Every child is an artist. Recently, I had the pleasure of hosting a birthday party for nine year olds (and ages thereabouts). We chose a local venue that provides the kids with a blank canvas, some brushes and acrylic paints as the party activity and entertainment. I was amazed at the results.
Some of these kids had already begun to believe that they were no good at art or that painting was not something they could do or do well. That proved to be wrong. With the right encouragement, some help learning to mix secondary colours from primary coloured paints (and a super overpowering blue!), these children produced some stunning results.
What was most interesting was how different the artworks were and how differently each artist approached their work. The three that were confident in their art just attacked the canvas and obtained rapid results. One painting was a tonal work in shades of pink, with a single contrasting green, while another was an excellently stylized cat, stretched to fit the canvas, in bold colours. The oldest child got straight to work making a painting inspired by Ruth Piper – an abstract artist.
The three girls that didn’t think they were good artists all struggled to get started. Fortunately, there was some good printed matter available to give them an inspirational kick start. One of them finished up with a geometric design, using just pastel colours and circles, triangles and squares. It was a deliciously simple composition made all the more effective for the constrained colour choice.
Another took her time on the border and was big on intricate details, but came up with the innovation of making gold paw prints for the panda bear in the centre of her picture, using her fingertips. The painting turned out very well and the artist who painted it, who had told me she never showed her art to her parents, earnestly promised to show this work to them, at my insistence. To my delight, I heard later that they were so pleased with her painting that they hung it in their house in pride of place.
The final painting of the six took the longest. The girl who painted it told me she had never painted a canvas before so she wanted to get hers just right. The result, a bear with a bright fluorescent pink background, was wonderful. I don’t think any one of these children was disappointed with their work. I know I was thrilled to see how they had all succeeded in their tasks, on their own terms.
If you ever have the problem of what to do for a children’s birthday party and you can get hold of some small canvases, some old brushes, some student quality paint and lots of space, get them to wear messy clothes and get them painting. It’s a rewarding experience for young and old 🙂