Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In Between Spaces and Risk Taking

This painter began in a manner familiar to young children, trying out colors he mixed as well as mark making techniques on his paper. Below we have dabs, a painted circle and a larger painted area of a lighter color.
Often, particularly after mixing, children are committed to their colors and reluctant to allow them to touch or mix on the paper.
Today, however when I offered the challenge of what could go in those in between spaces, the artist had some ideas.
He began by carefully painting a lighter pink around some of his dotted marks.
This processs continued with some yellow, again with great concentration and determinatino to fill in all those little spaces between the dots. Finally a darker color is used to complete the last bit of background.
In encouraging children to think about backgrounds, whether with an abstract image or a painting of a beloved person or object, I often phrase it as a challenge, to see if we can cover the whole page with paint and color. It is usually only after kids have been painting with me for a while that they are ready to rise to this challenge. I begin gently, the first time a child paints in the studio, I might approach at the first announcement of "I'm done!" and express curiousity about the "in-between spaces." Noting the colors on the page and wondering if there is a color in his or her palette that he or she might want to use in the in-between spaces. Many children consider for a moment and tell me "No, I'm done." As they gain confidence as painters, children are more likely to take the rist of painting the in-between spaces.

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