Sunday, July 25, 2010

Process And Product

My friend and recent Aussie TV celebrity Jenny over at Let The Children Play was the first one I saw offering her kids the fun of making super sized marble paintings, then Scott at Brick By Brick picked up the baton and has posted about his variations (such as using a real canvas and golf balls). I'd recently picked up a pair of large, pre-stretched, primed canvases for a very nice price, so I thought we'd give it a try as well.

This is a fantastic multi-age project and, as you can see, we had two going at once. The photos are mostly blurry because there was barely a pause in the action as the kids kept those balls and marbles rolling for the better part of an hour and a half, adding layer after layer. My only innovation, I think, was to construct an even higher cardboard wall around the canvasses in order to allow for the extreme discrepancy in height between the 2 and 6-year-olds in our summer program, not to mention even wilder cooperative painting action. Scott mentioned that his classroom stapler was inadequate for attaching the cardboard to the edge of the canvas, so I made sure to bring a staple gun from home.

No photo I can take could possibly do justice to the results because the depth of these paintings is really what makes them amazing, but here they are:

We make a lot of group art at Woodland Park, much of which is admired only for a moment before heading directly to the recycling bin because it's simply too "overworked" (e.g., paper too soggy to pick up without tearing, already shredded, just a big gray blob), but I've discovered that when we get pieces like this that I can bring before the whole group, it often sparks fascinating artistic discussions that for once address the issue of product over process through the kid's eyes, as with our volcano or our giant nutcracker.

We decided as a group, in a conversation appropriately dominated by the 4 and 5-year-olds, that we're not finished with these paintings. Several of the children were disappointed that our warm colors are "buried" under the dark, so we're going to spend "just 20 minutes" rolling the balls around in yellow and orange paint next week. I think I'll use the more brilliant acrylic paint for that instead of the usual tempera and hope they don't get it on their clothing. 

And on a meta note, as the older children are starting to demonstrate their aesthetic interest in product and developing the capacity to plan how they can use the process they've learned to bring their artistic visions into reality, the chain from Jenny to Scott to Woodland Park demonstrates the wonderful creative process that takes place here on the internet as we share our experiences with one another.

I can't wait to see the next link in this chain.

Bookmark and Share


Shar said...

Tom, I found your blog recently and am thoroughly, thoroughly enjoying it. I am envious of the autonomy you have in your working environment and will be living my [teaching] life vicariously through your posts. Thank you.

Barbara Zaborowski said...

You can do something similar with a blow-up swimming pool and any size balls you want. We've done it with paper but the canvases would mean the balls would bounce off and have to be bounced back on by the circle of children holding the edges of the pool. Hmmmm?

Pam said...

Ok- all I have to say is my classroom WILL be trying supersize marble painting soon! In general- your blog is amazing. The fact that you are encouraging the children to stretch what they even feel is possible is incredible. You are not only showing the children that they are more capable than they may have originally thought- but you're showing parents/teachers and others! I teach preschool special education- and in a similar way, I work to do this for the children in my classroom. We just aren't handling power tools :) But we attempt to challenge what others and the children themselves think they are capable of. You are so inspiring! Hope you don't mind- I linked my (just started) blog to yours - Come on over and visit!

Scott said...

Beautiful art, Tom. I can't wait to see what the next steps will bring. I've been thinking about what we could have added to our painting. Hmmm. Maybe another canvas and another project?

pink and green mama MaryLea said...

Awesome!! Wait till you see what I've got up my sleeve for my August art camp -- a VERY similar project (aptly titled: "Mom Would Never Let Me Do This At Home!" Art Camp) ; )

Also trying to figure out where I can get some of your cool fly swatters?... Dollar Store perhaps? We're totally doing your fly swatter paintings.

Deborah said...

Those turned out amazing! This is such a cool project - I am definitely keeping in my mind for future reference. I love how they are now migrating from process to product at some level.

Tracy said...

I was inspired by all the large marble paintings going on in all the blogs, so we did some of our own. I adapted down to A3 size partner painting due to my kids sizes. We are going to try the super large one as soon as I can find more golf balls and a large cardboard box (lighter for the kids). The kids loved standing one on each end of the box and tipped back and forth, up and down and side to side. They invented the funnest game which was flip the box and send the golf balls off across the veranda for their friends to retrieve!

Zoe @ Playing by the book said...

Hey Tom, your posts always put a smile on my face and get me wanting to get "doing" with my girls - thank you! I don't know how you feel about awards - I know sometimes they're more of a bind than a pleasure, but in case you feel like a bit of celebrating there's something for you today on my blog:
If you don't want to pass on the award I quite understand - I know they're not everyone's cup of tea, but I hope a few new readers will discover you at least coming from my site.