A Big Tree

My theme for this week’s home-education art class at Wilderness Wood was Earth. I have some earth pigments from Clearwell Caves in the Forest of Dean, and decided to use this as well as some soot (from the welcome and ever-burning open fire in the hut) to create paints. We spoke about what substances might have been used to form a binder, such as honey and egg white, but I mixed the ochres and the ash with gum arabic. I also brought some compressed charcoal in grey tones and sepia/sanguine, to provide some more earthy colours.

The children had a go at using the paints and compressed vs willow charcoal, and after the break they decided what they were going to work on as a collaborative piece. A tree was agreed upon, and we stuck a large sheet of paper on to the table. They then got to work:

So far, the children have all worked on their own pieces on A3 paper so I was curious to see how well they would work together, as they have very different styles and approaches. I was also looking forward to seeing how having an expense of paper to work on helped them as personally I find it SO liberating! They collected leaves and twigs to print and paint with, and some handprints emerged too. Using the same tones of colours really helped as the beauty of the pigments really shone through. I suggested an owl, and a hedgehog, and coerced a rather kamikaze squirrel out of them too.

Here is the finished article:

Isn’t it fabulous?


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