Saturday, 25 June 2016

messy painting....

There is a time and a place to teach your little ones to rinse their paint brushes in between colours. I call it “painting like grown-ups.” I use a cardboard egg carton for each kid and put a small squirt of whatever colours they are using in each “cup.” They can use the lid or extra egg compartments to mix colours as they need to. And best of all, I can simply recycle the egg cartons when they are finished with them. All I have to clean up is the brushes.

This post, however, is not about one of those times!

Every September I get my grade one students to make an artwork involving dots on International Dot Day. Based on Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot, Dot Day celebrates creativity. (All you need is a starting place, and that might be as simple as a dot.)

So this year, I just put out the three primary colours (red, blue, yellow) as well as orange, green, and turquoise (I think). I asked the kids to paint one or more dots. I set up the paints in groups of four or five kids; with one brush per colour. I told them they didn’t need to wash their brushes between colours; the yellow brush would go back in the yellow, the blue in the blue, etc.

Of course that didn’t happen.

Inevitably, brushes got put back in the wrong colours, or got some other colours on them while the little artists were colour-mixing on their papers. And that’s where the magic happened.

The kids started making loose, lavish, juicy, uninhibited brush strokes — blue into green, yellow into orange, red into blue — and that’s how they should paint.

“Real” artists come in lots of shapes and sizes (so to speak), and some of them choose to paint flat areas of single colours with hard edges. But many enjoy and understand the value of not washing your brushes too often as you paint. Of not cleaning your palette. Of letting the colours blend and mingle and speak to each other.

I call it “messy painting.”

Just remember to stop before all of the colours turn to mud!


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