One of my ongoing projects as Artist in Residence at Abbotsford School of Integrated Arts is the Picnic Table Project. Each year for the past four years, the Grade Seven students have participated in painting picnic tables that permanently sit in the hallway of the school. Each year, the school has a different theme so the tables are painted with that year’s theme in mind. These tables are used all day, every day. They are used at break and lunch times. They are used when students need a spot to work together on group projects. And they are used if the hall is quiet and a student needs some alone time.
Voice. We added a flat table top to the picnic table and first painted it to look like concrete. Then, the students were encouraged to find quotes which had to do with using one’s voice to bring about positive change. The quotes, along with the photo of Malala were stencilled on to the table.
Colour. Using only primary colours, red, blue, and yellow, and adding black and white, this was a lesson in math, in formulating precise amounts of paint so that there was a gradual shift in tone. One cc of red, two cc’s of yellow, and .5 cc of blue…… Precision was the key
Pacific North West Sea Life. This table was primed and assembled for the students. We added a smooth surface so that the students could paint with acrylic inks, which are very watery. We applied the inks with eyedroppers and manipulated the different tones of blues with water to blend. Then the students researched which types of sea life live in our coastal waters and painted their images on the table and benches. Once the table was painted and varnished, some students crocheted starfish and an octopus and we applied them with Paverpol, a fabric hardener.
Optical Illusion. From a distance, the table looks warped. Students sanded the table pieces, primed, drew their designs. Helped assemble the table and then painted with latex paints.