Tag Archives: children’s art


Invitation to Parents

How do you create an art provocation that invites  parents to engage in  their own creative processes?

This was a question an ECE I know was reflecting on. She facilitates a program in which parents and caregivers, grandmother’s and grandfather’s stay with their children. Traditionally in these programs adults engage alongside the child, or simply watch as the child explores paint or glue or clay.

Mary wanted to create a place, a space for parents to draw or paint or sculpt for their own pleasure. To have a sense of place as a creative adult. An adult who happens to be here with a child.  Perhaps in doing so, Mary thought, the child would in turn be seen as a creative individual. Who happens to be with an adult.



 So Mary artfully arranged this provocation, and quick as you please adults sat down and took up a brush.


 And so did the children.

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A Confluence of Body and Materials


In the perspective of intra-activity, there can be no clear divide between discourses, things, matter and organisms, since they are always in a relationship of intra-action and inter-connection and affecting each other mutually.  Lenz-Taguchi

The paint was thick and rich. The paper was large, and shiny white. Elliott took a brush, dipped it capturing as much paint as the bristles would hold. He painted a circle, another circle around it, dipped again, painted some stairs. He painted letters and some bold dots.  Elliott talked to me as he painted, told me the story of the person going on the stairs, how the dots were red coins, and then how letters came.

Watching Elliott I was struck by how the story, the paint, and the brush were connecting, that each  brought something to the creation process.  The brush, thick with paint and placed on paper suggested dots, the dots suggested coins, the story suggested red coins.  The materials had a voice.  Elliott was thinking through the paint.

Elliott was not telling a story that was already formed in his mind, ideas emerged as he painted, as he formed connections with the brush, the paint and the paper. Matter and organisms…. always in a relationship….

I have been talking and working with an artist in the past few months and she describes this idea of the agency of materials. As a complete and utter non artist I struggled with this. I thought artists and kids put brush to paper with an idea, a plan of what they were going to create.  The concept that materials could engage with a body and a body could engage with materials, that creativity emerged from a confluence of body and materials…..that was difficult to grasp.

Until Elliot showed me.




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Art as a State of Encounter: Part 2





I listened to two stories from two educators in the last few days, The stories were amazing……. and they were the same. Here’s how they go:


“Stephie” marches to a different drummer. She doesn’t like to join in a group, becomes anxious if she gets accidently bumped by someone, and sometimes gets angry for no reason that the educators can understand. She seems disconnected from the other children, and from the educators, despite their concerted efforts to make ‘space’ for her.


An art provocation is brought into the centre, clay in one, paint in the other, and is presented in a different way than usual. Stephie tests out the material, slowly, quietly. She becomes completely absorbed in her encounter, exploring, manipulating, investigating. Her concentration is palpable, it draws in other children to watch. The educators are entranced , marvelling at her calmness, her connection to the material. Stephie stays with the material longer than she has stayed with anything before, children come and Stephie tells them about what she is doing, they listen, connections begin.


In the following days Stephie is calmed, centred, a sense of self, of exhaling seems to have permeated her. The educators and the children feel it, can approach her with an openness, can sense her allowing them in.


These stories are told with emotion, with wonder, and with disbelief. That an art encounter could be a portal into a new way of being, of revealing something about self, is new thinking for all of us. If we read about such a thing in a book we’d have shrugged it off as fiction, as a Disney-feel-good-plot.


Art as a state of encounter. Do you believe it?


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Art as a State of Encounter

Art is an experience, not an object

Robert Motherwell


I have been thinking beyond what children do with paint or glue or paper to looking at movement, faces bodies.

 All the languages.


Art as a language- experiences and explorations of life

Charles is sitting alone at the art table talking softly to himself.

 He carefully piles some tissue circles on top of one another and then puts them all into the glue pot.

“You put this on and then you get some of this and then you put it in here” 

He repeats this refrain over and over in a sing song voice.

“Then you put this on this and then this on this”


He wipes his hands and picks up the bundle again.

He presses the entire thing, paper and glue stick into the glue pot.

“Look it! He got a sword! Get glue on it again!”

“He’s got a sword on his back! 


A sword on his back

A sword on his back

A sword on his back

 A sword on his back

Swordy swordy swordy!”

Art as a state of encounter…….