"The real voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new lands but in seeing with fresh eyes." ~ Marcel Proust
I’d like to start by saying I’m not an eloquent or sophisticated writer; I’m barely capable of transferring my thoughts into words. However, my feelings are strong about certain things; one is art, another is children. Through art I try to express what I’m unable to express with words. To summarize that, my love of art brought me a lot of joy and contentment as a child and I have always tried to spread that love of art around to the children I come in contact with in my life. See what I mean?
Now about those fresh eyes… a couple months back I was hired for a 10-yr-old’s birthday party. Great! I love children, I love making things; I love teaching children to make things. It’s perfect for me.
Pondering this while working on an art journal, I was thinking about how much fun I was having…and the “light bulb” clicked on in my head - this is what I should teach at the party! I mean, who doesn’t like to play with colorful, messy, interesting art supplies? Well all I can say is…. I DO, I DO!.
Now party day is here. Woo-Hoo! While donning smocks, I explained what an Art Journal is and familiarized the children with the materials they would be using. So they would not become overwhelmed with materials and the various stages, stations were set up at different tables. We began by gluing our pages. I demonstrated how to glue the journal pages to provide a sturdy substrate to accept the paint and embellishments. Then we cut images from magazines for collage. Next we painted the pages, followed by various embellishment of beads, feathers, stickers, text, numbers, ephemera or quotes in their journals. We decorated the covers and added ribbon for closures. Lastly, the pages were dried with a hair dryer.
Intervening as little as possible, I explained the stages and demonstrated materials and techniques as they progressed. Encouraging and respecting each child’s way of working or expressing their own design ideas. Unless I’m asked for assistance, I refrain from imposing my own ideas. It’s simply “staying out of the way” and allowing them the freedom to express visually! Most of the journals were completed or at a good stopping stage after the 2 hour time frame. An important component I wanted to create was a comfortable, confident and non-competitive environment. For this reason, I consciously chose not to bring examples of art journals that were made by adults, nor books about art journals made by adults. I wanted the children’s experience to be experimental, open and fun; not worrying nor thinking, “is this how it is supposed to look?”.
I also hoped to encourage new and future art journals. Throughout our time together, I reiterated they would be able to add to, or continue building upon, their journals later. I believe the children left the party with a feeling of competence, accomplishment and art-filled fun.
I have been told some of the children have already plunged right into making their “next” art journal….and that’s exactly what I wished for them.
Thank you to the Birthday Girl, Melanie Stewart, along with her guests Fin Seely, Keelin Greene, Lauren Ridley, Erica Maser, Zoe Jackson and Will Brighton for allowing me the use of your eyes on this day.
If you are in need of Fresh Eyes, do something with a child….and let them lead the way…it feels great!