Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The art of crafts

I've been randomly looking through my books looking for project ideas to do with the kids, so I picked up One-to-One by Gareth Lewis.  I happen to really like that book and its' sequel Unqualified Education.  Even though I disagree with the author's outlook on life and his take on some things , the books are full of great observations and practical advice on education in general  and  teaching many subjects and skills in particular.  So today I was reading the section on crafting and the author points out that  making things (he suggest that craft projects should be used to make useful things)  helps children put material things in proper context and helps them sort out in their mind what kind of things they like and what's important to them which in turn helps deflect the onslaught of consumerism.  I think it's an interesting idea.  It does look like making something gives a person a deeper  kind of satisfaction than buying something.  I wonder if the fact that the modern society has moved away from the mode where an average person  has to make things has to do with such overwhelming materialism sometimes?  But I digress.  I was looking at some really stunning paintings by a Norwegian artist I've never heard of until today, quite breathtaking really and it reminded me of something.  I suddenly found myself remembering my art class in college, many moons ago.  It was a beginning painting class and the professor, whose name escapes me right now, had an interesting technique for helping students to paint.   There were a few projects that semester.  The first one was to cut out some pictures from magazines and make a collage. Then using carbon paper he had us trace our collage onto  painting board and paint it from the picture.  The second project was to choose a painting we liked, again make a photocopy and trace that onto the painting surface and then paint by looking at the reproduction.  The third project was to do a self portrait from a photograph using the same technique as above.  It was really a brilliant approach because it freed the students from worrying about the quality of their drawing skills and allowed them to concentrate on painting itself.  I think the same technique could be used with children, especially those that tend to get stuck due to perfectionism or lack of skill and introduce them to the joy of painting .   It's a good and very hands-on way to introduce them to different artists or schools of art as well.  You can even tie this in with history.  But back to the mechanics.  These days you could just make a clear black and white photocopy if you want to avoid the tracing part even though tracing happens to be  good practice for hand-eye coordination and strengthening hand muscles for kids that need it.  But this is an art project so one should stick to art, I suppose and leave tracing for a different activity such as writing practice.  I really should be doing more painting, so maybe I'll do this project together with the kids:)


Post a Comment