Have you ever been to one of those painting parties where you go with your friends and drink a glass of wine while someone tells you how to paint a preselected picture? They go step-by-step explaining how you, too, can get your picture to look just like theirs. As adults this is comforting. We have gotten out of the habit of just creating. Our creativity and imaginations have grown rusty so having someone show you how to be an artist for a night is fun and empowering! I have been to one of these classes and had a blast with friends getting our artist on. I worked hard to follow the directions being given and my picture turned out looking like the Chicago Skyline that I had hoped for.
My favorite part about seeing the end results of these painting parties is looking at the differences in each picture at the end. You can find little pieces of personality that pop out despite the fact that everyone just went through the same process and followed the same directions. They all look DIFFERENT! Maybe the brushstrokes are harder or softer, maybe there is a variation in colors chosen that reflect the artist’s preferences, maybe there is a wispiness to the piece, almost a dream-like state to it. Art is often a reflection of our feelings, individual creativity, and our personalities.
I have a point to all of this rambling, I promise! While we adults have pretty much “figured ourselves out” (I say that in quotes because, will we ever reallllly figure ourselves out?) , our kiddos have not. If we were to conduct our preschool art experiences in a similar way to what these studios do, we would be failing them. Through their art, children are fostering their imagination and creativity. Art helps kids to explore and interpret their world. There have been many times I have had a conversation with a student about their art with it involving the phrase “i saw” or “I heard”. Students are taking things in from the world around them and not sure what to do with a lot of these observations. Afterall, they’ve only been alive for 2-5 years, there are a lot of new experiences and things to sense!
At Butler we have guided art projects where we make those cute little projects that kids take home and parents hang on the fridge. Those have benefits of their own. But that’s not what we are talking about here. We are talking about free art. They can do whatever they want! Students might be given a blank piece of paper or a tub of random art supplies and are told to just create. They can do whatever they want, however they want without rules! They can make it for themselves or parents, their friends, teachers, or just to put straight into the garbage! In our classes we have a bin of art supplies that is completely for this reason. The bin contains toilet paper rolls, scraps of paper, shape cut outs, fancy paper, doilies, environmental print, etc. Pretty much anything we see that could be repurposed into art is thrown in the bin and students love it!
Here are some of the benefits of free art time in preschool:
- fosters creativity
- helps students relate to and process the world around them
- critical and creative thinking
- build confidence
- encourage kindness (kids LOVE making things for the people in their lives. Seeing the appreciation encourages more acts of kindness.)
- students with emotional, physical, or learning challenges can show enjoyment and success in art
- express feelings
- learn that there are multiple ways to do something
- problem-solving skills
- builds fine motor skills
- connect with cultures around the world
- independence in thinking and acting
- imagination (this is a fun one! the things these kids come up with…)
This list is just the start! Encouraging children to explore the world of art in their own way can transfer to so many other areas of their life. This weekend, let’s all take a minute and color outside the lines!