By Christina Banerjee
Being an elementary school art teacher for six years and a professional artist for 14 years, I have lived and worked in the United States and India and acquired a wealth of experience. With the recent lockdown many parents are having to watch over their children while also working from home and many of the support staff we are used to having around are unable to come to work.
The environment around appears calm and soothing but there is something ominous about the reasons for this calm. Many of us are on the edge, stressed about the possibility of contracting a deadly disease. Some of us may have more reasons to be worried about the future.
In such a scenario where negative thoughts seem to be floating in and out of our minds, art can come in handy to get rid of stress and anxiety, in addition to several other conditions. Most importantly, art is just fun at any age. Many of us may have lost touch with doing things with our hands. Our creative side may have been stifled because of our day to day struggles. So, this could be a great opportunity to get back in touch with it and rediscover how amazing it is to be creative and share this discovery with our kids as well.
Here I am sharing some art tips and projects your children can engage in to beat the lockdown blues. Art not only helps by providing a creative outlet, it can also turn a day into something magical for all of us challenging us to express our feelings and uplifting our spirits.
So, here are some simple ideas that can be most rewarding and least troublesome to plan:
1. Go outside on your balcony, terrace or veranda and use sidewalk chalk and let your kids and your own self simply ‘free draw’.
2. Take a blanket outside to an open area in your house, look at the clouds and ask your children what they look like. Does it remind them of animals, shapes, a parent maybe? Don’t forget to imagine it yourself too! When was the last time you did this?
3. Let the children colour a piece of paper with crayons in any way they want. Find objects like plastic bottles or toilet paper rolls. Dip one end of these into black paint and help them stamp them onto a colourful background.
4. Cut a shape of a mask (best you can) with eye holes onto paper and let them use glue to stick old scraps of paper from wedding invites, ribbons, old beads, old Diwali cards, etc, onto the mask. You can punch holes on the sides of the mask and use ribbons for ties.
5. Find any old scraps of paper, ribbon and a blank piece of paper and let the little ones enjoy just gluing and sticking things, letting their imagination run wild!
6. Help them make a stamp by carving a shape into half of a potato. Use any colour of paint to help them stamp onto paper. You can also use apples cut in half and the bottoms of celery and cauliflower to make flower shaped stamps. You could also use vegetables and fruits that have been chopped or were about to get discarded.
7. For the really little ones, use a low tack artist tape or any non-transparent tape to make shapes like a triangle, circle, square and rectangle and have the kids sit in front of it and show them every day ordinary objects like an iPad which is rectangle shape and have them place it by the tape shape on the floor. Other examples are some books are squares, bottom of a cup is a circle etc. It shows them how to see the world in different shapes. However, make sure you don’t damage your flooring!
8. Gather some leaves from outside and place them under some thin paper and give them crayons to colour on top of it for rubbings. And see some beautiful tracings emerge.
9. Tape a piece of paper on a torn off old cardboard box lid and get a marble. Dip the marble in black paint and roll it around. About as simple as it gets.
10. Get three Ziploc bags or similar used bags and fill them with the primary colours (red, blue and yellow) to make secondary colours. Have the children smush together the primary colours to mix the secondary colours. Cut three sides of the bags and open the bags up. Place the paint side down on the paper. Fold the paper in half and press together. Then open it again and try to figure out along with your kids what creature or animal the print looks like. Repeat!
11. Draw a shape, any shape, with a black marker and ask your children to create an image with that shape. For example, a circle can become a person, a square could become a house, a triangle could be a bird’s beak. Encourage them to be as creative as possible.
12. Take a sketchbook, a ruler and a pencil outside on a balcony or terrace. Either you can draw the flowers and plants or the cityscape. Such as the buildings around your house. If you draw the buildings challenge yourself to a one-point perspective which simply means to draw objects such that they look three-dimensional and realistic.
13. Create a relief print. Get a piece of styrofoam from a takeout box, cut it down to a shape, any shape. Use a dull pencil to carve a drawing into it. Get a piece of paper and paint. Paint on a solid thin layer of colour on the styrofoam and then press onto the paper; you will get a print of the image you just drew.
14. Grab an old magazine and find an image of a person. Fold the image vertically and cut down the fold. Paste one half of the image onto a piece of paper and then use a pencil to sketch the other half of the image.
15. Encourage your siblings or even your parents to draw with you. Grab some paper and sketch one another in a 30-minute quick sketch. After the 30 minutes, reveal your portrait of the other person.
16. Bring new life to old flowerpots with some acrylic paint. You can use a pencil to draw images or designs on the flowerpot. Paint with acrylics on the flowerpot. Watercolours and poster paints won’t work if it is going to be outside because the image will wash off.
17. Take a black wax crayon and make a drawing. Use watercolours to fill in the image. The watercolours won’t stick to the drawing because of the wax in the crayon. This is called wax resist.
These are just some ideas for a fun filled afternoon with your children or even among adults. Won’t it be a welcome change for adults to engage in these art-related activities on Zoom or a WhatsApp video call while on lockdown? Enjoy your art filled afternoons!
(The author is artist, BFA, University of South Alabama.)
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