Modern Art 4 Kids: Using magazines to create an abstract drawing

I am totally loving all of the little artists who’ve been coming over to my place and making art with us on Wednesdays. I’m hoping more and more children join us because it will be the growth of a seed that was planted in my heart years and years ago.

Let me share a little story with you.

My husband Michael grew up in the Mid-City L.A area. He was your typical kid in the hood, walking through gang-affliated territory to get to school. He was a boy with a ton of energy–ADHD to be exact. He spent a lot of his time exploring the streets of his neighborhood, trying to find ways to entertain himself.  One day, he stumbled upon what looked like an oasis in the middle of the grimy streets of of Los Angeles called St. Elmo Village. The little houses were painted bright colors and there were found art sculptures all over. What kind of place is this? he wondered.  The shiny coins at the bottom of a pond immediately captured his attention.

The person who ran the Village was an artist named Roderick Sykes. He saw this little boy trying to fish the coins out of the water and asked him if he wanted to help him build a sign instead. Michael said yes and with that yes, a friendship was formed. A friendship that has lasted thirty years.

What is St. Elmo Village? An artist’s enclave, a place to send your children on Saturday mornings so they can paint, draw, play drums, and participate in dramatic plays–to do things they wouldn’t normally get to participate in at home and at school. They’ve been open to the community for over forty years, touching lives and shaping the neighborhood. Michael lived there at one time, teaching on Saturday mornings and being a part of the organization. Even though we live over an hour away, we consider them family.

As our children have grown, so has the vision for our family. St. Elmo Village has influenced us greatly, and so it makes perfect sense that we would take what we’ve learned from them and adapt it for our lives. Little by little, we’ve opened up our doors to other families so they can do art. Not so much to “teach” art, but to create an environment where people feel free to tap into their creative side.

One day I looked around and saw the pallet fence we built, our patio furniture set up, the kids in our neighborhood popping in and out, our succulent cactus scattered in pots, the water fountain was bubbling, our art hanging on the fence, our kids happy (and loud) voices and Michael talking about hanging his boombox collection on side of our house and I thought to myself, dude–we are “those people” in the neighborhood. We’re just like St. Elmo Village! 

It was a very cool epiphany.

So it’s in that environment that we created our latest project: using the half magazine, half drawing technique to create an abstract drawing. Here is an similar example at Art Projects for Kids. It’s a project that is really simple but the possibilities are endless, in terms of creativity. We started off by gathering a few interesting clippings from various magazines. Pets and fashion were the hot commodity.  Once the kids find an image they like, cut it in half–vertically or horizontally, it doesn’t matter. They can glue it onto a piece of paper using a glue stick (liquid glue is too messy). We use sturdy Canson drawing paper from Michael’s, depending on what type of medium we use. For this project, I gave the kids the choice of Marvy Uchida Le Plume II markers or Artist’s Loft oil pastels. With the magazine clipping as their starting off point, they are free to draw whatever they feel like. Some kids play it safe, and others take the opportunity to go all out.

That’s always fun to see!

Cutting their magazine clippings.
Some kids have a clear idea of what they want to do and get down to business quick.
I was given a large pack of Marvy Uchida markers from the Marvy people at this years CHA Winter 2012 convention in Anaheim. My kids LOVE them! And you know I hate to share my precious markers…

Got to love that llama head peeking in the window!

This is an awesome project to give your kids when they come down with a case of “I’m bored”. It’s also a wonderful way to expose your child to abstract thinking, in terms of art. It doesn’t always have to make sense. There is great creativity in the unexpected!

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