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ARTful Thanks

2020 has been a difficult year. No amount of candied yams can sugarcoat that statement. However, this November the Education Department’s focus is on gratitude. We are thankful that the museum is open and sharing art with our community. We are thankful that we are still able to connect with students, even if that connection is only virtual for the moment. We are thankful to our members, partners, and donors who believe in our mission and support us in good times and bad. We are thankful for YOU reading this blog. It is so important to take stock of the positive things in our lives and we need to pass on this way of thinking to our children. What better way to express thanks than through art!

We have searched high and low for Thanksgiving art projects that go beyond the turkey to focus on giving thanks. We hope you find some inspiration in the following projects and we hope that you find much to be grateful for in your lives!

Gratitude Trees

We love this project as it can easily become a really lovely November tradition in your home. We also love projects that the entire family can collaborate on. The idea of the gratitude tree is simple: create leaves to reflect on the things you are thankful for. The tree can be a branch from your backyard or created from cardboard or crumpled paper. This website offers several examples that are sure to inspire you!

You could also create a variation on this idea by way of a Gratitude Wreath. Create your leaves of gratitude and arrange them in a circle. You could use a paper plate as a base or even an embroidery ring, like with this project that makes a beautiful fall wreath out of family handprints and an embroidery hoop.

Family Trees

Continuing with the tree theme, for those of us that are thankful for family, creating a family tree might be a nice way to express that gratitude. This version starts with a drawn tree base and then uses fingerprints to fill out the leaves.

For more inspiration, this site offers several examples including some beautiful collage family trees complete with photos of family members and another collage project created from letters and newspaper articles. This is another project the entire family can collaborate on!

Thankful for Fall: Leaf and Nature Projects

For those that are just thankful for this time of year, creating projects that celebrate the beauty of the season are a wonderful way to express that gratitude!

We are grateful for any opportunity to go on a nature walk and collecting interesting leaves is one of our favorite activities. There are many ways to preserve leaves for use in projects but the easiest way is to brush both sides with Mod Podge and let dry. You can then use those leaves for many art projects:

o   Create a leaf resist painting that illustrates the how important negative space can be in creating form and shape.

o   Leaf doodling allows creates beautiful results and you can string them together to create a lovely fall banner or a mandala for your wall.

o   With a bit of wax paper and two paper plates, you can create lovely nature suncatchers.

o   Similar to the gratitude wreath, this project incorporates weaving to create a leaf catcher, with the leaves expressing all the things we love about this time of year. You can use real leaves instead of the construction paper leaves.

o   Make beautiful monoprints with the leaves. This project does so on tea towels and napkins to create a beautiful keepsake of the season.

o   You can also make leaf prints from the leaves themselves without paint or ink. Careful though, as this project requires the use of a hammer.

o   Use your leaves to create a beautiful, collaged pumpkin. You can use this as an opportunity to learn about symmetry and balance in art.

o   Make leaf crowns for your guests to wear at Thanksgiving dinner with nothing more than paper bags, leaves, and glue.

We hope you take a moment to reflect on gratitude this month and create something with your students and or families that bring you joy. And remember, we at WMA are so very thankful for YOU!