I grew up in museums. Perhaps that is why art is so important to me. My mom is an art historian and while I was growing up she was the curator of collections at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in California as well as the Pacific Asia Museum. From the day I was old enough she had me tucked away in a basket in her office. I even have the pictures to prove it.
Here I am just a few weeks old in my basket.
Here I am napping during an installation.
Sketching something at a family day
I have fond memories of my years growing up at the museums. So it's no surprise that when I went to college my focus was on fine arts. Furthermore it's no surprise that as a mom I am always encouraging the little inner artist in my children to come out and play.
Recently Lily was invited to one of her best friends Birthday parties. The mom had asked for no toys. So my mind immediately went to a paint set. I figured that somewhere online there had to be someone who had come up with a way to make paint at home. This way Lily could be involved in the making of the gift for her friend which appeals to her natural giving spirit. I was right. In fact there were several recipes which were all about the same. Even better we had everything that we needed to make it already.
- 3Tbs. baking soda
- 3 Tbs. cornstarch
- 3Tbs. white vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp. light corn syrup
- food coloring
- Mix together the baking soda and the corn starch.
- Add the vinegar. It will fizz up and bubble at this point. Just stir it and wait for the fizzing to stop.
- Once the fizzing subsides add the corn syrup.
- Divide the mixture into containers. I used a plastic egg carton for the birthday gift and empty baby food jars for Lily's set.
- Add the food coloring and stir to get the colors you want.
- Allow to dry. This will take anywhere from a couple of hours to a full 24 hours depending on how much paint is in the container.
It will bubble quite a bit when you add the vinegar so make sure the bowl you use is big enough to compensate for this or you'll have a mess on your hands.
Lily had a blast doing this. I hope her friend likes using them too. Lily has been in a painting frenzy ever since we made these. Even my sometimes melancholy pre-teen sat down and had some fun painting with us.
One of Lily's finished paintings.
One of Naiya's finished paintings.
The colors are vibrant and the paintings dry quickly. Plus you can customize your own colors and make as much of or as little of any color that you want. As an added bonus I have been able to find an excuse to pull out some of my favorite children's books on colors and art. There are plenty to choose from but I thought I could use this opportunity to share my top five children's books on this topic with you;
#5 Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle. This is one of my kids favorite books to have read to them. I find Lily using phrases from the book when she is playing. She will pick up a teddy bear and say "Brown bear, brown, bear, what do you see?" And then find something that's another color to answer with. It's a short read and has large, colorful pictures in it to draw the kids attention and hold it.
#4 Lemons Are Not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. I like this book because it gives the chance for the kids to be contrary, which always seems to be popular. "Lemons are not red" This is when Lily says "NO!! Lemons are yellow!" Besides the kids getting into the story the way the pictures work are pretty neat too. There is a cut out of lemon on the one page showing through to the next page which is red. It says "Lemons are not red". Then you turn the page and the cut out lemon is now on a yellow background from the page you were just on and the facing page says "Lemons are yellow, apples are red!" with a picture of a red apple. It is also a short read, and I love the creativity with the cut outs.
#3 Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. Now we are moving into some of my favorite books from when I was a little girl. What kid with any kind of imagination doesn't like the idea of going on a walk with a purple crayon and drawing a whole new world that you can interact in? This was always a book I looked forward to my mom reading to me. I know, it isn't about colors, but it is about art and being creative which is why I included it in my "top 5" list.
#2 A Painted Tale by Kate Canning. This one doesn't teach colors either but it has beautiful pictures in it and was another one of my favorites when I was growing up. It's about a tiger who escapes from his painting in a museum to get away from some hunters. He has an adventure which includes scaring a little old lady walking through the gallery. At the end he has to find his own painting again by finding his shape which he has a little trouble doing. I believe this book is no longer in print which is why Amazon only carries a few used copies.
#1 Adventure of Three Colors by Annette Tison and Talus Yaylor. Let me start by saying that this is the coolest book. It was like magic to me growing up. It's a story about a boy named Herbie and his dog Angelo. They see a rainbow and Herbie wants to paint it. So they run home only to discover that Herbie only has 3 colors left in his paint box; red, yellow, and blue. Through the book he discovers that by combining the colors in different ways he can make all the colors in the rainbow. Here is the cool part. The way they demonstrate this is by using plastic pages that overlap to form different animals. I took pictures to show you.
Anyway Lily and I had a blast making the watercolors. Jude and her have also been enjoying all the books I have pulled out. Perhaps they will become favorites of theirs as well.