Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Spaghetti painting

 Sometimes the choice of materials is the most important part of the process. Choosing to use spaghetti came from the need to offer the children a sensory experience. There were many fingers with the needs to fiddle, squeeze, pull and to just feel something different. Of course the finished product does tend to resemble a Jackson Pollock painting - and sometimes when I work with a group we will talk about Jackson Pollock and discuss his titles and whether they make sense to us. Sometimes the Jackson Pollock inspiration is not needed for the children because the process is the focus and when we are talking about the finished painting we talk about the process and how it felt.

spaghetti dancing on the canvas

 This spaghetti activity was divided into three session with 4-5 children in each session. The first session was 4 girls the second was 4 boys and the last was 5 children - boys and girls. I wanted to have a little exploration in gender differences - was there any? Were they stereotypical? and most importantly to observe and see how the children were so that I could offer stimulating and appropriate activities in the future.

canvas to the left then three bowls of paint and piles of spaghetti
 The set up was simple - the canvas was set up next to the table with three bowls of paint - for this session we chose blue, black and white to represent winter (black trees, white snow and to represent the cold we saw that the cold tap had a blue symbol on it...) In the first session I started with the spaghetti in  a big bowl - but ended tipping it out in a pile on the table for easier access and further exploration - so the following two sessions started with the spaghetti in a pile on the table. The children were shown how to dip the spaghetti in the colour and then to let it move across the canvas. Then it was up to the children...

after session one - a detail
 The first session of four girls was in virtual silence except for one of the girls who ran a running commentary of what she was doing throughout the whole process. There was little to no interaction amongst the girls. One of the girls did not like to get messy while another one really enjoyed the process once she was used to it and put handfuls of spaghetti into the bowls and dumped it onto the canvas and then picked it up. She listened to the sound that it made as it squelched in her hands.

after session 2
Session two was completely different - it was full of stories. The spaghetti strands were transformed by the boys into snakes - there was mummy snake, daddy snake and a whole load of baby snakes wiggling their way around the canvas. There was full interaction between all the boys and the boys more or less forgot I was there once they got going.

The last session was completely different again - this time the children sang songs together and the spaghetti and the children danced around the canvas.

My investigation shows that stereotypes do not reveal the real identities of children. According to the stereotypes it should have been the girls that were the more socially interactive using their communicative skills to the max - but here I saw that it was the boys who tended to do the most talking and storytelling.

The lesson learned - do not view children as girls and boys but simply as children with a whole range of skills, interests and needs. I am not saying that there are no boys and girls - but that there is a genderspectrum which has girliegirl on one end and boyishboy on the other - and a child can find him or herself anywhere on this spectrum regardless of sex.

for some children the process of getting messy was HUGE

Of course the process was a sensory experience - and there were children who LOVED getting messy while there were others that were uncomfortable with getting paint on themselves. This is when the pile of spaghetti came in handy. Those children who did not like getting visibly messy could enjoy themselves experimenting with the spaghetti. How long does it stretch? Can a strand be pulled out of the pile without it breaking? How many strands are needed to put end to end across the table? Plenty of maths and science sneaking into this art session.

how far can you pull?
  There is a complexity that makes the painting interesting and impressive resulting from the layers upon layers. Children can also do individual spaghetti paintings where they can have a long time to work at it, or several sessions to return to the work. Or one can add art medium to the paint and leave the spaghetti to dry on the canvas too so that it becomes a 3D piece of work or even a spaghetti sculpture.

The finished piece of art
It can be interesting to try other seasons or celebrations - we are in the middle of an autumn spaghetti with orange, red and yellows. Pictures will come when it is complete.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting how you turned researcher by testing gender differences. Welcome to the blogging world and keep up the good work.
    Greg :)