Thursday, March 6, 2014

Drawing, Painting and Design at Family Learning Program

This week the artists of Drawing, Painting and Design (ages 5-8) launched an acrylic painting project using templates and under-drawings, while expanding our study of color schemes and a comparison of art with design.

When leading each unique gathering of learners with a wide range of strengths, challenges and interests, I want to allow them to build on their existing skills while introducing a rich variety of concepts, tools and active learning experiences.

Watercolors and acrylic paints share many properties, both being water soluble. Among their differences, though, watercolors are much more translucent, and we have tried painting with both pan and liquid watercolors to discover how each behaves.

Our first mixed media experience blended charcoal drawing, glue transfer, cut paper and ink, with a little surprise at the end of class (red liquid watercolor!). 

The glue transfer is an invention to avoid using toxic fixative spray on our charcoal drawings. It seems to work pretty well! The students roll a layer of glue onto a large sheet of watercolor paper and glue the charcoal drawing face up. Next, they roll a layer of glue over a sheet of waxed paper and press the glue over the drawing. Once the wax paper is peeled away, it leaves a thin coating of glue, keeping the charcoal in place. 

Have you local folks been out to Seattle Art Museum to see the playful painting and sculpture of Joan Mir├│? I think some of my students have a similar sensibility! His art is visiting us all the way from a museum in Madrid, Spain. 

When putting together lesson plans, I often think of a talk called "How art, design and technology inform creative leaders", given by John Maeda, former president of the Rhode Island School of Design. (You can find it on 

Maeda tells us that art asks difficult questions, often with no clear answers, while design solves problems. The two often overlap and inform each other in surprising ways! 

I'll leave you with these ink nib drawings, showing a fun array of line, contrast, pattern, shadow and light.