The children have been preparing for our annual Art Show, a major exhibit for the whole community. It’s especially exciting this year, as last year’s event was cancelled due to Covid.
How do you help children to think like Picasso or Van Gogh? How do you help them to feel creative and inspired?
We start by introducing children to the same tools that real artists use – paints in tubes, good brushes of many sizes, even well-loved palettes that are covered with years of paint.
We show them major pieces of art. I pan every work of art in these good books – slowly and thoughtfully – to the children. What I say makes the difference, and I do it with surprise and enthusiasm, as if there is a revelation:
“Connor, you can do this. See the mountains? You could paint this.”
“Eddie! You love blue. Look at the circles. You could paint this.”
I make sure I’ve made a comment to every child. It’s how you say what you say. Children look at me with saucer eyes and nod their heads. No-one has ever told them they can do this. ‘You can’ makes all the difference in the world to a child.
Then the fun begins! I introduce children to my old suitcase record player. I just put it on the floor at our Morning Meeting and ask, “What is this?” Of course every child is riveted. I open the cover and tell them it plays music. We learn about the parts and how it works. And then I pull out an old record album. This year it was Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
When the music explodes from the record player, it’s as if all the stars have aligned. Well they have, because I tell children,
“When you hear the music, it goes into your ears, and then into your brain, and into your heart. Then it shoots out your fingers, whoosh- like magic, so that you can paint.”
Music inspires art. The two are intertwined. Children painted to Vivaldi and Beethoven. They also painted to the Beatles and the Supremes, with an occasional dance party.
Children have been painting in earnest for weeks. So much has happened! Stay tuned for Part 2.