Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Little Try at Oil Painting

Syd is a talented artist, so I try to offer the children a lot of hands-on art exploration during our school days. Some is intentional and cross-curricular, as when we studied the Berlin Wall and made graffiti, or draw the animals we study in biology, some of it is led by kid interests, as the way that we always come back to Sculpey and Perler beads, and some is me just tossing a particular tool at the kids and saying, "Here! Go!"

I think it was Matt who actually received this set of oil paints for Christmas some year or another--when Mammaw was alive, she sweetly gave him lots of art supplies every year because she knew that he's an artist--but Matt has never painted in oils, and so was as clueless as the rest of us about how one goes about it. Nevertheless, I like the kids to try new things, AND I like to not have years-old supplies just taking up space in my closet, completely unused, so I checked some books out of the library, hit up a couple of websites, and then one afternoon, just like that--

--they were oil painting! I'm dissatisfied that we only have one easel, but not so dissatisfied that I plan to buy another easel new from the store. Perhaps I'll build one, or perhaps one will magically appear at a garage sale near me soon.

I also remain dissatisfied in that the children didn't really come away with the understanding of the possibilities of oil painting. My own understanding is that it's great for blending and layering and under- and over-painting and whatever you call all that, but the kids mostly found those qualities of the paint that allow for those techniques to be messy and annoying. Syd, in particular, got infuriatingly frustrated with her cat. She wanted to be able to paint over a mistake, as she can do with acrylics, but unlike acrylics, which dry quickly to make that possible, the oil paints stayed wet forever and she couldn't work out how to keep them from getting muddy when she wanted to add a new layer of paint:

She kept at it, though, and eventually created two paintings that she's pleased with:

Will created something, too, but I can't find it, and I can't ask her because she's at day camp right now. Grr!

So I don't know about this one; the results are mixed. But that's the idea of a little taste, right? You test the waters, get some experience, and when you have at it again you'll know just that much more.

Here's the best online resource that I found for beginning oil painting with kids. When thinking about doing art with my kiddos, I like to look for blogs and websites created by art teachers who work with kids their ages.

The kids also really liked this book that I checked out for them from the library--

It's VERY kid-friendly, and has some nice techniques, and some projects to get them started if they don't know what they want to make.

If I had this lesson to do again, I'd also add in some art history and have us look at fine examples of oil paintings throughout history. I wonder if that, in particular, might have engaged Syd about the possibilities of oil painting. A visit to an art museum would be best, so that you can see all the details up close and personal!

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