Once the holidays are over, it’s time to sort through your collection of gift boxes and paper. Instead of throwing away torn or worn gift boxes, donate them to an art teacher or after school care provider. They can be used to make marble art.
Most instructions for marble painting call for flat boxes like the ones canned soda or cat food come in. These boxes are free for the taking at places like Save-A-Lot or Sam’s Club, but they are difficult to store until the teacher has enough for the class. Gift boxes are better in this regard because they fold up flat. They take up less shelf space.
Marble art is a quick project which makes it a good activity for half days or shortened class periods. Because it doesn’t take much time, begin the class by reading a book about Jackson Pollack.
Jackson Pollack can be an inspiration to students who are struggling in class. He wanted to be an artist, and went to art school, but no matter how hard he tried, his art was never good enough. His teachers and friends criticized him a lot. He was just about to give up on his dream when he met a new circle of friends. These people were experimenting with new ways of making art. He tried it, and to everyone’s surprise, he wasn’t just good at it, he was the best. Jackson Pollack’s paintings now hang in museums.
This new type of art is called “Non-objective Art”. His friends got the idea from the definition of a noun. A noun is a person, place, thing or idea. If you paint a picture of a person, it’s a portrait. If you paint a picture of a place, it’s called a landscape. If you paint a picture of a thing, it’s called a still life. But how do you paint a picture of an idea? That’s the question this group of artists asked. It started a new movement called “Non-objective Art”. Non-objective art doesn’t have any objects in it; no people, no places, and no things. It’s a painting of an idea, or an abstract noun such as love, honor or courage.
Jackson Pollack became the best at making this type of art. He called them “action paintings” because they have a lot of action in them. In one way, he is famous, or the best, because he took the movement one step further. His paintings can be an idea, but they can also be a verb.
This art movement experimented with new ways of applying paint to a canvas. Students can apply paint with marbles. To make a marble painting, you will need:
- Gift box
- Thick paper that fits inside the box
- Masking tape
- Tempera or poster paint
Write your name on the back of the paper first, because once you start painting, you won’t be able to turn the paper over.
Tape the paper into the bottom of the gift box. If the box is torn, tape it together. If the corners are floppy, tape them open.
Add two dots of poster paint, about half a teaspoon each. They can be different colors if you want to see how colors can be mixed to make secondary colors.
Add the marble into one of the dots. Tip the box gently, like the rocking motion of a boat or a rocking chair, and roll the marble towards the other dot of paint. Rock the box back and forth. The marble will leave a trail of paint as it rolls.
Other textures and types of lines can be created by using a porcupine ball, spider ball, or a marble wrapped in rubber bands.
When the paper is covered, stack the boxes in opposite directions, like Lincoln logs, and let it dry.
- The student used control in rocking the box back and forth.
- The student covered the sheet with paint.
- The student created a nice composition that does not contain objects.
- The student used all the paint before asking for more, so that the painting doesn’t have soggy puddles.
Sunshine State Standards
VA.A.1.1.2 Uses art materials and tools to develop basic processes and motor skills, in a safe and responsible manner.
VA.B.1.1.2 Understands that works of art can communicate an idea and elicit a variety of responses through the use of selected media, techniques and processes.
© Paula Hrbacek
Copying other than classroom use is prohibited. Reprint rights are available from the author.