Saturday, June 29, 2013

OPAD Art Camp--2013

I teach art workshops in my studio for the Oak Park Arts District Art Camp. I got back from almost three weeks travel in Norway and Svalbard to have 2 days to prep for 6 workshops. I planned my workshops on the plane trip home.

Here is my preliminary thinking from my journal entry written in flight from Copenhagen to Chicago:
I have 6 art camp sessions-- 3 on Thurs. and 3 on Friday. No repeats. This is great! For the oldest groups, esp. if there are no repeats from Debbie Creticos's class [my last Art Start session], what if we concentrate on drawing from life--birds' nests; sea shells; rocks, basic drawing lessons. Work with graphite sticks (buy new ones) & kneaded erasers for 15 min. Add watercolors. If I combine the nests, flowers, shells with bowls, pitchers, etc., there will be opportunity to learn color mixing, painting techniques, and drawing from life. We can reference Dutch Still Life, looking at reflections, light & shadow, backgrounds. Positive and negative space. Good w.c. paper, 6 colors of paint, brushes, palettes, graphite sticks, erasers. These are our supplies. Computer paper for the drawing lesson. I need: palettes [square plastic picnic plates from Dominick's]; erasers [kneaded erasers]; graphite sticks; prepped paper--use 8 sheets of Dad's old watercolor paper, quartered; images of Dutch Still Life.
 Lay out the palettes as soon as possible so the paint will harden!
Is this a good plan? Can 5 yr. olds draw nests? Can we think about "scribble" drawings, getting closer and closer to the shape? Or can I talk myself into 2 completely separate lesson plans?

Color mixing--yellow + blue = green--but you have 2 yellows & 2 blues. Do they come out the same? How about yellow + red? Again, 2 of each. And red + blue??? No white. No black. Nor gray nor brown. Can you mix these? 6 stripes down with flat brush--let it dry a bit, then 6  stripes across with round brush [like a plaid pattern.] Paul Klee color square paintings: towns; castles; faces; fish; etc.

The second graders I taught for Art Start this year had had such success and fun drawing birds' nests from life that I decided to focus on still life, with birds' nests as the center piece for my Art Camp workshops. I knew, however, that this might be too challenging for the very youngest campers (5 and 6 year olds) so I decided to do color matching and Paul Klee inspired drawing for the two youngest groups of campers. That meant I had to have two different set ups and sets of materials. I never was able to run out to the craft store and the art store in Oak Park did not have what I needed so I ended up improvising even more than this plan and I only bought the plastic plates to use as palettes. Everything else I already had in the studio from previous workshops.

Here is a picture of the basic set up--waiting for the first group to come. This was a young group that would do the color mixing/Paul Klee inspired workshop.

I use DaVinci watercolor paints in 37 mil. tubes. Each palette has two reds--Quinacridone Permanent Rose & Vermillion Hue; two yellows--Arylide Yellow & Hansa Yellow Light Lemon; and two blues--French Ultramarine & Thalo Blue.

First we made a color wheel, laying out the 6 colors on their palettes, then experimenting with a few of the combinations to make green, purple, and orange. Next I gave them each a "Four Square" sheet along with 4 color swatches from the paint store. The challenge was to mix the exact color of the paint chip using the 6 colors on their palettes. I made sure to choose a dark color, a light color, and several muted colors ranging from browns, grays, strange greens, and burnt oranges. I have found that this is a great way for the kids to learn how much water to use and how to think about color mixing. If you can mix a good deep brown or eggplant color and you can mix a light gray, you will be able to mix almost any color you need.

Lastly I gave the kids fresh sheets of paper, Sharpie markers, and showed them my favorite Paul Klee paintings, where he is painting with squares and swatches of color, sometimes drawing with black ink. They were free to draw whatever they wanted, inspired by Paul Klee.

drawing                                                                                                         mixing colors


I always love the drawings kids come up with after looking at Klee--even a "rainbow," (usually a fallback generic motif for kids afraid to draw) becomes special. 

 For the 4 older groups (ranging in age from 6 to 11), I decided to challenge them with drawing from a still life set up in the middle of the table. Each workshop began with about 10 minutes of a basic drawing lesson, learning that you can draw practically anything using straight lines, curved lines, three basic shapes, and some letter shapes. We talked about the different energy it took to draw different lines.

We looked at some still life paintings from reproductions I had saved from old calendars. I particularly wanted them to think about backgrounds--how you could simplify backgrounds or keep them complicated. I also suggested they think about what the still life is sitting on, rather than drawing objects floating in air.

I set out still life elements, including birds' nests with fake eggs in them.

Instead of graphite sticks we ended up using charcoal pencils (because I had them and did not have graphite sticks.) I set the timer on my phone and asked the kids to draw in black charcoal and use their kneaded erasers as drawing tools to get lighter shades of gray.

Working with a kneaded eraser as a drawing tool.


After 15 minutes of drawing I added watercolor to the mix. These kids caught on really quickly to how to handle the paint and mix the colors they needed.



Finished Artwork--I wish I could show you the happy and proud faces of the artists, but for privacy's sake I have cropped these pictures. Notice, though, that the pictures often have the same color palette as the artist's clothes.

 This painting is not quite finished. I told the artist that she could use any watercolors she had at home to finish it.

I think these are great paintings for adults, but these kids were mostly 6, 7, & 8!

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