I love art because, in addition to being fun to produce, it tells us about people through time and across cultures. I encourage children to think of the bigger picture as we weave art activities with ideas from science, social studies, and even math. A lump of wet clay is a part of the earth, created by geological events. It is subject to the laws of chemistry, of earth science. We discuss the effects of evaporation and heat. A lump of clay may have been important in determining a lifestyle for a tribe of Indians who have built a life around pottery making. The striped hills of a Georgia O'Keeffe painting tell us something about the climate and geological history of the place she was painting. Art is a portal to the world at large.
I think inside each of us is a well of creativity seeking a way to express. I believe both adults and children can find a way to enjoy making art... there’s something for everyone. In the elementary art classroom I strive to expose children to a variety of mediums. The room gets messy as children explore and enjoy their art making.
Is art about the process or product? Both children and their parents enjoy a nice piece of art work coming home. Most art classes are driven by a product oriented goal, incorporating many objectives from the Sunshine State Standards. There are specific objectives included in each lesson, for example: color mixing, contrasting values, using line, shape, balance, repetition or variety. Projects can draw upon memory, observation or imagination. Although each student is launched into the project in the same way, every picture will be a unique result of the child's expression of the assignment. Guidance is given in trying techniques such as wet on wet painting or layering collage material. I tell the children they are in the art room to learn something new and try something different, not to do what they always do.
Some of the art classes are given over to 'centers' or free art which means the child can experiment with a choice of materials and work as they wish. These experiments are not graded; as long as the child participates he or she cannot go wrong. Sometimes children do amazing things during these classes. At other times they just keep piling paint on the paper until it’s a big dark blob. Not everything we do when we experiment with art turns out to be beautiful, but there is some value in experimenting with supplies and seeing 'what happens when….'