Saturday, September 26, 2015

Go on an Art-n-Nature Element of Space Hike

This year, a friend asked me to renew the Art-n-Nature club initiative that I had put on pause last year while focusing on some other local homeschool group efforts.  Her wish was my inspiration. 

As of last month, I juggled my fall planning around a bit and began to weave an Art-n-Nature hiking series back into our homeschool adventures for the year with the intent of making it a once-monthly experience.

We kicked off our 2016-2016 Art-n-Nature series in August by exploring one of the elements of art and design that we had yet to study with friends:  Value.  Several families met together at a local state park where I led a brief lesson on the lightness and darkness of color.  Then, we witnessed how the concept of value plays into our experience of nature by joining in a ranger-led night hike as dusk became night. 

This month, our Art-n-Nature club wrapped up our first foray into each of the seven elements of art and design with an Element of Space exploration at a local conservation area.

Focusing on the Element of Space 

For our Element of Space exploration I chose a lovely little spot called Shifting Lots Preserve that only opens for parking as summer wanes.

As one might imagine, with no regular traffic throughout the late spring and summer months, the access road to the preserve was quite overgrown.  So, once everyone had braved the narrow, rutted single-lane path to park, we were all delighted to discover the balm of the beach just steps away.

Everyone happily deposited blankets and bags on the sand, and, then, I challenged all the children (and whichever grown ups wished to accompany them) to walk down the beach in search of interestingly-shaped objects that could be traced onto single sheets of paper.  

The children then returned to our gathering area with a bounty of shells, stones, driftwood and more.  I used their treasures, as well as the sea and sand all around us to review the basics of Line, Shape, Texture, Color, Value and Form.

From there, we began our mini-lesson on an aspect of Space.  That is, Negative Space vs. Positive Space

I put a shell on the sand and asked what shape its outline was.  We talked about how the color and texture of the shell in the sand made a positive image we could identify.

Then, I asked the children dig holes in the dirt.  After a few minutes, I suggested that they touch the sand that outlined their holes and asked them what shape it made. (Circles!) Then, I asked them to draw their hands from the sand to the inside of their circles without putting their hands down into the holes.  We talked about how there was nothing there.  Yet, we had a shape - a circle.  This is like negative space.

Once I was confident that the children had a basic understanding of positive and negative space, I explained our art exploration of the day, which was inspired by Kirsty Shadiac's Artventure youtube video:

I showed the children some samples my children and I had created and then directed them to trace one or more of their found objects
using oil pastels or to create their own freehand shape.  I asked them to do this on two different sheets of paper.

Then, I directed them to create lots of line-and-shape patterns using light, bright oil pastel colors on the inside the traced shaped on one of their sheets of paper and outside on the other.

Once the children were satisfied with their patterns, we used watercolors and ocean water in small cups to paint over the patterns in dark washes of color.  

I reminded the children before painting that it is best to gently pull the tip of the brush across their  rather than smashing it down onto their artwork or push the brush.  I also demonstrated how only a bit of color is needed and how to pull color from one part of the paper to another.

As the children finished  their art, we weighted the corners of their works down with rocks so the paint could dry.

Then, I chatted with the children a bit about land art, Andy Goldsworthy, Richard Shilling, and similar artists and explained that there is even a website dedicated to land art for kids.  I shared printouts of photographs of several land art pieces made on beaches by established artists amateurs and children, and, then, set the kids off to play or create as they desired.

Since I had scheduled the meet up for two hours only, some families had to depart soon after the kids' free play began.  Others, like mine, stayed for hours, creating land art...

... building structures...

... floating on river currents towards the sea...

... admiring wildlife...

It was a full, fantastic day of fun, friends, art, nature, sea, surf, and sunshine.

There was so much "work of childhood" (i.e. play!) happening.  It was beautiful!

Some of the mamas that went enjoyed creating their own works, too.

Please feel free to borrow any of the ideas we enjoyed for your own Art-n-Nature gatherings!

Notes About Supplies 

Our Art-n-Nature club is free and open to anyone in our local homeschool community who wishes to join us.  Thus, I try to keep supplies basic.

For our Space excursion, I suggested that everyone bring a
paper-size piece of cardboard, a clipboard or another hard surface for each artist in their family.  I also brought my own stock of showerboard "whiteboards" (showerboard that I have had cut down to smaller sizes) for those that may have forgotten their hard surfaces.

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I also brought a stock of the following supplies and asked families that had such supplies to do likewise so we could share:

Further, I suggested folks might consider bringing:

  • a lunch or snack to enjoy after the art was finished
  • hats
  • sunscreen
  • bug repellant
  •  swimwear
  • watershoes
  • a change of clothes
  • blankets and towels
  • wipes or tissues
  • a camera
  • nature journals
  • diapers for little ones
  • beach and water toys for after the art was finished 

Everyone brought - and shared - things as suggested and everything worked out beautifully!

Check Out Pics, Reports and Plans from Some of Our Other Art-n-Nature Experiences

We'd love to hear about your adventures with art and nature!  Feel free to comment with ideas and links.  Also, keep an eye out here for future Art-n-Nature reports.


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