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de Youngsters Art Party: Blend the Rules

Young artists will learn the basics of paint making, following and creating recipes with different pigments and binders. With an emphasis on exploration and discovery, children can think out of the box by considering unorthodox materials, gaining a broader appreciation of the genesis of color, color application, and color creativity.

Collection Connection

The ancient artists of Teotihuacan painted Mural Fragment with Warrior Bird (400–600 CE) using the minerals malachite and hematite to make the bright green and deep red pigments. In Jacob Lawrence’s work Migration (1947), the artist used egg tempera paint to achieve luminous colors that appear to glow. Can you guess what the artist Ed Ruscha used for the colors in Pepto - Caviar Hollywood (1970)?

Watch How to Blend the Rules

Mural Fragment (Bird with Shield and Spears), 6th century CE. Earthen aggregate, lime plaster and mineral pigments, 11 5/8 x 12 3/8 in. (29.5 x 31.5 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Bequest of Harald J. Wagner, 1985.104.9
Mural Fragment (Bird with Shield and Spears), 6th century CE. Earthen aggregate, lime plaster and mineral pigments, 11 5/8 x 12 3/8 in. (29.5 x 31.5 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Bequest of Harald J. Wagner, 1985.104.9
Ed Ruscha, “Pepto - Caviar Hollywood,” 1970. Color screenprint on copperplate deluxe paper; torn and deckle edges, sheet: 14 7/8 x 42 1/2 in. (37.8 x 108 cm); image: 10 1/16 x 37 5/8 in. (25.6 x 95.5 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Mrs. Paul L. Wattis Fund, 2000.131.37.1. © Ed Ruscha
Ed Ruscha, “Pepto - Caviar Hollywood,” 1970. Color screenprint on copperplate deluxe paper; torn and deckle edges, sheet: 14 7/8 x 42 1/2 in. (37.8 x 108 cm); image: 10 1/16 x 37 5/8 in. (25.6 x 95.5 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Mrs. Paul L. Wattis Fund, 2000.131.37.1. © Ed Ruscha

Materials

  • Chalk
  • Plastic baggies
  • Can of beans or rolling pin (mortar and pestle can be used if available)
  • Glass jar
  • Measuring spoon
  • White glue
  • Water
  • Paintbrush
  • Paper
  • Optional: egg; selection of spices/foods for pigment (such as turmeric, smoked paprika, cumin, cocoa, etc.); tea; coffee; Pepto-Bismol

Questions to Consider

  • Where does color come from?
  • How do artists make paint?
  • How can you make a painting without using paint?

Basic recipe: Pigment + Binder = Paint

Steps

1. Break up a stick of chalk into small pieces and put inside a plastic baggie. Use the end of a can of beans or rolling pin and firmly press down repeatedly against the chalk, grinding it into a fine powder. This powder is your pigment. (Alternately, you can grind the chalk to a powder using a mortar and pestle if available.)

2. In a glass jar, measure a tablespoon of white glue and a tablespoon of water and mix with a paintbrush to make your binder. Add the chalk pigment and mix thoroughly to make your paint. You can use it straight away, but if you allow time (at least 1 hour) for the pigment to dissolve, the paint color will be stronger.

3. Explore different ways of applying your paint to the paper. You can paint a large area in solid color, or create interesting marks by dotting or swirling your brush. Try using just the tip of the paintbrush, then gently press the brush head flat onto the paper and carefully pull to create more marks.

4. How about making egg tempera paint? Instead of using white glue, substitute an egg yolk; this binder results in a lovely luminous finish that becomes more noticeable as you build up more layers of paint. Be sure to let each paint layer dry completely before adding the next.

de Youngsters Art Party: Blend The Rules

5. Consider using spices or other powdered foods as pigments. Turmeric, smoked paprika, and cocoa have satisfying results—what else could you try? You might want to create a swatch page, painting a small area of color, then writing which pigment and binder you used, to record your paint recipes.

6. Experiment like artist Ed Ruscha and paint with Pepto-Bismol, or use strong coffee or tea. These work especially well when you apply multiple layers. What works best: adding layers quickly or allowing time for them to dry between each application? Discover how the thin consistency of coffee or tea lends itself to the application of drops across the page; direct streams of coffee/tea by tilting the paper; gently blow your breath across small pools of coffee/tea on the paper.

Have fun painting on the paper from the Art Box! These painted papers can be used later in the week for the Paper. Is. So. Not. Boring, Pieces of Me, and Out-of-the-Box Landscape video art projects.

Reflect

  • After creating your paints, consider the following questions:
  • What pigments did you discover?
  • Which different ways did you apply the paint?
  • What was your favorite paint recipe and why?
  • How would you explain this project to a friend?

Share

We would love to see what you create! Tag us on any social media platform with #deyoungsters or email us your creations at specialevents@famsf.org.

 

Image credits

  • Mural Fragment (Bird with Shield and Spears), 6th century CE. Earthen aggregate, lime plaster and mineral pigments, 11 5/8 x 12 3/8 in. (29.5 x 31.5 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Bequest of Harald J. Wagner, 1985.104.9
  • Jacob Lawrence, Migration, 1947. Egg tempera on hardboard, 20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 61 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, American Art Trust Fund, Dr. Leland A. and Gladys K. Barber Fund and Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd, by exchange, 2010.1. © 2020 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Ed Ruscha, Pepto - Caviar Hollywood, 1970. Color screenprint on copperplate deluxe paper; torn and deckle edges, sheet: 14 7/8 x 42 1/2 in. (37.8 x 108 cm); image: 10 1/16 x 37 5/8 in. (25.6 x 95.5 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Mrs. Paul L. Wattis Fund, 2000.131.37.1. © Ed Ruscha
  • Process photograph by Hannah Freeman