Tuesday, September 28, 2010

my painting mantra & other random stuff

WIPE, WASH, WIPE. That's our painting mantra. It all started with some sponges I got several years ago. I always order a LOT of sponges when I fill out my annual requisitions, but that year I tried a different type. They were cheap, and worthless for washing tables, as the water wouldn't squeeze out and they seemed to smear rather than clean. They were oval shaped, looking like little loaves of bread. So I had a revelation. We would use them for a different purpose, and stick to the traditional rectangular sponges for table cleaning. And it's been that way ever since.

When we paint, I want the colors to stay CLEAN, so that the next class can use the paints without me having to refill. There are so many things we, who have spent our lives around art materials, do naturally. We know how much water to have in our brush, we know how much paint to put on the tip, we know how to paint a smooth edge. But sometime I need reminding that these techniques do not come naturally, that they need to be taught.

SO ~ back to the sponges (which, unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of today). I teach the kids, when they are done using a color, to gently WIPE their brush on the sponge to remove excess paint. Then the WASH the brush in their water (which stays so much cleaner because of the first wipe), and then they WIPE the excess water off the brush.

The paints pictured above were pre-mixed colors for a 2nd grade painting being done for our PTSA fundraiser. The paint trays below were photographed at the end of the morning, after I had scooped the leftover paint back into the containers above. CLEAN!!

Whether wiping on goofy sponges or newspapers, the wipe/wash/wipe mantra really works. Do you have a routine that has really helped in your classroom, whether for painting, or cleanup, or something else? Please share! It took me years and a mistaken sponge order to discover my little trick, so it's never too late to acquire a new trick.

Also today - I have a second grade student who is deaf and totally blind. He didn't attend art very often in younger grades, as his time is taken with special services. But this year will be different. He will be coming to art class regularly, and since I lack the training, I really depend on his 1:1 teaching assistant to take the lead in terms of what works best for him. Today was great. His 1:1 brought wikki sticks with her, and they used them to outline shapes to paint. Then the student was able to feel where the wikki sticks were, and paint inside them to their boundaries to create shapes. And he chose the colors to use, based on associations with favorite things (since he has never seen a color). He was very excited, and it went really well. Yippee!! It's great having support staff who really know their stuff.

With cold nights ahead, my plants needed to come in from their summer home on my porch. So today my sweet hubby delivered them to my classroom for me, along with a chair from my ice cream table & chair set. I plan on using the chair, and maybe a plant or two, it in the coming weeks as part of a still life that will relate to our upcoming "Artist of the Month", my favorite, Matisse.

Enough random stuff!


  1. I have so many mantras! Mine for painting is Swish, Wipe, Blot! The kids love to say it. And the paints stay nice and clean.
    Thanks for posting!

  2. As for sponges!!! I gave them away a couple years ago- hated spending the money only to throw them out within a couple of weeks. Now I use cloths which will last almost year. I wash them every couple of weeks in the machine to keep them fresh. They are a kind of microfibre towelling quilted with I assume dacron polyester filling?? They are used for cleaning in the kitchen and cost about $1.00 each. I will buy some new ones and photgraph some for you and post on my blog OZ KIDZ ARTZ http://cheryl-hancock.blogspot.com/

  3. I may have to try this Wipe, Wash, Wipe thing:) My paints are always a big mess after hour 1:) I put the paint in plastic baby food containers and replenish them at the end of the hour for the next group. It works for me but I want to try you method too:)

  4. Lots of great ideas in your post today! The wikki stick idea might work for autistic children too. I have often cut a stencil shape and attached it to a paper when a special shape was desired. The child looks at everything but the paper when painting. This way he could feel where the brush needed to stay.

  5. I had never really heard of wikki sticks until last summer when we picked up a free sample at the county fair. My daughter in law shared with us that there's a restaurant in Denver where one wall is wikki sticked. Diners a free to arrange them any way they please...an ever evolving sculpture wall. Now I love them. And really love your wikki stick painting idea! How clever.
    Oh yeah here's my mantra for kids who make on little mark and want a new free draw paper...hey, we're trying to save the rain forest here. Not sure if drawing paper comes from the rain forest, but can't stop saying that.

  6. I have to try the sponge thing! That sounds like it will be better then paper towels. Thanks for the idea