Working with Kindergartners

So I dropped off a new demo canvas to my youngest child’s class this room this afternoon when I picked the kiddos up from school today and thought I share it with my audience of one, when I realized that I forgot to share the other kindergarten demo I did.  So, brace yourself, we are traveling back in time to two weeks ago prior to Thanksgiving break.  (And my one reader will just have to wait till tomorrow to see what I dropped off today.)

So have gone into the school and worked with the kids there before, but it has always been for older grades and children who have the ability to comprehend and sit still on a greater capacity.  But my middle child’s old kindergarten teacher asked me when I was crashing her room to paint for her pupils.  Now I will tell you there are teachers in this world that you love, and then there are teachers in the world like this woman.  This is the kind of teacher for whom you would try to move mountains.  She is the kind of teacher you’ll still be telling stories about when your children have children.  I swear here and and now, there is nothing I wouldn’t do for this woman.

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pack up and mock up of demo

But I was fairly certain live painting for her room full of kindergarteners, might be the line in which I could not cross.  I mean, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to.  I like showing kids how to move paint and think about art materials in none traditional ways.  But could a room full of sticky fingered five years olds really be interested in this for a full thirty minutes?  Sure maybe a small group of three to five I could work with and keep interested, but we were talking about 25 plus small energy filled kindergarteners.

But like I said I could not say no to this teacher, so the Tuesday before thanksgiving week (we do not go to school at all over thanksgiving week), I was in her classroom first off ready to live demo a mix media canvas for these kids.

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Mix media Painting after 30 minute demo

And I can not even begin to tell you how wrong I was.  Not only can you keep the attention of small people like this with a live demo, but you won’t even hear a peep out of them.  I wish I had a picture of how still they sat with bright eyes watching the paint move on the canvas.  I wish you could hear the ohs and awes of these kids as I dripped paint, or sprayed on ink.  And I can not even begin to describe how much they absorbed from my lecture on painting techniques.  They understood the positive and negative of a stencil, and color mixing philosophy (yes, I mix primary colors live).  They giggled at my aversion to paint brushes, and practically begged their teacher for a chance to paint with baby wipes.

And you should see how they kids swarm the painting when I brought it in the next day.  Each of them had to touch the raised bits, and of course find their name etched into the background.  And still weeks later, they come up to me and ask to see my dirty paint covered hands.  They frankly could not believe how dirty I allowed my hands to get while I worked.  I told them that my hands are almost always speckled with some extra color.  They didn’t believe me.  Now, weeks later after checking my hands, I think they do.

This was one of the coolest things I had ever done, and trust me I’ve done some pretty cool things in my life.  And I love when teachers try to thank me for doing this.  Really it should be me thanking them for allowing me to paint for the next generation.  I believe in art.  I believe teaching art in schools.  And believe it art teachers are removed from schools, then we artists have a duty to volunteer our time with these kids.  And frankly, I do not make kids better artists.  These kids make me better.  They expand how I think, and the risks I’m willing to take.

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The final piece after some clean up at home.  For those of you who do not know the image, it is Pete the Cat from the young reader book series by the same name.  He is their class reading mascot.  The original art work and conception of Pete was done by James Dean.

*(Please note, in no way shape of form was I trying to ripe off another artists work by replicating the focal image here.  I just wanted to create something that the kids would respond to positively, and Pete is a central figure in their classroom lives.  No money was received for this painting, and is now the property of the classroom that it was painted for.)*

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