Friday, September 21, 2012

Glue, Salt, and Watercolor Painting

 I found this delightful project on The Artful Parent Blog,  We did it with kindergarten and first grade children, and they loved it.  Since each child did two in the hour, I only took a random sampling of photos. I didn't have time to sort through them and get one picture from each child before the children left for the day.

 I showed them an example which I had done which looked like a wiggly worm, an abstract line of curves which curled and crossed one another.  I had painted my line with frequent color changes.  My son said it made him hungry because it looked like a gummi worm.  Each child could draw anything they wanted on their paper with their glue bottle.  Then we put their pictures in a deep cookie pan and dumped salt on top until the glue was covered all over thickly.  Then they were ready to paint right away.

I taught the children how to be gentle with the little brushes, and not to splay them out and scrub them on the watercolor cakes, which breaks the hairs.  Some of them could remember that, and had the coordination to do it.  Some weren't able to do it, yet.  I think next time we paint we will practice stroking a pretend cat with our brushes.

Unless you are using liquid watercolors, teach the children to gently stroke the watercolor cakes with the brush with plenty of water until the pigments are dark and wet. 

The reason is because when you touch the salt-covered line with your pigment-loaded brush, the salt will slurp up the paint.  The more paint, the more vivid your painting.  Here is a picture of a young artist softly tapping her salty drawing with the brush.  I asked the children to tap on the salt as softly as they would tap the back of a ladybug with their brush, so that the ladybug wouldn't get hurt or even have to bend its legs.

Although I couldn't think of a good reason to tap a ladybug with a brush, everyone worked with great care and had the fun of watching the salty glue soak up their paint.  Younger children would not be able to tap like that, and would mix the paint and the glue with their brushes, and that would be beautiful, too.  We needed to keep our watercolor cakes from developing a gluey covering which would keep us from using them next time.

The classroom was very peaceful, and the children seemed very content as they worked.

Aren't the colors luscious?  I love the way the children used their colors!  Incidentally, I removed all the black, brown, ochre, and beige watercolor cakes from the boxes to help prevent mud puddles from happening.

I wonder if the upper primary group would like this project, too?


Sandy said...

Hi Beth, You asked about the upper school being interested. I say yes. My husband used to have a class with young teens and their favourite things were when he had them do 'kiddie' crafts from my cupboard!

I am always looking for ways to get adults interested in creating. I think they would enjoy this. Do you think it would work with a fabric type glue on fabric? ( for wall hangings not for pieces that would be washed?)
Sandy in the UK

Beth said...

Hi, Sandy,

Thanks for the feedback. I was actually talking about doing it with upper primary...and you're probably right, everyone would enjoy it. My ten year old wanted to try it, and I loved doing it, too! I think you should do a little experiment on fabric, but the problem is that the salt does not adhere to the glue well, particularly when used thickly, as we did. It is a fragile piece of art and will crumble if you don't handle it carefully. Let me know how it comes out if you do an experiment. Now salt can be interesting to use with pigments (without the glue) for other interesting effects.....Beth

Cal said...

I had not seen this project before, and I love the vibrancy of the colors, together with the raised texture of the salt mix. Since school is out this week, I will try this project today with mu daughter. Thanks for sharing!

Fiona said...

Another fan here - it looks fabulous Beth.
Both mine are keen to give it a try, so I have added it to our (ever growing) list!

And I think kids (and adults) of all ages would enjoy it. I think sometimes as we get older we get caught up in doing what is 'right' or 'appropriate', and can miss out on a lot of fun.

Having children is a great excuse to do all sorts of crazy stuff and I love it.

Beth said...

Hi, Cal! Have fun!

Beth said...

I agree, Fiona! I love getting to try out these art projects...I'm sure I'm having as much fun as the children! love, Beth