Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Cindy Crushes Programming: Splatter Painting

It was profoundly interesting to me when I received Cindy’s newest craft/program outline in my inbox to see that it involved splatter painting. You see, splatter painting is something that Thing 2 has recently become obsessed with and I found myself doing a lot of it this weekend. We made t-shirts.

We splatter painted canvases.

And Thing 2’s Girl Scout troop is in the process of making and installing Little Free Libraries around town and they’ve been splatter painting those as well. Splatter painting is very popular right now. So today, Cindy is going to talk to us about splatter painting and she is so very on trend.

Background: This craft was a teen patron requested during my Teen Advisory Group. I then researched splatter art.  There are a few tips on splatter art that I learned while doing my research that I am going to include. I learned that splatter art was a favorite style of Jackson Pollack. I printed out a few different pictures for my teens to look at to get ideas.

Splatter Paint Tutorial

Supplies:

  • Tiles
  • Paint (Various types)
  • Brushes (Various types0
  • Tablecloths

Step One:  Make sure to use a tablecloth. This is a very messy style of art. I chose to do it on the floor of our children’s programming room because there is no carpet and I could cover the floor with the tablecloth. I also warned the teens to not wear their best clothes just in case. One item of clothing, which I did not think about was shoes and while my library does have a rule that you must wear shoes, I realized maybe we could take off our shoes for this craft just this one time. I realized how important shoes are to teens and with school starting, I wanted to protect their shoes.

Step Two: Grab a tile. I used tiles because they are very cheap. This is one of my go to craft supplies. (Editor’s Note: You can buy bulk tiles from places like Oriental Trading Company at a decent price.)

Step three: Paint and paintbrushes. This is the most important art tip I learned. You have to use a variety of paints and brush types and sizes. This helps make each splatter look different.

DIY Tutorial on Splatter Paint

Step Four: Let the splatter begin. Splatter art is very simple to do. Put paint on the brush and splatter it on the tile. I liked to use a flick motion. I also let it drip on the tile. Those splatters worked the best. I let the teen pick how they wanted to do this step after explaining the various ways they could splatter.  

Step Five: Let dry. It could take over 24 hours to dry. I let some teens borrow a few of my aluminum cooking trays to take it home to keep their cars safe from paint.

Final Thoughts: This was a super fun craft. I loved doing it. The only drawback is the mess it makes, but if you can control it I highly recommend it. (Editor’s Note: If you have a grassy, outdoors space available, I recommend doing it outside – weather permitting – and in the grass. The grass will get mowed, the paint gets cleaned up, and the mess is less of an issue. This isn’t feasible at all libraries, but if you can make it work it’s a good painting space.)

The following are tiles from the teens of the White Oak Library District and my foot.

Read Wild: Hosting a Bob Ross Like Painting Party

Edited to Add: Please note the comment at the end of the post about Bob Ross, trademark and how to officially host a Bob Ross themed party. If you don’t want to pursue an official Bob Ross party, you’ll have to leave his name and likeness out of the picture due to copyright and trademark rights.

Bob Ross is having quite the renaissance in popularity, especially among teens, in part because of Netflix. If you didn’t know, you can watch Bob Ross paint a lot of happy trees on Netflix and many teens find it to be a great way to relieve stress and anxiety. It’s also fun to host a Bob Ross like painting party.

Today’s program is being brought to you by Karen . . . and the Girl Scouts. Thing 2 is a Girl Scout and they also do a lot of programming that would work well in a public or school library setting, especially if you are already doing programming and have a good space for it. I’m putting this under our Read Wild heading because Bob Ross was famous for painting a variety of landscapes, including forest, trees, sunsets, and seaside retreats. If you have the outdoor space available, I recommend taking the painting outside so teens are painting nature while being in nature and breathing in some fresh air. This is a fun and creative way to get teens thinking about and connecting with nature.

Supplies Needed:

  • A painting surface, like a tile mentioned by Cindy earlier today or a canvas
  • A variety of paints (Bob Ross uses oil paints, but you can use acrylics)
  • Paint brushes
  • Paper plates (this will be your palette)
  • Paper towels
  • Water and something to keep it in for cleaning brushes
  • If you need to protect your painting surfaces, you’ll want to get newspaper or tablecloths

Before you start painting, you may want to prime your canvas by giving it a layer of white paint. If you want to speed up the process, you can prep canvases the day before your painting party. If you are using tiles, you don’t need to do any prep work.

Set up is pretty easy, just distribute brushes, paints, paper plates and water containers to each participant. If you are inside and have public performance rights, you can play Bob Ross in the background. The big thing here is to just let teens paint nature scenes and step back and let them be creative and expressive.

You’ll want to give a brief introduction to teens about Bob Ross. If you want to go with video there are several choices on YouTube or you can just read a brief introduction via someplace like Wikipedia (I know, I’m sorry, but it’s a quick resource). You could also print off examples of his work to have around the room or put together a slideshow which you project onto a blank wall or share via your in-house screens.

There are several online write ups of Bob Ross painting parties. It turns out, it’s a pretty popular party theme. You can find a few good ones here, here and here. Bonus points if you find and wear a Bob Ross wig.

When we went to the Girl Scout party, The Teen was just there by default. However, she had such a good time that she went home and painted a few more canvases. It was an obvious hit and I highly recommend it.

MakerSpace: 5 Low or No Tech Activities for a Teen MakerSpace

makerspacelogo1When I first began transforming my teen space into a Teen MakerSpace, I was adamant that the space had to be tech, tech, tech heavy. All tech, all the time. I pushed back hard against suggestions that I should do things like have gel pens or paint. Part of my concern was legitimate, cost and clean up. Having consumable materials increases your cost right out of the gate. But there are a lot of consumables in tech making as well; see, for example, the 3D pen. You constantly have to replace the filament.

The clean up concern is legitimate as well. We work hard to try and keep our surfaces and floors protected, but there have been accidents. Tables and counters are easier to protect than floors, we simply cover them with cutting mats and it works pretty well.

I have slowly changed my idea of what a makerspace can and should be, in part because of my teens. It turns out, they like to do a lot of traditional arts and crafts just as much as they like to do coding, robotics and electronics. And many of our teens don’t have access to the tools necessary to learn these traditional types of arts and crafts anymore than they have access to the tech to learn coding and electronics. So we – so I – have expanded my idea of what a makerspace is. If it involves making something, I will consider it for the space. So today I am sharing with you 5 of their favorite more traditional arts and crafts activities that we do in our Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH).

Sculpey Clay

Desiree making jewelry out of Sculpey clay beads

Desiree making jewelry out of Sculpey clay beads

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Making things out of clay has turned out to be really popular for us. We have a toaster oven in the space that we use to bake the clay. They make anything from figures to jewelry using the clay. Desiree, one of our TMS assistants, has become quite good at clay art.

Teen Coloring

We have a dedicated teen coloring station with blank cartoon and graphic novel strips that teens can create, but we also just print off coloring sheets. We provide colored pencils, markers, and gel pens. I really pushed back against gel pens in the beginning because they are so expensive but found a great set at a reasonable price and we keep them locked up when the room isn’t staffed. It’s a relaxing activity and it’s pretty easy from a staff perspective, and the teens love it.

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Although many of our teens do use our supplies, we have a small handful of teens that come regularly and bring their own supplies and art books. They will also often draw pictures for us. A couple of times they have drawn pictures of us, which is an incredible honor.

Shrinky Dinks

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A bracelet made out of Shrinky Dink charms

A bracelet made out of Shrinky Dink charms

Who knew this childhood favorite would once again be so popular? We buy plain Shrinky Dink sheets at the local craft store and the teens are welcome to create anything they would like. They often trace and color their favorite manga characters. But you can also use Shrinky Dinks to do things like create jewelry.

Lego

today5 today6 Lego can be very tech savvy. For example, you can use Legos to create a Rube Goldberg machine. Legos can also be combined with tech like LittleBits or Raspberry Pi to make remote control vehicles or small robots. But sometimes, the teens just like to build with them. In fact, we now host a daily Lego challenge. We put up a sign with a small pile of Legos and ask teens to do things like build a car, make an animal, or even create a campfire scene. We get a lot of our daily challenges out of this book.

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Painting

today7I suppose in some ways this is just an extension of the coloring/drawing type of activities, but I have to go on the record as saying that I pushed back hard against buying pain and paint brushes. For one, we really do try and limit the amount of money we spend on consumables because you have to replace them a lot. But the truth is, it’s not as high of a cost as I thought it might be. You can buy a value pack of acrylic paint at Michael’s for $8.00. And a value pack of brushes for around $5.00. We don’t provide high quality materials by any means, but they get the job done. The teens not only paint on paper, but they will bring in t-shirts to paint, they paint their cell phone cases to personalize them, and more.

So here’s my takeaway.

1) The idea of a makerspace is always evolving.

2) Don’t be afraid of more traditional arts and crafts.