I am so thrilled that you joined me for this series of articles and not just thrilled for myself, but I am thrilled for you and your students. You see, I figure if you have taken a few minutes out of your day to read the articles then you are the kind of teacher that truly wants to see authentic art taking place around your classroom. You are the kind of teacher who recognizes that children are active learners and art should be about the process. You are the kind of teacher who is hungry for inspiration and excited to step out there and really see what your students are capable of. And you are ready to support your students as they build their skills, confidence, and competence through Process Art. Yes, I am beyond thrilled. I wish I could just reach out and give you a big hug [...]
They Keep Mixing All the Paint Colors I watched my little PreK girl dip her paint brush in the red paint, then the blue paint, then the yellow, green, and orange paint. After dipping in every color that was out at the easel, she reached up and made large gray swirls of paint in the center of her paper. She did this over and over again until she finally decided she was done. After she left the easel, a new child took her place. He dipped his brush in the blue paint and began to paint swirls of bluish-gray paint on his paper. He set the blue brush down and picked up the red brush. Again, he painted swirls of redish-gray paint on his paper. Throughout the morning, each child that came to the easel and painted colorful grayish paintings until one child came to me and [...]
Why Avoiding the Mess Creates More Stress At the beginning of every school year, I come expecting my students to want to squeeze out tons of paint or glue from our glue and paint bottles. I let them cut up paper even if it means I have to sweep up tiny scraps of paper from all over the floor. Now I don’t let it get too crazy, but I do give them lots of room to explore. I not only expect the children to make big messes, I plan for it. I plan mentally, emotionally, physically, and even financially (I buy extra just for the joyous squeezing occasion) for the first few weeks to be messy. I give the children the opportunities to squeeze, cut, and mess away so they have had that experience and they love it. The path towards self-regulating After a few [...]
Get Your Students to Stay Longer at the Art Table I can’t tell you how many times I have gone through the trouble of setting up a really cool art activity only to have my students come to the table for 30 seconds and then announce, “I’m Done!” “Wait a minute!” I say. “This is a really cool idea. Don’t you want to stay a little longer?” But I’m pretty much talking to myself because the children are already off doing something else. So, I sit down and try it myself (you know, model the process), wait to see if anyone might change their mind and come back only to realize that I’m the only one in the room who thinks the idea is super cool. And then there are those simple art activities. The ones that I would feel lucky if the children spent at least [...]
Ten Ways to Encourage Young Artists I recently posted a 30 second video of my students painting at the easel. The video showed the children painting their papers from one edge to the other. In the comments, I was asked “Don’t you encourage something rather than seeing how much paint is put on the paper?” This question made me realize how easy it is to miss the bigger picture when it comes to encouraging our young artists. Let me begin with what the video didn’t show. The video didn’t show how the children spent time choosing, organizing, and adding paint colors to the paint cups before starting to paint. The video didn’t show the children hanging up their own paper on the easel or taking it down when finished. The video didn’t show the children asking if they can paint another, then another. However, the [...]
Do Your Students Ever Ruin Their Own Artwork? One of my four-year-old students made the most beautiful pieces of art. It was an unusually beautiful painting of an ice cream cone on a small cardboard canvas. As I walked by and saw what she had made, I immediately stopped to admire her work. Just as I started to comment on it, she picked up a paintbrush and covered the entire thing with black paint. “Nooooo” I gasped, and she looked up at me in surprise. I caught myself overreacting, pulled it together, and smiled. Secretly, however, I was crushed that she had ruined her beautiful piece of art. I wanted to save it. I wanted to celebrate her wonderful work of art by hanging it up on the wall. I wanted her parents to see it too. But instead, I was left wondering to myself, “Why did [...]
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