It is Tuesday morning and I am still in such a great mood from my wonderful experience yesterday. On Monday afternoon I had the delight of working with Lincoln Elementary kindergarten students who are part of the Wausau 21st Century after-school program. As an educator at the Woodson Art Museum, I develop many outreach programs. The one I took to Lincoln is called Animal Illustrators. We start the first class with introductions. If they don’t remember my name “Mrs. Hintz”, I am fondly referred to as the “museum lady.” During introductions I ask them if they have visited the Woodson Art Museum. This class responded with a large percentage of museum-goers; my heart grew three sizes in that moment.
Next we read picture books and then discuss how the illustrator created the artwork for the books. Steve Jenkins was the first illustrator we discussed this session. All the books we read had to do with animals and every illustration depicted an animal. One illustration of a hippo generated a conversation – without any help from me – about Heavyweight, a hippo sculpture by Burt Brent in the Museum’s garden. This group would have talked about the museum and how much they love it for the rest of the class, but we had to focus on our program so I pulled the conversation back to Steve Jenkins. Using a variety of papers, he cuts shapes and collages them together to form his illustrations. The hands-on part of the program follows, with the children creating their favorite animal using the paper-collage method ala Steve Jenkins.
Just like Steve Jenkins, we started by picking out our paper and discussing special effects you can create with paper. We learned how to use a crimper, sometimes working in pairs; one to squeeze the handle while the other turns the knob to send the paper through. Then we learned that tearing paper leaves a fuzzy edge and cutting paper makes a clean, sharp edge. We crumpled paper bags and used water-based markers on coffee filters, spraying them with water for a painted effect. When all of the ways paper could be manipulated were tried, youngsters then decided what animals to create.
The crimped paper and the coffee filter water combo were big hits; every animal created had a bit of crimped paper on it. Some found the watercolor flowing through coffee filters to be more fascinating than anything else. They were encouraged to use all the filters they colored in their collages. One boy, Elijah, created an ocean for his shark using his many coffee filters. Draeven crimped paper and then quickly cut out a wolf shape. This really impressed me because he used a scissors so effectively. Draeven is only five years old and he didn’t need to first sketch his animal; snip, snip and he had a nicely shaped wolf. Draeven then crimped blue paper for the background and crimped brown paper for the rocks and trees. He was the first child to create an environment for his animal. (See illustration)
Today I wonder if Draeven remembers from his earlier Museum visits the sculpture Harvest Moon by Chapel of two running wolfs that is positioned near Heavyweight?
What really rounded out the visit was when Draeven finished his project and then asked if we would be leaving for the Museum soon.