My Christmas wreath from last year. I felt we needed some popping colour to cheer us all up!
The first thing to do is to check what you have already by way of poster and acrylic paints, brushes, old sponges and rags; plastic tubs from small yoghurts up to the half litre cartons - any containers that would work for holding paint for those using fine brushes, medium
brushes, and pieces of sponge; old plates and saucers for resting the paint brushes and sponges on while working; hairy garden twine, string, ribbons and raffia.
You will need bits of old sponge for applying paint, rags for wiping brush handles, paint brushes from very small to medium sizes, cotton buds, and a selection of poster / acrylic paints
- stick to approximately four to five bright colours, along with black, plus silver and gold for your basic colour themes. You may need white spirits to soak and clean some of your paint brushes. You'll need lots of newspaper.
Please keep any brushes you have soaking in white spirits out
of the house, either on a step, or on a window sill, firmly attached by twine. The fumes of white spirits cause really bad headaches and are generally to be avoided.
If you have some oil based paint you use for painting the front door, or wherever, please resist using it as the fumes in the house will cause bad headaches, and can cause nausea.
If you think you may decide to work on decorations for both Hallowe'en and Christmas / The New Year this year, perhaps you could buy some medium sized pots of black,
vivid red, yellow, and orange, and green paints - depending on what you have already, and only get tiny pots of the silver and gold paint, which can be quite expensive.
Try to make sure you don't spent too much money, on too much paint, because it will have become rock solid in its jars or bottles by the time you go looking for paint to work on Easter eggs!
With examples of Nature as regal as tall teasel stems and beautifully shaped, naked flower heads, little is required to
make a statuesque statement.
They lend themselves to drama. I
would paint the possibly ten foot long stems black, and let them dry. A great deal of paint might soak in, and a second coat may be required to give a strong, dark, even, colour.
When you are certain the stem is completely dry, you can look
to the flower heads. There are so many choices! One could choose a very strong, vivid, red, orange, and yellow palette, and just brush a head lightly with a sponge, leaving the tips only of the spikes painted with startling colour. Or, one
could paint every spike of a flower head in bright yellow using a very fine brush or cotton buds. A second flower head, also painted fully with yellow, could be left to dry, and as above, and using a sponge again, give it a dash of bright red or orange
to the tips of the spikes only.
You wouldn't have to paint every single spike of the flower
head, you could paint fully the bottom three layers and the top three layers, and add paint randomly to the layers in between.
When one has gone through the various permutations, sticking to a very few vivid colours for the flower heads, to reflect the
fires of Samhain, and when all the paint is thoroughly dry, one can arrange the stems. By catching the stems approximately two-fifths from the base of the flower heads, and using black velvet ribbon, or hairy garden twine painted black,
or raffia, or whatever takes your fancy, tie loosely the stems together, and then spread the base of each of them in a wigwam-type circle, so that the arrangement is self-supporting. You may need to move the tie up or down a little, and tighten or loosen
it, to get just the right splay of the heads and support for the whole piece from the spread of the stems.
That would be my idea of a Samhain Statement!
on how to paint poppy heads, slight skeletons of cow parsley, and various grasses, you might like to look at the photograph of my last year's Christmas wreath, above.
Given that a broad range of ages from maybe two-year-olds up to teenagers, and the adults is working, perfection
isn't the aim. Having fun, having one's own pieces of work to show, and having lots of encouragement to take chances, to the very edge, would make for utterly unique artwork.
Samhain is all about the edge - the edge between the mortal world and the spirit world. 'Safe' is the anthisesis of
Young children working with sponges, can make spectacular decorations patting paint gently onto the
tops of cow parsley and other spreading flower heads. What looks ordinary suddenly becomes amazing. To get the strongest effect, it's best to stick to one colour for each spreading flower head.
The children could also use their sponges to paint the stalks and stems of the poppy heads and any of the stems and twigs you have gathered. Go for lots of colour - the vegetation
will soak in a certain amount - strong colours always work best.
MAKING PRESENTS TO PASS ON THE SPIRIT!
Hairy garden twine painted a bright colour using a sponge, can become a beautiful piece of material
for tying together a mix of painted flower heads, painted twiglets and stems, in a variety of strong, vivid, colours, drawn together at the base of the stems, and spreading out the vegetation and heads, upside down. Use the twine wrapped up the stems,
tied off and ending in a a loop to hang the decoration on a door handle, or on a picture hook which can be made available for the Season.
These hanging sprays make lovely presents for grandparents, babysitters, and all family friends. People really do prefer handmade presents, made with love.
Iseult Catherine O'Brien
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