We’ve been trying to keep things light and simple around here lately. Life and schedules can quickly get complicated. I am guilty of being seduced by exiting plans/activities that make our days as thick as the very best peanut butter. Like the very best peanut butter, which is delicious, if you eat too much, too rich. Days become so tight, we lose free flow time. When this happens, we all get restless. There has to be a balance, and right now, for us, that means picking our most important activities and keeping time for chilling as a family.
One way we’ve been keeping it simple is by choosing basic, open-ended activities, where there is no specific outcome, the activity unfolds as we go…a hike, a snowy hill, some dirt, paint etc. We like finger paint. We put out all the pots of color. The kids empty them with their fingers one by one, and smear the colors on paper, blending, scraping and filling the space.
The pots are empty now. We hope to mix up a batch of homemade finger paint.
Little J goes to Kindergarden full time this year, and we miss him terribly. We had him signed up for karate that met 2-3 times a week and swim lessons. This didn’t seem like much compared to my friends and their families, but it was too much for us. We sometimes, take care of other kids, I work 3 evenings a week and some Saturdays. We also try to fit in exercise, date nights and managing the house…laundry, cooking, cleaning. All this combined made us feel like we were in fast forward and increasingly estranged from one another. So, we dropped karate, I’m being careful to not over schedule us with extra kids and unfortunately, the blog has taken a hit. Stepping away from the computer during family time has been a great thing for us.
When I started blogging, I had 2 small children all day. They napped, I blogged. It was a creative outlet, a way to socialize, but now, I need to carve time out of my day to make it happen. I can’t always afford the time, especially when it involves keeping up with and learning a technology, managing its quirks. Sometimes, instead, I choose to run or take a yoga class or have a sit on the couch with my hubby, or joining my kids in their play without a camera or a bloggy agenda.
For now, my posts will be sporadic.
We’re still having lots of fun making messes and will share when it’s a good one.
Comment if you can relate.
Jena @ HappyLittleMesses
Know your child, if you use a hot spice with a child that likes explore things with their mouth, use a spice that more benign.
An easel with paper and prompt waiting in the driveway is a nice cool down for after school. Painting in general is soothing and sensory-rich and open-ended. We add a twist this time by selecting a seldom used spice from the pantry and setting it beside the paint.
The spice painting idea is all over the mama blogernet and pinterest, and for good reason. The kids spend a solid hour mixing spicy cayenne potions of brown and red paint, mixing the spice into the paint container, pouring it over the drying paint on the paper and layering colors and textures.
Our original inspiration for this came from merrymomdays’ Instagram photo of a lovely little blond lass, working with spice paint on the kitchen floor. I am instantly inthralled and ask how to make spice paint. Then, I did a search on pinterest, because merrymom said that’s where she saw the idea originally. Here are some other blogs that have explored with paint and spice.
After our visit to the Worcester Art Museum we are inspired by Charline von Heyl’s The Wall at WAM and by Ellsworth Kelly’s Orange White. We are most influenced by the simple shapes and bright colors.
I make prints of Ellsworth Kelly’s Orange White and offer them to the the kids as a provocation with the DIY liquid watercolors we made together.
Little J and a friend, both 5 years old, start by tracing the shapes with color. Then, they fill in the shapes with marks, followed by filling in the rest of the spaces. Little K, 3 years old, thinks, “screw this, I’m gonna dump this glass of black liquid watercolor over the paper and see what happens.” He asks me for another paper. His marks are done only with red paint, his favorite color.
Finished art inspired by art.
Epilogue: After I put down the camera and turn my back to clean dishes at the sink, the kids find syringe-type medicine dispensers and use them add more liquid watercolor to the papers. The images dry pale and look like a tie dye sunset.
We take all the markers in the house, fat ones, skinny ones, permanent and washable, smelly ones and very expensive art store markers. One by one, we test each marker on paper to see if the ink is dry. We make 2 piles of markers: the ones that still work and the ones that are dry. We have about 30 dry markers when we’re done.
We categorize the markers into 5 color families. Each family goes into a glass of water, upside down without the cap. We leave the markers steeping in water for a full 24 hours.
Voila, free liquid watercolors. For a more thorough tutorial, see finding my marbles.
Warning: permanent markers, make permanent paint. Use caution if you want to keep your skin and clothes from getting stained.
We bring our sketchpads with us to the museum. The boys think of these books as investigation journals, thanks Sid the Science Kid.
Me: “When you find something that really interests you, we’ll sit down and draw it.” Sketchbooks are great for documenting what you see. You can write your ideas in words or draw what you see.
The Late 20th Century Gallery is where we spent most of our time.
We see a Kandinsky, we study the Black Garden Wall by Louise Nevelson, and we talk about what the kids call the “black square,” Plato’s Cave by Robert Motherwell. Plato’s cave brings up the most interesting discussion.
“What do you see.”
“A black square.”
“Is this art?”
“No. Yes.” (I can see they’re not really sure of this question.)
“What else do you see?”
“I think something is hiding in there.”
“What would be hiding in blackness.”
I read the plaque on the wall next to the art work and this is what we learn: Robert Motherwell was known as an intellectual and an artist, whose task he thought was to reveal the contents of the unconscious mind. Plato’s Cave gives us the experience of light and air, meditation and mimic’s the play of shadows on the wall of a cave.
artist, Nam June Paik, worked named, “Robert Goddard”
Nam was a composer, performer and artist, the inventor of video art. In this piece Nam pays homage to Robert Goddard, technological ancestor, and his invention of the liquid fueled rocket.
We spend the most time in front of the piece. There is no question why…there are blinking lights, televisions flashing colorful images…the boys are drawn in. Little J and Little K have a seat in front of this piece and choose to draw.
The kids have been so busy and invested in their face painting this summer.
We have a designated mirror that comes out of the garage and lays on the curb of the driveway so the kids can watch themselves change their faces with color.
It’s only natural that eventually, someone thinks to paint the mirror. I quickly set the face paint aside and gather up the little bottles of tempera we received as a birthday gift in June. I put a brush in each container to keep from muddling the colors by accident. The kids fill the whole mirror with swirling, mixing colors with paintbrushes and hands, while a friend is still trying to paint her face.
They mirror painters leave a little corner of mirror clear for our friend.
We use up all the paint. We print painted swirls and scrapes on paper when our friend is finished with her face.
The next day, I set out the now dry painted mirror and 2 scraping sticks from a scratch paper book.
“I see the sky and the trees. It’s like I’m cutting out the glass.”
It’s great to discover the magic of subtractive media.
Then we have a grand series of thunder storms, and all the paint is washed off the mirror.
Time to start all over again.
After a busy morning at our first day of summer camp ever, we go home and relax with mirror and face paint. When I say relax, for the kids, that means, freedom to move and an open ended project where they get to determine the beginning, middle and end.
The face crayons only cost $3 at iParty. It’s a perfect way to spend the afternoon. Little K has been very interested in my make up and the face paint is a perfect solution. I don’t have to be afraid he’ll use up or spill all my eyeshadow or lip gloss.
I set up a long mirror, that I found at the recycle center, tilted against the curb of the driveway so they apply the paint and see themselves.
They apply, play, apply more, play. The transformation is clear.
Art Playgroup + Paper Masks = Perfect.
colored pencil to mark the outline of the mask
ribbon, string or yard to tie on mask
art materials to decorate the mask
1. You can lay out stencil for mask with paper to have kids trace
or have kids draw their own stencil of a mask
or, trace or draw the shape on the paper beforehand.
2. Have the kids try to cut out the mask.
3. Decorate the mask with art materials. We used metallic paint and markers.
4. Punch holes
5. Size the child’s head and tie on ribbon, string or yarn to fit
If you don’t want to gather the materials for this project on your own, buy the super hero package kit from Kiwi Crate.
This special gift crate includes all the materials and instructions for 3 themed projects:
1) design and create a cape;
2) create a special flying ball for a game of comet catch;
3) create a space hero mask.
Maria and I host an Art Playgroup this afternoon.
For four years, this being the beginning of the 4th, MOMS have organized an art playgroup as a summer camp. Two MOMS team up to host, provide snack, share art materials and an artsy idea. We meet once a week. Last year, I offered a paper pulp project. It was truly a HappyLittleMess!
This year for my turn, my partner in crime, Maria, and I agree to freeze tempera paint “to beat the heat,” and because this will most likely be a first experience with frozen color for the kids which makes it extra fun and adventurous.
I prep by adding a mixture of water and tempera paint, (following some quick and easy instructions from Hands On: As We Grow,) to some silicon trays shaped like stars and hearts. I give them about 6 hours to set in the freezer. I did not add sticks as originally planned because the shapes of the silicon stars are too small to support a pop stick.
There is a pile of small canvases to pass out, handed down to me from Big K’s Nana F. Maria covers the driveway with strips of paper to clearly mark our work space, and we lay the canvas in rows. We also offer paintbrushes to manipulate color as the cubes melt.
The kids range in age from 15 months – 8 years. Everyone seems very involved and inspired by the materials.
When everyone is present, we put the ice cubes in little paper cups and begin by asking the kids to choose their favorite color.
Some kids use their hands with ice, some kids prefer not to touch and choose the paintbrush.
Colors melt and mix and the kids get to bring their canvas home.
The local MOMS Club is at it again this summer, hosting an Arts and Crafts Camp every week. Two moms host, come up with a project and provide snack together. Today was the first week of Arts and Crafts Camp. Little J, Little K and I make some Handprint American Flags inspired by and originally posted by Muffin Tin Mom.
It is a simple craft, geared towards any age, friendly to the “creative interpretations” kids like to put on craft instructions, and it’s perfect for this time of year in the U.S. when the fireworks and celebrations of independence commence. We will be going to a friends’ party this weekend, and we plan on waving our little handprint American flags.
Little J did not want to paint his hand, so he painted mine and we printing the flag with my fingers and palm. He enjoyed painting the popsicle stick the best. Little K did not want to paint his hand either, so just applied the red, white and blue paint to the flag. He enjoyed the star stickers the most.
Supplies on the Table:
red, white and blue paint
blue construction paper, cut to 4 by 5 inches
small star stickers
thin ribbon in red, white, or blue
Paint the palm or have the child paint their own hand blue and the fingers red and white alternately.
Place the child’s hand, palm and fingers down, onto the construction paper and let dry.
Apply mini star stickers to the palm area.
Apply glue to the top half of the popsicle stick and paste to the flag
Punch a hole in the upper left corner of the flag.
String whatever combo of the thin ribbon you wish.
Tie the ribbon off and you are ready to celebrate!