Bringing fine art into the Early Years classroom always leads to exciting opportunities for learning. Many adults are intimidated by the formality of museums and art, but children approach masterpieces with the same curiosity and excitement they have for the natural world, music or new games.
In EY2 Bunnies we explored the work of Joan Miro, a popular Spanish surrealist painter and sculptor who experimented with line, colour and perception.
Lively and expressive, Miro inspired a lot of creative exploration, mark making, a new “museum café” themed role play area, salt dough sculptures and even some new counting activities.
Miro became the spark for most of our work during Art Week, but sometimes children demonstrate their understanding and ideas in ways we don’t expect or plan for.
My learning intention for the pupils one afternoon was to try to describe shapes and colours in an abstract work entitled ‘Woman and Bird in the Night’ and then encourage them to draw their own shapes on the whiteboard.
‘Woman and Bird in the Night’
One pupil had a different idea. He found some brightly coloured magnets we had set aside and placed them on the board. He then used the white board marker and worked carefully to connect the magnets with lines. He later called me over and pointed to the Miro work and then his own. He had created a similar lines and dots creation inspired by ‘Woman and Bird in the Night’ through combining the magnets and his own line drawing!
Miro once said, “The painting rises from the brushstrokes as a poetry rises from the words. The meaning comes later.” This is the spirit in which we approach mark making and expressive design work with our youngest children. The product is not what matters, but learning the process of creation. How can one communicate meaning or represent something without first having the freedom and time to explore the process of creating? The physical experience of learning how pens, paint, clay, paper and scissors can change in one’s hands into something that shares emotions, ideas, and feelings? Future success, academic or artistic, is built on the skills exploring process young learners develop now. This particular pupil is not always eager to take part in mark making activities, but inspired by Miro and his own imagination, he spent more than 20 minutes creating and recreating his own work. Without the pressure to copy or create a representation of something that had meaning for others, he found meaning from his own ideas and the beauty in Miro’s work. While this may not have been my intention for the activity, it was very meaningful for the child and a timely reminder for me as an educator to remember the value in doing ART rather than the beauty of the final creation.