Thursday, 17 January 2013

it's the process not the product that's important

 Sometimes you almost know its not really going to work before you even start - but it doesn't matter. You know that even if it doesn't turn out the way you had planned that there is a reason for that, or a need for that - and the process becomes the product, rather than the result being the product. My colleague and I knew that our Australian Aborigine dot painting wasn't going to work - the group of 2 and 3 year olds were new to each other, I am new to the group - and 4 of the 10 children (8 today as 2 were away) are also new, so the REAL aim of the art session was a feeling of group belonging - of working together (with an Australian hint).
Its started off well - the children carefully dipping their fingers into the earthy tones inspired by the Australian landscape - but then the children got down to business and started experimenting - what happens if I dip more than one finger? what happens if I rub my hands together? what happens if I slide my hands across the page? what happens if a mix colours together?

 We have had parents with us all week - as part of the parent-active schooling in, and one parent was a little anxious as her child explored the qualities of the paint. The great part of parent-active schooling in is that it gives us the time to explain to the parents the processes - that the aim was not a picture of dots, but to bring the children together - the experimenting is, in fact, a bonus and that there will be more opportunities for dot painting when the children have had enough time to explore the properties of the paints we are using.

It's also interesting to see how long children are interested in the session. Some need to observe a while before starting, others only need a short time to participate and then there are those that never seem to want to stop. There was a HUGE interest in how the paint looked on their hands - some seemed to have an almost marbling effect, so the children compared with each other and some even added extra paint to their hands to be able to achieve the same effects as their new friends... Then there was the whole sensory experience as the hands slipped over each other.

Tomorrow we will continue with the same dot painting - this time one or two will come at a time to add a few dots in a meaningful pattern - each child creating their own unique pattern on the painting they created together - just as each child weaves his/her own unique pattern on the fabric that is the preschool - the painting will represent the individual and the group (the children who are away will be able to add their own dot pattern to the painting as they return).

Our Australia project is part of a cooperation with a preschool in Australia and a preschool in USA - but more about that at the weekend...

Reflection December 2013,
looking back on this I smile and see how far my group of children have come in their relationships with each other and becoming a member of Vinden, the group of oldest children at Filosofiska. I still see their need for sensory activities and their need to explore paint - but it is not quite to the same extent as it was last January - these days they are interested in discovering new properties of the paint ... 
in the comments below there is a suggestion to use buds to make dots - and we tried this - and again I laugh as I remember "its process not product" the children painted with the buds and did not make dots... again the need to feel and explore far outweighed any need to attempt make dots... the children were not yet familiar with the cotton bud as a tool and needed more time to explore that...

it is now - a full year later of exploring and playing with materials that the children are starting to get ready to meet new artistic and creative challenges... I look forward to 2014...


  1. I just love the kind of "flow" that these kind of group-paintings make to the children involved.. it is a flow with the colours, but also a flow amongst the children... great... Thanx Suzanne for sharing. /Åsa

  2. You might be able to introduce the idea of dots by offering cotton wool buds as part of the set-up...

  3. I'm all about process over product! When I hosted a toddler art group I always started with finger painting, seems to be the best way to break the ice. :) I love the earthy tones you chose.

  4. How did I miss this? Loving loving loving. You expressed and documented exactly how I feel about collaborative art, and affirmed the importance of my weekly whole-class murals :)