Sunday, April 11, 2010

peepers paintings

We finished off our week with a nature story from the Enki Education Kindergarten Nature Story collection. I chose "Peepers" because we are just this week starting to hear the chorus of Spring Peepers in the nearby swamp and in our wet pasture. and for some inexplicable reason we've never read this particular story before. For artistic digestion, I read the comprehension verse that goes along with the story (which we HAVE used in circle before) while we painted, as follows:

(Above is J's painting.) While I read the first stanza about the peepers waking up from the winter mud, we painted our entire sheet blue with only one dip of the brush into the paint. We painted with horizontal strokes from the bottom of the page upwards so that the darkest color was at the bottom and the lightest at the top.

(Below is Zoo Boy's painting.) The second stanza talks about the little frogs hopping through the swampy grass, and we used yellow paint on our brush and gesture-painted with a hopping motion across the center of the page.

(My painting is below.) The third stanza talks about snakes slithering in the fields, and we painted again with yellow, this time with a winding gesture across the bottom of the page.

The final stanza is about daffodils awakening and reaching up to trumpet in the spring. We loaded our brushes again with yellow, this time painting with individual upwards strokes towards the "sky", then we dipped just the corner of the brush in the yellow paint again and dabbed a "trumpet" on each "daffodil" (not that I labeled it that, I just read the verse and painted and the kids followed along). Since there is lighter color at the top half of the paper, the yellow remained truer, while our painting at the bottom made more of a green.

I do want to mention that although I'm following a verse, and there are perhaps images that could be recognizable in the paintings (for instance, this painting could be seen as a field with a pond behind it, with daffodils growing on the far shore), my only goal with these paintings are to allow the children to experience the interaction of the colors and to experiment with different brush strokes and gestures. I do prepare a bit in advance, deciding which colors and strokes I want to use for a particular story or poem, and whether or not there might be a picture hidden within the painting. Many times it doesn't work out quite as I had envisioned it, but most times it turns out better than I could have imagined.

I can't believe how comfortable I've become with leading water-color paintings. Painting was one of those things I'd always found super-intimidating. But for some reason this year, I've really launched myself into it, and now it's one of my favorite activities to do with the kids! Their enthusiastic response certainly helps to make me feel successful at it. Although I still think their paintings are far superior to mine, which is a good thing given that my paintings always have a bit of a 'stiff' feeling to them. Probably because I'm putting too much thought into them while the kids just go with the flow and experience the process rather than thinking about what they are doing. Which, of course, is the goal!

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