Museum of Art project ignites creativity for all ages
Junk mail, salt, coffee.
Who knew these mundane materials could be used to create works of art?
That is until the clever teaching artists at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art developed Art Sparks to relieve the boredom of staying home during the pandemic and to inspire people to re-use inexpensive items usually found in every home in a completely different way.
“We call the project Art Sparks to ignite creativity — like a match,” Patsy Hicks, the museum’s director of education, told the News-Press. “We want to inspire them to get away from their screens and go outside and notice trees and shadows and how the sky changes at different times of the day.”
Among the free projects are a Junk Mail Collage, Salted Aluminum Collage, Coffee Painting, Geometric Painting, Shapes in Circles Watercolor, Shapes in Circles Collage, Colorful Tree Drawing and Painting in the Sky.
In very easy-to-understand instructions, the steps are outlined to complete the project along with materials needed and artist tips in cartoon-style bubbles.
Instructions for the Coffee Painting read that 1 teaspoon of instant coffee should be mixed with ½ teaspoon of water, but brewed coffee can also be used with the admonition that a small cup should stand at room temperature to evaporate moisture.
One of the artist tips: “To create darker hues, let one layer dry and then paint another layer over it.”
In another bubble: “Did you know? Some famous artists paint with coffee all the time! Other natural sources for water-based paints are avocado, berries and beets!”
“All of the projects were inspired by artworks in the museum’s permanent collection. Frederick Hammersley’s ‘full time,’ 1951, a watercolor on paper, was the inspiration for the ‘Coffee Painting,’ and the ‘Salted Aluminum Collage’ was inspired by Aaron Siskind, Westport 93, 1988, Gelatin silver print,” Ms. Hicks said.
“Even though these projects are fun, easy and accessible, they incorporate elements of art like texture, color, lines and shapes, and people can learn to use different materials like salt and coffee, along with traditional ones like pencils, watercolors and crayons,” said Ms. Hicks.
“Our original aim in creating Art Sparks was to lure kids away from their screens, but it has become a great way for parents and children to work together and to find that they don’t have to be artists to enjoy the activity.”