This spring I thought it would be fun to loosen up and do some "experiment paintings" with my 5th and 6th grade students. They're naturally in the stages of artistic development where children become critical of their work and can get very hung up on things looking realistic. We went a totally different direction with some non-objective paintings. Almost every student tried out this style of painting by the end of the school year.
We could've gone old school to learn about non-objective painting with some nonobjective paintings from Art History (de Kooning, Pollock, Kandinsky, Rothko, etc.) but since they were really starting to get squirrely at that point in the school year, I decided to show a video that Alisa Burke put together on some everyday objects she likes to use in her paintings. You can see the video here: http://alisaburke.blogspot.com/2013/11/my-favorite-everyday-things-for-painting.html
At the conclusion of the video, I asked students to name tools they noticed. After the students listed what they had noticed from the video, I showed what unusual tools we had in the art room- bubble wrap, tubes for stamping, tin cans, foam brushes for stamping, brayers, etc.
I filled egg cartons with tempera paint but suggested that students not try to use EVERY color. We talked about the color wheel- which colors might blend nicely together and which would likely result in mud. I did a demo and showed how to "dip the tip" of the brush into the paint and how I could switch colors without water by trying to use all the paint on my brush first, and then not stirring the new color. I think if the students had used water, the paintings would not be as vibrant. I set out all of our tools on a table and the students just picked what they wanted to use.
I told the students these were "experiment paintings" for a reason- I wanted them to explore the qualities of the paint, try out different color combinations, textures, etc. without being afraid of making a mistake. The end result was a lot of awesome paintings. Some looked like finished pieces, while other needed more attention in later classes.
One way to use the painted papers is to add solid colored strips for a paper weaving project.
Other uses for the papers are
- drawing on top of the painted paper
- painting on top of it
- collage- background
- collage- cut it apart and glue onto something else
- journaling on top
Next year I may do this before opening up the collage center. I'm thinking about getting rid of my magazine stash as the students K-6 relied too heavily on magazine images instead of making their own. I think it may be helpful to show the students how to make their own papers first.