Before delving into last week's lesson, I'd like to share some hot tips. Pamela struggled with preparing her paints because (1) she lost paint by leaving blobs of it on her paintbrush when dipping it into the clean water and (2) it took her forever to mix paints. Her teacher suggested we bring in a spray bottle full of clean water to make the mixing go faster. Pamela caught on right away and prefers spraying to dribbling. WARNING: be careful of your aim and distance for you might splash paint onto your paper.
Another neat trick is to tape the paper to a board (we're are using a cutting board). The masking tape keeps your paper secure, which is very helpful when you are in a hurry drying it with a hair dryer. Once you carefully remove the tape (to avoid ripping the paper), you leave behind a pretty white border.
For homework, Pamela finished her barn and painted a Baltimore oriole. I hoped to lengthen her stamina with two long projects. As I suspected, she wanted to quit after finishing the barn. With a dash of warm encouragement, Pamela painted the bird, which looks fluffy because of her heavy hand with water.
Spotlighting Dynamic Thinking
When we arrived at the art gallery, I grew concerned about two issues. Two women were working in the shop, taking down paintings, and speaking very loudly. Pamela managed beautifully and her brain functioned well enough to filter out unexpected distrations. Pamela was not in the mood to paint and told me she was going to do zero projects. Since her protest was mildly half-hearted, I got everything set up while she relaxed on the couch. With a little bit of gentle coaxing, Pamela joined the class at the tables.
Pamela is better at keeping up with the class in mixing paints, and you can see how much she loves that spray bottle in the videos below. She had several nice moments with her teacher, who is awesome at nonverbal communication, thinking of concrete ways to describe something, and gives Pamela time to shift attention and process what she is saying.
Awhile back, a reader commented that Pamela is merely doing mimicry. Our focus is not mindless copying. We place great value in her ability to watch, think, and do. Here are some examples of her dynamic thinking in action:
- After she drew her hills, she erased them because she tends to make dark lines. At home, we erase our lines. Ironically, her teacher watched Pamela erase and she too decided to erase them! The teacher references the student--how fun is that?
- The teacher has been guiding the class in creating white space (in the unfinished spring landscape pictured above: the band of trees between the sky and ground, the bands at the bottom of the page, and the band between the two hills). The space prevents two colors from blurring together and leaves room for another element. Pamela usually follows along, but, for some reason, she was determined to color the band all the way to the bottom. I backed off because she emphatically put her foot down!
- Her teacher introduced a new idea: to give the grass some "blonde highlights" with the already-laid yellow, she suggested making marks with a white crayon to resist the green. Pamela could not understand why that insane teacher was insisting on having them made white grass. Clearly, this moment was a breakdown in theory of mind! Again, I backed down, knowing that she did not see her teacher's point.
- Pamela added a river, which her teacher did not have. Carrie made the white space so that the two colors would not bleed. Pamela was adamant about turning that into a river. It is her creativity and work after all!
- Several times Pamela asked questions or asked for him (some not on the clips): confirm the wet wash for the sky, open the spray bottle, confirm what I meant about hanging up her picture, open a new tube of color, etc.
Highlight of the Day
Pamela covered the left-side of her paper with yellow, all the way to the bottom of the page. I made a couple of comments and realized she had her own agenda. The mark of a good guide is picking the right battles. I felt validated when Pamela painted a lighter shade of yellow on the right side. She painted all the way to the bottom of the page again, but, this time, I remained silent. Suddenly, and on her own, she noticed that her teacher had white space on that part of the painting. Pamela grabbed a paper towel and sucked up most of the paint!
Mindless mimicry or thoughtful apprenticeship, what say you?