Tuesday, May 3, 2011

When the teacher is taught

I learnt something today... when I wasnt really expecting to. It was one of those lessons I already knew but when I saw it right in front of me I finally saw the lesson I was being taught and realised that again, my expectations were slightly out of kilter..

I was doing some painting with Jared and Amahli today, and I was trying to do some "direction painting" where you gently direct the child to paint things... saying things like " could you paint a tree? And what could you put in the tree? How about a bird?"

Its something a mum would do to get her child to paint her "something" and its something I wanted to do to see if he could actually paint something that was recognisable to myself or even to him if I later asked what he had painted. Often its just lines or spots because hes not into painting or getting messy.

( ok, in my defense to all the readers who are going to go all Montessori and "process not product" on me... I dont do this often. But I wanted to see if he could do it. Sometimes Im just a mum who wants " something". Sometimes. )

And so he was happy to go along with me and we talked about painting an island with treasure and basic things I thought would be fairly easy and something he was interested in. He started off well, painting a recognisable tree, and then water... and then he started going off on some random tangent and was painting stripes everywhere and then spots and very quickly it became a page with not alot of anything on it.

(Amahli is still in the "just enjoy the paint" phase, although shes pretty particular about how it goes on and the order of colours and blending)

I praised his colourful work ( Im not one to tell him it wasnt what I wanted, Im not that mean or driven for product) and asked him if we could do another one. We talked about painting an ocean, a sun, and maybe a boat. As he painted a sun, I set the camera to video to actually capture his experience as he talks a commentary the whole time he paints.

This is the video ( I had to post it on youtube cos it was too big to post directly to here).

You Tube Video

I was totally surprised when I sat back quietly and watched how detailed his painting was. It had a boat, a giant seal, a crocodile, me, a cat and the dog ( china) in it. It was a complete story, a scene from his memory. His imagination was in overdrive and I really would never have been able to create such a detailed and creative scene.

And whilst he wasnt able to completely represent it, his art has meaning to him. It wasnt random markings as I had thought. It was objects, people, animals ( ok so it was a touch strange but thats his hunour really) and a story.

Maybe I should just watch more, listen more, and let him evolve in his art. Why do I have to have "something" painted?? Next time, I 'll just listen and learn :)


  1. Oh my goodness. He is just so adorable! Great picture, too.

  2. I love that animation! And dere's a FISHIE in there! First time I've heard Jared talk - what a cutie pie! SUPER lesson learned, mum!