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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Kids Art: Vegetable Stamp Painting

kids art vegetable stamp printing painting with okra potatoes

Using cross-sections of vegetables for stamps and painting was an activity my mom introduced to me when I was young. My favorite then and now is still Okra and Potatoes - for art and eating :)

Of course, back then, it was quite a challenge for me to draw a design and cut it out in the potato or carrot cross-section, to make interesting patterns. It still is. So, I just use the flat surface here, devoid of any designs cut out.

Ana has done some stamping using vegetables when she was a little younger, just for fun, no real outcome in mind... just another toy/activity on a lazy weekend.

But now that she is exploring expression through available tools, and since I enjoy introducing her to some of my favorites from my childhood, it seemed like a good idea to revisit Vegetable Stamp Printing/Painting with a fresh perspective.

Since drawing is still challenging for the not-yet-five year old, she asks for my help to sketch the scene/object for her to work on... the left-brain still dominates so I just use symbols for drawing rather than the vibrant and detailed right-brained perspective some artists have managed to hone... but works fine for simple sketches for Ana to run with.

Anyway, this time, we wanted to work on one object up-close and one scene/landscape using the vegetable stamp painting. I went with the sturdy old tortoise for the up-close object as it lent itself well for the okra I wanted her to try.

Incidentally, I've always had this pet peeve about using the word "turtle" to mean usually-above-water "tortoise"... even though biologists refer to all chelonians as "turtles" - be it tortoises, turtles, or terrapins. For some reason, flat-shelled, underwater, fin-or-webbed-feet creatures are turtles, not to be interchanged with on-land, hard-scaly-feet, rounder-shelled tortoises, in my compartmentalized mind. It is only semantics, I understand, and am only nitpicking...

Items Used: cut vegetables like okra, potatoes, romaine lettuce bottom, tempera paints, cardstock paper, black marker.

kids art vegetable painting with okra and potato

I sketched a tortoise and gave her some cut okra and potato pieces and some paints. After she was done printing to her satisfaction, and adding any additional touches, with her permission, I went over the outline with a black marker to define the image.

In these sessions, anything is fair game for exploring as a "paintbrush" or "stamp" - vegetables, chopsticks, forks, butter knives, cotton balls, toothpicks, cheerios, even shredded wheat crackers - whatever is handy and comes to mind for representing a pattern or scene.

The bottom part of lettuce and other greens (even onions) make such a beautiful pattern that I had to suggest creating a flower garden scene with one. Chopsticks dipped in paint made the stems; okra loaded with paint dragged across the paper became the grassy meadow; pieces of shredded wheat cracker made the dragonfly wings.

It doesn't usually turn out to be a single painting to be worked on from start to finish, and then be done with it. Quite a few junk mail papers, envelopes, and Appa's note papers get stamped and painted on...

And sometimes, depending on her energy level and inspiration, we save it for later and add some touches till she feels she is done with it and asks me to put it in the drying rack.

Since we don't have any set schedule for art explorations or craft activities, we are guided only by our moods and timing. On some weeks we feel inspired and do a lot, then sit back and focus on other things for a while.

And, as she grows older, with her school life taking over most of her time, I am sure these sessions will become fewer... but, she would probably get inspired to express herself more on her own, leaving me to focus on my personal interests and goals.

By 6 or 7, I am sure she will be able to define her own design/theme/drawing to paint. For now, being not-yet-five, I am sure the finer details and the overall aesthetics are only secondary to simple exploration in her mind. And that is just fine.

Meanwhile, I am grateful for such occasional afternoons well spent. And hopefully she will remember it fondly some day...



At 1:29 PM, Anonymous utbtkids said...

Sheela, Martha has great ideas to make patterns on veggies. She suggests pressing a cookie mold in to the potato and the carve arnd the mold thus creating a design. Chk out, sure she has great tips.

At 2:07 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

Thanks, utbtkids! Yeah, I am not squeamish at all about admitting how much I consult Martha Stewart for craft ideas, gardening, interior decor, even recipes :)

(btw, it is the 'carving around' part that gets me - I even dedicated an Xacto knife for this purpose a while back, saving the other one for paper crafts...)

Martha makes everything look so easy and effortless!


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