Students gathered at Mt. Lebanon Public Library to experiment with loose drawing techniques and watercolor in a class meant to excite and promote creating for personal pleasure because ‘Why else make art if it’s not fun?’
In our first session, I introduced gesture drawing and students practiced with each other and then toy dinosaurs as models. Next, we transitioned into mark making with 02 Micropens, using fine line methods like hatching, cross hatching, stippling and gestural. In the end, after a few quick experiments with liquid watercolor, students used vintage nature cards as reference for a three layered drawing/painting.
In our final session, we capitalized on the warm weather and sketched outdoors in the library’s beautiful courtyard.
After reacquainting students with fine line methods, we conducted a few experiments with water and oil solvent materials and then used music as a way to manipulate the speed of our brushstroke and mood of our composition. We listened to classical, hard rock and pop and the results were drastically different. One student brought along her six year old daughter, who used her whole body while dancing and painting to the music. In the end, students had about 25 minutes to bring all of the elements together for a culminating drawing/painting.
School is out for our local schools so the Mt. Lebanon Public Library invited me to teach a program for grades 3 – 5. This program was 100% free for participants through Matt’s Maker Space. I created ArtLab so students could explore multiple printmaking/transfer methods in a short period of time. We discussed the scientific method and tested our theories throughout our class.
Groups rotated through three stations; watercolor experiments, marker transfers and shaving cream paper marbling. Groups spent about 10 minutes making in each space, completing one or two experiments each.
In watercolor, students tested solvency and fluid paths. Our tools were Dick Blick Liquid watercolor, brushes, spray bottles, water droppers, and oil pastels.
In marker transfers, students drew an abstract design with markers on aluminum foil. When the drawing was complete, they spritzed the foil with water and smoothed watercolor paper on top.
In paper marbling, students spread a layer of shaving cream on boards and used eye droppers to apply liquid watercolor. Using a popsicle stick, students connected the color droplets with varied lines. After placing watercolor paper on top, students squeegeed the shaving cream from the paper, revealing its design.
After a quick clean-up, I demoed radial designs and students created relief blocks with 2″ styrofoam plates. We printed with black block ink on colorful paper, which became the covers for their bound experiments.
I love mixing art and science in my lessons. So many tenants cross these disciplines and both cultivate inquiry, curiosity, exploration and confidence in learners of all levels.
I’ll be back at the Mt. Lebanon Public Library later this month for an adult watercolor class and early next month for an adult/child class for ages 2 – 5.
I was approached by Artists in Schools & Communities at PF/PCA to create and teach drawing and painting based programming at the Mt. Lebanon Library for 8 – 10 yr olds. The final session just wrapped at the end of the month and I couldn’t have been happier with how they went! The programs were fully funded through Matt’s Maker Space so sixteen enthusiastic students were able to participate free of charge for up to four sessions. A family vacation limited my teaching to two programs, The Human Figure and Drawing & Painting Experiments.
The first session focused on the human face and body and squished an entire undergraduate semester into two hours. We covered four drawing methods, human anatomy and proportion, and artistic expression in the form of style and color. Students were entirely engaged through out the process and were willing to be silly, dive into science and take artistic chances.
The second session focused on experimentation. Yet again, students were challenged to be ‘art scientists’ and to make new discoveries. Students began with a partner challenge. In this Art Game, students were asked to make marks on a piece of paper using a variety of art tools. The only RULE was to use any or all of the materials at their disposal and to remain silent until told otherwise.
Students had no idea how much time they would have each turn, pushing them to act with urgency. After a few turns each, students were able to strategize on how to complete the work using components of a successful composition like creating a focal point. Students loved to discuss each other’s work along the way and were very encouraging of each other.
Next up were watercolor experiments using a few new tools like liquid watercolor, eye droppers, spray bottles, and salt.
Students were encouraged to create an underdrawing using sharpie and experiment with collage materials as well. Finally, students were asked to use their new skills and materials in a culminating watercolor exploration inspired by landscape.
I was so thrilled to be a part of this program and hope to collaborate with Artists in Schools & Communities and the Mt. Lebanon Public Library again!