Tuesday, May 13, 2008

All about art.

Shira, my little artist, is always making me something or the other. Yesterday she made me a twirled paper owl.

I love how she is forever creating things, but sometimes I feel like I am drowning under the weight of her artwork.

Marc and I have developed a system for dealing with our children's artwork. We display them proudly for a few days, then move them to somewhere where they can't be seen for a week. If they are not asked after during that time, they then get moved to file 13.

Sometimes I feel guilty about doing this but then I remind myself that both children are far more enamoured by the process than they are by the product.

I have MaryAnn Kohl to thank for this. When my kids were preschoolers I bought a copy of her book, "Preschool Art".

Over 200 activities teach children to explore and understand their world through open-ended art experiences that emphasize the process of art, not the product. Activities are included for painting, drawing, collage, sculpture and construction

MaryAnn removed my fear of art. I am not in the slightest bit artistic, and worried about how I was going to teach art to my kids. She made me realize that the product is unimportant, that it's all about the process. Ben and Shira have embraced this concept with a vengeance.

I've set up an environment to allow them to indulge in the process whenever they want to.

To this end I've bought a shelf's worth of books on art. Some are all about particular artists and their styles, others are about various art processes, others are by MaryAnn Kohl herself and yet others are just plain old craft books.

I've also set aside cabinets for our art and craft materials. We have sets of most of the different types of paints, we have oil pastels, colored pencils, charcoal, tissue paper, markers, paint brushes, foils, papers, clays of all persuasions, nets, beads, buttons, glitter, string and anything and everything that could possibly be used for an art project.

The kids have free access to everything in the art cabinets. They know that if they fail to respect their materials or our home, that their privileges will be removed. They are great. Before they start a project they line the table with butchers paper, lay down plastic on the floor if it is warranted and ensure they are wearing "art friendly" clothing. Afterwards they tidy up.

Right now we are working through MaryAnn's book, "Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters" in our homeschool.

Here are some free art activities that will give you a feel for the great stuff MaryAnn writes about.

I leave the more technical aspects of art to professional art teachers. In a few weeks Ben and Shira will be taking a watercolor class at The Hermitage Foundation. If nothing else, they'll enjoy spending two Sunday afternoons at such a beautiful venue.

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