Visit our websiite at

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cat-n-Around with Art and Soul Preschool's Kindergartners

The Proud Artists of "Rainbow Crystal Cat!"

As you take a journey down Main Street during the summer months, you are greeted by the Cats on Main.  These fabulous felines sit high on their perches looking proud and purr-fect and the among the litter sits "Crystal Rainbow Cat," designed and created by the children of Art and Soul Preschool's Kindergarten class!  What a treat to have these very young artists join the ranks of the many successful local artists who create the Cats on Main Street.

It was a wonderful journey making "Crystal" so here is the story of her creation:

The children have been very involved in studying cats.  To say they love cats is an understatement, many of the children became cats!  They put on cat ears and tails, spoke only in cat meows, and even sometimes became wild feral cats.  That's when we started to move the energy of cat play into more creative and focused outlets.   As part of our philosophy at  school, when a group of children have a strong interest in a topic, we dive fully into that topic to help them develop a love of learning and research.  From their play we read up on cats, we learned about the many different types of cats, had long conversations about why they like cats, drew cats, we basically became obsessed with cats.  What would one expect from a school located in Catskill?!  In an attempt to give the children more projects to do with cats, I thought of the cats on Main Street in the summer.  What an incredible opportunity for the children to have, paint their own cat for Main Street! 

 I knew we were a little late in the game, but I thought I would ask The Heart of Catskill how we could be involved in this project.  When I asked, they had one cat left and a possible sponsor for the cat.  With luck on our side, The Renaissance Gallery agreed to sponsor our cat!  
Now that we had a cat, what were we going to do?  Here is how the children worked together to create this beautiful cat.  

The children came into the classroom during Kindergarten class to find a "naked cat," as one of the teachers called it, a name that all the children gravitated to and started calling it aswell.  They spent a good amount of time just looking at the cat.

 I had also put out a drawing sheet that is very similar to the template that is in the artist's proposal pack for Cat-n-Around.  
Before the children drew out their ideas for the cat, we first talked about trying to create a theme for our cat.  I recorded our conversation and it went like this:

Danielle:  "What type of kitty do we want this cat to be?"
E.P.B- "I want a striped kitty cat all over, pink and purple stripes all over."
Danielle: "That's a nice theme, perhaps stripes?  Do you all know what a theme is?"
E.P.B.- "It means that you have to figure out which thing you want to do to the kitty cat, and then you do it on the kitty cat."
Danielle: "Yes, but a theme means we come up with an idea for the cat and paint several things that relate to that idea.  For instance if the theme was space, we would paint stars, planets, the moon.  That is just an idea for a theme, what are some other ideas."
E.M. "I know, if it was Christmas you would put Christmas stuff."
Danielle: "You got it, that's a great example of a theme, what are some other ideas for themes, I will write them down."
E.P.B. "Flowers!"
E.H.P. "Easter Eggs and Easter!"
K.S. "I know, um, if it was a birthday you would put a cake on it."
A.K. "Maybe a striped theme."
E.P.B. "I want a stripe theme."
E.M. "I know, if it was a wedding you would put wedding stuff on it"
K.S."yes and you can have flowers for a wedding."
E.M. "Did you know I am going to be a flower girl in a wedding?"
Danielle: "No, that must be exciting.  Do we know of another theme."
E.P.B. "Seahorses all over it."
Danielle:  "Seahorses, so would the sea be the theme?"
E.M."Yeah, Mermaids and seashells, oh but what about Star-wars also?"
Danielle: "Wow, so many ideas!  M.A., do you have an idea?
M.A. "Cars!"
Danielle: "Good theme."
E.P.B.: "What about trees all over it and water, and wave, no actually waves all over it."
E.M."Oh, I know, what about princesses, what about Frozen?!"
E.H.P."A marker cat."
Danielle: "Like an artist cat?"
A.K. "Oh no, that would be kind of strange, maybe we could do splotches?"
E.P.B."Or spots?"
E.M. "What about jewels?"
E.P.B. "Crystals!!!  I figured out something what you want, I want to know if everybody wants this, it's really excited, who wants flowers on it."
E.M." What about candies?"
Danielle: "Why don't we pick our favorites after we make our whole list."
E.P.B. "What about stripes what about a rainbow striped cat?"
M.A. " I like that idea."
Many "I like that idea."
K.S."We all like rainbow stripes."
E.P.B." Alright guys lets do this cat rainbow stripes!"
All children: "Yay!"
E.M. "I also want crystals!"
Danielle:" How about we take a minute to think about these ideas and in the meantime you can draw out some ideas of what you would like."

At this point in time the children began drawing out their ideas.

When we looked at everyone's drawings we discover almost everyone did some kind of rainbow in their picture.  Here is our concluding conversation:

Danielle:  "When we look at all the pictures what do we see?"
Children: "Rainbows!"
Danielle: "And what did we say that is called?"
E.M.: "A theme?"
Danielle: "Yes!, so would you say you all agree on rainbows for the cat?"
E.H.P. "Yes, but also flowers and crystals. Maybe we could do crystal flowers?"
Danielle: "Would you want to hang crystals from her, is that how we would add the crystals?"
A.K. "Um, I don't like the idea of the flower part, I would just like the crystal part because you can grow your own."
K.S." Lets get crystals to hang from it."
Danielle: "What happens when you have crystals in the sky? when the sun hits it, it makes rainbows. So, crystals and rainbows work great together.  So what is our final idea?."
Children: "crystals, rainbows, crystals!"

I love how the conversation went and through talking out their ideas as well as drawing them, they all came up with a consensus on what the cat's theme should be.  Next step, how to make a rainbow-crystal cat. 

Before we started to paint, we first negotiated how the crystals should be added to the cat, and where.
 Some ideas were a necklace
Earrings were another idea.
We found some fish shaped crystals to use for the eyes.

We even used one of our pictures of a cat to show where the crystals should go.
In the end we had to settle on just a necklace for practical reasons and to be technically capable of adding them securely.

 Now that we knew that the theme was rainbows, it was time to practice painting a rainbow cat.

 Some of their finished rainbow cat ideas.
Some of the children suggested that we spray paint the cat.  Well, we did our modified child friendly version of that idea, watered down acrylic paint in spray bottles.

When the process first began the paint ran off the cat, but after several coats doing the same process, the paint really stuck, and the run off created a wonderful technique that made the cat look like it had rainbow stripes after all!

Here is what she looked like after day one.

On our second day she continued to drip the paint into these great rainbow strips.

Here she is after day two.  The children didn't like how the face and ears looked, they wanted the face to be all pink.

So on the third day after applying one more layer of paint, they finished the day by all taking a couple squirts of pink paint and adding it to the face.  

A proud group of artists and they should be.  They came up with and negotiated a theme, decided on a painting method, worked together as they painted and had conversations on how they should finish their cat.  This was amazing and aside from facilitating conversations and gathering their materials, this was a child led and created project from start to finished. Amazing what they can do when we believe in their possibilities.

And here sits "Rainbow Crystal Cat" on her perch in front of this lovely sculpture in Leggio Park!  We all couldn't have been more thrilled as you will see in the pictures below, because we of course had to take a field trip to visit the school cat and the other cats on Main Street.

A very happy and excited group of children setting off from the school to walk to Main Street.

On the way they discovered a cat on a porch and a real cat hanging out in front of it.  They loved this.

Of course Crystal received many hugs when the children were reunited with her.

They also discovered Crystal's name tag and that they were featured as artists. 

After a little rest from our walk, the children set off down Main Street to look at the other cats.  Many cats and wonders awaited us.

The children not only discovered the cats on Main Street, but also past year's cats in shop windows.

Spider Man cat was well loved.

In one of the shop windows they had fun making faced in gazing balls.


Captain America was also another favorite

There was a Celtic cat that the children spent a long time looking at and finding all the hidden pictures. 

There were so many cats loved by the children, and they couldn't pass a cat without touching and exploring it.  

 The Cat above "Nero" and the one below received the most attention from the children.

One of the other delights was passing by the pet store.  We have been wanting to get another pet bunny since we moved into the new space in the fall, I was smitten with the black floppy eared one, but the kids were quickly making friends with the little white ones.

They also happened upon a pick tutu in a window, and  it took some persuasion to keep them moving. 

And in the midst of all the cats taking over Main Street, there stood a lone dog, who soon became their new pet.

It was a great adventure complete with an ice-cream stop at Sweet Sensations and a final trip to Crystal Rainbow, whom the children proclaimed was their favorite cat out of all the cats we saw. We also had the treat of the local paper taking our picture and talking with us, watching people pass by and taking pictures of Crystal, and settling down for a story written by local artist and author Hudson Talbot called It's all about ME-ow.  It was a Purr-fect day!