Monday, May 18, 2009

Happy Accidents!

My philosophy, on teaching art to kids, is pretty simple. KEEP IT SIMPLE.

There are a few fundamentals to the process and enjoyment of teaching kids to enjoy art. Keep it fun, (don't take yourself too seriously). Keep it age appropriate, (you would be surprised by the expectations of some teachers). Always treat them with respect. Give them permission to think outside the box, (so they will feel free to look beyond). There are no mistakes just “Happy Accidents.”

For example, as Artists we know that working with watercolours can, sometimes, be unforgiving and so we plan our work accordingly but initially children try to work with watercolours in the same manner as they would colour pencils or paint by numbers in a more logical and systematic way. So, for me as a Teacher, when I introduce them to watercolours it is essential to give them permission to screw up and allow the paint to flow. Painting from light to dark is hard enough but not being able to paint one thing then another without it bleeding into the next is harder still. I wholeheartedly encourage them to have fun with this process. I usually start with a kaleidoscopic approach; using a few colours, dropping them on to wet paper and watching them flow where they will. Kids love this, they love to see what happens, it is almost magical. Then they feel more secure to go on to more realistic pieces. I always say, if it doesn’t quite work out how you want it to be, we’ll call it a "Happy Accidents". Once they have this in their heads, again, they can accept this as part of the creative process and turn what they didn't want to necessarily happen into a joyful new part of their artwork.

Kids are usually taught, early on, to colour inside the lines. Once accomplished in this skill I love to guide them to do the thing they are told not to do, and that is, to colour outside the lines. At first they look quizzical, a little worried, like they are breaking some cardinal rule but once you show them that it is ok, they become freer with their expression and start to think for themselves and believe in possibilities.

Kids are so teachable, so open to possibilities, so they make faster progress with lots of enthusiasm and positive joy at their accomplishments, so giving encouragement is easy and genuine.

With this simple philosophy I have taught numerous children and have seen them flourish. The joy at seeing their joy is the reward.

Happy Painting!


little cardmaker said...

Great message. I'm so glad I waited to have a child because I have so much more patience and such a respect for who she is becoming.

RaspberryKidz said...

Thank you for posting this link on my blog. I'm so happy I got to read your article. I will be teaching quite young children, so keeping it age appropriate is something I will have to keep in mind. Great advice here, and I can use all I can get! Thanks for taking the time. : )

Your artwork is beautiful!