Thursday, 20 February 2014

Jim Dine Valentines Hearts - Growing Crystals on Watercolour Paintings

You have probably guessed by now that I love a themed lesson!  I also love hearts..I love colour...I love using liquid watercolours and I love incorporating some science into my lessons.  This lesson allowed me to indulge in of all these things....

Ohh and I also love to bake!

Valentines cookies for afternoon tea..
What better way to celebrate Valentines Day than to paint HEARTS in the style of Jim Dine (our artist of the week).  I just love his use of colour.

We have used liquid watercolours quite a few times so to make these paintings even more special I couldn't resist incorporating in some crystal growing.  This was inspired by this pin (sent to me by my friend Yana (thanks!) - you've gotta love Pinterest!).  Thanks to "Fun at Home with Kids" for the great post on this and directions.

crystals growing on our paintings - how cool!
What you need:
  • Liquid Watercolours
  • Epsom Salts
  • Small containers with lids (I used salad dressing containers)
  • Watercolour Paper (we used some A4 sheets and some A3 sheets)
  • Paintbrushes (various sizes)
  • Oil Pastels

How to:
  • Ask the children to draw a heart (or several) on their paper using the oil pastels
  • Make up some Epsom salt crystal solution by mixing equal amounts of Epsom salts and hot water (from the tap) in a small container (I added the hot water).
  • Put the lid on tight and ask the children to shake the container until most of the salts have dissolved (approx 2-3 mins).
  • Add some liquid watercolour (I let them choose the colour).
  • The children then paint their crystal solution on either the heart or background
  • Allow the children to use normal liquid watercolours to complete their painting.
  • Leave to dry
  • Once the painting is dry the crystals will show up as long lines that glisten in the sun.  The photos don't do the paintings justice, they do look really beautiful where the crystals have grown.
  • I allowed the children to take home their left over crystal solution to attempt to grow a crystal at home (leave on a window with lid off to dry out.  I added a small piece of sponge to increase the growing area and it makes it easier to lift the crystal out).
Why do the crystals grow?
Epsom salt is another name for the chemical magnesium sulfate. The temperature of the water determines how much magnesium sulfate it can hold; it will dissolve more when it is hotter. As the solution cools and the water evaporates, the magnesium sulfate atoms run into each other and join together in a crystal structure made up of long needles.

The Results:

Note some of these paintings are just watercolours without the crystal solution (the children each did two pictures and they didn't have to add the crystal solution to both paintings).

I think they are a wonderful example of what watercolours can do.  I encouraged the wet on wet look and lots of drips and bright colours.  I use liquid watercolours non diluted as this produces the most vibrant colours.

close up of the crystals

close up of the crystals

close up of the crystals

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