Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Painting by letters... testing boundaries...

The idea for this session in the atelier was born in the discussions with Suzanne Osten after Södra Teaterns observations of our first Moroccan inspired fairy land painting, where we talked about limits and for the importance for children not only to test limits but also to know how to keep within them. (see "Painting Morocco") To find out about what is allowed and what is not allowed, To discover that everyone has their own set of limits, and that we need to learn about these as part of our social interactions. That just because it is OK for me to get paint on my hands does not mean it is OK for others, and while I am happy for paint to get on my hands I am not so keen to get it all over my clothes - so yes, I too have a limit (and yes accidents will happen). Listening and following instructions is an important skill (and I am not suggesting that children should follow blindly - but that there are times when safety comes before children's wants and also by listening to others we get to learn and to deepen our own understanding of the world around you - so its not just about listening to the adults, but listening to everyone... and to understand that you are listened to)

In the atelier, the children (3x 4yrolds and 1x 3yr old) discovered paper with tape on it - the tape forming a leaf-like pattern. I each section of the leaf was a letter - the first letter of each child's name. They looked for their own letters (as there were severla dotted around the leaves). We then mixed personal shades of green - how much yellow to add to the staple green, then a choice of blue or white... which was not easy if you are a child that says yes to everything and then cannot work out why two children are getting white and not yourself... careful re-explanation of why that happened and about how it ws a choice of blue or white (so that there would abe a variety of greens - and also for the children to practice making choices and not just saying yes to everything regardless of what was their original plan)

then it was time for the tricky business of filling the leaf sections with paint - but ONLY the sections with your own letter. At first the children just put blobs of paint on one of their letters and then wanted to move to the next letter... but after several explanations they understood the technique and were able to proceed with little assistance - except for one child (one of the reasons for doing this process). This child found it difficult to work out which letter was theirs - and also had a great difficulty to paint just inside that one section as that brush just wanted to glide all over the paper...

but with help from me, and friends they filled in all the sctions of the leaf

next it was time to create the trunk of the Moroccan palm inspired tree (since fairies live in trees). The long paper was sectioned off, again with first letters of their names. RED was added to their green paint to transform it into brown - a bit of fairy colour magic!

Different techniques were seen - one child went up and down as far as could be reached then went round to the other side to finish off. Another child painted the edges of the boundary and then coloured in the middle section, the third child painted small pictures that eventually filled the section and the fourth child that had struggled with the boundaries chanted a mantra "paint near the tape paint near the tape"

despite the mantra is was SO difficult to not let that brush slide over into someone else's section - and this happened on all three sections that were painted. Sometimes self control is just so hard, no matter how hard you are trying to work on it... BUT at least this time it was just a small slip of the brush and not the huge gliding strokes that had occured during the leaf part of the session.

clearing up and looking after utensils are an important part of the process - ALL four children dumped their smocks on the floor and just left their pots and brushes when I said it was time to clean up when they were finished. I looked at them and said they needed to hang up their own smocks and also to wash the utensils - which I helped them show HOW to clean the brushes properly so to keep the bristles nice and also to ensure all the colour was removed.
I can still find my head shaking in disbelief as I think how all four of them took off their smocks dumped it at my fett, and when I pointed out that it needed to be hanged up they promptly tried to give it to me to do the job!!!

In the afternoon the tape was peeled off to reveal beautiful leaves - the children really ooo-ed and aaah-ed at this, finding it magical - and who can blame them, I was also totally caught up in the magic of the moment...
I cut the paper with the brown shades into a slightly more palm trunk shape and put it up on the wall next to the Moroccan spiced painting and the sugar-blue sky, adding three of the leaves that were ready. The rest of the brown border painting I have put up on the right side - to look like a smaller tree (not seen on the photo as I took this before I put it up) as the children have repeatedly said that fairies live in a forest, and therefore there needs to be more than one tree.
There is a table just in front of this fairy background - and I am tempted to use our forest excurion on Thursday to look for tree like twigs and branches so that we can use clay and the twigs to create a mini-forest display.

We also need to make some fairies to fill this fairy landscape...

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