Canvas Pads, cardboard or any thick surface that will hold a good amount of pain Tempura paint (Red, Blue, Yellow, White, Black)
Clear Saran wrap cellophane
This activity was shown to us by a practicing Columbus area art teacher, Patrick Callicotte, who came in to one of our classes that focuses specifically on art education for students with special learning needs. Many of his students vary in physical or mental abilities, and he rose to the challenge of creating a fair and assessable art room with curriculum that extends to ensure that each of his students meets their personal learning goals. We modified this project to reflect our individual students and the supplies available to us.
We started the lesson out with a simple introduction to vocabulary – primary colors, secondary colors, tints, and shades. Many students were familiar with these words, and some were able to identify which primary colors could be used to make certain secondary colors.
On the tables in front of them, students were each given a piece of cardboard (Patrick used canvas-boards in his demonstration, but in the spirit of recycling/being cheap and lazy, we used whatever we could find in the back) with their names written on the back.
They watched as I demonstrated the procedure on my own piece of cardboard. First, I decided that I wanted to make the color green. My students helped me decided that the best way to do this was to mix yellow and blue, and since I wanted to tint it (new vocab! Yay!) to make it a lighter shade of green, they also told me to add white. I poured the tempura paint straight from the jug on to the cardboard, in three separate blobs that started to gravitate together.
I told my students we would be painting without brushes. “What? How is that possible?” you might ask, as they did.
I covered my cardboard with a sheet of Saran wrap, smushing the blobs of colored paint together and spreading it out slightly on the brown board. I taped the cellophane down to the back, leaving the paint completely sealed in. Slowly, I moved my fingers over the top of the wrap, massaging the different colors in to one another with a variety of motions and strokes. Students watched as the colors mixed together in spirals and swirls, creating both delicate gradients and distinct lines on the same plane.
Students were then aloud to choose which colors they would like to use in their own marbled paintings. Using their new knowledge of color theory, they selected from the primary colors with a goal secondary color in mind, as well as adding black or white to tint or tone the image to their liking.
Then came they fun part – after the paint was added to their boards, a layer of plastic was taped over. Many students were at first hesitant to touch the strange canvases, as it did look as you would be touching the paint directly. However, after a few precautionary pokes, they began to experiment with the movements of their fingertips, the different motions and pressures they could use to manipulate the paint, and the vibrancy in which they were able to mix their colors together.
For students with different levels of vision, this activity allowed them to experience mixing paint in a new, more physical way. The sensory interaction provides higher levels of engagement for those who need different modes of experiencing the creative process. The colors and final product were a secondary notion, the important aspects of the learning activity lie in the experimentation of movements and the experience of engaging the sense of touch to explore physical interactions with materials.