20 September 2009

Painting Workshop for Kids!

Once or twice a week, I design and facilitate workshops for children. In my early posts, you can see some of the children's works, most especially my scholars. I conduct free sessions in some communities by request. I do this as part of my study: art as craft, as therapy, as creative expression, and as a way to create awareness and appreciation for visual arts. After all, I curated for more than ten years, art exhibitions of contemporary works and community crafts in the visual and performing arts.

In all those years I realized that art is not just for people with creative talent (a fallacy since people by nature are creative), that craft and the artmaking process can be learned by almost anybody, even those with disabilities. I have more than a hundred studies of people of all ages who can learn to handle any media and express their creativity but only a handful of these people can create exceptional works that speaks of their inner spirit. Most of the works I see on exhibitions are derivatives. Works that were either copied or conformed to a specific market need. The burden of having an art market is that it sometimes dilutes the creative process.

The art-making process is a meditation into our inner world. That part in us that must be expressed and expressed well. When we use our materials to express our inner spirit, whether in painting, writing, movements, melodies . . . we unleash the vast potentials of our inner selves to communicate ideas, meanings, memory that we and the community can take inspiration from. And the curator acts as an important mediator and communicator between the artist and the audience. When that role is not performed well, the meaning is lost. When the curator fails to understand the artist's language or worst, ascribe meanings and sophistication that does not relate to the artist or the artist's work, then the artwork loses the relevance of going public.

A craft is a tool to know our deeper selves. And when children are taught early how to use these tools, the child can learn to use them to serve a need and purpose. This is a sample art project of a child in a private school in Manila:

Normally they just use the primary colors and work on blending these colors to get secondary colors. I noticed that they do not (and maybe they forgot!) to do the color wheel sequence. The kids simply colored the petals. I taught them to try to see if working on the color wheel can help them achieve some changes in their petals simply by adding a dark shade. This is the darker shade beside the color they are working on. For red, they use purple (instead of orange). Red for orange, orange for yellow, blue for green, and violet for blue. Yellow is not used. The plate above is made more dramatic simply by this technique.

To make this formula work well, I use the landscape exercise. Kids can do this fast and the result is immediate. Children appreciate the play of colors, the spatial (perspective) exercise, the pointillist technique (look at the leaves which was painted using yellow and blue!) and the finish work in less than an hour! With my adult participants, it took two hours. Children are more relaxed in daring themselves!

Now my favorite trivia: If the air and water are both colorless, where did the blue in the skies and water (sea) came from?

Answer: It is the color of space that appears light blue during the day (courtesy of the sun) and dark blue (night) and reflected back to the water/sea. So you see, nothingness (space) has color. It is not black but blue. A good reflection for the wonder that is our world.