Thursday, August 14, 2008

Art Morning

Dieter and Rainer and I had a little art morning, this morning. We did watercolor painting then messed around with these watercolor pencils too. The pencils were found in Jacob's room when I cleaned it out. He never used them (he draws a lot, but has always been a pen and ink kind of guy, no color) so now they can have a life outside the tin. They are so fun; I really enjoyed them.
I have several thoughts about the children and art. I really want them to feel the joy of creating something and not feel self conscious about what their art looks like. Yet I already sense in Dieter a reluctance to try drawing anything because he feels it won't be as good as Daddy's or Jacob's (or even mine, although I can't draw either(!)). I so want him to just experience the pure pleasure of putting color down on paper and I want to nurture his creativity too.
He ended up filling three sheets of watercolor paper with pure yellow paint and I do think he enjoyed himself.
The baby made this, with markers and paint.

When I made this picture of a tree, Dieter said wistfully, "I'd like to make a tree like that when I'm older." I encouraged him to make one right now, that he can draw whatever he wants.
So he added to my drawing--scribbles and lines--and I do think he liked that. I'd love to know more ways to encourage his creative expression and discourage his perfectionism (because I think that is why he won't draw any pictures of anything--doesn't want to fail or do it "wrong"). I may just try doing more art with the kids so it becomes a part of our family routine and not threatening at all.
Here are the paints we are using now. I liked what Soulemama said in her book about buying good quality art supplies for children, so they won't have the frustration of trying to work with cheap materials. These are the Stockmar watercolors, you only need three colors, and you dilute them to any strength you want. They really are a lot easier to work with than the dry little tablets of color we usually use, and it looks like they'll last a long time.

Other morning happenings: our pluots are coming ripe. Our tree has three flavors on it: Flavor King, Flavor King, and Dapple Dandy. All are good, but we miss the Flavor Supreme--that tree bore no fruit at all this year.
And I'm enjoying placing single blooms now on the nature table, instead of a bouquet. Oh, and Carrie needlefelted that little heart and eggplant for us. Aren't they sweet? They are really making me smile lately.
Ken brought these fat acorns from his parents' house when he visited up north. And the skinny acorn is from here.

Summer is winding down, but we are still having so much fun.


ames said...

I can so understand his art paralysis, I get the same feeling when confronted with a brand new sketchbook. I had a friend who once suggested just scribbling all over the first page to alleviate the pressure of having something "good."

I love his watercolor washes, you could introduce him to Mark Rothko's work :) And if you haven't already looked into them, Ed Emberley's drawing books are a fantastic approach to drawing using basic shapes to build more complex things. And when he's a little older and ready for perspective, you could try Mark Kistler's (Commander Mark) books.

Apparently I have a thing for reference books. I'd also encourage him to just carry around a little notebook and pencil and just draw what he sees.

Amy said...

encourage abstract art. Instead of drawing trees or other objects simply scribble and color in the spaces. Or cut and paste shapes in whatever suites his fancy. Zoe is a perfectionist as well and so I try to not draw to much or paint much identifiable items when we do art together, but she always asks me to show her how to draw itmes and when this happens I simplify it for her in a way she understands and can mimick.

Amy said...

eh gads...misspellings galore!

kirsten said...

i think maybe if you did less representational stuff while creating with him, he'd feel better about his? maybe? encourage having fun with lines and color and make comments like 'i like how you...' or 'what great brushstrokes!'.

and i agree with ames about introducing him to some non-representational artists. he might get a kick out of that.

Marcy Writes - The Glamorous Life said...

Bravo to you.
I used to teach art to children- and too many parents are hung up on perfectionism themselves!

First break out a book (or internet) and show 'famous' artwork to him that is ABSTRACT. This was a freeing concept for my boys. And as young as 2 my little tucker would create some blob or smoosh of paint and say 'u like my obstrak mommy?'

Try also this: every one has a pencil and a paper. Everyone closes their eyes! Now everyone draw a circle. Draw a face eyes...and everyones looks messy! Now be very proud of what he has made (I know you will be) hang it up. Frame the darn thing. Tell your friends about it. I assure you before long he will be thinking "I did THAT with my eyes closed!" I am going to ry with them open to see what I can do. This activity helps to break down the need for art to look REAL.

Keep it up. Before you know it..they will be Picasso's!!!!!

MoziEsmé said...

I love this post! I sometimes worry that my art time with Esme is too directed, but I've decided that she needs something of everything, and she does get free art time as well as directed art/craft. She will need to be able to write someday, and be able to follow directions, in addition to being able to freely express herself through art. As she gets older, I'd like to start her on coloring her moods, or coloring the music, so she can start thinking along the lines of abstract art.

Also like your point about getting quality supplies. I really wish they were more available here in Mozambique. I love watercolors, but haven't seen anything here other than the dry pallette things.

Mom said...

I love this. When Jacob was little he and I used to do what we called "combo drawings". Just starting with a blank sheet and a scribble line waving across it. Then we passed the paper back and forth and each added whatever we wished each time. We had so much fun and always loved whatever the creation turned out to be. Try It!

Rachel said...

Joe is still a very reluctant artist - even at 5 and a half. William, by comparison, was drawing everything from about 2 onwards! I think spending time together just scribbling or making patterns is a great idea to encourage them - now if only I could take my own advice!! Love your nature table too! :)

Florence said...

When I was teaching my first child to draw I would draw a picture first of whatever it was that she wanted to draw, so that she could see what we were aiming for and then say we were drawing a car I'd say 'do a straight line along the bottom', now draw another line from that corner to where my finger is and so on...I know that sounds really prescriptive, but it's a method that has given her the confidence to believe she can draw anything and I know that she still uses this early technique herself of breaking things down into manageable curves, lines and circles. With my second child I stood back a lot more, left the art materials there, but like yours he felt frustrated and tearful at not being able to draw what he about 5 months ago I sat down and started to teach him to draw in a similar way to how I had with my first and within days he was producing pages and pages of trains, cars, boats and dinosaurs without my help. I know this is at odds with your way of doing things (and I think your way is the much nicer, less control-freaky way of doing things!), but I thought it may be worth telling you about just in case he continues to feel frustrated. My little boy still doesn't enjoy paints greatly though...and would be right there beside Dieter on producing pages of yellow! x

Simply Stork said...

oh how it looks like you have raised up some wonderful little art lovers there!

the water colors are just beautiful :o)


Hannah said...

Wow, you've had lots of great ideas already here.
I was just going to say that with my son it took time for him to get a really good grip on those kind of pencils because the muscles in his hands didn't have the right kind of control yet which he sometimes found really frustrating. Doing lots of fiddly things can help, like threading beads or bobbins on a string, playdough and lego etc. You can also get gripper things to attach to the pencils which make them a bit wider and easier to use for little hands too.
Another nice idea for encouraging painting patterns/abstract things is to do wax crayon scribbles and then do multicolour washes/stripes over the top to reveal the scribbles. We make wrapping paper like that sometimes and it's fun!

Anonymous said...

I am so inspired by your rocks. To the point where I may break out our acrylics today and paint some we brought here from Cali.

Chris said...

it is interesting to see this learning process - and so many different theories about how to teach someone to "make" art. i try to do a more summerhill approach to art - trying not to demonstrate a "right" way of drawing, and thus supposedly freeing the child from this pressure, but it is tempting (and my husband will often draw for him) when you see some of the art other kids come up with. i think showing him art books and providing good materials are wonderful ideas.

Maymomvt said...

I love the yellow. There's nothing wrong with just immersing oneself in one color. I have found that my girls are always happier when I'm drawing along with them (and I'm terrible!). I also believe in high quality materials. Perhaps one way to help him be proud of his work is to come up with a story together that uses his picture as a focal point. One other thought about freeing up his artistic side--finger paint. A wise Waldorf preschool teacher once told me that she loved to have young children use finger paint more than watercolor as it allows the children that very tactile experience of immersing oneself into the paint and color--sort of what happens with the watercolor and just one color.

I'm no artist--just observations of my kids offered here! Have fun with it. I do.

amanda said...

Wow California acorns are way different from the ones here in the Midwest. We should do an acorn swap :)