Saturday, 3 August 2013

The art of making art

The world of art has infinite possibilities for the classroom.

A couple of weeks ago I saw the Victorian Opera's production of 'Sunday in the park with George', which dramatizes the life of French impressionist painter Georges Seurat and contemplates the life of dedication and detail which necessitates a life devoted to creating art. I started thinking about how I can teach children to see the details in the world around them and bring them to life through their artistic creations. Art is as much about seeing as it is about creating.

Fortunately children are naturally good at seeing. They exist mainly in the present and are able to connect with nature on an instinctive level. They notice tiny details that we may miss. Our job is to try to exist on their plane. To see and to really listen to what they're telling us about the world which they're observing, and to help them to reflect on what they're seeing. We need to document and discuss. We need to wonder with them and to ponder possibilities. We need to talk about colours, shades, textures and shapes. We need to provide the scaffolding that will ignite the type of passion that insists that input bursts forth and becomes creative output.

My mind is jumping with ideas at the moment and I want to do everything at once. There's a big Monet exhibition on in Melbourne and as Monet happens to be one of my top five favourite painters I'm going to start with him. Monet's waterlily paintings were about light and layering. What a fantastic way to experience the softness of pastels, to learn about colour-mixing through noticing how the shades blur into each other on the canvas, to discover light and reflection, and to explore the texture and depth that's provided by layering. This will overlap perfectly with the work we're currently doing on shapes and geometry in nature, and on planting, gardening and caring for the natural world.

Some art is spontaneous and sensory, and some is more purposefully constructed. I want to make a creative art space for the children where they can develop group visual arts projects inspired by the stimulus images and materials provided. I want them to have the opportunity to build on these works over a period of time, to jump in, to stand back, to extend and to evaluate. I want them to experience the wellbeing that is provided by engaging with beautiful, sensory materials, and to feel the satisfaction of presenting a finished piece of art which can be then be experienced and appreciated by themselves and others.

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