The opinions expressed in this blog are my personal opinions. They do not reflect the opinions of my employer or anyone else and do not provide any official or unofficial interpretations or guidance on what is being written about. They are simply "my thoughts".

Friday, 27 August 2010

Action Painting

Today my class of thirteen 10 and 11 year olds had a wonderful time experimenting with paint. Last week we looked at the work of Jackson Pollock and used http://www.manetas.com/pollock/ to create our own Jackson Pollock creations using our computers. The kids loved this and many of them went online at home and had a go. They also shared this brilliant painting activity with younger brothers and sisters. Isn't that brilliant?

This week we got the paints out and had a go at Action Painting in class. I got this idea from Teacher Tom's blog: http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/ - if you haven't visited this treasure trove of ideas then you have been missing out!

We used marbles ... Ok, I'm getting ahead of myself. The children used their tote tray (emptied of all belongings) and put a piece of paper in the bottom - just sugar paper, they then squirted small amounts of classroom paint onto the paper. This is where the marbles come in! Each child put 4 marbles into their tray and then moved the tray around so that the marbles rolled around the tray and left tracks when they went through the paint.

The children had to work hard to keep control of the paint so that they weren't left with just a big blob. Knowing when to stop is really important so they had to make judgements as they went along. We discovered that small amounts of paint was better than using lots because this got too sticky and the marbles wouldn't roll.

When they thought they had done enough painting with the marbles, they then used the wrong end of a paintbrush to create some different textures in their painting by scoring and flicking.

The results were great. The children did several paintings each and decided whether each one was a keeper or a ditcher. This helped them feel that it didn't matter if it went wrong - they knew they could just have another go.

Why did we do this activity?
Teaching this age group, I'm so aware that many children have already decided that they 'don't do art' or 'can't do art'. Children always compare themselves with others and from an early age they can see that some kids find it easy to draw stuff that looks like the thing they are drawing.

Sometimes it might be a throw-away comment from an adult or another child that suddenly makes a child view their creative efforts negatively.

I believe that every child has a right to be creative. It is my task to ensure that children who have lost their creative instinct by 10 years old are given the chance to rediscover it. Showing children the work of great artists like Jackson Pollock will hopefully teach the children that being creative is very far removed from being good at observational drawing (although there is a place for this too) and that children and adults can be creative without being brilliant at drawing realistically.

I think schools and nurseries are very good at letting younger children experiment with art. The process at those stages of their education is just as important, if not more, than the end result. Somewhere along the line this experimental approach stops and all the emphasis falls onto the end result. I think that is a pity. My class had a ball today. They were totally involved in the activity and learned lots about what they can do with paint. They learned about mixing colours. They learned about making textures. Most of all they learned that art is fun.

One boy came up to me at the end of the lesson and said, "I'm not usually good at art but I can do this kind of art and it was great fun."

That made my day!!