UNICORNS, RAINBOWS & CATS – OH MY

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The kids got a quick lesson on Mexican Milagros and Nichos.

The discussion started with Europeans invading an existing culture.  With them, they brought their religion, Catholicism. Objects such as  statues, alters, incense and gold were introduced to the native people.  What happened was a little influence rubbed off on the natives, but a little native culture remained too.  Nichos were influenced by Catholic alters, but generally depicted local traditions.  Somehow even pop-culture made its way into these works.  From there, these little pop-alters were considered more folk-art than religious icons.

I asked the kids if they were to encounter Roman Catholic alters and not know much about their significance, how would they make an alter of their own?  What would be important to them?  What would they fill it with? I told them for me, I’d choose my pet. Mi gato Willow.  I made a Nicho depicting my kitty cat because I love her and she brings me joy.

They were each given a cigar box and two giant tables of tons and tons of materials.  I also showed them how to create some aspects in 3-D.  This is what they came up with:

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I accidentally started the pet theme, but some diverged.  Oh and there was GLITTER EVERYWHERE!!! By far this was the most involved project.  I assigned this the first day and allowed them to add to it for the rest of the week whenever they had free time.  I think they all came out with something significant to themselves.  I know I was pretty stoked to bring my own home ;)

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Apples at ArtLab

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EVERYTHING HAS A SHADOW.

This watercolor project is a terrific way to teach this principle.

Do you see the black arrow attached with tape in the image above?   Each kid had to choose where the sunlight would be coming from in their picture and then make sure every single object in the picture plane reacted with a shadow accordingly.

First, we talked about why we block our paper.  This is the act of taping watercolor paper to a board, wetting the paper and then letting the paper dry.  Blocking stretches and shrinks the paper.  When working with watercolor, a tremendous amount of water gets applied to the paper.  The paper absorbs the water and stretches itself to its max.  This causes waving and rippling. Normally, a piece of paper would stay in this state but a blocked paper has already encountered water in a controlled setting. It’s taped down tight with no room to warp and has been forced to stretch tight preventing the rippling. It’s a great artist practice and there’s even a little science behind it.

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Next, we started with the backgrounds. I had the kids take their pencil, follow their arrow and run it across the paper pretending it was a flashlight.  What part of the bowl will the flashlight hit first?  Following your arrow of light, where will the flashlight hit each apple? The rule of a shadow is that the shadow falls in the complete opposite direction of the light. So, the pencil pretending to be a flashlight really hits home the front and back of each object.  Many people do not notice that every single item be it a nose on a face or a pencil on a desk, has a shadow.

The third step was creating shadows in the bowl.  The deepest part of something with depth is the darkest. The shallowest part of a bowl has access to light, therefore its lighter.  The kids worked from a very dark center to a light outer ring. Hoping to convey depth.

 

 

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The finale culminated with the painting of the apples.  We filled each apple with clean water on the paper and then allowed the colors of an apple to bleed into one another.  Red, green and yellow were used and a little bit of purple to denote the shadow of the apple itself.

Watercolor is a tough medium to learn.  You are always adding paint and water as well as trying to take away paint and water.  It’s a tricky balance.

The only bummer is that I couldn’t show the kids the difference between expensive paints and cheap ones. Boy is there a big difference!  Of course we had the “affordable” paints.  With them, red looks like pink, green a faded yellow and black a light grey.  Cheap paint just doesn’t posses the pigments needed to obtain gorgeous colors.  Yeah, the kids catch the gist, but not the magic of amazing paints…

I guess that’s the prize of keeping with the arts and investing as you go along… I know my first watercolors were Crayola.  It was enough to wet my appetite for more.  I hope the same for this new generation coming up!