What’s in a name?

25 Oct

Three Students

This past week has, once again, flown by. I was able to help a friend in need relocate into a safer home and so this process took some of my focus, plus running around to get more art supplies (a full day scavenger hunt!), sending out inquiries about financial support for the art camp, and working with the artist group here in Kibera… there went the week! This Saturday the childrens art class was good and bad. So many times I will have an idea for doing a painting with the kids that seems perfect and flawless and then once it is underway in my first class, with the younger crowd it just about blows up! This week my idea was to talk about our names and the uniqueness behind each person’s name, emphasizing our individuality. We were to fold a piece of paper in half, lengthwise and each child would write their name really big on half the page with oil pastel. Then folding it in on itself and rubbing the name would transfer to the opposite side, to give a symmetrical image. This leaves a cool design with various shapes so that the kids can fill in each shape with various colors.

Well the first issue was name writing because some of the younger class children cannot even write their own names. Then the children didn’t seem to understand the rubbing and transfer part either even though I demonstrated before and then did it together with them. So, actually, in the first class this is as far as we got- just transferring the name and that’s it! I looked at my watch wrong and so ended class a bit earlier but even so I think I would have hesitated before pulling out various paints.

However, as hard as my first class is (its a good thing they are cute!) my second class is the exact opposite- extremely interested, eager to learn, and able to take what we discuss and learn and create something completely unique. This class was the best yet- each time I have the class I try to make changes so in this class the changes that worked were: giving each child a board to paint on on their lap, rather than using the floor, and using these small black plastic cartons (to hold apples in the market) as pallets to mix each paint color in a different “dimple”. Finally I felt like the kids were getting the idea of keeping colors pure and applying what we had talked about mixing 2 primary colors if they want to get purple, green, or orange- and this is all thanks to the black dimple cartons that I found on the side of the road!! The advanced class understood the painting lesson perfectly too and their paintings turned out so well and each unique!

So changes for next week, I have a big one. I am going to only allow kids from ages 5-8 to come to the first class. I do not like the idea of doing this but the whole class seems to suffer because some ages are just too young to grasp what I am teaching and after every class I come to this same conclusion. I think what will happen is having a small celebration for the children who are too young to recognize their effort and then continuing the class with only the older children. This way the children who leave will not just be kicked out but I will be able to teach the painting skills that I have been hoping to teach.


2 Responses to “What’s in a name?”

  1. carol November 8, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    Great work i have a 3 year old from what i have read they seem not to grasp artwork well is that generally so or it depends on the child and i was looking for a place where i cant take her for some paint or art lessons any ideas

    • ncorbitt November 8, 2011 at 7:29 am #

      Caroline, thank you for reading and writing. Briefly, to answer your question, children have developmental stages that also impact artwork. Meaning, as children develop they grasp more and different concepts of art. Here is a page that might be helpful that illustrates the idea: http://www.learningdesign.com/Portfolio/DrawDev/kiddrawing.html

      Please visit our website at http://www.buildabridge.org. While we don’t address this concern, we do offer training in art-making for transformation in education and healing.


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