Monday, April 18, 2016

Explore the Principle of Balance with Land Art {An Art-n-Nature Experience}

The other day when I posted about our last Art-n-Nature club hike, I  realized that I have yet to report about our late fall Art-n-Nature experiences.  So, today, I am flashing back to November to tell you about the beautiful day we enjoyed with friends while focusing on the principle of balance.

Just one other family was able to make our balance hike, but, lucky for us, they are a fellow Catholic family, so we were able to meet for Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of LaSalette before heading to the nearby Attleboro Springs Wildlife Sanctuary for our hike.

The Plan

Once at Attleboro Springs, we headed out on the Reflection Trail and began our Art-n-Nature experience, which was aimed to focus on reviewing:

  • line (a series of points drawn all together - straight, jagged, curvy, etc.),
  • color (particularly warm colors, primary colors, and the making of the secondary color orange and the tertiary color brown),
  • and shape (a closed line).

This review was layered into an introduction of the principle of balance, and, in particular of asymmetric, symmetric or radial balance.

Our projects were a free exploration of color mixing with different art media, Tri-Color Lead Symmetry, and Colored Leaf Land Art.

Our Supplies

{Disclaimer:  Some of the links which follow are affiliate ones.  Should you click through them and make a purchase, we may receive compensation at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for supporting the homeschooling endeavors we share with you.)

In addition to our usual nature walk and picnic supplies, for this excursion we also brought:

  • recycled plastic shopping bags for leaf collecting
  • paper
  • tape or glue for affixing leaves
  • scissors
  • pencils
  • Sharpies
  • coloring media in red, yellow and blue that could blend, such as oil pastels, soft pastels, watercolor crayons (and a brush and water cups to use with that)

Discovering Balance

To fuel up for our fun at Attleboro Springs we sat down for a shared picnic, during which we reviewed the elements of line, color, and shape.  Then, each child chose a color of leaf to collect while we walked the trail.

As we walked the trail, the children collected fallen leaves.  We also enjoyed a portion of the walk with our eyes closed, using the rope meant for blind hikers to guide us so we could experience the walk in a new way...

And, of course, we paused to note different natural points of interest along the trail...

...including spotting some enormous tadpoles!

 Once we had arrived a favorite pudding stone boulder...

 ... and had scaled it...

...we all sat down to explore color mixing using
oil pastels, soft pastels, and watercolor crayons

Our goal was to create shades of the secondary color orange and the tertiary color brown.


The children mixed and mixed colors, trying to figure out which ones made the best browns.

The results were interesting and beautiful in their own way.

Our first air exploration over, we got sidetracked with some off-trail play and exploration when the children noticed a tree that reminded them of a catapult as we went over to explore where an old foundation had been taken back by nature.

silly me rose to a challenge.

Skirt, rainboots (for puddles that did not end up being there) and all, I scaled a tree.

I had recently turned 45, but, I was still able to climb (or shimmy?) up a tree.  Yep, I was feeling a bit old, but very much alive!

A few laughs later, we were back on the trail, collecting colored leaves and enjoying the natural beauty of the spot.

When we came to a field, the kids ran off to play a bit of hide-and-seek while I laid down blankets and got materials out for our Tri-Color Leaf Symmetry project.

After a bit, we called all the children to the blanket, and while Daddy took an overdue snooze earned by rallying to hike with us after a long work shift, I chatted with the children about the principle of balance, discussing the words asymmetric, symmetric, and radial with the help of collected leaves.  

Once I was confident that the children held a basic understanding of these concepts, each child chose an asymmetric leaf to cut in half and, then, affixed it to paper.  Their challenge was then to draw a symmetric side to each leaf and, then, to use only two warm colors to fill in their drawn halves of each leaf.

Some of the children got more into this project than others, and some changed the parameters of the project a bit. 

As they worked, I suggested that, when they got home, they cut out their 1/2 real - 1/2 drawn leaves and affix them to cool colored paper so their artwork would really pop.  In the meantime, the children worked away, creating their own symmetric leaves.

Some of the children spontaneously explored how to use oil pastels and watercolor crayons to make leaves.

And some played around with creating symmetric shapes in different colors.

Then, when the children finished their Symmetry projects, some of them helped me make some land art using their collected leaves.  It was a bit breezy, though, so creating our Colored Leaf Land Art was not as easy or as engaging as I had hoped it would be.  Still, we were able to manage one piece of autumn beauty art which my friend told me our art actually stayed mostly in place for at least another week.

In Summary

On the nature side of things, we:

  • talked about frogs
  • spotted huge tadpoles
  • noticed foundation rocks being taken over by nature again
  • observed (and climbed on!) pudding stone
  • noticed the colors of leaves
  • chatted about vernal pools

...and more.

For art, we:

  • collected color families of leaves in bags
  • spent some time exploring warm colors and color mixing using different media (oil pastels, soft pastels, water color crayons, water color pencils)
  • experimented with how to make brown from primary colors
  • made warm-palette Colored Leaf Symmetry works which we later mount on cool colored backgrounds
  • worked on some landart, using radial balance

...and took note of the beauty created for us by God.

For extra fun, the children also:

  • played around with sticks
  • enjoyed a game hide-n-seek in a meadow
  • and chatted along the trails.

The weather was perfect; the company was fabulous; and the memories of our Balance-Focused excursion are warm ones!

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

I plan to catch up with reporting on other fall excursions from or renewed Art-n-Nature initiative as I can, as well as to plan, enjoy, and report on four final excursions for this year. As always, I would love YOUR suggestions for Spring and Summer art projects that can be enjoyed outdoors ad well as to hear about what adventures you've been on that we may have inspired.  Please leave links and ideas in a comment or at the Training Happy Hearts Facebook page.  Thank you!


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