Friday, August 31, 2012

Art Day: Friend or foe?

When it comes to doing art (and music for that matter) it's not one of my favorite things. Sure it used to be fun back in elementary school when the teacher put out all the art supplies, explained the project, and cleaned up after you. As a matter of fact, at one time it might have been my favorite subject but there was always one problem with it. The masterpiece that I dreamed up in my mind never materialized into my creation.  I can have all the best intentions of what I want to do and how I want it to look but when I'm done I'm usually disappointed and often times incredibly frustrated in the process.  So the question then is how do you make art a part of homeschooling when the teacher clearly posses zero talent at art?

Yesterday Kat and I went to the library. In the display case were some of the most beautiful paintings all done on pieces of palm trees.  That got me thinking.  We have plenty of palms in the yard.  We have lots of paints and brushes.  Why not plan an art project using the supplies we already have?  It sounded so easy and potentially fun in my mind so on Friday, after our school work was completed, I explained the project to the kids.  The girls immediately lit-up eager to get started.  James said, "Don't you have to have some talent in order to paint something good?"  I could only answer honestly, "Yeah, you do.  But you can have fun trying."  He was not convinced and opted to go back to doing something he really enjoys and is good at, probably Minecraft.  I got out all the art supplies and covered the patio table while the girls collected palm branches. 


At first the project started out okay.  Emily had a good idea and began painting.  I wasn't surprised at all since she frequently jumps at the chance to do artistic things and quite obviously has enough raw talent to put her ideas into images.  Kat began full throttle painting her branch purple, then pink, then blue. By the time she was ten minutes into it, there was just as much paint on her and the table as there was on the branch.  I tried to keep my cool yet fumed inside knowing that I'd somehow be the one cleaning up.  I began my branch with a green color (I ended up not liking) and no clear design or concept in mind. I waited for it to dry and then painted over it again which did not go well because the kind of paint we were using wasn't ideal for tree material.  Never-the-less, I kept going and ended up making a palm tree which I know any kindergartner could have improved upon.  Kat got frustrated too and I ended up sending her outside with the garden hose. Emily kept on quietly and neatly painting clearly enjoying every minute of it.  When Kat saw my branch and Emily's branch she grew more and more frustrated not being able to achieve what she wanted.  She started over whining, crying, and complaining while I matched her mood realizing the ever increasing mess that I needed to clean.  "I hate art projects!" I declared in a temper tantrum kind of way.  "They're so messy and they never turn out right!".  I sounded like a spoiled brat instead of a calm and loving teacher.  Not my finest moment.

In the end Kat copied my idea of palm trees. Much to her and my surprise, her finished product looked much better than mine and quite different from what I had done.

 I was impressed with both of my girls.  Was it worth it?  I think Emily would say 'yes' as she enjoyed both the process and the finished product. 

Kat struggled throughout and didn't seem entirely satisfied with her work (until we told her how good it really was).

 I, as usual, loved the concept and the ideas in my head more than the reality of executing the art itself and the finished product.

This day leads me to ask the question, "Art:  friend or foe?".  I think I'll go see what James is up to.


1 comment:

  1. Cool blog post (I read the whole thing!)....and can feel your pain! Keep art in the mix, as best you will be worth it in the long run for your kids, no masterpiece creation required. The process, the brain & dexterity practice, the looking at things from different perspectives to translate into a 'piece of art', etc all have immeasurable & 'ungradable' value your kids will absorb. Keep it simple & perhaps it becomes so simple that doing art is just a part of daily life, not a stress inducing, cleaning nightmare, once-in-awhile-homeschool project. Remember there is a technique & skills part of art, just like math or literacy, and then there is the unfolding process of creating (can you as a home school teacher provide the 'atmosphere' that fosters being in the moment creating, without judgement of any outcomes?). I'm sure you can find guidance out there on both aspects! :o) I admire your courage to share the good with the not so great parts of homeschooling.~Karina