Fine art for kids: Collaging with Peter Clark

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Memories of putting together “About Me” creations come to mind when I think of collaging. All those hours spent flipping through magazines searching out images defining who you are followed by attempts at an artful arrangement, which always ended up looked like a big, cheap, shiny mess, seemed like such a waste. And the finished collage didn’t really tell anyone anything about you at all – other than you are handy with a pair of scissors.

But collaging can be fun (really) – and exciting (YES!), and also a wonderful learning opportunity that hones skills.

There are several famous artists that have turned collaging into an art form and Peter Clark is one of them. Clark transforms bits of torn paper into whimsical and imaginative creations that attract everyone’s attention. Sure, he might not be a household name, but your kids (and you) will totally love his artworks and inventiveness. Born in 1929 in South Africa, Clark has explored creating woodcuts and creative writing, but is mostly known for his recent adventures with collage.

Take a closer look at Clark’s collages and discuss with your child the different types of papers he used to create his artworks. Some are constructed from torn up maps, others from pages from phone books, and even others from magazines. Invite your child to brainstorm an idea for his torn paper collage. For younger kids, offer a bit of assistance coming up with a plan, but older kids can really get creative by selecting a challenging subject, such as a unique vehicle, animal, or article of clothing – just like Clark. The focus can be as simple as a star or as challenging as a self-portrait!

Offer your child a sheet of white drawing paper and encourage him to lightly draw an outline for his collage creation. With the younger set, offer some help creating lines for your child to use as guidelines while creating. Once he’s satisfied with his sketch, he can go on a scavenger hunt around the house for papers to use for his collage. Phone books, old maps, torn pages from books and magazines, or bits of wrapping paper and construction paper all are wonderful paper options.

Now he can tear, tear, tear bits of paper and start gluing things together. Remind your child to arrange the paper bits in a way to show definition of areas by grouping colors together and using contrast, such as a bright color next to a dull one, to show different sections of his creation. Tearing paper also hones fine-motor skills benefitting handwriting skills.

Encourage your child to continue tearing and gluing his Peter Clark inspired collage until his whole paper is covered. He can even create a background by tearing bits of paper to create a solid color background or be more ambitious by setting his object in a scene, such as a landscape.

Once the finished collage is dry, find the perfect spot to display for friends and family to enjoy!

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