Article: Discovering Art in Everyday Life

art in natural elements

Given our new circumstances, Graeme Ellzey's at-home art activities are designed to bring some fun, smiles, joy and encouragement to families — with just a few art supplies required. 

Sunny-Day Project: Create an Outdoor Art Installation


I immediately thought about how my students could create art outside. An activity that gets students out of the house and physically moving while breathing fresh air and seeing the beauty in their own backyard helps with the current stress and high anxiety of so many. 

The Inspiration

To kick things off, I challenged my students to act as collectors, sculptors and photographers throughout the process of creating an outdoor art installation like British artist Andy Goldsworthy. He is an excellent example of an artist who is not only inspired by nature, but creates art using natural materials. His land art sculptures are intentionally temporary and left in their environment.  

The Challenge

Students were challenged with creating symmetrical, asymmetrical or radial art — using anything they could find in nature. Gathering organic materials from their environment to help demonstrate balance, contrast, line and shape, students collected pine cones, flowers, sticks, rocks, grasses, leaves, etc. 

The Lesson  

My hope is that students gained a new perspective and appreciation for the natural elements found just outside their door. An opportunity and excuse for creating art in nature isn’t typically assigned. With our new normal, why not make an excuse to create in nature more often? And, learning that typical art supplies provided in the art room aren’t “necessarily necessary” in creating beautiful art is a lesson in itself.

Rainy Day Project: Create Your Own Color Wheel

Considering the color wheel is the “centerpiece” of the art room, what a perfect way to apply their color theory “know-how” at home!

The Goal

This project encouraged students to look at their everyday possessions in a completely new way and in true color! As one fourth grader, Everett, wrote in his self-reflection of the process, “I discovered that I didn’t see a lot of color until now. Sounds weird, but it’s true.” To read this, I was overwhelmed with how this little exercise made a huge difference in one child’s perspective of color.  

My goal for this process of creating a color wheel was to be a fun, engaging and low-stress activity. And, I believe, in the end, just brightening their day (and mine) by bringing a very colorful “temporary art installation” into their home on yet another rainy/overcast day.

The Process

So, if you want to brighten your day and try this at home, I’d suggest you grab a grocery bag, tote or even a laundry basket and begin looking for color! Think about what color might be in your: 

  • Collection of toys, games, stuffed animals, etc.
  • Closet. Check out your shoes, socks, accessories.
  • Bathroom. What COLOR is your hairbrush, old toothbrush, soap?
  • Kitchen cabinets, drawers and fridge. Utensils are often colorful! 
  • Junk drawer. You never know what you might find! =)
  • Yard. Do you see some color sprouting up in the flower beds? Maybe you want a more “organic” COLOR wheel from your yard/garden/fridge with fresh fruits and veggies.

After gathering your many items, now it’s time to creatively arrange your finds in order of the COLOR wheel, finding an open spot on your floor or tabletop!

TAS Student artwork designed during AMI (Alternate Method of Instruction) time can be seen here. 

Graeme Ellzey is an art teacher at The Anthony School in Little Rock, Arkansas. This is her eighth year of teaching, mentoring, sharing and collaborating her passion and support for the visual arts in education with 3rd through 8th graders. Her spare time is spent on DIY home projects, precious time with family (especially now while her college daughters are home), and creating and selling commissioned drawings and paintings in her home studio. Gardening and long walks with her dog are always on the daily agenda!