Oregon is beautiful year-round. As seasons change, unique combinations of flowers, branches, succulents, and natural elements become available at farmers' markets, gardens, and in backyards. Families with children of all ages can take advantage of the beauty of the seasons to create installation artwork with natural materials.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- Plant materials (we like to use a combination of flowers, greens, and succulents. You can also use items like sea shells, pinecones, or twigs. Let the kids help pick out the materials. Pick one to three colors and try to stay within that color palette, that way your installation will be more cohesive)
- Oasis or other green flower foam (this can be soaked with water to keep flowers fresh longer, but is best kept away from pets and very small children who might like to nibble it)
- Plastic floral tubes with caps
- Thin gauge wire
WHAT TO DO
Step 1: Choose a location for your installation. This could be a hollow log on your property, a wiggly tree branch, or even an old piece of furniture.
Step 2: Select your plants and other natural materials. Think about the way the colors, shapes, and textures might go together. Experiment. Move the pieces around. Children have a tremendous talent for sorting and arranging materials visually. Let them lead the way. As you work together think about different design principles. In some parts of the world even numbers of objects are thought to be more visually appealing and in other places people have preferred odd numbers. How will your design change if you have even or odd numbers? Use this as a chance to practice counting and basic math skills, and identify shapes and colors with younger children.
Step 3: Take your time. Use Oasis foam, wire, and floral tubes to secure and preserve your plants. Get creative with other items you may have around the house. Got some leftover chicken wire from a project? Try building with it! Have some scrap wood? Use it as part of your design! For sharper items, be sure to use protective gloves and keep eyes safe. Move around your sculpture to find the best angles. When you think you are done, look for any last details that could be added or taken away. Photograph your artwork to keep a record of the installation work your family created together.
For more inspiration and information about nature based installations, check out artwork by Andy Goldsworthy, Nils-Udo, and Jenn Richardson-Greene.
Jess Graff is an artist, a writer, and the Residency Manager at Portland Children’s Museum.
For more information please visit http://www.jessgraff.com/ and http://www.portlandcm.org/visit/artist-residencies.