I love to create art with people of all ages. My recent morning at the Regina Early Years Family Centre (Gathering Place location in North Regina) saw me playing on the floor with my youngest group ever and their moms.
The minute I walked in the door, I felt at home and I felt comforted. There is a large tree in the corner made of twisted and curved brown wrapping paper. My sense was that there were small nests all around the room, and enticing corners and caves inviting the curious to explore and linger. Nothing large and plastic in primary colours!! A magical place. A place for children and parents to spend good time together.
I came with my scrap baskets. Art programmer Kat supplied glue sticks, scissors and other kinds of paper. I like to think of myself as a beginner in art, but my time with these artists taught me so much about what it really means to be a beginner. Turns out that I have a ton of preconceived ideas about the purpose of glue or scissors, not to mention paper! Here is some of what I learned from these small teachers:
- A glue stick looks like lip balm. So it is reasonable to open the top and put it on my lips. What happens? STICKY LIPS!!!
- It is a lot of fun to take the cap on and off a glue stick. Again and again and again. Why stop? No gluing is necessary. It is still fun.
Photo courtesy www.studiosproutssantacruz.com
I spent 15 minutes with one little girl. At first she enjoyed digging the glue out of the glue stick with her fingernail. Then she could put some of the glue on paper. Then we tried another way – together we dragged the glue stick across the paper. You have to hold the paper down when you do this. She reminded me of the deeply satisfying feel of glue when we move it across paper – it both slides and sticks, all at the same time!! We did this a number of times. Eventually we tried putting a scrap of paper on top of the glue. When you do this your fingers get gluey or gooey and they stick to the paper. It helps to have a (relatively) dry fingered adult to separate you from the paper. Once this is done, you shake the paper and the two pieces of paper stay together. A miracle! A big smile! Two big smiles! It took us a long time to accomplish this and we were both quite pleased I think.
- Scissors are very cool. I watched many children, especially boys, cut with scissors. Tissue paper is very hard to cut. It is too floppy, it moves all of the time. Firm paper, like construction paper or wax paper is much easier. Cutting with scissors takes 100% concentration – it is an an almost hypnotic activity. I love that scissors kind of sound. The straight lines produced by the scissors as the paper separates into two is amazing. Nobody wants help. Nobody wants to learn to hold their scissors properly. They mostly just to enjoy the pleasures, sounds and miracles of cutting with two blades of steel.
This small girl below played with the paper for a while and then came straight for my lap, totally intent on having a cuddle. Her mom said that she has this beautiful gift of love, knowing just who needs her hug. We had a long cuddle… a great interlude of love in the midst of creativity.
Some of the parents fretted because they were not creating art with their child. They were creating art because they wanted to and their child was doing their own thing close by. The kids had very different ideas than the parents. To my mind, this is a great thing! I believe that just as our children need to see us reading books and enjoying them if they are to grow up to be readers, they also need to see us creating art…if they are to grow up loving being creative. They need to see us creating at the kitchen table, on the living room floor, and If I had my way – in the halls and lobbies of schools and doctor’s offices, parks and playgrounds, shopping malls and arcades. Anywhere and everywhere! In fact, anytime I have created art where there are children or youth, they are magnetically drawn to see what is happening, and more often than not, they want to create as well. It just happens.
Thank you to Kat and all the great staff at the Regina Early Learning Family Centre for the invite. Special thanks to the moms, grammas and caregivers, and the biggest thanks to the small ones who taught me so well. To find out what else is happening at one of Regina’s two Early Learning Family centres, check out their FB page.