This week in the ArtLab, I set out our second canvas for collaborative painting. The word collaborative (which means produced by two or more parties working together), is the right word to describe our project, but it doesn’t speak to or concern itself with “results.” I’m interested in group paintings for so many reasons, but the least of those reasons would be the physical, material outcome, or the painting itself. Yes of course, sometimes the paintings are really cool (even excellent), but this fades in comparison to what I think is the lasting value of the millions of micro-moments that take place between the painters, and between the painters and the painting itself.
After each child had chosen their color and the order in which they would paint, the child with purple paint made the first marks. Nothing was said about what would be painted or what the “plan” was. There was no plan.
The first child painted her purple swirls and then the second child immediately did the same, but in pink. Still, no one was speaking out loud. Everyone was simply watching…
The swirl theme continued with the third child making brown swirls, and then the fourth child making one red swirl. At that point, it seemed as if we lost the interest of the second child, who decided she wanted to take a nap. She went to the back of the room and began to lay down but instead decided to play with round magnets on the chalk board. Meanwhile, the child painting in red made a departure from the swirls and painted the red three-sectioned form you see above.
Thereafter followed dots and some more swirls by the other two children. They were completely engaged with what they were doing and with each other.
I then asked if I could take a turn, and chose black as my color. I added black lines, and made a point of continuing my lines down onto the sides of the canvas. No one chose to then paint on the sides of the canvas. But the young girl on the left asked to switch to my black paint.
We continued for quite awhile.
Colors were traded, green and blue were added to the mix, dots became looser marks that grew smaller and smaller.
Lots of giggling was taking place at the chalk board, and two more children decided to leave the painting and play with the magnets as well.
One child remained. She painted with all of the colors left behind.