I've touched upon the value in process art with children before. Process art targets a variety of developmental skills and milestones while nurturing and honoring children's creativity and inherent artistic abilities at their own level. I am not an all-or-nothing type of gal, so we also do project based artwork here, which has value in its own right. I particularly love Hevre Tullet's combined use of art and literature to promote an environment for children to explore both in a playful and aesthetically beautiful way while gaining skills in literacy, writing, art and play. What I did not initially take into account as we began exploring his work is how much I was gaining through it as well!
|"Have Fun!' with the book Mix It Up|
Yes, today, I am inviting the adults to join in! This is our play time and our opportunity to rediscover process art. I would never classify myself as someone who is artistic, but why? What is it that defines a person as artistic or not? And when does that switch go off? I do remember creating artwork as a child, uninhibited and filled with joy and wonder. And while every child grows to different interests and preferences, I do wonder what outside factors emerge to nurture certain concepts of self and quell others. I remember putting on my own art show at home once and displaying my works on the wall with (eh em) school glue (oops)... I had ample access to art supplies and craft materials and a mother who really nurtured the idea of process art and encouraged us to work with these items at our own discretion. But somewhere along the line, children do gain the concept that art should represent something and look a certain way. From there, I think many decide whether or not this is a strength or a challenge. I maintained interest in crafts and hobbies of that sort, but more open ended type artwork was a bit intimidating.
And along comes an artist like Hevre Tullet who can splash paint on a page, make squiggles and lines and doodles and dots come to life and get everyone engaged and playing and creating. And all of a sudden, I was taken back to the same child-like joy I had when I was 5 years old! Even my husband got in on the fun! And in setting out stations this week to invite the whole family to join together in art, I noticed some wonderful things that were happening:
|When he finished painting on paper, Y explored painting|
on the vase that was holding our paintbrushes! I was
almost sad to wash it off--maybe glass will be a "canvas"
in our future....
- We were all on the same page and in the same playing field: Many times when adults and children work together on art, there's a pretty clear division between who is 2 months old and watching from a swing, who is 2, who is 5 and who the adults are (T and I will keep those numbers to ourselves for now). But when there's one giant sheet of paper and the only instructions are to "Have Fun!" or "Mix it Up!" or "Jump on a Trampoline!" we're all on the same level. Well, to be fair, C is still just watching from the swing and smiling and cooing. But there's no pressure for a child to create something in the same way an adult can. There's not even pressure for a 2 year old to create something in the same way a 5 year old can.
- Inhibitions Go Out the Window: I actually loathe when children ask me to draw something. Not because I worry so much that it will create an unattainable standard for their smaller, younger hands (although this is a concern), but more because I do not think I am particularly adept at drawing. When I dipped into our art explorations this week, I felt no hesitance at all. I had just as much joy at squiggling and doodling and dabbing and dotting as anyone else!
- Connecting through Dots: art was a great way for us to join together as a family and connect. It wasn't forced, it wasn't suitable more for one age than another. It wasn't on a schedule and there was no agenda. The paper was simply set out with the materials to use on it. It would remain there as long as we wanted. We could come all together, one at a time, go as needed, return as desired. If we needed another sheet of paper, we got one. If we felt all done, we set it to dry and in the end we'd hang our work in the Family Museum Wall. Sometimes the art told a story. Sometimes it made a sound or a song. Sometimes it was silent. Imagine connecting as a family in this way and then imagine it in a classroom or in a community at large.
- Art in Motion: this is not your sit at the table or stand at the easel type of art or reading for that matter. Hevre Tullet's books and work get everyone moving from those tiny fine motor muscles to the larger gross motor ones. As my boys use their fingers to trace the lines along the pages of his stories or press dots or rub circles, they are practicing the same tracking skills that will help them to read and write.
- Art and Inclusion: Navigating shared paper and space with art is helping us all to develop important social skills, critical thinking skills and problem solving skills. Rather than art being a solo activity, it is an opportunity to be inclusive and work together.
|Somehow, the "dirty" paint tray is so beautiful to me! We used a dollar tree|
plastic silver serving tray. The mirror quality adds such a unique
element when mixing and exploring paint colors. Painting on mirrors indoors
and outside is a great way to add a unique element to process art...
I've been creating my own art invitations and provocations this week using pages from Tullet's books Press Here, Mix It Up!, Let's Play! and Say Zoop! Choosing materials and seeing what happens with them is part of the fun for me (and my own creative process). However, for those who would prefer a bit of direction with this, there are some great ideas on Pinterest. Hevre Tullet also has an incredible blog, and if you are not fluent in French, you can view it translated into English. I also highly recommend his book Art Workshops for Children. I recently purchased a copy and am so eager to bring this as an addition to my nature-based playgroup when I host an Art In the Park session next month. I can't wait to see art in action with a mixed age group of children and adults. The art activities in the book can be adapted to individuals, small groups (family setting/siblings/a few friends), larger groups of similar age or larger groups of mixed ages and even adults.
I don't have a goal with our exploration of art this summer other than to follow my kids' interest and perhaps also preserve this time of wonderment, competence and confidence in art. Perhaps I also want to reignite this in myself as well! There are mornings when everyone runs to the table right away and morning when the paper is still mostly white by 11:00, but the invitation is there. It's on the bookshelves: read me! It's on the kids' table: paint me! It's on their art supply shelves: create! It's stowed away in my diaper bag for outside of the library or at the park: let's doodle! It's a continued reminder that art is everywhere around us and within us and all it needs is a space to know it is valuable and beautiful in its own right. That it is a process and an action, not a product or destination. That it never needs to be finished but it is complete in its current state. That it is lovely in all shapes and shades and sizes and colors. In fact, art is not so different than we are!