylic paint (red, yellow, blue, white)
Bucket of water (this is more for storing brushes when not in use, as the acrylic paint will damage brushes if it begins to dry. Add a few drops of soap in your bucket for easy clean-up. If you have an older child 4+, then begin showing them how to take care of a brush by rinsing and drying it on a rag before painting again.)

1)Begin by asking your child what color they would like their background to be. Depending on what they request, depends on what colors you will put on their pallet first.
We used only primary colors of red, yellow and blue with the addition of white, so that color mixing is experienced also.

You can limit your child's pallet also, so that the colors don't mix all together, creating that lovely color....brown. Begin with just yellow, blue and white paint. Then have another pallet that you can switch out, of red, yellow and white. Then combine the two pallets to see other colors that can be created.

Remember your child is painting the entire surface, the background. This may take awhile, let your child "discover" where the white of the canvas may be showing through. Then cover those areas with the background color.

2) Begin with the head shape. Mix a new color and begin painting inside of the cookie cutter shape. Hold the cookie cutter in place while your child is painting, as his/her coordination is probably still being fine tuned.

3) Follow with other features on the face. Use questions that get your child to think of features and placement. Choose different shapes for each feature. In the studio some of our kids even chose to different shapes for each eye! Personal choice shows personality. Always my favorite part of all of our projects!

When complete, celebrate!

For any of our projects, please post any pictures of your work! Would love to see them!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thinking of Spring

As it continues to rain here in the bay area, I can't help but think of spring. It is sure to be colorful! However, I am tired of the constant dark caused by our clouds and for that reason I have this lesson designed to think about the beauty that lies ahead.

What you will need:
black sharpie
canvas board or watercolor paper
watercolors (please use an artist grade, not something that is designed for children. I find these very week in pigment which causes a week and watery color. Not very rewarding for a child.)
flowers (a great reason to treat yourself too!)

1) Have your child first sketch the still-life with a pencil. Try using a light pressure so that the pencil is light. Talk about scale, using the full page for the "focal point", the flowers. Look at the shape of each petal, the thickness of the stem, the shape of the leaves, etc. Children can add texture as well. Maybe the vane lines on the leaves and petals, any design they see on the table or vase. Depending on the child's age, depends on what details will follow. Picture above was created by a 6 year old.

2) After sketching you can have your child trace the lines with a sharpie. If they are under 5, you may want to assist in this step. Children under 5 are still working on their eye-hand coordination that enables them to trace right on top of a line. In the studio we practice this step beginning at the age of 3, after all, practice is how skill is achieved.

3) When all lines are traced with the sharpie, it is time to paint! What is great about using the sharpie to outline your image, children don't necessarily have to stay inside the lines. However they apply the paint, it is sure to be colorful and fun. If children are 4+ they can mix the paint to achieve the color's they are seeing in their still-life. There should be a table incorporated into the painting to create weight, so the flowers don't look like they are floating. This creates a foreground. The background and foreground color is personal choice. Color is a true view of personality, celebrate it.

4) Hang this colorful painting, to remind you that spring is just around the corner!