For the purpose of this WILD project, you need to imagine that we gathered the wood in the forest, that we meticulously scraped the mud and earth off each piece and that we let it dry by the fire before using it as our canvas. Trust me, that was the intention. In truth, we didn't make it out to a place where you can collect bark, so we just took the wood we had lying around the house. But that's by the by.
I wanted to introduce the kids to Aboriginal Art, i.e. dot paintings which years ago were painted on bark, using pigment from ground ochre. I told them a little bit about it, that it was based on stories (Jukurrpa) and centred on the "dreamtime". I also really meant to collect the materials to paint with - such as chalk - outdoors in the elements with them. Instead, we took some Ikea chalk that's been lying dormant for years because let's face it, nobody actually draws on the door that was painted in blackboard paint. To make the paint, the kids mashed the chalk up with a pestle and mortar. Three guesses whether you think they liked this bit? When you've got colour, smashing, mess and clanking noises all mixed into one activity - what's not to love? Plus it makes you feel all Anish Kapoor-ish. And that man is the master of pigment creations.
Here's how it went:
Me: "So the idea is to create a painting that tells a story, something that's important to you, using dots."
Bobby: "OK cool. I'm going to paint a turtle."
Me: "Alright. Good. In what way does a turtle feature in your life?"
Bobby: "It doesn't".
After about 20 seconds of precise dotting, neither Bobby or Annie were that interested in keeping the dots round, or separated from each other. I had to silence the mumzilla in me. Don't say a word, I thought, a true artist does it how he feels. It's all good. And guess what? It was all good. Everyone got their own dreamtime.
What you need:
- Bark or wood
- A pestle and mortar
Top tip: Grab an old brick and bust some bits off, then mash them with your pestle and mortar. You can use these as an ochre equivalent.
Top quote: "I use all sorts of things to work with: old brooms, old sweaters, and all kinds of peculiar tools and materials. I paint to excite myself, and make something for myself." Francis Bacon