AbStRaCt ArT in Mathare!

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This weekend was the 3rd art class in Mathare and I was feeling pretty anxious before going to teach because the last 2 times have been a bit crazy. This class was different though because of my strategy to split the kids into 2 groups… 8 and younger coming at 9 am and 9 and older coming at 11. This new twist on the class actually worked so so much better and I was greatly encouraged. The first class showed me that there are certain ages that kids just can’t learn painting in quite the way I was aiming for. Mainly younger than 5 I am realizing may just be too young for me to teach and actually detract from the rest of the class because I am distracted by making sure that the younger ones keep their paint on the paper. I think from now on I may say that the children must be older than 5. Also 3 of the older girls showed up for the 9 am class and so I dubbed them junior leaders, in hopes that they will come every morning early enough to help the younger kids with to do what I am explaining. I had a bit of time to prepare for the second class- actually I locked the door so I could get 5 minutes without stumbling on a child to get things ready!

In both classes the kids were learning about Abstract paintings and so we first reviewed how to mix various colors and then looked at examples of Abstract art that I had found online. We brainstormed about what elements we saw in the paintings- including shapes, colors, and lines which were used to convey ideas and feelings. I wanted them to take time to create their own abstract so first sketching paper was passed out and the kids drew out sketches, even labeling what parts they wanted to be which colors. Then after this they were given the 3 primary colors and the challenge was to mix the colors right so they could get the secondary colors. During the older class I felt like I wanted to hug each of the kids so hard because they were so interested and excited about the painting. Especially the boys, actually, were very creative in their sketches and took a lot of time to plan out their abstract. The girls, however, seemed to struggle with using their own creativity and instead tended to mimic the examples I had drawn out in order to show them the variety of possibilities. Hopefully the kids will continue to loosen up and realize that, especially with abstract, there is more emphasis on experimentation and creative exploration in this art class than something being right or wrong. I guess that could be a goal of mine…to encourage these kids to think a little more outside of the box.

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