Monday, November 4, 2013

Comparing & Contrasting: Art Materials

 Art is really important in our house. Not that any of us are dedicated artists but we all like to experiment and play.

The most important lesson I've learned related to kids and art is that the results of their projects is directly related to the quality of their supplies. In other words, mediocre supplies = mediocre results.

Why does this matter? In our house, and probably in most, when my kids feel successful in a project of any subject matter, they ask to do more. When they finish an art project and can't believe they created it, their confidence & self esteem go through the roof and they are just so happy.  

So, this year, I decided that fewer supplies of better quality was the way to go.  I love to shop locally but I confess, for art supplies, I don't. Instead, Amazon had just what I needed.

A good set of oil pastels with a range of colors and good blendability for great results. My kids have enjoyed this set. Even my 5 year old hasn't snapped any while using. The color selection is beautiful and so exciting for the kids. They feel like true artists when they use them. And don't forget the paper. Copy paper is great for a lot of kids art, but not this. Nothing is more discouraging then when a child wears a hole into the middle of their picture.

Watercolors - We do have a set of liquid watercolors which give a nice vibrant color. But I like the pans so they can easily blend the colors. These are not expensive by any means. So instead, I chose to buy the real watercolor paper. Wow - does this make a difference. The kids can actually use the paints as they are intended: mixing right on the paper, blotting, etc. without tears or holes. And you can cut up the paper into small pieces and tell the kids to make miniature pictures. My kids loved that.

Colored Pencils. Again, the sets that crayola sells are probably fine. But I chose to get each child a small tin of Prismacolor pencils. They wear well and blend nicely. The tins make them easy to transport with their nature journals.

Comparing the New Supplies
I wanted to highlight the different results each one would create. So, I had the kids sketch a big glass jar of multi-sized sunflowers. We copied the image using charcoal pencils over the outline, laying it flat a blank piece and rubbing the back of the paper with the image on it to make the transfer. This worked pretty slickly and the kids loved it.

During our read alouds, I asked them to color their pictures - each time with a different medium. So one was colored pencil, watercolor and the last was oil pastel.

8 year old's:(l to r) colored pencil, watercolor, oil pastel
We held them up and talked about their likenesses & differences; moods they created; "energy" they had and where they would be most appropriate (ie. book illustration, framed art, etc.)

10 year olds: (l to r): Colored Pencil; Watercolor; Oil Pastel
This turned out to be a great exercise. If I did it again, I'd probably ask them to use the same colors for each of the pictures for a true comparison. But I couldn't bring myself to do that. They were so excited about the new supplies that I didn't want to crush that enthusiasm. As you can see my 10 year old did do them all the same which is so in keeping with her personality.

5 year old's: Colored Pencil; Watercolor;  Oil Pastel

We might continue this idea using these same base images for contrast of the elements of art (line, texture, etc).

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