Friday, May 15, 2015

Our Week: Building and exploring art

These days, I'm still trying to find that spark in my kids. Lil J is really interested in numbers, so we've started Math U See with him. He's still helping out with the cooking in the kitchen. And he's started building more complicated structures these days.

A house, by Juni

Both boys have been spending a fair bit of their free time building. I recently took out their Lego (I previously kept it because they were strewing the pieces everywhere instead of building with them, and it drove me crazy!), and they've been busy building all sorts of things with it.

They've also been busy with crystal climbers, as well as architectural blocks.

And they also get busy creating and building during playdates. (This was taken by Junior J. They were preparing a picnic!)

Building stuff aside, we've been trying to create more, since that gives both boys the opportunity to experiment with tools and materials (something that Lil J really likes). These days we're doing more book-related crafts, like the beetles we recently shared about on the blog

Creating after reading the book "Wednesday". 

I had a chat with Junior J about what he would like to explore further, and he was not sure. After some discussion, we decided that he would try his hand at painting dinosaurs: 

This boy is the artist in our family. He doodles all the time, and is always asking for paper to scribble on. Paper runs out so fast in our home, that I've resorted to giving him all my old university notes that were printed on one side and bound together, so that he can draw on the blank sides. He draws mainly dinosaurs, and food, but also likes making lists. He does lists of books, of dinosaurs, and recently he has been making lists of the stuff each member of the family eats! He also likes making "colouring books" for his younger siblings, where he draws things that they like onto pieces of paper, then sticks them together with washi tape to form books.

He mainly works with pencil and paper, but enjoys the occasional session with poster paints or watercolours. I did think of sending him for art classes to equip him with various techniques that could help him to express himself, but the boy has been adamant that he does not want any classes at all. That aside, I think it would be hard to find an art class that teaches technique without restricting the subject matter. 

So for the past week, we set aside time to paint, using canvases from Daiso (I think these are still the cheapest around!) and acrylic paints. It's been alot of experimentation, of mixing colours, of figuring out how to minimize the mess (trays keep the paints off the table, and acrylic paints must be cleaned off immediately!). 

This was his first painting, which he's named "The Sea of Liopleurodons". He wanted the water to be a single, solid colour (as he said the sea appears a uniform colour in the documentaries he watches), but also added ripples using oil pastels to show that the water moves and swirls around the sea reptiles, which are chasing plesiosauruses (you can see their fleeing tails on the bottom left). The two are surrounded by squid and fish (added as an afterthought using oil pastels), and everyone is wearing a scarf! This little detail of making his animals wear clothing seems to be his own trademark. Recently he drew me a picture of some dinosaurs, and everyone of them was on a bicycle or unicycle and all of them were carrying little backpacks!

We've started on his second painting, and have been discussing and looking at other paintings: he's learnt how paint can be scraped thickly across a canvas in a certain direction to show movement and texture, and that we can layer various shades of the same colour to show depth. Meanwhile, I've been desperately searching for tips on how to guide him in his painting journey (I found this list of actvities, this guide to acrylic painting and this list of tools useful), so if you have any links or resources to share, I would really love to hear from you!


  1. He's such an excellent and talented artist! I'm pretty sure he can draw and paint better than me. I'm loving all these creative projects that you do with your boys! :)

  2. Love his The Sea of Liopleurodons! Vera is a little budding artist as well. She spends at least an hour daily doodling, drawing, and painting. I've been thinking of exposing her to some classes (thus far I just wanted her to experiment on her own, as I thought that sending her to classes may end up restricting her more than liberating her in the sense of creativity and expression). But there may well be a time and place for picking up paint techniques. Will be searching our local library for art books, as well as letting her try her hand on acrylic paints. Looking forward to more of your arty posts! :)



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