Thursday, April 4, 2013

Making Artist's Palettes

A recent assignment for the fourth graders in my art room has been sculpting clay artist's palettes.  It is of high interest since it involves using the earth clay and firing in the kiln.

The day that the project was introduced, we took notes together on the process of making the sculpture.  They knew that they had the opportunity to form the slab inside of a plastic lid that was lined with paper towel.  The towel liner was used to allow the clay to release easily from the lid.

 We formed the clay slab base and attached the paint spots in the same forty-five minute period.   The fourth graders usually had bits of clay left over from trimming the palette shape while it was in the lid to a "lake" or "pond-like" shape.  They often had a bit more if they decided to cut a thumb hole as well.   We left them to dry during the long weekend and they were fired over Easter vacation. 

Today was the big painting day!  We started by using watercolor on the bottom of the palette.  That gets them going and allows the children to realize the absorbency of the bisque clay.  It is unique that the paint dries so quickly.  It allows multiple layers to be put upon each other and the dots of color a clear and well defined. 

They could continue onto the top surface with the watercolor to make the palette look very painterly.  From there I encouraged the students to switch to the more opaque acrylic for defining the sculpted spots of paint.