Oh, collage, how I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love you because you are totally open-ended, and great for any age, including adults. I love collage for so many reasons, but mostly because the process is so therapeutic. You can do layer after layer and it never gets old. A few days ago, or was it weeks, who remembers? I taught a fantastic art class to 3 and 4 year olds on collage process art. For an hour, these kids were engaged, focused, relaxed and art filled. It was a pretty magical experience where the parents there kept checking in with each other saying things like “I can’t believe how engaged they are.” “Oh my goodness, look at how into it they all are.” This is why I love process art. The feelings and depth that process art evokes are quite remarkable. Here’s how we did it.
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This was a step by step process that took a full hour. We started off with two easels from Ikea (my fav, I’ve had so many over the years and just love them.) set out on one side of the yard. On the other side of the yard I had a little table set up where all the kids gathered around for instruction. I did this intentionally because with little kids it’s important to keep them moving. Before each step the kids would surround the table for a short little demo. The first step was to spray large high quality watercolor paper with different colored water. You can use food color or liquid watercolors to color the water. I like these a lot. I had a little bucket of spray bottles next to my demo table that the kids could choose from. It was fun to watch the kids go back and forth with their desired colors.
The next steps were painting with a paintbrush and stamping with shape and letter stampers. I first demonstrated how to use each material at my little table and then the kids went off to do their own paper on either side of the easel. Everyone had their designated spot. I used my favorite tempera cakes for the painting and mixed some tempera paints together in a paint tray for the stamps. I try to pick colors that are pleasing and in the same family so they don’t turn to brown when mixed. I stay away from dark colors like black and brown, though that could be interesting as well.
After everyone had a chance to paint and stamp, I introduced sponges and wrapped bubble wrap hands. If a child wanted more time with any particular step they were invited to take their time and continue. After all, it’s about their process, not what everyone else is doing. Some kids stayed with the brush painting for a while, while others really liked the stampers and sponges. The bubble wrap, which I thought was going to be the biggest hit, was actually the one thing most kids weren’t into for very long. Though, I did manage to snap a few great shots before they took off their bubble wrap mittens. I think by the time they got to the bubble wrap, they were ready for a little break. It was about 40 minutes in. Next time I may skip one or two of the steps.
The whole time the kids were outside creating, I had the Nature Relaxation Songs station playing on Pandora. It really helped set the tone of the class. Do you listen to music when you create? Do you ever put on special music for your kids to create to? It’s really helpful in setting a mood and slowing kids down while they work.
After everyone was done with the background of their collage we went inside where I had glue and pre cut pictures from art books I had purchased for super cheap at the art store. The kids used glue to apply different pictures that were interesting to them. The three year olds were more arbitrary with their pics than the older ones, who were a little more selective. I’d love to see what 5-7 year olds would do with this project. It’s actually great for any age.
Then, a few days later my friend from art class sent me this! Her daughter’s art work hanging in their super chic bathroom all framed and looking amazing and my heart filled up to gargantuan proportions and all was right in the world.
This process is a Meri Cherry staple around our house. You can read more about it here. Also, if you like this project, you might want to download this awesome ebook I contributed to with 25 other arts and crafts bloggers. There are tons of great ideas in here. Thanks for reading along everybody. (and thanks for so many of these pics Amy)