Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Art Workshop on 30th Aug: Interact, Imagine, Expand

On 30th August, we conducted another workshop for 7 children at Kandivali East. Following children participated:
  • Ishaan (Age 9)
  • Avinash (Age 9)
  • Avinash (Age 12)
  • Ananya (Age 9)
  • Mukta (Age 8)
  • Adrika (Age 6)
  • Aswati (Age 9)
Major focus of this workshop was to allow children to interact with colours and explore interaction of colours, to use their imagination to expand ideas of creation.
Following activities were carried out:

Mind Exercise

We began with a quick mind stimulating exercise. This exercise allows warming up of the mind. Here, one person says a random word and immediately after that next person is expected to impromptu blurt out what comes to their mind related to that word. So we gave the children a starting word and they quickly picked up on it and began pouring out the words that came to their mind. This exercise brought their minds to an alert state. 

Interaction with Colours

Once the children had a considerable amount of alertness and focus to listen, they were introduced to an activity called ‘Interaction with Colours’.  When children were asked to describe what is meant by ‘Interaction’?,  many children told their understanding of the word ‘interaction’.  Answers were : Blending, sharing with each other, when people meet, collaborating etc. So in general they were pretty clear on their understanding of what human interaction is. As humans interact with each other exchanging words, laughter, disagreements, enjoyment and several other acts like dance, fight, play and so on, so do colours. Colours can interact with each other. The focus was not on telling children upfront the various ways in which the colours can interact, but it was more of triggering their minds to think for themselves as to how the colours can interact with each other. We showed them some videos containing colour interactions. Children provided interesting inputs to the interaction that was shown in the videos. Following were some of those points:
  • Colours can be each other’s enemies and can fight with each other
  • Colours can dominate each other
  • Colours have a character: mean, bully, submissive, joyful , friendly, reserved
  • Colours dance with each other and blend to give rise to other colours
  • Colours have genders. They claimed few colours were boys and others were girls. And also some colours can be a girl as well as a boy (a neutral colour) 
  • An interpretation of a particular abstract video showing some coloured abstract shapes was interesting: they related it to a solar eclipse and generated a story from the visuals: “The white ring is a tire and the tire hides the sun (represented by a yellow circle). So there’s darkness because of it and other colours (red, green) get angry at the tire and start poking him, bullying him.
In order to make them understand the application of this concept as well as to show them how the interaction of colours has inspired many great artists, we showed them works of Jackson Pollock. Intent was to allow them to think how they can feel inspired to express their interactions on paper.

Interaction with Colours Activity: Watching videos of colour interaction and preparing the colour

After the videos, they created the colours by mixing food colours to a batter of flour and water. On a paper, they were supposed to explore the interactions of colours. While they were trying to explore various interactions on paper, they were also handling colours (indirectly interacting with colours themselves). Some of them were inspired to create colour drip paintings. They were encouraged to use their hands to feel the colours and their movements on the paper, initially some children were inhibited to touch the colours with their hands and they opted for using brushes. But as they went along, their excitement grew and they started freely interacting with the colours on paper using hands, pouring various colours and exploring more. One important observation related to their work was that some children did not know when to stop, they kept on experimenting till the paint was finished and ended up creating a muddy effect on the paper. 

Interaction with Colours Activity: Children exploring colour interaction
Interaction with Colours Activity: closer look of their work
Here are some of the results of the interaction with colours:
Interaction with Colours Activity: works of the participants

Imagine and Expand

In this activity, the aim was to allow children to experience and explore their imaginative quality. Children were asked how they can boost their creativity. 6 year old Adrika gave an interesting answer: ‘when you imagine, you can create’. In order to trigger their imagination, a clue was introduced to them. This clue was a small piece of printed drawing of an object. This clue drawing acted as a trigger/starting point to help them imagine more in line with that drawing and expand it.The clue drawings that were presented to them were:
  • Picasso’s drawing of an OWL
  • Picasso’s drawing of a woman face
  • Drawing of a figure from Edward Munch’s scream painting 
Few interesting observations:  
  • Ananya was keen on imagining the idea with the help of words. So it would be better for such children to let them explore the idea in literary medium. She would have been able to really express her idea in words. 
  • Most of them related "scream" figure drawing and Owl drawing with darkness (black colour) and black colour greatly dominated their paintings. 
  • It was interesting to note that the "scream" figure was coloured with various flashy, contrasting colours. The appearance of that figure made them choose colours which match the emotion(screaming gesture) of the figure. So they understood how to relate colours with gestures. 
  • For expanding and imagining the painting with owl drawing, they thought of darkness of the sky, dark green trees. So it is evident that children do understand how to represent a particular emotion without anybody telling them. The objects like "scream" figure, owl were related to dark imagery and dark emotions by them immediately and they represented the emotion well. 
  • Also it was interesting to note that, none of them was aware that these drawings are from paintings by acclaimed artists. So it allowed them to freely imagine. 
  • Adrika had some individuality to her creation. She stayed consistent on her idea of creating an owl on a tree branch. On the other hand, Mukta was initially very original with her idea - she had created drawings of some  spooky figures relating to the "scream" figure. But then as she began painting, she changed it entirely into a landscape. It is possible that the children’s expectations(from themselves) and their expression change if the materials change. The materials dominate their creation. So in order to allow them to imagine freely, they should not be exposed to materials beforehand  e.g. we could see Mukta was very imaginative initially. But as she began painting, she changed her ideas and created a landscape with darkness and trees. Why was that? May be she could imagine freely, when she could draw simply without the burdens of (painting with) materials whereas while painting, she restricted her imagination to what she was familiar with. The concept of imagining and expanding the creation and then painting it was new to her and she went with the known path. Ishaan who worked very independently and creatively said later that he enjoyed the activity and it really showed that he had enjoyed because his work is thought provoking and different. And he actually stayed firm to his original idea.  
  • Avinash (12 years old) also created something different : he said he created an alien looking at the space. And he could arrange his "scream" figure outside the boundaries of paper which was really what we expected them to do - to break the boundaries of conventional paintings and imagine freely. He was very thoughtful about his work. Ananya was unique and uninfluenced. She used sketch pens till the end and was even interested in writing words and stories instead of painting. It was not clear whether Aswati could imagine freely, as her work looks similar to her brother (Avinash 12 years old) but she was experimental while creating, when paper strips were given to her for collage, instead of sticking the strips, she coiled them and dipped them in colour and used their impressions on paper. So some children are good at imagining but when it comes to transforming that imagination creation they fumble. Whereas some children can not imagine freely but they are good at experimenting during the creative process.
Overall, this activity gave some thought provoking results and observations.

Imagine and Expand Activity
Works from Imagine and Expand Activity
Work: First row: Mukta, Ishaan Second Row: Ananya , Avinash
Work: First row: Avinash(12 year old), second row: Adrika, Aswati

Paint together

The concept of this activity is allowing children to be guided by their own free creativity and to be inspired by the creativity of others who contribute to the painting. A big paper was stuck on the wall, and children painted on it using brushes and colours one by one using one load brush technique, i.e. till the paint loaded on the brush is finished. 
As the music played children danced to the tunes and painted on the paper. This work is an expression of their enthusiasm, a statement of their amazing, un-suppressed and unlimited energy. The lines, colours in this painting is an exact representation of their uninhibited, upbeat self.
Oranges, Reds and chaotic, twisted, swirling, exuberant lines dominate the work. Which are representative of the high energy levels, joyous nature and exuberance of these children.
It was observed that, when one participant painted a name, others followed her, writing their own names afterwards. So was it inspiration or copying? There’s a thin line between Inspiration and copying and it’s a topic of research to find out the thin line between the two. But it was evident from their actions that it was not inspiration by which they wrote the names, they simply copied the behavior. 

Paint Together Activity

~By Shiwalee.

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