Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Creature Creations Class: Weeks 1 - 4

One happy customer at the beginning of the Fall 2011 art class.

I documented LC's art in the Creature Creations class at Brooklyn Design Lab, for 2-4 year olds. Classes are rotated and new ones are offered to keep kids engaged, so it may be some time before this one is offered again. Amy Yang is the founder of the school, as well as the awesome teacher who taught the class. The class was a combination of science (a different live creature brought in each week for kids to observe, discuss and sometimes touch) and art (the small animal's appearance or behavior used as inspiration for 2-D or 3-D works).

Week 1 - Fire Belly Newt (Red-bellied Newt). They were swimming in a tank and hanging out on a rock. They are amphibians, with legs and lungs. LC thought "it's a lizard." Pretty close, since the baby newt will grow up to have a lizard-like body. It had legs already and the gills were replaced by air-breathing lungs. LC enjoyed making a design on paper resembling the newt's belly - medium-sized, pinkish-red dots, made by dipping pom-poms into paint, and then little black dots in the center of the bigger dots, made with q-tips.

Week 2 - Amy asked the kids to guess what animal she brought in this week...and LC guessed an elephant, haha. With the big reveal of the tank, we saw a bunch of mealworms (larva), pupas and Darkling Beetles (eating a potato apple). The different stages of the same animal during its life cycle...egg to larva to pupa to beetle. Very cool that the kids learned about metamorphosis. Amy picked up the creatures and let them crawl on her hand and asked the kids if they wanted to touch them. (Of course, LC did.) Then, she gave each child 1 mealworm on a plate (YUM!) and put a large magnifying loupe over each plate. LC enjoyed watching her mealworm wriggle and kind of stand to salute her. LC named her mealworm "Petek" (lucky me!) and begged to take it home and make it her pet (we didn't, though Amy informed us they are easy to care for...they don't even need water, just the apple and some chip-like bedding that needs to be changed weekly). I told LC the mealworm has to stay in the tank to remain with its friends and go back to the teacher's home, so her two kids don't miss them.

Art materials: paper, oil pastels (colors of the mealworm - yellow, olive, brown, orange...a beautiful color palette). Amy taught the kids how to make a series of short lines, dots and waves and they drew for a bit, then Amy brought out paint brushes and watercolor liquid (basically watercolor paint pre-mixed with water in a bottle) and let them paint yellow over the picture. LC said she made a picture of a building, then she said it's Elmo's World...then she said it is a lake. She was quite proud when she saw it in the school window the next week and she is pointing to her work.

Week 3 - We saw a blue Betta fish from Japan...in a cool, round fish bowl/tank. "It swim like a snake," a boy said. Then a girl said "I swim like a person"(best line ever!) and LC added "I swim like a turtle."

Art materials: blue Tempera Paint, rubber fish replicas, rice paper. The thrill of Japanese fish printing! Gyotaku (gyo=fish, taku=rubbing) dates back to the mid-19th century, nature printing by fishermen who wanted to record their catches. As a form of art, this is simple and so much fun...1) we chose the rubber fish replicas we wanted to work with, 2) placed them on the table, 3) used a wide foam brush to brush the blue paint on one side of the model, 4) carefully placed the rice paper on top of the paint-covered fish, 5) pressed down gently with our hands to rub the paint onto the paper, without moving the paper too much (there's an image of the fish printed now on the rice paper and we start over again with another fish).

Then the following week, we added a bit of Sakura Cray-Pas Junior Artist oil pastels to the paper. LC standing near her displayed Angelfish print:

My fish print, I love the bulging eyes and fish mouth:

Week 4 - Each kid got a worm on a plate with a 5x magnifying loupe placed over it. After studying the worm...materials given for art: pieces of red yarn, black paper, glue and a brush. Kids could shape the red yarn however they liked, based on worm observations, brush glue on the paper and place yarn shapes on the black paper.