Watching children’s creative processes always amazes me. You really get to know children through the way they create. Their work tells you something, even random paint splotches tell you something. You get to know the children through their art and the process in which they engage with the materials. I know that Eunice is about to get serious about her painting if she kneels to paint. I know that Lily is going to start planning if she asks for a really large paper. I know that Brendan will create city plans if he grabs the masking tape. Sometimes though something happens at the easel or art table that makes me wonder why?
This morning when I was prepping the easels I was short one metal cup for paint. So one easel had only two choices of paint instead of three, I didn’t think much of it beyond being annoyed that I couldn’t locate the third cup. I went about my morning with the children engaging in dialogue, listening and documenting our learning.
I would change the paper at the easel from time to time, as one does in a preschool. The more I removed the children’s work from the easels the more I noticed a pattern emerging. At the easels that had three cups of paint I was seeing very representational paintings; trees, suns, flowers, crosses, roads, etc. I was noticing in these images the colours were not mixing. If an object was painted in green it didn’t have any other colour on it.
On the other hand what I was noticing at the easel with two colours was experimenting with mixing colours and paper being covered in colour. I noticed children experimenting with painting with two brushes at once, using circular motions to mix the colours and large strokes of paint.
I started to watch the children painting. Why? I kept asking myself, I contemplated all the possibilities. Could it be the colour choices at the easels? Was it the way I presented them? Was the other provocation I had set up in the room with the rainforest book and drawing influencing the children’s use of the colour green? Do pink and yellow just beckon to be mixed? Was it the brushes?
Wanting to explore this further and see what was causing this pattern, I set up the easels the exact same way, right down to the brushes I provided. You know what it didn’t happen again and again I ask why?
What are your thoughts? Why do you think this pattern emerged?