I was thinking the other day that we often design art projects for kids to practice various skills without giving them an opportunity to practice before applying the skill to their "real art." However, as a kid, I remember often thinking, "I wish I could do this over now that I have practiced .... I could do it so much better." So, before we get into painting concentric circles with tints and shades, I thought I would have 3rd graders do a little warm up with their flat brushes. I want them to experience turning the brush as they paint, and following the line made by one side of the brush.
How many times have you asked students to paint a circle with a flat brush and they sort of swipe the brush in a circular motion, ending up with something like this (or worse)?
So I decided to have kids do a short warm-up lesson on "using the brush." First, using a Sharpie permanent marker, they'll draw 2 straight lines, a curved line and an angled line on a practice paper (I just used copy paper from the computer because I have a lot of it!)
Next comes the directed lesson: right handers paint, following the line, trying to get the left side of their flat brush right along the line. Left handers will do the same, only their eye should be focused on getting the right side of the brush even with the line. I think it is a skill for painters to follow the line created by the side of the brush, rather than the whole, thick paint line.
After that, we'll try following the 2 lines of an angled line, practicing picking up and turning the brush when the line changes directions.
Since our art project includes painting concentric circles, the last practice line is the circle, where kids have to actually turn the flat side of the brush (or the paper) as they progress around their drawn circle.
I am anxious to see if this little warm-up exercise makes a difference in kids' dexterity in using their paintbrushes in our project. (I'll post more about the actual project soon.)