Nature’s Winter Palette

Art outdoors, even when the weather is freezing? Tempera paints and chalk may not be suitable in all winter climates, but other natural media – snow, ice, shadows – offer interesting creative opportunities. Imagine Monet, painting his effets de neige.

Snow. The quiet beauty and wonder of snow is unsurpassed. Catch falling flakes on dark paper and marvel at their symmetrical, delicate designs. Make designs with children on the snowy sidewalk or ground, using sticks as in The Snowy Day. Snow angels are easy for even the youngest children.

Back inside, children can use chalk, glue, yarn, or other materials to make snowflake designs on dark backgrounds. Pound nails into a board (how many points does a snowflake have?) and encourage children to thread yarn, rubber bands, or string between the nails to create a snowflake motif. Whip up some Ivory Flakes (?) with water for snowy finger paint. Younger children can sew snowy scenes using yarn needles on dark burlap or nylon net. Older ones can cut intricate snowflakes out of paper or make lace.

Ice. Although chain saw ice creations are far beyond children’s capabilities – they may even be beyond Martha Stewart’s capabilities — find ice or snow sculptures in your area to admire. Suggest that children construct their own 3-dimensional works of art using wonderfully malleable, sticky snow. Challenge them to form a rabbit, a Space Shuttle or a mermaid.

Look up, at the icicles hanging from the roof or at tree limbs after an ice storm. Observe how long and pointed, clear or cloudy, bumpy or smooth the ice is. Admire patterns that skaters make on ice and try to capture them in a collage or diorama of an ice rink.

Shadows. Trees and buildings make long, dark shadows in winter. Suggest that children take black and white photos or draw what they see in pencil or charcoal.

Don’t get stuck indoors — winter is indeed an artful season!