One way to ensure that you don’t end up with a wall of identical paintings is to introduce children to abstract art. We used the book The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art as a starting point. The book tells the story of Kandinsky’s ability to ‘see music’ and ‘hear paintings’.
I explained that abstract art is not about creating a particular thing but is about expressing how you feel.
Each child had a pallet of acrylic paints, 2 different sized paintbrushes, a canvas, a pot of water and paper towel to wash and dry the brushes. I showed them how to clean their brushes by washing it in the water and drying it with the paper towel.
The children began when I played the music – I chose a quiet piece to add focus, Dvorak’s Largo from Symphony no. 9.
Some children were engrossed in colour mixing, while others enjoyed layering colours one on top of the other. Some concentrated on texture and others focused on shape and colour.
The strong focus on process lead to an interesting discussion with the teacher after class. We lamented the lack of time children in Kindergarten and beyond, to experiment with paint and the impact this has on their motor development. I always feel my lessons should be in at least 2 parts, one for discovery and process and the another to create a product. I wish there was time for the children to practice skills and develop. My eldest daughter attends a school where the whole curriculum is taught through the medium of visual and performing arts – are there any creative elementary teachers out there doing the same?