Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Negative Space: Sponge Painting

Recently we attended a celebration at a friend's preschool, and I saw beautiful paintings there that made excellent use of negative space. My boys have been begging me to remember to get them more paint, so off to the store we went. But first, I wanted to teach them about negative space:

Negative Space Phase 1: Photographs
You will need:

  1. Toys
  2. Camera (or phone camera)
  3. Light Box (or a white sheet)
  4. Natural Light (or a spotlight)
  5. Basic graphics program such as GIMP
  6. Printer
  7. Kid scissors
We have been studying African animals, so I made sure to include African animals in our selection of subjects. We discussed what the "subject" was and how the white around the subject was called negative space. 

The boys had a lot of fun photographing the toys at eye-level in a light box outside with the flash on. I helped with a few shots to make sure that we got one or two photos that weren't blurry or tilted.

Next, we put the camera's SD card in the computer and took a look at all the photos. The boys pointed out where the negative space was on several photos. I picked the two best and edited them in GIMP to increase the contrast and brightness of the photo, to get what you see above.

Then I printed the photos and asked the boys to cut out the negative space from around the subject. Mr 5.5 was ridiculously excited about this and did a fantastic job. His younger brother was a little iffy on the scissors skills required and cut out a bubble hippo. With his permission, I helped him get the finer details.

Negative Space Phase 2: Sponge Painting
You will need:
  1. The silhouettes cut out by your students
  2. Empty cereal boxes
  3. Pen
  4. Exacto knife or sharp scissors
  5. Paint (we used red, blue, yellow, and white)
  6. Sponges (we used kitchen sponges cut in half)
  7. Containers to place the paint in
  8. Canvas board (8x10")
  9. Tape
  10. Newpaper to lay over your work surface
... and lots of patience for a mess!

First I traced their silhouettes on the backs of cereal boxes and then cut them out with the exacto knife. Then we newspapered our table and got all the paint and sponges ready, and went over our plan to wash our hands after we were done and BEFORE touching anything else. Eek.

The boys chose their favorite silhouette and I affixed it to the canvas board with a circle of tape.We were careful not to let any of the tape peek out over the edges and ruin the shape.

Lastly, our grand finale. The boys had a lot of fun sponge painting the negative space on the canvas. Each of them asked for two colors and the oldest asked for white as well. I painted baby sister a "kitty cat."

First they looked like this:

Then, the reveal!

Since they're canvas board, I might hot glue brackets on the back and hang them on the wall. Yay!

  • Don't squish the sponge down on the outline of your cutout
  • If you want two-toned, you may have to let the first color dry first to get nice coverage without blending the tempera paint.