Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Art with Children


I Ain't Gonna Paint No More! (Ala Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards))
I was working on a painting the other day, and my daughters, as usual, wanted to paint, too.  Out came more brushes, another little jar of water, their own special watercolors and some paper.  Things were going along so smoothly...even for the one year old.  And then I turned my back.  When I came back from the kitchen my four year old had both arms painted up to her elbow, and the baby's chin was dripping black paint (a little mid-morning snack anyone?).  Of course the water had spilled and paint was everywhere.  Art with little ones is not for the faint of heart.

But this is how it should be. 

Art with children is not about the product.  Art with children is about the process.  It is about exploration.  It is an adventure!  Children are learning how paint and pencils, and even paper, work.  They are learning how their hand feels when it holds a brush, and how fingers feels when they are covered in paint.  They are learning that these tools are not scary, and that they are not burdened with rules and instructions and user manuals.  Messes be damned...let them have art (and not just crayons and coloring books).  Growing up, I was never denied access to art supplies, and so I was never intimated by them.  It never occured to me that I couldn't draw a cat, or paint a castle.  It was just a matter of figuring out how....

Encourage your children to figure out how to create things on their own.  I abhor crafts and "how-to-draw" books.  As if there is "right" and a "wrong" way to draw a cat or create a birthday card.  Great art is not about what is "right."  It is about what is unique. So forget the instructions and let your children experiment, venture, investigate, and find their own absolutely unique process.  And whatever they come up with, let it be absolutely perfect!  And definitely enjoy Karen Beaumont's "I Ain't Gonna Paint No More."

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