I have been challenging the children with ways in which to use paint and in return they have challenged my thinking about art. I will admit I have always thought of art as an endeavour that each of us does individually. We must each express our artistic creativity alone. Early in May Laura and Eunice challenged that thinking as they worked together on a painting at the art easel. They had started this collaboration on their own. I had stumbled upon the encounter when I was assisting another child at the art table. I watched with fascination as they painted at times they did not speak to each other but it was like the other understood what needed to happen next. At other times they were deep in joyous conversation about what they were creating. There was something else happening in this moment I couldn’t put my finger on it.
A couple weeks later I observed Asha and Eunice engaged in a similar experience. Mixing colours on the paper with their hands, shades of greens and blues intermingling on the paper. There was much discussion on what to try next. They used brushes in different ways. The used the opposite end of the brush to etch into the colour. After they were done etching they mixed the paint again with their hands. To me it appeared to be more about the colour then the act of painting.
“We never really perceive what color is physically.”
I as an educator have been in a constant state of reflection because of these collaborative paintings. I have set up materials in different ways. I have spent time observing how the children paint, how they interact with each other when they collaborate on a painting. I have wondered what colours, materials and settings invite the children to collaborate.
Most importantly the children have me rethinking what art is.
“Working in collaboration leads to a rich dialogue yielding unexpected results.”