Friday, June 26, 2015

Painting with Children

Last night's adventure with the children, creativity, and Vacation Bible School:  we explored paint.

Well, only one kind of paint:  watercolor.  Years ago when I was first the Arts and Crafts director for VBS, I asked my sister about the activities I thought about doing so that I could have a sense of what would work and what wouldn't.  My sister said, "I've never met a kid who didn't love to paint."  Now, after years of VBS, I can say the same.

She gave me great tips that non-caretakers of children wouldn't think about:  make sure the paint is washable so that it comes out of clothes.  Make sure it's non-toxic--I always check, although I want to believe that all art supplies that children might use are non-toxic.  Make sure every child has his/her own set of paints; sharing is not everyone's strong point.

On Tuesday, we made objects out of air dry clay.  We painted the objects last night.  We used watercolor paint.  A few years ago, I gave the kids both kinds of paint:  tempera and watercolor.  I was surprised that watercolor worked so well with clay.  It's easier to set up and clean up, so last night, we used only watercolor.

I also gave everyone paper plates and paper, if they wanted a different experience.  And we had another successful evening.

I was intrigued by what elements captured which attentions.  Some children intently worked on their clay pieces with great precision.  A few went right to the paper plates.  Some preferred to dip their paintbrushes in water to watch the water change colors.

As always, I am happily surprised at the enthusiasm of the children.  Not one says, "Forget it.  This is stupid.  I'm not doing this."  No one said to me, "You're stupid, and I can't believe you're making us do this."  These are reactions I expected when I first started doing this work with VBS.  And year after year, the children enter into the activity:  some are meditative, some cautious, some enthusiastic, but all are willing to try.  There's not a lot of judgment:  very few children reject their creations.

I don't think I have a better group of children than elsewhere.  I think that we lose that quality along the way.  We lose it for a whole host of reasons.

Some of us are lucky as we recover some of that spirit along the way.  But so many are not.

I think about the way the world would be transformed if we could all be like my VBS kids.  I want to think about the ways we could make that possible. 

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