Saturday, September 10, 2016

Art: Process vs. Product?

I went to college to be an art teacher. In fact my degree is in Fine Arts with an emphasis in painting, and I graduated with an EC-12 Art Certification.  I was blessed to be able to teach high school Art I for 2 separate years out of my 8 years of public education (art positions are hard to find and keep with all the cuts yall). 
Please allow me to tell you something about my experience as a high school art teacher.

The struggle is real.  Many kids struggle to be creative and create their own products.

They feel like their artwork has to look like something on Pinterest or Google images in order to be successful.  Getting students to create just to create is truly a struggle. 

In teaching, I would show a process skill (like creating a pinch pot out of clay), then gave my students the task of creating any animal they wanted.  The only criteria was that it had to have a pinch pot for a body.  I supplied books, pictures of animals, and all sorts of tools to help them create their work of art.  However, so many students sat stooped.  Many got out their phones and looked up "pinch pot animals" in google images and found one they liked.
I had one student who found an image this way of a tiger, and that is what she used instead of creating her very own.  
She copied someone else's work. 
She did a great job, but it wasn't her own personal piece of art. 

This month, Mother Goose Time has incorporated some art stations called 

The Invitations come with a large picture (the owl picture above) and a smaller picture with an instruction guide on the back with guided questions.

It does NOT come with an example of what the product should look like.

To keep us focused on the PROCESS and not that our work looks like the picture.

So here is how it looked for my 25 month old little girl.  

First, we read the book Owl Babies from our local library.

                                Then, we watched the Read Aloud of the book on YouTube.
I asked my girl if she wanted to make some owls today.  Uh-huh. 
We used the Little Goose Guide, which suggested we place a stick on our paper.  We went outside and Sweet Pea picked out a stick that she liked from our yard. After asking her which way she wanted the paper to go, I hot glued the stick to the paper.

Next came the creation part.
Mother Goose Time supplied us with a small paper sack, cotton balls, and the black paper. 
(I added more cotton balls for my girl to use if she desired)
And Sweet Pea got after it.

She practiced using a glue stick.  Once she seemed bored with that, I asked if she would like to paint... always a yes to paint.  I used a clothespin and cotton ball to make a paintbrush and provided her with white tempera paint.  She did the rest.

After painting, she wanted the liquid glue, so we got that out, and she stuck on some more cotton balls.  Sweet Pea has been pretty obsessed with "eyes" and kept talking about the owl's eyes in the Invitation to Create picture.  I had some googly eyes in my stash of stuff and asked her if she would like to put on some eyes. 
Ummm...duh, mom.
We talked about how there were 3 owls in the story, and we counted 6 eyes.  Each owl had 2 eyes.
I gave her 6 eyes and we talked about how eyes come in pairs and a pair is two. 
She worked really hard on placing her eyes side by side. 

Look at that face!!! So excited about what she made <3

Instead of using the 2 eyes here, she glued one eye and one cotton ball and that is perfectly okay! 

Eyes placed in the black space instead of on the "owl body."  It made me think of the eyes creeping in the darkness when the owls were scared (you can really see that in the video).  This is something I would never had thought if she placed the eyes on the body she painted. 

My 25 month old's masterpiece.  
After it dried, I hung it on the wall during her nap. 
When she walked into her learning area and saw her artwork on the wall, she ran to it saying,
 "Wow! Wow, Momma!"

So educators, mommas, and anyone who is willing to make art with kids, let me encourage you:
what is best for kids and best for society is not what is easiest on us. 
 Education is messy...literally and figuratively.  It is not perfect or cookie cutter.  It can not be, because each child is different with special gifts, abilities, and interests. 
Let them be little.  Let them explore.  Let them create.  Let them learn.
Let them enjoy the process instead of be bogged down by "what it should look like."

Who knows...what they end up creating might just surprise you and be better than even a prescribed image. 

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