For some children, artistic play is the most intrinsically motivating, engaging and fun type of activity they can choose. I have had the pleasure of witnessing children as young as three years of age spend over an hour working with clay or paint only stopping because of being hungry and needing something to eat.
Artists use so many interesting materials: clay, charcoal, special pencils and pens, different types of paint and brushes, wire, and various types of paper. I have had the pleasure of enjoying the art posted on Karen Gadient’s blog which I happen to follow. I felt a little uncertain about asking her a question as I am not an artist myself but I am really curious about the process and how it can apply to young children who are developing a love for art. Karen took the time to give me a really detailed answer about the materials and the process she uses and now I am really excited because I can see how her process can be easily applied to early learning. I learned that pressing plastic or paper or string onto wet watercolour paint makes for interesting textures! I think that young children would be very interested in knowing how an artist makes a painting and then having the opportunity to try out the same process themselves.
Karen’s blog also makes me think about the quality of materials we give to young children. Why should children have substandard materials for art exploration? Don’t we feel that they deserve to have materials that will give them the same experiences that an artist would encounter? The quality of the materials that children are given does make a difference.
I will admit that part of the problem comes with the fact that children can be very hard on art materials. They may not yet realize the kind of care that is required for materials. For example, so often, young children do not put the caps onto felt pens when they are finished using them. Why? Sometimes it is simply a lack of skill; they don’t yet have the fine motor coordination to fully snap the lids into place. Sometimes it is simply a lack of knowledge about how important it is to replace the lids each time. So yes, children can wear out the materials rather quickly. Still, I would prefer to give them higher quality materials and teach them how to properly care for them. I know for myself that I would not be nearly as interested in drawing if my pens were not working properly.
So I now have a new mission: Collect some superior art materials and teach children how to care for them! Share the process of a true artist and see if the children want to try the same on their own.