This week’s installment of my preschool fine art class was based upon the teachings found in Peter Reynolds’ Ish. Ish is a continuation of The Dot — the book that started it all for my little class of budding artistes.
Ish is about a young artist who adores drawing — anytime, anywhere, anything — until his big brother insults his efforts. He gives up on art-making, upset that his drawings looked different than the real-world subjects that inspired them. His world changes when his sister reveals that she’s been keeping, honoring and displaying all of his crinkled up drawings. He sees his (wonderful) art through her eyes and realizes that if he simply lets go of perfection and conceives of life and art more “ish-ly,” he’ll enjoy it much more. Paintings of trees can be tree-ish, drawings of skies can be sky-ish, and so on.
We drew upon Ish by crinkling up sheets of paper into little balls (the kids loved this part). The kids then painted their crinkled balls, flattening them out and recrinkling each time they wanted to switch colors. The finished works are really interesting! The scrunched up paper ensured cool texture AND resist (since the paint couldn’t get into every nook and cranny.
We then studied different kids of lines and their expressive capacities. The children drew several horizontal lines, using different designs, with light-colored crayons. They applied a watercolor wash over the lines and were thrilled to see their hidden artwork come to life.
Finally, we discussed texture — implied vs real (this subject will be covered more, as it’s a hard concept for little ones to grasp). We talked about how things feel to the touch, and how you can observe texture visually, without touch. We explored this idea hands-on by painting with course-salt paint on thick watercolor paper (I simply mixed up liquid watercolors with kosher salt). The kids wet their paper (using a spray bottle filled with water) and then covered it using different shades of the bumpy, rocky, course paint. The excess salt can be shaken off after the paint dries.
Don’t you love the texture (implied and real, ha!) made possible by the water + salt + color? The paintings recall expressionist blotch paintings. Very cool — and fun! This was a successful class that included both process and fine art techniques.
The next class will focus on Impressionism, with the kids making their very first works on canvas. We’re going to mimick Monet’s famed Water Lillies, using tape resist and finger painting. Miss R was eager to test the waters for me:
Got any art curriculum up the sleeve of your smock? Please, share!