Thursday, August 18, 2016

Garden of Fire

The Rockwell Museum invited the Southeast Steuben County Library to host an activity at the annual Garden of Fire Festival at Care First in Painted Post, N.Y.  This is the third year of the Garden of Fire and the event just keeps growing, because it is a well cultivated community project.
Director of Education of the Rockwell Museum Gigi Alvare speaks at the opening of the annual Garden of Fire Festival for area summer programs at Carefirst in Coopers Plains. Eric Wensel/The Leader
Several area organizations participate in the festival.  There are science and art projects, as well as health and nutrition lessons.  With "Water" as the festival theme, Squirt Gun Painting seemed like a fun activity to bring to the event.

Squirt Gun Painting samples
The samples I made attempted the method of "resist," which uses objects and elements to block paint from the page or "resist" the color.  Wax and glue usually make great resists for painting effects.  I used glue sticks and was not pleased by the results.  As you will see in the following photo, the glue resist was not very effective, but the paper letters and foam squares I used to resist the paint were really great elements to remain in the composition.
"2016" is barely visible after painting
 I expected 250 kids in 6 hours, so the project had to be made within 5 minutes for all kids involved to create a masterpiece.  Since the glue stick resist was a minor failure, we used paper letters and foam squares to decorate the pages before hitting them with squirt gun paint.
My sample, doused in paint
I used water color paper, tempera paint and Nerf Super Soaker Zipfire squirt guns to "paint" each color in a Jackson Pollock drip and splatter style.  Super Soakers are quality squirt guns that held up to the masses and did not clog!  It's easy to get carried away and add too much paint, leaving a muddy puddle on the page.  Therefore, the kids were instructed to squirt 2-3 shots of each color, 4 colors total, before picking up the page and making the paint run abstract lines across the page.
Paint, then turn the page to let the colors run together
This project was fun, fast and mildly messy.  Luckily, we were outdoors and the heat was so oppressive, any contact with water was a GOOD THING!  This kids loved working paint in this method.  Many parents commented on the ease and feasibility of this craft for birthday parties and picnics.  Wet paintings hung on clothes lines to dry, which added a wall of color "flags" flapping in the breeze.  A beautiful day in the Garden of Fire!
Samples hanging in the sun
Eric Wensel, a photographer from our local news paper, The Leader, took great shots of the event.  This is the only image I have seen from the busy, hot, water-filled day!  
Kids make squirt gun paint art. Eric Wensel/The Leader
Gratitude goes to The Rockwell Museum and Chelsea Ambrose from Care First for organizing this rewarding festival.  The SSC Library is pleased to be part of the effort.

Check back in a few weeks to see how our Theatre Workshop Camp goes.  It was so much fun last year, it's back!
There is still plenty of time to register!


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