Recently I received a really nice gift in the mail from my friend Patty Palmer, author and creator of Deep Space Sparkle. Over ten years ago, while teaching first grade, I had purchased one of Patty’s art lesson plans online and then years later bought one of her online courses. Patty is a pioneer in the online world of art teachers. She is someone that I have looked up to and admired for years. I had the pleasure of being interviewed on Patty’s Podcast when I first opened the studio and now, over two years later I am so honored to call her a friend and have the chance to review her latest book, Draw, Paint, Sparkle.
There are tons of great ideas and lessons in Draw, Paint, Sparkle. The lesson that stood out to me the most was the Sumi Ink Fish Painting. We love working with Sumi Ink in the studio. It glides onto canvas, wood, paper, and cardboard in a super satisfying way and kids just love it. (Though, I will let you in on a little secret. If you don’t have Sumi Ink, mix black acrylic paint with water and you’ll have something very similar) So, I decided to set up an Invitation to Create for my daughter, Diana, in the studio inspired by Patty’s lesson. Just a heads up, sumi ink is pretty messy. You may want to take this one outside and make sure to wear art clothes.
For this process you’ll need…
A big piece of watercolor paper (we like Cansen brand)
Drawing and painting tools (see below for ideas)
Doing art with my daughters never goes the way I plan it, which is probably why I am so fascinated by Process Art. My kids have grown up with such creative freedom, telling them we’re going to do A, B, C doesn’t really work. In part, it’s because of the value we place in our home regarding your own ideas, but also it’s because I’m their mom and well, yeah, you know how that goes. So, I wasn’t surprised to see Didi took this process in a whole other direction than what I intended, which was observational drawing of the leaves.
I was all set to take a look at the leaves with Diana, notice the veins, the shapes, the stem. Instead, my girl went on her own journey of exploring leaf printing with Sumi ink and using unusual objects to trace around the leaves and dip in the ink for printmaking. Though it wasn’t the plan, it was pretty amazing actually and I’m sure other kids would love to do the same. I swear, our best ideas over the years have been from my girls.
We are lucky to have endless shelves for kids to pull from. I know that isn’t the cast for most, but, you can definitely put a few random tools in a bowl next to your paper and see what happens. Didi found toothpicks, a feather, and a wood pointy tool to work with, in addition to a classic Sumi painting brush. She also used the different leaves by dipping them into the ink and seeing what kind of prints they made.
My favorite was painting the edges of the leaves and lifting them to see the leaf prints. You have to lift them carefully to get a clear print, but to be honest, this process was way more about the experience than the outcome of the prints. D’s favorite was using all the different tools and techniques to create marks on her paper.
If you want to let your sumi ink leaf prints dry (the ink dries really quickly) and then color in with chalk pastels or watercolors, that might be a really nice way to extend this activity or set up the next day’s invitation. I’m going to try with Didi, but you never know with that little wonder child. She’ll probably end up cutting all the leaves and turning them into something totally unexpected. Sometimes more than anything I think my job with Diana is to just not get in her way.
Thank you Patty for inspiring us to get creative and discover this great new process. We love Sumi Ink Leaf Prints. This was really cool and something I’m sure we’ll revisit in different ways. Congrats on your new book. I know there will be countless moms, teachers and children who will benefit from your ideas. xo, Meri