I've been receiving tons of emails lately. I try to respond to them all, but if I haven't, it's probably because you asked a question that I thought could best be answered in a post.
Here are a few questions that I've received lately. Maybe my responses can drum up discussions that would be helpful to everyone.
From Jennifer H...
"As I look at your pictures they seem to be much brighter than what I am using and look so much better. Could you tell me what paint, paper, and brush you use for your tempera painting? I see that you use cake tempera sometimes, too."
I really don't use cake tempera. Cake watercolors, yes, but not tempera. I have them in my art room but they just gather dust. I tried them once or twice and even though they are extremely efficient, I don't feel the colors are as vibrant as liquid tempera. So that may answer one of your questions.
As for what type of paint, paper and brush we use in the art room, I really don't think the brand is important. It's more about how you use what you have, than what you have.
One tip I think might be helpful is to pre-mix the liquid tempera with the right amount of water before putting it onto your palette. Make sure to use a "well-type" palette (like my plastic muffin tins) so that the kids don't need to mix the paints on their own. Colors that are the right consistency (not too watered down) help with good coverage. It also helps to have sponges on the table so kids can dab their wet brushes.
If you are doing a tempera painting project on black construction paper, it's really important that the paint be thick (not too much water) and that the colors have a smidgen of white mixed in. This will give them the "pop" you desire.
Don't be afraid to mix your tempera colors. Let's face it, the standard colors are a bit severe. Add white to the yellow to soften it up; add orange to red to create a beautiful poppy. Basically, don't throw out your old paint bottles. Mix! Mix! Mix!
Good luck Jennifer!
And to formally answer your question, these are the exact brands I use:
White Drawing/painting paper: Tru-Ray Sulphite Paper
Paint: Crayola Brand in white, black, yellow, turquoise, black, red, blue, green and brown.
Brushes: No particular brand. Just the cheapest ones I can find!
From Page K in Monroe, LA...
"Our school system does not offer art at the elementary level. So, last year I started a volunteer art mom program at the school....the students really seem to enjoy our efforts....If you have any suggestions for us that regarding projects that would be good for our tight budget and also art shows, that would be great. Oh, and we do art in the cafeteria or in the classrooms as we do not have an art room."
I love how you initiated the art program in your school. That's pretty much how I began...teaching in my children's classroom, then volunteering to do art nights. I do have a few tips that might be helpful:
If you are teaching in a cafeteria or place that doesn't have water, buy two large buckets. Fill one with water and leave the other empty. As kids need clean water for their painting projects, dip a small container in the clean bucket and dump dirty water in the other bucket. This works really well and allows children to be self-sufficient.
Here are a few projects that don't require much in the way of fancy supplies but are dynamic and fun:
Drawing/Painting: Trucks and Tractors Turtles Pig Cow Joan Miro Flowers
Collage: City at Night Aliens
Drawing/Painting: Overlapping Bird Expressive Painting Hot Air Balloon Name Art Matisse Portraits Wild hair Line Drawing
From Jessica C
"Our standards state that the students have to make a sculpture. Do you have any suggestions for cheap/free alternatives to clay?"
I get this question a lot. The truth is, clay is very inexpensive. At around $20 for a 50-lb slab, the clay is actually the cheapest component of ceramics. I can easily get 40-50 kids to create a project with 50 lbs of clay. The pieces don't need to be large. The problem is the underglazes, but let's face it, you need to practice frugality with these paints (saving unused portions, etc).
Here's an option for those of you who have access to a kiln. Fire once and paint the project with acrylic paint. Basically skip the undergalze/glaze step altogether.
If you don't have a kiln, the option is to use air dry clay but honestly, I have never used it.
As for recycled scraps projects, the ideas are endless. Collect paper towel tubes, lunch bags and box board to create "Katrina Dolls". Or use empty boxes (cereal, toothpaste, pasta) to create a skyscraper collage. I did this with my kinders a few years back but never took pictures. Basically, paint boxes with gesso, paste onto tag board and create a 3-d skyscraper skyline. Kids can paint buildings, add stickers, decorate windows, etc.
Have you tried the standard balloon and paper machier lesson? Create jelly fish, earth, a mask, etc with this classic technique.
Anyone else have suggestions for these ladies? Please chime in!
Question Mark art by Anne Rosenvald