Saturday, January 05, 2013

Working with children

One of the joys of being a grandmother is the gift of time.

When my children lived at home, any free time that I had went into "me" time...time to do my art. I had so little of it that I had no real patience for sharing art with my children...besides, they always were so busy with all of their activities.

However, once I retired I had the gift of time for myself and I made use of it.

Now, with grandchildren, I am finding a love of introducing them to art. Jacob, age 8, loves going to museums with me and he takes his bag with his sketchbook and watercolor pencils with him and will look at masterpieces for a long time and then do it his way.  He constantly reminds me of my mantra--"There are no mistakes in art" and that he should do things his way.  He may work looking at a piece of abstract art and then when you see his finished work, it is truly his own and one can hardly tell that he was referencing some  famous painting.

Of course, since I especially enjoy abstract work, that is where we spend a lot of time.

Now, Ashton, his 5 year old brother, is spending more time with me and art. Yesterday I had both boys for the day and about midday we sat down with one of Georgia O'Keeffe's books (not her book but a book about her) and talked about the work we saw.  This is a book of a lot of very abstract watercolors and we talked about how the picture made us feel, what we really liked about it, what the title was and could we see why she called it what she did.  So then, off to painting we went.

With the book open in front of him, turned to an image he really liked of O'Keeffe's work, he went to work with his watercolors and heavy paper.  I introduced him to the idea of working wet on wet and he just had a blast.  I saw more control from him than I have ever seen before. He was very intentional in what he did.  He was telling me that he learned how to draw a house at school and his art work from school is typical 5 year old work...sun in the corner, grass on the bottom etc.

But with the influence of Georgia O'Keeffe in front of him, he became very excited and proud of what he had done. 

And me too!
With Ms. O'Keeffe's painting in front of him, Ashton went to work on what he saw as a tornado. Working wet on wet he created his own piece.
 And then he began to add his own brush strokes, making different marks with the flat brush and then with his finished product which had become his own.
He began to work with another image, again wet on wet.  This time I watched him and realized that he was incorporating the border in the book in to his painting.  He continued to work
And then made it his own
 And his final painting from the book as inspiration was the blue mountain. He again started to include the border from the book and I explained to him that that was not part of the painting itself.  So then he began to incorporate the entire page.  I was very impressed with his ability to keep his colors separate and his utilization of three different blues in this piece. And the red was pure genius!

When we sit down to look at art work in a book, I spend a lot of time on each picture, pointing out how the artist has done things differently that before, how the use of color affects the feelings we get, how color theory works and how a small piece of bright color becomes even more important when surrounded by toned, darker colors.  We also look at how the brush was used, how strokes were made, if it was wet on wet, a loaded brush, a dry brush or whatever else we can comment on. But most importantly is our discussion about how we see the title fitting with the painting and how the painting makes us feel and what we especially like about it.

This is a process not just for the boys, but for me also. So even though I did not get into the  studio to do my own work, it was a productive time in there with the boys and I, in fact, did do some of my own "work" albeit in my head!


Gerrie said...

This is wonderful and how art should be taught to children.

Claire said...

Hello, I stumbled onto your blog when I was looking for info about quilting. I have just finished my very first baby size quilt (strip quilted) and although its wonky, I love it. I have been bitten by the bug now and looking for inspiration - and boy did I find it here! I so love your work! The colours, sticthing, and composition are wonderful, and I'm drawn to the simplicity of your quilts rather than the "busy-ness" of more conventional patterns. So...yeah, enough gushing, lol. I'm off to do some stitching.