Our first couple workshops used white paper as a backdrop for children to be able to create miniature imaginary universes out of ordinary arts and crafts materials. Plasticine (that modelling clay used by animators that never dries up) and coloured paper were the easiest materials to work with, and you would see them used over and over. I couldn’t help but notice that there was a lot of time consuming colouring in of skies: London Grey, Countryside Blue, and even multicolour Tropical Sunrise. My favourite was a 9 year-old boy spending a full 30 minutes meticulously colouring in individual blades of grass on his imaginary football pitch of the future.
As artists, we pick the right material for the job. Sometimes it’s to achieve a special effect, but sometimes it’s just to get an idea or a form across as quickly and easily as possible. Balloons covered in papier mache strips of newspaper have been a go to for me since I was about 5 years old: there’s still no better way to create a cheap and dirty globe. We needed to figure out the best set of tools to unlock children’s imaginations. It seemed to be a combination of 2D and 3D forms. Paint was too messy for such quick workshops where we wanted to keep the focus on the actual imaginary universes. My favourite iPad drawing app, Paper, had just released a new feature that made it even easier to draw colourful blocks of color. I had been playing with mirroring my iPad display to a projector and using the shadows from paper cut outs to make designs. Here’s a photo of one of my earliest setups:
The Mini Maker Faire was a chance to test out painting with light. We made imaginary creatures (monsters and aliens galore) out of white plasticine and projected light on top of them.
For the younger ones, the effect was just magical. “How is my monster changing colours? Why are the buildings in the back all dark?” For the older ones, it was a chance to quickly and easily sketch out an entire city. Even an abstract drawing like the one below would evolve into a modern and funky cityscape when projected on top of a variety of 3D forms. Here’s an example of what the actual iPad drawing looked like:
You’ll have to use your imagination to picture how it looked projected on top of 3D creatures and buildings 🙂