In the past few months, I have observed Pari progressing from drawing and painting big, generic and repetative to doodling with details, painting in small areas, using LOTS of colours and often using her artwork to come back and narrate a story.
Besides the fact that she's at that stage (5+) where the motor skills are improving significantly as she's exploring varied skills; there are a few other things that, I think, must have encouraged her to pay attention to details and to draw upon her vivid imagination to create her own style.
In this post, I am sharing some of the things I do to create an artful environment for Pari and expose her to creative learning opportunities.
1. Impact of Visual elements in story books:
These days, she keenly observes the illustrations from her story books. Almost all her books that we choose mutually are extremely rich visually besides the richness of their content. Whether they are the Eric Carle books, the Grolier "I Wonder Why" books or the series of books by Om Kidz publishing house such as "Ganesha", 101 Buddha Stories, "Hanuman". Or the recently purchased – "God's Dream".
When reading books, I try also to talk about the details in the illustrations by asking her questions about the pictures per se. Like – "Look at the shine in the eyes of the child in this picture" or, "See how they have painted this rainbow with hand-prints" or, "What does this picture remind you of?" or, "Look at the colour combination the artist has used in this Sea Horse".
2. Learning from Photography:
I have not hesitatd to give my camera to Pari to click at any given opportunity. I have often received indirect flak about being a little too liberal with her. But then, as a mother, I know what I can trust her with and what I need to be careful about. Not stopping her from fiddling around with the camera has paid off in volumes!
She started off with my point and shoot and now can handle even my Canon DSLR without any blur.
She not only takes clear and steady pictures, but also has learnt the elements of composition, details, light, angle etc. And, it has influenced her outlook towards art and painting.
3. Learning from older kids:
In the past few months, Pari has been doing her art activities with her older friend – Sama. They play or create either together or independently – in the same space. I think, it is helping them both as they are picking from each other, offering cues to each other or just plain and simple – enjoying the collaboration.
While some may feel that it's not a good idea to mix kids of different age groups together (I thought so too at some point in time) but, I am observing and learning from experience that it is actually a good idea to have a mixed-age group of kids playing and doing activities together. I remember reading one post at Teacher Tom that said how a multi-age classroom can help.
4. Watching adults doing art real-time:
While I never interfere when Pari is doing her own art, I at times, sit down in a different corner to do my own doodling, painting or DIY. It's primarily from my urge to create my own art time and connect with myself. But, indirectly, it inspires and excites Pari to see that Mamma, too, loves drawing and painting and is enjoying so much.
She thinks, because I am creating time exclusively for art, it sure must be a very important thing. She cannot help notice the details in my art and feels motivated to be good at it.
5. Encouraging 'Small Art':
While big art is tough, small can be as difficult – particularly for kids who find it challenging to fill small spaces. Designing on the back of business cards, filing up stenciled sketches, doing mehendi/henna designs on palms, drawing within or around confined shapes (circles, squares, triangles, heart) – these are just some of the ways I offer to Pari for her to learn drawing, painting and filling small areas with details.
Doodling with tube-based puffy paint on a CD can be a great practice for small art. And, a beautiful art display for home… :)
Small cardboard circles can be use to paint or doodle on. These circles can be used to make a collage. Pari made a necklace here.
6. Visiting art galleries and museums – real and virtual:
A giant kaleidoscope displaying artwork made by children – at the National Gandhi Museum in New Delhi, India
Whenever we get a chance, we try visiting an art gallery, exhibition or museum with Pari. No matter what the subject or theme is, the big, colourful displays leave an imprint on her mind. Also, bringing back a catalogue or a book from the exhibition helps. She often wants to sit down with the catalogue to go through what she has already seen on big canvases.
Besides, together, we browse through some virtual art museums like The Google Art project. I cannot begin to tell you what a genius of a project this is – put together by Google. It offers a 360 degree interactive tour of museums around the world. The most amazing aspect is that you can zoom into each artwork and look at the minutest details of the work, which, you might miss even when you are seeing it up, close and personal – in real life. Awe inspiring stuff!
7. A lens in her pocket:
A magnifying lens, I have figured, can be a child's best toy to explore, learn, play. When we go to a garden or on a nature walk, Pari never forgets to carry her lens in a pouch or pocket. From the fascinating details of veins in leaves to the identity of sand grains and from seeing a bug up and close to pretend-playing a detective – a magnifying lens can take observing skills to another level.
What are the ways you use to encourage your child's imagination and observation skills and love for art in general? I would love to know…
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