Hello Belmont Blog readers! My name is Tramia Jackson and as the Education Assistant and newest staff member here at Gari Melcher’s Home and Studio at Belmont, my first task was to develop May’s Preschool Palette program. Needless to say, I was nervous, but excited about this fun challenge. In May’s book Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, the author explores all things green from forest green and sea green, to faded green and pea green. She even throws in a few fun pages to highlight what’s not green with “wacky green,” featuring a green and white Zebra and “no green” with a snow white winter scene and no green in sight. Seeger also uses peek-a-boo cut outs and creative color placements to create the perfect green-themed I-Spy book with surprises on every page.
This book was the inspiration for two Preschool Palette art projects that explored green’s ubiquitous nature. The color green is everywhere in our world, and in our imagination. Not only did I want children to find green objects in the world around them, I wanted students to be able to notice the many different shades of green as well.
So for their first project adults were given scissors and brown paper bags, while students were given a scavenger hunt of green leaves and foliage. Groups were instructed to find, clip, and collect during their garden walk. Students were challenged to look closely at the shapes and shades of plants labeled “long green,” “spikey green,” and “heart green.” Using the grid of green in Seeger’s book for inspiration, students placed their snipped cache of shapes and colors along with green tissue paper on clear contact paper divided into grids along the rows of windows in the Pavilion. “The tactile and visual experience kept the kids and parents thoroughly engaged,” said one parent. “Kids love sticky things!” Next, it was time for students to mix their own shades of green.
For centuries painters have mixed pigments to form the perfect shades of colors for their canvases. Indeed, one of the main tasks for beginning painters is to ‘get to know’ their paints and colors. “I’m sure that one of the first exercises that Gari and Corinne did as art students was to become intimately familiar with many color combinations by mixing and testing various shades of red, blue, and yellow. So why not do the same with preschoolers!”
Each student was given a palette of blue, yellow, and white tempera paint and instructed first to create their starter shade of green in the center paint well. They then proceeded to add globs and dabs of blue, yellow, or white to their mixtures, stopping only to paint shades that appealed to them. For added texture students bounced sponges, and dragged popsicle sticks and plastic forks in the wet paint. The result, once dried and tape removed, would be a grid of “all green,” similar to what is found in Seeger’s book, but totally unique to them. A practice that many artists have done for centuries and an activity the Melcherses would have loved.