Mixed Media Madness at the de Young Summer Art Camp

The de Young's annual Summer Art Camp has begun! Each week throughout the summer, we'll be sharing posts about the amazing activities and artworks our creative campers are doing. Here's the scoop from week one, submitted by guest blogger Ashley Harris.

Summer Camp Week 1

Summer Art Camp season at the de Young had an inspired beginning last week as young artists explored the theme of Mixed-Media Madness. Campers were able to experience art making as a tool for experimentation and connection-building as they created their own artworks inspired by pieces on view at the museum.


The youngest group of artists, the Apprentices, made a specific connection to their own handmade clay masks and the de Young's Gable Mask (on view in Gallery 30) by noticing how similar the colors of the materials were in both. As the week progressed, the Apprentices really showed a lot of pride in their finished work and began to experience how a finished artwork can be special and precious to the artist. The use of sketchbooks to record what they were seeing was a hit with this youngest group, and many of them have plans to continue using them to document their summer adventures outside of camp.


Another group of campers, the Artisans, focused on a balance of looking at art in the galleries and identifying the various materials artists use. The Artisans became more familiar with making choices and blending materials for their own pieces as they were given the creative freedom to request additional materials that they felt would enhance their process and finished artworks. The use of surprising materials also allowed for even more experimentation as the Artisans used toothpicks, skewers, and edible gum drops to construct a sculptural project.

Gumball sculpture

The oldest group of artists, the Masters, investigated many key questions throughout the week such as, How are artists and scientists similar? and, How do artists make choices about what materials to combine? In preparation for a project, the Masters visited the gallery of Impressionist painting to study the materiality of paint and observe how it can be used on a surface. In response to these observations, the campers created mixed-media self-portraits using acrylic paint, oil pastels, and graphite pencil. As they worked with paint, the Masters made many observations about the medium and noted: You can always rework a composition. Paint is forgiving.


Connections were not only made between artworks, but between campers as well. During the first week of Summer Art Camp, young artists were given opportunities to strategize together and look to each other as fellow artists, teachers, and friends.


As mentioned in a Master's final reflection of the week: Making art should be fun! And it's fun to be making art with lots of other people around you!

Stay tuned for next week's installment to see what these creative campers come up with next! For more information about the Summer Art Camp, please click here.