Art in Action: N is for Negative Image

Mommy Crusader Art in Action Activities, Kids Crafts, School, STEAM 0 Comments

It’s a lot of fun to see young children explore different color schemes and methods of creating art. In this Art in Action: N is for Negative Image, my children got the chance to make pictures in a negative image.  They had a lot of fun doing it, and even Daddy Crusader got in on the creation of art.

Now, I’m not using the term negative image as a photography term, but more in a sculpting term for this activity. In photography, a negative image means the lightest areas of the picture are the darkest, and vice versa.  In sculpture, negative image means the areas normally raised are lowered and, again, vice versa.  For our experience, instead of using color to create a picture, we took color away from our canvas to create a picture.

Objective:  To introduce children to a different method of creating an image – instead of adding color, taking that color away.

Squares of paper, coated in colored crayon wax and then covered in black crayon wax, for each child. (I colored 8 ½” by 11” copy pages with thick layers different colors and then recoated them with a thick layer of black. Then I cut them into fourths because I didn’t want to spend all day coloring. )

Begin by explaining how a negative image, in this situation, will work. Talk about how the children can build an image by taking away the black to reveal the color. It often helps to have an example ready to show to the children.

Show them how rubbing the end of the toothpick on the coated paper removes the black and reveals the color underneath the black.  Remind them to use the toothpicks safely and that they don’t need to press hard to remove the black wax.

Now, give them time to create their masterpieces.

Daddy Crusader, ever the Mathematician, worked on creating geometric designs on his page.

My fifth grader worked on recreating my example, and then expanding the picture.

My third grader discovered that if he laid two sheets together he could create a transfer on the back of the first sheet – and they looked remarkable. I thought his discovery was quite ingenious. And had to make a transfer of my own of swirls.

My first grader just wanted to scrape all the wax off from his paper – which he found was rather time consuming. So, he changed his goal and decided to draw a Pokemon character instead.

My preschooler worked on writing her name, and then drawing hearts. Her new skill is being able to draw a heart.

And, my baby, well, she took a nice peaceful nap for the duration of this activity.

We did find that if too much pressure is applied to the toothpicks then they will break. They are only toothpicks after all.

We really enjoyed this activity as the entire family. It was a very calm, yet entertaining, way to spend the afternoon together. What is your favorite non-traditional art method? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to try it.


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