Taratories Blog

A Tree for Junior Power Kids

A couple of months ago some leaders in our church kids program asked me if I would help create a tree in the new children's wing of our church.  We had a tube to use as the form to begin.  I then had to come up with a plan of how we were going to make the simple cylinder shape transform into a tree.  

First we collected branches to use on our tree.  Then we made openings in the cylinder for the branches to fit into.  Next we spray painted the branches brown to match the same brown color we were going to be painting the trunk with. The branches came without leaves so we purchased silk leaves from the craft store and attached them onto the branches with wire.  We then secured the branches into the "trunk" and made the tree look as if it were going through the ceiling by only attaching a few limbs to the tree.

The easiest way that I could think of to give the tree texture was to use paper mache. We dipped pieces of newspaper in the standard glue/water paper mache mixture and started sticking them to the tree creating textured creases.  It was already starting to look like a tree trunk!

After that part was completed we moved on to the roots.  We twisted newspaper into long clumps taping them so they wouldn't unfold and tapering them at the bottom where the roots would end.  We then taped them onto the trunk and added more newspaper on top of the taped areas where they were attached to give a more gradual, natural slope.  After letting the paper mache dry, I painted the trunk brown and gave it a coat of polycrylic protective finish over the whole thing to protect it from little hands ripping into the newspaper.  Not to say that won't still happen, but it at least will help a little with that!  

I am so thrilled with how it came out!!  It is such a great addition to the new Junior Power Kids wing! My son was thrilled this past weekend when he was able to use it for the first time!

I also painted this cute little train that kids can pose behind for pictures for the "Creation Station" theme they have going on right now.  I was so happy to be a small part of making this new kid space a fun and exciting space to be in!  To learn more about Grace Church's Power Kids program here in Akron, Ohio, click HERE.

More Than Meets the Eye

Recently I did an art lesson with my art class based on the book, "Over and Under the Snow" by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal.  The book takes readers on a trip through the woods in winter discovering the secret world of animals living under the snow.  

I decided that collage would be a good medium of choice for this project.  They were allowed to use a mix of construction papers and pieces from magazines.  I instructed them to start from the top and work their way down, that way they could overlap their pieces without covering anything important.  The goal was to have 3 layers including the background (sky), middle ground (landscape), and underground! I love the affect of the different white pieces from magazines that were used to create the snow.  There is so much more shading and texture that comes from using magazine pieces compared to just using white paper.  

I taught them how to draw a variety of animals that they could draw and put into their scenes.  I showed them step by step how to draw an owl, squirrel, bear, mouse, and a fox.  I love the variety of scenes that they came up with!  As I thought about these underground winter habitats, I thought about how sometimes we are fooled by other surfaces we encounter.  Just like these animals that are hidden from the naked eye, in the same way we are fooled by what we see on the surface of people in the world around us.  Sometimes it takes getting to know people on a deeper level to find out what is really going on inside.  I am guilty of making judgements of people based on my first impressions, but I want to work hard to always give people a chance to show who they really are.

I also have a friend a fellow artist here in Akron named Deborah Shapiro http://deborahshapiroart.com/ who creates works of art from torn pages of magazines.  I shared this video of hers to my students to give them some inspiration for their collages...

Making Patterns with Printmaking

Today's art class was a really fun one.  We got to dabble in a little printmaking.  One of my students had a great idea to roll paint on the paper to add some color and texture to the background.  I just LOVE it when kids come up with their own awesome ideas to make an art project better! 

Instead of the traditional method of carving designs into a surface to create the designs, I went with a much easier and less dangerous option which was using foam stickers to create the designs.  They were to create two designs each that were both symmetrical in nature.  They started from the center and worked their way out on their design boards to create a symmetrical pattern.  They cut some of the shapes to form other shapes.  It was fun to see what they came up with!

After their designs were complete they used brayers to roll paint onto the foam shapes on their design boards.  Mixing colors with the roller is fun for all ages ;)

They then stamped their designs on top of their papers and I just love how they all turned out.  Every one unique from the next!

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This was, by far, one of my favorite art projects that we have done in my art classes and I would love to expand more on printmaking with them in the future!

Tropical Underwater Eggshell Mosaics

Today was the last art camp of the summer.  It was a beautiful summer day, and in keeping with a summertime theme we made tropical underwater eggshell mosaic canvases.  First step was to paint their canvases an ocean blue.  I explained to them what makes a good composition and they brainstormed what kinds of fish or other creatures they would draw.  The students then drew out their ocean creatures on paper and colored them with markers. They planned out their colors using markers so that they knew what colors to paint their eggshells.  

We have obviously eaten a lot of eggs in my household which turned out to be very beneficial.  They each received their own carton of eggs.  This part was tricky because it was kind of a guessing game as to how many eggs to paint of each color.  I just love that the cartons also served as holders for the eggs after they were painted!  We set them outside in the sun to dry while we ate lunch.  

With bellies full and hands ready to tackle the next stage, the kids started glopping on their glue and pressing down their eggshells in their penciled in designs.  This part was very fun for them, but also very sticky.  

It was fun to see it all come together in a beautiful mosaic of color on their canvases.  Some of them also chose to add shells, spanish moss for seaweed, and thin layer of blue glitter to add a little shimmer.  Some chose to keep it simple.  

I loved the way they turned out and love the way the colors pop on this clown fish against the ocean backdrop.  I am so thankful for all the enthusiasm that kids have when they create.  It really is contagious.  I love their imaginations and the freedom they give themselves within the realms of art.  I enjoy watching their personalities come out in their work and, in the end, I love seeing their faces light up in satisfaction as they look at their art and see what they have created.  What a joy they are, and what a great day!