Books We Are Using This Year
  • The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    by Jeff West,S. Wise Bauer,Jeff (ILT) West, Susan Wise Bauer
  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    by Bernard J Nebel PhD
  • Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    by Steven P. Demme
  • First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    by -Author-
  • SPELLING WORKOUT LEVEL E PUPIL EDITION
    SPELLING WORKOUT LEVEL E PUPIL EDITION
    by MODERN CURRICULUM PRESS
  • Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    by Mona Brookes
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Entries in Painting (6)

Saturday
Mar052011

Africa exploration art

We spent a lot of time exploring Africa this week. Between atlases, dedicated books, BBC and National Geographic videos, and the help of YouTube, we've been to a number of places. Calvin was the instigator of this foray, and his interests led us from Victoria Falls (between Zambia and Zimbabwe, he'll tell you) through the savanna on up to Mt. Kenya and the Great Rift Valley. We learned a lot about the animals and a bit about the land. It never fails to amaze me how much information a little guy can swallow up while still being hungry for more.

It is Saturday, meaning it's Artist day at Ordinary Life Magic, and because we explored Africa with our pencils, crayons and paint at hand, Calvin has a lot to share this week.

We started with the biomes, and exploration pictures of each one.

Then it was elephants. That's who he wanted to see a lot of on his trip through Africa, so he drew an awful lot of them.

Then giraffes, and lions, too.

We listened to music and enjoyed colors and clothing and ornaments traditional to a number of south and east African populations, and we really enjoyed reading a number of different African folk tales, or Anansi stories. This is really where our week began, since it was our trip to a play of African folk tales last Friday that launched our recent safari. An Anansi book we got from the library had torn and cut paper art illustrations, so we tried that, too.

I think this was my favorite art "moment" from the week, though. Early on Calvin requested a return of the paints and the week long painting project. I am very glad that our first experiment with that went well enough to elicit a requested return. He spent the week working out a landscape painting of the savanna. With an elephant, of course.

There are still many more projects up our sleeves, and because we're having such a great time with Africa I think we'll decide to skip the flight home and spend another few days, maybe a week...maybe more. I'd like to make African masks, and Calvin want to learn more about Egypt. Maybe we'll make pyramids. With rain, sleet, and snow outside right now, the the rainforest is also pretty appealing.

More posts on our African "travels" can be found in the journal.

Monday
Feb212011

Week-long painting project

We spent all of this past week eating either at our kitchen counter or on the coffee table in the sitting room. Our dining table, far from missing us, has been strewn with painting supplies and projects. We started the week-long process after Calvin expressed interest in the layered look of the art in his book Train Song, by Diane Siebert. All we had on hand to work with was the washable poster paint we've been playing with for years, so no oil paints for this one, but we got out our supplies and covered the table with the wipe-able heat-resistant cover I usually put under the table cloth when we have company. I was worried that our usual art paper wouldn't hold up to so many layers so I cut two sides off a cardboard shipping box, one for each of us, and we sat down to start.

Calvin loved being able to sit down and add something to his art whenever it suited him, and I loved that he spent a week in planning and creating towards one goal.

 We visited our paintings at least once each day the whole week long, even if sometimes just for a few minutes to fix little things. I expected them to be done by Saturday but we had a few finishing touches that we added just this morning, and now we are done. Calvin put more into his than I put into mine, and there were a couple of times that I probably should have let the dishes or the laundry go in order to join him in painting.

It's fun now to look and see bits of the whole week in our paintings, which started as night scenes when we were reading Susan Jeffers's illustrated version of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, were continued with foot prints after we hiked in the field with Crinkleroot, and gained some clouds, and even a little rain in Calvin's case, after yesterday's inclement weather. I enjoy the similarities between our images (both of us included owls like the ones in Jeffers's book) but love even more the differences (Calvin's is flying toward the viewer and is much closer, and he's got such a great house).

This morning, after adding some clouds, we both initialled our work to make it final. Tonight we will eat at our dining table again, but we'll do this again some time, probably sooner rather than later. I kind of liked eating picnic style in the sitting room with a fire lit anyhow.

I am linking this to Saturday's Artist at Ordinary Life Magic. It's a couple of days late, but art just can't be rushed.

Wednesday
Feb162011

Poetry and painting

We've spent a lot of this week hanging out with Robert Frost. We like Robert Frost, especially Calvin, and being winter it seemed appropriate to spend some time with Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening as illustrated by Susan Jeffers. It has us writing our own poems, and illustrating some New England-esque winter scenes.

Calvin's own

A joint effort (alternating lines)

It's a week long painting project. We're trying our hands at long term planning—painting the background first, letting it dry, adding some scenery details, letting that dry. Dinners at the dining room table are on hold for a while.

Wednesday
Feb242010

Crafty Monday (on Wednesday)—kid-made wrapping paper

Monday it snowed. And snowed, and snowed, and snowed. So while we had every intention of spending Monday painting paper (with which to wrap a gift that I finally finished over the weekend, only one week later than its "due" date), we spent a lot of Monday outside in the warm, wet snow. Since that was the craft Calvin desperately wanted to showcase this week, I decided to make Wednesday crafty this week. I reserve that right.

Wrapping paper has been somewhat of a thorn in my side. I know it's not something a good environmentalist would use, but unwrapping a gift is so fun, especially for a kid. This is by no means my own solution to the problem, but something I've seen many, many times before, and when I suggested it to Calvin, he was ecstatic about making the paper to wrap the gift he had been watching me make. This is even double-sided wrapping paper—I always save Calvin's art paper (the ones we don't hang up) so we can use the other side as well, and we made the wrapping paper from some of this second use paper.

In Calvin's own words: "I wrote her name and I didn't want to color over her name, so I put a fence around it. And then there are all the muddy people and they won't walk on the flowers, they will be careful to walk around them. And [the girl with the big purple bandage on her hand] burned her finger at home, so she's going to the hospital."

Thursday
Jan212010

Bookbag craft

Here is another one of the homemade gifts we gave at Christmas—hand painted canvas book bags. A little clichéd, I know, but when I saw the bags on sale at Joann's I couldn't pass it up.

Supplies: Canvas bag (or apron, etc.), fabric paints, pipe cleaners, sponge shapes, brushes, and fabric pens/markers.

1. First we made our stamps. Depending on who is doing this craft you could simply paint right on the bags, but with my three year old helper I decided that shape stamping would work better and we made the necessary shapes out of pipe cleaners and sponges. For flower stems I twisted one pipe cleaner into the shape of two leaves, then wrapped them around another straight pipe cleaner. For the grass I cut a pipe cleaner down a bit, then folded it in half to make two short blades of grass. With both of the stem and the grass I folded up one tip to use as a handle. For the flower heads we used a heart shaped sponge, and for the center just a dab with a paint brush.

2. Once we'd made our shapes I poured the paints onto small dessert plates, one color to a plate, and we dabbed our shapes into the paint, using a brush to make sure they were well coated before applying them to the canvas. We ended up with quite a bit of color mixing, of course. I allowed the bags to dry overnight before painting the second side, which I decided should have Calvin's adorable little hand prints, and he decided should have a few more shapes as well.

3. I finished this craft by writing on the bags with fabric markers (after they'd dried over night again). Done.