Space in art refers to the area around, within, above, below, in front of and behind objects. In a two dimensional work of art, we create the illusion of space using different techniques. This week we are going to explore space, but not the element of art, space, instead we are going to explore outer space and take a look at some different space themed art activities that you can try at home. Mankind has always been curious about outer space because much of it is a mystery, despite all that technology has enabled us to discover. The fact that there is so much yet to learn is what makes space such a fun topic to explore in art because we can use our imaginations with free abandonment. Are there aliens living somewhere in the far reaches of the galaxy, and if so, what would they look like? How would it feel to be an astronaut landing on the surface of another planet? Imagine discovering a new solar system in a far away galaxy. How might it look? What are rocks on distant, undiscovered planets made of? I have some fun activities to help you explore these ideas.

A great tactile, space themed project is to make a space rock. You can pretend it is a moon rock or a rock from one of the planets in our solar system or it can be a rock from a planet that you make up and name whatever you want. To begin you will want to gather a few materials, including clay or dough, glitter, tin foil and paint. You could use porcelain clay because it is white or you could use air dry clay, polymer clay, Model Magic or even Play Doh. You could even make your own dough by mixing together flour, salt and water. Whatever material you choose doesn’t matter. The next step is to add color to the clay or dough and you can do this by adding in some paint or food coloring. I prefer to use acrylic paint because I don’t have to worry about food allergies or staining my hands. Poster paint and tempera paint will also work. I think it’s more exciting to make several colors of clay and partially smush them together to create a marbled effect. This makes the finished product more colorful. The next step is to take a piece of tin foil and crumple it into a sphere and then wrap the clay around the sphere. Doing this means having to use less clay and it also looks pretty cool when some of the foil shows through the clay in spots, giving the finished piece a metallic shine. The final step is to roll the space rock through glitter. You can use different shapes and colors of glitter to give your space rock a unique finish.

Another fun space themed project is to create a mixed media composition of an astronaut on the moon. You can find things around the house to help make your landscape really out of this world. Students at Gogh Arts first drew their astronauts on white paper and then cut them out. Then they used tin foil to give their astronauts’ helmets a window to look out of. You could even add sequins to the astronauts suit for the buttons. Then students painted the surface of the moon onto a piece of black paper, but you could imagine the astronaut landing on the surface of any planet and you could use any color or color combination of paint, or you could cut the planet from a piece of parchment paper to add a new material to the composition. After the paint dries you could add glitter to the planet and then glue your astronaut onto the background. You can place the astronaut on the surface of the planet or have them floating in space. The final touch is to add stars, meteors, asteroids or other planets to the background. You could use paint, construction paper, sequins or any other materials you have to make the background objects.

Don’t throw away your empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls. You can use the cardboard tubes to make alien sculptures. The cardboard tubes come in brown and white but you will want to change the color either by painting them or by wrapping them in colored paper. You can choose any color you like for your alien. Pipe cleaners, pom poms and beads are a fun way to add antenna to your alien. Googly eyes look great on aliens but you could paint them on too. Colored foam sheets can be cut into shapes for the aliens arms and legs. Hot glue is the best way to put this project together because it has the ability to hold heavier objects in place. Just be sure that you supervise your children if you decide to use hot glue.

If you have lots of shiny things lying around like gemstones, beads and sequins you can have fun creating a spiral galaxy. You need a piece of black construction paper, other colors of construction paper, glue, glitter, and all of the tiny trinkets you can find. Next you will make a star by cutting a piece of construction paper. My students cut circle shapes from yellow construction to make giant stars and placed them in the center of their galaxies. Then they painted glue spirals from the center going around the star and sprinkled on glitter so that the spirals were sparkly. The final step is to glue all of the trinkets you gathered on to the paper filling in the space to complete your galaxy composition.

This last project will really get your child thinking, not just about space but about force and friction too. You will need some thick paper, like posterboard or tag board. First you will want to draw a space shuttle on the thick paper and then cut it out. You can add things to it like tin foil for the windows and streamers of yellow, orange and red cut into small strips to look like the fire jetting from the shuttle’s rocket boosters. On the back side of the shuttle you will want to add a kind of handle using a strip of thick paper because the shuttle is going to be able to move across the background. To make the handle simply cut a small strip of the thick paper, fold it in half so that it is more firm and then fold back the ends so that you can glue them onto the surface of the backside of the shuttle. The background piece of paper should be thick as well, My students glued a piece of black paper onto a piece of posterboard because the background not only needs to be sturdy but it needs to look like outer space. You can use colored pencils or construction paper to add other planets or stars to the background. In order for the shuttle to be able to slide across the background you will need to cut a slit into the background and you can do this very easily. You will want to fold the paper in half from top to bottom and then begin a single cut using scissors from the folded edge toward the open end, but don’t cut all the way through. Stop your cut at least an inch from the ends. When you unfold the paper you will have a vertical slit in the background to which you can then insert the handle of the shuttle. Once the pieces are assembled you can use the handle to slide the space shuttle up to make it launch into space!