If you’ve been following my preschool art series, you probably know by now that I have a thing for tape resist methods. Kids love the whole peel-and-reveal situation, and tape resist allows for creativity without much restraint, while still producing semi-controlled and/or geometric works. So, for our final class this year, we revisited our beloved technique, this time making paintings inspired by Mondrian (canonical Dutch Modernist). To make this session a bit special, I brought in oil paints and canvas so the kids could finally try their hands at the time-honored media. It was risky (oil paint takes days to dry and doesn’t wash clean with water and soap) but ultimately successful!
To begin our lesson, we looked at a couple of Mondrian’s famed paintings, and discussed how they made us feel. I asked the kids if the paintings seemed wild, free and crazy, or if they were quiet, calm and ordered. We eventually agreed upon the latter, and I explained how Mondrian wanted to bring structure to the world in response to chaotic happenings around him. The kids were also able to point out that Mondrian’s color palette was comprised of primary colors — red, blue and yellow — with black and white accents.
Each kid was given a canvas taped up in geometric patterns (I completed the taping part before class began) and a plastic lid with dollops of red, blue, yellow and black oil paint. I instructed everyone to use one color per geometric shape/opening. Rather than cleaning brushes in between colors, we found it was easiest to designate our brushes by color — “the yellow brush,” “the black brush,” etc. This way, colors didn’t mix. The kids did a wonderful job staying within each tape compartment — rarely did they bring the same color into its neighboring area. They also spaced their colors brilliantly, indicating that their sense of composition is really developing!
When each student was finished, I examined their canvas, usually asking them to fill in all areas that weren’t totally coated in color. With leftover time, the students continued painting on paper, using up their oil paint as they experimented further.
Since oil paint takes a long time to dry, we couldn’t peel off our tape this session. But miss R and I recreated the project at home and are very happy with the results.
Now, oil paint is not something easily removed — from skin, clothes or brushes. But if you don’t want to use paint thinner to clean your brushes, vegetable oil works almost just as well (and who wants to introduce paint thinner into a preschool classroom?).
If you try this project, please let me know how it goes. Have a creative day!