Natalie's Special Sunday: Paint With It All; Big and Small!
Recently one of the Art Studio’s Summer Interns, Natalie Richards, designed a Special Sunday project for museum guests. She planned the event, sorted and prepared the materials, and introduced visitors to the project throughout the day. The following is her description of the day.
This Special Sunday project idea was inspired by my experiences in the Art Studio as a summer intern. While completing prep work several weeks before, I noticed that tubes of paint I had emptied and thrown away into a trash barrel created interesting designs and splatters on the walls of the can, and initially I wanted to involve movement in my Special Sunday project. Eventually, once I experimented with more paint and supplies in the Art Studio during a new Every Day Art Project, and learned the theme of my scheduled Sunday would be scale, the idea morphed into painting with unusual or nontraditional painting tools of different sizes. Eric Carle’s murals of red, blue, green, and yellow in the Great Hall inspired the colors and textures of the project!
We began preparations by scouring the basement for unlikely painting materials that would provide guests with different textures and interesting designs. Once we found and settled on our materials, we began to cut them down to scale for the “small” portion of the project and prepared goodie bags for each guest that would participate. 2”x3” squares of bubble wrap, assorted foam shapes, a glue stick cap, two Q-tips, one small doily, and a small circular cardboard roll were included in each goodie bag. On the tables, we put out baskets of matchbox cars, turkey basters, and watercolor brushes for guests to use, as well.
Outside, we set up the “big” portion of the project by providing larger versions of the tools indoors for guests to use to make a collaborative project! Long brushes and cardboard tubes, large toy cars from the sandbox, a broom, and larger cuts of bubble wrap squares and assorted foam shapes were made available to paint with.
Next, we prepared the paint for the project. We mixed bottles of red, blue, green, and yellow (the same colors as Carle’s murals) tempera paint and water prior to the scheduled Sunday. Watering down the paint allowed us to conserve materials, as well as give guests thinner paint to work and play with. As guests entered the Art Studio and participated, they were offered one cup of the color of their choice, and groups were encouraged to take and share different colors. Notably, several groups opted for primary colors and mixed colors not offered in the project, such as orange and purple! Outside on the terrace, we mixed troughs of red, blue, green, and yellow paint in large plastic containers.
Guests were provided with two sheets of 9”x12” watercolor paper, and a myriad of smaller pieces each to paint on inside. Two large sheets of paper taped down to drop cloths were available outside for guests to collaborate upon.
Guests quickly took to the project and used their materials in a number of different ways – some of which I had not even discovered during my initial experimenting and planning! One guest showed us a wonderful marbling technique using the small cardboard roll that involved dipping the roll into the paint, catching a bubble in it, and printing it onto the paper. It was especially captivating if the paint was mixed!
Beside the small cardboard rolls, guests used materials such as the doily, glue stick cap, and matchbox cars to create truly remarkable designs, such as the ones below. Some folks may have also used a hand or two…
This project can be easily adapted from the Art Studio at the museum to one’s own home. With just a little prep work and recycling, plus a splash of tempera paint, ordinary materials can make extraordinary art!