It’s hard to believe that Earth Day began 40 years
ago this spring. We’ll look back on how we observed the holiday’s first
celebration, and we’ll tell you about a special exhibit that showcases some
professional artists who reuse materials to create their work.
We’ll recommend some good Earth Day books for kids and link you to Web sites with Earth Day themes. If you’ll indulge us, we’d like to share some good news about an award The Imagination Factory received recently.
Finally, we’ll give you an important tip on how to see the creative potential in items most people throw away, and working with the most unlikely materials, we’ll show you how to make a brush to use for painting leaves and grass.
Marilyn Brackney, creator of The Imagination Factory, was one of eleven honorees who received the prestigious Indiana Green Business Award in Indianapolis in late March. She was given the award for her creative approach in teaching others to make art with reused materials.
Sponsored by Rolls-Royce Corporation, the awards were part of Green Fest Indy, an expo held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. More than 140 companies set up exhibits and lectures to educate Hoosier businesses and the general public to help create a better world by greening neighborhoods and communities.
Brackney received the Education Award for organizing Déjà vu, an annual art show featuring professional artists who reuse scrap or solid waste to make their work. Also, she was recognized for creating The Imagination Factory.
Judges for the Indiana Green Business Awards included representatives from Rolls-Royce Corporation, the U.S. Green Building Council, Whole Foods Market, Center of Wellness for Urban Women, Nuvo and IndyMetro Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. Green Fest Expos, Inc. organized the three-day event.
Pictured above are Ed Gaus and Brian Fields of Bongo Boy Music School, performing on recycled instruments at Greenfest Indy.
When I taught in the public schools and worked on a limited budget, I often resorted to using scrap and trash as art supplies. I learned that reusing solid waste to make art is just a matter of studying an art material’s features or qualities.
Then it was fairly easy to substitute scrap or a “repurposed item” for something I usually ordered from an art supply catalog. Sometimes I started with the conventional art material and thought about the kinds of solid waste I could substitute for it.
A good example of “repurposing” is Le Visage, a cast sculpture I created from dryer lint. Pictured here, it’s on display now in the The Art of Re-Use, the exhibit that’s described above.
I usually cast relief sculptures from paper pulp, which I order from a company that specializes in making the material. When I had the opportunity to enter a recycled art show, I decided to try substituting dryer lint for the commercially made casting product. It worked, and I received 2nd Place in the competition!
All this is leading up to the following art/reuse activity. Remember, studying an art material’s qualities or features can enable you to “repurpose” scrap or solid waste. In this case, we’ll reuse some common, household materials to make an essential artist’s tool, a paintbrush.
In this art activity, we’ll show you how to creatively reuse rubber bands. Of course, you can reuse them for their original purpose, but it’s also possible to make a paintbrush from several pieces of rubber bands that are bound together.
Painting with this type of brush is a good way to create textures like grass and leaves, and it can be used with just about any kind of medium, including oil, watercolor, and acrylic. Since the rubber won’t absorb, cleaning the brush is very easy. Just wipe off the paint with a rag.
The inspiration for our brush is one that we bought at an art supply store. Known as the Funny Brush, its design is very simple. Studying the “bristles” of a Funny Brush reveals that it is made of short, rubbery pieces, much like the material of which rubber bands are made.
Cut the rubber bands into pieces that measure about 1.25 inches long. Gather them into a bundle, and tape the pieces together at the top. Push the taped end into the pen cap.
If necessary, add more short sections of the rubber band in order to fill the cap, and tape again. Trim the tips of the bands so they’re even.
Now you’re ready to create, and the tool is ideal for making grass and foliage. Dip the brush into paint, and dab it onto the paper or try making brushstrokes.
Marilyn Brackney: http://www.kid-at-art.com/ You’re already here!
Martina Celerin: http://www.martinacelerin.com/
Chris Gustin: http://www.homesteadweaver.com/
Nick McGill: http://www.bloomington.in.us/~byhand/mcgill.html
Lynne Medsker: http://www.lynnemedsker.com/
Mark Medsker: http://www.medskermetalart.com/home.html
Cappi Phillips: http://www.moesache.com/
See The Imagination Factory’s Green Gallery for work created by many of the artists.