Reflections II & III: Earth Day & Zentangle

Happy May!

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been teaching art to two life skills classes at Webb Elementary School.  To celebrate Earth Day, we made little Earths using foam balls, blue & green tissue paper, and glue.  In the spirit of Earth Day we reused some materials, so our cups of water from last week’s painting activity became stands to hold our Earths as we created them.  At the end of every activity, materials always get saved for reuse.  The little Earths are now hanging from the ceiling in their hallway & classroom.  They did a great job!

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Last week we experimented with Zentangle paintings.  We started by drawing circles onto our paper with crayons.  Paper plates from previous activities made great stencils for drawing circles of different sizes.  With several colors of crayon, the students then filled in all the areas with their own designs and marks.  They got so creative!  The next step involved painting each section with watercolor paint.  The students learned how the wax of the crayons repels the water in the paint, so even if they drew with white crayons, they could see their marks once the paint was added.  Their finished paintings were almost as vibrant as the smiles on their faces. 🙂

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It is truly great to see how excited the students get.  I can’t wait to come do art with the students next week!

On the note of Earth Day: reusing materials is something that every artist does to an extent.  Figuring out how to reuse or repurpose something is itself a creative thought process.  Many artists of all genres use leftover materials in some way.  Painters often use leftover paint from one painting to tone the ground for another.  Glass artists often recycle broken glass by re-melting it, and many glassblowing furnaces redirect waste heat to power other heating equipment.  Some artists only use recycled materials, “trash,” or found materials.

As an art instructor, I often collect any leftover paint from my classes and use it to create new paintings.  Almost all of my own acrylic paints – twelve 12 oz. bottles – are all just leftover paint.  It’s amazing to think that this paint has lasted me months and months already; all of it and the paintings I’ve created from it would have just been trash.

I specifically use these leftover acrylics to create abstract paintings that just focus on color and movement.  I usually just begin slapping paint on the canvas; I listen to where the paint wants to go & direct my hand accordingly.  It’s a therapeutic and unplanned process – a very different approach than my other more realistic work!

Peace y’all!



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