Tuesday, March 6, 2012

24 kindergarteners and some circles

 With my oldest entering kindergarten this past year, I've been reintroduced to the world of school fundraisers. I told my husband, as the flyers came home for fundraiser after fundraiser, that I would prefer to simply donate a share of the amount of money the school needed rather than feel obligated to buy overpriced chocolates, buy popcorn and soda for a class gift basket and then bid on it, go to the school "carnival" and yield to my daughter's pleadings for paying for cotton candy and a cake walk, or pay my daughter for running around in a circle half a dozen times. I'm feeling rather Scrooge-ish as I type this. Perhaps I don't yet understand the community that is built from fundraising in this way.

But when my daughter's teacher asked me to head up the class art project for the upcoming school art auction, my interest was piqued. I scoured the internet for ideas on what 24 kindergarteners could put together that would command lucrative bids from other members of our community. Kandinsky's Squares with Concentric Circles kept popping up. It seemed plausible and my daughter's teacher liked the idea, so I ran with it.
Squares with Concentric Circles. Wassily Kandinsky.

Past endeavors I had read about had the children use pastels or paint on cardstock squares, then assemble them into a cohesive picture on paper. I really wanted the kids to be able to work with canvas, though, so I prepped a few yards of canvas with gesso and cut it down into dozens of 7" x 7" squares.

The day of the painting session, I introduced the artist to the children. I read some of his inspiring quotes regarding how he felt his art captured emotion. I gave a quick refresher on color mixing (we only gave the children red, yellow and blue to work with). I put on some inspiring music. Then the painting began.

I came home with 24 beautifully unique squares. Over the next few weeks I went through the process of turning them into a cohesive work of art. I trimmed down the squares to 6" x 6" and arranged them on a 2' x 3' canvas. I attached them with a layer of gesso. A few coats of varnish helped complete their unification.
My 3-year-old helped to document the process. Along with about 50 unnecessary closeups of my (and the baby's) behind. (Orange juice and Trader Joe's soup cartons were among the many household items carted out to help press down the canvas as it dried.)
I attached a card to the back of the canvas explaining a bit about the finished piece. But it didn't do justice to the excitement I had felt from the kids as they painted.
 How wonderful to be part of their creative process. And what a beautiful creation it was!