Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category
Friday, May 17th, 2013
Two weekends ago, an exhibition of original art by Robert Zakanitch for his book A Garden of Ordinary Miracles: An Alphabet Book opened in the Museum’s Central Gallery. To celebrate the exhibition and the fact that it was finally spring here in Amherst, MA I made a flower-drawing station in the Studio.
We need a new display in the Studio’s entry window, one that doesn’t block the view into the studio, so I chose permanent markers and clear acetate squares as the drawing tool and drawing surface for this activity. When we have about 50 drawings, I plan to start stringing them into garlands with with fishing line to create a friendly welcome into our space.
Some guests have drawn the flowers we have in the vases realistically, others are drawing flowers from their imagination.
Some guests are more interested in studying (very closely!) the flowers’ textures.
Spring is a great time to draw from nature. Head outside with your kids and look closely at the new leaves and budding flowers. Study them again in a few weeks when they bloom! Read a flower related picture book, such as Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, and if you’re in our area, come and see this amazing exhibition.
In fact, if you’re in our area why not come tomorrow, May 18th? It happens to be a very special day with Robert Zakanitch.
He’ll be giving a gallery (or should I say garden?) tour at 11 am. At 1 pm he will be here in the studio to inspire guests to create big designs, visual surprises, and pleasing patterns using the shapes of one or more letters in their name. Learn more about these events here.
And then… visit the Studio sometime between May 22 and June 18th for our next public art project: From Found Materials to Flowers!
Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
It’s February vacation week and we’ve been busy making maps of all sorts in The Studio. Meet our fleet of future cartographers!
Adding some land and sea…
The brown shape is Florida. He said he colored it in a warm color because it’s hot there.
These are pictures of the creatures that live on the land and in the ocean on her map.
A railroad in the “old fashion map style from 1998″
This treasure map is read from right to left. The treasure is protected by a dinosaur, a giant octopus/squid and a crane (the treasure is sitting under the paper crane on the bottom left).
This is another treasure map with a squid, a skeleton and a family of dinosaurs protecting the treasure.
“Our happy vacation to the creek”
This is the Bermuda Triangle protected by a giant dragon in the middle of the ocean.
Thanks to all the Museum guests who shared their artwork with me! The current Public Art Project, Mapping Makeover is running now through March 5th.
Don’t forget to enter The Carle’s Call for Caterpillars Contest for the chance to win an original doodle by Eric Carle! Visit www.carlemuseum.org/call_for_caterillars for contest details.
Tuesday, February 5th, 2013
Reid, our January-Term intern, designed and hosted a really fun special Studio activity last week for Museum guests. Here is her report on the planning process of the project and her reflection on the day.
When brainstorming for my Special Sunday activity, I knew right off that I wanted to experiment with the way we use light to make images. In the studio, our large windows provide so much beautiful natural light, and I wanted to utilize this feature in the activity. Meghan and I were bouncing activity ideas off each other when we came up with the idea of tracing shadows. Upon further elaboration we came up with the idea of using found objects to make shadow collages, tracing the lines, and finally painting over the drawn images. Initially I was having trouble deciding between collaging and painting, and this project combined the two!
Once I knew what I wanted to do, I began to plan out what materials we would use. I played with different kinds of drawing tools, paints, and paper to find the perfect combination of supplies. In the end, I decided to use Staonal crayons with tempera cake paints on large pieces of watercolor paper. I found the paint appeared bold and bright on the paper and didn’t smudge the Staonal, so the tracings remained intact.
We put out baskets of found and natural objects that would cast interesting shadows. Each visitor could choose up to 4 objects at a time, and when they were done with those they could trade them back in for different pieces to trace. We had natural objects like stones, pinecones, and seashells, along with found objects like ribbon, bottle caps, and mesh. It was important to have a variety of different shapes and sizes available.
On the day of the project we were lucky enough to have gorgeous sunny weather. Of course, because of New England’s unpredictable weather, we were prepared to use an overhead projector as a back-up plan in case the sun wasn’t out. We arranged the back of the art studio so that the tables were pushed to the right side; this area was set up as the painting area, complete with paintbrushes, water, sponges, and of course paint!
The left side of the studio was the tracing area. This is where visitors would put down their paper on the floor or sit on a chair and trace on a stool to arrange their objects and trace the shadows. We had cool shades that had previously been crafted by staff members on the windows already, and we moved these so there could be some interesting shadow patterns on the floors for the visitors.
The cool thing about this project was it could be as complicated or as simple as you want it to be, depending on age level, ability, and interest. I didn’t want something where the guidelines were super stringent. If a child didn’t want to draw on the floor, they could just paint at the table. I made sure to emphasize that when talking to the visitors. There were no rules to this project; the point of it was to allow the materials and the environment to inspire and to create.
I would say this project was definitely a success. It was exciting to see the families collaborating with each other and having fun with each other’s work. This activity was able to engage visitors of all ages. I was delighted to see how creative the children (and adults!) were with this project. Some visitors were very abstract with the images they made, while others used the shadows to create scenes out of their objects. All in all, it was a very fun afternoon in the art studio!
Wednesday, October 10th, 2012
I’m pinning up a storm over on The Carle’s Pinterest boards getting ready for my nature workshop this Sunday. My favorite board to pin to, Bridging Art and Nature, is a growing archive of inspiring ways to experiment with, appreciate and observe nature together at home or with students in an artistic way.
One of the popular ideas I see floating around Pinterest right now is using fall foliage to create little leafy critters. Here are a couple of my favorite, most inspiring versions:
kokokoKIDS: Fall Leaves Craft Ideas
Leaf Critters via Little Emma English Home Blog
Leaf Alphabet via Martha Stewart.com via Apartment Therapy
At the end of the summer this year we did our own version of this activity with leaves and flowers collected from The Carle’s grounds and a nearby farm. We pressed them for a few days between sheets of tracing paper and corrugated cardboard under the weight of heavy books.
Students selected which leaves and flowers they wanted from the trays and used Aleene’s Tacky Glue to attach them to pieces of white mat board.
When the covers were completely dry, we made enough photocopies of each child’s image so everyone would get to take home a book full of everyone’s critters. The next day we helped the students bind their books with the Stick-and-Rubber Band binding method. We used a 2-hole punch, sticks collected and trimmed, and rubber bands to bind the books.
If you don’t have the time to press leaves ahead of time, we’ve also created natural book covers with non-pressed leaves and flowers, and the outcomes were just as beautiful.
Let us know if you give this project a try or design your own version!
Follow The Carle’s growing Pinterest Boards! Bridging Art and Nature, Making Art with Children, Art Activities and Explorations, and Programs and Events.
Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
There are still spots in next Sunday’s Bridging Art and Nature Professional Development Workshop here at The Carle. I blogged about last fall’s workshop, read all about it here.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
10:00 am – 3:00 pm
$60 (Members $55)
(5 PDPs) Using some of our favorite picture books and our beautiful surrounds, we will explore ways to link the art and design of the picture book with an exploration of the natural world and a variety of open-ended art projects. Designed to enhance your science curriculum or provide ways to share outdoor time with your children, the program includes time spent outside, so please dress accordingly. We also suggest you bring a brown bag lunch in order to maximize workshop time.
Instructor: Diana MacKenzie.
The deadline to register is this Friday, October 5th.
To Register for Professional Development Workshops at The Carle, click here.
I hope you can join us!
Monday, September 24th, 2012
I wanted to share this monotype printmaking project I taught last month during Animals, Art and Imagination, a mixed-age summer class we host here at The Carle every summer. Monotype means one-of-a-kind and if you’ve ever tried this style of printmaking before, then you know how playful and open-ended a medium it can be for making marks and layering colors. It’s a great project to try whether you’re doing a lesson on the color wheel or just looking for a rainy afternoon activity at home with your family.
In this exercise we rolled ink on plexiglass plates in the primary colors (blue, yellow and red). When we printed the single-color plates on top of each other, a magical thing happened. In the places where those colors overlapped on the paper, the secondary colors (green, orange and purple) suddenly appeared. Okay, it’s not exactly magic, but printmaking always has a super surprise factor, you never know quite how things will turn out, and to kids especially, that’s pretty magical!
Let me backtrack to earlier in the day, prior to the printmaking lesson. As a mark-making warm-up, Meghan introduced the students (ages 6-10) to The Museum’s sculpture Imaginary Garden by Leo Lionni, which lives in the Great Hall, encased in glass.
They had a discussion about what they saw going on in the large landscape, and then sketched the parts of the sculpture that interested them the most on small clipboards.
When the group returned to the Studio, I gathered them around and gave an introduction to the color wheel and how the primary colors mix together to make the secondary colors. I also demonstrated how to use the materials and tools found at each station around the room.
I assigned a random color order to each child to help everyone move from station to station to make an even flow around the room without crowding. When they got to their first station, everyone rolled the ink onto the plates in their first color, red, yellow or blue.
Next, they used one of the cotton swabs to make marks and remove areas of the ink. I asked them to think of things growing in nature for inspiration. A variety of tools can be used to remove the ink from the plate: combs, forks, found materials or basically anything pointy. I kept it simple and provided cotton swabs for this activity.
After mark-making they carried their inky plate over to the printing press station where I helped them run their plate and a piece of paper through our tabletop press. I made sure the pressure was set and handled the press blankets so they didn’t get covered in finger prints and they were in charge cranking the handle.
The last step was to return their plexiglass plate to a tray to be reused, and write their name on their print and leave it to dry. One of the best things about this process is how quickly the work dries on a table or rack.
They repeated the whole cycle until they had overlapped all three colors on one piece of paper.
I asked them to make at least three complete prints during the 45-minutes we had for this project. We easily could have continued for an hour (or more!) since the different steps kept the kids really engaged. Everyone had a handful of colorful prints to take home at the end of the day.
Here is the list of materials I used for this project:
- Tabletop Printing Press, The Studio has this one. Hand printing works fine if you don’t have access to a press
- 3mm plexiglass cut down to about 7″ x 5.5″ with rounded corners (we have a set of about 30 little plates, but you could get away with 15 or 20)
- Akua Kolor Slow Drying Watercolor in Crimson Red, Phthalo Blue and Hansa Yellow (you can use tempera paints instead if that’s what you have)
- Speedball Screen Printing Transparent Base 32 oz. or gallon (use Nasco Tempera Extender instead if you’re using tempera paints)
- 4″ foam brayers- at least 6, I prefer using the foam rollers over the rubber rollers for this activity
- small trays for rolling out the ink at each station (I suggest 2 rolling trays per station)
- 3 plastic deli containers with lids
- 3 plastic spoons
- a stack of drawing paper cut down to a little larger than the plate
To mix the colors for printing, put a few scoops of the transparent base (big scoops if you’re mixing for a large class) in a deli container and stir in several drops of the Akua Kolor until you get the level of transparency you like. Repeat the process for the other two colors. You want plenty of transparent base so the colors will blend when overlapped, but you don’t want to add so much that your colors aren’t vibrant if you print them alone. Test out what you’ve mixed by brushing it onto a piece of paper. The colors can be mixed ahead of time and stored in the deli container for several days in a cool, dark place. For rolling, spread a spoonful of the ink mix across the top of the tray and use the roller to spread the ink evenly in the tray. I suggest keeping adults in charge of adding more ink to the trays, kids tend to add more than they need and the roller can get too gloppy.
Click here to see our other printmaking ideas.
One of my favorites (besides monotypes) is making pasta machine prints.
Have a great week!
Photo Credit Laurie Mills
Monday, July 30th, 2012
In my bookmaking workshop a few weeks ago, several educators asked how to make the rubbing plates we used to create the texture accordion books during the class, so I thought I would share the steps here. Below is an example of a set of rubbing plates I made recently for a family art program at The Dorman School in Springfield, MA (students pictured above). I chose the textures: string, seeds, leaves, “hair”, “raindrops” and grass, based on a selection of illustrations from the picture book The Black Book of Colors written by Menena Cottin and illustrated by Rosana Faria.
First, collect pieces of thick chipboard, mat board or corrugated plastic to use as the plate support. If you are using chipboard or mat board I recommend sealing the surface first with a coat of Acrylic Gesso (available at art supply stores) before cutting them into your desired size. Brush it on at least one side and let it dry completely (30 minutes to an hour). Collect natural materials outside like leaves, grass, seeds, twigs or bark or purchase beans, grains, seeds or other materials from the store. Experiment with different materials and see what you like best!
Next, cut down the supports to the desired sizes, ours are in 5″ or 6″ rectangles or squares. Spread an even layer of Light Modeling Paste (available at art supply stores) with a thick brush or plastic spatula on the gessoed side of the board. Press the natural materials into the paste so they aren’t peeling away or lifting up. The paste has a consistency like thick cake frosting.
The paste acts as an adhesive as it dries. I recommend attaching leaves with the raised side facing UP so you will get a better rubbing. Set your plates aside overnight to dry completely.
The next day, trim any excess material hanging off the edge of the plate (grass, string, etc) and make sure the surface is thoroughly dry before sealing them. To seal the plate I used Minwax Water-Based Polycrylic Gloss (available in the paint department at the hardware store) and brushed an even coat over the top and sides of each plate and left them to dry outside in the sun or on a table indoors. Brush on as many coats as you like, drying thoroughly between coats. Two coats usually does the trick.
If you’re looking for other ways to use Polycrylic Gloss, check out my Printing with Found Materials 2 post.
For more information about making handmade rubbing plates, download our Texture Rubbing Plates Printable PDF available on our Activities page.
How do you use rubbing plates in your classroom or at home?
Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
The Carle Studio has taken to the road this summer in conjunction with the implementation of a grant from the Funder Collaborative for Reading Success. The goal of these programs is to strengthen and advance early literacy skill development in children from birth to age 9 to ensure children in Springfield are reading at a proficient level by fourth grade. Each Tuesday afternoon in July we are providing a “Family Camp” at the Hiram L. Dorman School in Springfield, MA to make art and discuss books. The program is open to families of the children participating in The Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative at Dorman, a nature-based summer program designed to help stem summer learning loss through literacy support. Each week, Meghan and I design various family friendly art activities inspired by a different picture. Check out what we’ve been doing!
So far, the children and their parents worked together drawing caterpillars with watercolor pencils,
Glued nature rubbings into a family mosaic,
Drew pictures of family memories to bind into albums,
…and created habitats with found materials.
At the end of each class, families receive a copy of that week’s featured picture book to take home. The books we’ve featured so far are Ten Little Caterpillars by Lois Elhert, The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin, and Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel.
For more information about this grant funded program read the article, “Talk/Read/Succeed! Summer Learning Program Launches Second Year at Dorman, Boland Elementary Schools in Springfield” by The Republican on July 18, 2012, posted on MassLive.com.
Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for more photos from the last two sessions of The Dorman School Family Art Camp!
Friday, July 13th, 2012
Today kicked off our summer session of Materials Play in the Morning – a weekly drop-in activity for especially for toddlers. Aiyi has been helping me plan the activities. We have many fund ideas, so its hard to choose!
Since the orchard is awash with greenery of all kinds, we thought we’d try an idea I’ve seen on Pinterest using leaves and petals to create a collage on contact paper.
We happen to have a narrow roll of lightweight contact film that was donated to us. I think a heavier contact paper- like the kind you can find in the shelf liner section of the dollar store- would have been better.
We prepped the contact paper by cutting it into trips twice as long as we thought the finished collages should be.
Then, placing a sheet film side down/paper side up on the short table and light table, I peeled back the paper to expose half, sticky side up. I used some painter’s tape to secure the strip to the table so it wouldn’t shift as the kids worked. Next time I might trim the flap of paper that was left, but I just taped that down too. I also taped a few pieces to the window.
A few children were interested in dumping petals and leaves on their sticky surface. One girl just liked pressing her hands and petals on the paper and taking them off again. If I were doing this with a class I would definitely have the students collect their own petals and leaves but I’d also have a few items I’d collect ahead of time.
When the children were done with their arrangement I peeled the rest of the paper off and folded the newly exposed half of the contact paper onto it. The kids then pressed their arrangement together and I told them to look at their collage over the next few days to see how it changes.
This program is for the half hour before the 10:30 storytime in the reading library, so this is as far as we took it. When/if I do something like this with older children I might have them draw a large shape on a piece of white paper to slide under the contact paper so they could arrange their leaves and flowers in a shape they’d like to cut their contact paper into later.
And, speaking of storytime: to help the participants make further connections with the materials we used, Abigail included some books in a gardern/leaf theme in storytime directly after: Leaf Man by Lois Elhert’s, Ava’s Poppy by Marcus Pfister, What If Everything Had Legs by Scott Menchin, and We’re Rabbits written by Lisa Westberg Peters, Illustrated by Jeff Mack. She didn’t get around to it, but My Garden by Kevin Henkes would have been a great one too.
If you find yourself in the care of a toddler on a Friday morning between now and the end of August, stop on by at 10 am in the Studio! (Details here.) Next week’s materials: pasta and paint.