Thursday, April 8, 2010

the mess makers

bowl-of-crayons

do kiddie materials ever find their way into your artwork? or do you shake everyday objects out of their sobriety and turn them into unorthodox art tools? every time i walk into our local arts-based preschool the kids are creating with pretty much anything but brushes, and i'm amazed by what they make and how they make it. they paint with toy truck wheels, mini toilet plungers, bottle brushes and broccoli. they use old record players as spirographs, table salt for resist, and my favorite, the pantyhose balls stuffed with sand. the kids dip them into paint, climb up on a stepstool and toss them onto the floor with a satisfying SPLAT. the school emphasizes process versus product - the kids are never pushed to finish a specific project or make something a certain way, very à la the fabulous carmen torbus: a free, open, colorful, joyful approach to creating. it's the kind of atmosphere where you can hear willy wonka saying "we are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams."

when i snapped out of my long creative dry spell i thought for sure this would be my approach, but as i'm nearing two years of everyday art making, i've found that my way is totally different and it has surprised me. simple pen-to-paper seems to be my mainstay, the method that resolves things in my head and makes it quiet again. it might seem a bit uptight, but i'm a disorganized person by nature and i make messes of everything on a regular basis. so in my art, harnessing and processing have turned out to be more soothing to me than letting loose, at least for this phase in my life. having said that, i love being on the periphery of paint and color flying. there's a lot to be learned from observing children in action, especially when i'm not the one cleaning up after them. which is why i send mine to the arts center instead of letting the free for all take place in our house.

off now to clean my keyboard. double chocolate brownie all over it. like i said - i'm a mess maker at heart.

21 comments:

Bang Bang Bang Firgal Moonlop Bang Bang Bang said...

I wish there was a 'like' or 'kudos' button on blogspot. In any case - 'like' !

Karen M said...

Isn't it great to be able to enjoy kids exploring their creativity? My kids are grown now, but for so many of their friends, our house was the only place they were allowed to make a mess, what with the school art programs (and their parents) not being very adventurous. Painting, sewing, tie dying, even digging in garden dirt, were completely new to many of these kids. I guess the parents figured it was OK at my house, because its always a mess anyway! One of these days, I might actually dig my way out!

I really enjoy reading your blog. The colors are so much fun, and your posts are inspiring and insightful. It is a ray of sunshine. And I wish I had some of those brownies that ended up in your keyboard. Must go make some....

Sarah said...

Interesting post. And-I didn't know about those panty hose paint balls-can't wait to try those when I get back to work. I work with three people who, despite all being very nice and kind etc, are not really that tolerant of mess. One of those people, despite being an early years teacher, is quite focussed on end product. It all drives me mad and I try to fight against it by being as messy and free as I possibly can when it is my week in the creative area at school. I like the sound of your arts centre!
Ps-word verification is 'banglab' which sounds messy in an arty kind of way.

Jeannine said...

Sometimes when we're faced with endless choices in material (and potential material) it can be overwhelming. You don't sound uptight at all! Seems to me by using pen and paper, you're able to focus your creative energy on your content.

Kind of like choosing one or two delicious things from a buffet.

Yay!

Karen Blados said...

Sounds like a great school and I've done the pantyhose sand ball painting ... my kids loved it and we'll probably have to break it out every summer.

We'll have to give some of those other ideas a try. I'm all for the broccoli brushes ... that would finally find a use for it around here!

painted fish studio said...

i wish i was little again so i could play, play, play and be encouraged to make a mess... i can't do it in my home. maybe i should let go a bit and try...

your doodlemaking process works for you, so there's no need to change. :)

Jessica said...

When my daughter went to the art's center pre-school her favorite tool was the potato masher and glitter. foam, wood and bead sculptures were also loved!

pixie said...

I love this question! Because I am totally uptight about things being "archival" and yet there are times when I want to slap up some of my son's crayons or markers onto a piece because Crayola has the bitchin' color palette and instead I try to find or mix something similar. Screw it. I'm doing it. Crayons last for 50 years +. I still have some of my old artwork!

Heart you, mama. Colors flying, brownies crumbling and all...

suzie said...

We have a very community based art materials approach at home.....the kids are forever nicking my 'pro' art materials, and in return I'll use glitter glue, crayola paints etc. I even have been known to use their Groovy Projector and Super Badge-It!

Nicky Linzey said...

That's so like me - every so often as has just happened, I feel I should be woking more freely, with all kinds of materials. It never works and leaves me frustrated. Eventually I go back to my drawing using my black pen and it feels great. I can only seem to add any colour digitally.

Sounds like a great school - I'd like to go there for a few days of art therapy!

et lille oejeblik - a little moment said...

sounds like the perfect way to create with kids. i'd love a place like that here. for now my garden will have to do (cause i won't let them create indoors - they are wayyyy to creative in terms of materials and surface for me - even if i do consider myself pretty casual).

L'Atelier said...

oh Amiee! i really love this post.
it reminded me that i should be more free. i am the opposite of you, quite organised in daily life but completely random in my creative work. been trying to structur it over the last couple of years, justso it makes more sense to others!
reading your post made me think, and also reminded me that it ok to be a bit chaotic :)
xxx

Kim Hambric said...

Unlike those art center kids, I never experimented much with art supplies until I was in my 30's. It's fantastic they are starting early.

Eventually (especially if art programs can thrive in schools) these children will learn what techniques they like best and focus on those.

There's nothing wrong or uptight about a bit of focus. Or brownies.

cindy said...

as they say, 'if it ain't broke don't fix it.' although your text is always neat and orderly, i believe the background is made with a more free flowing technique using your stamps and paints. you're probably making more of a kiddie-style 'mess' than you think. enjoy your weekend!

●• Thereza said...

mess making is almost always a good thing :)

Bella Sinclair said...

That art center is a GEM! Teaching process and outside of the box thinking is so hard to find these days. Lucky, lucky kids!

I think I'm more like you. I have enough messes to clean up at home, and I cringe at the thought of having to drag out major art supplies. Anything that requires newsprint table protectors gets me reaching for those anti-anxiety pills. Although I wouldn't mind stretching a little outside my comfort zone, I'm perfectly happy with my stubby pencil and paper.

SOOOO glad you're back!

lori vliegen said...

i love watching kids create.....they always have the best ideas. and i'm so glad to hear of a decent use for broccoli.......if you don't wanna eat it, just paint with it! woo hoo! oh, and if you need any help cleaning up that double chocolate brownie, i'm available.....xox, :))

queencake and titangirl said...

love the post
love the mess
love the colours
love the blog
love what you´re doing
you make me happy,aimee

nathalie et cetera said...

it seems to be such a great school. i envy those kids freedom to create how ever they wish. but i don't your creative approach is uptight. And the results are very far from it!

CRABCAKES said...

Oh the Arts Center! Makes me miss it so much when I read your description! Also makes me want to go make something wacky. Hope you're having a BEAUTIFUL saturday!!!! xoxo

Carmen said...

I am sitting here right now hopping around the interwebs looking for inspiration. Something to snap me back on task. I'm procrastinating. I should (hate that word) be writing and organizing and putting the finishing touches on things for the book photoshoot which is is one week away, and here I sit.

Your blog always makes me smile, perks me up and ping my inspiration radar.

And what do I find on your blog today? Me. Which is exactly what I needed. Thank you for the reminder. I'm in tears... thank you, thank you, thank you.

You are my sunshine Aimee!

xo,
Carmen