Art Room, Color Construct Create, Elementary Art, OT, OT Corner, Preschool Art, Therapeutic Art, therapeutic side

The Take Home: Tactile Sensory Processing

One unique aspect of our studio is that we incorporate opportunities for tactile sensory play into our weekly themes.   Many of our artists have notable hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to tactile input in their daily lives.  Therefore, we include projects and the activities on our “sensory table” that can promote a greater tolerance for textures that might make us uncomfortable or provide textures that kids may seek out and neeeeeeeeeed to touch.  Seriously, have you ever played with kinetic sand or oobleck?

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We think it is important that our artists are exposed to messy, sticky, wet, rough, slimy or powdery media.  These textures are all present in our daily lives, and if we have the opportunity to play with them in this controlled environment (art room), then we can work on our impulsivity to touch, avoidance of touch, and overall tactile sensory integration.

Winter snow bin
Insta-Snow – a fantastically fun medium!!!
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Feed your soul (with art and dessert!!)

We all have things that feed our soul.  It’s different for everyone. For me, it’s teaching art.  This past week, I taught the Art Club kiddos about one of my absolute favorite artists of all time.  Wayne Thiebaud.  Come on, now!  How is it possible to not love Wayne Theibaud’s art?  As a pop art icon, Thiebaud brought us classic Americana with his depiction of diner desserts. We took our inspiration from his work and used oil pastel with watercolor to create our own dreamy desserts.

thiebaux_cakes01
Cakes by Wayne Thiebaud, 1963

As we learn about artists and their techniques, I always try to share a general life lesson that pertains to art, our specific subject matter, and the conversations the students generate.  This wasn’t always intentional.  It happened organically, as my students are very deep thinkers and have some pretty remarkable conversations for their age.  Given that our Art Club students are mostly “tweens”, there are often many opportunities for discussion based on what they bring up in class.  This week was no exception.  I noticed that the kids were comparing their work to their classmates.  I expect them to compare but I never want them to feel badly because someone else has better rendering skills or made a really cool design choice.  This is where I typically decide to have a “talk”. I shared with them about my experiences as a student in art school.

I shared how I spent so much time comparing my work to my peers that I often missed the beauty of the experience.   Creating art is very personal.  Comparing what we make to what others make is human nature.  Learning how to balance that with being mindful of the moment is key.  In art club, we focus on the joy of what we are doing as well as the final product.  And sometimes, we eat our cake (or cupcakes) while we create!

Here are our beautiful cakes!

Art Room, Artwork, Color Construct Create, Elementary Art, Therapeutic Art, therapeutic side

SCIENCE and Process Art!

Oh boy, when we take on a crazy task, we sure do take it on!  Our unit on Science and Weather was one of those “great in theory” moments as we tried to figure out the logistics of pendulum painting, plaster casting plants, making rock candy, etc.  It all turned out but we really did stretch ourselves in the process (not a bad thing!!).  Our big take away from this past month was that sometimes process outweighs product.

What the heck is process art, you ask??  Great question.  After the first couple of classes, we teachers spent a few minutes explaining away to our parents.  “The end product might not be what you are used to seeing but here’s how we got there…” With process art, the HOW is just as important as the WHAT.  We did a lot of non-traditional art-making and the kids want bananas over it!

Week #1 was all about MIXTURE!  We blended our favorite liquid water color paints, used Faber-Castell chalk pastels, and used hand sanitizer to “lift” liquid water color off of our beakers to make fizzy bubbles.  The kids also learned about depth and dimension as we “flattened” shapes to draw the beakers accurately.

In Week #2, we explored life science.  We used food coloring to dye flowers and got out the hammers to make some serious noise (and beautiful art).  Our Tea Towels dyed with natural flowers turned out so beautiful.  Then we used plaster casting strips to make “fossils” of ferns.  The best part was painting them with natural paint made from spinach and coffee.  The kids were not amused but the smell!

Week #3 was all about weather.  Mixed media is always fun.  It was a sensory experience, too, when we used baby oil to blend.  We made our own rain storms using oil pastels. It was a sensory experience, too, when we used baby oil to blend the colors.fullsizeoutput_3490

Last but not least, in Week #4 we explored physical science by making art with a pendulum.  Holy mess, Batman!!  One would think that painting with pendulums and making an epic mess would be chaotic.  Well, much to our surprise, it wasn’t!  The kids were so enthralled by the art they were making that everyone was calm and totally on-task.  It was awesome!  The end results turned out pretty cool.  Check out our next blog post to find out how we did it!

Oh, and check out these adorable little mad scientists!

Art Room, Color Construct Create, Elementary Art, OT, OT Corner, Preschool Art, Therapeutic Art, therapeutic side

The Take Home: Finger Strength

Our hands are amazing.  They are, quite possibly, the most useful parts of our bodies. Hands are a key component to art-making (and pretty much every other facet of our existence).  Our ability to make art starts at the earliest stages of our development.  As babies, motor movements are often reflexive.  Once babies begin to interact with their environment,  their movement patterns become volitional and begin to override their reflexes.  These multi-sensory play experiences form the foundation for higher level skill development.  For babies and toddlers, hand and finger strength is built through play.  They see a toy, they grab it with their tiny little hands.  They want to manipulate it to get it into their mouth, they have to work really hard at it.  With practice, those movements become more fluid and they move toward mastery.  As children become more independent, learning to feed and dress themselves and mimicking our activities, the fine motor demands grow exponentially.

The process of completing a simple drawing task, painting a picture, or molding a dish out of clay is a multi-sensory experience that demands much from our artists small hands. Each week, we create opportunities to promote the development of finger strength.  This week was no exception!  As they became scientists working in our “lab” they used their pincers to drop colored vinegar onto a tray of baking soda, they used pencil and sharpie to draw their beakers and test tubes, and they squeezed out drops of food coloring to dye their sugar solutions.  All the while, they didn’t realize that they were building strength, dexterity and finger endurance!

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Artwork, Color Construct Create, Elementary Art

California Beautiful

Oh my goodness!  Ours students never cease to amaze us.  When you see the work our Art Club students just completed, you will know why I’m beyond excited!  During the month of January, Art Club focused on  our beautiful California coastline.  The California Coastal Commission holds an annual art and poetry contest and our students couldn’t wait to enter!  We started off the month with a study of California Brown Pelicans.  The kids dissected (with their eyes and pencils!!) the shapes within the birds and then recreated them on the page using the shapes as guidelines.

art-contest

We, then, used charcoal to draw ocean waves.  The beach can be very challenging and charcoal is the perfect medium because it is so forgiving.  The students were able to show the waves arc as well as the splash and horizon.  That was fun!

Our culminating activity was a free choice drawing or painting of something that inspires them about the California Coast.  This was to be their contest entry.  Each student chose something completely different.  We have mammals, fish, plant life, and landscapes all beautifully represented.  One of the best parts of this activity were the contest rules.  No one was allowed to complete any part of the artwork except the student.  I took this a step further and facilitated the students making the bulk of the design choices as well.  I love my kiddos.  They are so talented.  They are also relatively inexperienced and often hesitate to make a decision without my input.  I hope I helped them to feel empowered to make choices regarding their art.  The end results take my breath away!  Remember, these kids are in elementary school!

 

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Products We Love

Paper is tantamount to the success of any art program.  We mostly use wood-based papers due to the cost and nature of our art work.  These are papers are made from wood pulp and are great for drawing with different media.  When we watercolor or paint with tempera and acrylics, we use thicker wood-based paper as well as cotton rag paper.  Cotton Rag paper is made from cotton fibers and tends to hold liquid without disintegrating.  I’m sure we all remember trying to use those little watercolor sets on loose paper.  After the first brushstroke, the paper tears and looks like a rumpled mess.

Here are some of the papers we can’t live without.

All purpose drawing and light painting:

Ultimate Drawing Paper!  We’ve tried most of the all-purpose art papers on the market and this one is really good.  Holds up under heavy handed drawing and over eager erasing!!

http://www.discountschoolsupply.com/Product/ProductDetail.aspx?product=28713&Category=

Watercolor:

Canson XL watercolor tapebound pad.  This is a heavy paper with a nice tooth.  Inexpensive enough to supply to our students.

http://www.dickblick.com/products/canson-xl-watercolor-pads/

Butcher: 

Every art teacher needs a solid paper to put up for bulletin boards as well as laying on tables for keeping things contained.  It holds paint and can handle weight of tape.  Doesn’t fade.

http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1689949371895751&utm_source=google&utm_medium=ppc&utm_campaign=PLA&CAWELAID=520011010000004436&CAGPSPN=pla&CAAGID=14792439177&CATCI=pla-196644073737&catargetid=520011010000055708&cadevice=c&gclid=CMaTl42_rtECFRSUfgodOdwAtA

PAINT!!

Who doesn’t love paint?  There are so many different painting mediums out there, it’s hard to know where to begin.  Some of the paints we love that are easy to purchase for your home art studio are:

WaterColor: There are 2 big winners in the watercolor category, liquid and cake pan watercolors.

Liquid watercolors give the vibrant, beautiful color with the transparency of expensive sets.  They are great for layering, resists, and covering large areas.  We also love that you can adjust the intensity by simply adding water.  We sterilize old condiment jars and store premixed liquid water color for months.

https://www.dickblick.com/products/blick-liquid-watercolors/

For traditional watercolor painting (think back to elementary school and the little paint trays), we love Faber Castell’s watercolor paintbox.  The Faber Castell’s are winners for us because of their strong pigments.  They are more opaque than a traditional watercolor set.  Because the colors are so dense, they last a long time and hold up well under the use and occasional abuse of our little artists.

http://www.fabercastell.com/playing-and-learning/products/washable-paints-and-brushes/Watercolorpaintbox12colors/12501

 

Art Room, Artwork, Color Construct Create, Elementary Art

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

The weather outside is frightful!  Ok ok, it’s cold and a little damp outside here in San Diego which is about as frightful as it gets!  Not that we are complaining.  I, for one, am excited for the rain and the chance to turn off those sprinklers!  We hope all of our families have enjoyed this Thanksgiving weekend.  The chill in the air is perfect for sipping cocoa and decorating for the holidays!

As we roll into December, Kristin, Bonnie, Roni, Nessa, and I are all very excited for our upcoming holiday workshop.  Our December class has got to be one of our absolute favorites.  Last year, we embroidered tea towels, made custom snowflake candles, tea light snowman ornaments, and a few other cute things.  This year, we have even more in store for our kids.  If you haven’t tried a class at Color, Construct, Create, this is a great one to try.   The holiday workshop is a little different from our regular Sunday class.  We split the class up into 10 minute blocks and each child leaves with at least 5-6 different art projects, crafts, and homemade gifts to share.  It is a festively fun time for all!

Here are a couple of our projects from years past.

Art Room, Artwork, Color Construct Create, Elementary Art, Therapeutic Art

Mad about Murals!

This month we are mad!  Mad about murals, that is!  There is something really special about art on a larger scale and something positively magical about kids collaborating to create something together.  We started with our O’Keefe inspired mural.  For this project, the kids studied the rich paintings of Georgia O’Keefe and were inspired by images from nature of beautiful mums and dahlias in festive fall colors.

With an analogous warm color palette (colors next to each other on the color wheel), we freehand painted our flowers in different sizes and shapes.  Our kids sometimes struggle with scale so this was a great opportunity to practice fitting your flower onto the paper by going all the way to the edge without going over.  I admit, we did have a couple of almost perfectly square flowers (the exact shape of the paper).  As any artist knows, sometimes mistakes provide the best inspiration.  With black paint and a tiny brush, the kids were able to add some detail that really made the flowers pop!  And those square flowers… it was a piece of cake to go back in with the black paint and define those petals.

Each child painted 3 or 4 flowers, depending on time.  After they dried, we cut out our flowers and picked our favorites to add to the class mural.  Ms. Kristin painted a vase on the a 6 foot sheet of butcher paper that was hung on the wall.  We used scraps from the scrap paper bin to cut out leaves for the spaces between the flowers.  We think the end result is stunning!  Do you agree?  It’s hard to tell in the photo, but our mural is about 6 feet tall!

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Materials:

Square art paper in multiple sizes

Tempera Paint: Red, orange, yellow, and black

Large and small paint brushes

Butcher Paper

Green Scraps for leaves

Art Room, Artwork, Color Construct Create, Elementary Art

Let’s Get Going!

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Who’s ready to make some art?  We are!  Our schedule is set, the art studio is ready, so let’s get going!  Color, Construct, Create Studios fall classes will begin the first week of September and continue through the remainder of the school year.  There are only a few spots left so be sure to sign up today!

Check out our schedule on the calendar tab of our website.

http://www.colorconstructcreate.com/calendar-classes.html

 

Art Room, Artwork, Color Construct Create, Elementary Art, OT, Preschool Art

Art Club and the First week of school

Intermediate Art started out as a regular drawing class.  We worked on all the basics.  In Intermediate Art, we also do a LOT of talking.  Mostly, I do a lot of talking.  The students in IA last year were very introspective and self-aware.  We had some very deep conversations.  It was really cool.  To quote my son’s kindergarten teacher, it really “filled my bucket”.  Something we talked quite a bit about is something so essential to art and identifying as an artist: communication.  Art is communication.  Whether it’s happy, sad, literal, or abstract, whatever we make communicates a message.  Intermediate Art is kind of like a club.  A special group of friends that bond over their passion for creativity.  Ms. Kristin and I decided Intermediate Art needed a new name that represents what it really is.  An art club.  This year, we have officially renamed Intermediate Art.  From today on, the artists formally known as Intermediate Artists will now be in Art Club!!!

Art Club got very clever last year with the use of line and space, making these beautiful contour line pumpkins filled with their own Zentangles. Aren’t they expressive?!

As my kids went back to school today, I left them and couldn’t help thinking all day about how they were doing.  Were they having a good day at school?  We all do this to some degree.  Perhaps less as they get older.  When my kiddos came home, I asked them about 100 questions and only a couple were responded to with more than a 1 word answer.  Good.  Fine.  Stuff.  It got me thinking, how can we communicate how we feel about an experience without being literal?  Through design!  Why not ask our kids to use lines and patterns to show us what their day was like?

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Here’s an example of one that starts with a squiggly line and ends like this.

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Another example!

Something so simple can tell us so much about how our kids are feeling.  Can you guess which kiddo felt tired when he got home?   Try it!  Give your kids a blank piece of paper with a 4 inch square drawn on it.  Tell them to draw a line that shows how their day went.  Fill it with lines and patterns to represent the different things that happened during the day. Show us what they make!