School is starting soon for elementary kids, which brings an end to my summer season of teaching art camps. Each camp is a week long. I did four weeks of Cook n Art camp, and one week of Comprehensive Painting, along with assisting at some drama camps earlier in the summer. I documented most of the projects we did, which I will showcase in this post. It took some creativity planning these projects. The first week of Cook n Art involved a circus theme:
We made a circus train, clown portraits, pretend cotton candy, trapeze artists and I showed them a flea circus that I created from a shoebox. I supplied mini black pom-poms for pretend fleas, which the kids enjoyed playing with. During breaks outside, we put on pretend circus acts. My favorite project was making accordion books and circus poems to go inside them. We did random word poems, so I wrote down all kinds of words that could be associated with the circus and put them as slips into a paper bag. It was the kids’ job to string these random words together into a poem. Children are so good are poetry… I was astounded by the results!
Next week was pirate week. All of my projects revolved around the campers creating their own pirate persona. I gave them all a pirate name on the first day, which was randomly generated from lists–names like Fish Lips Sue and Gold Queen Tess and Black Eye Bill. They collaged pictures of their pirate alter ego, made treasure chests from tea boxes, painted pictures of their island hide-outs, and created mer-creatures out of swimsuit scraps. And of course, everyone had a wanted poster for their pirate self!
We wrote pirate limericks and had great fun playing Captain’s Calling. But the very best project had to be the pirate ships. At a teacher supply store, I found these cardboard boxes used for filing folders. With a little modification and the addition of a deck and mast, each kid got their own model ship to paint and embellish. I used it as an opportunity to teach them the parts of ships and what different pirate flags mean. Each ship came out different. One boy wrapped green yarn around his to look like seamuck, because it was a sunken ghost ship. They had really great names like “The Blue Carrot” and “The Black Bounty.”
For two weeks, we did the theme of Fun with Food. All of the art projects were celebrating food. The first week, I had them make trick-of-the-eye projects, which looked convincingly real at times. Luckily no one ate any of our fake food projects! We made a baker’s tray, a taco platter complete with Spanish rice and re-fried beans, pizza and spaghetti, and my favorite: sushi.The sushi was created from recycled packing materials, and the bento boxes one housed cupcake decoration kits.
The next week, we made more projects that were 2D, although we did some very realistic breakfast skillets with salt clay eggs and pancakes. We designed our own cereal boxes, giant sandwich drawings, and ice cream sundae collages. But what came out very beautifully was our fruit baskets. Speaking of which, we played the game Fruit Basket, which the kids couldn’t get enough of!
My Comprehensive Painting class was a little different. It was for ages 8-14, while Cook n Art was ages 5-9. I taught a different medium each day. Oils was first, which I taught with water miscible paints… didn’t want to trouble the kids with volatile solvents! They painted a still life of basic geometric forms. The next day we did watercolor plein air paintings outside, which the students really enjoyed. For acrylics, we painted sushi and focused on shapes. I just love art projects about sushi.
It’s my belief that children are really, really good at abstract paintings, just like they are good at poetry. I had them paint a variety of shapes using the primary colors, with accents and black and white… and what amazing variety this produced!
I promised the students that we would do a painting of a fantastical nature, because I’m kind of a fantasy artist by trade. There were some Hobbit fans among the class, so I read a description of Smaug and had them all paint their own visions of the famous dragon. These turned out fantastic, and the young painters were really absorbed. Things got really exciting when I brought out the metallic and glitter paint!
It was a great summer. Teaching art to kids really helped to refresh my own understanding of this pursuit.