Sometimes you start reading things that just feel hard. You try to persevere because you know it must be good for you, that if you keep going you will gain some hidden pearl of wisdom if you could only just concentrate long enough to remember it. Then, there are books like ART Workshop for Children by Barbara Rucci with essays by Betsy McKenna. I read this book cover to cover in 2 sittings and then went back and again and thumbed pretty much every page.
Now master Finn (4) is a tricky little thing. It took me 3 and a half years to convince him that art was cool and now he thinks it is so cool, and creates with such confidence that he doesn't need and guidance, help or direction WHATSOEVER. I mention this because Rucci and Mckennas book details 25 of the most beautiful and truly inviting art invitations designed to gently lead children into creative process based art experiences but it took me over three weeks to get Finn to accept an invitation. To be fair, most of my invitations went something like "OMG FINN, we HAVE to try Monoprinting" or "Quick, Finn STOP EVERYTHING you are doing and make a robot with me!!!!" Making it pretty clear I had missed the entire point of setting out an invitation and letting him explore the materials at his own pace.
Not to be defeated I tried again. This time, I did it by the book. I gathered my materials over the course of a few weeks and when I had enough I laid them out on a table along with some paint and glue and cool as a cucumber led Finn in to the studio to check it out. He was pretty impressed but told me he would come back after watching Mr Maker (yep). He did however come back and once he got started he couldn't stop. We used hot glue to assemble the city structure because I didn't want to loose momentum or loose Finn to Mr Maker again. It was a fun process and we chatted about the buildings and landmarks in our city as we built. Finn explained to me which piece was a boat and how some people live on boats and others live in really tall buildings! I asked if his city had grass, which it did and he explained that it also had water and lots of concrete.
I resisted the urge to help construct by adding another square of cardboard to the city next to Finns. This meant I could join in without cramping his style. We were lucky enough to be gifted a big new stash of paint recently from Cleverpatch online art supplies so once we had finished assembling we went wild with the paint. The scale of this paint was BIG and it was really liberating to just splash around the paint on something so expansive.
We let the project dry overnight and then revisited it the following day, adding extra details like corks, knobs and bottle tops. We set the two pieces out in the kitchen, sat back and admired our work. We both agreed this it was was of the best projects we have worked on together and I am pretty sure he will accept my next invitation ;)
I really do encourage you to check out Barbara's wonderful book. It is such a gentle and beautiful book full of wisdom and gentle encouragement. McKenna essays are also terrific and a great introduction to the Reggio Emilia school of learning both in theory and in practice. It is available on Amazon HERE and most likely any good book retailer worth its paint or pixels.