Since watching artists creating sand animations on a light table, I have had it in the back of my mind to try it some day. It may have taken me years to find a chance on my own, but Budster has started showing a lot of interest in drawing, so we decided to try some sand art together.
We substituted sand with cornmeal. Primarily, because I knew exactly where to buy a bag of cornmeal, and could grab it as I did other grocery shopping. Also, it just seemed a little safer to use something edible with a toddler. Budster hasn’t been mouthing things for a while, but it is hard to forget the horror of having him fill his mouth with sand from his outdoor sandbox!
It has been a rather dreary, dark month, and I felt like making our art experiment colourful. It is rainbow sand art! Out of the cupboards came food colouring and plastic bags. I put half a cup of cornmeal into a plastic bag, added a few drops of gel food colouring, and then squished it between my fingers to distribute the colours. It was surprisingly relaxing, and Budster helped too, so our sensory play began early.
We left the cornmeal to dry for a while, then poured all the bags out onto a cookie sheet. I could not help but try it out! Then I mixed it back, so that Budster could have a fresh canvas.
In order to start creating, I collected a few kinds of brushes for Budster around the house: a little painting brush, a silicone brush, and a big Chinese calligraphy brush. I also picked up some colourful animals. This format of art and play was very new to us, so who knows what will be handy!
Seeing a tray full of rainbow sand, Budster happily enquired, “What’s that?!” and let a frog dive into it first. He drew the first line, but it was actually the frog, swimming in the sand. He let all of his animals have a chance at sand-diving, before taking a brush.
Then with a brush, Budster worked very diligently to mix the sand, creating beautiful patterns by doing so. If I could capture this stage in time, I would be happy to see it on my wall!
The art of mixing captivated us for some time. The longer Budster mixed, the more uniform the colour became. Only if you looked closer, could you still see the grains of different colours… the overall impression was just a pile of brown sand. I guess that happens when you mix too many colours!
Buddy enjoyed playing hide-and-seek with his animals in the sand for a while. Sometimes he would ask me to hide them from me and then delighted at re-discovering them by brushing the sand away.
At last, when all the sand was mixed and all the animals were found, we decided to try drawing. Budster is drawing a car here: you can see two wheels. “Big wheel!” he would explain. He drew several of such vehicles, and also a train that had four wheels. Wheels are certainly the leitmotif of his art right now.
We haven’t got a light table yet, but I poured the sand into the plastic tub, propped it onto two chairs and set up an LED lamp underneath. That was our version of a very simple light table. It got darker outside, but our drawings were shining, illuminated by the lamp. Here is another car by Budster!
We made some other drawings and left out handprints in the sand. My favourite is two moons here – I drew the crescent moon, and Budster immediately wanted to add the full moon next to it, which is what you see on the right. Then he proceeded to make some stars.
It was definitely an interesting art project. Budster has been using brushes and pencils for making art for over a year, but here he enjoyed drawing with his fingers, and it was a good sensory experience for him. None of the creations were permanent, yet it was so easy to prepare the surface for new drawings, and I think it really appealed to him.