I find that often the focus is on the individual, which is an essential part of working as an educator... to see each individual child and to enable them to reach their potential... but individuals live, work and play in groups, so they need to work out how to be themselves in not just one group, but in a variety of groups and social situations.
Together art gives children the opportunity to express themselves and interact with other. It is not a form of art that is conflict free - it can require a great deal of scaffolding at times - but it does give the children time and space to practice those social skills while doing something enjoyable. They learn how to take turns, to make space for each other, or take space from others (as there are children who take up a lot of social space and children who take up too little social space... they both need to learn how to allow an equality in the social space): they learn how to be inspired by each other... sharing techniques, learning from mistakes etc etc etc...
I also felt there was a lot of "mine" happening, so by making art together we were creating "ours". It is not that we were making only together art, but that there was a mix of many options of big group art, small group art, working in pairs and working individually... and that all of these ways felt natural for the children to partake in.
Lots of scaffolding in the early days, allowed me to take more and more steps back as the children would scaffold each other more and more.
Also by allowing together paintings to happen across the ages the older children got the chance to realise just how competent the younger children are... and stopped referring to them as babies...
In this post I have selected a whole load of different together art for you to see and think about...
|and yet another artwork about turn taking. patience, thinking about colours, self regulating, concentrating... this was again not an art session per se, but a morning meeting/circle time/philosophy session.|
|it also became a place to test writing skills... and this inspired other children... so it was a great way for literacy to spread through play across the ages.|
|The together paintings often became a wonderful sensory experience for many of the children... one child would start painting their arms an others would follow.|
|it was also a place where we tested new techniques... like putting tape across and then peeling it off when the paint was dry...|
|or dipping straws into paint and blowing it onto the paper|
|or gluing bits of paper onto the paper using glitter filled glue... this was to create a hedge of thorns and flowers as part of a sleep beauty project the children were exploring.|
|more outside collaborative art - it does not always have to be paint...|
|sometimes it is using what the children find|
|and they can sometimes find all sorts of junk to create with...|
|then the other half would come in and continue the magic forest process... this happened many times until the children were satisfied|
|layer by layer...|
|it was also about sharing materials, and inspiring each other.|
|the art is then done over time in a series of small groups... adding more and more depth to the artwork.|
|more outside art colaboration... this time using coloured ice on fabric|
|Together painting on the square.The water source was two spray bottles that the children needed to collaborate together with to ensure they could all paint... as well as changing the colour pucks with each other.|
|some outdoor art is more science than art... this is where the children painted on the slide (well paper on the slide) we also used the swings to create art too together.|
|the swing art became the background for the fairy portraits... the children drew each other, added wings and then cut them out.|
|taking turns mixing the spices.|
|this is part of making a background for a Moroccan inspired fairy land...|
|it was also about self regulation... can I put paint on all of my friends backs? Will they like it? Should I ask first, is it ok to say no?|
|I ahve done a lot of light table painting with children... in pairs and in groups... as well as individually. The small space adds a challenge, but that is a part of the process. Again a lot of story telling, singing and dancing usually happens.|
|and it has seldom been a negative experience as there is just so much wonder and joy.|
|sometimes it has just been about paint directly on the floor... because they wanted to clean up like Cinderella (boys and girls). So we paint and then we clean it all up together. Taking responsibility together.|
|individual portraits brought together. Individuals make up a group.|
|then the older children finished off the artwork by using black paint to draw fruit, vegetables and other foods.|
|this is a similar artwork... where the younger children made the background and the older children painted spring images on top... a way for ALL the children to be a part of the process.|
So, as you see, there are VERY many ways that children can collaborate and paint together... and I have felt that the benefits are so worth the trouble. Yes, this style of working can get messy... both with paint everywhere, but also socially, as we are putting the children together in close proximity to experience new things... but what I observed is that the more the children were exposed to working together the better they got at it... and the easier it was to use these skills they learned in other play and social situations...
This does not touch the collaborative nature of loose parts, or construction and other areas of learning... the focus of this post was on art.