Do you believe in courage? In having a go? In making a mark?
Do you believe in the power of persistence? That one dot can launch a journey?
Then, you believe in “The Dot” by Peter H. Reynolds.
Here is the reason I love this book so much and have used it in my classroom and in my art room: it all comes down to the word process:
While the book is about art, it really is about process —about ideas,
creative thinking, bravery, expression, original ideas, and sharing.
~Peter H. Reynolds
On September 15th, people around the world will be celebrating International Dot Day. Peter has some ideas for you on how you might join in the celebrations. He has also written a Teachers Guide to The Dot. There is also a Dot DVD and an interactive, big-screen version of The Dot.
This year, there is also a Celebri-Dots blog on which dots from celebrities are shared. My favorite is Amy Krouse Rosenthal. If you like her dot, check out her gorgeously glittery book, Plant a Kiss and do yourself a massive favor by reading An Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life – hil-arious! But back to the dots…
As a former art teacher and lover of all things arty, I decided to gather together some ideas for those of you who are now thinking that this ‘Dot Day’ is the thing for you! Don’t you think celebrating creativity around the world is something worth sharing in? Of course you do = so on to the ideas!
Farbstudie Quadrate, c.1913 is one of Kandinsky’s most easily recognizable works – and the first thing that came to mind when I thought of Dots. There are literally thousands of ways you could have children respond to this work of art. My suggestion: set up a Kandinsky Studio (coincidentally, the name of my art studio when I was teaching in Bangkok) and provide a ton of materials for inspiration and see where your kids go! Challenge yourself and your kids to go beyond reproducing Kandinsky’s work. Instead, think more about the process than the product. This was a study in color and how different colors looked when placed next to other colors. What can you do with color to make a dot? What can you do with positioning dots of different sizes? Do they have to be concentric? What if they were not inside squares but left as circles – or arranged in a circle? Paint Chips (from hardware store paint sections) are great for providing kids with a huge selection of gorgeous paint colors (don’t tell them I sent you but do ask before you clean them out – you never know, they may have a whole bunch of ‘last season’s’ colors they are dying to get rid of!).
A master in pointillism, Seurat painted in dots, so naturally, he was the second person I thought of. His work has often been recreated in art classes around the world with the use of cotton q-tips. By placing dots of color next to other dots of color, new colors are “formed” – or at least, your eyes trick your brain into believing this is so. Instead of paintbrushes, put out some q-tips and see what treasures evolve!
Last year, my fourth graders made a beautiful piece of work inspired by Jasper Johns’ Target. Again, like Kandinsky, there is no need to completely duplicate his work, just be inspired from it!
At our Fall trip up to McCall, Idaho, the past two years, our evening program has included a night of Andy Goldsworthy inspired art. Goldsworthy is famous for creating art from nature and whilst not all of his work is cyclical or ‘dot-esque’ a lot of it is. How could you make a dot in your environment? How can you make a dot that leaves a ‘temporary’ mark? How can you make a dot without opening your paintbox, your pencil case, the crayon box…?
Leave the Paper on the Shelf!
Why use paper when there are so many other options for your dot canvases? Try using…
- coffee filters (sprayed with water and dabbed with paint, these can look awesome)
- paper plates of different sizes – a cheap way to get pre-cut circles.
- old vinyl records or old CD’s – these could be hung to make a dot-mobile
- tree cookies (I love the idea of this one! – wearable dot-art from nature)
- clock faces – how cool to give a dot-tastic makeover to all the clocks in your school!
- stool seats – convince anyone who has stools (art teacher?) to let you makeover the seats!
- wreaths – make 3D dots with foam wreaths from craft stores or DIY a wreath form for cheap
Other Cool Ideas…
Fair Ground Paint Spinning
Did you ever go to the fair or show grounds and do one of those paintings where they set the paper spinning and you drip paint from squeeze bottles? I am SURE someone (code for: my husband) could set something like this up with an electric drill or some such thing. (I have no clue really but that sounds like it might work/might make a mess/would definitely be something kids would remember – therefore totally should be done!
Again, this may require a bit of help but what about having the kids hammer nails into a circle and then do a gorgeous weaving with colored threads? Hammering – what’s not to love?
Coffee Inspired Art
Invite your local gourmet barrista to school (I am thinking of Junko in Yokohama at Cafe Eliot) or better yet, go on a field trip and watch them work their magic on the ‘dot’ that is the foamy cup of coffee. I bet you would have no trouble getting parents to come and chaperone this field trip!
Dot Photo Contest/Tour
Have kids go on a camera tour around the school or open it up in advance for them to look for ‘dots’ or circles in their environment. Sometimes they will find them even when they are not looking – and what better way to encourage them to be more observant of their surroundings and develop photo taking, editing and sharing skills at the same time?
I can’t remember when I first did this but it is super fun! Get some cups or circular containers. Fill them with some water, some water-soluble dyes and some dish-washing liquid. You will have to experiment with quantities as you go along – to begin with, try a fairly high pigment wash that fills your container about one-third of the way up. Put in a squirt of dish-washing liquid. Then, get a straw and blow! You will have to blow and stir to mix the dye with the bubbles. Keep blowing until the bubbles rise above the rim of the container. Then, take a piece of paper and lay it on the top of the container and voila! You have a dot!
I have a couple of books on these at school for inspiration when I was teaching art. The math involved in making one is pretty impressive though. I love the opportunity to combine math and art so this would be something I would be especially interested in doing. I have seen amazing projects done by kids using the mandala as their inspiration – very cool!. Tibetan monks make these out of sand on the ground – another cool way to move art away from traditional paper. You could also color rice and use this as your medium for design.
I am sure there are loads of other ideas. The point is, make it a priority to join in the celebration of creativity around the world.