Creativity is a big puddle, and children are the sponges that have an unlimited capacity to soak it up. You just need to keep making big puddles for them. A long time ago, when I was the creative director for a community center ripe with children who were not exposed to art and creativity. I decided to see what would happen if I stretched a large canvas, made 100 cups of acrylic paint, and a box full of objects. I would give minimal instruction…basically:
- You can paint anything you want on the canvas
- You CANNOT paint over someone else’s work
- You CAN collaborate with someone else and add to their image with permission
- The goal is to paint…not the outcome
- There is no wrong outcome
What they produced (and I was remiss for having not taken photographs) was quite amazing. Balanced, fun, energetic, and these kids (6-16) who normally had difficulty interacting with one another, were in complete harmony and collaborative.
This act of shared creativity eliminated any sense of hierarchy, status, and doubt and it was amazing. I recreated this about a dozen times, all with the same outcome. Parents were astonished and it gave them something to think about, art and creativity has an impact, one way or another.
Last year I did a variation on the theme at my daughter’s Montessori preschool (3-5 yr olds). I created a collage of insects on segmented canvases so they would have a reference to start with, and placed them in a circle with the kids around them. They would paint on the canvas in front of them for 1 minute, then rotate. We kept going until the kids felt they were done. As you will see from the results below, when complete, there was a collective style that emerged organically…and all the canvases looked they were from the same artist…when it was actually 15. They had an great time and they were so focused.
I encourage all my artist colleagues to try this in their area.
Here are the pic from the event: