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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Kids Art: Oil Pastel Resist

kids art easy oil pastel resist

We've been exploring resist painting on and off for a while now. First with crayons and wax candles, then with oil pastels (just the scholastic kind, which are not too expensive, and come in beautiful colors).

A firm believer in
I hear... and I forget
I see... and I remember
I do... and I understand
--Ancient Chinese Proverb
I try to provide some hands-on opportunities for my kids that not only exposes them to new experiences but enriches me with a better understanding of their strengths. I try. I don't always succeed, and there is always a lot to learn...

I remember, a few years ago, my 3 yr-old niece drew something that looked like a cross between a candy cane and a broom and exclaimed, "Horse!". And since then, it has been fun to see the "fairy" in Ana's squiggles and now the "sun" in Oggie's...

As described in a few books I was reading regarding art expression in kids, I like the idea of letting the child explore the textures, the interactions between various materials, and possibly allow for creative expression with an open-ended approach.

Incidentally, I've often wondered why "open-ended" has somehow come to connote lack of structure. Au contraire. Children work best within some sort of structure (so I've read and my observation so far seems to indicate the same). However, when the structure does not necessarily dictate the materials, method, and end result, I guess it is fair to denote it open-ended.

Initially, Ana just made scribbles on a piece of paper with crayons and painted over it with diluted tempera paints. Crayon resist or oil pastel resist, as the name suggests, resist the paints, which only shows through around the crayon or oil pastel lines.

Now, squiggles seem like a great way to explore lines - from straight lines to circle and every thing in-between.

Exploring continuous lines with same start and end points, or separate start and end points can in itself be a very rewarding exercise.

(Disclaimer: I am not an art expert, or even an early childhood education expert... I just enjoy reading about these topics from wonderful books and other resources, and exploring some of the ideas therein with my kids, which in itself is a great learning experience for me.)

Art Appreciation post in Saffron Tree lists some resources with good insight into the early creative process. In this context, Harold And The Purple Crayon brings some fond memories... especially when Ana drew Harold as holding his purple crayon standing at her easel in her room.

Some of the early chats I had with Ana about her chicken scratches was quite refreshing and eye-opening for me. I still treasure some of her special art expressions.

At 4¾, she has outgrown the abstract squiggles/swirls/doodles stage, itching to really represent - i.e., draw - the things she wants to.

She seems quite expressive sketching worlds and things from imagination. But, to represent something specific, something that she sees every day, to its likeness, seems a bit challenging. I don't want that to deter her from exploring or frustrate her in the process. We have started tracing exercises, just to demystify the drawing process.

Drawing is a specific skill that can be honed via proper technique and instruction when she feels ready for it. So, nowadays, when we look through books, she picks out the subjects/objects, then I sit with her and make rough pencil sketches to her satisfaction and hand them over to take it where she wants to. The impromptu "You are a good drawer, Amma!" makes me feel on top of the world sometimes.

She picks out her mode of expression at any given time: sometimes it is crayons, sometimes color pencil, sometimes markers, sometimes watercolors, sometimes chalk pastels, sometimes masking or any combination thereof. And sometimes it is this oil pastel resist.

Items Used: Oil pastels, watercolors, brush, heavy weight or card stock paper.

  1. Let the child make a sketch - can be swirls, squiggles, lines - just anything that the child wants to represent on paper (or, adult can make the sketch with the child's input)
  2. Apply oil pastel to the areas to be resisted by the paints. This could be the creative part the child gets to explore
  3. Wash with watercolors (or diluted inks or diluted tempera paints) all over the oil pastels and background
  4. Notice how the paints are resisted by the oil pastels;allow to dry

kids art easy oil pastel resist

Upon Ana's request, we've done some reptiles, some sea creatures, and will be working with butterflies and dragon flies next - whenever we are in the mood and the stars align themselves properly...

Some of Ana's color choices and representations look pretty dramatically stunning - at least to the maternal eye - while others just look like something Oggie threw up. However, it is the process , the experience, that I cherish more than the product, so, I treasure it all...

Incidentally, one of my favorites for art inspiration is Usborne Book of Art Ideas. It is brimming with ideas to try out for myself... and watching me do something with concentration and joy (and possibly effortless enthusiasm) hopefully inspires Ana enough to do her own exploration...

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At 12:44 AM, Blogger Sundar Narayanan said...

love the way you give us step by step instructions and show the end result in pictures..

a big thank you


At 3:31 AM, Blogger MindfulMeanderer said...

awesome! :) My lil 1 is 3 and is slowly learning to "paint" on her own.. This seems like a good idea to get her started.

At 4:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love ure blog

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Sheela said...

::Sundar Narayanan:: Thanks! Liked the Javvarisi Vadam of yours - I enjoy making quick and easy arisi vadam - the kind we steam and dry on a cotton towel indoors, no sun :) And you are right, many items don't take a lot of time - like your theratti paal :)

::MindfulMeanderer:: Thanks! Isn't it amazing what kids do these days?! I can't remember that far back, but, I know I never even saw paints and brush until I was 7 or 8 :)

At 8:57 AM, Blogger meera said...

great blog! I like the way you are introducing art to you child! Wonderful projects.

At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Bible Chick said...

Hi there, my name is Sunshine, and I write for Examiner as the Portland Parenting Examiner and I am the owner of recently launched I really love your site. I'm going to post a link to it on my site, I hope you'll visit. I'm always looking for great art sites for kids, and I really love yours.
If you create a button, I'd be more than happy to put it on my site as well.
Write on,
Bible Chick


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