Saturday, November 10, 2012

Goldsworthy Inspired Fall Leaf Watercolors

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We looked at Andy Goldsworthy's art in class lately. We don't really have fall in Florida. It gets cooler, which is a welcome relief but the leaves don't change color, and you plant vegetables instead of harvesting them. His art still seemed like it'd make a nice, small, fall connection so I saved it for late in the class.

I mentioned the spectrum of materials he uses but we looked at three leaf works in honor of the fall theme.

Red leaf patch, image source:  Goldsworthy Digital Catalogue

Leaves polished, greased made in the shadow of the tree from which they fell, pinned to the ground with thorns.  Image source:

I specifically included this photo because it shows him working on the piece. It's from the archive rather than a gallery piece.

Yellow and ruddy leaves
made edge by finding ruddy and yellow lead the same size
tore yellow leaf in two, spat underneath one half
pressed it on to the ruddy leaf
, image source:  Andy Goldsworthy Digital Catalogue

We always struggle with the clock in this class. By the time I introduce the artist, explain the techniques involved, and leave some room for clean up we only have thirty five minutes to work. No one was able to finish this project in class and I would consider this one of our easier ones. I of course encourage everyone to finish at home and most do, but when you do this at home you don't have to worry about the clock as much. All the images I show from this class on the blog are of older Toad's artwork. I only show his work so I don't need permission from any of the parents to show other work. I'm bringing up the issue of time because he didn't finish in class and finished the background wash at home.  The project took about an hour total, not counting double clean up time.  If you're doing this project at home you won't have that trouble.

In class we used palette watercolors, crayons, and construction paper.  We used construction paper rather than watercolor paper because watercolor paper has too much tooth, you won't get good rubbings.  If the construction paper gets wrinkly because of the washes, weigh it down with heavy books for awhile after it's dry and that should help.

In the spirit of Goldsworthy's work I collected lots of leaves from our yard.  While they're not all native to our area, it is working with local materials.   I tried to choose leaves that had strong veins and interesting outlines for neat rubbings.  
First we peeled the crayons (black, brown, and tan).  

Then we put a leaf under the paper and rubbed over it with the flat side of the crayon.  The goal is to fill the paper with the leaf rubbings, one leaf at a time.  When all the rubbings are done, use the watercolors to paint a wash (lots of water to paint ratio) over the leaves.  Some of the students wanted to paint the leaves - the veins and outline with very opaque (very little water to paint ratio) watercolor.  That just covers up the rubbing.  Try to save the leaf painting for another watercolor.

When all the leaves have a wash, in any color, choose a different color for the background.  Fill the entire background in with that wash.  Voila!  You just completed a fall watercolor.  I got reports from my students the week after we did this that they enjoyed doing more of these projects with different variations all week.
If you'd like to learn more about Andy Goldsworthy look at these websites:
Goldsworthy's home page (that's the name of this site, it's really a student project)
 Goldsworthy digital catalogue
and these for installations in the US:
Des Moines Art Center
Storm King
National Gallery of Art kids brochure
Cantor Arts Center at Stanford

Or look at these books and video. The books are not specifically for kids but I've shared some of these with my guys and they enjoy looking at them.  I LOVE the video, it's amazing to watch. It's like one of those relaxating nature CD's you'd hear while getting a massage but instead it's for your eyes.


Penny said...

These images are beautiful. I would have never thought of making those beautiful designs out of leaves!

Unknown said...

The leaf designs are great. I am your newest follower and would like to invite you to add this, and any other of your great ideas, to my weekly Mom's Library Link-Up every Wednesday.
Thanks and Be blessed,
Julie @ Hey Mommy, Chocolate Milk

maggy, red ted art said...

Awe great minds think a like!!! And I think Goldsworthy really is such a great artist for this time of year. Love your idea of creating leaf rubbings in bright colours.

Thank you for sharing on Kids Get Arty!

Lovely to have you join in.


toady mama said...

Thanks ladies!

Unknown said...

These are lovely! Thanks for sharing with The Sunday Showcase.

Rebecca English said...

Lovely ideas. I've featured it on The Sunday Showcase:

Christy said...

This is great. Thanks for partying at tip-toe thru tuesday.

Carrie said...

What a great lesson and project! Thank you so much for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

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