Art from Trash

November 15th is “America Recycles Day,” and what could be a more inspiring way to reduce waste in your household than to encourage your children to recycle trash materials and objects into art?

Plenty of modern and contemporary artists use unusual materials and objects in their art creations. You’ll find all kinds of scrap materials and useful objects that can be reused in art projects, if you look around your house. Junk mail, kitchen containers, scraps of gift-wrap or wallpaper, old magazines, and all kinds of other objects will come in useful.

Artist’s Principles

As an artist, your materials should be treated with respect. Save scrap materials in large boxes, making sure they are clean and dry before storing. In the same way that you would respect and value materials that you bought from an art store, you should value the scrap materials and trash objects that you are going to incorporate into your art.

When you work with any materials, including trash, keep your art creativity environment clean and tidy. Wash your tools when needed, and have a good supply of paper towels for cleaning up as you work.

Creativity can be just as much about discovering new and different ways to use and incorporate novel materials into your art as about the end result. Encourage your child to enjoy the process of making his or her artistic creations. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to make art, and while your child may enjoy following instructions in order to create something designed by someone else, encourage out-of-the-box thinking and teach your child to value his own ideas as much as any ideas he finds in a book or on a website.

Creating Art Collages

Incorporating collage techniques into art paintings is a great introduction for young children to the idea of using different materials. Most children are familiar with drawing using crayons, and painting with poster paints, and creating art collages is a wonderful new approach that can build on your child’s existing experience.

Your child will be in good company when using art collage techniques! Early users of modern art collage in paintings included Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Braque started by pasting pieces of rough wallpaper onto his charcoal drawings, and Picasso incorporated oilcloth and other fabrics into his paintings. Picasso also produced a series of musical artworks using music sheet paper, cloth, newspaper, and other scraps, often cut into the shapes of musical instruments.

Why not introduce your child to Picasso’s art in the form of his music collage art paintings, provide some large pieces of cardboard, glue, paints, and scraps of material, and see where your child’s artist inspiration takes him?

Make Your Own Art Prints

Polystyrene is used as packaging for all kinds of products, particularly foodstuffs, and can be used in art projects to make prints – a much more creative and positive use than sending it straight to the landfill site.

A really simple way to start out printing with kids is to make art stamps using old Styrofoam trays. You’ll need:
Old Styrofoam trays (if you use ones that were used in raw meat packaging, be sure to wash them carefully with soap and hot water)
Large plastic bottle caps – the bigger the better
Glue
Paintbrush or roller
Sharp scissors
Water-based inks or thick poster paints
Pencil
Paper

Cut circles out of Styrofoam to fit onto the tops of the bottle caps, then stick the circles onto the caps and allow to dry.

Use the pencil to create a drawing or pattern on the Styrofoam. Press firmly, as you need to make the grooves quite deep.

Carefully coat the stamp sparingly with your chosen ink or paint, using a brush or roller. The idea is for the ink to cover the flat part of the stamp without going into the grooves that make up your pattern.

Press the stamp firmly onto the paper and see your printed art pattern!

An Art Hobby for Your Child?

Once you have introduced your children to the idea of using trash for art, you may well find that they are inspired to continue with new and more ambitious art projects. To help them on their artistic road, here are some final tips:
Provide your child with a space to work. A large desk in a quiet part of the house is ideal. The kitchen table may be your only option, but if at all possible, a dedicated place where your child can leave his tools and materials easily accessible is the best option.
Save plenty of boxes and other containers for storing art materials and scraps.
Encourage your child to think of new and interesting ways to incorporate trash and scraps into his art, paintings, collages, and craft projects.
Always praise your child’s efforts and remember that it is the enjoyment of the process that is the most important part of art!

 

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