We have an open easel in our classroom where children choose the paper and materials with which they want to create. We have several students who spend time there everyday and others who rarely venture to the easel in favor of building or other centers. However, we feel this is an important time to be exposed to a variety of experiences and materials, so we do encourage everyone to give activities such as painting a try once in awhile.
We had been looking at some artists who used mixed media in their work a few weeks ago, so this week we focused on how artists name their pieces. We looked at several prints, talked about what we saw when we looked at the piece and then what the artist named his/her work. We talked about why they might have chosen that name. We also read a book about Vincent Van Gogh called Camille and the Sunflowers.
Following reading the story, our art center was set up with a variety of fresh flowers in vases and several colors of liquid water colors. We used water color paper as well. We talked about the process of the still life. How an artist looks at what he/she sees and tries to capture the image in his mind.
When the children were painting we asked about what they were noticing. Our comments about the children's work focused on what we saw, not non-specific praise such as, 'beautiful" or "good job". Rather, we would point out features of the piece, "I see you noticed the petals around a center here", or "you painted a close up of one flower", or "I can see you noticed the stems and leaves of the flowers."
When the paintings were dry, we had the children look at their own work carefully and come up with a name for their work.
We then cut out frames from black construction paper to create our classroom art gallery. We shared the pieces and their titles with the class.
As the week went on, some children revisited the center several times. Some decided to add tempera paint to their work for a different effect. We also made sure that every child spent some time in this center during the course of the week.