Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Watercolor Class

Part of our homeschool schedule is spent on exploring notable artists throughout history. The girls and I really enjoy pouring over their paintings, discussing the colors, dark and light, what catches our eye first-off, and the interesting details of the characters displayed within the frame. After we take a good look, we will read about that particular painting and sometimes even get a glimpse into the mind of the artist and what he was thinking while painting. We have loved getting to know these artists. Holland's favorite is John Singer Sargent, particularly this one. It's called Carnation Lily, Lily Rose. It was born out of Sargent's wish to paint the affect of the sunset--shown with the perfect colors, shadows, and light--combined with the light of artificial chinese lanterns. This meeting of colors and shadows wasn't easy to paint, as Sargent had to set up his station and the little girl models as well, every night for 2 minutes. Over and over again, day after day, until the painting was finished. Liv's favorite of Sargent's is the depiction of Robert Louis Stevenson. The girls were fascinated to see Robert Louis Stevenson because part of their schoolwork included a book of poems that he had written, called A Child's Garden of Verses.

Personally, I love art as it gives way to the idea that there is no one way to tackle a problem. It also relieves stress, is a wonderful vehicle for expression, and is a fine, quality activity to do together. When completing art, I only have 3 rules:

Rule #1: There is no such thing as a mistake. All "mess-up's" can be fixed or turned into something better. For example, one day Holland drew a green flower. She was distraught because she thought it looked messy but, because she had used crayon, she couldn't erase it. So we talked about her options and she eventually decided that she could turn her green flower blob into a round green shape and put some rays on it. She called her painting, The Day the Sun Turned Green. Tears dried up. Everyone, especially Holland, was happy.
Rule #2: No tears, especially about "mess-ups" (see Rule number 1)
Rule #3: follow specific rules about technique, subject, etc., otherwise--no other rules.

We've only recently explored watercolor, but one of our recent favorites is called wet in wet. You just apply watercolor to wet paper. The first time I tried this, I was so fascinated by the bleeding colors. You can also heighten the interest by creating a crayon resist watercolor. Draw on your paper using a white (or for young artists, light gray) crayon. Press hard. Wet paper, then apply pigment. The paint naturally pulls away from the crayon. It's such fun.

The girls recently completed their paintings using the wet in wet method. Here are the simple steps to making your own.

First make sure to have your paint and palette. You don't have to worry about getting fancy supplies. Cups will work beautifully, and any watercolors will do. I like to use the tubes that need to be mixed with water because it's easy to mix colors and vary the intensity of the pigment.

I do love good paper, though. You will want thick, absorbent, specially-for-watercolor-paper. I get ours at Michaels or Joann's with the 40% off coupon. (Hint: Michael's accepts Joann's coupons!)

Either pick an item to be drawn, or allow for free design. This time, the girls were working on a specific assignment. They had to pick a fruit or vegetable, or a flower from our garden to draw.

Liv's Choice:

Holland chose a flower from our garden:

I think I am seriously in love with gum erasers.

The girls have finished their drawings and are waiting for paint:

I place the paint in the palette, mixing colors if necessary and add a touch of water, then mix. I have found that a medicine dropper works wonders when adding water to the paint.

Then apply water to the paper:

Now you can start applying the color.

Have a roll of paper towels nearby, or napkins. It works wonders to blot the paint if the bleeding of the paint gets carried away.

If the paper gets dried out in different areas, just use the dropper to add some water to a certain spot:

The girls were so excited with how their pictures turned out. Holland's flower:

Liv's artichoke:

I hope this inspires you to get your paint on and create some beauty around your home, but more--in the minds of your special little people.


Hilty Sprouts! said...

What beautiful paintings! My kids love, love, love any art project but especially painting. We have never tried the fancy watercolor paints before. It looks like fun!

emily wierenga said...

oh i love this! and i agree with your philosophy... art is a way to be free. so beautiful. you're a good mama.


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