What does being a kid again & creativity have to do with one another?
It’s a thought that crosses many people’s minds, especially when I hear comments being made such as, “oh, to be a kid again—I can do whatever I want!” or “oh, when I put that paint brush in my hand, I feel free & giggly.” That last statement kinda hits home when I think about the classes I taught at the Workhouse Art Center’s ArtStar camp this past summer. The 3-week session was called “Making My Mark”.
The premise for the classes are the same as when I teach adults or conduct corporate team building sessions—but for the kids, I use exercises that are geared toward math & science SOLs (Standards of Learning). With students ranging in age from 6-9 yrs old to 10-12 yrs old, the purpose behind the “art workouts” was to show how creative each one of us is. There were no expectations but to learn simple art techniques—to have fun, learn something new… and to take the pressure off of their minds. I started the sessions off with telling each of them, “when you are in this class—there are no mistakes, everything you do is correct, so remove those thoughts of ‘I need to make this perfect or I need to make sure I do this right or I will get a failing grade.’ ” Working within the Creatively Fit model I put together simple art projects that had some basis in or applied to both math & science skills. At the end of the 3-week session, I also incorporated another component of community involvement. The following are the exercises & some photos of”my kids” creating.
Making My Mark! A Post-it Note Mural | class collaborative project.
A large board was divided up into squares and each day when my students arrived in class, they were asked what they want to learn for the day. We talked about nature, what made them happy, or did they have a favorite season & why. In adult terms—they were asked what their intention or vision was for the day or for them personally. After a short discussion, they doodled, scribbled & drew whatever they wanted on a sheet of post-it paper. When they were done, they took their paper & pasted it into their square. The next day when they arrived in class they were asked to do the same thing—but instead of removing the first drawing, they pasted the next one over the previous day’s drawing. The purpose for this was to see each day how they grew in thought & ability.
Personal Symbol | Let’s Draw something using our favorite shape!
I gave them different shapes and asked them to list what their favorites were from most favorite to least favorite. After a short discussion they did several exercises, the scribble drawing, a team scribble, and creating a doodle drawing using two of their favorite symbols. The team scribble was the most eye-opening for me, as it involved the concept of sharing & team collaboration.
Remaining “Math” Workouts
Analog Drawing: Analog drawings are non-representational drawings that communicate a person, place, or thing. They are lines, squiggles, dots, and shapes. They are a good way to “scribble” an emotion or a concept.
Mandalas: Mandala is the Sanskrit word for circle. They are a symbol of life and have been used by almost every religion and culture throughout history. Any artwork that includes a circle can be a mandala—but for this project—we create something within the circle that’s geometric & symmetrical. We created two different mandalas, one with just crayons & colored pencils. The other one was with Sharpies and water colors. (My impression for this exercise was it was very grounding for the kids. They all said it was one of their favorite projects).
Magazine Mosaics: Using old magazines, we cut out small square shapes and then separated them into color sets. Randomly arranging the shapes edge-to-edge, glue them down on paper to create fun patterns and see what images can be made using just the square shapes.
Paper Weaving: Using crayons or oil pastels and 2 papers.
The second week I wanted to focus on “science type” creative projects. By now, the kids were excited about doing their “Making My Mark” doodle in the morning and they were curious about how art & science worked together.
I did incorporate a painting project called “Painting Made Easy” which was pulled directly from the Creatively Fit program. The kids were interested in color mixing & how painting could also be a team project. The older kids were given a group mural to paint. I gave them “pieces of a picture” to paint & when those canvases were finished, then we put the boards together so they could finish them as a “team”. The younger group learned to mix paints (& conserve them) and then they painted trees. They learned about adding texture by using fabric or tissue paper to wet paint & how to layer paints when they were dry.
The following were the other exercises we did. One water/paint project I do want to perfect for next summer is creating patterns of color in water & transferring them to paper. I did this with the older group & it was great fun for them—but a disaster for me :-)!
Remaining “Science” Workouts
- Tree Collage: Leaf, trunk & branch shapes are torn from scrap papers. The tree is finished while thinking of stuff you like to do outdoors or nature, answer some of these questions with words: “What do you see or notice around you?”, “What do you like best about the season you’re in?”, “What is your favorite animal?”
- Leaf Rubbing: We live in a beautiful world – nature is all around us. Imagine your neighborhood without leaves… you are now living in a desert. Leaves provide us with some of the oxygen we breathe—they shade us from the sun. Look for some interesting leaves and make a pattern with them.
- Watercolors: After playing with colors & seeing how mixing the base colors changes them, we will take and wet paper, put color on the paper & then sprinkle salt on the wet paint to create starlight patterns.
- Color Theory (vibration, light rays, mixing opposite colors): Colors have emotions and you feel certain emotions when you see or think of colors. Write down the first words that come to mind that you associate with these colors: orange, blue, red, green, yellow, purple, white, pink, black, brown.
At the end of the week, I was presented with how to integrate art & helping to serve the community. I was asked to create “kids” & Garden Rocks of Hope for the organization CASA (Court Appointed Support Advocates). I had 3 days to work with my students to create kids in “their image” and to paint the granite rocks. All of the “CASA kids” & rocks were donated to a silent auction to be sold or “adopted” to help raise funds for CASA. The discussions were interesting as my students did not really understand how making art could help another person. In the end, all of the CASA kids were used and over half the rocks were sold in the silent auction to benefit the organization. I look forward to developing this aspect of what I call, “Art as a Catalyst for Change” into my creative coaching and art camp next year.
If you have any questions or would like to have me come in to conduct a workshop using any of the techniques described above, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can tailor your workshop to whatever you need or for your particular audience (education, seniors, military, and corporate).
Kathy received her certification as a Creatively Fit coach in April 2011 and is the Chief Creative Officer (aka, Creative Know-it-All) for her business, ImageWerks(www.imagewrks.net) located in N. Virginia.