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I Love Painting – by Robert Genn

I Love Painting
by Robert Genn

Last Wednesday, I helped out with Miss Moore's kindergarten class. The 20 four- and five-year-olds we had to deal with were mostly ESL (English Second Language) students. Gathering closely on the carpet around me they soon understood that artists are people who really like to paint. Watching my brief demo, their hands shot up whenever I made eye contact. "What's your favorite colour?" "Who told you to do this?" "Is this all you do?"

One boy came very close and said, "I like you. I really like you." I asked him why and he said it was because I let my glasses hang from red strings.

At one point the children were made to jump up and down and do various calisthenics to neutralize their energy. "They're so excited," said Miss Moore.

The kids went to their tables where gobs of colour and actual stretched canvases were provided. Then the fun began. Within a few minutes some had their paint up each other's noses. Paint was flicked, spattered and drizzled. The tables themselves became Jackson Pollocks.

Tiny children are victimized by the same painting problems as adults. Some are timid--they fear errors and are unable to make the first dab. Others enthusiastically keep moving the same wet paint on the canvas until everything is a fairly uniform brown. By far the commonest sin is overworking. Virtually no one abided by my shouted regulation to "leave your strokes alone." I was beginning to lose it. Full time kindergarten teachers should be granted sainthood, I postulated. I calmed myself with the realization that overworking is probably hard wired in the DNA.

A person in authority cannot effectively tell a student when to stop. One tends to hover like a bandit and just take the work away. "Good idea," I thought to myself, "I can use that." A girl whose pretty smile was modified by a red smear like lipstick gone awry, could not put down her brushes. Running out of canvases, we kept her in other material which she filled with lightning speed. "I love painting," she admitted.

At day's end, after one-at-a-time at the sink, they got their coats and lined up at the door. One by one they exited into the arms of their parents. Bidding the kids goodbye, more than once I heard Miss Moore say, "Tell your mother to launder your clothes as soon as you get home. It'll all come out in the wash."

Best regards,


PS: "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." (Title of a book by Robert Fulghum)

Esoterica: As usual in any group, one notices what can only be called "natural talent." One young girl was using negative space effectively, cutting in and keeping her images general and strong. One doesn't need to point it out, but it's noticed. In a kindergarten, one feels the need to encourage equally. In art, everyone who plays wins. FYI, we've put a few photos at the top of the current clickback.

Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to post from his bi-weekly newsletter. For more artistic insight from Robert, visit his blog at www.painterspost.com

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