Thursday, January 7, 2016

Snowflakes, Art Prints & The Artist Katsushika Hokusai

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Jet is 44 months, Dude is 7 years old, & Spudder is 5 years old

We did some art experimenting today that evolved into 3 different art projects for my 3 different students.  I was trying to find a way to have them all involved and the pictures above show my proud fellas with the resulting projects.

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We started off with a little bit of reading in our Polar Lands book and decided to make snowflakes as described in the book. I knew we'd need a little bit heavier than normal paper for the extension projects I wanted to do, so we went with fingerpaint paper, but later switched to cardstock for Spudder's project. You’ll see why later.

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One thing we learned from the book was that all snowflakes are actually 6 sided. This was news to me, and necessitated a different method of paper folding than I was familiar with. Instead of folding a square into 1/8ths, I traced a dinner plate to get a large circle, cut these out for everyone and folded them into 1/6ths.  I found the easiest way to do the folding to be to fold the circle in half, bend (but don’t fold) it in half again and just put the smallest crimp in the top edge (so the center point is marked) and then fold the 1/2 into 1/3s. Despite my wordy description, it was actually really easy.

Each of the boys cut triangles or other shapes into the edges of their snowflakes, being careful not to cut all the way across. Jet was a little unsure of himself at first, but after showing him how easy it was to cut two intersecting lines, he took off cutting triangles.

After the snowflake unfolding excitement, Jet continued with his part of the project by turning his snowflake into a stencil for some blue paint. A paint roller or sponge pouncer probably would have been ideal for this project, but we didn’t have either, so I just reminded him to dab with his paintbrush instead of smearing. I also didn’t bother to tape the snowflake down. I just held it and got my hands messy. The M&D paint we used washes up pretty well.



For Spudder’s snowflake we did something a little different. I wanted to let him use his snowflake to make prints. We tried using the snowflake he’d cut out of fingerpaint paper first, but it was just too big and delicate after multiple attempts, so he went back and cut a smaller snowflake out of cardstock, and that worked better.

After spreading a thick layer of paint on his snowflake while it was laying on a scratch piece of paper, he turned it over, positioned it on his project page, covered it with a paper towel, and applied a little pressure.

Then carefully peeled the snowflake back to reveal his print. I tried to encourage him to overlap his prints, but he wouldn’t have any of that.
(This could also be a fun start to a winter scene project.)

Dude did go ahead and make the snowflakes with his brothers, but I really had a different project intended for him. His project was from the book, The Usborne Art Treasury, a wonderful book that combines artist studies with simple art projects. This particular project was inspired by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai.

We didn't do the project quite like the book said, but we were close. To make his print Dude used a pencil to etch a Hokusai inspired drawing into a piece of Styrofoam that I cut from a disposable food tray. He then used blue paint to make several prints from his etching. Dude enjoyed this immensely and immediately suggested we make 30 prints! We settled on 6 instead.

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His favorite!


You can find biographical info on Hokusai, a nice size picture of one of his most famous prints, the full details of this project as well as many more in The Usborne Art Treasury. Dude used it as well as the Children's Book of Art to put together a short presentation on Katsushika Hokusai for his homeschool co-op class.

Here's a link to an animated documentary about Hokusai on YouTube that you might also find helpful:

More book suggestions for an artist study:

More book suggestions on snowflakes:

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Tree Valley Academy & Tot School @ 1+1+1=1

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