Bubble painting is a classic children’s art activity, and it’s easy to see why – it’s easy, cheap, kids love it, and the results are pretty good too, but bubbles are also amazingly versatile, we’ve tried 3 different techniques now, and each one has distinctively different results.
Bubble Painting #1
The first technique is the one most people will be familiar with. Here, you mix your paint (in this case tempera) with a little water, and a squirt of washing-up liquid, stir it up and then blow into it with a straw to create lots and lots of bubbles. You then gently place the paper over the bubbles to take a print from them, remove, and allow to dry.
This is the basic technique, but you can vary it. For example, you can use a large tray of bubbles to cover the whole sheet. Alternatively you can use several small pots of different coloured bubbles, as in the example below, and print them one at a time on the same page, (or cluster them together and do them all at once) to create multi-colour bubble circles. Another variation is to try layering one colour print with another using bubbles of a different colour.
Bubble Painting #2
The next technique is equally popular with children, but is potentially messier. It’s a great project for outdoors on a sunny day, but we did this indoors, and so I used a cardboard box to ‘contain’ the mess.
This time we used watercolour inks mixed with a squirt of bubble solution (we’ve acquired lots of pots of this from numerous different party bags). The bubbles were then blown through a ‘window’ in the cardboard box, onto a sheet of paper below. The ink I used can stain, and the thought of inky bubbles floating and popping around the house did not appeal! However the box limited the damage quite successfully.
We used watercolour paper to blow our bubbles onto, as I found this retained the image of the bubbles better when the paper got quite wet, instead of pooling and running. I like the combination of bubbles here with splatters and dribbles, and it was a really easy activity which the boys loved doing.
Bubble Painting #3
The 3rd technique we’ve tried involves painting with ‘foam’. Once again, this is a messy activity – possibly the messiest of the lot. This time you mix the tempera paint, as in the first technique, with a little water and a squirt of washing-up liquid. It’s important with all of these techniques to make sure you don’t dilute the paint too much if you want to get a strong print. I used old ice-cream tubs for the paint, and mixed up several different colours.
A sponge is used to apply the paint. I used a clean sponge for each colour, and squeezed it a few times in the paint first to get plenty of foam. The coloured foam is then applied to a sheet of toughened glass or perspex (or even an old tray) in whatever design you like, and then the paper placed over the top to take a print.
When you remove the paper pull it back and forth (up and down) a little as you do it – this enhances the veining effect that you achieve, which looks very organic, rather like trees.
I have to say that I carried on with this activity for a whole morning, long after the boys had moved on to other things! With this technique particularly I love the combination of the bubbles and the veining, and the finished papers are so evocative that I feel sure we will be using them as the basis of further artwork. It’s rather like seeing pictures in the fire. I look at these and see underground caves, mysterious fantasy architecture, enchanted forests, and undersea scenes….