The Kids Are Alright

Yesterday, I went to help my girlfriend, Jacqui, teach a lesson on art at her son's school. Though I wanted to help Jacqui, I was a little nervous trying to 'teach' first graders how to paint. I arrived at the session a few minutes late, so Jacqui had already discussed painting and Impressionism (the topic for study) with the kids. When I entered the classroom, the group was in the process of sketching designs that were going to be painted on the canvas.

After I was introduced to the class, I began to walk around the room to see what each of the students was up to. I was truly impressived at their drawings and use of color with markers.

Jacqui wanted me to say a few words to the class, so without getting into too much detail, considering my audience, I explained they would be painting on canvasses and gave a brief introduction to colors. I tried to make it as interactive as possible and was glad to know many of them already knew quite a bit about painting. Before we began, I told them that they should paint whatever made them happy and that there were no mistakes they could make for this project. With that, we handed out materials and I observed how each of the thirteen students reacted.

Almost all of them wanted to sketch out their idea first before getting into the paint. Several were very concerned with getting their sketch and first brush strokes just right and labored over their beginning for awhile. One little girl even brought up her canvas that she had drawn on with a pencil and said she had 'messed up' and wanted another canvas. I was surprised that for such a young age group, these students were already hung up on little things and so concerned about being perfect.

As the project progressed, their timid nature diminshed and they began to immerse themselves into making beautiful artwork. Even their teacher, who until this point had only been observing, allowed himself to paint on one of the extra canvasses, albeit begrudgingly at first ;)- he claimed he was no artist. After an hour of painting, nearly everyone had finished their tiny canvasses and laid them down to dry. Unfortunately, they were rushed off to their next activity- gym class, I believe- so, I never got a chance to ask them what they thought of our time together.

I felt a real sense of fulfillment and happiness from the project and was glad I did it afterall. I hope, if nothing else, I left the students with the experience of trying something new and being able to leave behind preconceptions. Picasso once said, "All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. " I hope they all remain artists.