Friday, August 2, 2013

Friday's Art Smarts: Exploring Abstract Art (Kind of a fail)

Okay, I'm trying to be positive here, but in all honesty, today's project was not kind of a fail. It totally flopped. Even Nat Nat said toward the end, "Maybe we can do a better project next time, Mom."

Uh, yeah.

But in the interest of being transparent, I'm going to post it anyway and (maybe?) give you some tips to avoid utter failure yourself.

I actually found this idea over at Edu Art 4 kids. When I read it, I was all like, "Yes! This is an awesome idea - we're going to do this this week!" And, if you hop over to her blog, you'll see a fabulous tutorial with step-by-step directions.

I thought I followed those directions...but my kids were not cooperating. Don't you hate it when they don't cooperate? ;)


Large piece of art paper
miscellaneous traceable objects
Sharpie marker

You can see in the picture above that I chickened out at the last minute and grabbed a box of crayons for the kids. I just wasn't feeling the inevitable mess that would result from breaking out those paint markers. So we took the easy, no mess route.

Step 1. Sit down in front of a computer and click through various images of abstract art. This went fairly smoothly for us, though I wish I had pulled a few aside ahead of time to view. In hindsight, a little advance planning for this project would have gone a long way.

I wanted the kids to practice using repetition in art. The idea was to choose one of the objects and trace it over and over again on their paper, creating a large design out of a single (or a couple) different shapes. I encouraged the kids to overlap the shapes, to trace on top of shapes that they had already drawn.

Fairly simple idea, right? Wrong.

I thought they understood the idea repetition. But, as it turns out, preschoolers have exactly zero interest in tracing one object over and over again. I think they viewed it as a challenge. Once they completed tracing the large spoon, for example, they wanted to try something new.

Oh, and you can forget about overlapping. Each object had to have its own space. Overlapping the shapes made no sense to them. Why would you do that?

So. What did we end up with? Each child chose four or five different objects and traced each one once. In its own little space on the paper.

And they got so discouraged because, well, tracing takes a lot coordination. I knew it would be difficult. But it was actually way beyond their skill level, especially for Daniel.

Sigh. Live and learn.

After they traced with a pencil, I went over their drawings with a black Sharpie (staying very faithful to their lines). And this is what we ended up with:

Then it was time to color it in. My vision for this project was to sort of do a color block idea - coloring each enclosed space a different color. Of course, that would have worked a little better if they had overlapped shapes.

But it was around this point that I gave up and just opened our giant box of crayons and turned them loose.

I'm pretty sure the coloring was Natalie's favorite part.

(By the way, play dough scissors make a pretty unappealing stencil. haha. Probably should skip those if you do this with your kids.)

And Daniel...well, he had to be persuaded to even scribble a little. He was so over it. You see they're wearing bathing suits. That's because I had told them that after this project we were going to get in the pool. He was already thinking about goggles and pool noodles at this point.

Well. We did end up finishing this little project...

Daniel. age 3

Natalie, age 4

...but we won't be attempting anything like this any time soon. Art should be fun. And when you try projects that are way above an artist's skill level, it just results in frustration and the desire to quit. 

Oh, and plan. It always helps to carefully think out a project before you begin, something I didn't do today. I just went for it. And sometimes that works, but often it doesn't. 

Well, there you go! Learn from our mistakes...I know I will :)

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