Back in October, Artist and Author Susan Schwake made areturn visit to The Carle. You may remember when she led a Monster Mash Workshop in the Art Studio last October 2012? This time, we treated guests to an activity from one of her new books, Art Lab For Little Kids.
Susan has fond memories of doing buttermilk chalk drawings with her mom when she was young. I have to admit, we don’t take our chalks out very often here because I’m just not a fan of the dust they create. Dipping the chalks in a little cup of regular buttermilk frequently while drawing with them solves that!
We have various brands of chalks and chalk pastels in the Art Studio. The ones that seemed to work best are our giant round chalk pastels (similar to the Sargent Art Colorful Sidewalk Chalks) because they are richly colored, but very soft. Susan said that in her teaching experience lesser expensive chalks have worked well. For drawing surfaces we used our favorite construction paper and white drawing paper.
I had never tried dipping chalk in buttermilk before. Now, I’m hooked! As I drew, the chalks became creamy and I felt like I was painting. I loved that I could put my picture aside, return to it later and add more layers of drawing without disturbing my previous marks underneath. When my picture was dry, it wasn’t at all dusty or smudgy. Our volunteers and work-study students had fun trying it out too.
Even though this activity comes from Art Lab For Little Kids, the multigenerational groups of guests who came to meet Susan can attest to its enjoyability for all! Many families left the Art Studio with a large stack of drawings. Next time you have some buttermilk in your fridge at home, give it a try with any chalks you might already have.
Susan will return on April 19, 2014 to host Rolled Paper Relief Sculpture, an activity from her other new book, 3-D Art Lab For Kids. Mark your calendars! Her Art Lab books are a great reference for classrooms and families, and while supplies last, signed copies can be found in The Carle Bookstore. You can learn more about Susan, her artwork, and her books at her website and blog.
by Sarah Johnston
Our guests have had so much fun experimenting with our yellow and purple light table display that is seemed like a good idea to explore a new pair of complementary colors. I looked through our collection of light table items and found we had a good number of blue and orange papers and objects that really popped on the light table. Sometimes the simplest materials are the best for color explorations which is why we have many different papers cut into simple shapes that we then laminate. We often use Folia brand Transparent Paper because it is a little more sturdy than tissue paper and holds up well to painting, but it has the translucent quality that makes it perfect for the light table. From laminated papers to transparent blocks, our variety of purchased and homemade objects are great for playing with color and texture.
A favorite lesson of mine when I was an art teacher in Chicago was to show images like the one below, Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, and have students see how much more bright the orange moon and stars looked next to the deep blue sky. After seeing how different artists used color it was always fun to have children explore the complementary colors pairs in their own artworks and color explorations.
Another captivating discovery that children make about color is when they can layer or blend complementary colors. The light table is a perfect way to see how the complementary colors turn more neutral when layered on top of each other. With older students I would build on this concept of complementary colors by showing how a small touch green could add a brownish shadow to a bright red apple and give it depth. Below is an example of how a neutral brown is created when blending Cadmium Orange with Cobalt Blue from the website The Educated Palette.
Here you can see how some neutral colors are created when the complementary colors are overlapped on our light table. This is a quick and less messy way to learn how colors mix and blend to form new colors. Of course it is also fun for children to try out color mixing with paint or other materials!
Please stop by our new light table display to explore all the blues and oranges we have out. Do you have any ways to teach about or explore complementary colors? Please share any ideas with us by leaving a comment.
We are so fortunate here in The Art Studio to not only have a full wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that let in a lot of light, but we also have a beautiful view of the apple orchard on The Carle’s grounds. Starting in late November and early December, on particularly sunny days, Studio staff and guests start “feelin’ the burn” from the hot sun pouring through our southern-facing windows. To help shade the light but not sacrifice the view, we’ve created various shades to hang in the windows (Our Ribbon Shade, Plastic Cap Screen, and our ever-popular Rainbow Window Shades just to name a few!).
If you’re looking for something pretty to hang in a window at home or in your classroom this winter, check out the easy instructions below on how we made these snowflake-inspired shades.
First, using scissors, an x-acto knife and hole punches, create designs by folding up pieces of 8.5″ x 11″ copy paper or drawing paper.
Next, pair your finished design with a sheet of tracing paper the same size. The frosty finish of the tracing paper will help diffuse the sunlight. You can buy tracing paper in sheets or on a roll at an art supply store.
Sandwich the tracing paper and your cut paper design in a simple 3-hole binder sleeve from the office supply store.
With either a 3-hole or single hole punch, make 3 holes along the bottom of the sleeve to line up with the 3 lines at the top of the sleeve. You don’t need to punch holes if it will be at the bottom of the shade.
Connect your sleeves together to make vertical panels using 1″ or 3/4″ book binder rings, also available at office supply stores.
String the sheets onto a standard tension curtain rod that fits the width of your window. We make our shades 4 sheets long, but feel free to make yours as long as you wish.
I hope this gives you a little winter inspiration for your sunny space!
I really like designing light table explorations because they offer open-ended, visual, and kinesthetic ways to play and learn. We make a lot of our own light table manipulatives because we like to show teachers and families that they don’t have to purchase materials to use with light tables or panels. We’ve also found that though we like the transparent light table manipulatives available through suppliers like Constructive Playthings, some of the objects are small and may pose a choking hazard to the guests who visit our space.
When trying to think of new materials to put on our light table, I often try to select things that will connect with our Every Day Art Project, as we did with the flower shapes exploration early in the summer. Otherwise, I try to select a grouping of objects that are related through some kind of theme or concept. Sometimes the themes are abstract or narrative, other times they are more concrete or based on the elements and principles of design. Sometimes I check out Play at Home Mom’s Playing with Light pin board for inspiration.
At the end of the summer, I charged our intern, Hannah, with the challenge of designing a new light table exploration.
To gather ideas, she looked through our found materials collection. She was most drawn to materials with varying textures- particularly a mesh onion bag, a yard of tulle, and a soft fibrous paper used to wrap a bouquet of flowers.
I shared with Hannah something I’ve observed in the studio for many years: For the most part, children first notice similarities and differences in color, then shape, and then visual texture. We once ordered a manipulative from an early childhood supplier that was designed to have children match samples of textures like hook tape, woven grass, sandpaper, and a few others. When I observed children matching the parts, they didn’t do it by feeling the textures; they did it visually by matching the colors of the materials because each material was in a different color. From then on, I realized that if I wanted to draw attention to the differences or similarities of the textures of materials, I would need to remove the element of color and shape, or at least keep the colors and shapes uniform.
So, when we looked again at the things Hannah collected, we noticed that among the them were many things purple and yellow. This pairing of colors is a set of complementary colors.
In order to keep the variables to a minimum, Hannah cut rectangular and circle shaped samples, all the same size, from the purple and yellow materials. Then she sent them through the laminator.
Materials on the light table inevitably migrate over to the work tables, so if they are flat we have to laminate them to distinguish them from other collage materials available. Laminating them, though, doesn’t always guarantee they won’t get cut and glued into someone’s project.
Margaret, our other summer intern, collected a few of the other purple and yellow things we already had in our cabinet of manipulatives and added them to the shapes Hannah created.
Finally, to offer a bit of information for anyone that could or cared to read it, we hung a poster about complementary colors that we made a few years ago just above the convex mirrors above light table.
The purple and yellow materials have now been out for a few months. We’ve observed children stacking them, feeling the differences in texture, matching the shapes, and matching the colors. My two and a half year old daughter came for visit and we enjoyed stacked the round shapes to make a purple and yellow “sandwich.”
It’s now time to refresh the light table activity again, so its time to move on to another set of set of complementary colors! When we get it set up, we’ll post some photos.
Please share! What kinds of explorations or themes have your children or students enjoyed at the light table?
Last Sunday morning we had a blast making snowflake-themed projects in The Family Snowflake Workshop!
Everyone got really creative with wood and glue…
We printed with custom snowflake stamps to make handmade wrapping paper.
What snowflake workshop would be complete without handmade snow globes!
If you missed last weekend’s workshop, don’t worry! There are still a few spots left in our upcoming Holiday Card-Making Party on Saturday, December 7th, 10:00 – 11:30 am. $7/participant. Ages 3 and up with an adult; up to 2 children per adult. Space is limited, so registration is recommended. Walk-ins welcome as space permits. To register visit www.carlemuseum.org/register
I know it’s a little early to think about snow when there are still leaves on the trees, but if you and your kids are big fans of winter then you’ll love my upcoming class, The Family Snowflake Workshop. Even if you’re not in any rush to make snowmen and go sledding (that’s me) the pattern and symmetry of snowflakes are a wonderful inspiration for art making almost any time of year. On November 17th we’ll construct snowflakes with wood, print snowflakes with paint and even learn how to make handmade snow globes!
We’ll use some of these snowy stories as inspiration for our wintery work….
Through the magic of Photoshop, we experienced a convenient snow squall while I shot the two photos below Here are some close-ups of the sample 3d wooden snowflake window hangings I made by gluing together chopsticks, coffee stirrers, toothpicks and other found wooden pieces.
We’ll design different sizes of handmade snowflake stamps for wrapping paper or decorating gifts.
I’ll also show ways to create snowflake prints and patterns with everyday objects you can find around the house to add flair to your handmade books and cards.
I hope to see your family there! Below are the details:
The Family Snowflake Workshop
November 17, 2013
11:00 am – 1:00 pm
$25 per pair or trio (Members $15)
(Ages 6 and up with an adult; up to 2 children per adult)
Have fun working on open-ended snowflake-themed activities together! We’ll discuss the science of snow; create snowflake-shaped stamps for wrapping paper, cards or books; put together a wooden sculpture inspired by snowflakes and create hand made snow globes to give as gifts or display at home.
Instructor: Diana MacKenzie
Registration is required. Please Click here for more information.
Have I ever mentioned how much we love birds here at The Carle? I don’t need to convince you that birds are pretty magical creatures, but we’ve especially obsessed with them lately because of the current exhibition, Seriously Silly: A Decade of Art and Whimsy by Mo Willems, on view through February 23rd, 2014.
Mo Willems, the author and illustrator of the popular Pigeon series of picture books is the latest inspiration for The Art Studio’s project, Feathered Flyers, which just ending last week. We offered a selection of large bird-inspired construction paper shapes for guests to choose from.
Paper scraps, texture rubbing plates and wax crayons added fun feathery details to the birds.
Here are many more of the beautiful birds flying around The Aviary here in The Studio!
We have birds on wires…
Birds that like to flock together….
Birds sitting in nests…
and birds with lots of tiny little shapes attached!
This was a really popular project with The Carle’s guests and I was sad to see the project end, but The Aviary will stay on display through November. When you stop by for The Fine Art of Friendship, the new Every Day Art Project, be sure to check it out for yourself!
Want to make your own texture rubbing plates? Visit our tutorial here.
Check out our other collage material and project suggestions here.