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Painting with pine branches: process-oriented art in action

by Jean Van't Hul
November 9, 2011

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As process-oriented art goes, painting with pine boughs and other evergreen branches is up there with fingerpainting and squeezing playdough. It’s all about the process, all about the sensory experience (prickly needles, fresh pine smell), and all about exploring what it’s like to paint with this novel tool and how it can transfer paint to paper—whether printing, painting, or splattering.

This whole pine branch painting session started because of a package that arrived in the mail for Maia and Daphne last week.

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In the box was a large collection of fresh-picked evergreen branches taped to fall-colored construction paper together with a lovely illustrated letter from MaryAnn Kohl. She said that she had seen some of the arts and crafts we’d been doing with fall leaves and that where she lives (near Seattle, WA) they have mostly evergreen trees and so don’t experience fall in the same way. She went on to talk about some of the different trees near her and the pine boughs she included in the package and asked if the girls would like to try using these to make art or to match up (she included two of each kind).

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Maia loved sorting through the pile, taking each off it’s paper backing, and counting them. She also jumped on the idea of using them in art and decided to paint with them.

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So we put the evergreen branches in the studio along with a couple of shallow dishes with paints (we used BioColor but tempera would work just as well).

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And Maia went to town. She printed. She painted. She twirled and swirled. When she started splattering paint we moved the project outside. And she painted Jackson-Pollock style for another half an hour outside. (Daphne declined to join in this time.)

So this thoughtful package sent across the country was very much enjoyed. Thank you MaryAnn!

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